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Bahamas Caught In The Middle of Caricom Argument
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Posted by:Apr 29th 2004, 11:45:28 am
Fig Tree News TeamApril 29, 2004 - 09:47
Bahamas In U.S. Row
The simmering feud over Haiti that involves the United States, The Bahamas and its Caribbean allies is escalating with a top CARICOM official saying that the regional body is not prepared to compromise.

CARICOM Secretary General Edwin Carrington has officially announced that the crime and security meeting that was set for The Bahamas next week was put off because CARICOM refuses at this time to recognize Haiti´s interim government.

The Bahamas is caught in the dispute because it has taken a firm position to stand with CARICOM on the issue.

A senior Bahamian government official has suggested that if regional leaders were to give in to U.S. demands, they would stand a lesser chance of convincing the United Nations to investigate circumstances surrounding the resignation of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February.

Mr. Carrington was quoted Wednesday as saying, “I agree that security is very important to all of us but I think that the very first thing that is of importance is the nature and regard for our community and you cannot compromise on that principle.”

A second meeting of U.S. and Caribbean security officials planned for Thursday and Friday in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has also been cancelled, according to Mr. Carrington.

On Wednesday, there was no word on whether any of the two meetings will take place anytime soon.

CARICOM said it is sticking to a plan to discuss the Haiti situation when heads of government meet in July.

But the Jamaican press reported Wednesday that Caribbean leaders may discuss the issue earlier at a regional meeting in Antigua next week.

Bahamian government authorities have not officially released a statement on the issue, pointing out that it is a CARICOM matter.

However, Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell, who is in South Africa, said Tuesday night that the issue of Haiti´s presence at the meetings is a decision for CARICOM – and no one else.

“I think that the decision was taken that the heads of government will deal with the question of the recognition of Haiti in July,” he reiterated. “That was our understanding; that was the understanding the United States had so I think they felt that Haiti should be able to participate in the councils of CARICOM. That´s a decision that [only] the heads of government can take.”

The Minister added, “I think that we continue to work with the U.S. on practical day-to-day security issues and that won´t change.”

Chairperson of the CARICOM Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFOR) said at a press conference last week that difference on Haiti or any other political issue will not sever diplomatic and trade relations between CARICOM and the United States.

The Bahama Journal

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