Danse Petro : Action not Words

With kidnapping becoming one of the most lucrative business in Haiti, if not the most, the Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe has decided to come out and thump his chest, while declaring war on the gangs. Never mind the fact that the presidency and many elected officials are arming the various organized groups of gangsters, Jouthe is once again blustering and blabbering about waging war on the gangs. Maybe we should call him all talk no action Jouthe because the nights still belong to bandits, and kidnapping is on the rise. People don’t even bother contacting the police when one of their relatives is taken; they just pay the ransom and hope for the best. Many times the kidnappers look like police officers, and drive vehicles with official or state tags and police markings, so people are wary of contacting police. Also, the kidnappers usually tell family of victims not to call the police, and they seem to be informed about such calls often. Criminals control large parts of the country, providing a safe place for kidnappers, assassins and all kinds of bandits to carry out their business. The Haitian National Police – PNH – is poorly equipped and not even as well armed as some of the gangs. More over, with low pay, little benefits and no coverage for the family if they get killed, police officers have low morale and little incentive to fight the gangs.

In search of relief from this savage insecurity people have taken to the streets to demonstrate their anger and demand action from the authorities. It sounds as if the song remains the same because people have been demanding justice for so many people killed the past ten years, especially the past four years under President Jovenel Moise. Monferrier Dorval, the fame attorney killed near the president’s home is one among the many, and it seems those who had vowed to demand justice for him have cooled off, more talk with no action; the President’s wife has had her name associated with his death. Gana, the militant from Cite Soley, killed in Freres in Petion-Ville was another victim, along with Gregory Saint Hilaire, the student and militant killed by a member of the President’s security detail, all killed by those supporting President Moise. How long will people keep demanding the same thing? In some of the provincial towns people have been demonstrating violently against the kidnappers, in Jeremie for example the population is marching in the street almost every day it would seem to demand action from the PNH.

Recently, the police made a foray into an area controlled by one of the gangs in the area of Martissant. All day on internet tv people could be seen running away from the area, as heavy caliber gun fire could be heard in the distance. But at the end of the day the area remained controlled by armed civilians, dressed in rags and wearing sandals, while armed with new, heavy caliber weapons worth a thousand dollars or more. Young pawns used in a deadly game of political chicanery and murderous oppression. There was no report given by the police on the operation, as is usually the case when they accomplish little. Also, the PNH announced the arrest of two members of a gang called Mawozo 400, which operates between the capital and the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. That is a small victory, but with the rise in criminality it is way too little. The PNH has been used to break demonstrations and suppress the just demands of the population so much that it has lost the trust of most people. More over, too many police officers have delved in corruption, while many have worked with gangs and drug dealers.

The political opposition to President Jovenel Moise and the PHTK have also been doing a lot of talk with little action, as the leaders rarely join the militants who demonstrate in the street. During large demonstrations on days with special significance some leaders will join the population for a short period of time, but most of the times the militants are on their own, fighting the police who fire tear gas, rubber bullets and sometimes live rounds. Maybe the opposition is gathering strength for the fight that will happen in February of next year, barely two months away when the mandate of President Moise is due. The President has so far indicated that his mandate ends in 2022, setting up this fight in February between him and most of the population. So is it going to be more talk and no action next year, or is there going to be a change in Haiti? Jovenel will have to kill, maim and arrest thousands of people if the opposition and the militants follow their talk with action when the president tries to illegally extend his mandate. So, it appears the stage is set for a huge battle between the gang supported forces of dictatorship on one side and the freedom seeking population on the other side. February 7, 2021 is the day when all talk will come to rest and action will take place. Until then, stay tuned because Deye Mon is going to look at the forces at work and keep bringing you an analysis.

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