Haiti Update

by Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, submitted by Paul Pumphrey, February 24, 2021

This is an interesting report from someone inside Haiti.

CONTEXT

Haiti has been going through a global crisis, a structural crisis for a long time. This crisis has hit all sectors of national life for many years. But it has become catastrophic, unbearable since the arrival of the PHTK (Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale, Haiti’s ruling party) regime in power with Joseph Martelly in the first phase and Jovenel Moise in a second. We must quickly point out that Martelly was classified in 4th or 5th position when the OAS (Organizations of American States) demanded that the CEP put this man in second position so that he could participate in the second round with Myrlande Manigat an important figure of the Haitian intellectual elite. So Martelly was not the choice of the Haitian people. He was parachuted in by the international community through OAS shenanigans elections.

Martelly, upon taking the oath, declared that the country is open to business. It was a way, in our opinion, to say: The country is for sale. He had become president in particular to liquidate the natural resources of the country. Indeed, he has already created the Caracole industrial free zone in the North-East as well as the agricultural free zone in the name of Jovenel Moise as political marketing.

Jovenel’s campaign slogan was: NEG BANNANN LAN (PLANTAIN MAN). At Ile à Vache in the south, peasant families are being driven from their land to create a free tourist zone. There is a plan to take over the Ile de la Gonave to create a free financial zone (Tax Paradise). There is another industrial free zone project at Turtle Island in the Northwest.

Jovenel’s latest action is the creation of an agro-industrial free zone in Savane Diane. A 30,000 hectare savannah that extends over the departments of Artibonite, Center and North. This free zone was published in the official journal Le Moniteur on February 8, one day after Jovenel’s term of office ended on February 7. It will cover 14,000 hectares granted to the Louis Dejoie and Andy Apaid family. Apaid is the leader of this project which will produce Stevia specially for Coca Cola.

Martelly, before his departure, had signed at least 8 agreements with gold mining companies in the United States and Canada. A group of senators blocked ratification in Parliament. But Jovenel has just negotiated a scandalous deal with Washington to stay in power. It is a secret deal with VCS Mining Company that will receive mining concessions that could bring the country $ 190 billion in 25 years. Jovenel is in the process of making a deal for the miserable sum of 500 million dollars in 3 years. The PHTK is in the process of selling the country.

Jovenel, whose mandate ended on February 7, 2021 in accordance with the constitution amended in its article 194-2 and the electoral law decree of March 2, 2015. But he enjoyed the protection of the Trump administration who used him like a puppet. appeared for anti-democratic actions against Venezuela and other countries in the region. All sectors of national life in Haiti have spoken out very clearly on the end of Jovenel’s mandate on February 7, 2021. The laws are clear but Jovenel clings to power thanks to the interested support of certain sectors of the international community against the will of the Haitian people.

WHY JOVENEL MUST LEAVE?

Jovenel must leave power for the following reasons:

a) His term of mandate ended on February 7, 2021 in accordance with the constitution and the decree electoral law under which he was elected. These are the legal tools he used on twitter to sack a third of the Senate in January 2020. The law is one for all. The constitution must be respected. All sectors of national life demand respect for the constitution and the electoral law.

b) Since January 2020, the country has been ruled by a single man who issued 41 decrees and 120 aretes in 2020 while the constitution does not allow leadership by decree.

c) To create a climate of fear among the popular masses, massacres were carried out by officials of Jovenel’s government in several popular districts of the capital. It is a question of blocking popular mobilizations against the criminal acts of the power of PHTK.

d) The power of Jovenel uses armed gangs to establish its dictatorial power. He did something unprecedented in the country’s history by officially creating a gang network called G9. These gangs are led by a former policeman called Jimmy Cherizier alyas barbecue. These gangs kill, loot everything in their path. Barbecue’s name appears in all reports by human rights organizations, including the UN report. But he circulates freely in Port-au-Prince, he organizes the production of electoral cards for the power.

e) Kidnaping has become a form of government to keep the population in constant fear. In the past, wealthy layers of the population were removed. Now children and young people from working-class neighborhoods are not spared. Families who cannot pay the required ransoms find their children’s corpses in piles of rubbish. Last week, a 5-year-old child of a roasted peanut seller was suffocated and thrown onto the streets because her mother could not pay the ransom asked by the gang.

f) The 1987 constitution provides for the process of its amendment. Article 284.3 of the constitution reads as follows: Any popular consultation aimed at modifying the constitution by referendum is strictly prohibited. Jovenel, with the support of The United Nations is in the process of preparing a constitution which it intends to have ratified by a referendum in June.

g) The constitution provided for the sectors which must appoint their representatives to set up a provisional electoral council. Jovenel set up a provisional electoral council with sectors he created himself. The court of cassation did not accept the constitutional oath of this illegal and illegitimate CEP but Jovenel decided to install it in order to organize elections in favor of PHTK which wants to remain in power at all costs to block the trials of the various financial crimes and blood crimes committed by the PHTK regime.

h) Jovenel created a National Intelligence Agency strangely reminiscent of the death squad corps created by Francois Duvalier to arrest, throw in jail, and destroy opponents of the regime. These officers do not have to respect human rights. They can violate the residence of the citizens as they wish.

i) The opposition cited the names of 3 judges of the Supreme Court, one of whom would be chosen as president to lead the transition. An imaginary coup d’etat has been mounted by the authorities to arrest one of these judges Ivikel Dabresil. He was arrested at his home at 2 a.m. on February 7 as a coup perpetrator without any evidence. Legally the police are not allowed to enter a citizen’s home before 6 a.m. But when it comes to a court of cassation judge, no one has the right to arrest him. No ordinary court can judge him. It is only the high court of justice that can judge a judge of the court of cassation. The judge was handcuffed and illegally thrown in jail. The whole of society stood up to have the judge released.

j) The judges of the court of cassation are irremovable for the entire duration of their mandate. They cannot be dismissed or retired. Jovenel decided to retire the 3 judges in flagrant violation of the constitution.

k) PHTK dismantled all institutions in the country. Parliament no longer exists, the judiciary is under the domination of the executive. The national police have become a political police. The independence of the Supreme Court of Auditors is reduced. The country is under a totalitarian regime.

l) The socio-economic situation of the population is catastrophic. People have become 3 times poorer in the past 10 years. More than 500,000 Haitians are forced to leave the country to go to Chile, Brazil and other countries. The country no longer produces anything.

m) The peasants can no longer produce their food. They are left on their own. The environment is totally degraded. The country is increasingly dependent on the Dominican Republic and the United States for its food. Around 70% of the food consumed by the country comes from these two countries whereas the country was completely self sufficient for its food until 1986. We cannot accept an outlaw president to continue to impoverish the country.

THE SITUATION OF THE COUNTRY IS UNSUSTAINABLE

The country is plunged into chronic insecurity. Fear pervades all sectors of national life. The majority of the population is unemployed. The majority of the population suffers from hunger. Health care is practically non-existent for the popular masses. The state’s financial resources are plundered. The PHTK regime continues to sell the country off. Young people are desperate. Many people are forced to abandon their homes, which are in neighborhoods controlled by gangs. There are many internal refugees currently in Haiti. People’s lives are tough. People are arrested, thrown in jail for mobilizing against dictatorships. People are killed daily in working-class neighborhoods. Kidnapings are increasing in all sectors. Living in Haiti is more and more difficult. This is unacceptable.

The international community, against all logic, supports Jovenel Moise’s dictatorship by helping him violate the constitution and the laws of the country. It refuses to recognize the end of Jovenel’s mandate. It supports the project of a new constitution. It supports the organization of new elections which would push the country further into the global crisis. The so-called friendly countries of Haiti defend their own interests. They do not defend the interests of the country. The Haitian people must unite to make them understand that Haiti is an independent country. The people have the right to self-determination. It is the Haitians who must defend the interests of the country.

The political opposition, despite the creation of many regroupings, despite the convergence of all the proposals for ending the crisis, cannot yet fully agree on the way to work together to oust Jovenel from the power he continues to hold unconstitutionally. It is urgent that the opposition manages to put in place a team to lead the negotiations which should lead to Jovenel’s departure from the National Palace and install a transitional government which must carry out the following activities:

  • A sovereign national conference to establish an action plan for the development of the country for the next 25 years.
  • Fight insecurity, especially gangs, kidnapping.
  • The trials against the squanderers of public funds, against the perpetrators of massacres in working-class neighborhoods, against criminals.
  • Make the necessary changes to the constitution.
  • Put in place a credible electoral process to achieve real elections within two to three years.
  • Adopt urgent socio-economic measures to relieve the population.
  • Adopt urgent measures for the protection of the environment and the revival of national production.

IN CONCLUSION

The Haitian people are condemned to fight the dictatorship of Jovenel. They must end the criminal PHTK regime which puts the future of the country, the future of democracy in danger. To get there they must continue:

  • Discussions between civil society and political society to reach a political agreement to end the crisis. This agreement must include the formation of a team to lead negotiations with all the actors involved in the crisis, especially the United States.
  • Strengthen the structures organized to work on strategies against the dictatorship, help the victims of Jovenel’s dictatorship, defend political prisoners.
  • Permanent peaceful mobilization to block the advancement of Jovenel’s dictatorship through referendum or fraudulent elections. No election is possible with PHTK who refused to organize elections on time.

INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY

In the current situation, the country needs the solidarity of other peoples to:

  • Circulate real information on the Haitian crisis abroad.
  • Put pressure on foreign governments including the United States, Canada, France to suspend support for the dictatorship in Haiti.
  • Help organizations in Haiti in mobilization activities against the dictatorship and aid to victims of the PHTK regime.

Please note. We write on behalf of the Popular Patriotic Front (FPP), which brings together more than 40 social and political organizations including peasant, workers, women, students, working-class neighborhoods, etc.


Paul Pumphrey is a long time organizer and activist, and co-founder of Friends of the Congo.   Chavannes Jean-Baptiste is a pseudonym for one or more individuals living in Haiti.