Thursday, April 01, 2004

T&T: Yeah, what I've been saying!

The title of the editorial is What about people of Haiti, Caricom? It's as a bucket of ice cold water dashed on talking-heads of Caricom. Hopefully, it will wake them up.

Caricom has held to its position on the removal of Jean-Bertrand Aristide from office; the United States and French-led political initiative to establish a government in Port-au-Prince is going ahead, and soon enough Haiti will drop out of the international headlines.

However, the fundamental human problems of Haiti continue to exist, and in fact have been exacerbated by the political crisis of the last few months.
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The systems to supply potable water to the major population centres have also been badly damaged.
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There is a sense coming out of the Intersessional Heads of Government meeting of Caricom that, having determined the position of the integration movement on the legitimacy of the Government in Haiti, the region has done its job. Sure, host Prime Minister Denzil Douglas expressed the appropriate concern and continuing commitment of Caricom to the people of Haiti, a member State, but that expression of solidarity does not go beyond the politically expedient.

There is, for instance, no statement of recognition by Caricom of the health and social problems listed above, and no sign of any intention to assist where possible and to point the conscience of the international community to rescue the Haitian people from this crisis.

The closest the Caricom leaders come to follow-up action on Haiti is the intention to re-visit their decision on the political issues at their summit in July. The health and social problems will not await Caricom’s creaking bureaucracy, insensitive to the people problems facing Haiti.

Having taken its political position, which is known to run counter to that of the US, France and the others, Caricom has to demonstrate how it’s going to work with those countries, the international community and lending agencies to fund the development work in Haiti.

The cold arm’s-length decision by the Heads must be infused with a concern for the human needs of the people of that forsaken country. The often-touted claims that Haiti is a central part of the Caribbean and a full member of the integration movement must mean something—and the leaders have the power to make the rhetoric come alive.

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