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EU-CELAC Summit Declares Profound Regret for Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery; Pm Dr Drew Says It’s a Step in The Right Direction

Basseterre, St. Kitts, July 24, 2023 (SKNIS): Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew said “We are heading in the right direction” in relation to the European Union’s acknowledgment and written declaration that the trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery were morally wrong at the recently concluded EU-CELAC Summit in Brussels, Belgium from 17-18 July 2023.

“What is interesting here is to have that being even acknowledged in a document is a great leap forward, so I look at it as the glass being half-full instead of being half-empty—we have at least gotten to the point where we see an apology for slavery,” the prime minister said. “I have not hidden my position with respect to how I feel about that.”

“Exploitation of Africa led to its underdevelopment and by extension affected the States of the Caribbean, which were slave states, and so that is there; nobody can deny that,” said Dr. Drew underscoring the work of Walter Rodney in his book “How Europe underdeveloped Africa”.

Depiction of Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

“I am happy to see that it has become mainstream. It means a lot to me as well,” he said pointing out that he along with a few other nationals including Ras Kalonji has been speaking about reparatory justice for over two decades.

However, Prime Minister Dr. Drew was quick to point out that much more needs to be done in relation to reparatory justice for countries that suffered under the barbarism of the transatlantic slave trade and slavery.

“Have they gone far enough?” he asked. “Not as yet, but do I look at the glass being half-filled—at least the acknowledgment—I say yes, so we are heading in the right direction. The conversation must continue. The position must continue to be put forward. There must be tangible things coming out of this,” he said at his Roundtable with the press on July 14.

Dr. Drew congratulated the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves for being elected as the CELAC (The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) pro tempore president whom he said “did an excellent job” and “represented us well”.

Dr. Gonsalves urged the EU-CELAC summit to rethink the existing world order.

Depiction of Slavery on a Caribbean plantation

“We are assembling at a time of terrifying global turmoil of war and discord. A broken and unworkable financial architecture and the awesome contemporary challenges of an existential kind, particularly those relating to climate change, pandemics, poverty, food insecurity, citizens, security, inequity between and within nations injustices galore, inclusive of those with historical legacies, lodged in native genocide and the enslavement of African bodies, and the debilitating downsides, the misuse and abuse of aspects of technological innovations,” said Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves, one of the longest serving heads of government in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping. “We can devise and implement solutions for a better world for all of humanity, not only for a privileged minority in a few nations…But for us to succeed we must put an end to the wholly unacceptable notion that the strong with impunity, do what they can, and the weak suffer ignominiously what they must.”

The Declaration of the EU-CELAC Summit 2023 stated: “We acknowledge and profoundly regret the untold suffering inflicted on millions of men, women and children as a result of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. We underline our full support to the related principles and elements contained in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, including the acknowledgment that slavery and the slave trade, including the transatlantic slave trade, were appalling tragedies in the history of humanity not only because of the abhorrent barbarism but also in terms of their magnitude, organized nature and especially their negation of the essence of the victims, and that slavery and the slave trade are a crime against humanity. CELAC referred to the CARICOM ten-point Plan for Reparatory Justice.”