Interventions in Haiti must be led by Haitian stakeholders – St Vincent PM

– warns Caricom to limit itself to a “good offices” role

Even as the Caribbean Community (Caricom) continues to make plans for intervention in Haiti amid its continued instability, St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has warned the Region to tread carefully and limit itself to a “good offices” role in the controversy.
In a letter, Gonsalves made it clear that neither he nor his Government supports a “Caricom Mission to Haiti” that takes the shape of what is currently being proposed. Instead, Gonsalves noted that Caricom must focus on a “good offices” role where it facilitates political dialogue and assists Haiti in preparing for elections.
Gonsalves pointed out that many Haitians do not recognise the present Haitian Government of Prime Minister Dr Ariel Henry, who took office after the assassination of Jovenel Moïse and who has requested security support from the United Nations, Canada and the United States of America and Caricom itself, to deal with the gang violence.
The PM noted that even if Caricom had the capacity to lend security support to Haitian National Police against the armed gangs running amok, the Region runs the risk of being seen as ‘propping up’ the Henry Government if this was its first tangible response to the crisis.
“The Haitian National Police (HNP) is grossly undermanned, poorly trained, inadequately equipped, and riddled with gang supporters. Further, non-Haitian creole military/Police personnel from outside Haiti will not be able to function effectively alongside the HNP who speak a different language.”
“Addressing the weaknesses and limitations of the HNP will take a long time, but one can only begin to do so seriously and effectively within the context of more consensual political/governance apparatuses than what currently exists,” Gonsalves said in his letter.
The Prime Minister also warned that a Caricom scoping mission to Haiti under US or Canadian military escort will be seen by Haitians as “an American/Canadian military operation cocooning Caricom puppets”
“Fundamentally, any Caricom Mission in Haiti must first be predicated upon a political/governance solution crafted by the Haitian stakeholders consequent upon an inclusive dialogue between them. This dialogue ought to be conducted outside Haiti under Caricom’s facilitation, providing of course that the Haitian stakeholders so agree,” the PM stressed.
According to Gonsalves, any intervention in Haiti must have the buy-in of Haitian stakeholders. He also suggested that the Americans and the Canadians ought to be present at the venue of the consultations/dialogue in an advisory capacity. Additionally, a request can be made to the Americans and Canadians for air transportation and associated logistics.
“As facilitators, we in Caricom need to be patient and calm, yet acting with all practical urgency. As bad as things are in Haiti, they are likely to get much worse if we do not act prudently.”
“Above all, we must remember that Caricom is a facilitator; the Haitians must devise their solutions and lead the process themselves – representatives of all the Haitian people, not merely a Government which lacks legitimacy and effectiveness,” Gonsalves added.
Gonsalves is not alone in urging that a political solution must be reached before any security solution. A number of countries, including Canada, have noted that political changes are necessary, even as news has emerged of a possible foreign military intervention into Haiti.
The security situation in Haiti has deteriorated dramatically since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, as rival gangs battle for dominance on the streets of Port-au-Prince. In fact, earlier this year Prime Minister Henry survived what is widely suspected to have been an assassination attempt.