Top US official to meet with Caribbean leaders

Saturday, February 24, 2018

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WASHINGTON, United States (CMC) — The United States Deputy Secretary of State, John J Sullivan, will hold talks with Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders during their three-day inter-sessional summit here early next week, the US State Department has announced.

It said that Sullivan will “focus discussions on issues of mutual interest to the United States and the Caribbean, including energy diversification, regional security and economic development.” The regional leaders will hold their meeting February 26-28.

“The United States is an enduring partner to the Caribbean, as underscored in the Caribbean 2020 strategy, which strengthens security, diplomacy, prosperity, energy, education and health in the region,” the State Department said in a statement.

The statement noted that while in the French-speaking CARICOM country, Sullivan will also “engage with US Embassy staff, as well as representatives from the business community and civil society, and make a visit to the Haitian National Police School, which receives funding from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement”.

Sullivan's visit comes as US lawmakers, Haitians and other Caribbean nationals in the United States have expressed profound outrage over President Donald J Trump's alleged disparaging remarks about Haitians and Africans.

In balking at an immigration deal that would include protections for people from Haiti and some nations in Africa, Trump is alleged to have said at a White House meeting last month why he should accept immigrants from “s...hole countries” rather than from places like Norway.

The 15-member CARICOM grouping in a statement said that was “deeply disturbed” by the reports about the use of “derogatory and repulsive language” by Trump in respect of Haiti and other developing countries.

“CARICOM condemns in the strongest terms, the unenlightened views reportedly expressed,” the statement, noting “of additional concern, is this pattern of denigrating Haiti and its citizens in what seems to be a concerted attempt to perpetuate a negative narrative of the country.

“We are especially saddened that such narrative emerged around the time of the anniversary of the devastating 2010 earthquake which took so many lives of citizens in that country.”

Trump has since denied making the comments.

On Thursday, eight Haitian and Salvadoran immigrants living in the United States with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, arguing that its decision to end their status was based on racism and discrimination that violates their constitutional rights.

Also joining the lawsuit filed in US District Court in Boston, Massachusetts is Centro Presente, a community organisation that advocates for TPS beneficiaries in Massachusetts.

Last month, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Defense Fund, the largest and oldest civil rights group in the US, in a suit asked a US federal judge in the US District Court of Maryland to reverse the decision to end the humanitarian protections for nearly 60,000 Haitian immigrants.

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