IG news Update,
Haiti has long been marching from crisis to crisis. But in recent times – perhaps not since the immediate aftermath of the 2010 earthquake – the country’s plight has seemed to many of its people as hopeless as it is today.
Caribbean leaders who have traditionally opposed external interventions are facing an influx of Haitian boatmen, who Bahamian PM Philip Davies calls “a failed state”.
The Dominican Republic has deployed its military to the border with Haiti to prevent the outbreak of a “low-intensity civil war” its president, Luis Abinedar, described.
“We must act responsibly and we must act now,” he said. “Thousands of people are dying.”
Gangs, which claim control of up to 60 percent of Haitian territory, are killing hundreds of people a month.
Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae, recently visited the country. He told CBC News that he found “gangs have taken control of much of Port-au-Prince. Gangs are also taking over the courthouse.”
Diplomats embroiled in Haiti, under Canadian Ambassador Sebastian Carrier, are sheltering at home as it is no longer safe to travel on the streets of Port-au-Prince.
“The embassy is closed to the public and we are working virtually through telework, managing the current crisis as well as everything else,” Carriere told CBC News. “The roads were quiet yesterday and today but the big question is what will happen tomorrow.”
unwilling to enter the swamp
Haiti was certainly a topic of discussion as world leaders gathered in New York this week for the 77th UN General Assembly. But there was little sign of any country willing to commit to the resources needed to restore a semblance of law and order to Haiti in the capital.
And there was no sign at all that outside forces are ready to send their men to strengthen Haiti’s national police, who are often killed by gangs.
Haiti is no longer the world’s top recipient of Canadian foreign aid as it was a decade ago, but it remains the largest recipient of Canadian aid to the US.
Of Haiti’s traditional donors, only the US has given more than Canada since the Port-au-Prince earthquake.
And on Wednesday, Canada announced it would pay another $20 million to rebuild schools destroyed in an earthquake that struck Haiti’s southern peninsula in August last year.
Canada’s Presence A Shadow of the Past
Canada also contributed millions of dollars this year to the effort to train and equip Haitian security forces.
“We led the creation of the US$30 million UN Basket Fund for Security and are currently funding a third of it,” said Carriere.
But Canada’s human security presence in Haiti has been reduced to almost nothing. In a country that once had a combined task force of more than 2,000 military personnel in Haiti, as well as about 100 police officers, there are now only two RCMP officers in the entire country.
And despite foreign security funding, the gangs have been gaining ground since last year – when Haitian President Jovenel Mosse was assassinated in his own bedroom.
Moïse himself was deeply implicated in the rise of gangs like the 400 Mawozo – which kidnapped a group of US and Canadian missionaries last year – and G9, led by former police officer Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherzier.
Moïse’s Tate Cale (Bald Head) party has long used gangs in the impoverished areas of Port-au-Prince as promoters and ward-healers and allowed them to accumulate arsenals of smuggled weapons.
Many Haitians reject the claim that there is a fight for control between the government and gangs. Rather, they see gangs and government as monopolies of power that work hand in hand.
There is clear evidence of government complicity in some of Haiti’s worst massacres, including the use of state-owned heavy machinery to bulldoze slum areas.
Prime Minister seen as a puppet
To the extent that Haiti’s ruling elite have now realized the scale of their error in feeding such a monster, they have tried to rein in the gangs – by raising the price of fuel (the source of black-market revenue). cutting off) and slowing the continued influx of arms and ammunition through Haiti’s porous and corrupt ports.
But gang leaders like Cherzier are no longer content to simply vote for Haiti’s rulers with muscle and coercion; He now aspires to rule Haiti himself. And other Caribbean governments, eager to deal with anyone who could slow the flow of refugees on the raft, have proposed direct talks with Haiti’s gang leaders, not those led by its dysfunctional government. – Led by a man considered by many to be a prime suspect in the murder of his predecessor.
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has failed to deliver on his promise to hold new elections. In a country where almost all elected officials have spent more than their mandate, few citizens consider Henry’s government to be legitimate.
Many see Henry as the appointee of foreign governments forming a “core group” of major donors: the US, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Brazil, the European Union and the United Nations. His support took the form of a tweet from ambassadors who withdrew support from rival caretaker Prime Minister Claude Joseph, who promptly stepped down.
A ‘new normal’ of fear
US President Joe Biden has seen his own envoy in Haiti, Daniel Foote, resign in protest of the president’s support for Henry, and this week he received a letter from 100 different civil and religious groups in Haiti in which he Asked to withdraw support.
Under Henry’s misrule, the letter said, long-suffering Haitians have fallen into “a ‘new normal’ characterized by continued fear of kidnapping and violence, an almost complete lack of accountability and a growing humanitarian crisis on every front.”
Perhaps the only bright spot on the Haitian landscape is the emergence of a new coalition of civil society groups, not affiliated with traditional political parties, that have proposed a transitional government to allow for new elections.
Their plan is called the “Montana Accord” after the Port-au-Prince hotel where the talks took place. While many parties have signed the agreement, Tate Kale has ignored it.
Last weekend, the Canadian ambassador met with representatives of the group.
“Politicians are talking,” Carrier said. “Hopefully, they will eventually come to that inclusive Haitian solution that we can all support and have been encouraging for almost a year now.
“Haitian politics is multifaceted, alliances that change like the wind during a heavy storm. But people are suffering, so they need to get their act together.”
Monique Kleska, a former journalist and United Nations official, is one of the Haitians to negotiate the Montana Accords. She’s working to persuade others to sign on.
He agrees that the Haitian people need to achieve greater consensus, but adds that foreign embassies are to blame heavily for Henry’s “death and legacy of desperation, illness and misery … …
The catch-22 that is currently discrediting Haitian politics is that while no one wants to see more foreign dictates, foreign governments are the only players to remove Henry from office – and foreign powers are the only ones with full firepower. Defeat and deactivate gangs.
But some in Port-au-Prince want to see the return of American marines. Probably prefer that prospect even less in Washington.
“It’s shameful to say what I’m saying, but we are in a fight to maintain our sovereignty,” Kleska told CBC News from her home in Port-au-Prince.
“Yesterday we were in a meeting and someone said, ‘You’re talking about possible interference,’ but we’ve been under foreign interference for many years. We’re a sovereign country but a lot of Haitian power brokers have denied our sovereignty. Has handed over to foreigners, and therefore it is a very difficult, almost incestuous situation.
with Canada [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau, France [President Emmanuel] With Macron, Biden, America prefers to support someone who is massacred its people, who is in alliance with gangs, who is driving the economy backwards, who supports corruption and impunity. instead of listening to the Haitian people’s call for democracy. respect for their human rights.
“They won’t let it happen in their homes, but they’re allowing it here and they’re pushing it here.”
take off the steering wheel
Bob Rae told CBC News that Canada wants to break the old cycle of foreign interference that undermines Haitian sovereignty.
“We need to learn from some mistakes in the past, where there have been interventions that did not have the full support of the Haitian people,” he said.
“The government is a provisional government and there are many people in civil society who feel very strongly that things are not going in the right direction.
“When your capital city is basically taken over by gangs of some sort, you have a real problem. But it’s not up to us Haiti people to tell them what to do and let them know. How to solve it. To tell them how they think it can be solved and what else we can do to be helpful.”
On Wednesday night at the United Nations, Trudeau echoed that new hands-off message.
“We cannot continue to see outside elements, no matter how well-meaning, try to determine Haiti’s future,” he said.
“That is why our conversation this morning talked about, among other things, how we ensure that there is accountability, including the elites and elites that contribute to the instability in Haiti, we are seeing now. How do we ensure that we are there to strengthen civil society institutions and necessary police institutions.
“But after many, many years and even decades of the international community trying to fix Haiti for Haitians, we need to make sure that Haiti is driving the lasting change we need to make that happen. There is a need to look in the beautiful country, which will be beautiful again.”