The Caribbean Community, of which Haiti is a member, reiterated its offer Monday to play a major mediating role in the situation on the island when the political and constitutional situation becomes a bit clearer in the wake of last week’s brutal assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Foreign Affairs Chief Colin Granderson says the region can play a good offices role in Haiti as it tries to climb out of a devastating period. Haiti, easily the most populous of the 15 bloc member states with about 11 million people, was the last nation to join the grouping back in 2002 and remains a key member. Delegations from Haiti have not attended the last two summits of Caricom. Bloc Chair Gaston Browne complained recently that leaders were surprised that not a single official from Haiti had bothered to log on to last week’s virtual summit despite the fact that a special session on Haiti had been scheduled for Tuesday, the last of the two-day summit.
“We are seen somewhat as an impartial and neutral party and so we may have less difficulty to be accepted by civil society and other groups. We have said that we are willing to play a good offices role in Haiti but things are not settled as yet. There is no national assembly nor opposition, but we are willing to play the good offices role,” Granderson said.
Leaders had drafted and released a special statement on Haiti while reviewing the weeks of protests and turmoil in several cities, noting that “in light of Haiti’s membership of Caricom and the family ties that bind the people of Haiti and Caricom together, Caricom expresses its willingness to play a lead role in facilitating a process of national dialogue and negotiation to help the Haitian people and their institutions to craft an indigenous solution to the crisis. They call on the people of Haiti to remain calm, and to overcome their differences and unite at this moment of national peril,” the special note on the situation had stated.
Caricom reminded the world that it wants to help one of its family members a day after the American White House sent a delegation to the island to meet with the country’s acting head of government, police and national security officials.
Haitian officials had asked Washington for troops to help stabilize the country but officials said no decision on this had been taken. Representatives from Homeland Security, the Justice and State Departments and the National Security Council had comprised the team.
A White House announcement stated that the visit was intended to “encourage open and constructive dialogue to reach a political accord that can enable the country to hold free and fair elections. The delegation reviewed the security of critical infrastructure with Haitian government officials and met with the Haitian National Police, who are leading the investigation into the assassination. In all their meetings the delegation committed to supporting the Haitian government as it seeks justice in this case and affirmed the United States’ support for the people of Haiti in this challenging time.”
Meanwhile, The Bahamas, one of Haiti’s closest neighbors, has increased marine patrols to stem any mass migration from Haiti to the archipelago. The Bahamas is already under pressure to cope with a large influx of Haitians who it is believed comprises more than 25% of the population, so officials are taking no chances, aware that there are mass migration spikes during periods of heightened turmoil.
Moïse is the first leader to be assassinated in office since a rebel faction of then prime minister Maurice Bishop’s cabinet in Grenada killed him and five other colleagues in 1983, providing the very excuse to the Reagan administration to invade the island and expel Cuban officials and professionals who were assisting with the construction of a new airport. Washington had made no secret that it was uncomfortable with the left-leaning administration’s embrace of socialist and communist nations and seized the opportunity to expel the Cubans and others from the southern Caribbean island.