Letters & Opinion

CARICOM and CELAC encouraged by Guyana-Venezuela progress, but challenged by Haiti’s regress!

Earl Bousquet
Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

This year (2024) opened with Trinidad & Tobago (T&T) as President of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, Guyana as Chair of the UN Security Council and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), St. Vincent & The Grenadines (SVG) as President of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), a CARICOM representative also selected to Chair the UN’s Permanent Forum for People of African Descent and Brazil as President of the G-20.

January saw the Caribbean returning to the normalcy of now, with Cuba hosting an international media conference dedicated to launching of a global ‘Operation Truth’ for international media houses.

The Caribbean also participated in the G-77+China summit in Uganda in January, also welcoming the World Court’s positive ruling on South Africa’s case on Israel’s commission of genocide in Gaza.

February 7 marked the observance of Grenada’s 50th independence anniversary, followed by Saint Lucia’s 45th Independence Day on February 22 and Guyana’s 54th Republic Day on February 23.

February also saw the potentially-perilous oil spill in Trinidad & Tobago waters that’s become the Caribbean’s latest environmental disaster.

February closed with the 46th CARICOM Summit in Guyana, with the 8th CELAC Summit in SVG scheduled for March 1.

But just as Caribbean governments and citizens started returning to the Normalcy of Now, the Haiti bubble burst again at the start of the First Quarter, with no-less a frightening blast than ever before.


On the Guyana-Venezuela matter, the CARICOM leaders had “decried the significant Venezuelan military border activity,” but also “noted a lowering of tensions since the December 14 Joint Declaration of Argyle for Dialogue and Peace” agreed between Guyana’s President Ali and his Venezuelan counterpart President Nicolas Maduro.

They also welcomed the January 25 foreign ministers’ meeting in Brasilia as “a positive step to rebuilding cooperation between the two countries, while the ICJ [International Court of Justice] determines the case concerning the land boundary.”

Venezuela has until April 8 (this year) to submit its counter-memorial on the merits of the case regarding the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award that had determined the boundary between British Guiana and Venezuela – and CARICOM urged it to “do so.”

And they “reaffirmed their solid support for the maintenance and preservation of Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The CELAC meeting also featured another friendly exchange between the Guyana and Venezuela Presidents, who shook hands in SVG in December and this time exchanged bottles of their respective national rums.


CARICOM and CELAC both discussed implications of plans for continuing external intervention in Haiti through deployment of a controversial Kenya-led multinational rapid deployment force, followed by Caribbean boots.

But deployment of the Kenyan force is held-up by the nation’s courts and opposed by the parliamentary opposition, which insists any bilateral agreement signed between Nairobi and Port-au-Prince — at this time — is not backed by Haiti’s parliament.

Besides, while 400 Kenyans are said to be ready and ‘Good to Go’ to Haiti, they do not speak French, or understand Haiti’s predominant local ‘Kweyol’ language.

In pursuit of Washington’s quick deployment of foreign boots in Haiti, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken keeps reassuring interested nations that money is no problem.

He told the recent G-20 meeting in Brazil that Washington had doubled its intervention budget from US $100 million to US $200 million; and in Jamaica on Monday (March 11) he again raised both stakes and steaks, this time to US $300 million.

However, a special UN fund established for the multinational intervention force approved by the Security Council last October remains nearly empty: it needs nearly-US $700 million, but only 6% has been contributed.

CARICOM did not agree to wholly join the long-planned next external intervention in Haiti, but some member-states have indicated willingness.

A beleaguered Henry attended the CARICOM Summit in Guyana with delegations of the five entities primarily calling the shots in his country – Canada, France, UK, USA (The Quad) and the UN.

He’d turned-down an earlier CARICOM invitation to meet in Jamaica, but secretly few to Washington, from where he tried to return home through the neighbouring Dominican Republic (DR), only to be re-routed to Puerto Rico after Santo Domingo said he couldn’t land.

Henry has been serving as both Prime Minister and Acting President since his predecessor President Juvenel Moise was assassinated in July 2021, but he was fingered among those being treated with suspicion of possible involvement, including Moise’s wife.

The unelected Prime Minister and Acting President remained absolutely stubborn, rejecting early CARICOM calls for his resignation, or delivery on his repeated broken promises to hold elections.

But, stuck in Puerto Rica and totally-dependent on the US to return home, Henry finally publicly agreed – during the special second CARICOM Summit in Jamaica on the issue – to resign.

He says he’ll go – but only after appointment of a ruling national transitional council by the island’s near-invisible Council of Ministers.

The armed factions have largely united under a single anti-Henry banner; and with members of his government on the run, it’s uncertain whether the armed groups, now united. will back-pedal on their insistence that the PM not return – and his government be disbanded.

CARICOM has always insisted on a Haitian-led solution to the revolving national crises, even after months of prior engagement with Haiti’s Government, Civil Society and other local stakeholders, on a process and road to democratic, home-grown elections.

CARICOM’s Eminent Persons Group (EPG), comprising three former prime ministers (from Bahamas, Jamaica and Saint Lucia) had also already agreed (in Guyana) to continue the engagement.

But the EPG’s success will live, or be deemed ‘Dead on Arrival’, depending on Washington unleashing of yet-another US-backed rapid deployment force on Haiti – CARICOM’s oldest and most-populous member-state, which, all of 220 years ago, defeated the US and Europe’s major armies to establish the world’s first Black Republic in 1804.

How will Haiti’s history fan-out?

Let’s see.

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