Human Rights in the Caribbean

Seen our history, we should be the world champions of human rights. But we’re not. Far form it. Of course, we can blame slavery. We can claim that slavery has blunted our humanity, therefore we cannot be human anymore. Those who argue this way never fail to blame the white people for all our miseries. And sure it is that Caribbean human history is not something the white race can look back upon with pride. BUT, there is a big BUT.

The BUT is that you cannot now get away from your own responsibility and commit human rights abuses in the name of slavery, hoping that somehow the karma for the abuses in the now will be borne by the white peoples of the world. You cannot. We do not say ‘you should not’. You cannot. Responsible for abuse now are those who commit abuse now. And in the Caribbean we have created a culture of abuse and fear. This is extra shameful for us Caribbeans, as we are supposed to know better than anyone else what abuse is.


Now, of course, you can deny it. You can turn red hot, so to speak, contort your face and start blaming slavery and white people again. Or blame poverty. But the truth will not go away. Don’t think we are trying to arouse race hatred. On the contrary, we believe in harmony and human rights. We have promoted this cause all our lives. But we know we will never move forward until we own up to the truth: We, Caribbeans, are abusing our own people now. We have created a culture of abuse, corruption and subtle oppression.

One of the first and most forceful to stand up against this was Fidel Castro, only to put in place a Socialist society based on systematic abuse and oppression of a different kind. Nevertheless, his impact was at first liberating. Also he has, despite his many failings, shown that it is possible for a poor country to at least have the humanity to give everybody an education and to alleviate the people’s suffering when their health is failing. This is an excellent achievement. And there is no doubt Fidel would have wanted to do much more, but the Socialist system chosen by him has a built-in debilitator. After a while it becomes counter-productive even as the Cuban people experience daily now.

What have I done to deserve the punishment of having been born a Cuban?” This is the question Cubans ask themselves these days. In the rest of the Caribbean the abuse has gone on unchecked as of old. A system based on fear and oppression, as it was in slavery days. The only difference, basically, is that the politicians have taken over the abuse of the old slave-owners. They have not ended it. They like it!

It’s time to make a change

We believe in harmony and human rights. We believe in the Caribbean people. We reject thoroughly the thinking prevalent among Caribbean politicians and law enforcement officers that human rights are not for us. Yes, we have a long way to go. Yes, there is a trauma inherited from the past. But we cannot use that trauma to evade our own responsibility trying to shift it to the abusers of old. We cannot keep on living in the past and using our trauma to hold white people and nations morally hostage. We have to look into the mirror and understand that what we see there is what we are now. It is that we have to work with. And the mirror says that we have to end the abuse, for we are responsible for it.

And we have to make use of all the help we can get, no matter who it comes from. And we have to show in practice that we understand what is abuse and what is not. We know the Socialist system cannot work as a model to base our new society upon. Cuba has been instrumental in teaching us that. But Cuba has also taught us that old style capitalism is just as brutal. In fact, it was the system that made a profit on the slave trade. Cuba was right to oppose that.

It is clear that we must seek and apply a new way. Fortunately, a lot of the thinking for this new way, a Third Movement, has been done already. It is based on freedom and human rights. We do not, as our good friend Chavez does with the best of intentions, have to go back to the past to build a new society in ways we know to be counterproductive. Chavez is on a collision course with a wall in a dead-end street. Einstein has warned us that insanity is trying a failed experiment over and over again. That is not the way. Anybody reading these lines and understanding we need a new alternative: Take half a day to read some of the material on Take a whole day. Your eyes will open. There actually is a just and third way. It needs some fine-tuning still, but it’s there. And we can start applying it now. It is consistent with human rights, it is peaceful, it will end the abuse, it will provide justice and abundance for all. We bring you good news today.