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Haiti leads the way as Caribbean leaders address regional issues


GEORGETOWN, Guyana — Top officials from Canada, the US and Haiti met behind closed doors on Wednesday to discuss the mounting chaos in Haiti, a topic expected to dominate the annual meeting of the Caribbean trade bloc in the Bahamas.

The three-day CARICOM gathering kicked off Wednesday night, with host Philip Davis, the Bahamian Prime Minister, welcoming leaders of the 15-member bloc and others including Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Brian Nichols, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for affairs in the Western Hemisphere.

Also in attendance are Haiti’s foreign minister and acting minister of justice and public security.

A day before the meeting, Davis said at a news conference that Caribbean leaders “don’t have the resources to deal with the Haiti problem on their own, and we need outside help. And we look to the north, Canada and the United States, to help us.”

Davis and other Caribbean leaders have complained about a wave of migrants they say is straining the budgets of small islands struggling with the influx of hundreds of Haitians. The vast majority are fleeing rising poverty and a spike in violence, with murders, kidnappings and rapes as gangs become more powerful following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021.

Trudeau’s entourage said the trip would allow leaders to consider political, security and humanitarian assistance for Haitians and “Haiti-led solutions to the current situation.”

Emmanuel Dubourg, Canada’s only member of parliament of Haitian descent, said the Canadian government was “discussing all sorts of options to help people in Haiti”.

The CARICOM meeting comes as Haiti’s prime minister continues to push for the deployment of foreign troops, a request made in October that has not been acted upon by the UN Security Council.

The US and Canada, along with other countries, have sent military equipment and other resources to Haiti’s National Police, but have not committed any troops to the dismay and frustration of some.

Henry, Haiti’s prime minister, tweeted that he and Nichols had “an important work meeting” on Wednesday morning, but he gave no details.

The CARICOM meeting will run through Friday and leaders are also expected to discuss food security, climate change and other issues affecting the region.

Other officials who attended the meeting include US Presidential Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry.

“Caribbean governments are looking for action, and it will be important for the United States to deliver in what is expected to be a pivotal year for the relationship,” wrote Wazim Mowla, associate director and leader of the Caribbean Initiative at the Atlantic Council. . a recent essay. “With the challenges facing the region, the Caribbean no longer has time to wait for the United States to act — and the United States cannot continue to delay.”

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