Caribbean leaders met in St Vincent yesterday to discuss a landmark legal claim to sue Britain and the rest of Europe for problems which they say can be traced back to the slave trade.
More than 150 years after Europe abolished slavery, they are considering trying to claim hundreds of billions of pounds. Caricom, a group of 12 former British colonies together with the former French colony Haiti and the Dutch-held Suriname, believes Europe should pay for a lasting legacy of poverty and illiteracy and ill health.
The case comes just a week after Steve McQueen's epic 12 Years A Slave, starring Michael Fassbender and Chiwetel Ejiofor won the Oscar for Best Picture.
The case has been prepared by a British law firm that recently won almost £20 million compensation for hundreds of Kenyans tortured by the British colonial government during the Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s.
The claim states: "The transatlantic slave trade is the largest forced migration in human history and has no parallel in terms of man's inhumanity to man."
By the 1660s, the number of slaves taken from Africa in British ships to work on the sugar plantations averaged 6,700 per year and many went via Bristol.
"Undoubtedly, Britain faces more claims than anyone else," said Martyn Day, the British lawyer advising the Caribbean nations.
A Foreign Office spokesman said reparations are not the answer and added: "Slavery was and is abhorrent."