Haiti: a country plagued by insecurity, impunity and corruption

The clans are also accused of attacking the towns of La Saline and Bel-Air, opposition strongholds in the capital, and two organizations, the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH) and the Je Klere Foundation, cited by the journalist Jameson Francisque in another report, denounced and assured that the G9 was created to influence the electoral result that gave the victory of the Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale (PHTK), currently in power.

Chérizier, the leader of the G9, kept access to Haiti’s main source of fuel supply (the Varreux terminal, in the Cité Soleil neighborhood) blocked, the lack of which affected everything: businesses, schools, industries and courts with the consequent layoffs. , to hospital care, critical after the outbreak of a new outbreak of cholera that in the recent past killed 10,000 people and is now spreading throughout the country.

In a show of force, the Haitian police, using the armored units and other equipment that Canada and the US provided as part of their aid to the overwhelmed body of order, broke the siege on Thursday, November 3 and liberated Varreux. And gasoline returned to the stations.

But in the intervention nothing was said about Chérizier. In fact, Harrison Ernest, a local politician who leads the hitherto unknown Konstwi Lavi party (some say it was created by the gang member himself), told CNN that the seizure of the terminal was the result of two weeks of negotiations with the prime minister. Minister Henry.

foreign troops

That is why perhaps there are those like the Haitian historian Georges Michel who are convinced that a foreign armed force is the one that “must come to clear the land” because Haiti alone cannot.

The interventionist proposal first reached the OAS and then the UN. The secretary general of the world organization, Antonio Guterres, took the floor and said that under the current circumstances an armed action was necessary to free the port controlled by the gangs and allow the installation of a corridor to bring aid to the population, regardless of issues that must be resolved by the Haitians themselves.

One of the first to draw attention to what is happening in Haiti was its neighboring Dominican Republic, whose president, Luis Abinader, referred to the current crisis as a low-intensity civil war. The US, Canada, France and other powers have tried to avoid engaging directly and only the Bahamas has so far offered to send troops into Haitian territory.

Conversely, China —with veto power in the Security Council— opposes the occupation based on the disappointing performance of the Haitian political parties that cannot “find a solution or see the suffering of their own people”, plunged to the will of criminal gangs.

The decision on a military intervention, which has the support of the Haitian private sector, gradually faded in the Council. For now, he adopted a resolution to sanction the gang members, although he only mentioned one by his name, Chérizier, out of the 200 gangs operating in the country.

The presence of paramilitary forces is nothing new in Haiti and it could be said that it is strongly linked to its history: the Tonton Macoute of Duvalier, the FRAPH of the coup general Raoul Cedrás, the chimères of Aristide, the G-9, 400 Mawozo, Savien, Currently, all of them had or have ties to politics and some were even sponsored by external agents such as the CIA.

Many of the leaders of these organizations have died or were imprisoned, but many others are free. In 2014, Sonson La Familia and Nelfort, Two notable criminals supposedly protected by then-President Michel Martelly were arrested but released the following year by a judge linked to PHTK, the party that brought the president to power.

The same day that Varreux was released, the United States and Canada went a step further and announced sanctions against the president of the Haitian Senate, Joseph Lambert, and former senator Youri Latortue, whom they accuse of “abusing their positions to traffic drugs from Colombia and collaborate with criminal gangs.

“A small number of people from the political, business and social elite in Haiti and abroad are holding the country hostage for their personal gain,” US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Eric Stromayer said in a brief message in Port-au-Prince. , who hinted that many are missing from the list of “those who fuel violence in the country” who will be punished.

Days later, the US offered millions in rewards for the whereabouts of several gang leaders involved in the kidnapping of 21 North American missionaries last year. And this month, Washington and Canada sanctioned six other local political figures, including two former prime ministers and former President Michel Martelly himself, for corruption and gang ties.

brittle state

Defenseless in the face of insecurity, impunity and corruption; Overwhelmed by poverty, lack of work and opportunities, the Haitian people took to the streets to protest.

But also to take justice into their own hands and in many different ways: at the end of September and mid-October several gang members were lynched in the towns of Port-de-Paix (northwest) and Pignon (north), and in Gonaïves (north ), people returned what they had stolen from a religious community, after the nuns threatened to summon “divine forces” to punish the looters.

And while a proposal for dialogue emerges from the political and intellectual class and is buried as a new one appears, the dark threads of power plot their next move even at the cost of millions of Haitians.

“Haiti is not a cursed country as I have often heard people say,” John Picard Byron, an academic and researcher at the Haitian state university, told French RFI network last month.

But yes, a fragile and ineffective State, there is no doubt.

In early October, the former US ambassador to Haiti, Pamela White, told the US Congressional Foreign Affairs Committee that there is no legitimate government, no judiciary, no parliament, no capable police force in Haiti. to stop the gangs that now rule 60% of the capital. Much less, she added, the possibility of planning elections under the current security crisis.

The former diplomat used the term “failed state” (quite controversial in these times) to refer to Haiti, which she said needs “boots on the ground to solve its challenges.”

What will happen in twenty years?

Last month, Jean Anderson Bellony was murdered at his home by members of one of the two gangs operating in Croix-des-Bouquets (east), 400 Mawozo and the one led by Vitelhomme Innocent. In addition to him, another 14 people died in clashes between these gangs, also responsible for burning a dozen houses and forcing the forced displacement of as many families.

bellony was houngan (voodoo priest) and sculptor living in the town of Noailles, famous for being the cradle of goldsmithing since before Haitian independence in 1804. When he was shot in his house-sanctuary, the victim was one of the main figures of the place, a artist actually, much less known and popular than Mikaben —whom all of Haiti mourned—but an artist nonetheless.

For him there were few words.

The author is regional vice president for Haiti of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information of the Inter-American Press Association