New Campaign Launched For Colonial Slavemaster Scotland to Pay Reparations For Her Crimes, Slavery

New Campaign Launched For Colonial Slavemaster Scotland to Pay Reparations For Her Crimes, Slavery


New Campaign Launched For Colonial Slavemaster Scotland to Pay Reparations For Her Crimes, Slavery Photo: Slaves bringing in the cotton harvest. Hand-colored woodcut of a 19th-century illustration. (North Wind Picture Archives via AP Images)

Some Caribbean islands want Scotland to pay slavery reparations. And a former Scottish National Party (SNP) adviser has backed calls for the country to pay reparations to the Caribbean islands for the damage inflicted during the years of the slave trade.

Scotland profited from the enslaved workers in the Caribbean and took the money back to Scotland; a third of the plantations on Trinidad was said to have been owned by Scots who arrived on the islands in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Scottish Daily Express reported.

Professor Pedro Welch is a member of a Caribbean group campaigning for justice for victims and survivors of slavery, and he wants Scotland to give back some of the fortunes it made on slavery.

Former Scottish Government adviser Kevin Pringle supports Welch’s quest for reparations. Pringle, a former special adviser to first minister Nicola Sturgeon and her predecessor Alex Salmond, agreed that Scotland should make “recompense for sins past.”

“There is no doubt that slavery was critically important in the making of modern Scotland,” Pringle said. “Scottish industrialization could not have existed without chattel unfree Black labor.”

According to Pringle, reparations should be a collaboration between Scottish and Caribbean universities, rather than monetary reparations. “It wouldn’t be a sense of paying them off, it would be a signal that we recognize our historical role in their tragedy, it’s about something practical,” he said.

In 2019, Glasgow University in Glasgow, Scotland, paid £20 million (or about $26 million) in reparations to the University of West Indies for its historical links to the transatlantic slave trade, The Guardian reported. Glasgow University discovered in 2018 that it had benefited financially from Scottish slave traders in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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Professor Welch said reparation could help to ease current economic hardships in the Caribbean, which may have been caused, in part, by economic restrictions imposed by colonial powers.

“The disparities we see today are shaped by the disparities of yesterday, and certain inequities faced continue to affect our people,” he said.

He added: “I’m not just talking about giving every last person in the Caribbean cash. I mean strategic, targeted funding for a number of projects to help our region.” This could mean Scotland providing increased funds to infrastructure, healthcare, and education to improve development once hindered by Scottish businessmen.

A Scottish government spokeswoman told the Scottish Daily Express: “We can never, and should never, ignore or seek to hide the difficult aspects of our country’s history, and we acknowledge Scotland’s complex past, including our involvement in the slave trade.”