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Trinidad Express reviews Caricom’s action post-earthquake

January 24, 2010

From Trinidad and Tobago Express’s Andy Johnson:

The story of Caricom and its efforts to join in the international relief efforts in the wake of the earthquake disaster has itself been dismal thus far, mired in a deep, dark atmosphere of lack of co-ordination, and an embarrassing absence of independence.

Whereas the Bahamian diplomat confessed to knowing Colin Granderson, she had not seen nor heard from him in the ten days since January 12. A crippling breakdown in most areas of telecommunications inside Haiti had made contact near impossible for most people operating in the middle of the earthquake-induced crisis.

Granderson, a Trinidadian diplomat who is a deputy Secretary General of Caricom, had twice endeavoured to make it into Haiti in the wake of the crisis. The first time he was part of a mission which was frustrated by its inability to land. He had planned to make it in from the Dominican Republic after an emergency meeting there on January 18.

In the wake of the current crisis, the government of Jamaica rushed a 150-member contingent of the Jamaica Defence Force, to establish what has been described as ’the Caricom footprint’ amid the jungle of international military, disciplined forces, aid workers, humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organisations scampering in.

So swift was the action of the Jamaican Government that a portion of those troops was on the ground at Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport when Jamaica’s Prime Minister Bruce Golding and Opposition Leader Portia Simpson-Miller arrived there in a joint mission on January 14. This was less than 48 hours after the devastating earthquake. The JDF barge had been ordered to sail overnight, the night before, leaving behind hundreds of pounds of vital cargo and equipment for the troops.

In the days between January 14 and 22, the Jamaican contingent representing the Caribbean, has had to suffer, silently, the indignity, frustration and the embarrassment arising from its total dependence on a foreign ’partner’.

The Canadian Defence Force has been the agency moving people, supplies and equipment between Kingston and Port-au-Prince. Those operations have been hampered by the decision of the Canadians to place their own needs and requirements entirely above those of the Caribbean’s.

via Trinidad & Tobago Express. Follow the link to read the whole thing!

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