Haiti’s president Jovenel Moïse has lauded the decision by the Government of the Barbados to lift “all obstacles to the free movement of Haitian nationals on its territory, in accordance with the provisions of Articles 45 and 46 of the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas”.
This came during his address to the opening ceremony of the 39th Meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government in Montego Bay, Jamaica on Wednesday, at which Prime Minister Mia Mottley also highlighted her administration’s decision to abolish visa requirements for Haitians coming to Barbados, a decision which was first reported by Barbados TODAY last month when Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson said there was no logical reason to impose visa requirements on Haitians because they were part of the community.
“Every day we allow people who are not members of this community to travel freely into the Caribbean without visas. Haiti took the extraordinary step of signing to revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and committing to a CARICOM Single Market and Economy. In those circumstances, my Cabinet has agreed to remove the visa requirements for Haiti. It is in our view it breaches the fundamental tenets that bind us under the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas,” Mottley said to loud applause including from the Haitian leader.
In his speech, Moïse also sought to warn countries that united they stand, divided they fall.
In fact, the outgoing CARICOM chairman said a strengthened CARICOM could be a source of balance in the hemisphere.
“Existing and future challenges dictate that we strengthen our ranks to face them together . . . . What unites us is stronger than what could isolate and divide us,” he said.
He called on his colleagues to redouble their efforts and devote the necessary time to the priority issues on the agenda, particularly the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.
“We are convinced that the implementation of this strategy will enable us to strengthen our integration into world trade and play a greater role in the international context. The increase in intra-CARICOM trade and the diversification of products exported by the region will have a positive impact on our trade balance and our capacity to ensure sustainable development in our countries,” he said.
As the meeting examines the region’s disaster agenda in the wake of the unprecedented occurrence of hurricanes Irma and Maria, the outgoing chairman urged CARICOM Heads of Government to bring up to date, their contributions to the Regional Emergency Assistance Fund of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
Natural disaster management, he said, required “country ownership at the national level, while contributing to a regional approach,” and reaffirmed Haiti’s commitment to pay its contribution as soon as possible.
He also urged the conference to take “a more sustained look” at CDEMA’s operations so that the community “can react together and more quickly in the event of a natural disaster”.
“I believe that the working capital of this important regional institution must, first and foremost, come from the contribution of the member countries. The contribution of the technical and financial partners should only complement and strengthen our efforts.”
With regard to post-disaster insurance, he expressed his anticipation that the CCRIF turnaround report will be presented and validated during the second half of 2018.
Of his recent participation in the meeting of the Group of Seven (G7), he said, “I have worked to promote, regionally and internationally, particularly through my participation at the last G7 Summit in Canada, the need to establish or strengthen existing mechanisms for risk financing and disaster mitigation in the region.”
His invitation, along with Jamaica prime minister Andrew Holness to participate in a G7 awareness session on oceans, was he said, “an opportunity for both my country and all CARICOM member states to make our voices heard on a crucial issue: the situation of the oceans, seas and coasts, particularly that of the Caribbean Sea.”
Highlighting the $3.8 billion pledge of the G7 countries and that of the World Bank to fund resilience-related responses, including gender considerations in global warming, he said CARICOM must join forces to realize those financing promises.
He also underscored the need for the community to define, in a concerted manner, the contours of post-Cotonou relations between the countries of the Asia, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP) and the European Union. (CARICOM/BT)