Digicel declares support for Caribbean reparations bid
On the heels of discussions with top officials of the Irish-owned Digicel Group on reparations, Prime Minister Mia Mottley is expected to make a major announcement on the matter within the next two weeks.
Officials are saying very little about the development, but Digicel’s Director of Government Affairs Kieran Mulvey disclosed on Wednesday that the telecommunications group was backing regional governments in their push for slavery compensation from former colonial powers, which are mainly from Europe.
This comes as Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission Sir Hilary Beckles and his team continue their push for reparatory justice in the form of compensation from European states.
Speaking at the historic signing ceremony for the Declaration of St George’s towards the elimination of intra-CARICOM roaming charges, which took place in Grenada on Wednesday, Mulvey said Digicel’s Chairman Denis O’Brien had started negotiations with some leaders on how the company could assist.
“Our chairman is engaged in some negotiations with prime ministers around the issue of slavery compensation. This is a profound and lasting injustice in the Caribbean and as an Irish man, whose people suffered transportation to the Caribbean as slaves and indentured servants, we understand this argument. We don’t need to be convinced of it,” said Mulvey.
“We will be endeavouring with prime ministers of the region to ensure the former colonial powers, largely in Europe, are called to account for what they have failed to do since independence was granted to Caribbean nations,” he said.
The senior Digicel executive said he believed the region’s former colonial powers should contribute to the economic and social development in the Caribbean.
“To me, this is one of the most important issues facing the Caribbean into the future: that those former colonial powers must have a commitment to ensure the economic development of the Caribbean and that programmes be developed, and financing measures be made available to achieve those targets. We will be working as a company and particularly our chairman, in this regard,” promised Mulvey.
Prime Minister Mottley, who joined the ceremony via the technology, confirmed that she has had initial discussions with the Digicel chairman on the issue of reparation, as she thanked the Jamaica-headquartered company officials for their support.
“I do expect to be making major statements on reparations within the next two weeks and therefore will not further address them in this context. But suffice it to say that we in the Caribbean are acutely aware of the development deficit that was left us at the point of independence and recognise that many of the things we have wanted to do in our post independence era have been compromised by the lack of capacity and the lack of resources which comes from the fact that our countries served to be able to supply revenue and wealth to others while at the same time extricating from ourselves the capacity to support ourselves in the most basic needs.
“So we thank Digicel for joining Caribbean governments in this battle for the issue of reparations and the closing of the development deficit that was left us at the point of independence as a result of slavery and the exploitation thereto,” said Mottley.