|Haitian embassy in Kingston, Jamaica closed|
|Friday, 20 April 2012 11:08|
Despite recent efforts by CARICOM to strengthen relationships between Haiti and the Caribbean Community, Haiti recently closed its embassy in Kingston, Jamaica. Haiti's Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommended that the embassy be closed as far as December 2011.
According to reports, one reason given by unnamed Haitian officials for closing its embassy is the "non-reciprocity" of Jamaican representatives, arguing that while Haiti has operated an embassy in Jamaica for over 30 years, Jamaica never launched such a mission in Haiti. Jamaica has operated an honorary consulate in Port-au-Prince, Haiti for several years, but its functions are primarily ceremonial.
Jamaican Minister of Foreign Affairs AJ Nicholson denies being aware of the "non-reciprocity." In response, the ministry acknowledged that the establishment of a mission in Haiti would greatly strengthen relations between both countries. But he also reassured officials that an absence of a Jamaican embassy in Haiti should not be seen as a lack of commitment.
In response, Haitian Chargé d'Affaires in Jamaica, Max Alcé, also confirm that there were no bad relations between the two countries. He however drew attention to the inequality among travelers between the two nations. While Jamaicans can easily enter Haiti without a visa, the same privilege is not extended to Haitians wanting to travel to Jamaica. Although Haiti has pressed for lifting these visa requirements, the privilege is extended to only those holding diplomatic or official passports.
One representative from the ministry of foreign affairs, speaking on condition of anonymity to the National Weekly, believes one reason for the embassy's closing was the significant lack of a Jamaican community in Haiti. She confirmed that although an honorary consul is not currently assigned to Haiti, one will be assigned shortly.
Haiti has not had an ambassador for Jamaica since 2004, when the country recalled its ambassador to Jamaica in protest of then Jamaican Prime Minister PJ Patterson's decision to give temporary political asylum to exiled Haitian President Bertrand Aristide. Since then, diplomatic duties were undertaken by Alcé.