Danse Petro – Gangs and Territories

As I realized hibernating in this cave near Port-au-Prince did not fulfill my quest for wisdom and spiritual enlightenment a gaggle of school children approached me, wondering about my whereabouts the past weeks.

“Behold, wise man, thou has left us thirsty for knowledge in these dire times”, they shouted in unison.

“Why aren’t you in school seeking the fruits of education ?”, I pressed on the group.

“Hah, don’t you know in Haiti classes are void of teachers as they seek decent pay and adequate classrooms?”

“But with all that money piling up from the dollars collected from money transfers we should have funds to build schools and pay teachers.”

They laughed and pitied my ignorance. “That money is for Jovenel Moise to spend, just like it was Martelly’s before”, they informed me laughing, as they ran away singing about the concrete jungle they live in.

As Haiti is surely descending into the pits of hell, gangs are taking over huge parts of the country. As reported on Radio Caraibes a gang leader called Arnel has taken over the Department of Artibonite after successfully routing police units from the HNP sent to collar him. Now he is holding the whole Department hostage demanding thousands of U.S. dollars to allow official agencies and NGOs to continue their work. In Martissant the gateway to the south when leaving Port-au-Prince, gangs from Gran Ravin come down regularly to seize trucks bearing merchandise and ransom those in their path.

All of these events seem to leave the president, Jovenel Moise, unperturbed as he travels around while selecting a new Prime Minister who was already holding the job in an interim role. He acts as if everything is rosy, while the country had been struggling through a shortage of gasoline the past two weeks. You could only buy gasoline from street hustlers then at triple the price near regular gas stations. Where do these guys get their gasoline? No one knows or maybe we do but will not say. Business owners are at wits end trying to stay in business while dealing with this situation.

In Jacmel, business owners cannot buy and transport supplies because they are afraid their trucks will be hijacked by gangs in Martissant. There is a police station nearby, but police officers are outmanned and outgunned. Lately it seems the police only have success when they disperse demonstrations using tear gas and rubber bullets, although demonstrators are saying live rounds are used to shoot to kill. Michael Gedeon, the Chief of Police, has denied this and we can I only hope he speaks the truth. In the meantime gangs are taking over with the blessings of politicians using them for nefarious purposes. Many of these gangs are funded and given automatic caliber weapons and ammunition by elected politicians to suppress the Petro Caribe investigation. We have to wonder about this and ask Why ?

Life is becoming increasingly difficult for ordinary hard working folks who only ask for peace and the opportunity to feed their family and send their children to school. If Haiti was Venezuela the international community would help, but we are a “free” country with “honest” elected officials so Trump, Macron and our so called friends continue to support President Moise in his quest for dictatorship and millions from the washing machine.

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