Beset by crisis after crisis in Haiti, the Caribbean Community’s most populous member state has in recent months apparently not been involved in regional affairs as it should be. On the other hand, the region’s representative office in Port Au Prince has been closed for nearly a decade, a move experts say has not done well for both sides.
The critics blame in part for a slow but steady period of watered-down involvement between Haiti and the 15-nation grouping to such an extent, that Haiti has not even bothered to send a single representative to the last two leaders’ summit held this year. This is according to Antiguan Prime Minister and current bloc Chair Gaston Browne.
Haiti’s perceived reduced activities involving things Caricom might perhaps be behind what Trinidadian Prime Minister Keith Rowley had in mind when, on Sunday, he blasted a group of western nations for trying to cherry pick who should run on Sunday Haiti in the aftermath of the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
In a special statement on the island nation’s situation at the weekend, the so-called Haiti core group comprising Germany, Brazil, Spain, the United States, France, the European Union, the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS) made it clear they favor Prime Minister designate Ariel Henry to run daily affairs ahead of Prime Minister Claude Joseph.
Incidentally, Joseph was pushed out of the position by the late Moïse just two days before Moïse’s assassination and should have been replaced by Henry. Critics say while Henry was in fact identified to replace Joseph, he had not been sworn in and might have to stand down for the while as Joseph carries on. The western group suggested that Henry be allowed to form a government as they ignored and looked past Joseph.
The group said, “it strongly encourages the designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry to continue the mission entrusted to him to form such a government, a consensual and inclusive government.” That announcement pushed the buttons of Rowley who took to his Facebook page to let the region and the group know how he feels.
Clearly angered by the situation, PM Rowley, whose six-month term as regional bloc chair ended at the beginning of July, lashed out at the move, contending that they might have acted disrespectfully as if Caricom did not exist.
“It is not just about a snub for Joseph. The real snub and outright insult is the absence of even a mention (far less recognition in any form) of Caricom. Haiti is a full member of Caricom, its largest (populous) member, and this lack of recognition and involvement combined is an insult to all of us, coming from those who designate themselves the “Core Group,” Rowley said in a social media posting.
Rowley further argued that a lack of principled stances on some issues by the region might have led to a situation where the bloc to which Haiti belongs is ignored and seen as invisible to the core group, noting that “by our own actions of kowtowing and genuflecting to those who see us as unworthy and irrelevant, we have continuously contributed to our own demise. We are either a respectable Caricom or we are fawning vassals deserving of such disrespect.”
Henry is the seventh prime minister Moïse had appointed in the past four years. U.N. representatives had ironically recognized Joseph as the prime minister despite uncertainty about whether he should continue despite being sacked by Moïse hours before his death.
Caricom has offered to mediate in the crisis and has hinted that it should be included in any international efforts to find solutions to the crisis.
Regional leaders had held a special session on Haiti during their two-day virtual summit.