THE CARIBBEAN Community's emergency aid mission to Haiti, comprising Heads of Government and leading technical officials, failed to secure permission Friday to land at that devasted country's aiport, now under the control of the United States.
Consequently, the Caricom 'assessment mission', that was to determine priority humanitarian needs resulting from the mind-boggling earthquake disaster of Haiti last Tuesday, had to travel back from Jamaica to their respective home destinations..
On Friday afternoon the US State Department confirmed signing two 'Memoranda of Understanding' with the Government of Haiti that made 'official that the United Stateas is in charge of all inbound and outbound flights and aid off-loading...'
Further, according to the agreements signed, US medical personnel 'now have the authority to operate on Haitian citizens and otherwise render medical assistance without having to wait for licences from Haiti's government...'
Prior to the US taking control of Haiti's airport, a batch of some 30 Cuban doctors had left Havana, following Wednesday's earthquake, to join more than 300 of their colleagues who have been working there for more than a year.
Last evening the frustration suffered by the Caricom mission to get landing permission was expected to be raised in a scheduled meeting at Jamaica's Norman Manley International Airport with US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton.
Asked whether the difficuties encountered by the Caricom mission may be related to reports that US authorities were not anxious to facilitate landing of aircraft from Cuba and Venezuela, Prime Minister Golding said he could 'only hope that there is no truth to such immature thinking in the face of the horrific scale of Haiti's tragedy...'