Thursday, March 18, 2004

T&T: Singh is wrong on Latortue

Singh writes:

WHAT a shameful blunder by an unelected, interim Prime Minister of Haiti to have declared a suspension of that Caribbean nation's relations with the Caribbean Community.
Had the situation for Haiti not been so tragic, LaTortue's announcement that he had decided to "put to sleep" Haiti's diplomatic and other relations with Caricom would be greeted with hilarity.
What, pray tell, has Caricom done for Haiti besides talk? Worse yet, the one action that Patterson, the head of Caricom, undertook -- having Aristide stay in Jamaica -- is guaranteed to create unrest in Haiti. Latortue therefore concluded that suspending relations was the wisest course of action and would cost Haiti nothing because Caricom countries were missing in action when Haiti needed them most. The joke is not on Haiti; instead, it is on Caricom.

When Aristide was using gangs against his people and enriching himself at their expense, did a questionable election make his deeds more palatable to Singh?

Singh continues:
Except that this is not a time for laughter but to weep, as the chronically poor people of Haiti, existing in the most wretched circumstances in the entire Western Hemisphere, continue to risk their lives to find shelter in the "land of the free and home of the brave" that prefers Cuban asylum-seekers to Haitian refugees.
No more Haitians have put to sea trying to reach the U.S. since the Marines have taken control of the streets. Does the U.S. government have no right to determine whom it will admit into the country? Singh seems to think that the U.S. should be an open door for anybody who's in distressed circumstances, and he's also failing to note that the U.S. Coastguards have been vigorously implementing the wet-foot-dry-foot policy against Cubans. Furthermore, while Haitians lived in wretched circumstances, Caricom leaders puffed, pouted, and looked to have inquiries. They did nothing to improve the lot of the average Haitian; now the U.S. is, and all Singh and Caricom are doing is whining. How does that help the Haitians to find shelter? Far better than Haitians decamping for U.S. shores en masse, is that Haiti be stabilized so that Haitians can live full productive lives in their own countries. That way, fewer lives will be lost from setting out upon the seas in rickety boats. How would Rickey Singh like it if thousands of Haitians fled towards Guyana, I wonder? What would be the response of the Guyanese government?

He writes:
Debarred from turning up on America's shores as refugees, Haitians, whether for or against a government under Aristide, are now faced with the military presence of US, French and Canadian troops as an interim administration in Port-au-Prince which is not recognised by Caricom, suspends relations with Caricom.
Well, better the U.S. military presence than Aristide's; besides, Caricom didn't exactly rush to fill the void, did they? At least, with the U.S. in charge, there is a chance, providing that they remain long enough, that Haiti will actually become something. The U.S. Marines can get more done in a short space of time than the Caricom heads will in years of talking. Take a good look at what is happening in Iraq; read the Iraqi bloggers rather than the Biased Broadcasting Corporation.

Singh states:
Legal opinion, as considered up to Monday in preparation for Caricom's 15th Inter-Sessional Meeting next week in St Kitts, was that the Community is under no obligation to extend diplomatic relations to what currently exists as a "government" in Port-au-Prince.
Yep, that's Caricom for your money. Go strictly by the letter of the law no matter what is happening with the Haitians on the ground. In the same way, because Aristide was "elected," Caricom saw no reason to intervene in Haiti's affairs while Haitians suffered and died under Aristide's boot. Haiti will long remember Caricom.

He continues
But the Caricom leaders, constituting the highest organ of the Community, had decided at their emergency summit in Kingston, Jamaica, on March 11 to defer making a decision on Haiti's membership status until they meet for their 15th Inter-Sessional Meeting next week.
So typical. While Caricom defers, what's supposed to happen to Haitians?

Singh says:
Agonising over the desire for continuing solidarity with the people of Haiti and the dangerous precedent created by the reported forced removal from office of Aristide, the Caricom heads of government wanted to assess unfolding developments in post-Aristide Haiti in finally determining that country's status as a Community member.
Again, typical. Talk, talk, talk. That's the fun thing about talking; it ensures you don't have to do anything.

Singh argues that:
Now interim Prime Minister LaTortue has swiftly taken them off the hook, so to speak, by announcing a freeze in Haiti's relations with Caricom as an expression of official anger (more in Washington than Port-au-Prince?) over the temporary hosting of Aristide by Jamaica.
Here Singh's analysis is wrong. Latortue didn't take Caricom off the hook. Instead, he expressed his utter contempt for Caricom's inaction and vacillation. Instead, Latortue showed up Caricom as a bunch of chattering incompetents. Latortue demonstrated that he knows very well who will act to get things done in Haiti, quick, fast, and in a hurry, and, it ain't Caricom. So, having considered Caricom's talk and inaction with regard to Haiti, Latortue must've decided better deal with a strong horse than a dithering one.

He concludes with this:
Incidentally, it is relevant to note that Jamaica's decision to host Aristide and his wife for eight to ten weeks, along with their two children, was done with the full knowledge and concurrence of Caricom.
How could the decision have been made with the "full knowledge and concurrence of Caricom" if Barbados's Foreign Minister Miller had no knowledge of it until after the arrangements were made? How could Singh be right if the Patterson government itself stated that he only informed Carciom partners but did not discuss his decision with them?

What is noticeable about Singh's analysis is his reflexive anti-Americanism and his genuine lack of concern for the welfare and future of Haitians. Furthermore, Singh is careful to march in lockstep with the standard leftist view of what is happening in Haiti. Aristide has been done wrong; never mind that many Haitians are breathing a sigh of relief and have a chance for a real life; because the agent of change is the U.S. rather than Caricom, then that change must be condemned and Aristide's lies believed.


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