THE EDITOR, Sir:
It was only Tuesday of this past week, approximately two months after the ludicrous decision of the Dominican Republic's Constitutional Court ruling, that CARICOM finally responded to the issue.
In its response, CARICOM indicated that it would defer the Dominican Republic's application for membership to the trade bloc. It further encouraged the expulsion of Dom Rep from other regional institutions, such as CARIFORUM, until there was a resolution to the pending issue.
Though CARICOM's response was admittedly late, we commend the regional grouping on this move and its willingness to also encourage the international community's involvement in the matter.
For many of us, this has slightly redeemed the image we had of CARICOM - a regional talk shop.
The accusation levelled against CARICOM, in the aftermath of Tuesday's statement, was evidently rash and emotionally charged. It seems to be an unexpected response to the fact that CARICOM has put its foot down. The use of the phrase "retaliation and interference", in reference to CARICOM's action, is evidently a grasp at straws.
Further to this accusation, the decision to suspend a meeting with Haiti highlights the stubbornness of the Dom Rep and the potential drawing of lines of one country against CARICOM.
While we respect the right of Dom Rep to have its opinion on the matter, we cannot agree that the people of CARICOM should sit idly while injustice is happening. We concede Dom Rep's territorial sovereignty, but then suggest that intervention and interference in domestic matters become necessary on humanitarian grounds.
The implications of this ruling continue to have ill effects on the people of the Caribbean - Haitians and Dominicans alike - as news reports of the past few weeks have indicated.
Now that CARICOM has declared its stance on this issue, we launch a word of caution to CARICOM to make carefully thought-out decisions on the move ahead.
Dom Rep's present stance could potentially fuel aggravated Caribbean leaders to act irrationally and assert power in potentially damaging ways. This is the last thing we desire as advocates of regionalism.
We, therefore, urge that our leaders engage each other on grounds of unity and brotherhood, always seeking the best option with the least repercussions in the decision taken.
We infer that CARICOM's decision to engage Dom Rep will also be a test of Caribbean relations. We, therefore, plead with the Dom Rep, as students of the Caribbean, to use the diplomatic channels to amicably resolve this issue.
We hope that good sense will prevail and that what will emerge is a win for the Caribbean.