Allen Chastanet

DEEPLY CONCERNED: Allen Chastanet

Former chairman of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), St Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, says the region needs to do more to deal with the socio-economic and political situation in Haiti.

Haiti is the French-speaking member country of Caricom.

Addressing the 31st Inter-sessional meeting of Caricom heads of government here, Chastanet said the solutions to the “long standing difficulty in Haiti also remain elusive”.

“While understandably we have ring-fenced some of Haiti’s rights and privilege in our treaty, more importantly we must be honest brokers and admit that we like many others have failed in our attempts to find a solution.”

Caricom leaders at their summit in St Lucia last July had agreed to send a prime ministerial delegation, comprising the leaders of Jamaica, St Lucia, and Bahamas, to Haiti where opposition forces are seeking to remove President Jovenel Moise from office over allegations of embezzlement.

Last October, Caricom said that it was “deeply concerned” over the protracted political crisis in Haiti and that it was still awaiting a response from Moise in order for a good offices prime ministerial delegation to visit.

Opposition parties in Haiti have accused Moise of embezzlement, but the head of state has defended himself against the report of the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Litigation (CSA/CA) into programmes and projects funded by 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.

Common histories

Chastanet told the regional leaders that there’s need to “collectively chart a new course” as it regards Haiti.

“We owe it to the people of Haiti who deserve much more, especially given our common histories,” he said.

Chastanet said the situation in Venezuela, where the United States is pushing for the removal of President Nicolas Maduro, seems to be at a “standstill”.

Caricom countries have adopted the position of non-interference and non-intervention in the internal affairs of the South American country but has on numerous occasions said they are willing to serve as an “honest” broker in the situation.

Washington and many of its allies are supporting opposition leader Juan Guaido to replace Maduro, who is backed by Cuba, China and Russia.

“In fact, from all indications, conditions in Venezuela continue to deteriorate despite a recent lull and this is likely to make finding a solution even harder.

“The involvement of outside forces in the controversy, however, could only escalate the crisis and make a resolution more difficult,” Chastanet said, adding: “While at the same time stressing and testing our own attempt at a common position on that issue.”

In the report of his six-month stewardship of the regional integration movement, Chastanet thanked the leadership of St Kitts-Nevis Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris, Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and host Prime Minister Mia Mottley “on continuing and leading the efforts of Caricom on the Venezuela crisis”.

—CMC

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