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CARICOM, Regional Arm Of The Core Group, Sells Out Haiti Again

Above photo: Mia Motley and other CARICOM leaders met with Haitian “stakeholders” in Kingston, Jamaica to create the transitional government now in place in Haiti.

Don’t be fooled by the “progressive” rhetoric of the leaders of the Caribbean Community.

What they’re doing in Haiti is shamelessly serving the interest of US empire.

One can be forgiven for being confused about the situation unfolding in Haiti, with all of the moving parts inside the country and, outside, the CARICOM-led construction of a Transitional Presidential Council and a looming “Kenyan-led” (and U.S. run) military intervention. This is not an accident; it is a carefully crafted distraction. A great deal of effort has been spent to make it appear that the process underway in Haiti is a result of “Haitian-led” initiatives, spearheaded by regional allies in CARICOM, out of genuine concern for Haiti and its peoples.

Upon a basic review of the facts, however, it becomes clear that CARICOM is, once again, working in the service of the US empire. Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Guyana President Irfan Ali are providing cover for the US, taking charge of the Transitional Council and attempting to make it appear as an independent CARICOM initiative, and not the latest iteration of CORE Group rule in Haiti.

For those unfamiliar, the CORE Group is an unelected imperial body that has taken upon itself to determine the path of Haiti’s political and economic trajectory since the 2004 coup against democratically elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide. The CORE Group is made up of representatives from Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, the European Union, the United States, and the Organization of American States. Within this grouping are a number of Caribbean states, who are often overlooked and fly under the radar due to the heavy handed presence of the United States and Canada in Haitian affairs.

After 20 years of repeated blunt force trauma at the hands of the CORE Group’s political interventions, a new strategy is being deployed in Haiti. Many observers are unfortunately fooled by Caribbean leaders like Mottley and Ali who are branding themselves as radical with seemingly anti-colonial rhetorical soundbites. However, their actions on Haiti reveal that they remain little more than imperial errand girls and boys, because directly behind them, the CORE Group is openly funding, providing military training and diplomatic support for this supposed CARICOM led intervention.

Despite the spin that CARICOM is taking a progressive stance on Haiti to save it from another US/Canada-led intervention, the region has a very shameful record when it comes to dealing with both the Haitian government and the Haitian people. Across the Caribbean, Haiti and the Haitian people have been treated inhumanely, with anti-Haitian sentiment finding itself bolstered into official policy by the very same countries that now claim to be helping.

The Jamaican government has admitted to not wanting to be faced with “an avalanche” of Haitian refugees, has been critiqued for its policy of forcibly returning Haitian asylum seekers ,  and has returned boats containing Haitian refugees back to Haiti. Guyana faces potential international sanctions over its respective treatment of Haitian refugees, in a case recently reviewed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Haitians in the Bahamas, numbering an estimated 70,000 (close to 25 percent of the population), face systemic discrimination, are repeatedly targeted by the Bahamian government as a scapegoat for a myriad of problems, and are condemned to terrible living conditions. In 2021, the United Nations called on the Bahamas to cease plans to bulldoze a community of 600 homes , which housed Haitian migrants. This was after repeated attempts to bulldoze communities in 2018 and 2019 (after Hurricane Dorian).

So while individual Caribbean governments have terrible records towards Haitians, and have long viewed Haitians as a regional security threat, Caribbean leaders are now taking their reactionary politics directly to the country through the CARICOM-led Transitional Council, which is little more than a front for the CORE Group. A brief examination of the timeline of intervention helps to support this argument: that CARICOM is taking a leading role in legitimizing foreign intervention in Haiti, literally selling out Haiti for increased funding, while using the current political crisis in Haiti as a way to both  improve their own political fortunes domestically, regionally, and internationally.

On February 14, 2023, CARICOM leaders met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Assistant U.S. Secretary of State, Brian Nichols, in the Bahamas. Bahamian Prime Minister Phillip Davis remarked that “We do not have the resources to be able to deal with the Haiti problem ourselves, and we do need outside help,” urging Canada and the United States to “come to the fore to help.” Following that meeting in the Bahamas, two days later, on February 16, 2023, it was announced that Canada would provide $44.8 million in new funding for CARICOM initiatives.

On February 27, 2023, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness led a one-day CARICOM Special Mission to Haiti, to speak with a variety of Haitian stakeholders to get a better understanding of how to move forward out of the intersecting security and political crises. At the time, the focus was on supporting the Haitian National Police, but the press release also stated that there was an effort underway to engage with African support for Haiti, in combination with continued influence of the US and Canadian governments on Haiti.

In May 2023, CARICOM announced the creation of an Eminent Persons Group , made up of former leaders and CARICOM representatives to engage with Haitian stakeholders. Over the next six months and several visits, CARICOM would table a proposal which would see Ariel Henry remain in power for another 18 months while elections were organized.

While this was happening, the first Canada-CARICOM Summit was held in October 2023, during which Canada committed $85.7 million to various CARICOM initiatives, and also committed up to $58.5 million to the Caribbean Development Bank. The Government of Canada also noted at the summit that since 2022, it has “committed more than $300 million in international assistance to respond to the crisis in Haiti”. Putting this into context, as the statistics on the top recipients of Canadian foreign aid are infrequently updated and do not include military aid (Ukraine would be a clear first with over $3 billion committed for 2024), according to Global Affairs Canada , this funding would place Haiti as one of Canada’s top foreign aid priorities, ahead of Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.

On February 27, 2024, Canada announced that it was providing a $120 million loan to the Government of Guyana, and an additional $39.2 million in funding for Haiti, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname.

On March 11, 2024, CARICOM Heads of State met in person in Jamaica, with representatives from Brazil, Canada, France, Mexico, United Nations and the United States of America, with Haitian representatives (handpicked by the U.S.) appearing by Zoom. More importantly, the meeting began first with a closed door discussion between CARICOM and the CORE group members, before Haitian participants were allowed to join. Besides an understanding of where power lies in this arrangement, the optics also confirm the functional exclusion of Haitian representatives. Given the gravity of the situation at this critical juncture in Haiti’s history, one would have thought that more effort would have been made to ensure that there was at least one Haitian representative attending in person.

At the start of this meeting, Mia Mottley outlined the criteria for the transitional leadership candidates: 1) they cannot run in the next election, 2) They cannot have been indicted or convicted of a crime in any jurisdiction, 3) they cannot be under U.N. sanctions and, most egregious, 4) they must support the multinational security support mission to Haiti. By any standard of evaluation, to believe that there is a legal basis for the multi-national intervention in Haiti requires Olympic level mental gymnastics and a blatant disregard of even the most elementary principles of international law and national sovereignty. But the day before, on March 10 , Mottley met privately with Trudeau to speak about Haiti and the necessity of reaching an agreement in order to deploy the multinational force.

On March 30, it was announced that Canada would be training an estimated 330 “CARICOM troops” from the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Belize. Barbados has also confirmed that it will be supplying troop s to the mission. The training will take place at Canada’s “Operational Support Hub” (which is Canadian jargon for military base), which was established in Jamaica in 2016. Canada has also committed $80.5 millio n to the Kenyan-led mission, and the US has promised another $300 million . Yet out of this setup, we are supposed to believe that CARICOM is an independent partner?

Previous interventions in Haiti show us that there are political prizes for those who work on behalf of US and Western imperialism. For example, Brazil’s 2004 controversial role leading the United Nations Stabilization Force in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was connected with its national ambitions to secure a permanent seat on the UN Security Council . In this case, Mia Mottley, the darling of liberal circles, has her own UN aspirations. While she has repeatedly referred to the Caribbean as a “Zone of Peace” amidst conflicts in the Ukraine, Gaza, and the border dispute between Venezuela and Guyana, she has no problem sending troops to Haiti.

In September 2023, CNN reported that, when “Asked last week if she will run to become the United Nations’ next Secretary General, Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados gave a thumbs up, smiled, and walked away. Unofficially, however, UN insiders say she’s a likely front-runner.“ As demonstrated by Keston K. Perry, Mottley is part of the Caribbean’s misleadership class, which uses what many see as refreshing, progressive rhetoric to push through what are ultimately regressive policies. She can now take credit for forcing an unpopular, even illegal, foreign intervention in Haiti.

In the case of Guyana’s Irfan Ali, he is being increasingly courted by the United States as an important nexus in the shifting geopolitical calculations of Latin America and the Caribbean. With traditional US ally Colombia seeing a leftward political shift from its far right stance under Álvaro Uribe, oil rich Guyana seems like a logical and strategic choice from which to extend its influence – as seen by December’s border dispute with Venezuela.

The supposed CARICOM-led initiative cannot be seen as separate from the long and damaging record of imperial intervention in Haiti. It is clearly a Trojan horse that Caribbean leaders are using to force through the CORE Group’s Kenyan-led multinational force into Haiti. We should remember how terrible the last invasion and occupation by MINUSTAH (2004-2017). This invasion was done with more than ten times the size of the Kenyan force, there were many reports of extrajudicial killings under the pretext of fighting gangs, a broad failure to protect civilians, a cholera outbreak that claimed the lives of thousands and widespread sexual violence. What MINUSTAH showed was that military intervention did not stabilize Haiti, it diverted billions of dollars away from the Haitian state (that could have gone to fund a domestic police force and vital infrastructure), legitimized and propped up the kleptocratic CORE Group puppets of Michel Martelly, Jovenel Moise, and Ariel Henry, and set Haiti on this current trajectory.

CARICOM and Caribbean leaders should know better, but they are instead willing accomplices of empire, selling out Haiti for crumbs.

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