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The last American subjects of Elizabeth II

The last American subjects of Elizabeth II

Many Caribbean people from non-sovereign countries live torn between their interests and their feelings. Belonging to the Commonwealth can have its advantages, but more and more are opting for republicanism.

In few countries and territories (realms) of the commonwealth the platinum jubilee of Isabel II than in the Bahamas and other English-speaking islands of the Caribbeanvestiges of the first British Empire, before its center of gravity shifted to India and Asia following the independence of the former 13 North American colonies. The displays of portraits of the sovereign and the coat of arms of the Windsor had little to envy those of the London decked out to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne.

On April 21, 1947, the day he turned 21, in Cape Town he promised to dedicate his life to serving “the great imperial family to which we all belong.” Since then, despite decolonization, countries ranging from Canada and Australia to Belize and Jamaica continue to have the queen as head of state, which with its almost three million inhabitants is the third most populous English-speaking country in the world. the Americas after the United States and Canada.

Every year, between May 25 and 31, the UN celebrates the international week of solidarity with the peoples of non autonomous territories (non-self-governing), many of them Caribbean and former British, French and Dutch colonies or “unincorporated” territories of the United States such as the antillean islands Santa Cruz, San Juan and Santo Tomas islands.

«The displays of portraits of the sovereign and the coat of arms of the Windsor during the jubilee of Elizabeth II in the Bahamas had little to envy those of London»

In most of them, solidarity does not seem very necessary. The 17 Caribbean “non-sovereign” island territories are generally more prosperous than their neighboring republics. In per capita terms, seven of the 10 richest are non-sovereigns whose citizens enjoy self-government, the advantages of the influence of their former metropolis and passports and the possibility of being able to live in the United States or the European Union. In purchasing power parity, the GDP per capita of Bahamas It is similar to that of Spain or Italy. In the UN Human Development Index, Barbadoswhich in November became a republic – the first country in the commonwealth to do it from Mauricio in 1992 – is far ahead of its South American neighbors.

Mixed feelings

Residents of residential neighborhoods Nassau and the hard ones Kingston they have the same queen on their bills, but little else in common. Many Caribbean people from non-sovereign countries live torn between their interests and their feelings. In 2009, the voters of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines rejected in a referendum the severing of ties with the crown. In the sixties, the inhabitants of Anguilla rebelled in the streets against a plan of London which granted them independence as part of Saint Kitts and Nevis, an island 60 kilometers to the south, in the only case of a territory that fought against its former metropolis to remain British.

In Barbados –the easternmost of the Lesser Antilles and with almost 300,000 inhabitants, the vast majority of African descent–, on November 30, 2021, the day of the 55th anniversary of independence, Sandra Mason, former governor general and representative of the queen, was sworn in as the new republic’s first female head of state after receiving two-thirds of the votes of the two houses of Parliament. The Barbadian Prime Minister, Mia Mottleyestablished diplomatic relations with Ghana and Kenya, among other measures to affirm the pan african identity of the island and its blacknessa trend that reinforced in the Caribbean the movement Black Lives Matter of the USA and revisionism on the slave legacy of the British Empire.

“Dwellers in suburban Nassau and tough Kingston have the same queen on their bills, but little else in common”

After the defection of Barbados, 34 of the 54 Commonwealth countries are already republics. Monarchists wield in their favor political stability and the freedoms that the institution protects. But time seems to be running against him. only 15 realms of the Commonwealth, including United Kingdom, retain the queen as sovereign. But in the British Isles, imperial nostalgia is still strong despite the fact that books like legacy of violence (2022), by Caroline Elkins, who denounces that for two centuries the empire exercised systematic violence to secure and preserve its interests and that when it could no longer do so, it destroyed the incriminating evidence.

Barbados is not the first former British Caribbean colony to become a republic. Guyanese it did so in 1970, four years after it declared its independence. They followed Trinidad and Tobago in 1976 and Dominica in 1978. If the list is lengthened in the coming years, the current political balance in the Organization of American States will be broken by the strengthening of the group of English-speaking Caribbean countries, traditionally close to Washington but in which the presence of of companies such as China Merchants Port Holdings and Hong Kong’s Hutchinson Whampoa, which control two of the four main ports of Panama and Kingston.

Australia and Canada

In Canada and Australia the prestige of the queen supports that of the monarchy. According to a recent survey by the Angus Reid Institute, 62% of Canadians have a good opinion of the monarch but 67% oppose the Prince carlos Be your next king. With a 96-year-old queen, the next succession can change many things. In May, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall toured Canada for three days queen’s jubilee. The local press highlighted that the few public appearances of him barely gathered public.

The problem is that preventing Charles from being its new monarch would require amending the constitution and the unanimous support of Parliament in Ottawa and the governors of Canada’s 10 provinces, where the queen’s powers are even less than in the United Kingdom. The current Governor General, Mary Simonis of the Inuk ethnic group and the first woman from an indigenous people to hold the position.

In Australiathe new prime minister, Anthony Albanese, an avowed Republican, has appointed Matt Thistelthwaite “Minister for the Republic,” making him the first Crown Minister tasked with getting rid of her. According to a 2021 Ipsos poll, 30% of Australians want a republic, the lowest level of support since 1979. 40% oppose changing the state model.

The parents’ house

In the British Caribbean islands, the role of governors-general is far from just ceremonial: they can block laws, remove governments and suspend constitutions. In 2013, in the Cayman Islandsone of the two largest tax havens in the Caribbean, the British government vetoed a port project awarded to a Chinese construction company without public tender.

“Only 15 realms of the Commonwealth, including the United Kingdom, retain the queen as sovereign. But in the British Isles imperial nostalgia is still strong.

The Turks and Caicos constitution has been suspended twice, most recently in 2009 following an investigation that found evidence of “systemic corruption”, which led to three years of direct rule by the governor. See her from Peiza, leader of the Barbados Labor Party, compares the cutting of the moorings to entering adulthood. A constitutional monarchy, he says, is akin to living at home with one’s parents. At some point you have to leave her if you want to enter adulthood, which does not mean stop talking to your parents.

compensation

After the dukes of cambridge left Belize on their recent tour of that country, the Bahamas, and Jamaica, the government announced that it would create a “decolonization” commission. In one of his speeches, Prince William expressed his “profound sadness at the atrocities of slavery,” but was careful to say nothing that could be construed as a formal apology that could give rise to demands such as those periodically made by the Caricomthe community of Caribbean nations headquartered in Georgetown, Guyana.

In July 2018, Caricom created an official commission to formalize the claims with the advice of Leigh Day, an English law firm that had just achieved average compensation of 2,600 pounds for each of the 5,228 Kenyans who suffered mistreatment – ​​torture, deportation… – during the anti-colonial Mau Mau revolt of 1954.

“Prince William expressed his ‘profound sadness at the atrocities of slavery’ but was careful to say anything that could be construed as a formal apology.”

United Kingdom it abolished the slave trade in 1807 and freed the almost 750,000 slaves from its Caribbean colonies in 1838, paying their former owners 20 million pounds for their freedom, at that time 40% of the government budget. Former slaves received no compensation of any kind. The Caricom he wants the taxpayers of the former colonial powers –British, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish…– to bear the costs of the repairs.

According to a recent report by New York Timesafter the revolution of 1804 that expelled the French authorities and abolished slavery, Haiti was paying a “double debt” for 64 years: to France and to the French bank that financed the reparations to the slavers. Through archival research and interviews with historians, academics and 15 of the world’s leading economists, the newspaper estimated that the payments sent to France at the time they ended up representing between 21,000 and 115,000 million dollars in lost growth, about eight times the GDP of Haiti in 2020. Calculating on the compensation paid by London to its slavers, Caricom estimates range between 16,397 and 88,977 million dollars. euros.

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Written by Editor TLN

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