Masthead image

Blog

New Commentaries

CARICOM CANNOT ABANDON HAITI DESPITE THE PRESIDENT’S FAILURE TO RESPOND TO OFFERS
 
Haiti is in turmoil again. This time the countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) cannot be criticised for inaction, but questions must be asked about others in the hemispheric community who have been silent about the political and humanitarian situation in the country.
 
For instance, apart from an unusually vague statement issued by Luis Almagro, the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS) on 15 October, the Organization which has been active in other countries has been conspicuously silent. 
 
Over the last few months, there have been continuous protests in Haiti by large groups of people expressing dissatisfaction over the governance of the country. The President, Jovenel Moïse, has been unable to establish a stable government. Persons whom he has named to the posts of Prime Minister and Ministers have been roundly rejected by the Senate whose approval of their appointments is necessary. 
 
In July this year, at their Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government, CARICOM Heads discussed their concern about mounting protests in Haiti.   President Moïse had made his usual cameo appearance at the conference, turning up for the formal opening ceremony and departing before the business of the meeting took place. This time he left Foreign Minister Bocchit Edmond with the responsibility to explain the situation in Haiti.  
 
When the Heads expressed a desire to send a three-man Prime Ministerial team “to inform the Community of the situation in that country”, the Haitian Foreign Minister attempted to dissuade them, contending, incorrectly, that the OAS had already sent a team to Haiti and, since CARICOM countries are members of the OAS, CARICOM had no need to send a team of its own.   Of course, the truth is that no authorised OAS team has been sent to Haiti since 2015. The team to which Foreign Minister Edmond referred was a self-appointed visit by the US Ambassador to the OAS, Carlos Trujillo, as the outgoing Chairman of the OAS Permanent Council. He announced to a working group at the OAS, on a subject that had nothing to do with Haiti, that he was accepting an invitation from Edmond to visit Haiti. To date, no official invitation has ever been seen by the Permanent Council of the OAS and that Council – the only body with the power to do so – has never authorised Ambassador Trujillo’s visit.
 
In any event, CARICOM Heads were insistent that a visit should be made and the CARICOM Secretary-General was instructed to write to President Moïse, indicating their wish to send a Prime Ministerial team to explore steps that could be taken, including mediation, to help resolve the political impasse and the civil disturbances.   To date, Moïse,has not responded, even though Haiti is a member state of CARICOM with binding obligations to the Organization. This led the current Chair of the CARICOM Heads of Government, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet of St Lucia, to tell a Jamaica newspaper on October 15 that CARICOM is deeply concerned over the protracted political crisis in Haiti and is awaiting the country’s imprimatur for a good offices Prime Ministerial delegation to visit.
 
To be clear, CARICOM countries, acting as a group, adhere to a strict policy of non-interference and non-intervention in the internal affairs of states, as set out in the Charters of the United Nations and the OAS. Therefore, CARICOM Heads were careful to seek the agreement of President Moïse to accept a visit by three of his colleagues.   Their objective was to serve the best interests of Haiti, including by engaging members of the Senate, political parties, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. In the absence of any response by President Moise to their request to visit Haiti, CARICOM Heads clearly must assume that they would be unwelcome. This has implications for Haiti’s membership of the Community, and, in time, that should be a matter for review by CARICOM governments.
 
In the meantime, the situation in Haiti worsens. On October 16, four members resigned from a seven-member commission President Moïse had appointed earlier this month to “lead discussions” to find a “concerted solution to the crisis”.
 
Significantly, the four who announced their resignations were: former prime minister Evans Paul (2015-2016); Josué Pierre-Louis, general coordinator of the human resource management office attached to the prime minister’s office; Liné Sainphor Balthazar, president of the ruling Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale (PHTK); and former defence minister Jean Rodolphe Joazile (2012-2014).   This clearly demonstrates deep schisms in the governing party and the government itself.
 
As the reason for their resignations, the four pointed to declarations, made by Moïse at a press conference, on October 15, which appeared to contradict claims by Paul that, as part of the discussions, Moïse’s continuing as President would be on the table for discussion. But, Moïse told the media that resigning would be “irresponsible”. Remarkably, he also blamed the constitution and parliament for the current crisis.
 
The resignations effectively end the commission. No means of dialogue now exist between the President and opposition groups that want him to resign as a precondition for talks.
 
In the meantime, 30 people have been killed during five weeks of protests, and there is no sign of the turbulence easing. 
 
On the same day that Moïse announced that his resignation is not an option, the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (Minujusth) left the country.   There is now no peacekeeping presence in Haiti. A smaller, non-peacekeeping force, the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), is now in place, but how effective it can be is left to be seen. It is operating in an atmosphere in which the opposition forces do not trust the role of powerful countries that have intervened in the country for their own purposes in the past, including by installing governments they favour.
 
What is certain is that the CARICOM countries cannot and should not abandon the people of Haiti. CARICOM, therefore, should continue its efforts to get a team into Haiti to talk with all parties – government, opposition and the private sector.

Latest News in Pictures

Signing agreements for the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Kosovo and Antigua and Barbuda in Washington, DC on 24 July 2019.  The agreemenst were signed by the Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda, Sir Ronald Sanders (sitting right) and the Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo, Vlora Citaku (sitting left). Frymezin Isufaj and Joy-Dee Davis. Ministers Coundellor (standing left to right)

 

 Speaking at US Capitol Hill in behalf of CARICOM during Caribbean Legislative Week on 5 June 2019

 

Meeting Wesley Kirton Co-Chair Caribbean Studies Associaton, US, and Captain Gerry Gouveia of the Guyana Privat Sector at Antigua and Barbuda Embassy, Washington, DC on 4 June 2019

 

On 15 May, 2019 with the formidable US Congresswoman Maxine Waters who is Chair of the Financail Services Committee of the US House of Representatives.  I had presentred the case against de-risking, withdrawal of correspondent banking relations and blacklisting alone with CARICOM Ministers of National Security. 

 

 Testifying on 14th May, 2019 before the US International Trade Commission on behalf of Antigua and Barbuda and Caribbaean States on the perennial US trade surplus with the region which reached $7 Billion in 2018. 

 

Sir Ronald at Capitol Hill in Washington DC, talking trade and other relations between the US and CARICOM countries, especially Antigua and Barbuda, with Cingressman Brad Wenstrup (R-Cincinnati) on  27 February 2019.

 

Caribbean Ambassadors in Washington with US Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Kim Breier, at the US State Department. Sir Ronald third from right in January 2019. 

 

In July 2018, while in Ottawa for Antigua and Barbuda bilateral talks with Canadian government officials, Sir Ron ran into old and repected friend, Joe Clarke - former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Canada and a great warrior in the anti-apartheid struggle.

 

With Ambassador Jesus Silvera of Panama, receiving a donation to the rebuilding of Barbuda, June 2018

 

With OAS Secretary-General, Luis Almagro, on 6 June 2018, signing the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and  Related Forms of Intolerance.  Antigua and Barbuda was the first signatory to the Convention and the second country to ratify the Convention. 
 

 Signing ceremony in Washington, DC of Abolition of Visa Requirements between Ukraine and Antigua and Barbuda in May 2018.  Ukraine Amnbasador (left) and Joy-Dee Davis, Minister Counsellor, Antigua and Barbuda Embassy (right) 

 

 With Governor-General of Canada,Her Excellency Julie Payette, at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 30th 2018.  In addition to beeing accredited to Canada as High Commissioner, I have the honour of sharing the distinction with this amazing former Astronaut of being a Senior Fellow at Massey College in the University of Toronto.

 

In Tobago after delivering feature address at The Tobago Finance week on 13 November 2017.  Photo shows, Economist Terrence Farrell, Sir Ronald, Tobago Deputy Chief Secretary Joel Jack, and Anthony Pierre, Chairman of the Caribbean Association of Chartered Accountants

 

 In Port-of-Spain, Trinidad speaking at the annual Conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Trinidad and Tobago on 9 November 2017

 

 Speaking at a meeting in Geneva, prior to appearnace at the World Trade Organisation on Antigua and Barbuda's contention with the US government on the WTO award to Antigua over Internet Gaming, September 2017 

 

 Speaking on Refugees resulting from Climate Change and the growing danger to small island states at an event organised by OXFAM in Washington, DC on 30 October 2017. (Heather Coleman, OXFAM; Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda; Selwyn Hart (Barbados), Lisa Friedman, New York Times)

 

Sir Ronald speaking at the National Press Club in Washington DC on 12 October 2017.  He was talking about the devastation of Barbuda by Hurricane Irma and the remedies for Climate Change and Global Warming.  To his left are:  The Prime Minister of Grenada Dr Keith Mitchell, CARICOM Secretary General Irwin la Rocque and St Lucia Prime Minister Alan Chastanet

 

Sir Ronald speaking at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on the security and other threats posed to the Caribbean and the Hemisphere of Climate Change and Global Warming on 13 September 2017

 

 Sir Ronald (third right) with senior officers of the Inter-American Defense Board in Washington, DC after discussing what assistance could be given in the clean up and rebuilding of Barbuda after Hurricane Irma (Friday, 15 September 2017)

 

With US Congressman, Ranking member of Committee on Foreign Affairs at Capitol Hill on 14 September, discussiing secutty matters, Hurricane Irma and Barbuda and the US-Antigua and Barbuda WTO issues.  Very helpful.

 

 With US Congressman Mark Meadows on Capitol Hill talking the US-Antigua and Barbuda WTO issues, and the effets of Hurricane Irma on the island of Barbuda on 12 September, 2017.  Good man. 

 

 Talking to the Emergency Agencies of the OAS about the impact of Hurricane Irma on the island of Barbuda and seeking assistance on 14 September 2017

 

Sir Ronald with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa on 28 August 2017 discussing Canada-Antigua and Barbuda bilateral matters.

 

Sir Ronald with the President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, at the General Assembly of the Organisation of American States in Cancun, in June 2017

 

Heads of Delegations to the OAS General Assembly in Cancun.  Mexican Presdident, sixth from right, front row.  Sir Ronald fourth from right, front row.

 

Meeting of Consulation on the situation in Venezuela at the Organisation of American States on 31 May 2017 Sir Ronald (far right).

 

With Texas Congressman Randy Weber at Capitol Hill in Washington DC, talking energy, water and US-Antigua and Barbuda relations on Wednesday 5 April, 2017 

 

 

With my colleague Argentine Ambassador to the OAS, Juan Jose Acuri (right) and the Argentina candidate for election to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rigjts Dr Carlos de Casas on 29 March 2016

 

 At the International Monetary Fund with Exceutive Director for Canada and the Caribbean, Nancy Horsman, to discuss Antigua and Barbuda matters.

 

At the Antigua and Barbuda Embassy receiving Antonia Urrejola, the candidate of Chile for the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, on 23 March 2017 

 

 With the Mexican Candidate for the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, Joel Hernadez Garcia, on 21 March 2017

 

 At the World Bank on20 March 2017 meeting Christine Hogan, the Executive Director for Canada and the Caribbean, to talk about Antigua and Barbuda matters.

 

With Joe Barton, US Congressman from the State of Texas in his Office on Capitol Hill on Thursday, 16 March 2017 discussing US-Antigua and Barbuda relations

 

Hosting a meeting at the Antigua and Barbuda Embassy in Washington, DC of diplomatic representatives of St Lucia (Ambassador Anton Edmunds, St Kitts-Nevis Ambassador Thelma Phillip-Browne and St Vincent Deputy Chief of Mission Omari Williams)

 

Meeting the Cuban Ambassador to the United States, Jose Cabanas Rodriguez at the Antigua and Barbuda Embassy on Tuesday, 21st February, 2017

 

With the Ambassador of Ecudaor to the United States, Francisco Borja Cevallos, talking Ecuador-Antigua and Barbuda relations on 13 February 2017

 

 With US Congressman Gus Bilikakis (Dem,Fl) for talls on Caiptol Hill in Washington

 

With Charlie Crist, US Congressman (Dem, Fl) for discussions on US-Antigua and Barbuda matters

 

 With US Senator Jeff Duncan, Chair Foreign Relations Committee talking energy and Citizenship by Investement Programmes in the Caribbean

 

 With Professor Louis Gates Jr at the Smithsonian National Musuem of African American History in Washington, DC after an evening of enlightening presentations on the neglected story of the building of the US 

Videos of historic Rastafarian occasion at the OAS on 14 May 2018

The You Tube Video below is the historic occasion at the Permanent Delegation of the Organisation of American States (OAS) when Antigua and Barbuda led the way in aplogising for the wrongs done to the Rastafarian community of the Caribbean. It was the first time that a representavive of the Rastafarian community addressed a high-level inter-governmental body.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XR-In_q1dR8&feature=youtu.be
 

Another You Tube Video is the Report to the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States on 20 April 2018 on the Antigua and Barbuda General Elections of March 21.   See video of the report on You Tube link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFm3Y_AzTxE

 

Sir Ronald Statements at the OAS

Two statements made at the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States on 20 April, 2018 have been posted in the "Lectures" section.    The statements are on:  The Guatemala Referendum authorising the Government to take the border dispute with Belize to the International Court of Justice; and a Report on the General Elections held in Antigua and Barbuda on 21 March, 2018.

TV Interviews in the US

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) carried two programmes, coast-to-coast on 23 stations in the US on the Caribbean, featuring interviews with three Caribbean Ambassadors including Sir Ron.   The YouTube links to the programmes are below:

PART ONE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPWd8qSRdTY&feature=youtu.be

PART TWO

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAtjZgRC9rU&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop

 

The TV Network CSPAN interviewed Sir Ronald in a cost-to-coast boadcast on the effects of Hurricanes and other matters related to Antigua and Barbuda.   The link to the interview is below:

https://www.c-span.org/video/?434242-3/washington-journal-ronald-sanders-discusses-impact-irma-antigua-barbuda


All posts...

Election for the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General

Sir Ronald was a candidate for election to the post of Commonwealth Secretary-General In November 2015 at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta. View further details here.

Portrait of Sir Ronald Sanders

Sir Ronald Sanders is currently Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States and the Organisation of American States.

Welcome

Welcome to this website. I created it in 2009 in response to many requests for access to commentaries I have written, lectures I have given and interviews that have been broadcast or printed in the media on matters related to the political economy of the Caribbean and the Commonwealth.  They are all avaialble here for free.

These requests have come from university students, publications, academics, government officials and business people in many parts of the world. In the course of responding to these requests, I have been pleased to build up a network of global contacts who now receive my commentaries weekly.

From a career that encompassed broadcast and print journalism, development and commercial banking, diplomacy and international negotiations in both the public and private sectors, I am privileged to draw on wide and varied experiences to write, lecture and undertake consultancies.  The latter activity was susended while I carry out my present functions as Ambassador for Antigua and Barbuda. 

I have taken the greatest pleasure in receiving comments and criticism from people all over the world that the Internet has made a “village”. I have learned from many of the comments I received. They have caused me to reflect on my own thinking. Through this website, I hope to communicate regularly with all who write to me.

The website is now a permanent repository of the weekly commentaries and lectures going back several years. Anyone is free to access them here, and to cite them provided my permission is sought in advance through the “Contact me” mechanism. A few of the lectures I have given in Britain and in the Caribbean are also posted on the site in a PDF format which can be easily downloaded. Again, I would make the same request to seek my permission before citing the material.

I invite responses to my writings, and inquiries about the experience and knowledge I can bring to achieving the objectives of companies and organizations that do business related to the Caribbean and the Commonwealth.

Kind regards

Ronald Sanders