Cameron Jamaican trip: Slavery reparations sidelined, but jail to be built
John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. He wrote a memoir of the five years he spent in Hollywood, where he worked in the movie industry prior to becoming a full time and activist and organizer with the US antiwar movement post-9/11. The book is titled Dreams That Die and is published by Zero Books. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1
Published time: 1 Oct, 2015 17:11
|Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (C) and his Jamaican counterpart Portia Simpson-Miller (red jacket) arrive at the National Heroes Park in Kingston, Jamaica September 30, 2015. © Gilbert Bellamy / Reuters|
When people think about the history of the slave trade they commonly think only of the US slave trade. Less well known is the history of the British slave trade. Jamaica’s intervention has just changed all that.
British Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent visit to Jamaica proved a humiliating experience not only for him but for the entire British establishment. It was the first visit to the former British colony by a prime minister in fourteen years, and given how it turned out it’s a fair bet it will be at least another fourteen years before a British prime minister visits the Caribbean island again.
Cameron’s visit kicked off with his announcement that Britain is to invest £25 million in building a new prison on the island; so that Jamaican nationals currently being held in British prisons can be deported home. However, his announcement was overshadowed by a demand for reparations from Britain by Jamaican campaigners and politicians over Britain’s role in a slave trade which decimated
Jamaica and the wider Caribbean; and which has been a factor in the region’s economic and social dislocation and retardation since.
Britain’s slave trade lasted from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century. Research reveals that 10,000 ships were sent from Britain to Africa over the course of the British slave trade, from where they carried slaves to work on British slave plantations in the Americas, including Jamaica. Professor and historian, David Richardson, has calculated that a total of around 3.5 million African slaves were transported on these slave ships.