As the sun slides behind the mountains, afternoon giving way to evening in the Valley of Artibonite, crickets chirp wildly and the mournful mew of a cow interrupts the quiet of the countryside. I sat on a small rock near the river taking in the smell of the mango trees lining the river banks, watching a small child fishing using a nylon string with a hook attached, pulling small fish from the river. He was either very lucky or particularly skillful as his basket was brimming with his catch. Dogs barked in the distance probably greeting a stranger with warning salvos, growling in between. Ah ! The joy of bucolic contemplation on a fair day. If not for the incongruous sound of guns fired nearby, probably some “soldier” testing his weapon while also intimidating those living nearby. Only in Haiti can beauty be downplayed by the ugliness of greed and political machinations.
As the country keeps sliding into the abyss, President Jovenel Moise refuses to hand over the smock and head toward safety away from Haiti where all sectors of society are demanding his removal from office. People are getting killed every day and hospitals cannot keep pace and provide treatment to the amount of people suffering from gunshot wounds. Last week the vehicle of an elected member of parliament was shot up and the passengers suffered gunshot wounds. This was after the car of another congress member was burned down and the passengers killed after an altercation with a crew manning a barricade which was blocking their path. In both instance the elected official was not present, but if elected officials are not safe from insecurity the average citizens are in dire straits. We remember the death of our friend Alain Douge last year, a stark reminder of not only the dangerous atmosphere but the inept responses from the police since Alain’s murderers are still running around, probably causing more sorrow. The situation has gotten so bad that the Embassy of the USA has issued serious restrictions on movement of their personnel in Port-au-Prince and around the country. Most people rush home after finishing whatever business led them to leave the relative safety of being home, although Alain was killed in his yard so…
In Haiti parliament cannot meet because the members in the minority have decided that they will not allow the majority which is blindly subservient to President Jovenel Moise to continue driving the country to shambles. In the senate the senators in the minority are preventing the ratification of the Prime Minister and his cabinet by preventing any meeting of the legislative chamber, while the lower chamber has decided that they must put the president in the boiling cauldron of impeachment and criminal accusations. So parliament has become dysfunctional and the Prime Minister is working illegally since he has exceeded the time limit for his temporary assignment and someone else must be chosen to satisfy the constitution. This past Saturday marked the one year anniversary of the first lock, the country demonstrations that rattled the presidency of Jovenel Moise and forced him to fire the then Prime Minister J. Lafontant. There was a funeral for the journalist Petion Rospide who was killed while covering disturbances in Portail Leogane at the southern entrance of the capital. He was shot by perpetrators unknown and his funeral became a march that was brutally stopped by the police using teargas and violence. The police cannot provide security and safety to the population but they are becoming experts at gassing the population and shooting at them with real and rubber bullets. It is easier to bully demonstrators than to really fight criminals who often shoot back. As a matter of facts police officers are being killed regularly by gangs who control large swaths of neighborhood. In Bassin Bleu this past weekend bandits entered a police station and murdered the inspector in charge. Many parts of the country are out of the control of the authorities. All of this while the president clings to power, ruling the palace and his house, everywhere else is left to the hazards of conjecture, and police officers are not exempt.
In the meantime the economic situation is deteriorating as businesses close their doors bankrupted by the conditions. The Core group of “friends of Haiti”, mainly the USA, Canada, France and the EU are all behind the president and they have asked for dialogue and negotiations between President Moise and the opposition. In sharp contrast in Venezuela the same group is calling for President Maduro to step down as they support a man Guaido who did not go through election but declared himself president in violation of all accepted procedures. The international community is demanding that Venezuela respect democracy while in Haiti they are demanding negotiations and a stop to the removal of Jovenel Moise who is universally decried in the country as he is facing serious accusations of criminal actions. In Venezuela they are demanding a change that a large majority does not want while in Haiti they want to stop the change that the whole population is demanding and are supporting an illegal wanna be dictator who is using extra judicial means to terrorize the population. The massacre of people in La Saline, Martissant, Carrefour Feuilles and near the palace has not phased our international friends who continue to demand that the opposition accept Jovenel staying in power. I guess since the international friends are the only ones who voted for Jovenel they must defend their ballot.
As fans were celebrating Haiti’s victory over Canada in the 1/4 final game they chanted “Viv Nazon Aba Jovenel” and the president could not even enjoy the team’s victory without hearing calls for his ouster. It was surreal to hear the crowd celebrating the victory, while not forgetting to lambast the president. It is time for him to come to grips with the situation and run for the hills with his wife before it is too late.