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Caribbean countries celebrate today the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery through various actions to demand reparations from the former European slave metropolis and eliminate colonial remnants existing in the region.
The event, established by the United Nations, takes place every December 2, the date in 1949 when the "Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others" was approved.
In recent months, the Caribbean region has reinforced its demands for eradicating the consequences of the historical crimes against humanity committed against the peoples of the area.
This is not a distant, resolved, and closed issue, as the head of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Reparations Commission, Hilary Beckles, pointed out on the occasion of Emancipation Day in the Caribbean area on August 1.
"Europe has a debt to our people, and now is the time to pay," said the also vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies.
For the Caribbean people, the effects of that time still linger. It is necessary to restore democratic rights and fair compensation for the damage caused by the European ex-metropoles.
Since 1993, the Caricom Reparations Commission has been seeking compensation for the genocide of indigenous people and the enslavement of Africans committed by the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.
The issue is included in the United Nations' agenda, which celebrates every March 25 the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
The growing trend towards emancipation in the Caribbean was reinforced this year with Barbados' decision to become a Republic and to abandon its status as a constitutional monarchy on November 30, 2021, on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of its independence.
"The time has come to leave our colonial past behind completely, after more than half a century as an independent country," said Governor General Sandra Mason in announcing the event before parliament.
On the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery: Venezuela exalts the rebellious roots of our ancestors who fought with dignity for freedom. It is time to unite to combat the new forms of oppression and domination that they are trying [...] https://t.co/0XexiAcaoF
Other remembrances of the slave and colonial past are also contained in other UN commemorations, such as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade (March 25).
Four days earlier is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, honoring the Sharpeville Massacre victims (March 21, 1960), when the apartheid regime in South Africa killed 69 protesters.
Furthermore, The UN celebrated 2004 as the International Year of the Struggle against Slavery and its Abolition.
All these issues can be summarized in one sentence from the late Nobel Laureate in Economics (1979), Arthur Lewis, from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia: "the 200 years of unpaid work extracted by the British from the enslaved peoples of the Caribbean is a debt that must be paid to their descendants."