|Barbados' (shameless) Prime
Minister, Owen Arthur (See articles below: Barbados Shameless Path
and Barbados Creates Rift)
(See update- October 6, 2005:
Barbados Prime Minister
Owen Arthur says the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will only recognize
a democratically elected Government in Haiti.)
Barbados Prime Minister pressed not
to engage with Haiti
by Dawne Bennett
Caribbean Net News Barbados Correspondent
Monday, May 22, 2005
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: Prime Minister
Owen Arthur is being pressed to retract immediately the Barbados government's
policy to engage fully with the Gerard Latortue regime in Haiti.
President of the Clement Payne Movement, David Commissiong says his
organisation is also pushing for Mr. Arthur publicly to insist on the
unconditional release of former Haitian Prime Minister, Yvon Neptune
as well as all other political prisoners.
Mr. Neptune has been held in a prison in Haiti's capital, Port-Au-Prince,
for almost a year without charges or any evidence having been presented
against him. He has been on hunger strike since mid-April and, while
family members and other visitors say he is weak and nearing death,
interim Prime Minister, Latortue is reported as saying there is absolutely
no risk of death.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister dated May 20th and which was
sent after a 'Solidarity with Haiti Rally' held on that day, Mr. Commissiong
said the movement is concerned that the Barbados government’s policy
of fully engaging with the Latortue regime has given comfort and confidence
to "human rights abusers who now occupy the corridors of power in Haiti".
"Indeed, it is extremely likely that Barbados’ support for…Prime Minister
Latortue has contributed to an exacerbation of the plight of the legitimate
Prime Minister, Yvon Neptune," Mr. Commissiong wrote in the letter.
The correspondence continues: "All over the world, heads of government
and leaders of prestigious international organizations are publicly
raising their voices in denunciation of the oppression of Mr. Neptune
and are urging that he be released. What are you doing?"
Mr. Commissiong says it’s time for Barbados to take a stand and for
Prime Minister Arthur to make every effort to save the life of Mr. Neptune.
"We also call upon you to publicly insist upon the unconditional release
of Mr. Neptune and all other political prisoners and the end to state-sponsored
human rights abuses in Haiti, before there can be any consideration
of full engagement," he added.
St. Kitts and Nevis Democrat
May 28, 2005
BARBADOS' SHAMELESS PATH REGARDING HAITI
by COHA Research Associate, Philip Morrow
On several occasions, Barbados has expressed a willingness to work
with the interim Latortue government of Haiti and on May 22, it was
reported that Prime Minister Owen Arthur planned to 'engage' Haiti.
Arthurís initiative, without question an attempt to curry favor
Washington, is shortsighted and ill advised. Not surprisingly, Arthur
has always been considered one of the weaker links regarding
upholding a democratic script when it came to the Caribbean
Community's relations with the U.S.-imposed rump government of
interim-Prime Minister Gèrard Latortue. 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, Arthurís decision
closer to Latortue undermines the efforts of the Caribbean Community
to promote democracy in its region and carries on a long tradition,
save for Prime Minister Erskine Lloyd Sandiford (1987-1994), in which
Barbados' leaders have served as bucket carriers for U.S. policy
makers. This attitude of assuming a bent knee in regards to
Washington dates back to 1983 when the Tom Adams government
cooperated with the controversial U.S. invasion of Grenada by closing
down Grenada's airport so U.S. students, attending Grenada's St.
George's Medical School, would be unable to escape the island, thus
justifying the invasion by U.S. forces, using the stranded medical
students as a pretense.
While the overwhelming majority of CARICOM's member states support
the isolation of Haiti until the holding of free and fair elections,
Barbados has indicated its willingness to neglect its commitment to
democracy and overlook the plight of the Haitian people so long as
sufficient incentives, such as improved benefits from the U.S., are
furnished. If Caribbean states break rank when the first hint of an
opportunity to score points with Washington or Brussels is at hand,
then CARICOM faces an uphill struggle to establish itself as an
effective, relevant, self-respecting regional organization with a
keen sense of its own sovereignty. As for Arthur, 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.
COHA The Council on Hemispheric Affairs: http://www.coha.org/ or
contact our Washington offices by phone (202) 223-4975, fax (202)
223-4979, or email email@example.com.
© 2003 Pam Democrat.
Barbados Creates Rift Within
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
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,
cost of weakening the Community.
• Powerful actors, namely Washington and Paris, influence the
• Barbados follows Washington’s strategy for democratization
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
Minister Gérard Latortue’s interim government (IGH) to
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
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
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
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
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
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
congruent with his own. Since then, Arthur has defended Barbados’
to engage Haiti even if CARICOM does not collectively take this step.
Barbados has continued to press for Haiti’s return to CARICOM
openly commenting on the deficiencies of the interim government. In
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
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
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
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
the CARICOM Charter of Civil Society have made it impossible for the
Community to receive representatives of Haiti in its Councils.”
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
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
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
Respect for Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms (Article II),
Equality Before the Law (Article V), Political Rights (Article VI),
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
had become the word for “sell out.” In a telephone conversation
COHA, a political affairs officer at Barbados’ embassy in Washington
explained that Arthur’s engagement policy is designed to promote
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
year without charge, and other members of the Aristide government being
detained without charges.
In addition, Barbados’ embassy official insisted that engagement
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
major final destinations before illicit substances penetrate the U.S.
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
Haiti. The U.S., which recently released thousands of small arms to
IGH’s brutal police despite an arms embargo that for years prevented
Aristide’s security forces from being properly armed, has often
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
George’s Medical School, would be unable to escape the island
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
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
sufficient incentives – be they on immigration, drugs, trade,
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
has struck it into the back of its neighbor.” At the very least,
owes an apology to his Caribbean neighbors and the suffering people
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
example of inclusiveness and partnership. Barbados' so-called
“engagement” policy could have a disastrous impact on efforts
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
become increasingly well known.
This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associates Oceane Jasor
June 6, 2005
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BARBADOS WANTS CARICOM TO RECOGNIZE DEMOCRATICALLY-ELECTED GOVERNMENT
By Caribbean News, October 7, 2005
CARIBBEAN WORLD RADIO
NEW YORK, CMC - Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur says the Caribbean
Community (CARICOM) will only recognize a democratically elected Government
"We do not agree (with) the way Mr. Aristide was removed from office,"
Arthur told a town meeting on the Brooklyn-Queens corridor. "We
do not believe CARICOM should recognize, or admit to our deliberations,
a Government that's not a Democratic Government."
Aristide, who now resides in exile in South Africa, was controversially
removed from office in February last year. He has accused the United
States of engineering his removal, a claim that has been denied by the
George Bush administration.
Caribbean Governments have refused to recognize the US-backed interim
administration in the former French colony and have suspended Haiti
from the various councils of CARICOM.
The regional Governments have indicated a willingness to assist Haiti
in the Presidential elections scheduled for November 20. Arthur said,
as a member of CARICOM, every country must abide by its Charter of Civil
Society, adding: "It's a great shame that a former Prime Minister
of Haiti is languishing in prison. If you really want to be a member
of CARICOM there are certain standards that we expect from you."
Earlier this month, a Haitian judge ruled that Neptune should stand
trial for the February massacre in the town of St Marc, west of the
According to the investigative judge, Cluny P. Jules, there was enough
evidence to try the former Prime Minister implicated in the massacre
of more than 40 political opponents during the rebellion that resulted
in the removal of Aristide last year.
The Barbados leader said the current circumstances surrounding the election
in Haiti are not acceptable to CARICOM, "because they have elections
planned but less than 50 percent of the electorate has been registered".
"Now, if you have elections, where such a large proportion of the
society has been disenfranchised, we could not honor the obligation
in the Caribbean to recognize the Government as a legitimate Government,
even though the process might have been gone through of an election
having been called."
He said Barbados' position on Haiti had been much "maligned"
and "unfairly savaged" in the media, but it is necessary,
however, for CARICOM to stay "engaged" in Haiti, so as to
be able to influence the democratic process.
"It's not we're saying, 'we like what the [interim] administration
is doing, '" Arthur said."But we have to talk to them. And
you can only influence things if you form a relationship".
Arthur said it would be "sad" if CARICOM continues to isolate
Haiti by not being engaged, even though it should not recognize the
present Interim Government.
At the same time, Arthur underscored the call on the Interim Government
to immediately release all political prisoners and desist from abusing
people opposed to the Government's policies.
"We must see Haiti as a Caribbean country and we must have a duty
to build Democracy in Haiti."
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