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Whither the Divided Organization of American States? | Sir Ronald Sanders

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The 54th Special General Assembly to elect the OAS Secretary General and Assistant Secretary General went ahead despite the COVID-19 threat and calls for a postponement.

By Sir Ronald Sanders

WASHINGTON, United States, Friday March 27,
2020
– On 20 March 2020, a reckless and
irresponsible General Assembly (GA) was held by the Organization of American
States (OAS), putting the health of many at risk and giving an entirely wrong
example to the entire world. The meeting of at least 50 persons was held amid
intense concerns about the quickly spreading Coronavirus (COVID-19), and
despite the strongest possible recommendations by US and international health
authorities not to hold gatherings larger than 10 persons.

This dangerous act was done to hold
the election for a Secretary-General of the Organization and to gain an
advantage for the incumbent, Luis Almagro, who was the declared candidate of
the US, Brazil and Colombia. Almagro’s current term does not end until May 28. Therefore,
the meeting could easily have been postponed for at least a month, allowing
time for greater control of COVID-19.

Despite logic and good sense, many
member states of the Organization were coerced into holding what was, at best,
a wrongful meeting. At worst, the meeting was illegal.

The meeting proceeded, based on the
advice of the Legal Secretary of the OAS. 
He is an employee of the Secretariat and is answerable to the
Secretary-General.   He may be the most
independent-minded and fair person in the world, but because all his opinions
have synchronized with the positions of the Secretary-General and powerful
states within the Organization, healthy skepticism of his advice is
understandable.

Remarkably, the Permanent Council of
the OAS – the supposedly highest, day to day decision-making organ of the
institution – has no legal counsel of its own, and no machinery for seeking
external and independent legal guidance. Therefore, the opinion of the Legal
Secretary prevails.

In the week running-up to the GA, the
US was in a state of heightened concern over the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  he official advice from the Mayor of the
District of Colombia, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the US
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the President of the US
himself was to hold no gatherings larger than ten persons.

Three days before the meeting, 13
CARICOM countries sent a joint letter to all member states of the OAS and to
the Secretary-General, pointing out the dangers of the meeting, and the
powerful advice from all pertinent health authorities, to postpone it. Haiti
was the only CARICOM country that did not sign the official letter.

While the CDC was asked to examine the
OAS building at which the meeting was held, there were no other pertinent
checks.  No one, entering the room, was
checked for their travel history, or for the travel history of persons with
whom they had been in contact. Anyone could have been COVID-19 positive, but
simply displaying no symptoms. The virus is known to take up to 14 days to
incubate.  The dangerous consequences of
that meeting may yet unfold.

Up to the day prior to the event,
meetings of representatives of the regional groups of the Organization were
held electronically to consider the letter from the 13 Caribbean countries,
which had the private backing of many other states although some of them were
silent publicly for whatever reason.

On March 19, the Legal Secretary gave
the opinion that the GA could only be postponed by the Permanent Council since
the decision to hold the General Assembly on March 20 was taken by the
Permanent Council and only the Permanent Council could change its own rules. When
asked whether the Permanent Council could hold an electronic meeting to
consider postponement, the Legal Secretary gave the further opinion, ex
cathedra, that the rules of the Council did not permit electronic meetings. It
seemed not to occur to him that the rules were written, prior to the
technological age in which circumstances, such as COVID-19, did not exist. He
also casually dismissed the notion that where rules are silent on a course of
action, simple common sense should prevail. In all the opinions he gave, the
Legal Secretary was backed up by the representatives of the countries
determined to hold the GA on March 20.

What is important to note here is that
a precedent has now been set. No meetings of the Permanent Council can be held
electronically since the rules do not provide for it. The Organization may yet
be hoisted by this petard in the weeks ahead.

Of further note is that the GA was
held under new rules of procedure that were not approved by the GA itself,
although only the GA could change its own rules. None of the states that
insisted on holding it, nor the Legal Secretary, has explained on what
authority the rules were changed.

All of this is a sad indication of
what the OAS has become. It is an organization run by a few for a few.

In any event, Luis Almagro was elected
for a second term with 23 votes. Ten countries voted for Maria Fernanda
Espinosa, the remaining contender, since the Peruvian candidate Luis de Zela
had withdrawn, and Dominica was the sensible absentee.  

Over the last few years, the OAS has
experienced a bitter period of division among its member states that has left
the Organization weakened and lacking in a coherent vision of its way forward
in the collective interest of the people of the Americas that it was created to
serve.

If these divisions are not bridged and
these wounds are not healed, the Organization will continue to exist only as a
cauldron for disagreement and discord. This would be catastrophic for the OAS
as an institution. It would also be calamitous for Almagro’s record.

Majority is not consensus. To operate
only based on satisfying a majority, however achieved, neglects the interests
of many others. The OAS will not survive in constant contention, vexation and
division. 

Almagro’s second term provides him a
great opportunity to leave a legacy of which he could be proud and which all
member states could honour. It will require him to be attentive to the needs
and aspirations of each group within the OAS, and to forge a common and vibrant
agenda on which there is genuine consensus.

The member states themselves also must be committed to that goal and act on it, or the Organization will wither into a few states, using it as a bullhorn for their own positions, disdained by others tired of being subjugated.

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Sir Ronald Sanders is Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the US and the OAS.  He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and at Massey College in the University of Toronto. The views expressed are entirely his own.

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Cate Oswald, chief policy and partnership Officer for Partners In Health, speaks during forum on COVID-19 in Haiti

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Cate Oswald, chief policy and partnership Officer for Partners In Health, speaks during forum on COVID-19 in Haiti

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson hosted a virtual forum on Haiti titillating “An Impending Crisis: COVID-19 in Haiti, Ongoing Instability and the Dangers of Continued U.S. Deportations.”

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Haïti – Actualité : Zapping…

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Haïti – Actualité : Zapping…
29/05/2020 11:00:54

Haïti - Actualité : Zapping...

Covid-19 : L’HUEH partiellement paralysé

L’Hopital de l’Université d’État d’Haiti (HUEH) est patiellement paralysé en raison d’un arrêt de travail des médecins résidents qui réclament des équipement de protection individuel afin de se protéger contre le cornavirus Covid-19. Au moins 3 médecins https://www.haitilibre.com/article-30832-haiti-actualite-zapping.html auraient déjà été testés positifs au Covid-19

Pétion-ville déploie des agents de sensibilisation :

Après une semaine de formation sur les mesures d’hygiène et les gestes barrières pour éviter la propagation du Covid-19, des agents de sensibilisation de la mairie de Pétion-Ville sont déployés sur le terrain. Ils parcourent les quartiers, font du porte-à-porte pour encourager les résidents à la prudence de l’une des communes les plus touchées ( 238 cas https://www.haitilibre.com/article-30896-haiti-covid-19-bulletin-quotidien-29-mai-2020.html ) Ces activités (incluant la distribution de masques) entrent dans le cadre de la campagne de sensibilisation et d’assainissement, mis en œuvre par la la Fondation Pan Américaine de Développement (PADF) et et financé par L’Agence Américaine pour le Développement International (USAID) à travers l’Organisation des États américains (OEA).

Risque d’accroissement démographique incontrôlé :

Le Dr Gianni Decastro, Directeur exécutif de l’Association « Promotion de la Famille » (PROFAMIL), attire l’attention des autorités haïtienne sur les conséquences démographiques indirectes que peut entraîner la pandémie du coronavirus au pays « le contexte actuel où les gens sont confinés est susceptible de provoquer de vague de grossesses non désirées » invitant le Gouvernement à intensifier sa politique de planification familiale.

L’Espagne soutient le plan d’urgence de la DINEPA :

L’Agence espagnole de coopération internationale pour le développement (AECID) a mis à la disposition du plan d’urgence la Direction Nationale de l’eau potable et de l’assainissement d’Haïti (Dinepa), 500,000 dollars pour répondre à l’impact de la pandémie du Covid-19 sur l’eau potable et l’assainissement durant les 3 prochains mois.

Éducation : Plan de réponse au Covid-19

Dans le cadre du plan de réponse au Covid-19 du Ministère de l’Éducation Nationale et des grands dossiers d’Éducation, Dikel Delvariste le Directeur général de l’Institut National de Formation Professionnel (INFP) accompagné de Maguy Durcé, Secrétaire d’État à la formation et de son conseiller ont participé a une réunion virtuelle avec les acteurs de la communauté éducative sur demande du Ministre de l’Éducation Nationale Pierre Josué Agenor Cadet.

HL/ HaïtiLibre

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Natacha Candio infuses her Haitian heritage into Charlotte’s food scene

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Natacha Candio is on a mission to expand your taste buds with her Haitian cuisine. 

Born in Haiti, Candio moved to Miami, Florida, with her family at age 9. Later, she studied culinary arts at the renowned culinary institute, Le Cordon Bleu, in Paris. Candio developed a love for cooking from her grandmother at a young age and turned her passion into a decadelong career as a restaurant manager and caterer. Tired of the rising cost of living in Miami, she set her sights on Charlotte and never looked back.

Turning lemons into lemonade

She relocated to Charlotte in 2016 to work as a restaurant manager at a local restaurant only to be fired a year later, she says, for expressing her sentiments about racist conditions she was experiencing. That incident became the catalyst for launching her food truck business, aptly named Caribbean Buzz.  

Natacha Candio’s food truck, Caribbean Buzz

Candio initially planned to open a bakery until she realized Charlotte’s market was still wide open for a broader range of Caribbean cuisine.  

“When I first moved here, it was a culture shock because I couldn’t find decent Haitian food,” she recalled.

Starting a business was an enormous undertaking for the 34-year-old wife and mother of three. Still reeling from how she had been dismissed by her employer, Candio decided to take a chance on herself. 

Today, she is making her mark on the Queen City’s ever-growing food scene by expanding its access to authentic Caribbean food. Though she specializes in Haitian, Bahamian and Jamaican dishes — with special recipes for favorites like conch fritters, curried goat and jerk chicken — Candio’s goal is to share the flavors of the West Indies with food lovers.  

“[At first,] I didn’t think there were too many Haitians in Charlotte, so I combined the cuisine of three islands to ease people into sampling Haitian cuisine,” she explained. 

Her menu goes beyond typical island fare that many U.S. residents have come to identify as representative of Caribbean culture. Some of the delicacies from her homeland sometimes draw strange looks from newbies to the cuisine. That is until you taste it. 

She makes her own spice blends, curry paste and jerk sauce, as well as a Haitian favorite — diri djon djon, or black mushroom rice. Coming from Miami, which boasts a strong Haitian presence, Candio still wrestles with the culture shock of not having easy access to staple items for her menu.  

“I get my mushrooms in Florida and dry them. I also ship them to Haitian natives in other cities or people who like our food,” she shared.

She also gives a nod to her Bahamian heritage by providing authentic dishes from the island nation. One of her best-selling items is a conch fritter batter, which she packages and ships across the country. 

An entrepreneurial spirit

It’s her enterprising nature that has opened the door to running three food trucks, two in Charlotte and another in Weeki Wachee, a city about an hour north of Tampa, Florida. 

That pivotal moment of being let go by her employer unleashed a yearning to no longer have her future determined by others. She turned down other offers to work in the restaurant industry. Becoming an entrepreneur was always part of her life plan, and food trucks allowed her to fulfill her dream without opening a brick-and-mortar location. 

“I love [being an entrepreneur] and hate it at the same time,” Candio explained. “I love working for myself, and I can set my own hours. However, since I’m a workaholic, I don’t take a day off. I just don’t want to turn away new opportunities.” 

She credits her focus and drive to having been born in a country that tends to be overlooked by the rest of the world.

Natacha-Candio-Caribbean-Buzz-2
Photo courtesy of Natacha Candio

Filling a need

With the turn of events from the Covid-19 pandemic, Candio has partnered with apartment complexes throughout the city to provide easy access for takeout food. Residents can pre-order meals the day before and schedule a designated pick-up time to limit crowds at the truck. No more than five customers are served at a time. She also collaborates with homeowners associations, which takes her food trucks into the suburbs. 

What’s next for Caribbean Buzz? Candio isn’t sure, but she’s open to opportunities.

“Everything is happening so fast that I honestly don’t know, and I don’t want to jinx it,” she said. 

For the latest schedule, follow Caribbean Buzz on Instagram and Facebook.

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