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25947; Durban (pub): CARICOM losing Credibility over Haiti (fwd)
From: Lance Durban <email@example.com>
A little something that hit my in-box today...
Reprinted from Caribbean Net News
CARICOM losing credibility over Haiti
by Clarence Pilgrim
Tuesday, August 9, 2005
Once again, the leadership of CARICOM missed another
opportunity to give tangible and realistic support to
the people of Haiti, a CARICOM member since the 2nd of
In what some have described as nothing more than ?lip
service?, the communiqué issued by the recently held
meeting by the Heads of Government in St. Lucia, noted
with great concern the continuing deterioration of the
situation in Haiti in all respects.
In more carefully worded diplomatic language they said
that the ?widespread abuse of due process and
fundamental rights, spiraling crime, in particular
kidnapping, lawlessness and acts of violence, along
with a lack of improvement in the social and economic
situation had made life even more unbearable,
especially in the capital?.
With the utmost respect to our CARICOM leaders, this
situation has been evident for some time now, and
while the CARICOM secretariat do the paper work, this
does not hide the fact that very little is being done.
There is no CARICOM initiated recovery or
reconstruction assistance plan in place, and there
does not even seem to be a complete unity of purpose
among the CARICOM leadership! All of this is happening
while lives continue to be devastated in a country
crying out for our help!
The Heads of Government in what seems like a ?token
show of assistance,? said it would be ready to support
the upcoming elections with technical assistance under
the umbrella of MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization
Mission In Haiti).
Why hasn?t the CARICOM leadership with its collective
procrastination over this issue, got serious and
devised a workable plan to rescue this nation from
it?s continued downward spiral into the abyss of
social and economic chaos?
When Jean Jacques Dessalines proclaimed Haiti?s
independence on the 1st January 1804, it marked the
beginning of what has become a symbolic moment in the
overall advancement of humanity towards freedom.
As one of the oldest independent republics in the
hemisphere it is of historic importance as well as
economic necessity that CARICOM should consider it as
a moral obligation to play a more serious role in
ensuring its survival and preparing that nation to
receive the full benefits of the CSME and other
institutions within the region.
It is my opinion that the root of most of the
country?s evil stems from poverty and unemployment.
This obviously causes social and economic instability.
Caribbean leaders should understand why their shores
are being invaded by desperate Haitians. They
perilously cross the seas seeking a better way of life
and freedom from political prosecution, economic
disadvantage or social strife.
Instead of condemning and deporting this exodus like
common criminals or animals, there should be a
humanitarian understanding of the situation and a
measured and well-thought out plan to re-integrate
them back into a reasonable environment. Sending back
wholesale these suffering souls will be the equivalent
in some cases, of giving a death sentence.
With the coming elections it is questionable weather
this will really have the desired outcome. With
approximately 4.25 million voters, creating a credible
voters list in a country that is in need of major
infrastructural development in the form of roads,
electricity and other utilities and media services,
will indeed be a major challenge.
There are some who believe there may be as many as 90
political parties contesting the elections! Progress
towards this elections have been slow. Preparing for
an election in an unstable political & social
environment where even members of MINUSTAH lose their
lives, clearly highlights the many obstacles to a
timely and well-run elections.
Only what is seen as a free, fair and inclusive
elections will satisfy those of us who believe in
There are individuals that reportedly encourage
violent actions by supporters of former President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Members of the former military
and armed gangs with ties to criminal elements such as
drug traffickers and illegal arms dealers roam the
Also, the continued political demonstrations make the
situation even more difficult because they are
seemingly manipulated to suit some agendas. Added to
this mix of political strife is the reality of serious
health related issues including AIDS.
The United Nations estimates that nearly 6% of
Haitians are infected with HIV or have Aids. An
estimated thousands of people die of Aids every year.
The exact figures are not known. It is understood that
many people are terrified of revealing their illnesses
because they might be discriminated against by their
friends, family or employers.
Our Caribbean Heads say with a presumably "straight
face" that they reiterate the importance they attach
to improvement in the human rights, political,
security and economic domains without which there
could be neither stability nor the possibility of
socio-economic and institutional development, which
were so vitally required.
But when our leaders make such statements what do they
really mean? Let us be realistic, without meaningful
and tangible support for all members of our Caribbean
family, then such words will simply be, "blowing in
One thing is absolutely clear, there must be full
recognition of the fact that there should be
constructive engagement with any form of government
that exist, civil society and just about any entity
which carries influence. This may be the time to
?dance with the devil? to achieve the following
specific objectives which includes but is not limited
to the following:-
Restoration of a freely and fairly elected government
An end to human rights abuses
Prosecution of Criminals
Controlling health-threatening epidemics
Two things are clear, if the CARICOM leadership does
not stop waffling on the issue of Haiti, then the real
danger is that the whole meaning, purpose and spirit
of signing the treaty of Chaguaramas will be lost and
the human suffering will continue and get worse.
I urge the new CARICOM Chairman Dr Kenny Anthony, to
be truly proactive and make the issue of Haiti a top
item on the agenda of CARICOM. Failing to do this may
have repercussions far and wide.