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Haiti’s Uncertain Future

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Haiti’s Uncertain Future

By Barrington M. Salmon -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Oct 2, 2019 – 9:12:24 PM


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Foreign intervention and internal conflict plague Black republic






An opposition protester holds out his arms and yells “Kill me” to ruling party Senator Willot Joseph who holds up a gun outside parliament before a scheduled vote on the ratification of Fritz William Michel’s nomination as prime minister in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sept. 23. Opposition members confronted ruling-party senators, and Joseph pulled a pistol when protesters rushed at him and members of his entourage. The vote was cancelled.



WASHINGTON—Gun-wielding lawmakers, a heated political impasse, an embattled prime minister, gas shortages, business shutdowns, a closed airport, and angry street demonstrations are among reports coming out of Haiti in recent days.

But these incidents, including an Associated Press photographer being hit by a bullet fragment from a Haitian senator’s gun and opposition efforts to block approval of a prime minister and force President Jovenel Moise out of office amid charges of corruption and mishandling of the economy, aren’t the whole story.

For at least the past 18 months, the island nation of Haiti has been roiled by protesters whose deep anger at the government has boiled over. They’ve taken to the streets because they’re tired of a government that has ignored their frustration and their disgust with the government’s economic incompetence, indifference and the pervasive corruption of government officials, a noted U.S.-based Haitian economist said.

Some of the most recent protests were sparked by a government announcement of price increases of basic goods. Demonstrators are also outraged following the release of a report of a Senate investigation which implicates at least 14 former and an unknown number of government officials of misusing $3.8 billion under the administration of former President Michel Martelly.

About $2 billion of that amount was supposed to be allocated for infrastructure repairs of buildings and structures damaged or destroyed by the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016 but it appears to have ended up in the pockets and bank accounts of those purported to serve the public.

Angry residents have vowed to continue the demonstrations until President Moise steps down, but he has vowed to stay, said DePaul University professor and economist Dr. Ludovic Comeau, Jr.

He was one of a panel of Haitians and Haiti experts at the recently concluded Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., who discussed at length the thorny issues of Haiti past and present. Haitians, several of the panelists pointed out, have never had extended periods in their history where some outside force, such as the United States, France or the United Nations hasn’t imposed its will on the populace.

That, as well as a succession of corrupt governments, an uncaring elite that has conspired with outside elements to ignore even the most basic needs of ordinary Haitians, and a series of natural disasters such as the devastating earthquake in 2010 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016 has only worsened the living conditions of many ordinary Haitians.

“What you see is a very heightened period of social and polit instability caused by government incompetence,” said Dr. Comeau, a native of Haiti who holds a law degree, an MBA, and a Masters in Economics and French Literature respectively. “Haiti has been in a state of instability since the 1980s and since then, we were never able to sustain stability. The current bout of political turmoil is the worst I’ve ever seen.”

He said he goes back home five or six times a month, but his most recent visit, he didn’t venture far from home.

“I’ve never seen it like that,” he said. “I stayed for three weeks but stayed hidden. People are treated like animals and, sadly, have become like animals.”

Rep. Alcee Hastings, who represents Florida’s 20th District, hosted the panel discussion to look at new approaches to solving Haiti’s problems. The discussion was cosponsored by the Haitian-American Democratic Caucus of Florida.

As the panel waited for the last member to arrive, the congressman gave the sizable audience a snapshot of Haiti’s history. That included Haiti’s independence in 1804; the internal strife that followed; the 1806 assassination of Jean-Jacques Dessalines; the French king Charles X, who used gunboat diplomacy in 1825, threatening the use of force to compel President Jean-Pierre Boyer to pay what amounts to $21 billion (in today’s dollars) in reparations to French slaveholders who had been run out of Haiti; the U.S. occupation from 1915-34; and the U.S.-backed Duvalier dynasty which wreaked its unique kind of havoc on the Haitian people.

“Francois Duvalier was catastrophic for the Haitian people,” Rep. Hastings said. “There were military coups, contested elections and more coups. In 2010, the United Nations peace mission introduced cholera to Haiti. The country has suffered environmental devastation, including the 2010 earthquake and in 2016, Matthew. So Haitians went to the Bahamas and lived on Abaco in a place called The Mudd (which was decimated by Hurricane Dorian). When I go to heaven, I going to ask God, ‘What did Haitians do to you that they suffer so?’ If you have a problem with that, I don’t give a damn.”

He said the current unrest reflects the people’s burning desire for change.






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“The protests are not the least surprising,” he said. “They do not simply want the advancement of one individual or another; what they seek is systemic change,” he said. “They are not despairing, they’re not depressed. They seek a strong, stable Haiti and the strong people in Haiti are speaking truth to power.”

Haiti’s per capital income is $350, about half of the roads are unpaved, unemployment is estimated at about 80 percent, Dr. Comeau said. Other panelists ticked off Haiti’s myriad challenges, including a moribund economy, inadequate health care, droughts, food shortages and an alarmingly high level of violence.

Leslie Jean-Robert Péan, a former senior economist at the World Bank, said most people have what he characterized as a “big misunderstanding about Haiti.”

“The basic problem the country has is that most books from elementary to Catholic schools all say that Haiti was created by Black slaves, they say it was a racial revolution,” he said. “But there were no schools in Haiti and scientific knowledge was controlled by the masters. The freed Africans had no scientific knowledge to build the country … we rejected any know-how from Whites after the U.S. occupation.

“If you don’t know how to read and write, you cannot progress. There was a group of Whites and some former masters who wanted to bring scientific knowledge to the growth of sugar cane but that didn’t happen. The result was a decrease in transportation and productivity.”

Mr. Péan said a number of talented enslaved Africans left with their masters and moved to Cuba, which left those leaders and people trying to build a country severely hobbled and with no foundation on which to sustain themselves or build a viable future.

“That’s basically what the Haitian situation was,” he said.

Many of Haiti’s leaders and the elite have used ignorance as a tool to run the country, Mr. Pean argued.

“This is a major mechanism to control the rest of the population,” he said. “(Francois) Duvalier used UNESCO to get rid of teachers and educators. They were seen as his main opposition, so they got 105 visas and were sent to the Congo, Senegal, the Gambia and the Ivory Coast. Secondary schools in the provinces couldn’t function because there were no teachers. The migration of teachers was a great drawback.”

Mr. Péan asserted that the international community and its policies are complicit in keeping Haiti trapped in a place where an island with so much potential can neither grow nor flourish. In essence, he said, “And they have used a Faustian method ‘of seeking a better future while holding the hands of the worst people.’ ”

Moderator Dr. Jean-Phillipe Austin—whose almost ruthless efficiency in cutting off long-winded answers drew laughter from panelist and audience alike—injected the personal cost of living under a dictatorship and in a society where life seems sometimes to have little value. He spoke of a boy growing up in Haiti and at five years old being left behind as his parents, fearing death, fl ed the Duvalier regime, leaving him to be raised by his uncles.

“His uncles were arrested and put in Fort Dimanche (prison), tortured and killed,” he said softly. “But that child grew to become a radiologist. That was me. At an intimate level, politics matters. Politicians have the disproportionate ability to do crap. But we can’t give up.”

“We come from a people able to fight with arms and hands to get rid of Napoleon but what have we done with that legacy? We have inadequate health care, unemployment at just under 90 percent. But there is the one percent. I blamed them my entire life because the elite is responsible for the country and its future. But over the last 10 years, I’ve realized that the Haitian Diaspora is equally responsible because we’ve abandoned the field, abdicated our responsibility.”

Dr. Comeau agreed, saying that Haiti was and is unable to sustain its children so they are scattered all over the world. But he said Haitians in the Diaspora hold a key.

“We have to come up with a team of competent Haitians who have integrity, love of country and compassion for the people,” he said. “The current leadership has no compassion for them. Integrity, integrity, integrity. How do you get that? It takes good people to stop talking and form a group. It’s been going on for 35 years of people who are worried, but I believe it will happen. People will realize that some things must change.

“Traditional Haitian society has reached a point of decomposition after 200 years. From this decomposition, something new will emerge. People must live decently and differently.”

Both Mr. Péan and Dr. Comeau agree strongly that foreign actors need to step back and allow Haitians to determine their own destiny.

“We get help from the international community and Big Brother, but we want them to stop meddling,” Dr. Comeau said. “If they want to help us to do what other countries have done, they can help by making a bunch of little changes which if sustained will lead to profound change. We would see a quantitative leap forward similar to what China experienced when the government pulled 900 million people out of poverty.”

He added that the Haitian government and its partners need to create 100,000 jobs a year for 10 years to significantly change the face of poverty and need in his country.

“It’s been done elsewhere. That can be done,” he said.

Mr. Péan said that will be very difficult if Haitians don’t confront the elephant in the room.

“We refuse to systematically look at the psychological impact (of the Duvalier regime and the subsequent turmoil) but we are completely messed up,” said Mr. Péan, who served as a UN economic consultant. “We try to legitimize killers and those who destroyed our psyche.”

Dr. Comeau concurred, saying that throughout Haitian history, there have been efforts to put down the people as punishment and to make Haiti an example. Consequently, there are psychological complexes Haitians in general still haven’t overcome. He added that Haitians are a little xenophobic and very reluctant to accept foreigners.

Haiti has never had a policy of inviting foreigners to invest in the economy, and because of a mélange of challenges, Haiti’s gross domestic product is eight times smaller than its neighbor, the Dominican Republic, said Dr. Austin, the former finance chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Dr. Comeau said Haiti would be profoundly affected if corruption was dramatically curtailed.

“About 2 and a half months after the earthquake, we had a big donor conference. The donors pledged $11 billion but about half of it came which was controlled by (former presidents) Bill Clinton and George Bush,” he said. “All of the donor money was given to NGOs. The bitter taste that Haitians have is that nothing durable occurred, there was no rebuilding whatsoever. I’d be hard-pressed to find any progress since the earthquake.”

Dr. Comeau cited the case of former President Martelly. “We had an election when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. In 2011, he came in fourth but was declared president and a few years later, the executive director of the election commission said he was pressured to choose Martelly. But they’re smart, they left no fingerprints. He was bankrupt but today he’s a multimillionaire. He just built a beach house worth $9 million (U.S.). He also managed to put a crony of his, Moise, in power and he’s totally inept.”

“Corrupt has been elevated to the status of sustained impunity. Corruption is everywhere—it’s pandemic. The problem is impunity and because of that, it has become a free-for-all. Meanwhile, poor people are living in dirt, a bunch of young people living in the dirt … .”

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Flights and Cruise Calls to Dominica Resume Following Elections

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The MV Marella Celebration docked at the Roseau Cruise Ship Berth today.

ROSEAU, Dominica, Monday
December 9, 2019
– Tourism officials in Dominica declared that the island was
open for business following the general elections, as cruise ships resumed
calls to the country and an airline that had cancelled flights restarted
service.

Leading up to last Friday’s elections in which the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) won a resounding 18-3 victory, there were pockets of unrest, primarily in the villages of Marigot in the northeast and Salisbury in the west of the island.

The disturbances resulted in some road blockages, which
caused delays and inconveniences for people travelling to the airport, although
it remained opened for flights and operated as usual.

Apart from cruise calls being cancelled just ahead of the
polls and then over the weekend, Seaboard Airlines had cancelled two flights
and rescheduled others.

But in a statement issued today, the Discover Dominica
Authority said that now that the elections are over, things are settling down
for normal business to resume.

“Dominica reaffirms that it is open to conduct business and
we welcome all our visitors to enjoy all that the nature island has to offer,”
it said.

The normal cruise schedule recommenced starting today, with
the MV Marella Celebration docked at the Roseau Cruise Ship Berth.

Seaborne Airlines also recommenced their normal schedule today.

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Haïti – Sécurité : L’État annonce de nouvelles mesures pour améliorer la sécurité au pays

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Haïti – Sécurité : L’État annonce de nouvelles mesures pour améliorer la sécurité au pays
10/12/2019 09:44:29

Haïti - Sécurité : L’État annonce de nouvelles mesures pour améliorer la sécurité au pays

Lundi en conférence de presse les Secrétaires d’État Ronsard St-Cyr (Sécurité publique) et Eddy Jackson Alexis (Communication) ont annoncé, que de nouvelles mesures sécuritaires avaient été adoptées par l’Exécutif afin d’accompagner la population haïtienne avant, pendant et après les fêtes de fin d’année « Le Ministère de la Justice, celui de l’Intérieur, le Secrétariat de la Sécurité publique et tout l’appareil étatique sont à pied d’œuvre pour assurer la sécurité de la population […] » a précisé Ronsard St-Cyr.

À cet effet, il a indiqué que la présence policière dans la zone métropolitaine et dans plusieurs régions du pays, notamment dans des zones stratégiques et a proximité des écoles avaient été considérablement augmenté.

Il a informé que deux unités spécialisées de la Police Nationale d’Haïti (PNH) : le Corps d’Intervention et de Maintien d’Ordre (CIMO) et de l’Unité Départementale de Maintien de l’Ordre (UDMO) sont positionnés de façon permanente sur la Route Nationale #2 entre Chalon et Petit-Goâve, la Route Nationale #1 entre Cabaret et Arcahaie afin de prévenir les actes de banditisme.

Il a également fait savoir que des mesures de renforcement avait été prise au niveau des zones frontalières pour lutter contre la contrebande d’armes et de munitions sur le territoire…

Concernant les activités des gangs, Ronsard St Cyr a indiqué que les autorités concernées détenaient des informations sur des groupes d’individus armés afin de procéder à leur arrestation au moment opportun…

Quant à l’insécurité croissante au bicentenaire et ses environs, il s’est limité à dire que les autorités policières continuaient de définir des stratégies pour rétablir l’ordre public en évitant des pertes collatérales.

TB/ HaïtiLibre

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Brockton mother-daughter duo seeks to open Haitian Caribbean eatery – News – The Enterprise, Brockton, MA

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Brockton resident Tamara Wilmart, alongside her mother, chef Marie Denis, are seeking a special permit before the Brockton Zoning Board of Appeals Tuesday evening to open Bistro Kreyol, a fast-casual dining Haitian Caribbean eatery at 255 Quincy St.

BROCKTON — A new Haitian Caribbean eatery is on its way to opening in the city.

Brockton resident Tamara Wilmart is seeking a special permit application before the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals to open Bistro Kreyol, a fast-casual dining Haitian Caribbean eatery, at 255 Quincy St.

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“Bistro Kreyol is a quaint, independently owned restaurant that brings the fine taste of Haitian Caribbean cuisine to its patrons, with an emphasis on exceptional service and an enjoyable dining experience,” according to a memo included in the application.

Bistro Kreyol will be a mother-daughter partnership between Wilmart and her mother, chef Marie Denis, who learned first learned to cook in her native country of Haiti, according to the application.

“As a black, woman and immigrant owned business, this is truly the realization of the American Dream,” the memo stated.

Bistro Kreyol will serve “ready-to-eat hearty whole food options” with self-serve seating for 12 inside the building, according to the application.

A simplified menu listed in the application included main dishes of goat in sauce, turkey in sauce, chicken in sauce, red snapper in sauce, griot (fried pork), soup joumou (Haitain squash soup) and bouillon (Haitan beef stew). Sides included rice and beans, black rice, white rice, fried plantains, macaroni au gratin, potato au gratin, beet salad, potato salad and a side salad.

Bistro Kreyol will share a space next door to Flo’s Pizza in the strip mall located at Quincy and Centre streets.

Wilmart is scheduled to appear before the Zoning Board of Appeals at its next meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday (Dec. 10).

Wilmart did not respond to request for comment by deadline.

Staff writer Corlyn Voorhees can be reached at cvoorhees@enterprisenews.com

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