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Haiti suspends ties with CARICOM

Haiti suspends ties with CARICOM

SPARKING WHAT is being construed as the start of a diplomatic row, Haiti's interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue has withdrawn his ambassador to Jamaica, Jean Gabriel Augustin and suspended relations with CARICOM in protest over ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's arrival in the island for a temporary stay. This, according to reports out of Port-au-Prince.

As events unfolded, Jamaica issued its own broadside last night, all but dismissing Mr. Latortue who on the weekend had snubbed Prime Minister P.J. Patterson by not showing in Kingston for a meeting he had requested.

"Jamaica has not recognised the interim Government of Haiti as this will be the subject of deliberations by the CARICOM heads of Government at their Inter-Sessional Meeting in St. Kitts later this month," said a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Minister K.D. Knight, speaking with The Gleaner last night, said Latortue's decision not to meet with PM Patterson was "ill-advised."

Yesterday, as reports of Latortue's statement emerged, Jamaican officials said no formal communication had come from Haitian officials. "I believe the report said that they were suspending diplomatic relations and that they were withdrawing their ambassador," said Information Minister Burchell Whiteman, speaking to journalists at mid-afternoon.

"At the time of Cabinet there was no evidence of such a note."

Mr. Knight last night sought to downplay the new development, indicating that the withdrawal was not a recent event, nor confined to Jamaica.

"The ambassador to Jamaica was recalled last week and left last week and my understanding is that there was nothing unique about this to Jamaica as other ambassadors were also recalled," said Minister Knight in a telephone interview with The Gleaner.

"I am aware of the news reports but I can only say that we have not had any official communication (from Haitian officials)."

Meantime, wire reports quoted Latortue as accusing Aristide of paying Haitians "to destabilise the country."

"Now our country has many problems. There are people trying to destabilise the country. It may be ex-President Aristide himself who is contributing by giving money and advice," he suggested.


He also attacked the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) saying, "We are going to put to sleep all participation in the activity of CARICOM."

The economic bloc, under the current chairmanship of Patterson, has called for an international investigation into Aristide's claim that he was abducted by U.S. officials and forced to leave Haiti.

"CARICOM has hurt this country too much in the past, even when they were breaking Haitians' bones, when they were violating human rights," Latortue said, accusing the regional bloc of not doing enough to stop attacks on opposition opponents.

U.S. Democratic legislator Maxine Waters of California, who was part of a delegation that escorted Aristide back from Africa on a chartered jet, speaking at Kingston airport, said Latortue's gestures were "meaningless".

Latortue is soon to name a Cabinet, including retired Gen. Herard Abraham, who also supports recreating the army that fomented 32 coups and is notorious for brutalising and murdering civilians, reports Associated Press.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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