2004-05-06 / Caribbean Corner

caribbean roundup

caribbean roundup

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua (AP) – The Caribbean Community (Caricom) has agreed to be part of a UN multinational force expected to supervise the res-toration of democracy in Haiti.

Haiti is among key items being dealt with by the Caricom Heads Bureau which is meeting in Antigua on Tues-day and Wednesday.

At the opening of the meeting, outgoing Caricom chairman Jamaica Prime Minister PJ Patterson said that the re-gional grouping has a compelling obligation to do whatever it can to restore constitutional democracy and enhance political stability in Haiti as well as economic progress for the people.

He said that while it has been agreed that Caricom will be part of the UN sponsored force, a final decision will not be made until the heads of government summit in July.

Mr Patterson’s position was support-ed by Antiguan Prime Minister Bald-win Spencer who took over the chairmanship of Caricom from Mr Patterson.

Mr Spencer said the region had no choice but to commit troops to the cause. He also said that the Haitian people must be educated to respect democratic institutions and systems and they must be brought closer to the people of the English speaking Caribbean.

Meanwhile, a former Haitian leader has criticized the composition of newly appointed Provisional Electoral Coun-cil (CEP) that was established to or-ganize elections and restore democracy by 2005.

Leslie Manigat, who led the country briefly in 1988, said his party the Social Christian Party RDNP was disappointed at the composition of the council,

He told Associated Press that voo-doo, one of the country’s main religions was not represented on the council while three other religions were.

"We have four religions in Haiti; the CEP has one representative of the Catholic faith, one representative of the Anglican, one representative of the Protestant and none of the voodoo. That is why I am saying that there is a lack of representation on the council."

So far, only eight members of the council were announced, as a ninth seat is being left open for a representative of the Lavalas Party, which was led by former President Jean Bertrand Aristide.

The Lavalas Party has refused the offer of a seat on the council because it believes the interim government has failed to halt what Lavalas calls the persecution of its members.

Prime Minister Latortue said that the offer of a seat on the council is still open to Lavalas but if they don’t nominate a representative, the interim government will fill the seat.

Mr. Manigat told (AP) that he thinks both Lavalas and the interim government are playing politics.

"The Lavalas position is a political one and the government is also playing the same game that is why there has been no solution so far to the situation," he said. "If they (Lavalas) maintain their position that means they are definitely going to act in a manner hostile to the regime and the electoral process."

He dismissed Lavalas’ claims that the party would win the next elections because they are still extremely popular.

"I don’t think in regular, serious, honest elections there is any possibility whatsoever for Lavalas to win."

Two Investigators Added To Team Looking Into Theft Allegations

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua (AP) – Two international investigators have been added to a team of auditors analyzing theft allegations at a wealthy Texan’s development company in Antigua, the company said.

Allen Stanford of Houston, who also owns Caribbean Star and Caribbean Sun airlines, temporarily suspended operations at Stanford Development Co. Ltd. in Antigua recently amid allegations that employees stole materials and sabotaged equipment.

The company did not offer any de-tails on the two investigators who ar-rived to help the internal inquiry.

About 500 employees have been ordered to remain home but Stanford said that workers will be paid normally during the initial shutdown which is likely to last about two weeks.

The company’s operations in St. Kitts have not been affected. Workers there are constructing new headquarters for Caribbean Star.

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – The United Nations’ refugee agency will donate some $500,000 to help Jamaica deal with an influx of Haitian boat migrants sparked by a recent rebellion in the impoverished country, the government said.

The agreement comes four days after a group of 128 Haitians landed off Ja-maica’s east coast, bringing to 429 the number to reach shore since a revolt in February ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The U.N. funds, to be dispersed gradually, will help feed and accommodate the Haitians at several shelters throughout the Caribbean island, Jam-aica’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

The U.N. High Commission for Refugees will also help repatriate any of the migrants who wish to return home, just 100 miles east of Jamaica.

Jamaica has already received about $30,000 from the Geneva-based agency.

Several of the Haitians have applied for political asylum and are being in-terviewed, though officials have de-clined to say how many.

Previous groups of migrants said they faced persecution by rebels.

The uprising has prompted lawlessness and a rise in poverty since Aris-tide fled Feb. 29 as rebels converged on the Haitian capital.

The migrants represent the largest influx of Haitians to Jamaica since thousands fled here in the mid-1990s after Aristide was ousted in a military coup.

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) – Nelson Mandela’s last trip abroad was cut short by news of the death of his first wife, Evelyn Nkoto, leaving thousands of expectant people in Tobago and Grenada, who hoped to see the former South African president, very disappointed.

The Nobel laureate left Trinidad on Saturday morning for home instead of going on to Grenada where he was to present the case for South Africa to host the 2010 World Soccer Cup ahead of Libya and Morocco.

On reflection, his focus at a luncheon meeting in Port of Spain on the need for countries to give women equal status with women, if they are to truly become developed could have been in honor of the woman he married back in 1944 and with whom he had four children.

At a rally for school children on Friday former President Mandela said it was his last trip abroad; on that same day, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said the freedom fighter, who had spent 27 years of his life incarcerated in a South African prison, had defied his doctors to make one last trip abroad in service to his country.

In addition to the children’s rally and the luncheon he addressed a dinner in his honor by the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Football (CONCACAF) and met with Prime Minister Patrick Manning, Pre-sident Maxwell Richards and leader of the opposition Basdeo Panday.

At the CONCACAF dinner, Mande-la praised the work of ANC stalwarts such as Walter Sisulu, "without whom the struggle would not have been won."

On the few occasions he was re-quired to go out into the public, crowds of people turned up to catch a glimpse of Mandela and he always responded with the love and warmth he received.

One such occasion was when in the lobby of Hilton Hotel he greeted a female employee who blushed in his presence: "Are you married?" was the instant retort of Mandela much to the delight of the dozens of people who made up an informal guard of honor for the former president.

Just as charming and loved was the other Nobel laureate, Archbishop Tutu.

At a service of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port of Spain, he preached a sermon of God honoring the promise to his people to take them into the land of Zion.

Archbishop Tutu thanked the international community for its support to end apartheid and urged them to persuade the decision-makers to give his country the honor to host the 2010 World Soccer Cup.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) – The United Nations is leading an effort by international organizations in Guy-ana to get the country’s main political parties to return to political dialogue.

Last month, political dialogue was called off by the opposition after allegations about the government’s involve-ment in death squads.

The calls for political rapprochement was also echoed by leaders of the coun-try’s sharply divided labor movement at May Day rallies over the weekend.

Representatives of both the ruling party and the main opposition met with members of the international community late last week and over the weekend.

Jan Sorensen, head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Guyana told (AP) that the international community was keen to make the point that a number of important aid programs will be adversely affected if the political stalemate continued.

These include those aimed at im-proving institutions such as the judiciary, parliament and the elections commission.

"All this is affecting the perception of whether Guyana is able to resolve its own internal differences in a peaceful, democratic manner," he said.

Sorensen also said that the meet-ings were also used to listen carefully to the concerns of the two political parties. However, he felt it was too early to say whether their differences could be resolved soon.

Strident, who calls for the politicians to work together for the good of the country, also came at the different May Day rallies held recently throughout the country.

These events also reflected the divisions at the political level. One labor leader told those workers who follow-ed him to one of the several rally points that it was unrealistic to expect the labor movement to be united when the politicians are so divided.

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