By MICHAEL SMITH
Trinidad and Tobago will not send troops to the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, the prime minister said Wednesday, reversing an earlier promise to send 121 soldiers.
PORT-OF-SPAIN, June 2 (AP) —
In a decision with political ramifications for the region, Prime Minister Patrick Manning said “there is no shortage of troops going into Haiti” and the best way for Trinidad to help is through humanitarian and financial aid.
But only a fraction of the projected 8,000 troops and police had arrived Tuesday, when Brazil took command of the new U.N. mission replacing a 3,600 force from four nations led by U.S. Marines.
The 15-nation Caribbean Community, which had urged the international community to send troops and promised to contribute to the force as rebels closed in on Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, refused to send its own troops to join a U.S.-led multinational force that arrived after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted Feb. 29.
Aristide charged the United States forced him out in a coup. U.S. officials strongly denied the charge. But Caribbean countries demanded an international investigation into Aristide’s departure, a call echoed by the 53-member African Union.
Manning said Wednesday that Caribbean countries still have “grave doubts” about the circumstances of Aristide’s hurried departure aboard a U.S.-chartered aircraft. But he did not say if that had influenced his change of mind.
“As of now, Trinidad and Tobago will not send troops into Haiti,” Manning told reporters after making a speech. Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica and Guyana all had indicated they might send troops to join the U.N. force, but Trinidad was the only one to give a firm number — 121 — though none of the countries made formal pledges to the United Nations.