To: The Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves
Subject: Reparations for the Garinagu People
In reference to the press release issued by your office dated May 21, 2013, on behalf of your government and people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, formerly known by we living in the diaspora countries as “Yurumei”, our association applauds this bold initiative on your part to seek reparation for the injustices committed against our Garinagu people on the island of Saint Vincent (Yurumei), our homeland.
However, our executive body examined the press release in detail and we have some reservations with some proposed provisions of the current proposal, which are the following:
1. We believe that any reparation case brought on our behalf should be separate from the case to be brought for the descendants of slavery.
2. That the case to be filed should not only be on behalf of the people and government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines but also the Garinagu people who reside in the diaspora countries such as Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Belize, the United States of America and wherever else they may reside today.
3. That the representative organizations of the Garinagu people in these countries, be a party to the reparation suit filed in order to strengthen the claim against the British government in a court of law with our full cooperation and testimonies.
4. Also that representatives of these organizations be a part of the Reparation Committee to collaborate with the government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in gathering evidence, etc., through the ambassadors and consuls assigned to these respective countries.
5. That the House of Representatives of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines pass a law that citizenship status be granted to the descendants of all the Garinagu people who were deported from Saint Vincent to Roatan, Honduras, on March 11, 1797. This needed good faith gesture by your government will demonstrate to the world that a part of your nation is now living in absentia.
6. At the resolution of the reparation case, any monetary award granted will be distributed equitably among all the Garifuna associations who were part of this class action suit.
Note: You opened up the possibility of collaborating with other governments where we, the Garinagu people, reside in countries such as Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Belize and the United States. We have no confidence that these governments will passionately pursue a case on our behalf because of our people’s current experience living in these countries for centuries now. Since we were forcefully removed from our homeland, acts of human rights violation are being committed against our people in most of these countries up to today, especially in Honduras where most of our people reside.
Our association has been monitoring your efforts on this issue since 2011 and we have come to the conclusion that your intentions are good. We intend to support all your efforts in seeking reparation once these concerns are addressed. We, the Garinagu people that live in the diaspora, reserve the right to file a suit for reparations for our sufferings and to redress the injustices committed against our ancestors when they were forcefully removed from our native homeland Saint Vincent (Yurumei).
Our association will be awaiting a response to this letter from you and your government as soon as you have the time to respond.
Wellington C. Ramos
Vice-President/Director of Public Relations
United Garifuna Association