Recent Feature Articles

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, May 16, 2018

May 18, 2018 will mark the 215th  anniversary of the creation of the blue-and-red Haitian flag, a day when Haitians worldwide display their national pride.

But this year, there is not much to be proud about because the Haitian government is neglecting the nation’s educational system resulting in over 100,000 young people fleeing to South American nationsparticularly Chile, over the last year.

That was message in a May 14th  statement of the Engaged University Youth of Haiti (COJEUEH) as it launched a week of demonstrations leading up to May 18.

“When we consider the meager money in the university budget, we see that higher education is not a priority of this State, which rather maintains the status quo so that college kids have to pack their bags and flee overseas,” the COJEUEH wrote.

When the university students held their first protest in front of the Prime Minister’s office on May 11, Haitian police pointed guns at them. In student demonstrations, civilians wearing T-shirts of the ruling Haitian Bald Headed Party (PHTK) carrying submachine guns have also threatened them.

Undeterred, on May 15, the COJEUEH held a picket-line in front of the Court of Accounts to demand that the judges there investigate and explain what happened to the millions of dollars embezzled from state coffers filled with revenues from a tax on phone calls and money transfers, donations to the international earthquake relief authority (CIRH), and the PetroCaribe fund, which has money from 40% of the nation’s fuel sales.

The students plan demonstrations each day for the rest of the week “in front of other…

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, May 2, 2018

Workers again took to Haiti’s streets this May 1st International Workers Day to demand a three-fold increase in the official minimum wage from 350 gourdes (US$5.38) to 1000 gourdes (US$15.36) per day. The Confederation of Haitian Workers (CTH), the National Central of Haitian Workers (CNOHA), and other unions led the protests through the central Champ de Mars. (In the U.S., unions have mounted a similar national campaign to win a $15 per hour minimum wage.)

On the “National Holiday of Agriculture and Work” (as May 1st is called in Haiti), President Jovenel Moïse’s government is allowing “rats to eat the little rice remaining to peasants in the Artibonite [Valley], while the ‘Caravan against Change’ [wordplay on Jovenel’s ‘Caravan for Change’] allows the Artibonite river’s water to run to the sea while seeded land is not irrigated and crops don’t grow, and while the Caravan wastes more than three billion [gourdes]” in pointless, corruption-ridden rallies, wrote the popular organization Tèt Kole Ti Peyizan Ayisyen (Heads Together of Small Haitian Peasants) in a May 1 declaration. “Workers get no salary or a pathetic salary while the government takes 400 million gourdes [US$6.15 million] from ONA [the National Office of Old Age Insurance, Haiti’s Social Security] to buy tractors for members of the PHTK [Moïse’s Haitian Bald Headed Party], money that is supposedly for the workers.”

Haiti’s worsening economic situation has forced over 145,000 young people to fly to Chile in search of work over the past 15 months that Moïse has held power.

Amidst widespread frustration over economic stagnation and government corruption, a deadly…

By Amanda Coletta, CTV News, April 16, 2018

The UN refugee agency’s representative in Canada, Jean-Nicolas Beuze, said Monday he wants to dispel the "myths" about the record number of asylum seekers that entered Canada from the U.S. in 2017, as fears abound that Canada’s immigration system is stretched to a breaking point.

Beuze said the goal of his press conference on Parliament Hill was “to dispel some fears within the population that those people who are arriving in large numbers in Canada pose any threat to the security of Canadians or are people who are not entitled—for whatever reason—to the protection of Canadian authorities.”

Asylum claims surged to 50,000 in Canada in 2017—more than double from the year prior and the highest number of claims in more than two decades—according to data from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Jean-Nicolas Beuze held a press conference to discuss the influx of asylum seekers crossing the Canada-U.S. border.

Beuze said that most of those seeking asylum in Canada in 2017 did so at regular points of entry, like an airport, seaport or land border. Roughly 20,000 crossed into Canada irregularly, he added, with the majority of irregular arrivals taking place in Quebec.

He also challenged the idea that the withdrawal of temporary protected status for various immigrant groups in the U.S., coupled with anti-migrant rhetoric coming from the White House, was responsible for the surge in asylum claimants.

A large number of the people coming into Canada are simply passing through the U.S. on the way to their final destination in Canada, Beuze said.

Many Haitians, who made up a large number of those crossing the U.S.- Canada border, were “going through the United States, spending only a few days, coming directly from Haiti or coming from other places…

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, April 10, 2018

Growing international tensions between the United States, on one hand, and Russia and China, on the other, spilled into the hushed, carpeted inner sanctum of the United Nations Security Council on Tue., Apr. 10 when the 15-member body voted on whether to renew the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH).

MINUJUSTH, whose mandate was due to expire on Apr.15, was renewed for another year, supposedly for the last time. But for the first time in 19 votes over the past 14 years that UN military and police forces have been deployed in Haiti, the vote was not a unanimous “yes.”

This year, China and Russia abstained. If either one of them had voted “no,” it would have been a veto of Security Council Resolution 2410 since both are permanent Security Council members. Only three other nations – the U.S., England, and France – hold permanent member status and veto power.

Meanwhile, Haiti’s Ambassador to the UN, Denis Régis, complained that “my delegation deplores the fact that the remarks delivered through members states of the [Security] Council have not been taken into account.” President Jovenel Moïse’s government wanted the MINUJUSTH mission to be classified as a mere “technical assistance mission.” In reality, MINUJUSTH’s 1,193 police officers deployed in all of Haiti’s 10 departments are an armed occupation force deployed under the UN Charter’s Chapter 7, to “preserve international peace and security.” In other words, the UN Security Council still runs the show in Haiti.

Security Council Resolution 2350 of Apr. 13, 2017 says that “MINUJUSTH shall be mandated to assist the Government of Haiti to strengthen rule of law institutions in Haiti; further…

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, April 10, 2018

Disagreement in the international community over whether Haiti remains a threat to the region’s peace and security overshadowed the decision Tuesday by the U.N. Security Council to extend its support mission in the Caribbean nation for another year.

Both Russia and China abstained during the vote to continue the U.N. Mission for Justice and Support in Haiti — known by the acronym MINUJUSTH — for another year when its mandate expires on Sunday. The resolution also calls for the gradual reduction of U.N. police presence, based on Haiti’s security situation, beginning in October.

But the United States’ insistence on widening the scope under which UN forces can be deployed to Haiti beyond the mission’s security operations to restore peace under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter divided council members.

Russia questioned why the designation is needed as part of a resolution that is supposed to be aimed at assisting the Haitian government with professionalizing its national police, monitoring human rights and strengthening its justice system.

Bolivia, though it supported the resolution, accused the U.S. of “not taking into account the opinions of other members of the Security Council and much less the opinions of the host country.”

“During the Security Council’s mission to Haiti last year, both the president of Haiti, members of the Haitian parliament, various representatives of civil society expressly asked that the mandate come under Chapter 6 of the United Nations charter,” said Sacha Sergio Llorentty Soliz, Bolivia's permanent representative to the U.N., who led the visit.

Chapter 6 sets out the ways to resolve conflicts through peaceful means…

By Ellie Happel, New York Times (OP-ED), March 29, 2018

After the 2010 earthquake killed more than 200,000 people and displaced more than a million, the government of Haiti identified mining for gold and other metals as necessary to strengthen the economy.

To that end, the government and the World Bank worked to revise the country’s mining law to attract foreign investment. Their draft law, which was presented to Parliament last July and is awaiting consideration, did not include input from Haitian environmental and human rights organizations.

The lack of transparency surrounding the proposed new mining law raises significant concerns about whose interests would be represented under the revamped legal framework. Canadian and American companies have already been granted permits to explore for gold, copper and other metals in the northern hills of Haiti. Although the full extent of Haiti’s mineral resources is unknown, some estimate that there is $20 billion worth of precious metals in the soil. If passed, the law would pave the way for the country’s first commercial metal mine.

The experiences of poor but resource-rich countries around the world provide a stark reminder that translating natural resources into public wealth is a very risky business — one that often fails. Even in developed countries, industrial-scale mining has contaminated water, increased security threats, forced thousands of people from their homes, and …

By Reporters Without Borders, March 23, 2018

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges the Haitian authorities to keep investigating the disappearance of Vladjimir Legagneur, a freelance photo-journalist who went missing in one of the most dangerous areas of the capital, Port-au-Prince, on 14 March.

According to Vladjimir Legagneur’s wife, the 30-year-old reporter disappeared after going to do a report on living conditions in Grand-Ravine, an extremely poor neighbourhood in the southern district of Martissant that has seen violent clashes between rival gangs in recent years.

A freelancer for the past year, Legagneur used to work for the newspaper Le Matin, the online news agency Loop Haïti and other media outlets. As well as news stories, he covers social issues and works for NGOs.

We urge the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the photo-journalist Vladjimir Legagneur’s disappearance,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America bureau. “It is extremely worrying that the police have found no trace of him in the ten days since he went missing.

Legagneur left his home at 9 a.m. on 14 March and never returned. His wife reported his disappearance two days later to the Judicial Police Central Directorate (DCPJ), which says it has opened an investigation. His wife went back to the DCPJ yesterday but the police had nothing to tell to her.

Haiti is ranked 53rd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

 

Posted March 27, 2018

By Jake Johnston, Centre for Economic & Policy Research (CEPR), March 16, 2018

On March 13, President Jovenel Moise appointed six individuals to the high command of the recently reinstated Haitian armed forces (FAdH). All of the appointees, now in their sixties, were majors or colonels in the former FAdH, disbanded in 1995 after a long history of involvement in coups, violent repression, and drug trafficking. At least three of the officers appear to have held senior positions within the early-‘90s military coup regime. One of them is a convicted intellectual author of a civilian massacre, and another was a member of a committee that sought to cover it up.

The makeup of the new leadership has raised concerns among human rights organizations over the trajectory of the new force and its commitment to the rule of law.

“The appointment confirms once again that the Haitian Armed Forces, remobilized by the [ruling Tét Kale party] is a militia whose hidden mission is to have the Haitian people relive the darkest hours of bloodthirsty Duvalierism,” wrote the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in a press release, referencing the illegal arrests, forced disappearances, assassinations, and other abuses that characterized the Duvalier dictatorship.

Haitian Defense Minister Herve Denis …

By Jake Johnston, Center for Economic & Policy Research (CEPR), March 7, 2018

When Donald Trump allegedly referred to Haiti as a “shithole” country earlier this year, the US Ambassador was called in to explain the comments, but the Haitian government stopped short of any type of retaliation. But since last week, the government has been up in arms after a UN mission with a mandate to support the Haitian justice system went so far as to welcome a judicial inquiry into corruption allegations. The government has recalled its ambassador to the UN in response.

The Background

In November, a Senate commission released a 650-page report on Petrocaribe-related corruption. The report implicated top officials from previous administrations in inflating government contracts, funneling money to ghost companies, no-bid contracts for projects that were never finished, and a host of other financial crimes. Even current president Jovenel Moïse was named, allegedly overbilling the government on a $100,000 contract to install solar lamps back in 2013 when he was a relatively unknown businessman.

Moïse has rejected the allegations as politically motivated, as have others implicated. And rather than follow up on their colleague’s report, the Senate has worked to bury it.

On February 8, four civil society organizations released a statement condemning the efforts to obstruct further investigation into the allegations contained in the Petrocaribe dossier. The organizations noted that the Senate had blocked…

By Wyatt Massey, Haiti Liberté, March 7, 2018

Under the corrupt and reactionary Jovenel Moïse regime, it is almost certain that the “new” Haitian Army, resurrected last year, will eventually resemble and act like the repressive “old” one disbanded in 1995. Although this article approaches the Army’s restoration with some naivete, it nonetheless presents a useful synopsis of the positions and issues involved - HL

 

After 22 years of a forced disarmament, the Haitian army is back. President Jovenel Moïse reinstated the national military in November 2017 despite a barrage of objections to the decision.

The recent history of the Haitian military is fraught with examples of corruption and oppression, which led to its disbanding in 1995. But supporters say the new force has the potential to create jobs and strengthen Haiti’s international standing. Whatever direction the revived military takes will affect the lives of millions of Haitians.

The new unit is comprised of around 500 soldiers, whose mission is centered on civil works. It is expected to eventually expand to 5,000 troops. That force will be focused on national defense. Mr. Moïse…