Well, we have returned full cycle. With the country slowly sliding into disarray on many fronts President Jovenel Moise has called for the General Estates in Haiti. Not a full political Estates rumble with all the implications, but a tame version that will work in sectors with different “tables” led by “discussion” leaders. A watered down version of what had been the dream of the late Senator Turneb Delpe who championed a real sit down between the various political factions in the country to come up with a plan that would use all the positive contributions from all to build a new vibrant society.
Education is in disarray with teachers on strike and students from public schools in the streets demanding classes. Many teachers have not been paid in the public sector while those in the private sector have to do with salaries far below what they need to live decently. The Ministry is embroiled in a vast scandals involving fake checks for non-existent schools and teacher with fake end of classical studies diplomas. Many teachers in the provinces have not been nominated, thus working without pay. They survive day-to-day by borrowing and living in substandard conditions. No wonder they refuse to work until they are nominated and paid accordingly. The Ministry of Education does not have enough money to pay them even though money is still being collected in the name of education from long distance calls and money transfers. A sizable amount of money is still being collected while there is no law and no system established to account for these funds. The funds are placed in an “Fund for Education” that is non-existent administratively which is very conveneient for usage, while in the meantime there is no money to buy chalk or pay teachers.
The heath sector is in such bad shape that a senator had to be evacuated from the parliament to an airplane used as an ambulance; direction Miami, Florida USA, to receive proper care at Jackson Hospital. It only cost nineteen thousand dollars for the airplane, a paltry sum when we consider that senators in Haiti have unique opportunities to enrich themselves by voting wisely and abstaining from either voting or participating in seances. If you are ill in Haiti you need to travel because both the public and the private health sectors are in bad shape with poor equipment and service that fails to meet basic standards. Almost all the hospitals are akin to hotels where you must bring everything from the medication to the dressing and tape. The General Hospital is still not completed since reconstruction started after the earthquake of 2010. With a small contribution from The Petro Caribe fund Port-au-Prince could have had two more hospitals completed along with the General Hospitals. And of course two or three more large well equipped heath centers in the provinces was within the budget had the money been used rather than been abused.
You have to wonder if there is a Justice System in the country. Major criminals walk around freely while innocent poor folks languish in jail without a trial. Some people spend up to five years in the penitentiary before being tried and freed for violations that would get them a six month suspended sentence at best. Some are innocent and wind up in jail because of a petty dispute involving people connected to police or judges. The prisons all over the country are overcrowded, unhealthy and many prisoners become seriously ill and die for no reasons at all, victims of a system that favors the rich and corrupted over the hard-working stiffs who labor and keep the economy going. As for civil courts people are losing their land or they buy property and find out the money is lost and the property belongs to another party. The justice system has never been so decried and peole believe that justice goes to the highest bidder. The few hours that judges deign to show up work are used to make as much as possible. Cases are decided in corridors with envelopes changing hands at every turn. With all these problems, the President wants General Estates for each sector to bring changes to the country.
In 1789 General Estates in France brought about the French Revolution which featured the beheading of the King and Queen along with Robespierre and the terror. The guillotine was used daily and watching the condemned get their heads chopped off became a favorite pastime of the Paris masses eager to see blood flow like in the days of the Roman circus. We hope these General Estates will not have similar paths and blood-letting explosions like the storming of the Bastille, but the Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince may become a symbol of people fed up with poor justice and unjust punishments. With all these problems affecting the country Jovenel Moise is hoping to distract everyone from the failing leadership and Danse Petro. But people from different walks of life are entering the clamor for restitution of these three billion dollars stolen from the country the past seven or eight years. For the Caribbean financial system this is a big sum, a large amount that had to transit somewhere, unless it is still hidden in the country. Such a large amount of money had to benefit from accomplices high up in the banking system to clean the money and allow it to be used legally. Martelly claimed to have borrowed six million dollars to build his palace by the sea near St Marc from Unibank in Haiti, but if that had been the case investors and share holders from that bank would have crucified whoever approved such a loan. Very unlikely. But some bank had to be involved if only to be used as a financial conduit for payments and purchases during construction. To get millions out of the country to buy houses and luxury items in the USA or in Europe required transfer of funds and financial instruments from the banking system. Almost all the funds had to transit either through the BNC or the BRH, both banks belonging to the Haitian State before being either transferred abroad or changed into financial instruments easily used. You cannot carry thousands of dollars in suitcases anymore, much less millions, so it stands to reason that most of the money stolen from the Petro Caribe fund had to have been laundered, and probably a sizable amount is still waiting to be cleaned up for rapid consumption. We can safely say that the perpetrators of the greatest embezzlement in Haitian history have a lot of accomplices while paying off new ones at every turn. The former Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe has been called in to answer questions in an inquiry related to the theft of government funds, but his visit was postponed. The noose is tightening but it is still too loose.
Jason Joel Desrouleaux and Naomi Osaka are the bright lights that shine in our stratosphere while providing us with a breath of optimism in these days of plight and plunder. Jason was born in the USA of Haitian parents and he has brought the Haitian flag on the world stage once gain as his song Colors has been selected as the FIFA World Cup anthem. This song has been playing and will be played all over the world during the World Cup finals in Russia. Once again even though we have failed to qualify for the tournament, we will be there in music and our flag will shine.
Naomi Osaks is a Haitin-Japanese whose father is Haitian, She was born in Osaka, Japan, but she proudly assumes her Haitian heritage. She won the 2018 Indian Wells Masters Tennis Tournament, a major achievement which has catapulted her to number 22 in the Women Tennis Association world rankings. She followed this up by beating her idol Serena Williams in Miami before succumbing in the second round. Both of these young stars have brought some solace and happiness at a time when our pride is taking a beating in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere. We are hoping both of these young agults of Haitian descent will continue to shine and represent the best of what we can offer. They have both brought a wave of optimism at a time when we are feeling despondent while watching the social fabric of the country sinks in a sea of corruption, thievery and drug dealing, conniving politicians who are trying to protect the thiefs who pilfered our money.