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Cablegate: Caricom Surprised, Upset, but Not Angry Being Left

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 NASSAU 000487



E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/09/2014


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1. (C) Charge and Political Officer met with the Bahamian
Ambassador to Haiti, Dr. Eugene Newry, and the Under
Secretary in the Consular Section at the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and Bahamian-Haitian expert, Mr. Carlton Wright, on
March 8, 2004 to discuss Bahamian views of the current
situation in Haiti. Ambassador Newry claimed that Caricom is
not "angry" with the U.S. involvement in the departure of
Aristide, but rather was "surprised" by the abrupt
decision-making, and Caricom's lack of involvement. Newry
downplayed incendiary phrases in Caricom's statement on Haiti
such as expressing "alarm and dismay" as matter-of-fact
descriptions of members' disappointment, but on a positive
note he was quick to say that Caricom will be satisfied as
long as their 10-point action plan remains the basis for
post-Aristide Haiti and is implemented "as quickly and
painlessly as possible." Only history, declared Newry, can
determine whether or not ex-President Aristide left
voluntarily, because neither he (i.e., The Bahamas) nor his
regional colleagues were involved in that process. Bahamian
officials were extremely complimentary and positive about
joint U.S.-Bahamian efforts to deter or interdict intending
Haitian immigrants.

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2. (C) At a meeting with the Charge, Bahamian Ambassador to
Haiti, Dr. Eugene Newry, characterized Caricom's harshly
worded "Statement on the Situation in Haiti" as "frank," but
was not a message of "anger." In fact, he said he and fellow
Bahamian officials were quite pleased that changes being
implemented now in Haiti, such as the Tripartite Council and
the Council of Eminent Persons, come straight from the
10-Point Caricom Plan for Haiti. In Newry's opinion, the
only place in which Caricom has disagreed with the Opposition
was in its desire for the Democratic Platform to be the only
political group.

3. (C) Although Ambassador Newry suggested that Caricom's
members were irritated with the lack of consultation and the
abruptness by which Aristide left office, he also indicated
that Caricom is pleased, nonetheless, that its plan is
apparently still being implemented. As he put it, "a rose by
any other name is still a rose." He said he will leave it to
the historians to determine what exactly happened on the
night Aristide fled Haiti. However, he concluded, Caricom
needs to get over its pique because "like a river, things
must move on", and he understood that Haiti cannot advance
without the help that only the United States with the
ancillary support of other "major powers" such as Canada and
France could deliver.

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4. (C) When asked at what The Bahamas would "re-engage" in
Haiti, Ambassador Newry ardently argued that neither Caricom
nor The Bahamas has ever "disengaged" from Haiti. He
stressed that he only left Haiti for "consultations" with the
Bahamian Government, and that as the only Caricom ambassador
actually resident in Haiti, he plans to return "shortly."
When pressed, however, Ambassador Newry acknowledged that he
couldn't define a time frame. But, he hastened to add, from
Nassau he was in "daily contact" with Ambassador Foley and
both pro-Aristide and opposition figures in Haiti.

5. (C) From a personnel standpoint, Ambassador Newry
admitted that Caricom would not be involved in the initial
multinational interim force in Haiti, but said that Caricom
would be willing to participate -- if only symbolically -- in
the follow-on stabilization UN presence. He thinks that this
stabilization phase could start as early as the next 60 days.

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6. (C) Ambassador Newry told Charge and political officer
that he was pleasantly surprised with the transition now
occurring. He indicated that it was a good sign that the
Haitian people overall had focused their mistrust and dislike
on the ex-President. He said that his contacts with the
opposition has assured him that they would continue to work
with the Lavalas party and that the party itself had not been
tainted by the same image of corruption as was ex-President
Aristide. Newry also found to be positive the fact that the
interim government retained some of the people closely
associated with ex-President Aristide in positions of power.
Ambassador Newry took this as a sign of good faith on the
part of the opposition.

7. (C) Discussing the composition of the interim authority,
Ambassador Newry was optimistic. He knew personally and
professionally many of the members of the Tripartite
Committee as well as the Council of Eminent Persons and
considered them of high calibre. He also considered it an
asset that these individuals were not predominantly
attorneys, but rather surgeons, sociologists, and other

8. (C) The Bahamian representative in Haiti believed that it
would be premature to try to hold elections in the near
future. In his view, he thought that it would take at least
90 days for the interim government to re-establish itself.
Newry did not believe that the country's political parties
would be prepared to hold meaningful elections for at least
twelve to eighteen months, at best.

9. (C) Asked about the danger of the interim authority
using the period until elections to consolidate its power and
thereby arrange to win the forthcoming elections, Ambassador
Newry said that this had been anticipated by Caricom in its
action plan. As a consequence, one of the key elements in
Caricom's action plan was a stipulation that no one in the
transitional government in Haiti can run for office once the
permanent government is established. Ambassador Newry saw
this provision as a "sign of maturity" and a way to prevent
innumerable problems.

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10. (C) Turning to U.S.-Bahamian cooperation to prevent an
outflow of Haitian migrants to either The Bahamas or to the
United States, the Bahamian Foreign Ministry officials were
effusive in their praise of the current effort. The U.S., and
Bahamian, presence in the Windward Passage had "never been so
successful" in deterring an outflow of illegal migrants,
Newry declared. While noting the costs of such an on-going
operation, both Newry and Wright acknowledged that it was
still much less expensive for The Bahamas that would be the
total costs of detaining, maintaining, and then re-patriating
illegal Haitian migrants once they reached The Bahamas.

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10. (C) Ambassador Newry was perhaps overreaching in trying
to put a positive spin on Caricom's March 3 statement on
Haiti and reflecting more of the real politik position that
The Bahamas takes regarding Haitian migration than the more
ideological position of some of the other, less affected,
Caricom members. Newry has also briefed both the Prime
Minister and the Cabinet en banc on the situation in Haiti
and his effusive praise of U.S.-Bahamian cooperation in the
Windward Passage reflects the realism of Prime Minister Perry
Christie and Deputy Prime Minister Cynthia Pratt than Foreign
Minister Fred Mitchell. Surprisingly, Newry downplayed
ex-President Aristide's attempt to remain engaged from afar.
He did not think that Aristide's attempts to regain support
via press encounters in the Central African Republic would
impact on future Haiti developments. His one caveat was that
Aristide's Lavalas Party is still extremely organized,
especially relative to the loose coalition of opposition
"parties" united only by a negative...their opposition to
Aristide. His fear was that Aristide's support network would
re-group in time for the next set of elections while the
Opposition coalition would fall apart fall once the "negative
force," i.e., Aristide, disappeared from the scene as an
effective player.

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