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Mar 29, 2004

CARICOM issues statement on Haiti

CARICOM Heads of Government met at the fifteenth Inter-sessional Meeting of the Conference in Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis on March twenty-sixth. The delegates considered the recent developments in Haiti, reaffirming their commitment to the fundamental principles underpinning governance and democracy in the region and the hemisphere.

They also called, once more, for a U.N. investigation into President Aristide’s departure from office. The Heads reaffirmed that Haiti remains a member of the Caribbean Community and indeed a welcome partner in the regional integration movement and emphasized the importance of holding free and fair elections to ensure a return to constitutional democracy in an acceptable time frame. In the interim, the Heads of Government decided to: (I) reconstitute the Core Group of CARICOM Prime Ministers on Haiti under the leadership of the new Chairman of CARICOM, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer; (II) designate a Special Envoy to advance CARICOM’s interests on issues related to Haiti; and (III) accept the proposals of the CARICOM Secretary-General concerning the establishment of a task force to coordinate CARICOM’s assistance to Haiti in those areas where it has the capacity. The CARICOM Heads expressed their deep concern over the continuing instability, insecurity, violence, and violation of human rights in Haiti and commended outgoing Chairman of CARICOM, Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, for the leadership he displayed in managing the actions of the Community on the Haitian crisis. The Government of Jamaica was praised for granting temporary accommodation to the Aristide family. Appreciation was also expressed to the members of the international community, the African Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (A.C.P.) Committee of Ambassadors who have also called for an investigation into Aristide’s departure. Belize was represented at the meeting by Attorney General, Eamon Courtenay. And in case you are wondering why Belize’s Attorney General was at the CARICOM heads meeting and not the Foreign Minister, Godfrey Smith, that is because Smith is on a five day official visit to Cuba. He is seen here in a photo from Reuters News Agency with Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque at the foreign ministry in Havana today.

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