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After criticizing British counterpart for slavery apology refusal, Prime Minister suggests Belizeans not ‘excited’ for coronation

Posted: Saturday, May 6, 2023. 9:34 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Belize was represented at King Charles III’s coronation earlier today, Saturday, by Governor-General Dame Froyla Tzalam.

But while some put up British flags and signalled their support here, the majority of Belizeans are either apathetic or against the idea of such a monumental event taking place in modern times, Prime Minister John Briceño told a reporter for The Guardian (UK) earlier this week.

Asked whether Belizeans were enthused by the event, he said: “There is no excitement. We are so far away from the UK … You don’t see people taking out their Union Jack flags or anything.”

“I just don’t think it [the monarchy] is up there in the minds of people at the moment,” he continued. Aside from the pressing issues of the economy, crime, and climate, Briceño focuses repeatedly on the need for reparations.

“The United Kingdom became great on the backs of the colonies and they do have a responsibility to have some form of reparations. They will never be able to pay back what was plundered and probably the millions of lives that were lost…A public apology is a start.”

One man who is not getting involved in the debate is British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who refused, during Prime Minister’s Questions last week, to apologize for Britain’s role in the transatlantic slave trade, arguing that the British government had a moral responsibility to apologize for the atrocities of slavery, and added to calls throughout the English-speaking Caribbean for financial reparations from the UK.

Sunak had remarked in response, “No. What I think our focus should now be on doing is, of course, understanding our history and all its parts, not running away from it, but right now making sure that we have a society which is inclusive and tolerant of people from all backgrounds.”

The P.M. strongly criticized him for this in The Guardian interview, saying he should have exercised his moral authority on this issue.

The Government in 2021 passed a parliamentary resolution committing the government to seek reparatory justice from the UK “on behalf of the former slaves and their descendants of Belize.” We have also joined in the wider regional fight through CARICOM’s reparations commission.

 

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