Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat
Press release 45/2012
(16 February 2012)



(CARICOM Secretariat, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Job creation and strengthening the capacity of the Haitian Government were the top two priorities laid out to the Bureau of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) during its two-day mission to Haiti.

Both the President and Prime Minister of Haiti emphasised those points in their meetings with the Bureau led by Chairman, His Excellency Desi Bouterse, President of Suriname and including the Rt Honourable Dr Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, the Honourable Phillip Pierre Deputy Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, representing the Prime Minister, Dr the Honourable Kenny Anthony, and Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Secretary-General of CARICOM.

Haitian President His Excellency Michel Martelly stressed the importance of job creation not only for Haiti but also for the Community. With jobs and economic opportunities at home, he said, his people would not need to migrate as it was the lack of those prospects that forced them to go elsewhere. President Martelly saw agriculture as a major factor in the economic renaissance and in creating employment given the “vast amount of land available.” It is an area in which the Community has been assisting with the distribution of crop seeds to farmers through the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) in conjunction with the Inter-American Institute and the support of the Government of Australia through AusAid.

The President added that a strong Haitian economy would be a benefit to CARICOM given the size of the Haitian market. It was a point reinforced by President Bouterse who pointed out that in helping Haiti “we are helping ourselves”.

Minister after Minister of the Haitian cabinet stressed the importance of CARICOM’s continuing involvement in Haiti at a working lunch in the National Palace, a building which shows significant signs of the heavy damage wrought by the 2010 earthquake. The ministers outlined their priorities and indicated how the Community could assist them in meeting the challenges.

Those priorities were codified in large measure through the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Secretary-General and Haiti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs the Honourable Laurent Lamothe. Noteworthy was the fact that in large measure the priority areas for Haiti were in consonance with those identified for the Community by the Heads of Government following their retreat in Guyana last May.

One of the major players in creating the necessary jobs and opportunities, the private sector underscored to the delegation which included the Special Representative of Heads of Government to Haiti, the Most Honourable PJ Patterson, OCC, the need to make CARICOM work for the benefit of all its members.

They expressed their concern that travel between Haiti and the rest of CARICOM was hindered by visa issues, a point also raised by President Martelly. The Heads of Government had decided that business people with United States, Canadian and Schengen Area visas would not require visas to enter CARICOM States but this has not yet been fully implemented. The Bureau assured the private sector representatives that this matter would be raised at the forthcoming Intersessional Meeting of the Heads of Government on 8-9 March in Suriname.

There were also calls for improving transportation and communication links and it was noted that three airlines based in the Community were exploring the possibility of regular service between Haiti and the rest of CARICOM. The establishment of such links would enhance the possibilities for partnerships and exchanges, buttressed by another suggestion for a fund to facilitate cross border investments. Already one company from Jamaica has made a significant investment in Haiti.

“How does one strengthen the capacity of the Haitian government”, was the question posed by Prime Minister Garry Conille. The Prime Minister argued that there was need for a paradigm shift in the way aid was delivered to Haiti and called on the Community to advocate on behalf of Haiti for that shift. He suggested that Haiti should be made a pilot project in that regard with donor projects including performance criteria, one of which would be training Haitians to replace the foreign experts. Such a move would build capacity and also assist in job creation.

Both the Haitians and their CARICOM colleagues were pleased at the outcome of the mission. Prime Minister Douglas summed it up well when he stated that he had heard clearly from the Haitians what their priorities were and their message that they wished CARICOM to advocate on their behalf to the international community.


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