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(See update- October 6, 2005: Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur says the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will only recognize a democratically elected Government in Haiti.)
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Barbados Creates Rift Within CARICOM --
Who are the Heroes and Who are the Knaves? -
June 6, 2005

• The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) calls for an international
investigation into former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s
removal from office.

• An opportunistic Prime Minister, Owen Arthur, has led Barbados to
break ranks with CARICOM by acknowledging Haiti’s Interim Government
(IGH), led by U.S.-imposed Prime Minister Gérard Latortue.

• Arthur is ignoring CARICOM’s Charter respecting democracy, at the
cost of weakening the Community.

• Powerful actors, namely Washington and Paris, influence the
Community’s dilemma.

• Barbados follows Washington’s strategy for democratization in the
region.

CARICOM’s Principled Stance


Following the February 2004 ouster of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) suspended Haiti from its
membership and called for a UN investigation into the circumstances
under which the new regime, backed by the United States, assumed power.
Ultimately, Washington and Paris were able to use their institutional
clout to avert a UN investigation, but CARICOM’s refusal to allow Prime
Minister Gérard Latortue’s interim government (IGH) to participate in
its councils, has demonstrated an intent to adhere to its charter
principles of respecting democracy and the rule of law. Although
CARICOM has refused to send military personnel to participate in the UN
Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the organization has
maintained an energized commitment to promoting dialogue between the
warring Haitian factions, as well as within the international
community.

CARICOM’s Unity Begins to Dissolve


Despite CARICOM’s initial high-minded stance in defense of democracy,
it took less than six months for cracks to develop in the group’s
united front. In July of 2004, Barbadian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Dame Billie Miller, along with her counterparts from four other CARICOM
states (the Bahamas, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Antigua and
Barbuda), met with Latortue in Port-au-Prince. The governments’
decisions to send representatives to Haiti prompted outrage from other
CARICOM members which were, as Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St.
Vincent and the Grenadines said, “shocked at the extent to which some
in CARICOM are going so as to prepare the ground to capitulate on our
earlier principled stand on Haiti.” It could be said with more than a
little accuracy that just as Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Barbados,
have set a low mark for regional solidarity, none has turned in a more
high-minded definition of the concept than St. Vincent’s Ralph
Gonsalves.

Barbadian Prime Minister Owen Arthur has not been perturbed in the
least by the diplomatic strife stirred up by his Minister of Foreign
Affairs’ trip to Port-au-Prince, since her words and deeds are entirely
congruent with his own. Since then, Arthur has defended Barbados’ right
to engage Haiti even if CARICOM does not collectively take this step.
Barbados has continued to press for Haiti’s return to CARICOM while
openly commenting on the deficiencies of the interim government. In a
September 2004 address to the United Nations General Assembly, his
Foreign Affairs Minister Miller remarked that the “events surrounding
the abrupt departure of President Aristide remain a matter of deep
concern, particularly as they pertain to the constitutionality of the
removal of democratically elected leaders.” However, aside from this
gilded rhetoric, Barbados is not sufficiently troubled by the existence
of an unconstitutional government in the Caribbean to support an
international inquiry as well as maintaining a policy of isolation at
least until free and fair elections are held in Haiti. Rather, as
Miller had explained the September before, Barbados “is convinced that
full engagement with the interim government of Haiti best serves the
interests of the Haitian people and reflects our stated desire to
accompany them at this most difficult time in their history.”

The motives propelling Barbados’ initiatives toward engagement with
Haiti are not that simple or clean; they diametrically oppose CARICOM’s
position. Miller, speaking on behalf of CARICOM before the UN Security
Council in January, after her Port-au-Prince visit with Latortue,
commented that “[c]ontinuing violations of the principles laid down in
the CARICOM Charter of Civil Society have made it impossible for the
Community to receive representatives of Haiti in its Councils.” In
addition, she pressed for the interim government “to be held to
internationally recognized standards with regard to respect for
fundamental civil and political rights, due process and the rule of
law.”

The Latortue interim government, installed as the result of what was
tantamount to a foreign-backed military coup, violates numerous
provisions of the Charter on Civil Society, a document intended to
“uphold the right of people to make political choices” and “to ensure
continuing respect for internationally recognized civil, political,
economic, social and cultural rights.” Since taking office, Latortue
has repeatedly and recklessly violated the Charter’s provisions on
Respect for Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms (Article II),
Equality Before the Law (Article V), Political Rights (Article VI), and
Good Governance (Article XVII).

Once again, on May 22, it was reported out of Bridgetown that Prime
Minister Arthur planned to “engage” Haiti - which apparently for him
had become the word for “sell out.” In a telephone conversation with
COHA, a political affairs officer at Barbados’ embassy in Washington
explained that Arthur’s engagement policy is designed to promote a
clear and unobstructed dialogue with Haiti, which it feels is
preferable to isolation. Interestingly enough, the Barbados government
made no demand that Latortue and Justice Minister Bernard Gousse
release Haiti’s Prime Minister Neptune, who was detained for almost a
year without charge, and other members of the Aristide government being
detained without charges.

In addition, Barbados’ embassy official insisted that engagement with
Haiti does not constitute an endorsement of the interim government and
maintained that Barbados takes a dim view of the poor governance in
Haiti as well as the treatment bordering on indifference accorded to
former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune. Similarly, Miller, in her September
2004 address to the UN General Assembly, portrayed Barbados’ movement
toward “engagement” as being urged on by concern for the plight of the
Haitian people while others saw it as naked opportunism.

Outside Forces Bring Pressure to Bear on Regional Agenda
Critics of those attempting to orchestrate Haiti’s return to CARICOM
have been startled by the speed at which the organization - not
typically renowned for swift and deliberate action - has been pressed
to react to this issue. Unsurprisingly, influence from powerful western
governments – led by the U.S. and often operating behind the scene -
have provided the impetus for the actions by Barbados and other
break-away Caribbean governments. As Bahamian Foreign Affairs Minister
Fred Mitchell explained, the U.S. has “been pressuring CARICOM
countries to invite the interim administration back to the table,
arguing that this will help the stability of the Government in Haiti.”
In fact, the Bahamian authorities have been persuaded by this argument,
perhaps buttressed by hints that Washington would prove accommodating
on the issue of the chain of islands’ paramount role as one of the
major final destinations before illicit substances penetrate the U.S.
market.

The fact that the IGH was put in place by powerful governments,
specifically the U.S., France, and Canada, it is fundamental to
Barbados’ decision to reconsider CARICOM’s original stance regarding
Haiti. The U.S., which recently released thousands of small arms to the
IGH’s brutal police despite an arms embargo that for years prevented
Aristide’s security forces from being properly armed, has often twisted
the arm of Caribbean leaders. U.S. officials like Otto Reich, Roger
Noriega and Dan Fisk have let these leaders know that opposition to
U.S. foreign policies would not pass unnoticed and could result in
unfavorable consequences. In a stealth manner, the Bush administration
has operated behind the scene while calling for international political
support in the Haitian crisis. Barbados quickly caved in to the U.S.
pressure on the CARICOM nations by acknowledging the legitimacy of
Latortue’s regime in Haiti, taking with it half a dozen Caribbean
countries, notably Jamaica, Grenada, the Bahamas and Antigua and
Barbuda. By allowing themselves to be manipulated by the State
Department, these summer solaces have, like Jamaica, followed a
strategy of delivering clamoring speeches as if they were principled
actors, yet actually succumbing to a mixture of U.S. threats and
blandishments. Perhaps, Arthur would recall the speech by the Bush
Administration’s former Latin America aide Otto Reich over Barbados’
television station warning the Caribbean to support the U.S. in Iraq or
else.

Three CARICOM foreign ministers have avowed that the Bush
administration threatened to not participate in any meeting with the
Community until the IGH is restored to full participation in the
regional organization’s operations. In addition, the U.S. had warned
CARICOM members that the Bahamas meeting, discussing high stakes issues
such as security, crime, and deportation of criminals by the U.S.,
would be adjourned until the IGH is officially welcomed as a full
member. While it is permissible for a tiny nation to succumb to the
dictates of the world’s sole superpower, given the vulnerability of the
English-speaking islands, perhaps Prime Minister Arthur needs to
emulate Prime Minister Gonsalves of St. Vincent, if he wishes to be
included in the next address of “Profiles in Courage.”

Canada has continued its reckless policy of besmirching its formerly
good name throughout Latin America by recklessly aping U.S. policy
toward Haiti. Ottawa used its good offices to pressure CARICOM to move
on and embrace the IGH. Minister of International Cooperation Aileen
Carroll emphasized that such a decision would be in the interest of the
Haitian people and the advancement of security on the island, ignoring
the fact that, in truth, the situation has sharply worsened since
Washington, with the connivance of Canada, France and Kofi Annan,
installed Latortue at the head of the IGH.

Barbados and some Caribbean allies do not wish to undermine the
region’s economic relations with France and the EU solely to adhere to
CARICOM’s Charter principles. The New Regional Economic Participation
Agreement that is being negotiated with the EU seems to be, according
to the Barbados government, worth putting the Community’s members in a
compromised situation and taking the risk of portraying CARICOM around
the world as divided and weak-willed, and ready to be violated at a
price. Integrating the IGH, without any respect for the right of
Haiti’s citizenry to determine their own destiny through a voting
process, is an expedient way to strengthen CARICOM’s relationship with
France and the EU, but it has little to do with the expansion of
democracy. The Owen Arthur government, as well as all Barbadians, must
face up to the fact that in order to court favor with powerful regional
actors, Barbados, among others, has abandoned its commitment to the
core principles of CARICOM and disgraced themselves in the process.

The Importance of Cooperative Foreign Policies

Barbados’ Haiti strategy undoubtedly has created a rift within the
already fragile Community. In an interview with COHA, senior lecturer
at the Institute of International Relations, Anselm Lewis, confided
that he would have preferred to see a united CARICOM position rather
than individual countries acting on their own terms. He observed that
“the fundamental issue here is the coordination of foreign policies.”
Barbados, one the strongest members of CARICOM, should have respected
the collective effort being attempted by St. Vincent and the Grenadines
and other plucky CARICOM members. Instead, it irreverently disregarded
the importance of a cooperative venture on the Haitian issue.
CARICOM is responsible for synchronizing the various foreign policies
undertaken by the 15 independent members which make up the Community;
Haiti is clearly a case where coordination was desirable. Prime
Minister Arthur, all along partial to a swift recognition of the IGH,
has dismissively ignored CARICOM’s prudent, common position based on
legitimacy and constitutionality. Lewis agrees that although a
hands-off approach is not always advisable, Arthur’s almost
contemptuous attitude, so soon after Aristide’s expulsion, cannot
contribute to a constructive ending. The haste with which Arthur tried
to reach a consensus for full engagement with the IGH, is all but
unprecedented, given the circumstances.

Divergent Policies

St. Lucian Prime Minister Kenneth Anthony and St. Vincent and the
Grenadines Prime Minister Gonsalves have stalwartly, in fact
heroically, resisted pressure from outside forces and continued to call
for free and fair elections that would usher in a constitutional
government in Haiti after an OAS investigation of Aristide’s departure,
which would then qualify Haiti to have its suspension lifted. On the
other hand, Arthur’s stance on Haiti, without question an attempt to
curry favor with Washington, is a shortsighted and ill advised
strategy, which can only add to Barbados’ already questionable
credentials as having a government perpetually on the take. Arthur’s
present stand is not surprising, given that he has always been
considered one of the weaker links regarding upholding a democratic
script when it came to CARICOM’s relations with Haiti’s U.S.-imposed
rump government. In addition to lending support to an illegitimate and
grossly incompetent Haitian government that has shown little
consideration for the constitutionally-mandated right of due process
for its own citizens, Arthur’s decision to move closer to Latortue
undermines the Caribbean Community’s efforts to promote democracy in
the region. This carries on a recent Barbadion tradition, save for the
period when the island was led by the distinguished prime minister,
Erskine Lloyd Sandiford (1987-1994), in which the country's leaders
have served as bucket carriers for U.S. policy makers. Perhaps of all
CARICOM’s leaders at the time, Sandiford struck an honorable stance on
Haiti, in marked contrast to the role taken by Arthur, his successor.

Barbados’ attitude of assuming a bent knee posture in regard to
Washington at least dates back to 1983 when the Tom Adams government
cooperated with the contrived plot by the Reagan administration to
justify the controversial U.S. invasion of Grenada by closing down
Barbados’ airport so that U.S. students, attending Grenada’s St.
George’s Medical School, would be unable to escape the island by flying
to Bridgetown. The allegedly stranded students helped justify the
invasion by U.S. forces, using the putative danger of the medical
students as little better than hostages to U.S. imperialist policies.

While the majority of CARICOM’s member states support isolating Haiti
from that body until free and fair elections are held, Barbados has
indicated its willingness to waive its commitment to democratic
procedures and overlook the plight of the Haitian citizenry so long as
sufficient incentives – be they on immigration, drugs, trade, tax
exemptions and grants- are forthcoming from the U.S. As for Arthur’s
respect for Haitian democracy, to quote Franklin Delano Roosevelt on
Mussolini’s attack on France in 1940, “the hand that holds the dagger
has struck it into the back of its neighbor.” At the very least, Arthur
owes an apology to his Caribbean neighbors and the suffering people of
Haiti.

Moreover, Arthur’s move emphasizes the weakness of the region’s
collaborative decision-making processes. To be taken seriously as a
unified body, CARICOM needs to be perceived by the outside world as an
example of inclusiveness and partnership. Barbados' so-called
“engagement” policy could have a disastrous impact on efforts being
made to strengthen CARICOM’s reputation regionally and internationally.
If Caribbean states break rank at the first hint of an opportunity to
score points with Washington or Brussels, then the regional body faces
an uphill struggle to establish itself as an effective, relevant,
self-respecting regional organization with a keen sense of its own
sovereignty and collective pride. Prime Minister Owen Arthur has done
nothing to strengthen these high-minded ideals, a fact that is bound to
become increasingly well known.
*
This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associates Oceane Jasor and
Phil Morrow.

June 6, 2005

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent,
non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and information
organization. It has been described on the Senate floor as being “one
of the nation’s most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers.”
For more information, please see our web page at www.coha.org; or
contact our Washington offices by phone (202) 223-4975, fax (202)
223-4979, or email coha@coha.org.

*********

Monday, 6 June 2005

Fort Lauderdale:
An Opportunity for the OAS to Break with Washington while Pursuing Authentic Autonomy for the Entire Region
and Insisting on a Progressive Haiti Policy

* French diplomat Paul-Henri Mourral is shot dead in Haiti.


* The UN peacekeeping mission to Haiti (MINUSTAH) has been alarmingly unsuccessful in arresting Haiti’s rising death toll, making free and fair elections an even more distant reality.

* The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has made valiant efforts toward seeking progress in resolving Haiti's malaise, but its efforts have not proven sufficient to balance Washington’s offhanded policy of benign neglect toward the island.

* The June 5-7 OAS General Assembly in Fort Lauderdale will make or break the organization’s alleged commitment to achieve positive change in Haiti.

Since President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s February 2004 ouster, Haitian police and the 7,400-member UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSTAH) have been struggling to find peace on the island, let alone maintain it. The latest victim of the daily violence and murder taking place in Haiti, French diplomat Paul-Henri Mourral, was killed while driving in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday, when a group of men opened fire on his vehicle. Earlier in the week, armed men shot up Port-au-Prince’s Tete Boeuf market, starting a fire that spread throughout the marketplace and killed at least seven people.

Tragically, this week’s events are nothing out of the ordinary as Haiti’s death toll grows daily. Human rights groups estimate that 700 people, including 40 police and seven peacekeepers, have been killed in Haiti since June 2004. Elections are scheduled for October and November, but Aristide’s Lavalas Party has insisted that it will not participate unless Prime Minister Gerard Latortue’s appallingly inept interim government releases hundreds of Aristide supporters and officials who are being held without charge, after being jailed by the island’s, if not diabolic, certainly deeply flawed Justice Minister, Bernard Gousse. With the island’s continued climate of instability and insecurity, free and fair elections hardy seem an achievable reality in Haiti’s near future.

Washington’s Ethical Inconsistencies


The truth about Aristide’s departure is murky at best, but the former Haitian president has accused both the U.S. and France of being involved in a comprehensive plot to achieve his removal. What we do know is that as anti-Aristide rebel forces were approaching Port-au-Prince, Washington instructed then-UN ambassador John Negroponte to block any move to send an international force to protect the democratically-elected Haitian president. On February 29, Marines escorted Aristide from the U.S. embassy to a Washington-supplied aircraft which carried him to exile in South Africa, after insisting that he sign a virtually extorted letter of resignation. Despite the Bush administration’s undeniable role in orchestrating Aristide’s ouster, since then it has done embarrassingly little to help the island - except having the State Department's Roger Noriega warning CARICOM countries that if they don't comply with Bush administration policy on Haiti, certain perks would dry up.

Washington chose not to send American troops to participate in MINUSTAH, and instead convinced one of its few Latin American allies, Brazil, to lead the UN mission.
In a further demonstration of an inconsistent policy, the Bush administration welcomes so-called Cuban political refugees with open arms, but systematically denies entry to Haitians arriving on the shores of southern Florida in hopes of escaping the violence and murder ravaging their country. For an administration that hails itself as the world’s most committed defender of democracy, the White House’s Haiti policy has been anything but.

CARICOM Steps Up and Shapes Up


The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has emerged as Haiti’s main champion in the hemisphere and was one of the relatively few international entities to petition the UN Security Council to deploy a multinational force to help bring stability to the island by establishing a transitional government and an independent and non-partisan commission. CARICOM has refused to recognize Latortue’s U.S.-imposed regime as a legitimate, constitutional interim government and has attempted to initiate an international probe into the circumstances of Aristide’s abrupt departure. However, the international community has been widely unresponsive to CARICOM’s efforts, most notably the UN which, under Washington’s dominating influence has remained deaf to CARICOM’s request for such an inquiry. With UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s cave-in, he harmonized UN policy regarding Haiti being a "failed state" with that of Washington.

By last summer, it appeared that the Organization of American States (OAS) was finally preparing to take a more responsible position on the breakdown of democracy in Haiti. At its June 2004 General Assembly in Quito, the OAS approved a CARICOM-driven resolution to undertake a “collective assessment” of the situation in Haiti, despite objections from Washington and Latortue. Under Article 20 of the organization’s charter, the OAS can call for an investigation “in the event of unconstitutional alterations of the constitutional regime that seriously impairs the democratic order.” The OAS also issued statements urging Haiti’s interim government to promote stability so that free, fair and democratic elections could be held as soon as possible. In a November 2004 “Memorandum of Understanding” between the OAS and the UN, the OAS General Secretariat accepted responsibility for conducting voter registration and helping to establish the Electoral Cooperative Committee (ECC).

OAS Follows Suit with Washington and the UN

But now it seems that the OAS decrees were nothing more than pandering by coming up with a hurried compromise to appease CARICOM, and that no one actually expected the organization to honor its pledges—simply one more pseudo event at the hands of the then outgoing Secretary-General, Caesar Gaviria. Nearly one year after the OAS’ initial promise was made, fewer than 60,000 Haitians have been registered to vote (out of the island’s population of 4.5 million), and an official investigation into Aristide’s ouster has yet to yield any hard findings. Despite issuing volumes of lofty rhetoric promising a brighter future for Haiti, the OAS has failed to adequately address the turmoil on the island. Luigi Einaudi, acting secretary-general of the OAS, issued a May 6 statement expressing concern for former Haitian Prime Minister Yvon Neptune’s rapidly declining health. This was an admirable step for Einaudi to take, and should be considered to be a partial exculpation for his role which eventually ended up with his protégé, Roger Noriega, becoming Assistant-Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs, and the catastrophic impact on U.S.-Latin America relations which resulted from the appointment of that arch ideologue to his present office.

Neptune began a hunger strike in March to protest his being imprisoned without charge and inhumane living conditions for prisoners. Many of these prisoners were detained upon the order of Latortue’s antipathetic Justice Minister, Bernard Gousse. Einaudi warned Latortue that “If Mr. Neptune’s health deteriorates to the point of no return, the Government will be held accountable for its inability to prosecute him and failure or refusal to release him.” But Einaudi also admitted that the OAS did not act upon a request made by Haiti’s Minister of Justice to provide a forensic anthropologist to help gather evidence in the Neptune case. Such a professional initiative on Gousse’s part has to have some murky reference, given the offensive nature of the man. The OAS General Assembly, to be held this weekend in Fort Lauderdale, will provide a crucial opportunity for the organization to leave behind its irresponsible recent history and prove that it is serious about helping Haiti and about itself.

Unfortunately, CARICOM nations will face an uphill battle in making Haiti the center of debate in Florida. The meeting’s agenda, which to a large extent has been determined by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, instead is certain to focus on reevaluating the organization’s Democratic Charter with specific references to Washington’s nemesis, Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. Ultimately, the remaining 33 OAS member nations will be forced to decide if they will allow Washington’s sometimes inconsistent and always irresponsible policies of diplomatic shock and awe to continue to dominate the hemisphere, or if the OAS will make an authentic and sincere effort to bring long-overdue stability and serve the momentum of the movement for autonomy that is now sweeping across much of Latin America.

This analysis was prepared by Research Fellow Sarah E. Schaffer.June 5, 2005
The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been described on the Senate floor as being “one of the nation’s most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers.” For more information, please see our web page at www.coha.org; or contact our Washington offices by phone (202) 223-4975, fax (202) 223-4979, or email coha@coha.org.

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