An Open Letter to the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
On the Situation in Haiti
Dear Heads of Government,
We are once again constrained to communicate with you about the situation in Haiti and to express our grave concern about the position that CARICOM may be contemplating with respect to its intervention in this a member state. We write to you on the eve of your special meeting of Heads to be held virtually and convened by the current Chair of CARICOM, the Hon. Roosevelt Skeritt, Prime Minister of Dominica.
Prime Minister Skerrit publicly announced that the priority, if not the sole item on your agenda, is that of the situation in Haiti. We have noted that you will be receiving a Report from the Eminent Persons Team appointed by you to engage in dialogue with key Haitian stakeholders with a view to facilitating a way forward to resolving the political crisis in Haiti.
The region keenly waits for the recommendations of this team of former Prime Ministers. However, we are deeply disturbed by the positions taken by two CARICOM member states, Jamaica and The Bahamas – to support a military intervention in the form of 1,000 police officers from Kenya. These two member states took this position before the report and recommendations of the Eminent Persons Team and in the absence of a CARICOM decision. This is unacceptable as it shows total disrespect for the Eminent Persons, one of whom is a former PM of Jamaica and another is a former PM of The Bahamas! Furthermore, the position of Jamaica and The Bahamas in the absence of a collective position by CARICOM demonstrates yet again that some governments are prepared to jump to the tune of countries and forces external to CARICOM.
Honourable Heads, the Assembly of Caribbean People is a regional process and Haiti is represented on our Regional Executive Committee. After consultation with our Haitian colleagues we wish to state our understanding of the issues at hand and articulate a position on the way forward for Haiti.
- There must be no foreign military or quasi-military intervention in Haiti. This includes the 1,000 or whatever number of police officers from Kenya. We believe that, especially given Haiti’s long and very painful experience of foreign military intervention, any such intervention will not only be unsuccessful but may well exacerbate the crisis – political and violence/gangs. It is clear to us that Kenya is being promoted as a proxy since the countries of the Core Group, the US, Canada and France, recognise that the resentment within Haiti to their military intervention would be immense. CARICOM should not be also seen as a proxy for the Core Group which is largely responsible for Haiti’s crisis.
- Ariel Henry is not and cannot be a part of the solution to Haiti’s crisis. The presence of Ariel Henry in any transitional government or the establishment by him of a transitional government will be a major obstacle to the process of reining in the gangs and to facilitating free and fair elections. Ariel Henry lacks legitimacy and whatever legitimacy that he may have had is evaporating given his inability to address any of the people’s problems. Many believe that Henry is closely aligned to the gangs and therefore is a contributor to the violence and the criminal acts by the gangs. There is a strong view that Henry is using the violence as the justification for foreign military intervention, which intervention will aim to stabilise the situation and thus prolong his position as de facto Prime Minister. Moreover, his presence in any transitional government that would then have to appoint the Electoral Commission and make arrangements for elections will so taint that process that the political crisis and lack of legitimacy of persons in office will be perpetuated, with immense implications for governance and stability. We need to appreciate the social dynamics of Haitian society and the fact that there is an elite that wields significant power. Henry and any successor to him established through an electoral process that is neither free nor fair will simply enable the elites to maintain their hold on power – much to the satisfaction of the Core Group. CARICOM should therefore take a bold and even unprecedented position and call on Henry to step aside in the interests of peace and the Haitian people. Henry is using CARICOM’s recognition of him to legitimise his actions. CARICOM should make every effort to prevent it from being complicit by omission of Henry’s actions that may well amount to major crimes. It is to be noted that Henry was not elected; nor was there a proper process of his appointment following the assassination of then President Jovanel Moise (indeed there are claims that he is linked to that criminal act). It was the decision of the Core Group that resulted in Henry becoming Prime Minister as there was and still is – no Parliament. The transitional government that Henry is proposing is likely only to include persons or representatives of organisations that are close to him or which represent the elites. This will not have the legitimacy that is required to take the process forward. This was evident in the collapse of the December 21st Accord.
- To begin the road towards good governance, there needs to be a transitional government as proposed by many civic organisations in Haiti that would be comprised of a cross-section of bona fide civic society organisations, or their nominees should be mandated to appoint the Electoral Commission constituted in accordance with the country’s Constitution and establish the process for free and fair elections to the Parliament and for the
Presidency. The transitional government will have the legitimacy to obtain the support and assistance of CARICOM with respect to institutional re-building and/or strengthening, initially to enable the elections and in other areas as requested.
- One important area that requires support is the Haitian National Police [HNP]. Contrary to the narrative being pushed by Henry and those who clamour for external military intervention, there is a strong view within Haiti that the HNP can tackle the gangs and bring the Violence under control. That they haven’t been able to do so is due to the political support for the gangs. Remove that and the HNP will be in a stronger position. The HNP, however, needs material support – drones, vehicles, and other intelligence and security materiel. Some additional training may also be needed. This is where CARICOM and other countries can assist. The HNP with the support of a proper transitional government and the Haitian people themselves can tackle the gangs. There is already evidence of where collaboration between the HNP and the community has been successful in counteracting the gangs. This has been sporadic, however with the right conditions can be a model that works.
- The Biden policy of facilitating entry to the US of Haitians is undermining the social stability of Haiti. Important human capital is being lost – doctors and other health care professionals, police officers – at precisely the time when they are most needed in Haiti. This policy, which was principally designed as part of the ideological and political attack against Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua is the usual imperial approach to dealing with countries of the region. It is not about resolving a migrant problem. What the US administration must do is to work urgently and concertedly to stop the flow of arms and ammunition to Haiti, which are the used by the gangs. That should be the focus of US policy and actions. CARICOM should address this with the US Government.
Honourable Heads, we trust that our views are of assistance to your understanding of the, albeit complex, situation in Haiti and that our recommendations are given serious and due consideration. CARICOM has taken strong and principled positions on Haiti in the past such as its firm opposition to the coup d¶etats of 1991 and 2004. Those positions contributed to the democratic struggles by the Haitian people. This is yet another key moment in the history of Haiti. Once again CARICOM has to take the ethical and moral high ground. We look forward to your decisions arising from your meeting.
Respectfully submitted by The Assembly of Caribbean People
For and on Behalf of the Regional Executive Committee
- David Abdulah, Trinidad & Tobago
- Hilda Guerrero, Puerto Rico
- David Denny, Barbados
- Cuban chapter of ACP, Cuba
- Camille Chalmers, Haiti
- Claudette Etnel, Suriname
- Robert Sae, Martinique
- Ivan Rodriquez, Dominican Republic
Posted Sept. 17, 2023