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Region cannot retreat now – Sir Hilary Beckles

Region cannot retreat now –  Sir Hilary Beckles


“Failure is not an option; we have come too far now to this moment.”

The words of Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, in his keynote address at Monday’s session of the three-day reparations conference, held at the Methodist Church Hall in Kingstown.{{more}}

According to Beckles, the project, in which the leaders and people from around the region were now engaged, was designed to heal the wound that had been opened up in the civilsations throughout the world.

“That is what we are engaged in; that is the bigger aspect of the project, because without the healing of the world for this crime, the world as it is is not sustainable,” Beckles said.

“Humanity cannot continue like this,” he continued.

Beckles said that the time had come for there to be closure, so that humanity could return to its fullest potential.

“Until the colour of a man’s skin is not relevant, it’s your character that’s relevant – that is what we are trying to return to under reparatory justice,” Beckles said.

“So where is the Caribbean? What is our situation?” he questioned.

Beckles’ response was that the region’s civil societies and states had come together and have started having conversations.

The conversation has matured to the point of effective action and the region has finally reached the point where action is going to be taken, he explained.

But there are some steps that the region needs to take, as those engaged in the dialogue have been mandated to establish a CARICOM coalition on reparation.

“We are mandated to establish national commissions right across the region; each society should have a national coalition to do the work of public awareness, but there should be a CARICOM Caribbean coalition,” he explained.

This coalition should be responsible for carrying out three main tasks, he explained: to continue public education, for the mobilization of all the research required to bring effectiveness to our policy; and to bring the research to bear on the legal arguments that are now required to take the matter forward.

“So, we are looking at the deepening of our public’s discourse, because, as you have heard, there are still many groups who are either skeptical or opposed and need to be brought to a state of enlightenment, so we have to continue our evangelical cause of making information available to people,” he said.

There is also the need to sharpen the senses of all on what the plan of action is and what is the definition of reparation and reparatory justice.

An apology is a must, however, and according to Beckles, the region cannot retreat now. All these aspects needed to be discussed, he said, to have clarity, so that when those charged with engaging in the legal arguments, there is a clear understanding in order to know with precision, what steps we are going to take.

“We are not in conference; we are now in the workshop stage – this is not the stage for us to be wobbling; we need to have maximum discipline to the finish,” Beckles said. (DD)