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Mitchell highlights need to tackle issues facing Haiti


Tribune Chief Reporter

FOREIGN Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell is of the view that Haiti continues to suffer social and economic depression because it “struck the first blow for freedom back in 1804” for oppressed black nations.

He urged regional counterparts to help them resolve their problems.

In Barbados yesterday at the Cuba CARICOM Summit, Mr Mitchell further expressed The Bahamas’ concern about certain CARICOM member states being included on lists of non-cooperative jurisdictions when it comes to tax governance and a separate issue of the progressive decline in correspondent banking relations in developing nations.

 As for the situation in Haiti, Mr Mitchell told officials gathered that through CARICOM and the United Nations, efforts must be made to bring peace and security to Haiti.

 “There’s an expression that I like to use which says that when your voice is all you have you use your voice even if your voice shakes and we have a responsibility across the world to work for the dispossessed, the oppressed, to bring about change and equity for all of our people,” the minister said.

 “I have had the advantage of listening to those who spoke before me on these global issues and I thank the minister for Cuba for an almost exhaustive list. Climate change, international drug trafficking, irregular migration, trafficking in persons, energy and security, food and security, climate change, public health issues, reparations on slavery, and I would add for us very importantly the issues that now face us in Haiti. All of these are issues that we have to tackle in CARICOM and within the United Nations context to bring peace and security to Haiti.”

 He also said later in his remarks: “Before I stop, the people of Haiti, the issue of reparations on slavery and I mention them together because Haiti suffers we believe because of the price they paid for the freedom for the rest of us in this country when they struck the first blow for freedom back in 1804 and we must help them resolve the problems.”

 Mr Mitchell also condemned the US embargo on Cuba and pointed to security issues it poses to The Bahamas, pointing to an approaching official visit Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis will make to Havana.

 “The policy is wrong, and it is causing harm. It should not be supported; it should be reversed.

 “In our discussions with our American friends we have made the point to them that there is a particular problem whenever these measures that they seek to implement on a bilateral basis against Cuba causes a security problem for the Commonwealth of The Bahamas because it forces people to flee their own country and they end up very often as refugees in The Bahamas and this causes political problems in south Florida which has often led to the physical attack of our consular services in the city of Miami. So, we’ve asked them and we continue to ask them to change the policies.

 “The prime minister expects to make an official visit in a couple of weeks to Havana and will no doubt reinforce some of the words that I have spoken here today.”

  He continued: “I do want to, however, add a word for the dependent territories in the CARICOM region in particular British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands and Bermuda, not to forget that the idea is for all countries to have self-determination in independence and The Bahamas takes a particular interest in these three territories.

 “We were grateful for the support that CARICOM gave to seeking to maintain the ability of the people in those countries to determine to the extent that they could under colonial rule conduct their own affairs. So, I’d like to communicate that it’s important for us to keep an eye on what is going on in those territories.”

 As for bones of contention, Mr Mitchell said: “(We) express deep concern over the inclusion of certain Caricom member states on lists of non-cooperative jurisdictions in respect to tax governance and AML/CFT deficiencies and call for a change to this approach, which negatively impacts the economies of those countries that have shown the readiness to cooperate and engage in dialogue to find mutually advantageous solutions for the parties.

 “And paragraph 20 we express deep concern over the progressive decline in correspondent banking relations being experienced by developing nations, in particular CARICOM member states, due to the de-risking actions by some of the major international banking institutions and the worsening impact this is having on the financial stability and trading ability of the affected countries, which constrains their efforts to achieve socio-economic growth and sustainable development.

 “It is confounding to us that these advocates of free trade as they were espousing all over the world as recently as ten years ago are suddenly imposing all of these nontariff barriers to the free trade that they so loudly espoused,” Mr Mitchell said.