U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron is on the island. On our way home last night, we saw his motorcade pass us by and enter the Governor General’s residence. The motor cade, surprisingly, consisted of only two motorcycles, one black car and one other car. However, there was an aircraft buzzing around all night and this morning still, so I expect that has something to do with the visit.
Cameron will address Parliament today, with the goal of discussing trade and the nations’ historic links. The Jamaican Prime Minister, Mrs. Portia Simpson Miller, however, has a different idea in mind. She wants to discuss reparations. This is the first visit by a U.K. Prime Minister in 14 years. I imagine he is not too keen on discussing Britain’s links to slavery, despite a growing push from advocacy groups. From a Guardian story:
Bert Samuels, a member of the island’s National Commission on Reparations, appeared on Jamaican television to say Cameron needed to “atone, apologise, personally and on behalf of his country” for slavery.
“His lineage has been traced and his forefathers were slave-owners and benefited from slavery,” he said. “We were left behind because of racism.” This appears to be a reference to the fact that General Sir James Duff, Cameron’s cousin six times removed, received more than £4,000 compensation for loss of 202 Jamaican slaves when the trade ended 1833.
Verene Shephard, a University of West Indies professor and a member of the National Commission on Reparations, has also written a piece in the Guardian today. Another group, the Press Association of Jamaica, is less than thrilled with the visit, as it has filed a formal complaint about Cameron’s refusal to take questions from the media.
It is not all bad news, as the U.K. has promised 300 million pounds to the Caribbean (I wonder which islands and for what causes) and 25 million pounds to construct a prison here to house Jamaicans who are incarcerated in the U.K. Hmmmm….