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Caribbean Updates: Holness visits Haiti (March 1, 2023)

Just Caribbean Updates

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness visited Haiti this week, along with government ministers and ambassadors from The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago. The visit was part of a long-awaited visit to see how Caribbean leaders can help Haitians find their way out of their country’s multiple, intertwined crises, reports the Miami Herald.

Holness and the rest of the delegation met in Port-au-Prince with Haitian political and civil-society leaders in hopes of gaining a better understanding of the effects of the ongoing violence by kidnapping gangs. “All stakeholders that we have spoken to [in Haiti] have pointed out the emergency situation they face with security and safety of their citizens,” Holness said. He pointed out that although he holds the view that “Haiti has institutions that are functioning”, these institutions are challenged. “And with the right support, with the right attention, Haiti can overcome its challenges,” he added. (Jamaica Gleaner)

While Holness expressed his willingness to have Jamaican soldiers and police officers participate in a foreign military intervention in Haiti, in January, Caricom recently decided against such a deployment. Caricom leaders at a summit two weeks ago Caricom leaders decided to focus on strengthening the Haitian police, rather than pushing for a multilateral military force, requested by Haiti’s interim government. (See last week’s Just Caribbean Updates.)

Several Caribbean countries, particularly The Bahamas, have expressed concern about increasing Haitian migration, related to the country’s crisis. (See last week’s Just Caribbean Updates, and Feb. 16’s.)

“Though both Ottawa and CARICOM have pinned their hopes on the Haitian police to restore peace and stability, the force is increasingly fractionalized, and is struggling with defections and deaths,” notes the Miami Heral.

Climate Justice and Energy

Belize’s government officially ratified the Escazu Agreement, a regional environmental pact that provides a sweeping framework for countries to strengthen environmental policy, notably imposing requirements regarding the rights of environmental defenders. (Love FM, see Feb. 16’s  Just Caribbean Updates.

The government’s ratification comes after substantial pressure from the Belize Network of NGO’s and the UBAD Educational Foundation, which has been championing the Escazu agreement since 2021. According to chairperson, YaYa Marin Coleman, tackling this type of community concern is exactly UEF’s objective – particularly ensuring that everyday Belizeans have a seat at the table to discuss matters that should involve them – like environmental issues. (7 News)

Indeed, Costa Rica’s choice to shelve the agreement is an opportunity for Belize to become a regional climate leader, argues Senator Janelle Chanona, the country’s senator for NGOs. (Parliamentarians for Global Action)

Bridgetown Initiative architect Avinash Persaud said the program should be seen as a new way of thinking toward progress. The issue “is not in debt, but affordable and sustained debt” and explains as shifting “reconstruction money from debt to grants, and lowering the costs of investing in resilience toward climate change, so that its impacts will not drown them in unaffordable debt” and countries room to invest in health and education as well. (Caribbean Magazine Plus)

Costa Rican Salome Montero “is part of the new generation of climate activists who combine a passion for promoting climate justice and protecting the environment with cool headed business sense about actually making it sustainable,” reports the Tico Times.

Economics and Finance

The International Monetary Fund approved the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank to become prescribed holders of special drawings rights, an international reserve asset created by the fund. (Jamaica Gleaner)

The Bahamas has continued to function as a significant offshore financial center in the decades since becoming an independent republic, but the country’s wealth does not derive from this, explains Adam Tooze in Chartbook. “Offshore finance, though it is of great interest to Wall Street and the City of London, to regulators and campaigners in the global North, makes a relatively modest contribution to local economic activity in the Caribbean.”

Indeed, Sam Bankman-Fried’s arrest in the Bahamas last year “highlights the way in which the wider Caribbean region has repeatedly functioned as a Frankenstein laboratory of global capitalism,” wrote Tooze in Foreign Policy, last month.

Caribbean Natural Resources Institute published the report of the 2022 virtual dialogue “Set the Agenda: Finance, Debt Sustainability and Climate Justice,” key points of discussion include advocacy priorities and recommended actions.

Racial Justice and Reparations

Members of the British Trevelyan family formally apologized to the people of Grenada for their ancestors’ role in the enslavement of hundreds of Africans on their plantations. (Loop News, see Feb. 8’s Just Caribbean Updates)


In the midst of a migratory exodus from Cuba, Julio Antonio Fernández Estrada writes about the right to return in El Toque.

Public Health

A new study by the Pan American Health Organization highlights the importance of considering gender-specific social determinants of suicide when developing risk reduction interventions and prevention strategies. Data from the Americas showed that while homicide and the use of alcohol and other substances are associated with an increase in suicide mortality among males, educational inequality was the main factor among females. (Lancet)


Demonstrators for and against a referendum on Saint Lucia’s accession to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) gathered outside parliament this week. However, Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre told reporters that the court has ruled there was no need for a CCJ referendum. (
St. Lucia Times)

The Caribbean and the World

Russia’s war against Ukraine “is having an enormous impact on the global supply chain, impeding the flow of goods, fuelling huge increases in the cost of food creating catastrophic food shortages,” writes Sir Ronald Sanders. “There are now protests and riots in many parts of the world over the rising cost of living and the immense difficulties people face in trying to make ends meet. … Many governments, around the world, are now hapless victims of Russia’s decision to wage a war against Ukraine.”


Geoffrey Philp’s new poetry collection, Archipelagos “is a book that gets under the diseased skin of history’s oppressors, and the disconcerting quiet fallout of disaster,” writes Roger Robinson. “It doesn’t sound like fun but the effect on the reader is incredibly liberating.” — Repeating Islands
Award-winning Jamaican photographer Howard Moo Young died last week. — Repeating Islands

“Since 2018, women and LGBTQ folx in Puerto Rico have been powering a scene that’s been virtually unheard of in the male-dominated world of reggaeton and urbano,” reports Rolling Stone.


6 March — Preparatory meeting for the Second meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Escazú Agreement (preCOP2) — 

Just Caribbean Updates

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