Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Ja: Caricom had no Plan B

At the same time, Prime Minister P J Patterson yesterday betrayed scepticism of the emerging accusations from "our erstwhile partners" against Haiti's overthrown leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, when they were not so long ago willing to sit with him in hemispheric councils.
This from the same PJ Patterson who did not think it fit to attend Haiti's independence celebrations because of concerns re the legitimacy of Aristide's election.

Did Caricom even attempt to discover why the Opposition did not trust Aristide? It seems not. Instead of investigating whether there was any merit to the Opposition's distrust, which would have informed Caricom that Plan A was without merit, Caricom leaders may have regarded Haiti's Opposition in the same light as they would the oppoisition in their own countries. How could they be so short-sighted as not to take into consideration the oppressive history of Haiti's past political leaders? How could they ignore the words of Aristide's former supporters?
In the aftermath of his Parliamentary statement, Patterson was asked by Seaga if it had come to the attention of Caricom that there were grounds laid down by the Haitian Opposition why they did not want Aristide to remain in office.

The prime minister's response was that there were a number of allegations made, which perhaps could be summed up "in the simple term, that they did not trust Aristide".

"It is not an unusual allegation for persons in Opposition to make of any duly constituted government," Patterson said.
Moreover, Aristide's government was not "duly constituted." Instead, even Caricom acknowledged that there were just grounds for doubts about the legality of the elections. Thus, Caricom had two red flags in relation to Aristide and ignored both.

As if this isn't bad enough, Patterson reveals that Caricom had no Plan B in case the rebels did not consent to share power with Aristide.
Asked by Seaga whether Caricom had a back-up in the event the initiative they had placed on the table failed, Patterson said what was proposed, in the opinion of the Community, had "all the ingredients" to preserve the constitutional framework of Haiti, promote democratic governance and create a situation where free and fair elections could be held in an atmosphere of stability.

"We were prepared, after discussions, had the Opposition parties brought proposals to the table, to consider the effect of those proposals, but there were certain fundamental principles which we made clear from the start," Patterson said. "That is to say, we were never going to support a coup d'etat, in any shape or form.

"...We did make it clear, however, that if in the event President Aristide chose voluntarily to submit his resignation then that was a reality with which we would have to deal and the provision within the Constitution would then have to be triggered and come into effect."
Yet, when Aristide resigned, because he didnot contact any Caricom leader previous to his resignation; because he lied to Caricom and the world when he claimed the U.S. kidnapped him ? the same way he had lied to his past supporters who had left him ? Patterson and Caricom chose to believe Aristide against all the evidence of past performance. Caricom chose to place its trust in Aristide rather than in its reliable partner the U.S.

How could Caricom expect to play politics on the global stage if it comes to the game without a contingency plan? Absent a Plan B, all that was left to Caricom when its only Plan failed was sheer disappointment and a sense of betrayal. Worse yet, Caricom regarded the U.S. as their betrayer, rather than Aristide and Caricom's own inability to devise or envision the need for contingency plans. Having been caught out, Caricom, rather than breaking for tea and coming back to the field refreshed and with a new perspective, continues playing the same old lousy game that led the region into a rift from its nothern ally. Moreover, Caricom is compounding the problem by being amenable to the ardent whispers of its southern-most socialist neighbor.

Caricom still has no Plan B, and, worse yet, appears to have no clue as to how the winds are blowing globally, and thus will not have the sense to get out of the big rains when they begin to fall.

There is a price that Caricom will have to pay for its alliance with the increasingly socialist South Americans, and that price is economic viability. Hopefully Caricom has a Plan B for that.

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