Danse Petro: Sorrowful times

Two more journalists murdered in Laboule 12 a couple of days ago. After the threats made toward Zenith FM by the gang Mawozo, this wanton killing of two young men who were working for an online media outlet in Haiti, Amady Jhon Wesley and a colleague, is a result of the anarchy in the streets encouraged by the government. Quality of life is very bad presently in the country, but the population is kept from taking to the streets and demanding better living conditions because of fear and insecurity. The regime in charge of the government is continuing with the policy of allowing the gangs to control the slums and ghetto neighborhoods where the majority of the population lives, in order to stop people from mobilizing. And presently, the gangs are moving to areas where persons with money have built big comfortable homes, like Laboule and the Plaine du Cul de Sac.

A few months ago, a turf war started up in Laboule, in the hills above Petion-Ville, where many persons with high income and assets live, between two different gangs which originally operated downtown. According to reports from media outlets, the fight started because a landowner in the area with connections with a gang in Martissant brought some members up to intimidate small land owners in the area. Soon after shots were fired everyday, and a gang war was transplanted from the southern entrance of Port-au-Prince to Laboule. Law abiding residents in the area are living through a nightmare because of shots fired every night, and insecurity in the formerly peaceful neighborhood once it’s dark.

The start of the new year has brought more kidnappings, as persons have been snatched in Petion-Ville, often in broad daylight. The Haitian National Police, or PNH, looks like amateur spectators while insecurity ravages the capital and surrounding suburbs. Is the PNH that inefficient or is it part of the plan to stay in power by keeping the police on a short leash? Often, persons say the gangs have more firepower and that the police cannot match them. Curiously enough, back in the tumultuous days of Peyi Lok, when barricades were set up all over the country by a large amount of the population, the PNH had well armed special units, with .50 caliber machine guns on pickup trucks, along with M-60 machine guns. There were rumors of snipers from foreign countries shooting demonstrators near the palace. A few months ago, a group of police officers from the CIMO, a special unit trained to fight urban uprisings, became angry because one of the members of their unit was killed by the gang headed by BBQ, the G9 leader. They entered BBQ’s turf in Delmas 6 and destroyed his headquarters, while breaking into his house and damaging cars there. They met little resistance because Cherizier, aka BBQ, ran and hid in Lasalin. The police officers involved were ordered back and transferred far from Delmas. Around New Year’s Eve, BBQ returned to Delmas and started a fight in Bel Air that is still going on. Many homes in the area between Bel Air and Lower Delmas have been taken over by gang bangers, forcing the persons who lived there to run for their lives, abandoning homes and everything behind. No one knows how many were killed because it’s no man’s land.

The HNP has the firepower and the training to fight the gangs and probably eradicate most of them if ordered to do so. Between the SWAT and the other special unit, a task force can make life hard for gangs, which are mostly made up of untrained young men who cannot carry a strategic fight. There will be some collateral damage because gang bangers are part of the population, and they will hide behind women and children, but if the HNP has the support of the government it will prevail. The population needs to put pressure on the authorities to stop supporting this situation, and make the environment safe and peaceful. Elections cannot and must not take place until insecurity is curtailed, even though a bunch of greedy politicians, allied with gangs are calling for them.

Danse Petro: Well, year has to end

In Haiti 2021 is coming to an end, trying to land on a field full of obstacles. The year has been tumultuous, to say the least, with the social and economic situation going down month after month, and insecurity thriving. I don’t know about you, but having to stay in Port-au-Prince for long periods of time, I watched the city go from hellish to more hellish, all on a backdrop of garbage filled streets. Darkness and insecurity have turned the streets into a dangerous no-man land in many neighborhoods. After 10 PM, all traffic dies in the major streets, and persons barricade themselves inside their homes if they’re able to do it. In the distance, or sometimes too close for comfort, shots ring out for a short while, then the sound of a motorcycle riding fast.

All the while, the transition following the death of former de facto president Jovenel Moise in July remains the same old mess, while life is steadily getting worse for the average person living in Haiti. De facto Prime Minister Ariel Henry is also acting as president of the country, overstepping his job’s mandate, with the blessing of the Core Group of foreign ambassadors who have taken over running the country. Prime Minister Henry is gladly handling two budgets, presidency and prime ministry, keeping money flowing to friends and members of the clan, while following orders from the cabal. Make no mistake about it, the PM is not affiliated with any of the political parties, not even with the PHTK, even though he dutifully assigned all the important ministries to persons associated with the ruling party. Most of former de facto president Jovenel Moise’s people have been pushed out, even in the presidential palace. So, the Prime Minister is following a script drawn by those who are maintaining him in power.

The traditional political opposition has blown up into fragments, each group clinging to a respective accord, of which there are three, if not more, pitting them against each other. Militants who have been at the forefront of demonstrations during the fight against the regimes of Martelly and Moise are realizing that those politicians who spoke the loudest are now working with the system they claimed to fight against, getting per diem and getting jobs for the clan. Now the grass roots organization, along with militants who have always been the ones in the street are reorganizing themselves to mobilize the population, just today a demonstration is filling up the Delmas Highway. Led by former political prisoners like Babas and Kilik, the group is mobilized against the government and the way persons are suffering in the prisons. Those militants and others like them will need to come together and take up the leadership of the struggle because they cannot count on politicians who are ready to switch camp anytime they get a better offer.

In Gonaives, persons are against any ceremony to commemorate Haiti’s Independence on a backdrop of poverty, with piles of garbage everywhere, which have turned the public square where all celebrations take place into a pigsty. Persons there look at the town and feel shame at being made to live like this. The Prime Minister is supposed to put on his fake, illegal president’s suit to make the traditional speech from the Head of State, but militants in the capital of Artibonite may create problems for the officials, while some of the gangs active in the region may demand money to let the delegation pass through their territory. It is a real shame that the government ignores the people of Gonaives all year, with no social services available, only to come on January first to say something foolish, make vague promises, and leave before dark.

Well, this is how 2021 is coming to an end. We really need to #netwayeAyiti2024 / #cleanupHaiti2024.

Danse Petro: Publi bla bla bla

Nowadays in Haiti, what transpires in the public eye is more often than not a well rehearsed episode that leaves the reality hidden. Persons act in the shadows away from the public eye, their actions hidden, while the repercussions are felt by everyone. With the last hostages free from the kidnapping of the religious members of an international Christian group and their families, the Christian Aid Ministries, the whole affair seemed like a well rehearsed play. Early on during the saga, I talked about this. I pointed out that the gang Mawozo had more pressure on them because they had to provide decent food to those persons in captivity, some of them children and toddlers, provide them with clean drinking water and keep mosquitoes from devouring their tender white skins. To do this required spending money and providing accommodations very different from what usual victims of kidnappings get.

From all reports that victims of kidnappings provide, persons are usually packed in rooms, their hands tied more often than not, with little food and proper drinking water provided. Those persons live in fear all through the ordeal, and it usually leaves lasting emotional damages on them. It seems that the hostages from the Christian Aid Ministries had much better treatment, as they were fed well and enjoyed a comfortable stay in the wilderness. After being released, they are not in bad shape, in need of emotional counseling it would appear. Seems they were treated with consideration.

You have to wonder about this whole affair. Eventually it will be told in a movie from Hollywood. There is no better script for a feel good drama, where the ending is full of suspense. The whole thing is surreal in how it happened, and shows how the life of the ordinary citizen living in Haiti is so different from that of an expatriate who supposedly came to help, but lives in a bubble far from the reality of those persons he or she is helping. This saga is a perfect example of the difference in how expatriates are treated compared to Haitians. The only case that looked like this involved the wife of Dimitry Herard, the formerly head of the president’s security detail, now incarcerated in the National Penitentiary. She was kidnapped and released, after she admitted having a pleasant stay. She was even given some gifts from her captors who cried real tears when she was picked up from Village de Dieu in a car driven by her husband. As it is often said in Haiti, rich Blacks are white.

Another case, the recent article published in The NY Times about the famous list of persons involved in drug trafficking in Haiti that deceased de facto president Jovenel Moise kept, presents more questions. First, the information about Kiko St Remy and Evinx Daniel is old news, which had been reported before. The fact that Jovenel Moise associated with the two supposedly drug barons was known to Haitian authorities and the DEA a long time ago. As I said things happen in the shadows, away from the public eye, but those in the know are aware of what’s really going on. Second, the DEA and most persons in the know are aware of all the players in the trade. Jovenel did not need to keep a list since he was laundering money for the big dealers, according to the indictment by Haitian authorities before he became president. Third, if Jovenel had really started to turn on his former associates he would have talked about it in the media. He was not the kind to stay quiet about things that mattered. So, this whole things has much more hidden than revealed. The sources for the article know much more than they have revealed. The game goes on in the shadows, and the public gets to watch the play, according to the script.

In Haiti, the media knows a lot, but reports very little related to the illegal drug trade. Reporters know to keep their mouth shut, or face certain death when it comes to the drug trade. The NY Times article did not say anything that a seasoned reporter in Haiti did not know. The difference is that as a foreigner far from the action, NY Times reporter Abi-Habib is safe and can name persons without fear. The drug trade in Haiti does not need publicity because everything is hidden, although some persons know what’s going on. Five months after his death no one knows for sure who is responsible for the murder of de facto president Jovenel Moise.

Continue reading “Danse Petro: Publi bla bla bla”

Danse Petro: Martissant – the killing fields

As of this writing, the situation in the southern entrance of Port-au-Prince is catastrophic, and persons are being killed, while a gun battle rages between gangs who have been historical enemies for decades. The fight between Gran Ravin and Ti Bwa did not start last week when guns started blazing again. Persons living in those two neighborhoods have been fighting each other for a long time. But until recently those fights occurred in the hills, and did not paralyze the National Route # 2, as is the case today. Politicians from the PHTK decided to change the game, and provide those thugs with assault rifles and unlimited ammunition to take control of the marginalized slums where thousands are living in squalor. Now you have a bunch of well armed young thugs terrorizing the population in Martissant and Fontamara, which used to be peaceful neighborhoods before the neo macoutes from GNB decided to ruin the areas. Before those idiots decided to arm those gangs, on orders from their handlers who provided weapons, persons from Gran Ravin and Ti Bwa used to fight using stick, knives, machetes and handguns occasionally. They feared the police and did not hinder commerce and traveling.

In order to travel south to the five departments that make up the southern part of Haiti you cannot go through Martissant. Most recently a mini bus was shot up when the driver attempted to race through the killing field. The vehicle was shot up by bandits, and persons were killed inside, including a nurse. It is not even safe to stay at home because a young girl in Fontamara was killed on her front porch by a stray bullet, collateral damage in a futile war between young men who are being used by politicians and their handlers. This week, one of the gang leaders warned that persons should stay away from Martissant. In a radio broadcast, a reporter said that the national route was deserted, and even stray dogs knew to stay away. Commerce and travel are at a standstill, and five departments are suffering because of this situation.

While the south was effectively cut off from the capital, the Haitian National Police decided to move many units to provide security to the national route # 1 that leads to the north. No attempts were made by the police to provide help and respite to the people living in the southern entrance of Port-au-Prince, but rather than risk a fight the cops preferred to make a show of force in the northern highway, away from the fighting. In the greater Port-au-Prince area, many persons were taken by kidnappers, while living conditions are getting worse. The de facto government has announced that gasoline, kerosene and diesel fuel will rise in price in a few days. Will the population go along with this plan, which will cause a rise in all prices? Poverty is rising, and we have to wonder how long persons are going to stay apathetic and allow this government to starve them to death.

Persons need to come together and bring resistance to a planned genocide, coupled with the theft of our natural resources. The politicians who used to claim opposition to Martelly and Jovenel Moise are all looking to make money and sell their souls. Very few of them are still honestly trying to resist, while grass roots groups are fighting to stay away from death squads who operate freely in an increasingly lawless country where police and gangsters work hand in hand. There is only one path left before we loose everything.

Danse Petro: Kidnapping inc.

In Haiti, especially in the greater Port-au-Prince region, the amount of persons kidnapped is growing, and the fear it has brought is part of day to day life. Everyone is affected because even if you are not a direct victim, you live in fear of being taken every time you venture out of your home. What is worse is that it is only affecting working class people, from the school director, or the high paid cadre working for the state to a driver or a young women whose parents cannot even afford to buy food on a regular basis. School teachers and university professors have been victims recently. Very few of the super rich in Haiti have been taken, so this is a direct attack on the population, as those who control the economy are not affected.

It is definitely a problem that has political ramifications, not only in how it started, but how it is used to keep the population in fear. If the political angle associated with this evil, pernicious development is not taken care of soon, the bandits who are making easy money snatching people will become too strong to eradicate. So how did this begin and how did it grow into a national pandemic?

Everyday persons are taken, and a lot of money is taken in by the kidnappers, some of whom are working directly for politicians. Let’s not forget that two members of the Haitian Senate, one still in office, were directly associated with gangsters who are involved in kidnappings. Bandi Legal has become Bandi Kidnapper. One of those senator’s car was used by kidnappers, according to police reports, and the Senator himself was briefly detained and roughed up. Nowadays, it looks like the kidnappers have intelligence, and are setting up their targets with planning and information. The present Minister of the Interior and of Justice has been accused of orchestrating a kidnapping because he wanted to punish his wife’s lover. A sad story where a government official is under suspicion of a morally reprehensible and repugnant act, with no action taken. It seems as if the whole political class is either directly involved, making money constantly, indirectly associated, and still taking in some money, or fully aware of what’s going on, but too afraid to speak.

Just today a Judge and his son were kidnapped in Bon Repos, and demonstrators who are angry have set up barricades on the Route Nationale and are throwing bottles and rocks. The population has to take matters in their own hands to protect themselves and stop this problem. Very few politicians have been victimized by this evil phenomenon. This is something to think about. Yet, a few police officers have been snatched, so obviously the kidnappers are not afraid of the police, but they stay away from politicians, especially elected officials, or former members of parliament. These guys know each other. Even the few, minute amount of former members of parliament who are clean know exactly what is going on. As I said before, they all know each other, and are fully aware of what is going on, and who is behind it. Many of the gangs take orders directly from persons in political parties, especially PHTK and Bouclier. So they all work hand in hand.

Persons in Haiti and abroad need to begin looking for solutions to kidnappings because we are all affected. A lot of the money paid in ransom is coming from the diaspora where all relatives of kidnap victims, and their friends who live abroad chip in to raise the sums required. So persons in the diaspora, especially the U.S., need to start thinking about how to help those in Haiti begin to fight against kidnapping. In Haiti, we need to organize resistance to not only protect ourselves, but also to denounce and ostracize those who are associated with kidnappers. Citizens must come together and protect each other, perhaps each neighborhood needs to organize protection teams to keep an eye out at all times. Definitely we must start to denounce persons who are making money from this, and not just the bandits because they’re hired hands. We must stop associating with that kind in clubs and in restaurants, even if it means not having a social life because those people are the ones setting you up. And most importantly, we must replace a whole class of politicians who have outlived their usefulness. Of course, I’m not advocating mass murder, far from that, but we must replace all of that present horde of vote merchants who only think of how much and how soon. Journalists need to start investigating and reporting, despite their fear of the gangs. Stop showing off by talking on air to gang leaders. The press must spearhead the fight or people must stop listening or reading their work. Persons must stop listening to journalists who are there only to sell propaganda. Persons must start by coming together with trust and resolve to build something solid that will bring change.

#netwayeAyiti2024

#cleanupHaiti2024

#netwayeAyiti2024 #cleanupHaiti2024

In Arcahaie, in the Department of The West in Haiti, persons have taken it upon themselves to clean up their home and the whole town to properly celebrate the town’s patron feast. People have spontaneously decided not to wait for municipal authorities to do their job. In each block, persons have come together to eliminate the garbage that was defiling their community by putting hands together in a true cooperation by all. As a result, before the anniversary of the Battle of Vertieres, and to celebrate the annual feast, Arcahaie is looking clean and homely. We have to hope this will not be temporary, just to mark the celebration, and the population there will continue doing this everyday because garbage accumulates non stop. This spontaneous effort needs to be organized into an organization that will keep citizens involved in maintaining the same atmosphere with the same results. Citizens who are leaders in the community need to make this a lasting effort with regular disposal of garbage.

This is exactly what we need to do all over Haiti to prepare for 2024. Town by town, commune by commune, people need to come together and work to maintain cleanliness and care for the environment. On a day when we should celebrate one of the biggest military victory by persons of African descent, the country is filthy, save for a few places. Garbage is taking over all spaces where people congregate, especially near marketplaces right next to the food people are buying. It is shameful to see persons going about business next to piles of foul smelling trash, and it is unacceptable. Like they are doing today in Arcahaie, all around where Haitians live we need to come together to either clean or help the cleaning efforts. It needs to start at the local and at the neighborhood levels in bigger towns.

We must return to our roots, and lean on our identity to come together. The effort needs to come from within, with us realizing that togetherness will bring success. By cleaning the environment we begin to clean our mind, make us free of repugnant smells and unholy sights. From there we can begin to look for ways to better our country, but it must come from within, with mutual reflection . Each of us needs to think about whatever contribution we can make to start this process.

Danse Petro: Ominous Situation

Nowadays it looks like persons are hoarding for a time of tumult and major disorder in Haiti, especially in Port-au-Prince. Banks are experiencing a run on money deposited because most persons want to have their cash on hand, rather than leaving in the banks which may shut down soon if the situation worsens. By using draconian measures like limiting the amount of money you can withdraw, and cutting down on hours they provide service, the banks have been able to stay afloat, and keep some cash in their vaults.

Most banks mostly rely on savings accounts to exist, the more the better, which is why often lines are huge in the few branches in service, when persons want to perform a transaction. Today, there are huge crowds of people pushing and shoving in front of all banks in most towns in the country, especially in Port-au-Prince and its surrounding suburbs, Cap Haitien, Gonaives, and in Petion-Ville persons are near fighting because of the lines. Things are really bad because the hours of service are reduced, and if you’re in line outside, the doors will close with all persons being refused entry, and having to go home. As I said, persons are rushing to remove their money from the banks to have it on hand because they feel that times are going to get worse.

The gasoline shortage is still affecting most of the population badly despite a lot of empty talk from the de facto ineffective government in name only. With the Embassy of the United States and its counterpart the Embassy of Canada urging their respective citizens to leave Haiti as fast as they can, this seems like a warning before guns start imposing a war like environment, not that it’s not happening now in many areas of the country. Cite Soley has been a war zone for the past two years with a few breaks and short peace agreements between gangs fighting each other; it’s said that it is G9 against Gabriel. In Martissant, passage to the south is a murderous strangle hold on the population, with gangs either in collusion, or fighting each other, as it’s happening now with the renewed fighting between Gran Ravine and Ti Bwa. Many persons have been killed, while others have been kidnapped trying to get through Martissant to get home from downtown.

The hostage situation is still continuing

Sixteen U.S. citizens and a citizen of Canada, missionaries and their families are still being held captive for ransom by the Mawozo, a gang which operates in Croix des Bouquets and the area between Port-au-Prince and the border to the Dominican Republic. As I said in a previous post, there is a lot of unanswered questions about this kidnapping, with the U.S. government very passive so far. Is it time for an armed intervention to free the hostages? No one knows, but rumors of such action are running wild. In the meantime there is little word from the Mawozo leader Lanmo San Jou. No threats of harm to the hostages, and no bluster. Times are uncertain with a storm on the horizon. Stay tuned.

Danse Petro: Zero Government – Anarchy – gengengeng

As things stand now, the Republic of Haiti has no one in charge, or it seems that those in charge live in Washington, Paris, Ottawa and to a lesser extent in Santo Domingo. De facto Prime Minister Ariel Henry and his government are basically in charge of only the spaces occupied by they and their staff, and sometimes not even since they have to listen to orders from those concerned. As the never ending gasoline crisis is showing, this government is powerless, and shows it when its ministers make all kind of declarations to the population about gasoline, security and anything to do with their jobs when the reality in the street screams the contrary. Because of this lack of efforts and absence of basic results from key institutions ranging from the police, health care, and justice all the way to garbage removal, anarchy has become the rule. A worrisome example, when de facto Minister of the Interior, also minister of justice, also alleged master mind kidnapper, Quitel decided to show the population that the terminal in Varreux, where most of the gasoline available in the country is stocked, was accessible; he had to run away under a hail of high caliber bullets for daring to defy the gangs who controlled the area. The minister turned alleged kidnapper looked ridiculous wearing a combat helmet, running away with his tail between his legs, and the gangs flexed their muscles once more. Curiously enough, a few days later the U.S. Embassy sent a tanker to the same terminal to refill their on site gasoline reservoirs. As usual the tanker filled up and returned to the Embassy, while not a shot was fired to disturb the transaction. Some Haitian officials took advantage of that to get a full tank and fill some barrels.

There is more to the kidnapping saga involving missionaries from the United States and their family, along with a citizen of Canada than what is commonly perceived. First, by now pressure has shifted from the victims to the kidnappers. Let me explain. The gang called 400 Mawozo which has kidnapped the 17 foreigners has a big problem, none of the victims can die in captivity, while they must be fed and cared for during that time. For this to work, things had to have ended quickly, with the gang getting paid after negotiations, and the hostages home, or on their way to their respective families. But the situation has dragged along, and now Mawozo is under pressure to feed and care for hostages who cannot be treated like they treat Haitians because foreigners will get sick if not cared for. If anything bad happens to the hostages Mawozo knows they will pay for it dearly, and whoever implanted the idea in their heads, most likely the same persons who provide them with weapons and ammunition has told them to make sure nothing happens to the hostages. The U.S. does not seem to be in a rush to conclude the saga, either by direct military intervention, which would seem logical and relatively facile against untrained gang bangers, used to fighting untrained foes, or by a payoff through a third party. At first there were a lot of rumors about a payoff after reducing the demands significantly, and I even thought this would happen. But as time has dragged too many questions are left unanswered. No one seems to be worried about the fate of the hostages, and the Embassy has remained silent, or has said little, while usually it tends to speak volumes.

If any of the missionaries or their family is hurt, or dies while in the hands of Mawozo, retribution will be quick and painful. Threats of harm to them is met with laughter by those concerned because if you harm those in service of the Lord you will pay for it dearly. There is nowhere to hide, and retribution will be very painful for the Lord does not take kindly to persons hurting those who serve his interest. Mawozo needs to conclude this affair before it entraps them and spirals out of control. It’s costing the group money to care for their “guests”, while their own members are not eating steak and lobster everyday.

Second, for remember I did bring a first point, the Mawozo gang operates in the area between the capital Port-au-Prince and the border with the Dominican Republic. Is it possible that they get their guns and ammunition from sources in the Dominican Republic? Mawozo is not allied to the G9, so they don’t work with or for persons associated with the government like the groups federated with the blessings of the UN. Magalie Habitant and those concerned do not have a role or any sway over the group. So they must have other sponsors who provide them with ammunition, most likely from the other side of the border. For sure Dominicans do not need to go through Miami to give guns and ammo to Mawozo in Haiti, so the recent story on social media about the group receiving supplies from Miami sounds strange. This story is not over because there seems to be a rift developing between Washington and Santo Domingo.

Presently, the whole situation weakens the government of Ariel Henry, and it can be the trigger for a military intervention to take control of the country, like it was back in 2004. Many signs are pointing to that, as the Dominican Army has set up all along the border, but in the U.S. the political situation does not favor such an action. If a military intervention causes a lot of collateral casualties and damages to buildings and people’s homes, this could inflame the Haitian communities in Miami, New York and other cities, and cause the people to demonstrate and raise hell. Like the domino effect, this would cause African-Americans to also hit the pavement for the lack of economic opportunities and wholesale jailing of its youth. So President Joe Biden must tread lightly, and he cannot just take over Haiti’s government overtly, even though Ariel and his minions follow orders.

With no gas, no water, anarchy and the gang fight in Martissant between two powerful gangs, Haiti is slowly sinking into oblivion. There must be a reaction from Haitians in Haiti and abroad to begin to put a stop to a situation that is worsening everyday. For now, the population appears to accept every hardship with resignation and acceptance, but I will not bet against a sudden eruption that will come after some innocuous event becomes the trigger for a massive arising that will bring huge destruction. There is no leadership and most of the population has lost trust in most of the political operators, while many militants have been killed or silenced by the G9. So called revolutionary groups who are blocking people from mobilizing, and killing the people who use to lead them. Persons are not going to starve without a reaction soon. Stay tuned.

Danse Petro: Powderkeg

We seem to have arrived at a crossroad where the situation can evolve in many directions. First, I would like to apologize to you, faithful reader for not posting for over a month. I traveled to Haiti last September, and while there I could not post on my blog. Back then the country was already hell on earth, and I was under house arrest, as my friend the talented photographer Patrice Douge calls it. I was confined in my home because of the threat of being kidnapped. After three days without electricity, I spent my birthday in the dark, with only a battery powered radio for entertainment. As I laid in the dark on most night, the sound of gunfire and an occasional motorcycle were the only thing that interrupted the silence that felt like being in a tomb. Port-au-Prince was full of garbage and gasoline was selling at 500 courses a gallon then, nearly USD $ 5.

Presently, it is reported that a gallon of gas is sold for USD $ 20 to 25 dollars in gourdes, or 4000 to 4500 gourdes. This situation has effectively shut the whole country down because persons cannot even find the precious liquid, much less pay the outrageous price demanded on the informal market. All service stations are closed and you can only buy gas from sellers in the street. Hospitals are closing or reducing services offered since they need diesel fuel to power generators. Because of this traffic is nonexistent and the economy has ground to a halt. All schools, banks and businesses are closed because employees cannot and will not present themselves. Insecurity is raging, as the police itself cannot work properly because of the gas shortage, not that the PNH was that efficient anyway. While kidnapping is raging, the PNH has not dismantled a single gang and has mostly concentrated its effort on breaking up peaceful demonstrations asking for justice and security. A new chief has been selected to lead the force, but so far nothing has changed. People are dying because they are unable to receive medical care, stuck at home because of the crisis that is engulfing the country.

How did we get to this situation? This is what you call a good idea that went bad, or shall we say It was good for the persons who thought of it. Candidates hoping for upcoming elections need fresh money to steal victory from others in the races. Both Michel Martelly and Martine Moise have shown the willingness to run for president, and they fear each other in terms of who will get the nod from the international bosses. They both need a lot of money to pull off the presidential heist, so each is trying to build a war chest. It seemed like a good idea to create a gasoline shortage at the pumps a couple of months back to make some money on the street at double the price, or 500 gourdes a gallon. For awhile, this scheme allowed some persons to make some nice change, and the population was able to adapt to this quasi robbery. Gas was being sold predominantly on the street by minions working for a mafia like cartel, which controlled distribution. Candidates built a war chest and the only ones suffering were the population, except for those who make money easily and in large amounts.

Unfortunately, the gangs who control major parts of Haiti decided to get in on the action too by blocking all distribution of gasoline, stealing a few tankers full, and setting up their own distribution. The gangbangers have decided to raise the price considerably since they know the situation will not last, and also we’re not talking about persons savvy in business. So, they have raised the price sky high because they think persons will pay anything for the precious liquid, notwithstanding the law of diminishing returns. Because the price is too high the demand has disappeared, and persons prefer to fight and demonstrate, rather than pay anything, like the motorcycle drivers working as “taximoto” who are fighting against an unjust situation. They are blocking roads and creating havoc on the pavement all around Haiti, in major towns to force the government to act. In an upcoming post I will look at the political situation, which is as bad as the other sectors in the country.

This situation may lead to widespread looting and rioting because food is becoming scarce, while the cost of most items has risen sharply in markets all over. The transportation network is not working, so food cannot be transported to Port-au-Prince and other major towns. For now most people do not have money to buy, so in the marketplaces business is very slow, nonexistent in some places. Persons are only buying essentials, and even then in small amounts. Hunger is prevalent in poor neighborhoods and persons are not going to starve with no reactions. Upcoming days are going to be rough for persons in Haiti, especially with this hostage saga involving kidnapped Christian missionaries and their families. These victims may be the drop that tips the bucket because certain people are not to be victimized. A dark future is ahead, with no gas and no electricity.

Danse Petro: Political Shenanigans & Anarchy

After all, to have such a stash is the goal of the many political operatives occupying the field in Haiti. Most want the opportunity to have that much cash on hand, as it has looked like the deceased de facto former president Jovenel Moise had in his home. After getting the ultimatum from the U.S. State Department, politicians in Haiti are feverishly working on getting an “accord” or should we say a plan to share the spoils. In different hotels in Port-au-Prince, groups of politicians and militants met and sometimes fought to reach an agreement that will determine what transition Haiti will go through after the death of the sitting president. Of course, most of the deliberations had very little to do with helping the population, or looking for ways to solve problems affecting the country.

While the political situation in Haiti remains unchanged, and with prisons filled with political prisoners – former Depute Arnel Belizaire being the most famous one, held illegally for more than two years – persons in the so called civil society are calling for an agreement to have a transition with solutions brought up by Haitians. In the agreements that those persons are putting forward there is little if no mention of freeing the men and women packed in unsanitary and unhealthy conditions with no trial in sight. Most of them were arrested in roundups targeting opposition supporters and militants from grassroots groups. They are held in the penitentiary and in other prisons where prisoners are packed like sardines in unhealthy conditions. If you don’t have someone bringing you food you will starve in Haitian jails. There is very little water to drink, bathe and generally do your business, so the smell is horrible. I once went to the Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince while working as an interpreter back in 2004. Conditions there are much worse than back when I visited, but I was appalled at the way these prisoners were forced to live. It is a shame that we allow persons to be treated that way, while we worry about mundane matters more, stuck as we are on social platforms. Rather than involve themselves in politics, while claiming to be a civil society, most of these folks need to work on helping prisoners survive these inhuman conditions.

Supplies to help people affected by the earthquake

Supplies are being gathered, while fundraisers are being held to help persons still suffering from the earthquake of August 14 in the Southern departments. While some persons in Les Cayes and Jeremie have benefited from distributions of food, water and materials for temporary shelter, like tents and tarps, persons living in the communal sections and in small towns out of the way have received very little. Just like it happened in 2010, a plethora of foreigners working with non government organizations have disembarked in Jeremie, Les Cayes and in other places to reap the benefits from donations and grants. Of course reputed and long established NGOs like CARE, Food for the Poor and Medecin sans Frontiere have done commendable work, which has saved lives and allowed a great many to better support their plight. But many others have shown up to fill the void left by the government, which is unable to help its population. Rather than help, many government officials are demanding control over distributions in order to prepare their candidacy. These political operatives are stopping the help from reaching the population in need, warehousing supplies and preventing distribution of goods in order to look good. In places like Cavaillon, Camp Perrin, Duchity, Arnaud and many communal sections in out of the way places help has not arrived for those in need. Everyday we hear locally elected CASECs on the radio asking for help for people. In areas affected by the quake persons need lumber, tin sheets for roofing and tools to rebuild a durable shelter. They do not need crackers and spaghetti because those places can produce their own food.

ANARCHY

Persons living and traveling around the National Highway no. 1 near Cite Soley witnessed a day of fireworks, as bandits decided to fire their guns and block passage near and around Drouillard. After controlling the area all morning on Thursday, the bandits were engaged by some brave members of the Haitian National Police – the PNH – who exchanged shots with the the trouble makers until evening set in. It seemed there were no reported casualties on either side of the firefight, as bravery was tempered by the need to live another day. The population living around the area were the true victims because fear and a disruption of activities were the results of all that. All businesses in the area were closed and many were unable to earn a living.

Around Champs de Mars, militants fed up with the deteriorating political situation demanded the release of political prisoners, as they ransacked the office issuing electoral cards to people near the 2004 Tower. The card called Dermalog because of the contract with the foreign firm negotiated by Martine Moise, wife of the deceased president, is supposed to be available to enough citizens to hold valid elections. Delivery of the precious document has run into numerous snags, and many members of the population are unable to get it for various reasons, especially in communal sections and within the peasantry. So unless enough persons have the electoral card, the elections will not have credibility. According to various reports, a few million dollars were made by the persons who arranged the whole affair through overcharge and other corrupt practices. Use of the card during the election will not lead to a free and fair contest because there are reports of databases with numbers that will also vote massively for chosen candidates. By and large elections are not the solution to problems Haiti faces, persons need to concentrate on rebuilding trust in government and rebuilding the fabric of the country. All Haitians everywhere need to start thinking about ways to help a population that is young, and is facing dark and uncertain times.