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Caricom worried about situation in Haiti

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) – The Caribbean Community (Caricom) said yesterday that it is “deeply concerned” about the protracted political crisis in Haiti where opposition parties have been staging street demonstrations calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Mo se.

The Guyana-based Caricom Secretariat said it is still awaiting a response from its French-speaking member for permission for a delegation to visit.

Caricom chairman and St Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and the Caricom Secretariat had confirmed the decision for a team to visit Haiti. The decision to send a delegation comprising, Chastanet, Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness, and The Bahamas Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis had been taken at the Caricom Summit held in St Lucia in July this year.

Opposition parties in Haiti have accused Mose of embezzlement, but the head of state has defended himself against the findings contained in the report from the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Litigation (CSA/CA) about programmes and projects funded by the PetroCaribe, an oil alliance of many Caribbean states with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment.

The report found that significant shortcomings have been associated with the planning and implementation of development programmes and projects funded by the PetroCaribe Fund.

However, the plans to visit Haiti have been placed on hold as the situation worsened.

“I know that the situation is getting worse there. I know that we were due to first send a technical team to go there, but unfortunately, with the current crisis, that visit by the technical team has been postponed,” Chastanet told the Gleaner last week.

The Caricom Secretariat said that it had taken note of the series of demonstrations throughout the country, calling for President Mose to step down, as well as the outbreaks of looting, vandalism and violence which have led to casualties. On several occasions the demonstrations have paralysed the country for days. The crisis has led to a deteriorating social, economic and humanitarian situation.

The secretariat noted that despite the community's principled position of non-interference in the internal affairs of states, member states or third states, the regional leaders had received a report on the situation from the head of the Haitian delegation during their summit in Castries.

“They expressed their concern and underlined the importance of dialogue between the Government and Opposition in overcoming the crisis. A decision was taken by the conference to have a prime ministerial delegation visit the country.

“No doubt because of the increasing unsettled nature of the situation and of security concerns, Haiti has not yet given its imprimatur for the visit. Contact has, however, been maintained by the secretariat with the country's foreign minister and it continues to monitor the situation.

“It is, therefore, incorrect to say that the community pays little attention to what is taking place in Haiti,” the secretariat said, adding that as concerns the distribution of supplies, the UN humanitarian agency has pointed out the difficulties in this regard.

“In a very recent report on the humanitarian situation in Haiti, it observed that the provision of aid to the vulnerable and supply chains have been severely disrupted throughout the country by the demonstrations, barricades, the blocking of main roads, and the occasional ensuing paralysis of government and private sector activities.

“The situation has been exacerbated by the unwillingness of truckers to transport goods because of the attendant security risks. This has led to widespread shortages of basic necessities in markets and supermarkets.”

– See related story on Page 20


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