Barbados & Colombia Discuss Debt For Nature Swaps, Reparations For Colonialism.

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and Vice President of Colombia, Francia Marquez, exchange pleasantries at the end of a recent courtesy call at Ilaro Court. (PMO)
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Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley’s leadership on reparations and environmental justice for vulnerable countries has come in for high praise from Colombia’s Vice President, Francia Marquez.

The two officials held wide-ranging talks on various areas of cooperation during a courtesy call at Ilaro Court, recently.

Mrs. Marquez, speaking in Spanish via an interpreter, insisted that many citizens were still suffering the lingering effects of colonialism in a similar way to Barbados and without Ms. Mottley’s leadership on reparations, the conversation would not be happening.

The Vice President of the South American nation, who was in the island on a reparations study tour, shared that in her own country, people were still facing many challenges and previous governments were reluctant to take up the charge on reparations.

Mrs. Marquez added that following a fruitful bilateral meeting with Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, it was the “right moment for Latin America to pursue closer ties on economic priority area and political goals” with the region.

“As the Vice President of Colombia, we want to establish stronger ties with your Government and with Barbados in general,” she told Ms. Mottley.

Vice President Marquez was very interested in Barbados’ Debt for Nature Swap instrument and pointed out that this would be an area of focus for her country, given its rich biodiversity.

Prime Minister Mottley told the Vice President that she had laid out a “large body of work” on which both countries could collaborate.

She also shared that Barbados would be undertaking a debt for climate swap instrument, for the South Coast Sewage Project.  “We are more than happy to work with your advisors to share the approach that we are taking on the Debt for Nature Swap …,” Ms. Mottley told the Colombian high-ranking official.

On the topic of reparations, the Prime Minister stressed that she was heartened by the increased interest shown by some European countries, as well as the discussions on reparative justice at the recent European Union’s Community of Latin America and Caribbean States EU-CELAC Conference in Brussels.

Ms. Mottley praised Vice President Marquez for articulating the cause for reparations saying: “To be as articulate as you are on this issue and to be as militant as you have been in the defence of the planet, your community and principles of environmental justice, is a unique opportunity for us to build upon.”

The two officials also touched on airlift between the two countries; the opening of a Colombian Embassy in Barbados; opportunities for artisans to improve their craft; and opportunities for the further development of natural herbal therapies.

Barbados and Colombia established diplomatic ties on February 1, 1972.

Editor’s note: Debt-for-nature swaps take place between two governments. In a bilateral swap, a creditor country forgives a portion of the public bilateral debt of a debtor nation in exchange for environmental commitments from that country.

An example of a bilateral swap occurred when the U.S. Government, under the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative, forgave a portion of Jamaica’s official debt obligations and allowed the payments on the balance to go into national funds that finance environmental conservation. These funds established the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica in 1993.

Source: Barbados Goverment Information Service.

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