Restoring the pearl
This is an open letter to our Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders.
As friends of Haiti like yourselves, we are happy that the UN Security Council has made the decision to support Haiti by sending international forces led by Kenya.
We believe the entire African Union (AU) should support this effort, remembering that Haitian ancestors were forcibly taken and transported to the Caribbean to provide slave labour. Notwithstanding its own troubles on the continent, since the African Diaspora is considered to be the sixth region of the AU, the union should also give attention to Haiti. Some of the issues on the continent and in Haiti are similar and certainly some of the solutions could be similar. It is, therefore, important that nations of the AU that have found solutions be around the table to share these with the Haitian people.
We agree with Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, speaking on behalf of Caricom, that, “There is need for Caricom to play a more proactive role at the political level in discussions in Haiti organised by the various interest groups.” We all need to constantly remember that Haiti set the example for the Western Hemisphere by being the first nation to be freed from slavery and constantly struggling to build a free, democratic post-slavery society. However, sometimes, when you are in need in your struggles, you need others to negotiate on your behalf so that you are not taken advantage of.
Caricom should be around the table negotiating on behalf of Haiti. It knows the history and the subsequent challenges and should let the voice of the Caribbean be heard concerning our neighbouring country. We must not be sidelined because we are “small”. It is unacceptable that we should not have a say in how our brothers can be helped and protected.
As Caricom plays its rightful role, it will also increase the confidence of the Haitian people, who have, to date, been very disappointed with the international help provided in the past, as they felt they gave up much more than they received.
Definitely, at this point, Haiti needs outside help and international support. As this support comes, and hopefully speedily, there will be need for short-term, mid-term, and long-term plans for the way forward, which will necessitate input from a wide cross section of the Haitian society. So far the Haitian political machinery, present and past, has not worked to bring about the needed socio-economic development and modernisation.
There needs to be a new consensus of how the country should be governed and how it should move forward. The people of Haiti must be at the core of this process, with support from the AU; Kenya; the UN; and the wider Caribbean community, to include Caricom.
In the final analysis, Haiti’s complex problems must be solved by Haitian-led and Haitian-driven solutions. So the question is: Is Caricom insisting that, while there is the presence of international forces to help with the restoration of a greater measure of security, the Prime Minister of Haiti Dr Ariel Henry take deliberate action to form an interim Government of national unity that represents the majority of the Haitian stakeholders?
Such an interim Government must agree to speedily formulate a programme of public education leading up to the holding of democratic elections which are free from fear and are manifestly fair, with the results being respected by all.
May there be a new start for Haiti, righting all the wrongs of the past and present, leading to Haiti once again becoming a pearl of the Caribbean.