CARICOM leaders end Summit in Guyana on a positive note

The four-day summit of CARICOM leaders which brought many dignitaries from the Caribbean and Latin American region to Guyana has come to an end and by all accounts has been a success.

CARICOM leaders end Summit in Guyana on a positive note
CARICOM leaders end Summit in Guyana on a positive note

The four-day summit of CARICOM leaders which brought many dignitaries from the Caribbean and Latin American region to Guyana has come to an end and by all accounts has been a success.

The leaders who congregated in Guyana for the summit have stated that the event ended on a very positive note and that the region will see the benefits of this interaction in the time to come.

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President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, who is the current Chairperson of CARICOM and also acted as the host for this particular summit, was quite impressed with the fact that the leaders who took part in the summit managed to compress many weeks’ worth of work into a mere four-day period.

President Ali added that despite the hectic agenda, the leaders of the Caribbean managed to come up with “a carefully crafted strategy on many important issues of immense concern to the region.”

Haiti was a matter of concern for CARICOM and President Ali mentioned that a significant amount of time was spent discussing the political and economic situation in the nation. He added that, “it was time well worth it because of how important Haiti is for the region and how critical it is for us to find a solution to the holistic advancement of the people of Haiti.”

A major point of discussion was the problems Haiti is facing when it comes to governance. With that in mind, President Ali said that leaders in the region are, “finding a parallel mechanism through which the political governance issues …are also addressed simultaneously with the security and humanitarian issue.”

The Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Phillip Davis also spoke of Haiti, calling the situation “is truly a terrible” one which has led to “Haiti haemorrhaging”.

Davis gave a statement regarding Haiti to reporters, in which he said, “When you look at the amount of deaths in the month of January, it is noted that there were more deaths in Haiti that occurred in the war of Ukraine and Russia. So that tells us of the depths of the suffering that is occurring among the people in Haiti.”

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He added that, “Much of our sessions were on the Haitian crisis and trying to bring some resolution.”

The leaders who came to Guyana made is very clear that another round of discussions on Haiti are imminent. It was thought that the next round of discussions on Haiti would be held in Jamaica within the span of the next two weeks. Having said that, no definitive decision has been made with regard to the venue.

President Ali said that he understands the difficulties of dealing with the situation in Haiti and appreciated the effort made by Jamaica in particular to try and improve upon it.

He went on to state the following, “I want to recognise Prime Minister (Dr Ariel) Henry in this frank and open discussion…it was a very difficult discussion… and I want to recognise his role in making commitments and understanding the very statement that we made here that applies to all the stakeholders.

“We are urging that each stakeholder must recognise that they will not obtain all they want, but Haiti must obtain what it needs,” he said, adding that while he would like the follow-up meeting to be held tomorrow, it is urgent and “it must happen with great intensity.”

According to him, the Prime Ministers involved in this conversation would have to reorganize their schedules, which would be the right decision as the matter is of great significance to the stability and prosperity of the entire region and can’t be left on the back burner any longer.

The regional leaders have also come to the consensus that several sections in Haiti, including the civil society, the private sector, political shareholders, the religious clergy and the government of Haiti must find some sort of middle ground, without which, the situation would continue to worsen.

Prime Minister Davis made it very clear that CARICOM heads have made the unanimous decision to urge all those have a role to play in the current political breakdown to find a resolution that meets everyone’s needs.

Major international partners of Caribbean nations, including Canada, the United States, France, the United Kingdom and the United Nations, have expressed their concerns with regards to the deterioration of the situation in Haiti and remain useful allies in the fight to bring stability to the entirety of the region.

The former Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Dr Kenny Anthony, chaired the three-member Eminent Persons Group (EPG) set up by CARICOM, which functioned with the overarching aim of negotiating an amicable solution to the issues in Haiti.

He has also been responsible for sending comprehensive reports to the Caribbean region’s international partners mentioned above, which has ensured that they remain in the loop when it comes to any significant developments with regard to Haiti.

He added that, “In the course of a frank and in-depth discussion on the situation in Haiti, the CARICOM Heads expressed their deep concern over the continued deterioration of the security, humanitarian and political situation and the continued delay in overcoming the political stalemate, which has blocked the possibility of free and fair elections.”

“CARICOM Heads underlined the critical and immediate need for a clear path forward which should be participatory and inclusive.”

Leaders in the region have agreed to recognize Prime Minister Henry as the rightful Head of State and see him as the only viable leader after he came to power following President Jovenel Moise’s assassination in July of 2021.

One of the key factors behind the support he is receiving is the fact that he has ensured leaders in the region that under his leadership, Haiti will make great strides in terms of the nation’s political progression, which will be aided when the nation conducts general elections, bringing the constitutional government and administration back in power before the 31st of August, 2025.

An electoral needs gap assessment team will be established by the United Nations and CARICOM with the backing of Canada, USA, and the OAS by the 31st of March, 2024. This will supplement the efforts being made to put in place the institutions and organisations which are necessary for the political progression and stability of Haiti in the near future.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados, who handles the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), stated that the most important task ahead of Caribbean leaders is to find ways in which normal business can be resumed in and around Haiti. The organisation is responsible for facilitating the free movement of skills, services, labour and goods across the region and will have a major role to play in reviving the economic potential of the nation.

Prime Minister Mottley said, “We have moved from crisis management to crisis management to crisis management, but we are at the stage now where we have to resume our normal economic growth trajectory,” she said, adding that means confronting the issue that finance is oxygen and the framework for the single market and single economy has to be put…on the front burner…”

She also clarified that the basis on which the Caribbean Development Fund was established, which is the treaty governing the regional integration movement, dictates that in a single market, there are always those that benefit greatly while others lose in a proportional and often spectacular fashion.

She added that, “This Caribbean Development Fund has already benefited from two funding cycles, but we are now about to approach the third replenishment…and to that extent we were able to settle among ourselves…the contribution cycle for the next few years.”

PM Mottley said that the CDF is in the process of being replenished and has been focusing on adaptability and resilience to counter the climate crisis.

To make up for this, a working group has been established which will be headed by Guyana’s Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo. This group will be responsible for sponsoring development in the Caribbean to handle the, “matter of mobilising financing…to be intermediated through the Blue-Green Investment Bank and the CDF to advance the objectives of regional resilience and growth”.

The group is aiming at preparing a report with regards to the work that it has managed to achieve, which will be presented at the next CARICOM Summit, to be held in Grenada in July.