Haitian Montrealers raise concerns, dim outlooks over violence in Haiti

Frantz Voltaire

By Phil Carpenter, Global News, March 12, 2024

Support for Haiti came Tuesday through a unanimous motion in the national assembly, calling on Quebec and Ottawa to intensify efforts to bring stability to the country.

That follows an emergency meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, Monday as the international community tries to find ways to stem the recent surge of violence. But Haitian community leaders in Montreal are reacting to these efforts with frustration.

“They are meeting together discussing about Haiti but with no Haitians,” said Marjorie Villefranche, who runs the community group Maison d’Haiti.

On Monday, officials from Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states met with representatives from partner countries, including Canada and the United States, after armed gangs took over much of Haiti and most of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Airports and ports closed as violence surged over the last week.

According to Frantz Voltaire,  head of the Montreal-based International Centre for Haitian, Caribbean and Afro-Canadian Documentation and Information, “Haitian people are living in a catastrophic situation.”

In a press release Tuesday, CARICOM said Monday’s meeting came about after talks with several groups, including Haitian political parties and civil society. Haitian groups in Montreal claim, however, that consultation with Haitians was inadequate. Furthermore they want input from new voices about any plan for the country .

“Not only people who are in power,” Villefranche said. “Find other actors to ask them that question, and not all the time the same old actors that we’re seeing.”

As such, Villefranche’s group is not optimistic that anything will improve in the country, even with the announcement by unelected Prime Minister Ariel Henry Monday, following the meeting, that he will step down once a new transitional council is in place.

“I don’t see any sign of what they can do to appease the violence in the country,” Villefranche said. “Until now, I don’t see what they are going to do, so this is what we are waiting for.”

There was a plan for Kenya to lead a multi-national force to help restore security in the Caribbean country.

“We’re talking about policemen, who don’t speak the language,” Voltaire said. “They don’t speak Creole, they don’t speak French. How can they police the city without speaking the language?”

Now, even that mission could be in question as Kenya announced Tuesday that it planned to pause the deployment of 1,000 police officers, pending the establishment of a new Haitian government.

Some Montreal Haitians want Canada to take a stronger leadership role in stabilizing Haiti. Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said Tuesday that the government supports the agreement reached in Jamaica, and the government had also pledged over $80 million towards a Haiti security mission.

It stopped short, however, of leading any multinational mission to the Caribbean country.


Posted March 14, 2024