By Alecia Smith
KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – Minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, says Jamaica and the wider Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have been closely monitoring developments in Haiti.
“Jamaica has expressed our willingness to participate in a mission [and] to use our good offices. We have engaged, through the Organization of American States (OAS), and otherwise, in an effort to try to not only understand exactly what is happening, because it’s actually quite a complex situation there, but also our willingness to participate in any way requested by the government of Haiti,” she said.
The minister was addressing a virtual post-Cabinet press briefing on Wednesday, July 7, where she condemned the assassination of Haitian president, His Excellency Jovenel Moïse, at his home this morning. His wife, First Lady Martine Moïse was injured during the attack.
Haiti has been experiencing a spate of gang violence in recent months fueled by political unrest and a constitutional and humanitarian crisis.
Senator Johnson Smith said that the situation in Haiti “was very much on the agenda of heads [of government of CARICOM] who met on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Indeed, president Moïse was to have joined us yesterday morning (July 6) for discussions in respect of reports, including [from] the OAS contingent that had gone [to Haiti]. CARICOM had a representative on that mission that had recently gone to Haiti and had completed its report”.
She further informed that a CARICOM expert report had been commissioned, which was presented to CARICOM heads yesterday.
“These matters were considered in caucus because of their sensitivity,” she noted.
Turning to the issue of getting coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines into Haiti, the foreign affairs minister indicated that “arrangements were underway in the very same discussions that we are having with the United States about their allocation, and those include allocations to Haiti as well”.
Heads of government of CARICOM in a statement issued on developments in Haiti, prior to the news of president Moïse’s death, had expressed grave concern over the “untenable situation” in the country.
“Heads of government of CARICOM condemn the escalating violence, the wanton killings and the ravages of the armed gangs seeking to expand their territory and influence. Heads of government are deeply disturbed by the resulting internal displacement in the capital, in particular, of thousands of persons, including persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, and by the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of these crimes,” the statement read.
The document further stated that CARICOM heads view as unacceptable the breakdown of law and order, the shrinking of good governance and the range of developments adversely affecting the well-being of the Haitian people that are contrary to the principles enshrined in the CARICOM Charter of Civil Society, the normative moorings of the Community.
Heads of government also expressed their support for dialogue between the contending parties, an approach that they recognised has become more acute as the overall situation deteriorates, and reiterated the Community’s willingness to extend its good offices in attaining a Haitian-led peaceful resolution to the current impasse.
They also underlined the importance of creating the enabling conditions without which there can be no transparent, inclusive and secure elections, by curbing insecurity; enhancing transparency, impartiality and popular confidence in the conduct of the scheduled electoral process; eliminating voter disenfranchisement; and avoiding the controversial referendum.
The statement was contained in a communiqué issued following the 42nd Regular Meeting of the Conference of heads of government CARICOM, which was held virtually from July 5 to 6, 2021.