EU's insult is added to injury

EU's insult is added to injury


Friday, May 08, 2020

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The readers of your thinking people's paper would have noticed the irony in the statement by the European Union (EU) labelling Jamaica and other Caribbean nations as money launderers. As far as I know, all European countries were enriched from money laundering for centuries during the slave trade in the Americas and the Caribbean. Our historians can tell us how many, if any, were not. What more do they want after slavery that left too many in persistent poverty?

The United Kingdom (UK) with its former colonies in the Caribbean would not be exempted from being called out as money launderers by leaving the union. This is an opportunity for the UK high commissioner in Jamaica to declare publicly that his country disassociates itself from the EU's statement, whether or not they remain in the union. Silence is concurrence.

In considering UK's enrichment from the proceeds of slavery it must be accepted that plantation owners in the Caribbean, and all who condoned or were in complicity with their conduct, were in fact and in law committing a crime against humanity.

Great pressure was brought by the UK and others on the governments of the Caribbean region to pass legislation to control serious crimes, so it is said, especially crimes committed in their own country that become international when the proceeds or the financial benefits are for individuals in the Caribbean. Jamaica and the other former British colonies in the Caribbean are required to take strong action against the individuals who benefited from the crime committed in the UK, they must disgorge that money or its equivalent of what they received for it to become clean again — laundered by Government. History records where today's complainant was yesterday's offender.

To adjust the economic imbalance

It stands repeating that holding people in slavery is a crime against humanity, so declared at the Nurnberg Trials of Nazi Germany in 1945. Chattel slavery in the Caribbean was an aggravated form of slavery, where human beings were held as personal property on the plantations. They struggled against the condition and were often punished by flogging and, many times, by summary execution. These were people who had been forcibly taken from their homes, their families, and the social security of their different villages, bundled together as freight on slave ships, irrespective of gender, class, or social standing, to undergo the horrors of the transatlantic crossing; eventually landing in a strange country for sale on plantations.

On the plantations male and female enslaved people worked from sunrise to sunset to produce sugar in a partnership with the owners of the plantations in which one side could not do it alone. The partnership fuelled the industrial revolution that made Europe rich — wealth that was the proceeds of crime against the other partner, the people from Africa, who could not share in the outcome at that time.

People of African origin were held in chattel slavery for succeeding generations in the Caribbean and so children were born slaves. This was a period of great wealth for Europe, and a period of great suffering for the Caribbean. The imbalance has never been corrected.

Instead, insult is added to injury, where the EU has blacklisted Caribbean countries, including Jamaica, Barbados and the Bahamas, for being too soft on money laundering. The list was created by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), established by the G-7 summit (the money boys club), for gaps or failures in stemming the financing of terrorist groups or money laundering.

According Finance Minister Nigel Clarke, in 2019 FATF arbitrarily changed the monetary measure for listing from M2 to M3, moving Jamaica from grey to black on the list, with other countries worldwide who are said to pose significant threats to the financial system of the EU.

The positions have changed, wherein the offenders in freeloading have become the enforcers for financial stability — protecting their own financial system without regard for the financial system of their victims in slavery. The more this changes, the more they should not remain the same. This is now the time for action to adjust the financial imbalance resulting from slavery by some form of reparation.

Frank Phipps, QC, is a member of the National Council for Reparation. The views expressed here are his own and representative of the council's. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or

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