In what’s being viewed as a big development in the campaign for reparations for slavery, its been revealed that up to 2015, the British government was still paying off a £20-million loan lent to them to compensate slave owners in the Caribbean, including Jamaica.
On February 9, the UK Treasury on Twitter wrote “Here’s today’s surprising #FridayFact. Millions of you helped end the slave trade through your taxes.”
The tweet revealed that the UK’s government wasn’t able to pay off the £20-million until 3-years ago.
This means many ordinary people in Britain including black descendants of those who were enslaved have been contributing to the payment of this loan through public taxes.
This has been happening while Britain has refused to enter into reparation negotiations with its former colonies in the Caribbean. The £20-million raised was to pay slave owners for every enslaved person they owned when slavery was abolished in 1833.
However, this was not the full capital value for all 600,000 of our enslaved ancestors. The total compensation to the owners was actually £47-million. That begs the question – what happened to the remaining £27-million.
Vice Chancellor of the University of West Indies, Sir Hilary Beckles says blacks paid the remaining sum in another form.
Sir Hillary says, for example, some 200,000 Jamaicans living in Britain— their taxes were used to pay back the very loan that was used to compensate the people who enslaved their ancestors.
He was speaking at a media conference hosted by the Centre for Reparations Research today at the UWI Mona campus.
Sir Hillary says the payment was an enormous sum that almost bankrupted the British government.
Meanwhile, the revelation has once again sparked heavy criticism of several former British Prime Ministers who’ve refused to have reparation negotiations.
During a 2015 visit to Jamaica, former UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, told the people of the island and the region that slavery was a long time ago and they should move on.
However, the UWI Vice Chancellor says Mr. Cameron was being deceptive in his address to the nation.
The Centre for Reparations Research says the British government had covered up the truth in order to make the argument that slavery was in the distant past.
This, the Centre says, was their argument to defend why slavery was not a subject for reparation claims.