Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation

The most credible news source in Barbados

(CMC Photo)

CARICOM deliberating on Haiti’s crisis

February 26, 2024

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders Monday began their first full day of deliberations hoping to “point the way forward” on the situation in Haiti as well as on other issues of relevance to the 15-member regional integration movement.

Guyana’s President and CARICOM chairman, Dr. Irfaan Ali, speaking at the start of the plenary session, said “our agenda is an incredible one, for this meeting, a lot of weighty issues.

“We will spend a lot of time in this meeting in a retreat format to review our progress, self-evaluate, to have very frank discourse, very open and transparent discourse from heads so that we can make strong interventions and make a strong commitment to resolving the issues that are before us,” Ali said.

He said the discussions began over two days ago with the regional leaders focused on the political, economic and social situation in Haiti, a member CARICOM country, where criminal gangs have been causing widespread security concerns and where calls for fresh elections have been made ever since President Jovanel Moise was assassinated in July 2021.

“CARICOM heads met on Saturday and commenced discussions on the challenges we have with Haiti. This morning with the Friends of Haiti, an expanded grouping that included all the stakeholders and partners working with Haiti,” Ali said.

“We are hopeful that sometime today we will be able to point the Haitian people, the region and the global community in the direction through which we believe long-lasting sustainable solutions can be achieved.

“Of course this requires all stakeholders in Haiti, especially to give a bit, to compromise a bit and to express a collective willingness to achieve the outcomes that we are setting ourselves to achieve,” Ali told the meeting which is also being attended by Haiti’s Prime Minister Dr. Ariel Henry.

Ali said that the regional leaders would also be discussing updates regarding the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) which is intended to allow for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the region.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who has lead responsibility for the CSME, is expected to present an update report and Ali said during the opening ceremony on Sunday night, he highlighted one of the critical issues “and that is the implementation of decisions.

“At this meeting, we will have some mechanisms to which the sub-committee of senior legal officers (SOLA) and we can get SOLA to step up and push forward the work of the CSME and this community.

“We will have some interventions on strengthening this sub-committee to ensure that their work is being done,” Ali said.

He said on the issue of climate change, the regional leaders will continue to advance the region’s position on climate change financing, adaptation and mitigation and a fairer mechanism through which new loans are secured for the developing world in keeping with the just transition and in keeping with the objective of all of us achieving our climate targets”.

The CARICOM chairman said an important issue in the region is the building of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the meeting would examine ways in which the region can work on enhancing the work of SMEs and the more critical integration of the SMEs into the regional economy.

He said food and energy security “are two important topics that we will also be discussing” the integration of northern Brazil with the Brazilian leader due here on the final day of the four-day meeting.

“We believe the time has come for us to have a regional energy plan,” Ali said as he made reference to regional energy security, adding it would be looking at the future of the forms of energy “and to see how the region can be self sufficient, how we can guard against inflationary pressures and how we can become a net exporter of energy especially as we move towards renewables and transitional fuel”.

Regional transportation is also to be discussed with Ali acknowledging “we have had tremendous movement in the last six months.

“We hope we can further advance this to the wider CARICOM,” he said.

Ali said that the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) will come up for discussions, reiterating “yes leaders will be looking at th Caribbean Development Bank on the challenges we have”.

The CDB has come under the microscope in recent weeks after the bank confirmed that its president, Dr . Hyginus “Gene” Leon, had been sent on administrative leave since January.

Earlier this month, the bank’s acting president, Isaac Solomon, said “ I can confirm there is an internal administrative process involving the president.

“The bank is extremely focus on preserving the independence, confidentiality and integrity of the process and as you can well appreciate in order for us to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of the process we are unable to provide any other details at this time,” Solomon said.

Last month, leaders of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) had expressed their “utter disappointment and shock” at the treatment being meted out to the embattled CDB president, who is reported to have been sent on administrative leave until April this year.

Leon, the St. Lucian-born economist,  is the sixth president of the regional development finance institution. He was elected at a special meeting of the CDB Board of Governors held on January 19, 2021, for a five-year term, and assumed office on May 4, 2021.

Ali said he was using the occasion to praise the outgoing CARICOM chairman and Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves for their roles in the ongoing border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela.

“It speaks to one important subject and that is when we trust each other in the region to find solutions among ourselves and in the situation with Haiti, this is important, we must trust the leadership, the collective leadership of CARICOM and the wisdom of CARICOM.

“That is critical and that is the message we want the region to hear and understand,” Ali said.

(CMC Photo)

About The Author

Share this!