Haiti Relief & Reconstruction Watch

Haiti Relief & Reconstruction Watch

Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch is a blog that tracks multinational aid efforts in Haiti with an eye towards ensuring they are oriented towards the needs of the Haitian people, and that aid is not used to undermine Haitians' right to self-determination.

Six weeks after Haiti’s de facto government requested a foreign military intervention amid unprecedented levels of insecurity and the United States began work on a UN Security Council resolution authorizing a “rapid action force,” regional leaders are speaking out in opposition to the plan. Over the past few weeks, multiple countries, including Canada, which the […]
Six weeks after Haiti’s de facto government requested a foreign military intervention amid unprecedented levels of insecurity and the United States began work on a UN Security Council resolution authorizing a “rapid action force,” regional leaders are speaking out in opposition to the plan. Over the past few weeks, multiple countries, including Canada, which the […]
Today, more than 90 organizations sent a letter to US President Joe Biden expressing “profound concern about the proposed deployment of military force to Haiti.” The signers include faith-based, human rights, diaspora, and other civil society organizations with long-standing ties to Haiti. Prominent members of the peacebuilding community, including Win Without War and the Friends […]
Today, more than 90 organizations sent a letter to US President Joe Biden expressing “profound concern about the proposed deployment of military force to Haiti.” The signers include faith-based, human rights, diaspora, and other civil society organizations with long-standing ties to Haiti. Prominent members of the peacebuilding community, including Win Without War and the Friends […]
The specifics of the latest foreign military intervention in Haiti remain to be seen, but even putting it on the table appears to be serving the interests of those seeking to prop up an inherently unsustainable status quo.
The specifics of the latest foreign military intervention in Haiti remain to be seen, but even putting it on the table appears to be serving the interests of those seeking to prop up an inherently unsustainable status quo.

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En español

The United States is hosting the Summit of the Americas next month in Los Angeles. The gathering of heads of state has occurred roughly every three years since its first meeting, the last to be held in the US, in 1994. Much of the focus this time has been on who won’t be there. US officials have stated they do not intend to invite the leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua, or Venezuela. But there has been less attention to who will be attending — namely, the de facto leader of Haiti, a country that has been without a head of state since President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination last July.

The decision to invite Dr. Ariel Henry, Haiti’s acting prime minister, reveals the hypocrisy at the core of US foreign policy in the region, and, on the other hand, Latin American and Caribbean governments’ massive blind spot for the deteriorating situation in Haiti, a situation in which the US and the entire region are complicit.

“I think the president has been very clear about the presence of countries that by their actions do not respect democracy — they will not receive invitations,” the State Department’s top official for the Western Hemisphere said last month. The decision to invite Henry undercuts this message and makes clear that the exclusions are not about the defense of human rights or democracy. They are about hegemony.

The last elections in Haiti occurred in 2016; less than 20 percent of registered voters participated, or were allowed to. Moïse won the presidency with the votes of only about 5 percent of the population. For comparison’s sake, those figures for both Ortega and Maduro are greater than 20 percent. If your response is that you don’t trust those numbers, or have concerns about the conditions in which those elections took place, well, you are simply admitting that you haven’t been paying attention to Haiti.

In 2020, the terms of almost all of parliament and every single local official expired, leaving Moïse to rule by decree. At the time, the secretary general of the OAS, Luis Almagro, traveled to Haiti and appeared alongside President Moïse, making clear that for the OAS this was no problem. Then last summer, Moïse — who many legal scholars argued had overstayed his mandate, but who nevertheless had the backing of the US and OASwas assassinated. Today, the only elected officials in the entire country still in office are 10 senators, and together they do not even have a quorum to legislate.

But the collapse of Haiti’s democracy did not occur in a vacuum, and it’s not just US and OAS leadership with blood on their hands. In 2004, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was overthrown in a US-backed coup d’etat. Almost no government in the hemisphere denounced it. On the ground in Haiti, US troops were quickly replaced by a United Nations “peacekeeping” mission, MINUSTAH, to help consolidate the president’s ouster.

American diplomats described the mission as “an indispensable tool” in carrying out US policy, but, just as importantly, noted that without such a mission the US would “be getting far less help from our hemispheric … partners in managing Haiti.” Latin American countries were placed in the lead; Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, El Salvador, and Guatemala all contributed troops, while Brazil’s military was in charge of the mission.

This foreign intervention only accelerated following the devastating 2010 earthquake, when billions in foreign aid were used as leverage for political control. Later that year, amid a fatally flawed electoral process with more than a million still displaced, the OAS was asked to review the results. Without a full recount or any statistical analysis, the OAS recommended changing the election results. The US and other donors threatened to withhold critical financial assistance unless the government acquiesced, and a Trumpian right-wing musician, Michel Martelly, was ushered into the presidency. Once again, this blatant violation of Haiti’s sovereignty transpired without pushback from the region.

All of this brings us to the political rise of Ariel Henry. At Martelly’s urging, Henry was appointed by presidential decree just days before the assassination, but had yet to take office. Instead, power initially remained in the hands of the prime minister at the time, Claude Joseph. But, about a week later, the “Core Group,” a de facto fourth branch of government that formed after the 2004 coup, composed entirely of foreign diplomats, swung their support to Henry. Within days, he became prime minister. It was not democracy that led to Henry assuming power, but the deleterious intervention of foreign powers.

Those same actors continue to prop up Henry’s feeble government, despite the prime minister’s links to Moïse’s assassination. One of the principal suspects is a long-time confidante of Henry, and phone records show the two spoke more than a dozen times in the lead-up to the assassination, and then again at 4 a.m., just hours after the brutal crime. Henry, however, has refused to answer questions about what he knew, and when. Instead, he fired the prosecutor who called him to testify, and has undermined the judges assigned to the case — the fourth judge was just removed from the case after denouncing the government for failing to provide him with protection and for “delivering” him and his family to “the assassins.”

After more than nine months in office, Henry has been unable to cobble together a coalition capable of leading the country and moving forward with new elections. He has refused to give up power, or to negotiate with political opponents, including the historic coalition of civil society organizations that have come together around a common agenda to move the country back toward sovereign democracy. In the meantime, groups of armed civilians, often backed by corrupt police and government officials, have led a campaign of terror across Port-au-Prince, displacing thousands and killing dozens.

Progressive leaders throughout the hemisphere have pushed back on the US decision to exclude Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. Argentina, which holds the presidency of CELAC — a regional grouping that, unlike the OAS, does not include the US and Canada — has condemned the decision, as has the Grupo de Puebla, which boasts a large membership of current and former government officials. CARICOM has said their members are considering a boycott of the summit if Cuba is not invited, as have the presidents of Bolivia and Honduras. Most outspoken has been Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador. “I will insist to President Biden that no country in the Americas be excluded from next month’s summit,” Obrador said in early May.

Obrador is right to do so, and the same principle should apply to Haiti. Excluding Henry from the summit is not an answer, but regional leaders should have clear eyes as they shake his hand in Los Angeles this June, and would do well to remember their history lessons.

The reality is that Latin America owes a tremendous debt to Haiti, which, following its successful slave revolt against the French in 1804, provided protection, monies, and munitions to Simón Bolívar in his own independence fight with Spain. And yet, throughout the twenty-first century, Latin America has often served as a willing accomplice to US neocolonialism in Haiti. It is long past time for that to end.

En español

The United States is hosting the Summit of the Americas next month in Los Angeles. The gathering of heads of state has occurred roughly every three years since its first meeting, the last to be held in the US, in 1994. Much of the focus this time has been on who won’t be there. US officials have stated they do not intend to invite the leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua, or Venezuela. But there has been less attention to who will be attending — namely, the de facto leader of Haiti, a country that has been without a head of state since President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination last July.

The decision to invite Dr. Ariel Henry, Haiti’s acting prime minister, reveals the hypocrisy at the core of US foreign policy in the region, and, on the other hand, Latin American and Caribbean governments’ massive blind spot for the deteriorating situation in Haiti, a situation in which the US and the entire region are complicit.

“I think the president has been very clear about the presence of countries that by their actions do not respect democracy — they will not receive invitations,” the State Department’s top official for the Western Hemisphere said last month. The decision to invite Henry undercuts this message and makes clear that the exclusions are not about the defense of human rights or democracy. They are about hegemony.

The last elections in Haiti occurred in 2016; less than 20 percent of registered voters participated, or were allowed to. Moïse won the presidency with the votes of only about 5 percent of the population. For comparison’s sake, those figures for both Ortega and Maduro are greater than 20 percent. If your response is that you don’t trust those numbers, or have concerns about the conditions in which those elections took place, well, you are simply admitting that you haven’t been paying attention to Haiti.

In 2020, the terms of almost all of parliament and every single local official expired, leaving Moïse to rule by decree. At the time, the secretary general of the OAS, Luis Almagro, traveled to Haiti and appeared alongside President Moïse, making clear that for the OAS this was no problem. Then last summer, Moïse — who many legal scholars argued had overstayed his mandate, but who nevertheless had the backing of the US and OASwas assassinated. Today, the only elected officials in the entire country still in office are 10 senators, and together they do not even have a quorum to legislate.

But the collapse of Haiti’s democracy did not occur in a vacuum, and it’s not just US and OAS leadership with blood on their hands. In 2004, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was overthrown in a US-backed coup d’etat. Almost no government in the hemisphere denounced it. On the ground in Haiti, US troops were quickly replaced by a United Nations “peacekeeping” mission, MINUSTAH, to help consolidate the president’s ouster.

American diplomats described the mission as “an indispensable tool” in carrying out US policy, but, just as importantly, noted that without such a mission the US would “be getting far less help from our hemispheric … partners in managing Haiti.” Latin American countries were placed in the lead; Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, El Salvador, and Guatemala all contributed troops, while Brazil’s military was in charge of the mission.

This foreign intervention only accelerated following the devastating 2010 earthquake, when billions in foreign aid were used as leverage for political control. Later that year, amid a fatally flawed electoral process with more than a million still displaced, the OAS was asked to review the results. Without a full recount or any statistical analysis, the OAS recommended changing the election results. The US and other donors threatened to withhold critical financial assistance unless the government acquiesced, and a Trumpian right-wing musician, Michel Martelly, was ushered into the presidency. Once again, this blatant violation of Haiti’s sovereignty transpired without pushback from the region.

All of this brings us to the political rise of Ariel Henry. At Martelly’s urging, Henry was appointed by presidential decree just days before the assassination, but had yet to take office. Instead, power initially remained in the hands of the prime minister at the time, Claude Joseph. But, about a week later, the “Core Group,” a de facto fourth branch of government that formed after the 2004 coup, composed entirely of foreign diplomats, swung their support to Henry. Within days, he became prime minister. It was not democracy that led to Henry assuming power, but the deleterious intervention of foreign powers.

Those same actors continue to prop up Henry’s feeble government, despite the prime minister’s links to Moïse’s assassination. One of the principal suspects is a long-time confidante of Henry, and phone records show the two spoke more than a dozen times in the lead-up to the assassination, and then again at 4 a.m., just hours after the brutal crime. Henry, however, has refused to answer questions about what he knew, and when. Instead, he fired the prosecutor who called him to testify, and has undermined the judges assigned to the case — the fourth judge was just removed from the case after denouncing the government for failing to provide him with protection and for “delivering” him and his family to “the assassins.”

After more than nine months in office, Henry has been unable to cobble together a coalition capable of leading the country and moving forward with new elections. He has refused to give up power, or to negotiate with political opponents, including the historic coalition of civil society organizations that have come together around a common agenda to move the country back toward sovereign democracy. In the meantime, groups of armed civilians, often backed by corrupt police and government officials, have led a campaign of terror across Port-au-Prince, displacing thousands and killing dozens.

Progressive leaders throughout the hemisphere have pushed back on the US decision to exclude Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. Argentina, which holds the presidency of CELAC — a regional grouping that, unlike the OAS, does not include the US and Canada — has condemned the decision, as has the Grupo de Puebla, which boasts a large membership of current and former government officials. CARICOM has said their members are considering a boycott of the summit if Cuba is not invited, as have the presidents of Bolivia and Honduras. Most outspoken has been Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador. “I will insist to President Biden that no country in the Americas be excluded from next month’s summit,” Obrador said in early May.

Obrador is right to do so, and the same principle should apply to Haiti. Excluding Henry from the summit is not an answer, but regional leaders should have clear eyes as they shake his hand in Los Angeles this June, and would do well to remember their history lessons.

The reality is that Latin America owes a tremendous debt to Haiti, which, following its successful slave revolt against the French in 1804, provided protection, monies, and munitions to Simón Bolívar in his own independence fight with Spain. And yet, throughout the twenty-first century, Latin America has often served as a willing accomplice to US neocolonialism in Haiti. It is long past time for that to end.

Exactly two months after his appointment, Dan Foote has submitted his resignation as United States Special Envoy to Haiti, citing a “deeply flawed” US policy toward the nation that includes continued political intervention and the administration’s recent decision to ramp up deportations. “I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees,” Foote wrote in his resignation letter, which was sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on September 22. 

The resignation comes as the Biden administration pushes forward with one of the largest mass expulsions of asylum seekers in decades. At least 12 flights have transported an estimated 1,400 individuals from Texas to Haiti in the past four days, and such flights are expected to nearly double throughout the week. The Biden administration has pledged to totally close the Del Rio, Texas border camp, where some 14,000 people had gathered last week hoping to apply for asylum in the United States. Though the administration has stated it is prioritizing single adults for deportation, flight manifests show that a significant portion of those sent to Haiti are families with young children. 

The head of Haiti’s migration office, Jean Negot Bonheur Delva, has personally called for a moratorium on the flights. Delva, however, said the government was not in a position to make a formal request. “We need to understand that this is a relationship between a big and a small country,” he told the Washington Post

The administration is facing increasing criticism from influential figures within the Democratic party, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate leader Chuck Schumer. While the NAACP as well as many human rights organizations have denounced the anti-Black treatment of refugees witnessed at the southern border. Earlier in the week, border patrol agents on horseback charged at individuals and in some cases seemed to brandish their reins as whips

“The events that took place yesterday are all too familiar to those that are aware of America’s ugly history,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson wrote, urging supporters to take action. “It is no secret that Haiti – the first Black republic – has been severely punished by western powers for centuries. This latest incident is nothing short of adding insult to injury.” The Haitian Bridge Alliance and Human Rights First noted this was the latest in a long history of discriminatory behavior toward Haitians seeking safety in the US. 

Foote, the former special envoy, did not just have harsh words for the administration’s immigration policy, however. Writing that his recommendations had been ignored or misrepresented to superiors, he called the general US policy approach to Haiti “deeply flawed.” 

In his resignation letter, Foote connects the broader migration crisis to US policy in Haiti. While Haiti needs security and humanitarian assistance, “what our Haitian friends really want, and need, is the opportunity to chart their own course, without international puppeteering and favored candidates but with genuine support for that course,” Foote writes. “I do not believe that Haiti can enjoy stability until her citizens have the dignity of truly choosing their own leaders fairly and acceptably.” 

Foote had been appointed to help oversee a review of US policy in Haiti following pressure from members of Congress. “For decades, the international community has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to help Haiti achieve political stability and a representative democracy. In order to move forward more productively, we must acknowledge that these efforts have failed to achieve their desired results, and that continuing along the same path will only exacerbate the situation,” 68 members of Congress, led by Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Gregory Meeks, wrote in April of this year. “We believe it is past time for a more significant review of U.S. policy in Haiti. We look forward to working with you to make this a reality,” the members wrote, urging the appointment of a special envoy. 

From undermining Haitian farmers with cheap food imports to overturning election results and helping to overthrow governments, the US bears significant responsibility for the conditions in Haiti that so many are seeking to flee. As Brian Concannon, the director of Project Blueprint, wrote in the Miami Herald, “The United States has been destabilizing Haiti — and generating refugees — since the country emerged from a slave revolt in 1804 into a world run by slaveholding countries that felt threatened by the example of successful, self-emancipated Black people.

But it appears Foote did not find support within the administration for such a break from past policy. While Foote does not specify who did not agree with his recommendations, it has been clear since his appointment that he and US Ambassador to Haiti Michele Sison have rarely been on the same page. Multiple sources in Haiti have reported receiving mixed messages from the two US diplomats and have been unclear about who was really in charge of US policy. 

Secretary of State Blinken appointed Foote to the position two weeks after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. In the wake of Moïse’s death, the US  and other nations that make up the “Core Group” of foreign representatives in Haiti, along with the UN, threw their weight behind Dr. Ariel Henry as prime minister. Henry had been appointed by Moïse but had yet to take office or form a cabinet at the time of the assassination. Foote’s first trip to Haiti came just days after Henry’s assumption of the position.

Last week the Core Group issued yet another statement in support of Henry and his efforts to reach a political agreement. In his resignation letter, Foote makes clear his opposition to this decision. The Core Group has “continued to tout [Henry’s] ‘political agreement’ over another broader, earlier accord shepherded by civil society,” he writes. “The hubris that makes us believe we should pick the winner — again – is impressive.”

The US, while voicing support for a broad-based dialogue that includes civil society, has largely refused to engage with the Civil Society Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis, which has been meeting with a broad array of organizations for many months, even before the president’s assassination, in an effort to seek a Haitian-led path forward. Henry’s internationally-backed efforts to reach his own accord was seen as a direct effort to undermine the commission’s work. 

“This cycle of international political interventions in Haiti has consistently produced catastrophic results,” Foote concludes, again linking US policy to the root causes of migration. “More negative impacts to Haiti will have calamitous consequences not only in Haiti, but in the US and our neighbors in the hemisphere.” 

Exactly two months after his appointment, Dan Foote has submitted his resignation as United States Special Envoy to Haiti, citing a “deeply flawed” US policy toward the nation that includes continued political intervention and the administration’s recent decision to ramp up deportations. “I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees,” Foote wrote in his resignation letter, which was sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on September 22. 

The resignation comes as the Biden administration pushes forward with one of the largest mass expulsions of asylum seekers in decades. At least 12 flights have transported an estimated 1,400 individuals from Texas to Haiti in the past four days, and such flights are expected to nearly double throughout the week. The Biden administration has pledged to totally close the Del Rio, Texas border camp, where some 14,000 people had gathered last week hoping to apply for asylum in the United States. Though the administration has stated it is prioritizing single adults for deportation, flight manifests show that a significant portion of those sent to Haiti are families with young children. 

The head of Haiti’s migration office, Jean Negot Bonheur Delva, has personally called for a moratorium on the flights. Delva, however, said the government was not in a position to make a formal request. “We need to understand that this is a relationship between a big and a small country,” he told the Washington Post

The administration is facing increasing criticism from influential figures within the Democratic party, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate leader Chuck Schumer. While the NAACP as well as many human rights organizations have denounced the anti-Black treatment of refugees witnessed at the southern border. Earlier in the week, border patrol agents on horseback charged at individuals and in some cases seemed to brandish their reins as whips

“The events that took place yesterday are all too familiar to those that are aware of America’s ugly history,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson wrote, urging supporters to take action. “It is no secret that Haiti – the first Black republic – has been severely punished by western powers for centuries. This latest incident is nothing short of adding insult to injury.” The Haitian Bridge Alliance and Human Rights First noted this was the latest in a long history of discriminatory behavior toward Haitians seeking safety in the US. 

Foote, the former special envoy, did not just have harsh words for the administration’s immigration policy, however. Writing that his recommendations had been ignored or misrepresented to superiors, he called the general US policy approach to Haiti “deeply flawed.” 

In his resignation letter, Foote connects the broader migration crisis to US policy in Haiti. While Haiti needs security and humanitarian assistance, “what our Haitian friends really want, and need, is the opportunity to chart their own course, without international puppeteering and favored candidates but with genuine support for that course,” Foote writes. “I do not believe that Haiti can enjoy stability until her citizens have the dignity of truly choosing their own leaders fairly and acceptably.” 

Foote had been appointed to help oversee a review of US policy in Haiti following pressure from members of Congress. “For decades, the international community has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to help Haiti achieve political stability and a representative democracy. In order to move forward more productively, we must acknowledge that these efforts have failed to achieve their desired results, and that continuing along the same path will only exacerbate the situation,” 68 members of Congress, led by Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Gregory Meeks, wrote in April of this year. “We believe it is past time for a more significant review of U.S. policy in Haiti. We look forward to working with you to make this a reality,” the members wrote, urging the appointment of a special envoy. 

From undermining Haitian farmers with cheap food imports to overturning election results and helping to overthrow governments, the US bears significant responsibility for the conditions in Haiti that so many are seeking to flee. As Brian Concannon, the director of Project Blueprint, wrote in the Miami Herald, “The United States has been destabilizing Haiti — and generating refugees — since the country emerged from a slave revolt in 1804 into a world run by slaveholding countries that felt threatened by the example of successful, self-emancipated Black people.

But it appears Foote did not find support within the administration for such a break from past policy. While Foote does not specify who did not agree with his recommendations, it has been clear since his appointment that he and US Ambassador to Haiti Michele Sison have rarely been on the same page. Multiple sources in Haiti have reported receiving mixed messages from the two US diplomats and have been unclear about who was really in charge of US policy. 

Secretary of State Blinken appointed Foote to the position two weeks after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. In the wake of Moïse’s death, the US  and other nations that make up the “Core Group” of foreign representatives in Haiti, along with the UN, threw their weight behind Dr. Ariel Henry as prime minister. Henry had been appointed by Moïse but had yet to take office or form a cabinet at the time of the assassination. Foote’s first trip to Haiti came just days after Henry’s assumption of the position.

Last week the Core Group issued yet another statement in support of Henry and his efforts to reach a political agreement. In his resignation letter, Foote makes clear his opposition to this decision. The Core Group has “continued to tout [Henry’s] ‘political agreement’ over another broader, earlier accord shepherded by civil society,” he writes. “The hubris that makes us believe we should pick the winner — again – is impressive.”

The US, while voicing support for a broad-based dialogue that includes civil society, has largely refused to engage with the Civil Society Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis, which has been meeting with a broad array of organizations for many months, even before the president’s assassination, in an effort to seek a Haitian-led path forward. Henry’s internationally-backed efforts to reach his own accord was seen as a direct effort to undermine the commission’s work. 

“This cycle of international political interventions in Haiti has consistently produced catastrophic results,” Foote concludes, again linking US policy to the root causes of migration. “More negative impacts to Haiti will have calamitous consequences not only in Haiti, but in the US and our neighbors in the hemisphere.” 

After a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti’s southern peninsula on August 14, many are looking back at the devastating 2010 quake and examining lessons learned. For more than 10 years, our Haiti blog has tracked aid flows to Haiti as well as the long-term political fallout from the quake. The following is a partial review of that work.

After a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti’s southern peninsula on August 14, many are looking back at the devastating 2010 quake and examining lessons learned. For more than 10 years, our Haiti blog has tracked aid flows to Haiti as well as the long-term political fallout from the quake. The following is a partial review of that work.

Dimitri Herard, the head of the General Security Unit of the National Palace (USGPN, by its French acronym), is the subject of a US law enforcement investigation related to arms trafficking in Haiti, according to multiple sources both inside Haiti and the United States. Earlier this week, the president of Haiti was assassinated in what Haitian government officials have claimed was an elite commando raid of the president’s private residence. As head of the palace guard, Herard is one of the individuals most responsible for the safety of the president. The USGPN is responsible for securing both the palace and the president’s private residence.

On Thursday, July 8, the chief government prosecutor in Port-au-Prince requested that Herard present himself for questioning in relation to the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. A source close to the deceased president, requesting anonymity out of fear for their life, claimed that Moïse was personally aware of the US investigation into Herard, and that Moïse had told them that “the US is taking care of it.” 

Herard, in 2012, was one of a small group of Haitians sent to Ecuador under then-president Michel Martelly to train at the Eloy Alfaro Military Academy. He eventually entered the president’s palace guard and became head of the USGPN in February 2017 after the inauguration of Moïse. Despite Herard’s high-level presence within the USGPN, he also operates a private security company. The practice, while a clear conflict of interest, has become increasingly common among police officers in recent years.

In April 2020, Carl Frederic Martin, a Haitian-American and former US Navy officer, together with the sister of Dimitri Herard, created Tradex Haiti S.A., a security company. Another company, this one Florida-based and owned by Martin, received a $73,000 State Department contract in November 2019 to provide “riot gear kit[s]” for a specialized unit of the Haitian National Police (PNH).

In late August 2020, I reported on Martin’s State Department contract, the new security company he had formed with a relative of Herard, and their attempts to create a weapons manufacturing company called HOFSA. The activities of Martin and Herard came directly after the arrest of businessman Aby Larco, accused of being a significant source of arms trafficking in Haiti. Larco and Martin had formed a security company together years earlier, though they eventually ended the partnership. Seven days after Larco’s arrest, Martin and a relative of Herard filed the paperwork to incorporate their new arms manufacturing company, though its business license was eventually revoked. 

Three days after the publication of the late August report, a “news” website was created that quickly published a fake news article alleging I had been paid by members of the Haitian elite to destabilize the country. “Coming back to Haiti to further destabilize a democratically elected government will prove to be harder for time to come,” the unsigned article warned. The website’s “About Us” page is a direct copy and paste from the website of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, replacing the organization’s name with “Haiti News Hub.”  

In the more than a year and a half since Larco’s arrest, however, the flow of black market weapons into Haiti has only increased, fueling rising insecurity and violence. Kidnappings reached a peak of nearly four a day early in 2021, and, according to security experts, have provided armed groups with significant resources to purchase new weapons and ammunition. Individual ransom payments have reached hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

In late June, former police officer and leader of the G9 Family and Allies, Jimmy Cherizier, held a press conference with dozens of armed men displaying high-powered weapons. Police officers and government officials often complain that they lack the resources or firepower to properly counter armed civilian groups. At the same time, many of those groups draw upon support from current and former police officers as well as politicians and private sector actors. 

US law enforcement has been increasingly interested in the network bringing illegal weapons into Haiti and its relation to kidnappings. In March 2021, two individuals, Peterson Benjamin and Lissner Mathieu, were arrested in Haiti and brought to the United States. Benjamin was quickly indicted on charges related to his alleged involvement in a criminal enterprise responsible for the kidnapping of a US citizen in Haiti. Mathieu was apparently arrested in connection with a decade-old drug trafficking case. When he was arrested, Mathieu had in his possession a badge from the National Palace. The government denied that he had ever been employed in the palace.  

It is unclear if the investigation into Herard is related to this earlier case, or precisely how far along the investigation is. However, multiple sources confirmed that US law enforcement officials recently traveled to Haiti and gathered information related to Herard and his alleged involvement in weapons trafficking. According to a well-placed source in Haitian law enforcement, at least some of the arms are coming from Turkey and then entering Haiti through the Dominican Republic. Moïse traveled to Turkey to participate in a business forum in June. 

A US agency involved in the investigation did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication. Herard also did not respond.

In June, the same website that published the fake news article threatening me published another article touting Herard as a “rising star” within the PNH who was increasingly at loggerheads with the chief of police, Leon Charles. On June 28, the website published another article about the proliferation of high-powered weapons in the hands of gangs in Haiti, pointing the finger at Aby Larco, who has been in prison for nearly two years, and Sebastian Barjon, another former partner of Martin, Larco, and Herard. The article claimed that both Larco and Barjon were the target of US and Haitian investigations. The article does not mention either Herard or Martin.

While there is no evidence the investigation into Herard is related to this week’s assassination of the president, given his role in presidential security, the existence of the investigation is sure to raise more questions. The government prosecutor in Port-au-Prince, Bedford Claude, has invited Herard, as well as Civil Laguel, security coordinator for the president, and the leaders of two other police units, for questioning in relation to the assassination case. After spending a day in Moïse’s residence, Claude told Le Nouvelliste, “I did not see any police victim except the president and his wife. If you are responsible for the security of the president, where were you? What did you do to avoid this fate for the president?”

He said that he had requested a list of all security officers present at the president’s residence the night of the assassination, but that he has yet to receive a response. On July 8, Haiti’s police chief, Leon Charles, told the press that the mercenary team that allegedly killed Moïse was composed of 28 people, including 26 Colombians and two Haitian-Americans. Thus far, police have arrested 17 and killed three, while eight allegedly remain at large. The Colombian minister of defense confirmed that at least some of those arrested had served in the country’s armed forces.  

Speaking on local radio this morning, former Senator Steven Benoit cast doubt on the official narrative that this team of Colombians was responsible for assassination of Moïse, alleging that they in fact had been in Haiti under a contract with the government. “The President of the Republic, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated by his security agents,” Benoit claimed, without providing details. Also today, White House press secretary Jenn Psaki announced that, responding to a request for security and investigative assistance from the Haitian government, the US would be sending senior FBI and DHS officials to Haiti as soon as possible. 

Dimitri Herard, the head of the General Security Unit of the National Palace (USGPN, by its French acronym), is the subject of a US law enforcement investigation related to arms trafficking in Haiti, according to multiple sources both inside Haiti and the United States. Earlier this week, the president of Haiti was assassinated in what Haitian government officials have claimed was an elite commando raid of the president’s private residence. As head of the palace guard, Herard is one of the individuals most responsible for the safety of the president. The USGPN is responsible for securing both the palace and the president’s private residence.

On Thursday, July 8, the chief government prosecutor in Port-au-Prince requested that Herard present himself for questioning in relation to the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. A source close to the deceased president, requesting anonymity out of fear for their life, claimed that Moïse was personally aware of the US investigation into Herard, and that Moïse had told them that “the US is taking care of it.” 

Herard, in 2012, was one of a small group of Haitians sent to Ecuador under then-president Michel Martelly to train at the Eloy Alfaro Military Academy. He eventually entered the president’s palace guard and became head of the USGPN in February 2017 after the inauguration of Moïse. Despite Herard’s high-level presence within the USGPN, he also operates a private security company. The practice, while a clear conflict of interest, has become increasingly common among police officers in recent years.

In April 2020, Carl Frederic Martin, a Haitian-American and former US Navy officer, together with the sister of Dimitri Herard, created Tradex Haiti S.A., a security company. Another company, this one Florida-based and owned by Martin, received a $73,000 State Department contract in November 2019 to provide “riot gear kit[s]” for a specialized unit of the Haitian National Police (PNH).

In late August 2020, I reported on Martin’s State Department contract, the new security company he had formed with a relative of Herard, and their attempts to create a weapons manufacturing company called HOFSA. The activities of Martin and Herard came directly after the arrest of businessman Aby Larco, accused of being a significant source of arms trafficking in Haiti. Larco and Martin had formed a security company together years earlier, though they eventually ended the partnership. Seven days after Larco’s arrest, Martin and a relative of Herard filed the paperwork to incorporate their new arms manufacturing company, though its business license was eventually revoked. 

Three days after the publication of the late August report, a “news” website was created that quickly published a fake news article alleging I had been paid by members of the Haitian elite to destabilize the country. “Coming back to Haiti to further destabilize a democratically elected government will prove to be harder for time to come,” the unsigned article warned. The website’s “About Us” page is a direct copy and paste from the website of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, replacing the organization’s name with “Haiti News Hub.”  

In the more than a year and a half since Larco’s arrest, however, the flow of black market weapons into Haiti has only increased, fueling rising insecurity and violence. Kidnappings reached a peak of nearly four a day early in 2021, and, according to security experts, have provided armed groups with significant resources to purchase new weapons and ammunition. Individual ransom payments have reached hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

In late June, former police officer and leader of the G9 Family and Allies, Jimmy Cherizier, held a press conference with dozens of armed men displaying high-powered weapons. Police officers and government officials often complain that they lack the resources or firepower to properly counter armed civilian groups. At the same time, many of those groups draw upon support from current and former police officers as well as politicians and private sector actors. 

US law enforcement has been increasingly interested in the network bringing illegal weapons into Haiti and its relation to kidnappings. In March 2021, two individuals, Peterson Benjamin and Lissner Mathieu, were arrested in Haiti and brought to the United States. Benjamin was quickly indicted on charges related to his alleged involvement in a criminal enterprise responsible for the kidnapping of a US citizen in Haiti. Mathieu was apparently arrested in connection with a decade-old drug trafficking case. When he was arrested, Mathieu had in his possession a badge from the National Palace. The government denied that he had ever been employed in the palace.  

It is unclear if the investigation into Herard is related to this earlier case, or precisely how far along the investigation is. However, multiple sources confirmed that US law enforcement officials recently traveled to Haiti and gathered information related to Herard and his alleged involvement in weapons trafficking. According to a well-placed source in Haitian law enforcement, at least some of the arms are coming from Turkey and then entering Haiti through the Dominican Republic. Moïse traveled to Turkey to participate in a business forum in June. 

A US agency involved in the investigation did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication. Herard also did not respond.

In June, the same website that published the fake news article threatening me published another article touting Herard as a “rising star” within the PNH who was increasingly at loggerheads with the chief of police, Leon Charles. On June 28, the website published another article about the proliferation of high-powered weapons in the hands of gangs in Haiti, pointing the finger at Aby Larco, who has been in prison for nearly two years, and Sebastian Barjon, another former partner of Martin, Larco, and Herard. The article claimed that both Larco and Barjon were the target of US and Haitian investigations. The article does not mention either Herard or Martin.

While there is no evidence the investigation into Herard is related to this week’s assassination of the president, given his role in presidential security, the existence of the investigation is sure to raise more questions. The government prosecutor in Port-au-Prince, Bedford Claude, has invited Herard, as well as Civil Laguel, security coordinator for the president, and the leaders of two other police units, for questioning in relation to the assassination case. After spending a day in Moïse’s residence, Claude told Le Nouvelliste, “I did not see any police victim except the president and his wife. If you are responsible for the security of the president, where were you? What did you do to avoid this fate for the president?”

He said that he had requested a list of all security officers present at the president’s residence the night of the assassination, but that he has yet to receive a response. On July 8, Haiti’s police chief, Leon Charles, told the press that the mercenary team that allegedly killed Moïse was composed of 28 people, including 26 Colombians and two Haitian-Americans. Thus far, police have arrested 17 and killed three, while eight allegedly remain at large. The Colombian minister of defense confirmed that at least some of those arrested had served in the country’s armed forces.  

Speaking on local radio this morning, former Senator Steven Benoit cast doubt on the official narrative that this team of Colombians was responsible for assassination of Moïse, alleging that they in fact had been in Haiti under a contract with the government. “The President of the Republic, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated by his security agents,” Benoit claimed, without providing details. Also today, White House press secretary Jenn Psaki announced that, responding to a request for security and investigative assistance from the Haitian government, the US would be sending senior FBI and DHS officials to Haiti as soon as possible. 

Last week, a prominent anticorruption activist, journalist, and emerging political leader, Antoinette Duclaire was brutally assassinated in Port-au-Prince. Killed alongside her was fellow journalist Diego Charles. Duclaire was shot seven times in the front seat of her vehicle, including once in her left temple. Duclaire had previously warned that she was facing death threats, and, In February, her house was shot up by unidentified gunmen. 

Sadly, this shocking assassination is but the latest tragedy in Haiti. There have been more than a dozen massacres since the fall of 2018, when youth organizations launched a nationwide anticorruption movement. In 2020, the US sanctioned a former Haitian police officer and alleged death squad leader, Jimmy Cherizier, and two other government officials for their involvement in the 2018 La Saline massacre, in which some 71 people were killed. In just the last week, at least 60 people have been killed in the escalating violence. 

Parliamentary terms expired in January 2020, leaving the current president, Jovenel Moïse, who was elected with just 590,000 votes (in a country of 11 million), to govern by decree without any checks or balances.  Emboldened by strong support from the Trump administration, Moïse has created a new intelligence agency, expanded the definition of terrorism to include common protest tactics (echoing Trump and other Republican’s efforts to target the Movement for Black Lives), and unilaterally replaced judges on the supreme court. Legal experts and civil society organizations contend that Moïse’s term constitutionally expired in February 2021 as well, and no longer recognize the government. Yet even under Biden, the United States has continued to side with Moïse as he brazenly attempts to change the constitution to greatly expand executive powers and immunity for himself and other elected politicians.

Today, armed groups organized under Cherizier’s leadership control wide swaths of Port-au-Prince and flaunt their power openly without fear of arrest. Recent attacks have displaced more than 10,000 individuals and impacted more than 600,000. Doctors Without Borders, which operates in war-torn nations across the world, has had to temporarily close its emergency facilities. The violence has disrupted transportation between the capital and the rest of the country, adding to emerging scarcities including fuel.

In the midst of spiraling insecurity, an ongoing pandemic, and rapidly increasing food insecurity, the Haitian government, with the full support of the United States, the United Nations, and the Organization of American States, has called for the holding of elections later this year. The day before the assassination of Duclaire and Charles, the government released an updated electoral calendar for new general elections, including a constitutional referendum, for September 26, 2021. 

Haitian civil society organizations have stated unequivocally that free and fair elections are impossible in the current environment. A number of prominent members of the US Congress agree and have been increasingly vocal in their opposition to the Biden administration’s policy. Gregory Meeks, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffires, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, led a group of 69 members of congress in calling on the Biden administration to urgently change course, warning that “elections held without meeting internationally accepted standards for participation and legitimacy will only further undermine faith in democratic governance, waste scarce resources and perpetuate a cycle of political instability and violence.” 

Last week, Rep. Meeks was joined by Republicans Mark Green and Michael McCaul, the lead Republican of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Chairman Emeritus on the House Homeland Security Committee, to denounce the “increasingly authoritarian bent” of the Haitian president, and to express a bipartisan message that the Biden administration must stop pushing for elections at all costs. Earlier this year, Rep. Andy Levin, along with Rep. Val Demings, who is running against Marco Rubio in next year’s Florida Senate elections, launched a congressional caucus on Haiti. The new group in Congress has consistently pushed back on the Biden administration’s continuation of Trump’s Haiti policy. The Haitian and Haitian-American vote is seen as key to the Florida race. 

Rather than rushed elections, Haitian civil society organizations have proposed a negotiated departure for Moïse and his replacement by a non-partisan transitional government that can undertake needed reforms and eventually oversee a secure and credible transition back to democracy. The Biden administration, the UN Security Council, and Organization of American States have all rejected this path forward, insisting on the holding of elections at any cost.

Today, Haiti is at an inflection point. Over the last two decades, international actors have spent billions of dollars on what some have wrongly called “nation-building” in the world’s first independent Black republic. Haiti is the only nation where the enslaved population overthrew its colonizers, and, in 1804, it became the first country to permanently abolish slavery. Yet, for centuries, it has paid dearly for that historic achievement. 

Former president Donald Trump, whose administration provided steadfast support to the current Haitian president, notoriously referred to the nation as a “shithole” after a campaign stop in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood. During his own campaign, Biden stated that “The Trump Administration is abandoning the Haitian people while the country’s political crisis is paralyzing that nation.” Yet, under the Biden administration, there has been no sign of significant change in policy toward Haiti. Though the Biden administration did grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian migrants this spring, in its first few months in office, the new administration deported more Haitians than the Trump administration did in the entirely of fiscal year 2020. Unfortunately, this has all occurred largely outside the spotlight of the international media. 

For all the rhetoric on race and reckoning with how the US’s racist past connects with institutional racism in the present, US policy continues to stifle democracy and economic advancement in the only country founded after a successful slave revolt. Will the Biden administration finally change course in Haiti, or will it continue Trump’s racist foreign policy off the coast of Florida?

Last week, a prominent anticorruption activist, journalist, and emerging political leader, Antoinette Duclaire was brutally assassinated in Port-au-Prince. Killed alongside her was fellow journalist Diego Charles. Duclaire was shot seven times in the front seat of her vehicle, including once in her left temple. Duclaire had previously warned that she was facing death threats, and, In February, her house was shot up by unidentified gunmen. 

Sadly, this shocking assassination is but the latest tragedy in Haiti. There have been more than a dozen massacres since the fall of 2018, when youth organizations launched a nationwide anticorruption movement. In 2020, the US sanctioned a former Haitian police officer and alleged death squad leader, Jimmy Cherizier, and two other government officials for their involvement in the 2018 La Saline massacre, in which some 71 people were killed. In just the last week, at least 60 people have been killed in the escalating violence. 

Parliamentary terms expired in January 2020, leaving the current president, Jovenel Moïse, who was elected with just 590,000 votes (in a country of 11 million), to govern by decree without any checks or balances.  Emboldened by strong support from the Trump administration, Moïse has created a new intelligence agency, expanded the definition of terrorism to include common protest tactics (echoing Trump and other Republican’s efforts to target the Movement for Black Lives), and unilaterally replaced judges on the supreme court. Legal experts and civil society organizations contend that Moïse’s term constitutionally expired in February 2021 as well, and no longer recognize the government. Yet even under Biden, the United States has continued to side with Moïse as he brazenly attempts to change the constitution to greatly expand executive powers and immunity for himself and other elected politicians.

Today, armed groups organized under Cherizier’s leadership control wide swaths of Port-au-Prince and flaunt their power openly without fear of arrest. Recent attacks have displaced more than 10,000 individuals and impacted more than 600,000. Doctors Without Borders, which operates in war-torn nations across the world, has had to temporarily close its emergency facilities. The violence has disrupted transportation between the capital and the rest of the country, adding to emerging scarcities including fuel.

In the midst of spiraling insecurity, an ongoing pandemic, and rapidly increasing food insecurity, the Haitian government, with the full support of the United States, the United Nations, and the Organization of American States, has called for the holding of elections later this year. The day before the assassination of Duclaire and Charles, the government released an updated electoral calendar for new general elections, including a constitutional referendum, for September 26, 2021. 

Haitian civil society organizations have stated unequivocally that free and fair elections are impossible in the current environment. A number of prominent members of the US Congress agree and have been increasingly vocal in their opposition to the Biden administration’s policy. Gregory Meeks, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffires, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, led a group of 69 members of congress in calling on the Biden administration to urgently change course, warning that “elections held without meeting internationally accepted standards for participation and legitimacy will only further undermine faith in democratic governance, waste scarce resources and perpetuate a cycle of political instability and violence.” 

Last week, Rep. Meeks was joined by Republicans Mark Green and Michael McCaul, the lead Republican of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Chairman Emeritus on the House Homeland Security Committee, to denounce the “increasingly authoritarian bent” of the Haitian president, and to express a bipartisan message that the Biden administration must stop pushing for elections at all costs. Earlier this year, Rep. Andy Levin, along with Rep. Val Demings, who is running against Marco Rubio in next year’s Florida Senate elections, launched a congressional caucus on Haiti. The new group in Congress has consistently pushed back on the Biden administration’s continuation of Trump’s Haiti policy. The Haitian and Haitian-American vote is seen as key to the Florida race. 

Rather than rushed elections, Haitian civil society organizations have proposed a negotiated departure for Moïse and his replacement by a non-partisan transitional government that can undertake needed reforms and eventually oversee a secure and credible transition back to democracy. The Biden administration, the UN Security Council, and Organization of American States have all rejected this path forward, insisting on the holding of elections at any cost.

Today, Haiti is at an inflection point. Over the last two decades, international actors have spent billions of dollars on what some have wrongly called “nation-building” in the world’s first independent Black republic. Haiti is the only nation where the enslaved population overthrew its colonizers, and, in 1804, it became the first country to permanently abolish slavery. Yet, for centuries, it has paid dearly for that historic achievement. 

Former president Donald Trump, whose administration provided steadfast support to the current Haitian president, notoriously referred to the nation as a “shithole” after a campaign stop in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood. During his own campaign, Biden stated that “The Trump Administration is abandoning the Haitian people while the country’s political crisis is paralyzing that nation.” Yet, under the Biden administration, there has been no sign of significant change in policy toward Haiti. Though the Biden administration did grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian migrants this spring, in its first few months in office, the new administration deported more Haitians than the Trump administration did in the entirely of fiscal year 2020. Unfortunately, this has all occurred largely outside the spotlight of the international media. 

For all the rhetoric on race and reckoning with how the US’s racist past connects with institutional racism in the present, US policy continues to stifle democracy and economic advancement in the only country founded after a successful slave revolt. Will the Biden administration finally change course in Haiti, or will it continue Trump’s racist foreign policy off the coast of Florida?

Nouvo Konstitisyon : Noup Vote

Nan moman bilbòd sa yo plakade nan tout Pòtoprens ak tout rès peyi a, gouvènman an lanse yon dènye bourad nan planifikasyon referandòm ki te gen pou dat 27 Jen 2021. Gouvènman an òganize “deba” televize, li enprime bilten, l ap fè presyon sou òganizasyon entènasyonal, epi tou l ap travay sou fondasyon sa li panse ki se yon efò nesesè pou li mete gouvènans Ayiti a sou chimen siksè.

Pwoblèm lan ? Se yon ti gwoup moun sèlman k ap fè kanpay. Gen yon dal òganizasyon sosyete sivil, òganizasyson kominotè, ak pati politik ki konteste efò sa a ; yo di referandòm lan se yon pwojè ilegal ki gen pou sèl objektif mete plis pouvwa nan men Jovenel Moïse. An verite, nan dènye semèn sa yo, yon bann aktè politik lanse yon apèl bay popilasyon an pou yo revòlte kont referandòm lan epi itilize tout taktik yo kapab pou yo anpeche vòt la fèt. [Pou yon diskisyon pi detaye sou spesifisite refòm konstitisyonèl la, epi pou konprann poukisa tèlman gen moun ki opoze li, Haitian Studies Association te òganize yon chita pale avèk lidè epi ekspè Ayisyen sou sijè a.]

Se pa sèlman Ayiti k ap debat posibilite pou gen referandòm konstitisyonèl nan zòn lan. Ane pase nan peyi Chili, pi fò pèp la te vote an favè kreyasyon yon nouvo dokiman, epi mwa sa a, yo te vote pou yo mete nouvo reprezantan an plas ki pou kòmanse ekri nouvo tèks la. Yo atann yo aske travay konvansyon konstitisyonèl la pran plizyè mwa, apre sa vòt sou nouvo tèks la ta sipoze fèt an 2022, nan mitan ane a. Gen plizyè regilasyon ki mandate patisipasyon gwoup ki tradisyonèlman majinalize tankou fanm ak popilasyon Endijèn la nan peyi Chili.

An konparezon, dokiman Ayiti a se yon ti komisyon ki ekri l, e moun ki ladan l se moun Prezidan Moïse chwazi li menm. Jou kap 27 Jen, lè komisyon an mande Ayisyen pou yo ale nan biwo vòt, Ayisyen ap oblije vote sou tout kontni tèks la avèk yon senp “wi” oubyen “non,” malgre yo pa wè vèsyon final la. Se jis an Janvye ane sa a ke komisyon an pibliye yon premye vèsyon ki gen chanjman y ap pwopoze yo ; met sou sa, yo pibliye l an Franse sèlman, ki se yon lang majorite pèp ayisyen an pa pale. Yo pibliye yon vèsyon yo revize nan fen mwa Me, yon mwa avan vòt la fèt, e y ap planifye pibliye yon dènye vesyon nan mwa Jen an.

Semèn sa a, apre li rankontre M. Moïse, Anbasadris Amerikèn nan Nasyon Zini, Linda Thomas-Greenfield kanpe dèyè pozisyon ofisyèl kominote entènasyonal la ki di : jiska prezan, preparasyon pou referandòm lan pa “ase transparan oswa enklizif.” Pozisyon piblik Etazini se ke preferans li se pou gouvènman Ayisyen an ta fè plis efò pou òganize eleksyon lejislatif epi prezidansyèl nan fen ane sa a, anvan yo rivesou kontwovèsi konstitisyon an. Nan 17 dènye mwa sa yo, Ayiti fonksyone san palman, kifè tout pwosesis referandòm lan ap fèt ak Prezidan Moïse k ap dirije pa dekrè epi san siveyans lejislatif.

Gen anpil moun ki deja di pou yo, Jovenel Moïse pa ta sipoze nan Palè Nasyonal ankò, ale wè pou l ap òganize yon referandòm epi kreye yon nouvo konstitisyon. Ekspè nan chan legal la, òganizasyon dwa moun, antite relijye avèk yon dal gwoup òganizasyon sosyete sivil kenbe pozisyon yo : manda Jovenel Moïse fini 7 Fevriye 2021. Yo di refòm li yo illegal, epi met sou li, yo di pa gen mwayen pou eleksyon ki lib epi kredib òganize anba sipèvizyon li. Mwa pase, 69 manb kongrè Ameriken an te ekri Sekretè Deta Anthony Blinken pou yo eksprime akò yo.

An Avril, yon reprezantan Depatman Leta, Ned Price, di laprès konsa : “Nou di sa plizyè fwa : refòm konstitisyonèl lan se yon chwa pou pèp Ayisyen an fè.” Li ajoute, “Nou di gouvènman Ayisyen an : gouvènmen Ameriken an pa p bay sipò finansye pou òganizasyon yon referandòm konstitisyonèl.” Men, menm lè Etazini pa ta bay sipò dirèkteman, sa pa vle di ke politik li pa p, nan sans pa l, valide referandòm lan.

Sipò Silansye Kominote Entènasyonal La

Kominote entènasyonal la kontinye fè silans sou kesyon referandòm lan. Kore Gwoup, ki genyen kòm manb, Etazini, Kanada, Brezil, Lafrans, Inyon Ewopeyèn, Nasyon Zini, ak OEA te pibliye yon nòt an Avril tou kote yo te deklare pwosesis la pa t ase transparan ni enklizif. Malgre sa, aktè entènasyonal yo pa janm mande pou gouvènman Ayisyen an anile oswa ranvwaye referandòm lan. Met sou sa, ni Nasyon Zini, ni OEA ap sipote referandòm lan, malgre nòt piblik yo. 

De òganizasyon miltilateral sa yo bay asistans teknik bay komisyon k ap ekri nouvo tèks la depi fòmasyon li ane pase. OEA te menm ede ak revizyon tèks la pou li eseye retire aspè ki te pi pwoblematik yo nan vèsyon original la. Sou bò pa l, Nasyon Zini pwokire materyèl de vòt enpòtan pou konsèy elektoral la k ap fè referandòm lan tou ; yo genyen yon akò tou pou yo apiye yo nan lojistik òganizasyon vòt la. Met sou li, Nasyon Zini ap ede PNH ak strateji sekirite elektoral la. 

Asistans teknik sa a pa anyen devan ensistans kominote entènasyonal la pou eleksyon fèt ane sa a. Li enposib pou eleksyon yo separe de referandòm lan, e sipò òganizasyon entènasyonal sa yo pou eleksyon yo ap sèvi sipò pou referandòm lan tou.

Nouvo konstitisyon an t ap drastikman chanje anviwònman politik peyi a. Premyèman, li t ap ranplase pòs Premye Minis la avèk yon Vis Prezidan, yon ranplasman ki t ap aboli Sena a nèt. Epi tou, si tèks ki pwopoze a apwouve, l ap bay gouvènman an manda pou li mete yon nouvo lwa elektoral. Kòman pou yon moun pale de òganizasyon eleksyon nan kèlke mwa, lè pèsonn pa menm konnen ki pòs k ap genyen nan eleksyon oubyen anba ki lwa eleksyon yo ap fèt ? Klèman, eleksyon yo depann de sa ki pral pase an Jen an.

Met sou li, ensistans entènasyonal la pou eleksyon yo fèt kreye yon pakèt vag kritik sou tout pwosesis vòt la. Konsèy elektoral ki genyen kounya, se Prezidan an ki mete li pa dekrè, e a lankont lalwa ; kou kasasyon an te refize sèmante nouvo manb yo. Se menm konsèy elektoral sa a ki pral fè ni referandòm lan ni eleksyon yo nan fen ane sa a. Si yon moun ap mande òganizasyon eleksyon, pa defo, l ap sipòote òganizasyon referandòm lan tou.

Sipò Etazini pou konsèy elektoral ilegal sa a ale pi lwen toujou ; a travè USAID, gouvènman Ameriken an deja depanse USD $12.6 milyon depi Moïse kòomanse prezidans li, nan non sipò pou “pwosesis elektoral e politik.” Majorite lajan sa a ale jwenn antite ki baze Etazini tankou Enstiti Demokratik Nasyonal, Enstiti Repiblik Entènasyonal, epi Fondasyon Entenasyonal pou Sistèm Elektoral. Òganizasyon sa yo enplemante pwòp pwogram yo, kidonk yo gendwa pa sanble tankou y ap sipòte referandòm lan oswa eleksyon yo “dirèkteman”.

Nan mwa Mas la, Sekretè Adjwen pa Enterim la nan Biwo Afè Emisfè Lwès la pou Depatman Leta Etazini, Julie Chung te tweet : “Etazini atravè @USAID_Haiti, ap ede pèp ayisyen an prepare pou eleksyon yo nan bay @CEP_Haiti, sipò teknik, ranfòse pati politik yo ak ONG yo, epi ogmante patisipasyon fanm yo nan politik ayisyèn nan.”

Se vre Etazini gendwa pa finanse referandòm lan, men pa gen manti nan sa : prensip ak politik kominote entènasyonal la ap travay di pou referandòm ilegal la fèt kout ke kout.

Nouvo Konstitisyon : Noup Vote

Nan moman bilbòd sa yo plakade nan tout Pòtoprens ak tout rès peyi a, gouvènman an lanse yon dènye bourad nan planifikasyon referandòm ki te gen pou dat 27 Jen 2021. Gouvènman an òganize “deba” televize, li enprime bilten, l ap fè presyon sou òganizasyon entènasyonal, epi tou l ap travay sou fondasyon sa li panse ki se yon efò nesesè pou li mete gouvènans Ayiti a sou chimen siksè.

Pwoblèm lan ? Se yon ti gwoup moun sèlman k ap fè kanpay. Gen yon dal òganizasyon sosyete sivil, òganizasyson kominotè, ak pati politik ki konteste efò sa a ; yo di referandòm lan se yon pwojè ilegal ki gen pou sèl objektif mete plis pouvwa nan men Jovenel Moïse. An verite, nan dènye semèn sa yo, yon bann aktè politik lanse yon apèl bay popilasyon an pou yo revòlte kont referandòm lan epi itilize tout taktik yo kapab pou yo anpeche vòt la fèt. [Pou yon diskisyon pi detaye sou spesifisite refòm konstitisyonèl la, epi pou konprann poukisa tèlman gen moun ki opoze li, Haitian Studies Association te òganize yon chita pale avèk lidè epi ekspè Ayisyen sou sijè a.]

Se pa sèlman Ayiti k ap debat posibilite pou gen referandòm konstitisyonèl nan zòn lan. Ane pase nan peyi Chili, pi fò pèp la te vote an favè kreyasyon yon nouvo dokiman, epi mwa sa a, yo te vote pou yo mete nouvo reprezantan an plas ki pou kòmanse ekri nouvo tèks la. Yo atann yo aske travay konvansyon konstitisyonèl la pran plizyè mwa, apre sa vòt sou nouvo tèks la ta sipoze fèt an 2022, nan mitan ane a. Gen plizyè regilasyon ki mandate patisipasyon gwoup ki tradisyonèlman majinalize tankou fanm ak popilasyon Endijèn la nan peyi Chili.

An konparezon, dokiman Ayiti a se yon ti komisyon ki ekri l, e moun ki ladan l se moun Prezidan Moïse chwazi li menm. Jou kap 27 Jen, lè komisyon an mande Ayisyen pou yo ale nan biwo vòt, Ayisyen ap oblije vote sou tout kontni tèks la avèk yon senp “wi” oubyen “non,” malgre yo pa wè vèsyon final la. Se jis an Janvye ane sa a ke komisyon an pibliye yon premye vèsyon ki gen chanjman y ap pwopoze yo ; met sou sa, yo pibliye l an Franse sèlman, ki se yon lang majorite pèp ayisyen an pa pale. Yo pibliye yon vèsyon yo revize nan fen mwa Me, yon mwa avan vòt la fèt, e y ap planifye pibliye yon dènye vesyon nan mwa Jen an.

Semèn sa a, apre li rankontre M. Moïse, Anbasadris Amerikèn nan Nasyon Zini, Linda Thomas-Greenfield kanpe dèyè pozisyon ofisyèl kominote entènasyonal la ki di : jiska prezan, preparasyon pou referandòm lan pa “ase transparan oswa enklizif.” Pozisyon piblik Etazini se ke preferans li se pou gouvènman Ayisyen an ta fè plis efò pou òganize eleksyon lejislatif epi prezidansyèl nan fen ane sa a, anvan yo rivesou kontwovèsi konstitisyon an. Nan 17 dènye mwa sa yo, Ayiti fonksyone san palman, kifè tout pwosesis referandòm lan ap fèt ak Prezidan Moïse k ap dirije pa dekrè epi san siveyans lejislatif.

Gen anpil moun ki deja di pou yo, Jovenel Moïse pa ta sipoze nan Palè Nasyonal ankò, ale wè pou l ap òganize yon referandòm epi kreye yon nouvo konstitisyon. Ekspè nan chan legal la, òganizasyon dwa moun, antite relijye avèk yon dal gwoup òganizasyon sosyete sivil kenbe pozisyon yo : manda Jovenel Moïse fini 7 Fevriye 2021. Yo di refòm li yo illegal, epi met sou li, yo di pa gen mwayen pou eleksyon ki lib epi kredib òganize anba sipèvizyon li. Mwa pase, 69 manb kongrè Ameriken an te ekri Sekretè Deta Anthony Blinken pou yo eksprime akò yo.

An Avril, yon reprezantan Depatman Leta, Ned Price, di laprès konsa : “Nou di sa plizyè fwa : refòm konstitisyonèl lan se yon chwa pou pèp Ayisyen an fè.” Li ajoute, “Nou di gouvènman Ayisyen an : gouvènmen Ameriken an pa p bay sipò finansye pou òganizasyon yon referandòm konstitisyonèl.” Men, menm lè Etazini pa ta bay sipò dirèkteman, sa pa vle di ke politik li pa p, nan sans pa l, valide referandòm lan.

Sipò Silansye Kominote Entènasyonal La

Kominote entènasyonal la kontinye fè silans sou kesyon referandòm lan. Kore Gwoup, ki genyen kòm manb, Etazini, Kanada, Brezil, Lafrans, Inyon Ewopeyèn, Nasyon Zini, ak OEA te pibliye yon nòt an Avril tou kote yo te deklare pwosesis la pa t ase transparan ni enklizif. Malgre sa, aktè entènasyonal yo pa janm mande pou gouvènman Ayisyen an anile oswa ranvwaye referandòm lan. Met sou sa, ni Nasyon Zini, ni OEA ap sipote referandòm lan, malgre nòt piblik yo. 

De òganizasyon miltilateral sa yo bay asistans teknik bay komisyon k ap ekri nouvo tèks la depi fòmasyon li ane pase. OEA te menm ede ak revizyon tèks la pou li eseye retire aspè ki te pi pwoblematik yo nan vèsyon original la. Sou bò pa l, Nasyon Zini pwokire materyèl de vòt enpòtan pou konsèy elektoral la k ap fè referandòm lan tou ; yo genyen yon akò tou pou yo apiye yo nan lojistik òganizasyon vòt la. Met sou li, Nasyon Zini ap ede PNH ak strateji sekirite elektoral la. 

Asistans teknik sa a pa anyen devan ensistans kominote entènasyonal la pou eleksyon fèt ane sa a. Li enposib pou eleksyon yo separe de referandòm lan, e sipò òganizasyon entènasyonal sa yo pou eleksyon yo ap sèvi sipò pou referandòm lan tou.

Nouvo konstitisyon an t ap drastikman chanje anviwònman politik peyi a. Premyèman, li t ap ranplase pòs Premye Minis la avèk yon Vis Prezidan, yon ranplasman ki t ap aboli Sena a nèt. Epi tou, si tèks ki pwopoze a apwouve, l ap bay gouvènman an manda pou li mete yon nouvo lwa elektoral. Kòman pou yon moun pale de òganizasyon eleksyon nan kèlke mwa, lè pèsonn pa menm konnen ki pòs k ap genyen nan eleksyon oubyen anba ki lwa eleksyon yo ap fèt ? Klèman, eleksyon yo depann de sa ki pral pase an Jen an.

Met sou li, ensistans entènasyonal la pou eleksyon yo fèt kreye yon pakèt vag kritik sou tout pwosesis vòt la. Konsèy elektoral ki genyen kounya, se Prezidan an ki mete li pa dekrè, e a lankont lalwa ; kou kasasyon an te refize sèmante nouvo manb yo. Se menm konsèy elektoral sa a ki pral fè ni referandòm lan ni eleksyon yo nan fen ane sa a. Si yon moun ap mande òganizasyon eleksyon, pa defo, l ap sipòote òganizasyon referandòm lan tou.

Sipò Etazini pou konsèy elektoral ilegal sa a ale pi lwen toujou ; a travè USAID, gouvènman Ameriken an deja depanse USD $12.6 milyon depi Moïse kòomanse prezidans li, nan non sipò pou “pwosesis elektoral e politik.” Majorite lajan sa a ale jwenn antite ki baze Etazini tankou Enstiti Demokratik Nasyonal, Enstiti Repiblik Entènasyonal, epi Fondasyon Entenasyonal pou Sistèm Elektoral. Òganizasyon sa yo enplemante pwòp pwogram yo, kidonk yo gendwa pa sanble tankou y ap sipòte referandòm lan oswa eleksyon yo “dirèkteman”.

Nan mwa Mas la, Sekretè Adjwen pa Enterim la nan Biwo Afè Emisfè Lwès la pou Depatman Leta Etazini, Julie Chung te tweet : “Etazini atravè @USAID_Haiti, ap ede pèp ayisyen an prepare pou eleksyon yo nan bay @CEP_Haiti, sipò teknik, ranfòse pati politik yo ak ONG yo, epi ogmante patisipasyon fanm yo nan politik ayisyèn nan.”

Se vre Etazini gendwa pa finanse referandòm lan, men pa gen manti nan sa : prensip ak politik kominote entènasyonal la ap travay di pou referandòm ilegal la fèt kout ke kout.

New Constitution: We Will Vote.” 

The billboards are plastered across Port-au-Prince and throughout the country, as the government launches an all-out push ahead of a referendum planned for next month. The government is holding televised “debates,” printing ballots, lobbying international organizations, and apparently laying the groundwork for what it claims is a necessary effort to put Haiti’s governance on a path to success. 

The catch? The campaign is only happening on one side. The entire effort is contested by myriad civil society organizations, grassroots groups, and political parties, all of whom maintain that the referendum is an illegal power grab on the part of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse. In fact, over the last week, a number of prominent political actors have called on the population to revolt against the referendum and use whatever means possible to prevent the vote from taking place. 

[For a more detailed discussion on the specifics of the constitutional reform, and why many in Haiti are so adamantly opposed to it, the Haitian Studies Association recently hosted a roundtable discussion with leading Haitian experts on the subject.] 

Haiti is not the only country in the hemisphere currently debating constitutional reform. Last fall in Chile, voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of creating a new charter, and then earlier this month elected representatives responsible for drafting the new text. The constitutional convention’s work is expected to take many months, and the vote on the new text is not expected until sometime in mid-2022. There are regulations mandating the involvement of traditionally marginalized groups, including women and the nation’s Indigenous population. 

By contrast, Haiti’s new charter was drafted by a small commission composed entirely of members handpicked by the president. On June 27, when Haitians are being asked to go to the polls, they will have to vote on the entirety of the new text with a simple “yes” or “no,” even though they have yet to see the final version. The commission did not issue a first draft of the proposed changes until January, and released it only in French, which the vast majority of Haitians do not speak. It released a revised version in late May, a month before the scheduled vote, and plans to issue one more version in June.

This week, after meeting with Moïse, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, reiterated the official position of the international community that, thus far, preparations for the referendum “have not been sufficiently transparent or inclusive.” The US’s public position is that its preference is for the Haitian government to first focus on holding legislative and presidential elections this fall before tackling the constitution controversy. For the last 17 months, Haiti has been without a functioning parliament, allowing the entire referendum process to unfold with President Moïse ruling by decree and without legislative oversight. 

For many in Haiti, Moïse shouldn’t be in the National Palace anymore, let alone oversee the creation of a new constitution. Legal experts, human rights organizations, religious entities, and a broad-based network of civil society organizations contend that Moïse’s presidential mandate ended on February 7, 2021. They maintain that not only is his reform effort illegal, but that there is no chance for free, fair, or credible elections to be held under his watch at all. Last month, 69 members of the US Congress wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressing their agreement. 

“We have repeatedly stated that constitutional reform is for the Haitian people to decide,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told the press in late April. “We’ve emphasized to the Haitian government that the US government will not provide financial support for a constitutional referendum.” But, while the US isn’t providing direct support, that does not mean its policy is not de facto enabling the referendum. 

The International Community’s Silent Support

The international community has remained largely silent on the question of the referendum. The Core Group, which consists of the US, Canada, Brazil, France, the EU, the UN, and the OAS, among others, issued a statement in April noting that the process was not sufficiently transparent or inclusive. Nevertheless, international actors have refrained from explicitly calling for its cancellation or even its delay. Further, both the UN and the OAS are actively providing support for the referendum, despite their public statements of concern. 

These two multilateral organizations have provided technical assistance to the commission tasked with drafting the new text since it was formed last fall. The OAS even helped with revisions to the text in an attempt to remove some of the more controversial aspects in the original. The UN, meanwhile, has helped to procure sensitive voting materials for the electoral council overseeing the referendum and has an agreement in place to provide logistics for holding the vote. The UN is also helping to advise the national police on an electoral security strategy. 

But, more important than this technical assistance is the international community’s insistence on the holding of elections this fall. It is simply impossible to separate elections from the referendum, and donor support for the former is making the latter more likely by the day. 

For starters, the new constitution would drastically alter the political landscape; for example, replacing the post of prime minister with a vice president, and abolishing the Senate altogether. Additionally, the draft text, if approved, mandates the government to institute a new electoral law. How can one speak of organizing elections in a few months when nobody even knows what posts will actually be contested, or under what laws? Clearly, the elections depend to a great degree on what happens in June. 

Further, the international push for elections papers over valid criticisms of the broader voting process. The current electoral council was appointed by decree by the president, contrary to the law; the supreme court refused to swear in the new members. This is the electoral council that is set to oversee both the referendum and the elections later this year. By supporting their management of elections, one inherently supports their management of the referendum. 

The US support for the illegal electoral council goes even further. Through USAID, the US government has spent $12.6 million since Moïse was elected in support of “elections and political processes.” Most of that money goes to US-based entities like the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International Republic Institute (IRI), and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). The organizations implement their own programs, and so do not necessarily equate to “direct” support to the referendum or to elections. 

But, in late March, acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Julie Chung tweeted: “The U.S., via @USAID_Haiti, is helping the Haitian people prepare for elections by providing technical support to the @cep_haiti, strengthening political parties and NGOs, and increasing the participation of women in Haitian politics.”

The US may not be directly funding the referendum, but make no mistake, the policies of the international community are going a long way toward ensuring the controversial referendum takes place as scheduled. 

New Constitution: We Will Vote.” 

The billboards are plastered across Port-au-Prince and throughout the country, as the government launches an all-out push ahead of a referendum planned for next month. The government is holding televised “debates,” printing ballots, lobbying international organizations, and apparently laying the groundwork for what it claims is a necessary effort to put Haiti’s governance on a path to success. 

The catch? The campaign is only happening on one side. The entire effort is contested by myriad civil society organizations, grassroots groups, and political parties, all of whom maintain that the referendum is an illegal power grab on the part of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse. In fact, over the last week, a number of prominent political actors have called on the population to revolt against the referendum and use whatever means possible to prevent the vote from taking place. 

[For a more detailed discussion on the specifics of the constitutional reform, and why many in Haiti are so adamantly opposed to it, the Haitian Studies Association recently hosted a roundtable discussion with leading Haitian experts on the subject.] 

Haiti is not the only country in the hemisphere currently debating constitutional reform. Last fall in Chile, voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of creating a new charter, and then earlier this month elected representatives responsible for drafting the new text. The constitutional convention’s work is expected to take many months, and the vote on the new text is not expected until sometime in mid-2022. There are regulations mandating the involvement of traditionally marginalized groups, including women and the nation’s Indigenous population. 

By contrast, Haiti’s new charter was drafted by a small commission composed entirely of members handpicked by the president. On June 27, when Haitians are being asked to go to the polls, they will have to vote on the entirety of the new text with a simple “yes” or “no,” even though they have yet to see the final version. The commission did not issue a first draft of the proposed changes until January, and released it only in French, which the vast majority of Haitians do not speak. It released a revised version in late May, a month before the scheduled vote, and plans to issue one more version in June.

This week, after meeting with Moïse, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, reiterated the official position of the international community that, thus far, preparations for the referendum “have not been sufficiently transparent or inclusive.” The US’s public position is that its preference is for the Haitian government to first focus on holding legislative and presidential elections this fall before tackling the constitution controversy. For the last 17 months, Haiti has been without a functioning parliament, allowing the entire referendum process to unfold with President Moïse ruling by decree and without legislative oversight. 

For many in Haiti, Moïse shouldn’t be in the National Palace anymore, let alone oversee the creation of a new constitution. Legal experts, human rights organizations, religious entities, and a broad-based network of civil society organizations contend that Moïse’s presidential mandate ended on February 7, 2021. They maintain that not only is his reform effort illegal, but that there is no chance for free, fair, or credible elections to be held under his watch at all. Last month, 69 members of the US Congress wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressing their agreement. 

“We have repeatedly stated that constitutional reform is for the Haitian people to decide,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told the press in late April. “We’ve emphasized to the Haitian government that the US government will not provide financial support for a constitutional referendum.” But, while the US isn’t providing direct support, that does not mean its policy is not de facto enabling the referendum. 

The International Community’s Silent Support

The international community has remained largely silent on the question of the referendum. The Core Group, which consists of the US, Canada, Brazil, France, the EU, the UN, and the OAS, among others, issued a statement in April noting that the process was not sufficiently transparent or inclusive. Nevertheless, international actors have refrained from explicitly calling for its cancellation or even its delay. Further, both the UN and the OAS are actively providing support for the referendum, despite their public statements of concern. 

These two multilateral organizations have provided technical assistance to the commission tasked with drafting the new text since it was formed last fall. The OAS even helped with revisions to the text in an attempt to remove some of the more controversial aspects in the original. The UN, meanwhile, has helped to procure sensitive voting materials for the electoral council overseeing the referendum and has an agreement in place to provide logistics for holding the vote. The UN is also helping to advise the national police on an electoral security strategy. 

But, more important than this technical assistance is the international community’s insistence on the holding of elections this fall. It is simply impossible to separate elections from the referendum, and donor support for the former is making the latter more likely by the day. 

For starters, the new constitution would drastically alter the political landscape; for example, replacing the post of prime minister with a vice president, and abolishing the Senate altogether. Additionally, the draft text, if approved, mandates the government to institute a new electoral law. How can one speak of organizing elections in a few months when nobody even knows what posts will actually be contested, or under what laws? Clearly, the elections depend to a great degree on what happens in June. 

Further, the international push for elections papers over valid criticisms of the broader voting process. The current electoral council was appointed by decree by the president, contrary to the law; the supreme court refused to swear in the new members. This is the electoral council that is set to oversee both the referendum and the elections later this year. By supporting their management of elections, one inherently supports their management of the referendum. 

The US support for the illegal electoral council goes even further. Through USAID, the US government has spent $12.6 million since Moïse was elected in support of “elections and political processes.” Most of that money goes to US-based entities like the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International Republic Institute (IRI), and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). The organizations implement their own programs, and so do not necessarily equate to “direct” support to the referendum or to elections. 

But, in late March, acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Julie Chung tweeted: “The U.S., via @USAID_Haiti, is helping the Haitian people prepare for elections by providing technical support to the @cep_haiti, strengthening political parties and NGOs, and increasing the participation of women in Haitian politics.”

The US may not be directly funding the referendum, but make no mistake, the policies of the international community are going a long way toward ensuring the controversial referendum takes place as scheduled. 

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