Republicanism gains momentum in the former British colonies of the Caribbean

plans to break up with british crown and proclaiming a republic are on the agenda of most of the former British colonies in the Caribbean, a movement that may accelerate after the death of Elizabeth II.

Bahamas, Belize, Jamaica, Old and bearded, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Y St. Lucia They are the former colonies that after their independence maintained the English monarch as head of state and that in recent months have advocated changing their political status.

Gaston BrownPrime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, independent since 1981, reiterated this wish shortly after Elizabeth II’s death, announcing that he would call a referendum within three years for the population to decide whether to remain united to the British monarchy or proclaim a republic.

“This is not an act of hostility or any difference between Antigua and Barbuda and the monarchy, but it is the final step to complete that circle of independence, to ensure that we are truly a sovereign nation,” Browne said last Saturday.

According to the former permanent representative before the United Nations of Saint Lucia Cosmos Richardson, the death of Elizabeth II “is not going to stop calls for republicanism and for the United Kingdom to pay reparations and apologize for the atrocities of slavery”.

reparations for slavery

During trips to several of these countries last March and April of the dukes of cambridge and the Earls of WessexCaribbean leaders reiterated their plans to have their own head of state and there were popular protests demanding economic compensation for slavery.

The Prime Minister of the Bahamas, which became independent in 1973, Phillip Davisacknowledged that the royal visit generated anti-colonial sentiment in the region with demands for reparations and for the former colonies to break ties with the British Crown definitively.

For his part, Browne communicated to the counts of Wessex, Eduardo and Sofía, during his visit, the desire of the Caribbean territory to proclaim a republic and asked to achieve “reparative justice” for Antigua and Barbuda for slavery.

Along the same lines, the Jamaican government announced plans last year to seek compensation for having forcibly brought some 600,000 Africans to work on sugar cane and banana plantations.

“It can be expected that there will be continued movement towards a review of the status of the British sovereign as head of state of these countries as the new King Charles III addresses the issue of restorative justice,” Richardson said.

Barbados, the most recent example

This feeling gained momentum after the proclamation in Barbados of a republic on November 30, 2021, when the then Governor Sandra Mason was sworn in as Head of State, who stated that with this transition, Barbadians could “take full advantage” of the essence of their sovereignty.

On that day, the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalveswhose country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1979 but remains linked to the British Crown, made a strong call for republicanism.

“Barbados is not doing anything new, but what it is doing is of the utmost importance to its people and to our Caribbean civilization. I am hopeful that in my lifetime all or most of the independent countries of Caricom (Caribbean Community) go from a monarchical system to a republican one,” he stressed.

Gonsalves also proposed last July to hold a referendum for the people to decide whether or not to replace Elizabeth II as head of state “before the end of the year or early next year, if the opposition agrees.”

Before they had become republics Guyaneseon February 23, 1970; Trinidad and Tobago, which severed ties with the British monarchy on August 1, 1976; Y Dominicawhose transition was executed on November 3, 1978.

a defining moment

“We are seeing a defining moment in the history of this kind of cohesion that the UK has maintained after the World War II with a series of countries to maintain its hegemonic validity in the world,” said international affairs analyst Carlos Severino.

In the opinion of this professor of political geography at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), there has been “an attrition” in recent decades and the death of Isabel II “can certainly accelerate this, taking advantage of the political situation of the new regents.”

Although all the Caribbean leaders expressed their regret and highlighted the leadership of Isabel II after her death, the movements that have already begun are not going to stop.

As Jamaica celebrates 60 years of independence on August 6, the Prime Minister, Andrew Holnessassured that his administration is working to achieve this change in political status in the face of the 2025 general elections.

Coinciding with the anniversary, opposition leader Mark Golding again urged the government to commit to full political independence “eliminating the last vestiges of past colonial rule.”

A poll last August showed that 56% of Jamaicans are in favor of removing the British monarch as head of state.

Finish the decolonization process

In Belize, which declared its independence in 1981, the Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, Henry Charles Usher, also announced last March the creation of a commission to carry out consultations throughout the country on the definitive process of decolonization.

“The process of decolonization is engulfing the Caribbean region. Maybe it’s time for Belize to take the next step to truly own its independence,” she stressed.

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