EDITORIAL: Captain Rolle offers insight into Haiti situation

THE diplomats who have returned safely from Haiti have seen the situation on the ground there first-hand.

First, we must be thankful that they have returned home safe and intact – and then we should listen to their experience.

The incident started on a day when police across Haiti staged protests following the deaths of a number of officers in recent times during conflicts with gangs.

That led to Bahamian diplomats being stopped – and their car being taken, according to officials.

The Chargé d’Affaires for the embassy in Haiti, Captain Godfrey Rolle, said yesterday: “We’re used to the police and their blockings on the road. And we’re used to police seeing a diplomatic plate on the car and beckoning us and making a way for us to go past whatever blockage there is, so that is what we expected when the police beckoned to us.

“But when we got there, it was a different ballgame. In fact they said they want us out of the car. We said that we were diplomats, but they were not in any kind of state to have any sensible conversation with us and so I believe we managed the situation very well. Things did not escalate.”

Weapons were removed from the Bahamian party, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and soon after the order went out from The Bahamas for all Bahamian officials to leave the country.

A helicopter was used to airlift staff to the Dominican Republic, from where they returned safe and sound on Monday.

Captain Rolle describes the situation in Haiti as “abnormal”, saying that he thought it best for the staff to return home.

So what now for Haiti? What is needed to bring the country back to normal instead?

Captain Rolle says he feels that “military force is needed in Haiti”.

He said yesterday: “As it stands now, in my opinion, there can be no resolution, with what’s going on now, unless there is a station of some sort of military force.”

Captain Rolle’s voice is not the only one speaking about the prospect of military intervention.

On Tuesday, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the country would be willing to take part in an international military deployment to Haiti. He also said Kingston would be ready to host talks between Haitian leaders and civil representatives. Jamaica’s Opposition leader, Mark Golding, broadly supported Jamaican participation – though added reparations for Haiti should be on the agenda for any talks.

El Salvador’s Vice President, Felix Ulloa, has offered to send a “technical team” to offer Haiti advice in fighting gangs – advice hard earned in El Salvador’s own troubles with armed groups.

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has asked for foreign military support, a call repeated by the UN envoy to Haiti, Helen La Lime – but Mr Henry’s call came in October and there has not been the urgent response he might have hoped for.

Our own Prime Minister, Philip “Brave” Davis, has said that if CARICOM decides that troops need to be deployed, then we shall “abide by the outcome”. National Security Minister Wayne Munroe said in October that the country will be “ready, willing and able to deploy” Bahamian marines if requested.

Mr Davis during his recent visit to Argentina reiterated that action is needed – and spoke of needing any solutions to be Haitian-led, although the challenge the country faces include the last remaining senators having had their terms expire, leaving the country without any democratically elected institutions. The country is long overdue for an election, so who are the leaders who will lead such solutions?

So as we cast about for what to do and who should do it, we should look again at Captain Rolle.

He has just been in the heart of the situation, stopped by police and having to be flown out by helicopter to safety.

He says there are times when Haiti can be “volatile” but that these are very much not normal times.

But he is also ready to return as soon as it is secure to do so.

As much as the situation is dangerous, there are people willing to find the best path out of such danger. That includes people such as Captain Rolle and his team.

Calls for action so far have been met with limited results – proposals for increased sanctions and so on.

The next step has to be taken – for the sake of our own people, our diplomats who will be back on the ground, and for the sake of the Haitian people.

This instability cannot go on, or things will only get worse.

So we thank Captain Rolle for his insight – and hope his words are listened to across the region.


birdiestrachan 1 month, 2 weeks ago

It is my prayer that no Bahamian blood will be shed for Haiti , besides the Bahamas does not have an army , Mr Munroe should be careful , if Hatians and their decendants would love to fight for their mother land as they call it that is Fine


bahamianson 1 month, 2 weeks ago

Captain rolle... like a boat captian? Diplomat? How? I need extra money, give me a.diplomat job.


ThisIsOurs 1 month, 2 weeks ago

"Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the country would be willing to take part in an international military deployment to Haiti."

Jamaican and El Salvadorian forces are used to gorilla warfare.

Our guys just know about rounding up harmless citizens in peaceful environments. They have never once in their lives faced hundreds of organized gorilla forces. Think how traumatic the Flamingo incident was. I dont think they should be sent to a front line they've not been prepared for. It's unfair to them and their families. And brave talk about how well they've been trained doesnt stop bullets or beheadings. A military solution might be needed but dont just send in people with camouflage on and expect a good outcome.


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