2023 March 29
Open Letter from the Assembly of Caribbean People to CARICOM Heads of Government
No Foreign Military Intervention in Haiti
Haiti’s Crisis can only be solved by the Haitian People
Dear Heads of Government,
We write to you on the Anniversary of the adoption of the new Haitian Constitution in 1987 which established a democratic state after very many years of dictatorship and military occupation by the United States. This Constitution and a new era in Haitian society was achieved by the Haitian people themselves through processes of mass mobilisations and struggles which entailed tremendous sacrifices.
Since that moment in 1987 the Haitian people had a few years of great hope following the democratic elections of 1990-91. However, they have had to endure reversals to their hard won democracy: a military coup fomented by Haiti’s elite; a coup carried out by foreign powers; a military occupation under the “banner” of the United Nations during which time UN troops introduced cholera into Haiti causing massive loss of life among other consequences; and the imposition of neo-liberal policies under the thumb of the International Monetary Fund and other Washington based institutions; and, since 2016 the total lack of a legitimate government given that there is no parliament in existence and elections have not been held.
Heads, we know that you are very aware that the situation in Haiti deteriorated considerably since the last months in office and subsequent assassination of the then President Jovanel Moise. He stoutly refused to step down at the end of his constitutional term of office in the face of mass protests by the people demanding that he abide by the Constitution. Furthermore, he tried to implement the Independent Electoral Commission in a manner that was not in accordance with the Constitution and sought to rule in the absence of the parliament. In all this Moise was supported by the so-called Core Group of representatives of the governments of the US, Canada and France.
Subsequent to Moise’s assassination, the Core Group intervened to have “their man” Ariel Henry
declared Prime Minister. Henry has absolutely no legitimacy. There is no President, no Parliament,
no properly constituted Electoral Commission and virtually every other republican institution has been destroyed. Therefore democracy, in effect, does not exist. Henry leads the de factor government and therefore we recognise that Haiti being a member state of CARICOM requires you to engage him. However, Henry uses this conveniently to give himself legitimacy that he otherwise does not have.
In this vacuum of legitimacy and the destruction of national institutions that the Core Group and the Haitian elite have been central to creating, there has emerged the criminal gangs. There is no denying the fact that these gangs are wreaking havoc in Haiti: kidnapping; rape; murders and mass killings; attacks on schools, hospitals, churches and other social centres; and the interruption of the supply chains of fuel, internal transportation and food have created much more than the insecurity of the Haitian people. It must be clear, however, that the guns used by these criminals were not made in Haiti they came from the United States! The US playbook of sanctions and the Canadian use of “naval assets” to stop the gang activity will not succeed.
We are also painfully aware that there is a social crisis in Haiti catalysed by policies that have resulted in massive inflation running at close to 50% per annum; fuel prices that were increased by more than 250% in the past year; an effective 50% devaluation of the Haitian currency. All of these has resulted in a situation whereby almost half of the Haitian people are faced with food insecurity.
We took note of the Communique on Haiti issued at your last Heads of Government meeting and your subsequent press release to send a team to Haiti for a “one day working visit”. We are of the very strong view that this visit was just an exercise in Public Relations and for CARICOM to tick a box saying “we went to Haiti”. This is unfortunate since we know that within CARICOM’s leadership there are many Heads who wish for a genuine, Haitian led and accepted solution.
In the first place the team was led by the Prime Minister of Jamaica who is on record as being in support of a foreign military intervention. He has not altered that position since his return from Haiti. Secondly, given what you admit in your press release issued after the visit to be a “complex socio-economic and political challenge … characterized by protracted instability” it would have been impossible to arrive at a clear and unbiased understanding of the situation in one day! Thirdly, we know for a fact that the team met with very few organisations and certainly did not meet with
key civil society, social movement and political actors in Haiti. The team could not have, given the one day visit.
Fourthly, it was reported that the team was accompanied by representatives of Canada. We ask, did the government of Canada facilitate this visit? Did they provide the logistical support? Did they make the arrangements for the meetings that you held? We also ask whether PM Holness reported on the visit to anyone outside of CARICOM before Heads met on Sunday March
5th since there was a long gap between the February 27th visit and your meeting on March
5th. The people of the Caribbean deserve answers to these questions since Canada is a member of the Core Group and as stated earlier, has played and is playing a key role in interfering in the internal affairs of Haiti. Note, for example the recent bilateral meeting between the PM of Canada and the President of the US at which meting Haiti was discussed. A visit by a CARICOM team that was facilitated in any way by Canada is of necessity tainted and partial in the eyes of Haitians. This will make your stated plan outlined in your March 6th release of “a follow-up meeting with Haitian stakeholders to chart a path to consensus building in order to bring peace and stability to Haiti” much more difficult to achieve unless you rectify the damage done by the Holness led team.
Heads, we wish to reiterate our position and that is: that t he Haitian people have articulated solutions to their country’s crisis which are deeply democratic. The Henry regime has to go and in its place there needs to be a transitional government supported by civil society and with a mandate of restoring peace and establishing the conditions for a free and fair elections in accordance with Haiti’s Constitution. This position has, as you know, been articulated by the Montana Accord. We are of the strong view that CARICOM’s role in assisting Haiti must be independent of the countries of the Core Group and that any future process of discussion/mediation with Haitian civil society, social movements and political actors should be: inclusive with participation based on extensive consultation with Haitian organisations; and should take place in a CARICOM state whose leadership has not endorsed or called for military intervention.
We call on you Heads to insist to that:
the countries in the Core Group stop interfering in Haiti;
there is no foreign military intervention in Haiti and that the US desists from bringing to the UN Security Council motions calling for military intervention;
France repays the debt that it owes Haiti, which debt arose from the payment that France forced Haiti to pay for its freedom, instead of seeking to interfere in Haiti’s internal affairs! The repayment of this debt will contribute significantly to Haiti being able to address many of the economic and social problems that it is faced with.
We wish to advise you that the Trinidad and Tobago Chapter of the Assembly of Caribbean People in conjunction with several important NGOs and social movements has written to the Heads of Government of the three countries in the Core Group specifying the positions above.
We are the Regional Executive Committee of the Assembly of Caribbean People
David Abdulah, Trinidad & Tobago
For and on behalf of:
2. David Denny, Barbados
3. Camille Chalmers, Haiti
4. Claudette Etnel, Suriname
5. Hilda Guerrero, Puerto Rico
6. Robert Sae, Martinique
7. Ivan Rodriguez, Dominican Republic
8. Cuban chapter of ACP