Jamaica and Belize consider electing their own heads of state


Several countries are considering leaving the British Commonwealth of Nations, known as the Commonwealth, due to the reluctance of the United Kingdom to assume its share of responsibility for the atrocities committed during its colonial period, refusing to keep the new king as its head of state.

Various organizations from twelve countries have signed this week a letter addressed to King Carlos III, whose coronation will take place this Saturday, May 6, so that he “recognizes the terrible impacts and legacy of genocide and the colonization of indigenous and enslaved peoples.”

The letter has been signed by citizens of Antigua and Barbuda, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

These nations call on the UK to issue a formal apology and start a process for contemplating reparations, which would include the return of the many indigenous cultural artifacts taken from their countries that fill British museums.

However, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has repeatedly refused to do anything beyond acknowledging “our country’s past” and trying to “build a society without discrimination”, as he responded in Parliament to the question of an opposition deputy.

This lack of response does not please Belize, one of the Commonwealth countries that King Carlos III has never visited, and whose Prime Minister, Johnny Briceño, has threatened to leave the group.

Speaking to the British newspaper ‘The Guardian’, Briceño opined this Thursday that Sunak has “a moral responsibility” for the role of the United Kingdom in the slave trade across the Atlantic Ocean, especially because of his ancestry, since his family is from India.

“When you read and hear about the looting that took place in the land of their ancestors, I think it seems that (Sunak) should have offered an apology” on behalf of his country, the Belizean has assured, threatening to soon become a republic. .

Jamaica could also soon join the list of countries that have chosen to have a head of state other than the British monarch –Barbados was the last to become a republic in 2021, at a ceremony attended by Charles III himself –.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness has promised to hold a referendum to determine whether his people want Charles III to remain head of state.

There are 14 states in which the British monarch is the representative head of state, although the Commonwealth is also a political association of 56 countries. Although many of these nations hope to become republics, most of them do not consider leaving the community on a political level, following a process similar to that carried out by Barbados.