PATTERSON… Haitians are not just our neighbours, they are full members of the (Caribbean) family

“When we speak now of Caribbean people, Haitians are not just our neighbours, but they are full members of the (Caribbean) family,” Patterson told the members of the Caribbean Community during the Caricom 30th anniversary distinguished lecture at the Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York in Brooklyn on Thursday.

Prime Minister Patterson was emphatic in his disapproval of efforts by some countries to impose an economic embargo on Haiti because of disagreement with the Haitian Government over movements towards greater democracy.

Said Patterson: “Today, Haiti faces enormous challenges for economic and social development. Indeed, it is in dire need of international assistance but, over recent years, the donor community has imposed a virtual embargo on assistance and co-operation on Haiti, which has severely damaged its prospects. We cannot condone their isolation which only breeds further poverty and misery for the Haitian people.”

An unidentified woman in the seaside slum of Raboteau in Gonaives, Haiti, points out bullet holes her cement block shack received yesterday when scores of police officers invaded the Jubilee and Raboteau slums in a raid where at least five people were killed and many more injured. The raid, carried out by air, sea and land, lasted three hours, they said, and was in reaction to the 10 days of protests by the ‘Cannibal Army’, a gang which formerly supported Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide but is now vehemently anti-government because it blames the September 22 murder of its leader, Amiot Metayer, on Aristide, a charge the government rejects. (Photo: AP)

Patterson noted that now that Haiti has subscribed to the fundamental principles on which the Caribbean Community rests, Caricom will seek to assist that member country to build those institutions required to ensure democracy in that country.

Meanwhile, the prime minister said Caricom saluted the Haitian people as they approached their bicentennial anniversary of independence, noting that they had struggled for many years over a long and difficult road in what he said was a hostile world of discrimination.

“Haiti was the first black republic in the Western Hemisphere, a nation which was born in the overthrow of slavery and colonial rule. It is an achievement of immense significance in the history of the Caribbean and symbolised its unrelenting quest for freedom and equality,” he pointed out.

At the same time, Patterson, in his lecture, repeated his call for the promotion of a global order where through collective decision-making there could be an international economic system that ensures the equitable sharing of the Earth’s resources.

“We cannot subscribe to a world where might is right and the strong are free to break every rule and hallowed practice of international Law. We must resist any global economic system which allows the rich and powerful to condemn those who are small and weak, to a perpetual state of poverty and underdevelopment,” he said.