The major news happenings in the Caribbean in 2023 involved calls for reparations from historical colonizing countries and plans to remove the British monarch as head of state in several countries. The Caribbean became the recipient of US$100 million in aid from the United States and Antigua and Barbados made history by sending the first woman from the Caribbean region on a space flight. Antigua’s Island Girls rowing team received the Forerunner Award from the Institute of Caribbean Studies for its outstanding achievements in rowing in two oceans.
Prime Minister of Barbados Made Keynote Speech Calling for Reparations
Mia Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados, delivered the keynote address at the United States Reparations Convention in April 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Reparations Commission was established by CARICOM in 2013 to create a moral, ethical, and legal case for the payment of reparations by all governments of former Caribbean colonial powers to the countries and peoples of CARICOM for “Crimes against Humanity of Native Genocide, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, and a racialized system of chattel Slavery.” Prime Minister Mottley had strongly advocated for reparations on the international level for some time.
Belize Joined Other Caribbean Countries Planning to Remove the British King as Head of State
At the same time that members of the Caribbean Diaspora had notable roles at the coronation of Britain’s King Charles III, Belize announced plans to remove the monarch as its head of state. With its announcement, Belize joined Jamaica, which is in the process of becoming a republic, and Barbados, which has already done so. Caribbean representatives at the coronation included Baroness Valerie Amos of Guyana who was part of the ceremony in which the king was recognized as the true monarch. Others with roles in the coronation events were Baroness Floella Benjamin of Trinidad and Tobago, who held the King Charles scepter symbolizing his spiritual function, and Jamaican British baritone Roderick Williams, OBE, who performed an original song personally commissioned by King Charles III for the ceremony. Additional representative leaders from the Caribbean were also in attendance at the coronation.
United States Vice President Announced the U.S. Would Provide S$100 Million in Aid to the Caribbean
On her first visit to the Caribbean since taking her history-making role as United States Vice President, Kamala Harris announced that the Biden-Harris Administration would make investments in the region totaling US$100 million. The funds are meant to stop weapons trafficking, expand humanitarian aid, and fight climate change. The trip by Vice President Harris was historic as she is the highest-ranking US official to visit the Bahamas since it became independent in 1973. Harris met with Caribbean leaders to emphasize the commitment of the US to maintaining its relationship with Caribbean nations and noted that the partnership between the US and the Caribbean is essential to the security and prosperity of both regions.
Antiguans Made History as the First Caribbean Women and the First Mother-Daughter Pair in Space
Antiguan Keisha Schahaff and her daughter Anastasia Mayers made history as the first mother-daughter pair from the Caribbean to go into space. They were also the first women from the Caribbean to take such a flight. The women traveled on Virgin Galactic’s VSS United spacecraft. After the flight, company founder, Richard Branson, said he is anticipating more space voyages by astronauts from the Caribbean. Two public watch parties were organized by Antigua and Barbuda’s Tourism Authority to ensure the whole country could participate in the historic event.
Antigua’s Island Girls Rowing Team Receives Prestigious Award in Washington DC
The Antigua Island Girls rowing team was recognized for their outstanding achievements by the Institute of Caribbean Studies with the presentation of its Forerunner Award at the Caribbean-American Heritage Awards ceremony in Washington DC on November 18, 2023. The team – Christal Clashing, Kevinia Francis, and Samara Emmanuel – was presented with the award by Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States, Sir Ronald Sanders. In making the presentation, the ambassador said their journey meant more than just a physical crossing of oceans, but also was a testament to their determination, teamwork, and relentless pursuit of their dreams. The award ceremony coincided with the 30th anniversary of the Institute of Caribbean Studies.