barbados, prime, minister, England, 4.9, trillion

Barbados Prime Minister Says England Owes $4.9 Trillion

Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley claims the island nation is owed $4.9 trillion by England.

Following praise of England’s King Charles for his 2022 comments during a trip to Rwanda that the time had come for the colonial power to acknowledge slavery’s impact during its reign, Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley claimed the island nation is owed $4.9 trillion by England, The Independent reports. That figure is a reduction from her previous claim of $24 trillion, which she had asserted was based on a “standard definition” of damage.

On Dec. 6, Mottley said that it was time for the “conspiracy of silence” to end and time for a conversation about reparations to begin. During an event honoring Barbados’ first poet laureate, Mottley said, “We’re not expecting that the reparatory damages will be paid in a year, or two, or five because the extraction of wealth and the damages took place over centuries. But we are demanding that we be seen and that we are heard.”

According to a 2021 op-ed for The Guardian by Suleiman Bulbulia, a member of the Republican Status Transition Advisory Committee, Barbados was a colonial subject of England for 396 years and, during much of that time, functioned as a “slave society.”

Bulbulia noted that the impact of Black Lives Matter and the protests resulting in a reckoning with American history had reached the shores of Barbados, resulting in the removal of a statue of Lord Nelson In National Heroes Square in Barbados’ capital city of Bridgetown. Bulbulia quoted a leading voice in the push for reparations, Professor Hilary Beckles, a Barbadian historian and the vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies.

“Barbados was the birthplace of British slave society and the most ruthlessly colonized by Britain’s ruling elites,” Beckles wrote, according to the piece. “They made their fortunes from sugar produced by an enslaved, ‘disposable’ workforce, and this great wealth secured Britain’s place as an imperial superpower and caused untold suffering.”

Mottley recognized the courage of King Charles, who delivered the remarks at Rwanda’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in June 2021. She believed England’s foreign secretary would be guided on the matter of beginning restitution for the country’s time under British colonial rule.

Mottley acknowledged King Charles’ remarks in 2021, saying, “I’m not going to get into the details of our conversation, but suffice [it] to say I think the foreign secretary will take his lead from his majesty.”

Mottley added, “I want to salute the King for having the courage to recognize this is a conversation that the time has come to have.” 

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