BY THEIR own admission, not a single CARICOM prime minister was called by Jean-Bertrand Aristide before he left Haiti. Instead he apparently called “some other person” in the Caribbean, because that is how we first heard of the re-fuelling stop in Antigua.
We also know that Aristide telephoned the two United States Democrats Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel. That alone ought to have convinced CARICOM leaders of their complete irrelevance not only in the scheme of things, but in Aristide’s own mind. His children had long left the country, and to the United States it goes without saying.
All Aristide, therefore, was trying to do was get publicity, and in a U.S. election year he had the U.S. opposition party to help him do it. More publicity is also guaranteed if the United Nations takes up the ludicrous CARICOM and South African recommendation that there should be an investigation into the details of Aristide’s departure.
As though the whole world didn’t see him leave in an unmarked jet. This is the person whom CARICOM and South Africa want to make into a “cause célèbre” for freedom-loving people the world over. What complete and utter nonsense. Even the Central African Republic, the only country so far that would agree to take him, describes Aristide as an “ungrateful guest”.
I was deeply shocked therefore to see the region’s prime ministers drop everything and fly to Jamaica at 24 hours notice for a summit on this useless creature. Our territories have so many awful problems of their own, it is preposterous that CARICOM leaders could afford to drop them all instantly and overnight. And in order to have a two-day summit on a subject on which events had already proven that they are entirely irrelevant. What a gross waste and misuse of time.
NO PROPPING UP
While they are irrelevant to events in Haiti, those events are not without great significance to all prime ministers in CARICOM. What it proves is that the United States, and for that matter the United Nations, is not about to send in troops to shore up governments which oppress their peoples. And more than a few of them attending the two-day summit lead governments which are guilty of doing just that.
The French Revolution established for all time that people have a right to insurrection to resist governments which oppress them. Even today democracy gives no Government the freedom to run amok and the right to abuse those it governs.
No leader is guaranteed the right to complete his or her constitutional term of office, regardless of how miserable the people’s lives become under that leadership. Nor can such leaders expect either the U.S. or the U.N. to prop them up. Indeed they’re not even entitled to expect an unmarked jet to take them out of the country and to safe haven.
This is the powerful message that Aristide’s departure sent also. And it has reverberated throughout the Caribbean. CARICOM leaders became hysterical, instantly dropped everything they were doing, and looked scared to death. Eyes darting this way and that, they could hardly face the cameras, and obviously took no comfort in their numbers.
Under the Haitian Constitution, the Chief Justice becomes the Prime Minister if the President steps away. Since Aristide’s departure the rebels have tried to remove the Prime Minister, but the U.S. Marines chased them away! They protected him, but they wouldn’t protect Aristide. It ought to be abundantly clear therefore that the Americans intend to restore order and stabilize the country before returning it to Haitian hands.
Almost at the very same moment that Aristide was being flown to safety, the U.S. Embassy here in Kingston released President George W. Bush’s annual report to Congress.
In it he listed Jamaica, the Bahamas, Haiti and the Dominican Republic as the Caribbean countries chiefly responsible for producing and trans-shipping illicit drugs into the U.S.A.
The report also noted that in Jamaica “Corruption continues to undermine law enforcement and judicial efforts against drug-related crime and is a major barrier to more effective counter-narcotics action… (Jamaica) has not prosecuted any senior Government officials for drug-related activities”.
KEEPING BAD COMPANY
This report was far more alarming to me than Aristide’s departure by any means from Haiti. Because this is Jamaica, and according to the American Government, we’ve been keeping very bad company indeed.
Anybody living here can hardly be surprised at the damning contents of this report. Deeply ashamed, but not surprised. About 100 people are murdered every single month in this country. Haiti, with three times the population, and an armed insurrection managed to kill only over 100. Had they asked for our assistance the scale would have been much grander.
There’s no point calling on democracy, or wanting the Democrats in the White House, instead of the Republicans. Regardless of which party is in power in America, their policy towards Jamaica remains the same.
Who can forget when the Most Honourable met in Washington with the then sitting Democrat U.S. President Bill Clinton. Prime Minister Patterson was warned about our serious national drug contamination even then. And I would say that things are starting to get even more serious now.
So there’s no point telephoning Maxine Waters or Charles Rangel, and going on CNN. Jamaica needs to get out of the news, not in it. And not for these kinds of reasons anyhow.
One of the other things that concern me greatly is the plane-load of guns sent here from South Africa, supposedly to shore up Aristide. Why did Mbeki send them here?
The last thing we need is one more gun, because the country is already overrun with guns and gun violence. And to think that they stayed here for a week before we even knew they were here. Next time the Prime Minister is assisting his friends, let them send the guns directly to them. Don’t send guns through here again.
Patterson can call on the external world all he wants. Nobody is going to come in and shore him up, or anybody else, in the name of democracy. The 15 prime ministers who came to Jamaica for that two-day summit on Haiti, had better look to their knitting. And fast.
In one move, President George W. Bush has blown apart CARICOM, and revealed them for the farce they are.