Letters & Opinion

CARICOM must swallow some hard truths on Haiti!

Earl Bousquet
Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

HISTORY is pregnant with examples of regional groupings being unfairly accused by distant observers of not responding to crises fast-enough, as with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Arab League in relation to Haiti and Gaza today.

CARICOM leaders are this weekend still discussing a collective response to another invitation to help arrange and participate in another external intervention in yet-another externally-inspired national crisis with regional implications, with (at least) three member-states already having assured they will.

CARICOM is also expected to lead implementation of the plan for rapid deployment of a Multinational Security mission with all the hallmarks of another rechristened Grenada-style Rescue Mission that yielded an occupying force.

However, Haiti’s long history of external intervention in and control of its internal affairs doesn’t lend to Haitians today automatically supporting another ‘solution’ from outside, when all before have failed – from the first US invasion in 1915 to the more recent 21st Century ones by United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping Forces (PKFs) and the externally-engineered coups, in between.

The UN Security Council is permanently paralyzed on both Gaza and Haiti, permanent members with veto powers exercising their power according to their individual positions.
Progress is also stalled in both cases by different interpretations of the origins of the respective conflicts.

The Israel-Palestine war didn’t start on October 7, 2023, but 75 years earlier (in 1948); and Haiti’s latest fighting didn’t start on February 29, 2024, but 233 years earlier (in 1791).

On Friday (March 22), the UN Security Council rejected a US-sponsored resolution calling for ‘an immediate ceasefire’ in Gaza.

The US claimed Russia and China vetoed because ‘they didn’t want to condemn Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel’, but Beijing and Moscow said the US resolution took Israel’s side, as it tied the call for ‘an immediate ceasefire’ to ‘an immediate release of captives’ – Israel’s main negotiating point.

CARICOM and Arab nations have been called upon to break diplomatic ties with Israel, which unrealistic calls have been understandably ignored.

CARICOM has indeed been more-mindful about Haiti in 2024 than Grenada in 1983, but it has to work within the ambits of the expectations of those paying the bills and not ruling-out their respective strategic security, economic and geopolitical interests.

The UN, Canada, France, UK and US, overseas-based Haitians and selected entities at home, were all involved in hammering-out and shaping the final proposed foreign intervention, so it’s not CARICOM alone deciding.

Besides, Haiti’s been treated more as a distant-cousin or adopted-brother by its regional neighbours, membership of CARICOM having traditionally been more ‘at arm’s length’ than from a ten-foot pole – always more distant than close.

Haiti and the Dominican Republic have also been historically referred to by Caribbean citizens as two ‘non-English-speaking’ Caribbean nations sharing the same island, but each with distant ties with the regional grouping of independent ex-European colonies.

Caribbean people largely appreciate Haitian art and music, but absolutely fear Voodoo, regarding it as a Haitian curse instead of the unique African-oriented religion its people share with Benin.

Unfortunately, almost all involved in the sensitive political and diplomatic negotiations on behalf of CARICOM and/or individual member-states have adopted the imperial narrative of describing Haiti as ‘a failed state’, a ‘dirt-poor’ nation of Black imbeciles unable to think or act for themselves and therefore always in need of external ‘sorrow’, ‘help’ or ‘assistance’.

CARICOM cannot please all parties without being accused of cooperation or complicity, helping or hindering, according to who’s pointing the fingers.
But the proposed solution expected to be activated this weekend excludes main actors in Haiti, especially the paramilitary groups and parties that haven’t accepted it – and who can surely prevent its implementation.

The controversial provisional presidential council also likely to be appointed this weekend will also naturally attract the wrath of the allied paramilitary groups.

Caribbean activists – at home and abroad – freely roll-and-tumble their intellectual dices and grumble from safe distances, but what’s playing-out in Haiti today is nothing short of do-or-die for Haitian masses caught (like Gazans) in the crossfires.

No regional or international group has a readily-workable solution to Haiti’s continuing problems, all exacerbated historically by external intervention – from France’s demand in 1825 that Haiti pay150 million French gold francs for its independence (that it took over-220 years to pay), to the first US invasion in 1915 and all subsequent ones.

Those behind yet-another external intervention continue to evade the grounded reality that there will be no peaceful solution in Haiti today without bringing all sides to the table, on a proposal so-exclusionary as to have been and deemed Dead-on-Arrival by the excluded.

St. Vincent & The Grenadines was the first CARICOM nation to make its voice heard loudly on Gaza, Belize initiated actions to suspend trade with Israel and Guyana donated funds towards humanitarian aid for Palestinian victims.

Brazil, Bolivia, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela and other Latin American states were also among the first nations of the global South to register strong protests against Israel.

CARICOM can now also revisit its positive experiences of working jointly with its neighbours in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) on the Guyana-Venezuela issue.

It can respond positively to the recent call by Honduran President Xiamora Castro – CELAC’S current President Temporare – to ensure that no armed intervention is enforced on a Haitian population already losing too-many lives and with over-a-million people already experiencing acute food insecurity.

CARICOM’s limited capacity must be admitted by those who behave like they’re in the business of inventing and prescribing home-made remedies for revolutions, protracted or explosive national protestations close and far, by people they haughtily consider unable to care for themselves.

Instead, the new crusaders may consider starting anew, by acknowledging the way Guyana, as Chair of CARICOM and President of the UN General Assembly, has played its part in handling the discussions at the leadership level of both bodies, in respect of Gaza and Haiti.

1 Comment

  1. It’s worth noting that the 2004 coup against Haiti’s first and only legitimately elected president,
    followed by occupation forces (shame on Brazil!) that subsequently prevented democratic elections,
    was orchestrated and carried out by France and Canada as well as the United States.

    Given that CARICOM previously opposed another foreign invasion of Haiti, that the organization
    later felt it had no choice but to accept another (likely disastrous) intervention was disappointing.

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