By Anatol Scott
In his “Letter: Garinagu, reparations and CARICOM
,” the main points of Mr Joseph Guerrero’s argument are quite clear:
1. The Garinagu in “Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the United States .... were not consulted nor were they included in the reparations claim now underway”;
2. Chatoyer was “killed”, not assassinated;
3. “None of the .... countries in which Garinagu live is a part of CARICOM so .... they can be eliminated as far as CARICOM’s reparations claim is concerned and .... the state of Belize has no claim to make on behalf of the Garinagu living there;”
4. “The Garinagu stand a better chance bringing their own case against former colonial powers as their case is distinct from that of the CARICOM claims over slavery;”
5. “No one Garifuna organization will be able to take on this task. They will have to work together under the umbrella of one central Garifuna organization working toward a common goal of winning such a case against the powerful British government.”
Anatol Leopold Scott is a graduate of the St Vincent Boys’ Grammar School. In 1969, he was appointed executive secretary of the St Vincent Tourist Board under James Mitchell, the then minister of agriculture, tourism, and trade. He emigrated to Canada where he worked at different jobs in government and private enterprises. He pursued higher education at the University Of Alberta, graduating BA (1993) with distinction, and MA (1994) in History.
Instead of digesting what Mr Guerero has written and possibly accepting some of what he is saying, Pknight, one of the leading ‘internet crazies’ (as defined by Dr Ralph Gonsalves
) seeks to impose his view on Mr Guerrero by insisting that “we cannot afford or encourage any division, we have to stick together as one people, one voice, one destiny.” Pknight hammers home the dogma: “the St Vincent and the Grenadines position is clear on this reparation matter.”
There is no room in Pknight’s world for discussion or disagreement; we must all become automatons, thinking the prescribed thoughts by those who know it all, voicing one prepackaged opinion so that we can hopefully share, one day, in some sort of heavenly social dream.
This approach may be acceptable to ideologues and the fanatically religious but it should not be imposed on the rest of us nobodies. I am a nobody and I cannot be called an ‘internet crazy’ because I am not afraid to use my full name and neither can I be accused of being a member of the NDP.
I am begging Pknight to please accept that other people might not be as rhinoceros-headed as he seems to be on this and other matters. See an example
He goes on to say that the Garinagu should “pursue and settle the stolen land issue first, and let’s see what happens.” What stolen land issue? The Yellow Caribs were Kalinago and they lived very peacefully, for the most part, with the French inhabitants for over 150 years. The Kalinago and the Garifuna were not signatories to the 1763 Treaty agreed to by the French, English and Spanish.
If there is a land issue, it begins with the treaty between the Garifuna and the British, which ended the First Carib War. By signing that treaty, the Garifuna gave up their right to almost half of the land on St Vincent. The problem for the Garinagu lies in the St Vincent Garifuna declaration of the war that ended in 1796. During and after that war, the argument used by the British was one of treason against the Garifuna, based on their acceptance of French citizenship.
The question should be asked: Did the entire Garifuna people accept French citizenship? It would seem that the leadership, Chatoyer and Duvallée and perhaps a few others did accept that citizenship (which was not really available to them) but that does not mean that all of the exported people did.
The thing that is disgraceful and needs to be legally challenged about the deportation of the vast majority of an indigenous people is this, so far unmentioned, fact; instead of punishing the few leaders who accepted French citizenship, the colonial leaders engaged in a draconian act; they exported all of those people because they considered them all traitors.
By deporting those people, the British were able to purloin Garifuna land but, by turning the argument of treason (by all of this people) which was used by the British on its head and throwing it back in a court of justice, I believe the Garinagu might have a winning case against the British.
Pknight goes on to say that “only SVG can bring this to the ICJ table at present.” Based on my argument here and, in a subdued manner, in my three-part article, Don’t Mess with History, I think that SVG would be opening itself to a charge of conflict of interest in that SVG is now the recipient of all the benefits that flowed from the British land grab. The only people who can bring this case to the court are the Garinagu through a central organization (as suggested by Mr Guerrero) and there is no need for them to present the losing argument of genocide against their people.
I completely agree with Mr Guerrero when he says: “The case of stolen lands must come from the victims. The clear victims are the descendants of those exiled. The case for stolen lands is for them to make,” not SVG or CARICOM
By the way, Mr Guerrero, you have used the term Garinagu throughout your presentation to refer to what many people (including myself) refer to as Garifuna. This has confused me for some time. According to other sources, the term Garinagu refers to the hybrid indigenous people that now exist in places such as Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the United States, whereas the term Garifuna refers to the language spoken by such people. On the other hand, most people in St Vincent and most of the other Caribbean islands refer to the Garifuna, not as a language, but as those people of mixed Kalinago (Yellow Carib) and African descent. Could you offer some sort of clarity on this issue?