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.

The following post is a guest submission from Marc J. Cohen and Tonny Joseph. 

Breakfast in Haiti typically includes manba, the local peanut butter. Unlike the smooth or chunky product found in the United States, it frequently includes a kick from chili peppers!

Haitian peanut butter stands out in another way. In a country where 60% of the food supply—and 80% or more of the rice—comes from abroad, most of the manba is processed locally from Haitian-grown peanuts. Though few Haitian farmers make their living entirely from peanuts, they represent an important income stream, particularly as they can resist the punishing droughts that Haiti has faced over the past few years. For low-income rural women, earnings from artisanal processing of peanut butter and peanut brittle, and from selling unshelled peanuts or peanut-based candy and pastry, mean a degree of economic empowerment and the ability to contribute to family expenses such as school fees and healthcare costs, as well as food.

Two US NGOs, Meds & Food for Kids (MFK) and Partners in Health, work with Haitian farmers to obtain peanuts used to produce ready-to-use foods for treating acutely malnourished children. MFK calls its product “medika manba.”  

The US government has provided substantial support to Haiti’s peanut production. Through the Feed the Future Initiative and other channels, US aid has helped boost Haitian peanut growers’ productivity and assisted them in harvesting goobers free from aflatoxin, a carcinogenic mold that is a major problem affecting Haitian peanuts.

So far, this sounds like a pretty positive story. But things took a nasty turn in 2016. In March of that year, the US Department of Agriculture announced what it called a “humanitarian” donation of 500 metric tons of dry roasted US peanuts to provide snacks for 140,000 malnourished school children. For many Haitians and international advocacy groups following development issues in Haiti, this looked like surplus dumping, or, worse, an effort to pry open the Haitian peanut market at the expense of thousands of local low-income producers, processors, and traders.  

As a new report by PAPDA (the Haitian Advocacy Platform for Alternative Development) and Oxfam shows, this perfectly illustrates the clash between two kinds of agriculture: small-scale farming of arid lands, subject to neoliberal policies and deprived of technical and financial support, and overdeveloped agriculture with cutting edge technology and trade protection for farmers. In the United States, 6,500 prosperous and politically well-organized peanut producers receive annual subsidies of $900 million in an exercise some observers have rightly called “naked rent seeking.” In Haiti 35,000 impoverished farmers receive no government support, generally lack organizations to represent their interests, and have only limited ability to access improved seeds, fertilizer, irrigation water, or herbicides to control aflatoxin.

US peanut farmers receive much more generous subsidies than those who grow other government-supported commodities, and the government agrees to acquire their crop if the market price falls below a certain level. Even mainstream economists call these perverse incentives for overproduction “nuts.” The storage costs have led to pressures from Congress and other quarters to move the surpluses overseas as either exports or food aid. The United States is now the world’s third largest peanut exporter.

For many Haitian farmers and advocacy groups, the donation seemed like just the latest chapter in a long history of US domination of Haitian food markets. This has included US-sponsored efforts to eradicate the Haitian pig population as a preemptive strike against African Swine Fever and the US dominance of Haiti’s rice market that followed the removal of import subsidies in 1995.

Also, the 500 tons of peanuts threatened to undermine a decade of US efforts to support Haitian peanut growers. The inconsistency between US agricultural trade policy on the one hand and agricultural assistance on the other called into question the effectiveness of US aid, going against the principle known as “policy coherence for development,” which holds that donor-country policies should mutually reinforce one another in promoting development.

The PAPDA-Oxfam report recommends that the Haitian government provide significant support to the peanut value chain. It also encourages the United States and other donor-country governments to continue providing aid to Haitian peanut production, while avoiding agricultural trade policies that undermine such assistance. The paper concludes by noting that the peanut value chain in Haiti is worthy of support as it represents a reliable economic, cultural, and nutritional pillar of Haitian society.

Last week, on May 1, Haitians celebrated their annual Agriculture and Labor Day holiday. Amidst the very difficult economic, political, and social conditions Haiti is facing, now vastly complicated by the effects of the coronavirus, it would be wonderful if the country could celebrate by exercising sovereignty over this one piece of its food and agriculture system.

Marc J. Cohen is a senior researcher at Oxfam, based in Washington, DC. Tonny Joseph is a Haitian political scientist and consultant based in Pétion Ville, Haiti. They co-authored the recent PAPDA-Oxfam report with PAPDA colleagues.

The following post is a guest submission from Marc J. Cohen and Tonny Joseph. 

Breakfast in Haiti typically includes manba, the local peanut butter. Unlike the smooth or chunky product found in the United States, it frequently includes a kick from chili peppers!

Haitian peanut butter stands out in another way. In a country where 60% of the food supply—and 80% or more of the rice—comes from abroad, most of the manba is processed locally from Haitian-grown peanuts. Though few Haitian farmers make their living entirely from peanuts, they represent an important income stream, particularly as they can resist the punishing droughts that Haiti has faced over the past few years. For low-income rural women, earnings from artisanal processing of peanut butter and peanut brittle, and from selling unshelled peanuts or peanut-based candy and pastry, mean a degree of economic empowerment and the ability to contribute to family expenses such as school fees and healthcare costs, as well as food.

Two US NGOs, Meds & Food for Kids (MFK) and Partners in Health, work with Haitian farmers to obtain peanuts used to produce ready-to-use foods for treating acutely malnourished children. MFK calls its product “medika manba.”  

The US government has provided substantial support to Haiti’s peanut production. Through the Feed the Future Initiative and other channels, US aid has helped boost Haitian peanut growers’ productivity and assisted them in harvesting goobers free from aflatoxin, a carcinogenic mold that is a major problem affecting Haitian peanuts.

So far, this sounds like a pretty positive story. But things took a nasty turn in 2016. In March of that year, the US Department of Agriculture announced what it called a “humanitarian” donation of 500 metric tons of dry roasted US peanuts to provide snacks for 140,000 malnourished school children. For many Haitians and international advocacy groups following development issues in Haiti, this looked like surplus dumping, or, worse, an effort to pry open the Haitian peanut market at the expense of thousands of local low-income producers, processors, and traders.  

As a new report by PAPDA (the Haitian Advocacy Platform for Alternative Development) and Oxfam shows, this perfectly illustrates the clash between two kinds of agriculture: small-scale farming of arid lands, subject to neoliberal policies and deprived of technical and financial support, and overdeveloped agriculture with cutting edge technology and trade protection for farmers. In the United States, 6,500 prosperous and politically well-organized peanut producers receive annual subsidies of $900 million in an exercise some observers have rightly called “naked rent seeking.” In Haiti 35,000 impoverished farmers receive no government support, generally lack organizations to represent their interests, and have only limited ability to access improved seeds, fertilizer, irrigation water, or herbicides to control aflatoxin.

US peanut farmers receive much more generous subsidies than those who grow other government-supported commodities, and the government agrees to acquire their crop if the market price falls below a certain level. Even mainstream economists call these perverse incentives for overproduction “nuts.” The storage costs have led to pressures from Congress and other quarters to move the surpluses overseas as either exports or food aid. The United States is now the world’s third largest peanut exporter.

For many Haitian farmers and advocacy groups, the donation seemed like just the latest chapter in a long history of US domination of Haitian food markets. This has included US-sponsored efforts to eradicate the Haitian pig population as a preemptive strike against African Swine Fever and the US dominance of Haiti’s rice market that followed the removal of import subsidies in 1995.

Also, the 500 tons of peanuts threatened to undermine a decade of US efforts to support Haitian peanut growers. The inconsistency between US agricultural trade policy on the one hand and agricultural assistance on the other called into question the effectiveness of US aid, going against the principle known as “policy coherence for development,” which holds that donor-country policies should mutually reinforce one another in promoting development.

The PAPDA-Oxfam report recommends that the Haitian government provide significant support to the peanut value chain. It also encourages the United States and other donor-country governments to continue providing aid to Haitian peanut production, while avoiding agricultural trade policies that undermine such assistance. The paper concludes by noting that the peanut value chain in Haiti is worthy of support as it represents a reliable economic, cultural, and nutritional pillar of Haitian society.

Last week, on May 1, Haitians celebrated their annual Agriculture and Labor Day holiday. Amidst the very difficult economic, political, and social conditions Haiti is facing, now vastly complicated by the effects of the coronavirus, it would be wonderful if the country could celebrate by exercising sovereignty over this one piece of its food and agriculture system.

Marc J. Cohen is a senior researcher at Oxfam, based in Washington, DC. Tonny Joseph is a Haitian political scientist and consultant based in Pétion Ville, Haiti. They co-authored the recent PAPDA-Oxfam report with PAPDA colleagues.

[Editor’s Note: The day after publication, the Miami Herald reported that Emmanuel Constant had been removed from the deportation flight. An updated version of the article, in Haitian Kreyòl, was published by Ayibopost.]

An kreyòl

As the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down borders and airports across the world, planes chartered by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continue to fly. Every two or three weeks, a deportation flight operated by Swift Air, LLC has landed at the Port-au-Prince airport. After one such flight in early April, at least three of those deported tested positive for COVID-19. The pandemic is now sweeping through ICE detention facilities, putting the lives of tens of thousands at risk and highlighting the public health ramifications of continued deportations. 

Next week, another ICE Air deportation flight is scheduled to arrive in Haiti. But the controversy will extend far beyond the health and well-being of those on board. According to a flight manifest obtained by HRRW, ICE is planning to deport Emmanuel “Toto” Constant, a former death squad leader who has been in a New York state prison for the past 12 years on grand larceny and mortgage fraud charges. Constant is listed in the manifest as a “High Profile Removal.”

Continued deportations have presented an additional strain on an already overburdened public health system, as the Haitian government has been forced to use scarce resources to quarantine and care for the dozens who arrive every few weeks. In late April, a government-backed scientific commission supporting the country’s COVID-19 response asked president Jovenel Moïse to halt further deportations during the pandemic. Representatives of the Haitian government did not respond to a request for comment.

ICE has announced it will increase testing of deportees after pushback from regional governments but it is unclear how systematic the testing will be. ICE has stated that they would only receive about 2,000 tests per month — far below the estimated number of deportations. Nevertheless, the recent ICE changes have assuaged concerns from some countries in the region, which have been under increasing diplomatic pressure from the Trump administration to continue allowing ICE Air deportation flights. According to data compiled by CEPR, ICE has made at least 246 deportation flights since the beginning of February. After a brief respite, this week the pace of deportations has increased dramatically.

The Haitian government has pushed back on the deportations. Claude Joseph, the foreign minister, told the Miami Herald in April that he had been in communication with his counterparts in the US advocating for a moratorium on deportation flights. He said that the US had agreed to temporarily suspend the deportation of those with “criminal” backgrounds to avoid further crowding Haiti’s already overcrowded prison system. But, the US has thus far rejected an outright stop to the flights. A former Haitian government official said that there had been continued discussions around a moratorium of all flights. It appears that effort has failed.  

On Monday, May 11, the next ICE Air deportation flight is scheduled to arrive in Port-au-Prince, according to the flight manifest. ICE identifies 51 of the flight’s 101 passengers as having criminal backgrounds. One of those is Constant, the 63-year old former death squad leader. ICE did not respond to a request for comment; the agency has a general policy of not commenting on future deportation flights. The flight manifest is a “tentative” list of passengers; it could still be changed before the flight.

Constant was facing up to 37 years in jail, but New York State prison records show that Constant was released to ICE custody on April 7 — 12 years after his conviction — in order to face deportation. Constant’s next parole hearing had been scheduled for August, 2020. ICE records show he is currently being held at the ICE federal detention facility in Buffalo, NY — where at least 45 of those detained have confirmed COVID-19 cases. 


Sources:
http://nysdoccslookup.doccs.ny.gov/ and https://locator.ice.gov/odls/#/index.

The Long Struggle for Accountability, Reignited

Constant was the former head of the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH), a paramilitary organization that was responsible for the extrajudicial killing of an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 Haitians in the aftermath of the 1991 military coup — as well as thousands of incidents of rape, torture, and arbitrary detention. Constant, it was later revealed, was on the CIA payroll during this period.

Upon the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in late 1994, Constant left Haiti and settled in the New York City area. In 2000, a Haitian court convicted Constant and 14 others in absentia for their involvement in a 1994 massacre in the small town of Raboteau. A civil action resulted in a $140 million award to victims’ families. In 2005, following the second ouster of Aristide, the high court in Haiti overturned the sentences for those who had been tried in person. The judgement against Constant remains valid, however, according to human rights organizations. 

US courts have also recognized Constant’s responsibility for crimes against humanity, however. On behalf of three Haitian women who had been terrorized by Constant, the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) brought a civil case against Constant in 2004 and eventually won a $19 million civil judgment. Constant appealed the ruling, but the judgment was upheld by a federal court in 2009. 

Separately, in 2008, Constant was convicted on charges of grand larceny and mortgage fraud in New York State Court and sentenced to 12 to 37 years. He remained in state prison until last month, when he was quietly released to ICE custody. In 2016, when Constant was up for parole, lawyers with CCR and CJA wrote to the New York State Parole Board cautioning against such a release: “If Constant were released from incarceration in New York, he would pose a serious flight risk, and might return to Haiti to exploit the tense situation to his political advantage.” 

Now, the Trump administration is putting Constant on an ICE Air deportation flight direct to Haiti. But it remains unclear what will await the former CIA-backed death squad leader upon his arrival.

“If Constant is, indeed, deported to Haiti next week, the obligations of the Haitian criminal justice system are clear,” said Mario Joseph. The state must “arrest Constant as soon as he arrives and ensure that he is held accountable to the people of Haiti.” Joseph, a prominent Haitian human rights lawyer with the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), was the lawyer who secured the guilty verdict in the Raboteau Massacre case on behalf of victims’ families. Twenty years later, however, the struggle for justice and accountability remains as distant as ever.

Constant, Joseph said, could either accept the existing judgment against him or demand a new trial as he had been tried in absentia. Joseph noted, however, that Haiti’s justice system has allowed others convicted in the Raboteau Massacre to go free, including Jean Robert Gabriel, who the Haitian government appointed to the high command of the reconstituted Haitian armed forces in 2018. Joseph added that Constant had fled Haiti in 1994 precisely to avoid accountability for his heinous crimes and that the US had failed to execute a judicial order requiring his return to Haiti at the time of the Raboteau trial. 

“As with the Raboteau trials, which no one thought could be successfully prosecuted at the time, BAI will continue to advocate for justice for Constant’s victims,” Joseph said. “The law of Haiti is clear on what must happen next. It is my hope that the Haitian government lives up to its responsibilities.”

Constant is the most notorious among the 101 Haitians that the US intends to deport next week, and the case most fraught with political implications. But there will be 100 others, including 50 who may be facing further jail time back in their native Haiti. The Haitian government has thus far been using hotels in the capital to quarantine those who arrive via Swift Air flights every few weeks. It has provided meals and pledged medical support to deportees, but it is unclear what it will do with those facing criminal charges.

In 2019, Haiti’s prison occupancy rate was 358 percent — the jails are notoriously and chronically overcrowded, holding three-and-a-half times as many as they should be. The pandemic has shone fresh light at the horrid conditions of prisons — including in the US, where COVID-19 is spreading far faster among the prison population than among the general public. Governments across the globe, including in Haiti, are under pressure to remove people from prisons as a matter of public health. From March 19, when Haiti declared a national emergency, to April 15, at least 459 prisoners were released in Haiti, according to the National Human Rights Defense Network. 

“Given the inhumane conditions and overcrowding in Haiti’s prisons, it is important the government release those detained — especially the large number of individuals who have never faced a judge and have been held indefinitely while facing only minor charges,” said Rosy Auguste of the National Network for Human Rights Organizations (RNDDH). Even with Haiti’s prisons overflowing, the country is facing a crisis of impunity — with those politically connected seemingly protected from justice. “Further deportations will only place additional strain on Haiti’s institutions,” Auguste added.  

ICE is facing increasing pressure in the US over its continued deportations as well. Last week, 15 Senators wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf requesting a halt to deportations until ICE can ensure all deportees have been tested first. The letter followed previous efforts in the House, led by Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), that had called on ICE to suspend all further deportations to Haiti amid the pandemic.

The deportation of Constant “complicates things on so many levels,” Guerline Jozef, the executive director of the Haiti Bridge Alliance, said. “We don’t know why they are deporting him now, especially understanding the current situation with Haiti’s politics.” Jozef said she is worried that Constant’s return will create even more instability, especially considering his past conviction by a Haitian court. 

But for Jozef, whose organization spearheaded a letter last month from 164 organizations calling for an end to deportations during the pandemic, the bigger picture remains halting all such flights. “No matter how you look at it, continuing with deportations means continued exportation of COVID-19 throughout the region.”

[Editor’s Note: The day after publication, the Miami Herald reported that Emmanuel Constant had been removed from the deportation flight. An updated version of the article, in Haitian Kreyòl, was published by Ayibopost.]

An kreyòl

As the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down borders and airports across the world, planes chartered by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continue to fly. Every two or three weeks, a deportation flight operated by Swift Air, LLC has landed at the Port-au-Prince airport. After one such flight in early April, at least three of those deported tested positive for COVID-19. The pandemic is now sweeping through ICE detention facilities, putting the lives of tens of thousands at risk and highlighting the public health ramifications of continued deportations. 

Next week, another ICE Air deportation flight is scheduled to arrive in Haiti. But the controversy will extend far beyond the health and well-being of those on board. According to a flight manifest obtained by HRRW, ICE is planning to deport Emmanuel “Toto” Constant, a former death squad leader who has been in a New York state prison for the past 12 years on grand larceny and mortgage fraud charges. Constant is listed in the manifest as a “High Profile Removal.”

Continued deportations have presented an additional strain on an already overburdened public health system, as the Haitian government has been forced to use scarce resources to quarantine and care for the dozens who arrive every few weeks. In late April, a government-backed scientific commission supporting the country’s COVID-19 response asked president Jovenel Moïse to halt further deportations during the pandemic. Representatives of the Haitian government did not respond to a request for comment.

ICE has announced it will increase testing of deportees after pushback from regional governments but it is unclear how systematic the testing will be. ICE has stated that they would only receive about 2,000 tests per month — far below the estimated number of deportations. Nevertheless, the recent ICE changes have assuaged concerns from some countries in the region, which have been under increasing diplomatic pressure from the Trump administration to continue allowing ICE Air deportation flights. According to data compiled by CEPR, ICE has made at least 246 deportation flights since the beginning of February. After a brief respite, this week the pace of deportations has increased dramatically.

The Haitian government has pushed back on the deportations. Claude Joseph, the foreign minister, told the Miami Herald in April that he had been in communication with his counterparts in the US advocating for a moratorium on deportation flights. He said that the US had agreed to temporarily suspend the deportation of those with “criminal” backgrounds to avoid further crowding Haiti’s already overcrowded prison system. But, the US has thus far rejected an outright stop to the flights. A former Haitian government official said that there had been continued discussions around a moratorium of all flights. It appears that effort has failed.  

On Monday, May 11, the next ICE Air deportation flight is scheduled to arrive in Port-au-Prince, according to the flight manifest. ICE identifies 51 of the flight’s 101 passengers as having criminal backgrounds. One of those is Constant, the 63-year old former death squad leader. ICE did not respond to a request for comment; the agency has a general policy of not commenting on future deportation flights. The flight manifest is a “tentative” list of passengers; it could still be changed before the flight.

Constant was facing up to 37 years in jail, but New York State prison records show that Constant was released to ICE custody on April 7 — 12 years after his conviction — in order to face deportation. Constant’s next parole hearing had been scheduled for August, 2020. ICE records show he is currently being held at the ICE federal detention facility in Buffalo, NY — where at least 45 of those detained have confirmed COVID-19 cases. 


Sources:
http://nysdoccslookup.doccs.ny.gov/ and https://locator.ice.gov/odls/#/index.

The Long Struggle for Accountability, Reignited

Constant was the former head of the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH), a paramilitary organization that was responsible for the extrajudicial killing of an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 Haitians in the aftermath of the 1991 military coup — as well as thousands of incidents of rape, torture, and arbitrary detention. Constant, it was later revealed, was on the CIA payroll during this period.

Upon the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in late 1994, Constant left Haiti and settled in the New York City area. In 2000, a Haitian court convicted Constant and 14 others in absentia for their involvement in a 1994 massacre in the small town of Raboteau. A civil action resulted in a $140 million award to victims’ families. In 2005, following the second ouster of Aristide, the high court in Haiti overturned the sentences for those who had been tried in person. The judgement against Constant remains valid, however, according to human rights organizations. 

US courts have also recognized Constant’s responsibility for crimes against humanity, however. On behalf of three Haitian women who had been terrorized by Constant, the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) brought a civil case against Constant in 2004 and eventually won a $19 million civil judgment. Constant appealed the ruling, but the judgment was upheld by a federal court in 2009. 

Separately, in 2008, Constant was convicted on charges of grand larceny and mortgage fraud in New York State Court and sentenced to 12 to 37 years. He remained in state prison until last month, when he was quietly released to ICE custody. In 2016, when Constant was up for parole, lawyers with CCR and CJA wrote to the New York State Parole Board cautioning against such a release: “If Constant were released from incarceration in New York, he would pose a serious flight risk, and might return to Haiti to exploit the tense situation to his political advantage.” 

Now, the Trump administration is putting Constant on an ICE Air deportation flight direct to Haiti. But it remains unclear what will await the former CIA-backed death squad leader upon his arrival.

“If Constant is, indeed, deported to Haiti next week, the obligations of the Haitian criminal justice system are clear,” said Mario Joseph. The state must “arrest Constant as soon as he arrives and ensure that he is held accountable to the people of Haiti.” Joseph, a prominent Haitian human rights lawyer with the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), was the lawyer who secured the guilty verdict in the Raboteau Massacre case on behalf of victims’ families. Twenty years later, however, the struggle for justice and accountability remains as distant as ever.

Constant, Joseph said, could either accept the existing judgment against him or demand a new trial as he had been tried in absentia. Joseph noted, however, that Haiti’s justice system has allowed others convicted in the Raboteau Massacre to go free, including Jean Robert Gabriel, who the Haitian government appointed to the high command of the reconstituted Haitian armed forces in 2018. Joseph added that Constant had fled Haiti in 1994 precisely to avoid accountability for his heinous crimes and that the US had failed to execute a judicial order requiring his return to Haiti at the time of the Raboteau trial. 

“As with the Raboteau trials, which no one thought could be successfully prosecuted at the time, BAI will continue to advocate for justice for Constant’s victims,” Joseph said. “The law of Haiti is clear on what must happen next. It is my hope that the Haitian government lives up to its responsibilities.”

Constant is the most notorious among the 101 Haitians that the US intends to deport next week, and the case most fraught with political implications. But there will be 100 others, including 50 who may be facing further jail time back in their native Haiti. The Haitian government has thus far been using hotels in the capital to quarantine those who arrive via Swift Air flights every few weeks. It has provided meals and pledged medical support to deportees, but it is unclear what it will do with those facing criminal charges.

In 2019, Haiti’s prison occupancy rate was 358 percent — the jails are notoriously and chronically overcrowded, holding three-and-a-half times as many as they should be. The pandemic has shone fresh light at the horrid conditions of prisons — including in the US, where COVID-19 is spreading far faster among the prison population than among the general public. Governments across the globe, including in Haiti, are under pressure to remove people from prisons as a matter of public health. From March 19, when Haiti declared a national emergency, to April 15, at least 459 prisoners were released in Haiti, according to the National Human Rights Defense Network. 

“Given the inhumane conditions and overcrowding in Haiti’s prisons, it is important the government release those detained — especially the large number of individuals who have never faced a judge and have been held indefinitely while facing only minor charges,” said Rosy Auguste of the National Network for Human Rights Organizations (RNDDH). Even with Haiti’s prisons overflowing, the country is facing a crisis of impunity — with those politically connected seemingly protected from justice. “Further deportations will only place additional strain on Haiti’s institutions,” Auguste added.  

ICE is facing increasing pressure in the US over its continued deportations as well. Last week, 15 Senators wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf requesting a halt to deportations until ICE can ensure all deportees have been tested first. The letter followed previous efforts in the House, led by Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), that had called on ICE to suspend all further deportations to Haiti amid the pandemic.

The deportation of Constant “complicates things on so many levels,” Guerline Jozef, the executive director of the Haiti Bridge Alliance, said. “We don’t know why they are deporting him now, especially understanding the current situation with Haiti’s politics.” Jozef said she is worried that Constant’s return will create even more instability, especially considering his past conviction by a Haitian court. 

But for Jozef, whose organization spearheaded a letter last month from 164 organizations calling for an end to deportations during the pandemic, the bigger picture remains halting all such flights. “No matter how you look at it, continuing with deportations means continued exportation of COVID-19 throughout the region.”

Jou ki te 19 Mas la, prezidan ayisyen Jovenel Moïse te konfime 2 premye ka Kowonaviris nan peyi a. Depi lè a, nimewo a ogmante a 8. Pou li reponn a sitiyasyon an, prezidan an deklare yon eta dijans sou peyi a; li mande pou tout lekòl, faktori, legliz, peristil, ak lòt espas relijye yo fèmen; li mete entèdiksyon pou moun soti ant 8è nan aswè ak 5è nan maten, epi li fèmen fwontyè peyi a. Gouvènman anonse demach sa yo apre li te finn kanpe tout vòl kap soti nan plizyè peyi.

Premye ka ki te repòte yo te soti nan de moun ki te vwayaje nan lòt peyi. Li enpòtan pou nou note ke leta pa gen anpil kapasite pou li fè tès yo. Mèkredi 25 Mas, te gen 58 tès ki te fèt nan tout peyi a selon dènye rapò epidemyolojik yo. Ministè Sante Piblik anonse yon plan 37.2 milyon dola ameriken pou li konbat pandemi sa a. Òganizasyon lokal ak entènasyonal deja kòmanse travay sou yon repons.

Apre près 2 lane manifestasyon san repons nan men gouvènman an, sitiyasyon ekonomik Ayiti a te rann lavi a difisil pou majorite popilasyon an. Goud la pèdi valè, to a kontinye monte e gouvènman an pako jwenn mwayen pou li ogmante lajan kap fè ekonomi a mache. Gouvènman ayisyen an pa gen anpil resous fiskal ki pou ede l fè fas a pandemi Kowonaviris sa a, e fanmi ayisyen yo ki te deja ap fè fas ak lavi chè ap kontinye viv san yo pa konn sa k ap tann yo demen.

Gen plizyè fasèt ki konplete youn lot nan repons a viris la nan peyi dayiti. Youn dwe konsantre sou sistèm sante peyi a epi kapasite l pou li detekte, trete, epi kontni viris la. Lòt la dwe gade kapasite gouvènman an pou li etabli e aplike lwa ki ankouraje distans sosyal. An sa ki gen rapò ak dezyèm fasèt sa, li enpòtan pou gouvènman an konsidere kijan popilasyon ayisyèn lan viv, entèraji epi siviv, pou lwa ak desizyon gouvènman an ka efektif nan kontni viris la, pwoteje popilasyon an epi asire ke li gen aksè a byen nesesè yo.

Nan moman an, ka ki repòte yo se ka enpòte, men avèk difikilte gouvènman ayisyen an ap genyen pou li enpoze yon karantèn, gen anpil chans pou COVID-19 la gaye nan peyi a. Menm ke deklarasyon eta dijans peyi a te nesesè, fòk efò yo pa kanpe la. Fòk gouvènman an bay pèp la bourad ak sipò legal pou travayè ak pòv yo epi lajan pou sistèm sante peyi a. Nan sans sa a, kominote entènasyonal la jwe yo gwo wòl. Bank Mondyal, Fon Monetè Entènasyonal ak lòt òganizasyon devlopman entènasyonal dwe libere resous pou Ayiti ak lòt peyi k ap devlope pou yo ka byen reponn a pandemi sa a.

Sistèm sante a

Depi avan pandemi Kowonaviris la te rive Ayiti, sistèm sante peyi a te deja gen gwo difikilte. Dapre yon etid ke Research and Education Consortium for Acute Care in Haiti (REACH) fè, Ayiti posede sèlman 124 kabann swen entansif ak 64 respiratè atifisyèl pou yon popilasyon ki gen plis pase 11 milyon moun. Lòt ekspè nan sante piblik Ayiti estime chif sa yo ka pi piti. Se yon gwo pwoblèm paske anpil ayisyen antre nan kategori moun ki a gran ris pou maladi sa a.

Depi kounye a, gen rapò ki sot nan Lopital Inivèsite Deta Ayiti (HUEH) ki di pa vreman gen preparasyon ni resous pou pwoteje moun k ap travay nan lopital yo. Sa se lakòz anpil moun refize travay. HUEH te youn nan edifis ki pou te rekonstwi ak lajan devlopman entènasyonal men apre plis pase 10 lane, plan sa yo poko reyalize.

Sistèm sante Ayiti a depann anpil de aktè prive, ONG epi asistans ak don entènasyonal. Dr. Youri Louis di jounal Haitian Times la ke depi 2013, 64 pousan nan bidjè lasante Ayiti a baze sou èd entènasyonal. Nan plizyè pati nan peyi a, aksè a swen soti sèlman nan ONG ak aktè ki pa nan leta.

Nan yon sistèm ki fragmante, fòk kowòdinasyon an byen fèt. Nan sans sa a, li bon anpil ke òganizasyon nasyonal ak entènasyonal deja ap rankontre pou diskite epi kowòdone mekanis repons. Moun ki enplike nan koze lasante an Ayiti kapab kowòdone repons yo pa rapò a jan yo te reponn epidemi Kolera a, ki te simayen nan peyi a apre sòlda Nasyon Zini te entwodui l nan peyi a. Menm ke repons a epidemi Kolera a pa t bon, dènye lane sa yo wè efò ki pi byen òganize e ki mennen kèk devlopman pozitif.

Sandra Wisner ki travay nan Enstiti pou Jistis ak Demokrasi an Ayiti (IJDH) di jounal Haitian Times la ke fòk repons gouvènman an bay kominote yo plis ankadreman:

Sa vle di aksè epi asire sèvis yo disponib poi kominote yo – kidonk rann tès, trasaj, ak tretman yo disponib kote moun yo ye; asire ke sant sante yo gen resous ak ekipman nesesè, e pou moun k ap travay sou teren yo gen resous yo bezwen pou yo bay pasyan yo bon jan sèvis.

Depi tranblemanntè 12 Janvye 2010 la, Ministè Sante Piblik la te toujou youn nan enstitisyon gouvènman an ki resevwa plis don. Malgre sa, on gwo pòsyon nan asistans entènasyonal la pa rive sipòte sistèm sante peyi a. Li enpòtan pou efò k ap devlope pou fè fas a kriz sa a akse sou ranfòse sistèm sante nasyon an. Byen ke nan 10 dènye lane yo vinn gen ti amelyorasyon, depans pou sante piblik ak nasyonal pako ase e li redui anpil tou

Nan kad batay kont COVID-19 la, gouvènman ayisyen fè apèl a peyi Kiba pou asistans li. Gouvènman an anonse ke te gen 348 profesyonel lasante Kiben nan peyi a pou ede a repons lan, anpil nan yo te deja nan peyi a nan kad asistans jeneral a lasante nan peyi a.

Ekonomi a

Byen avan Kowonaviris la rive nan peyi a, ekspè yo te deja prevwa ekonomi ayisyen an te pral redui de 1% pou chak moun an 2019. Desizyon gouvènman an pran pou li fèmen biznis pral ajoute plis difikilte ekonomik. Strès ekonomik Kowonaviris la ap afekte dyaspora a tou e li posib tou pou nou wè yon rediksyon nan lajan dyaspora a konn voye Ayiti tou, ki se yon gwo sous pou ekonomi peyi a. Ekonomi ayisyen an depann de vèsman sa yo ki yo menm ka redui pandan kominote dyaspora a fè fas a pwòp difikilte pa li ak karantèn epi biznis ki ap fèmen.

Jesyon kriz sa a ap vinn pi difisil paske ayisyen depann anpil de ekonomi enfòmèl la. 60 pousan popilasyon an viv ak mwens ke 2 dola ameriken chak jou. Malgre gouvènman an mande pou tout biznis fèmen, reyalite a se ke anpil moun depann de ekonomi enfòmèl la pou yo siviv.

Nan sans sa a, malgre anons gouvènman yo, mache ak transpò piblik kontinye fonksyone. Mank direktiv pou chofè ak pasaje yo enkyete jounalis nan peyi a. Menm si piblik la okouran de viris la, sa pa chanje anyen, popilasyon an kontinye itilize transpò piblik pou li deplase ak mache piblik pou li manje. Gen plizyè sendika transpòtasyon ki fè rekòmandasyon pou chofè yo redui kantite pasaje pou bis ak taxi pran, men malgre sa leta poko pran inisyativ klè pou li bay direktiv pou ranfòse rekòmandasyon sendika yo epi jere koze transpòtasyon an.

Pandan gouvènman an mande pou tout faktori fèmen tou, li pako klè si gouvènman an ap bay sipò finansye bay travayè yo ki pral afekte. Antèn Ouvriye, ki se yon òganizasyon ki reprezante ouvriye ki travay nan fakotri, kritike gouvènman an poutet li pap asire salè yo pandan faktori yo fèmen. Mèkredi 25 Mas, Premye Minis Joseph Jouthe te anonse ke travayè piblik ak moun ki travay nan sektè tekstil la t ap resevwa lajan pou on mwa men li pako klè kilè sa t ap rive ni ki kantite lajan leta dispoze pou inisyativ sa a.

Pou li ka asire ke kominote yo ka pran aksyon pou yo pwoteje tet yo, fòk gouvènman an kontinye bay sèvis de baz tankou aksè a manje, dlo epi kouran. Kèk peyi deja kòmanse demach ki nesesè epi ogmante depans leta nan sèvis de baz ak pwogram sosyal. Anpil nan yo priyorize sibvansyone salè travayè yo epi lòt deja kòmanse distribye manje bay moun ki depann de aktivite jounalye pou yo siviv. Byen ke resous Ayiti limite, fòk repons gouvènman an gen mezi ladan l pou bay popilasyon an yon souf ekonomik, espesyalman pou machann, ouvriye, ak ti komèsan ki depann anpil sou ekonomi enfòmèl la pou yo viv.

Malgre tou, leta ayisyen depann anpil sou lwa fiskal tankou ogmante kredi atravè bank santral epi f on ti lage sou orè peman, byen ke s on bon bagay, demach sa yo pa p gen gwo enpak sou majorite ayisyen. Si pa gen vre asistans entènasyonal,  gouvènman an ka pa gen resous fiskal nesesè pou li asiste popilasyon an kòrèkteman nan kriz sa a.

Fenomèn monte pri a deja kòmanse e l ap mete plis strès sou yon popilasyon ki deja frajil. Youn nan rezon ki lakòz sa se ke chèn distribisyon manje an Ayiti repoze anpil sou manje enpòte, ki gendwa vin pi difisil pou jwenn nan sitiyasyon moman an. Pandan gouvènman an asire ke ap gen distribisyon manje, fòk li priyorize regilasyon pri manje yo tou pou yo pa monte twòp epi pwoteje moun k ap achte manje. Sa t ap on bon opòtinite pou leta envesti nan sektè agrikilti peyi a, sa t ap on rezon pou stabilize lavi agrikiltè ak machann epi yon bon opòtinite pou ranfòse pwodiskyon nasyonal.

Èd entènasyonal

Li enperatif pou nou rekonèt ke enkapasite pou leta ayisyen byen reponn a kriz sa relye a yon listwa dominasyon, okipasyon ak eksplwatasyon entènasyonal, an plis de plizyè lane move politik sou èd entènasyonal ki destabilize kapasite leta. Malgre sa, menm jan ak tranblemanntè 12 Janvye a, nou ka wè gouvènman ayisyen an pa p ka byen reponn ni jere kriz sa a san sipò kominote entènasyonal la.

Fon Monetè Entènasyonal la ak Bank Mondyal di nan yon deklarasyon ke y ap ankouraje tout “kreditè bilateral yo pou yo kanpe peman dèt peyi IDA ki mande abstansyon.” Byen ke majorite det Ayiti a konsesyonèl (prè yo akòde a to ki swa trè piti oubyen ki a zewo), sponnsò bilateral ak miltilateral ta sipoze kanpe tout koleksyon ak sèvis sou dèt pandan pandemi sa a. BID deja anonse ke yo etabli yon fasilite prè espesyal pou peyi ki enpakte nan pandemi Kowonaviris la.

Fon Monetè Entènasyonal la gen posiblite pou li bay yon vèsman san presedan bay peyi k ap devlope tankou Ayiti, gras ak yon alokasyon spesyal (an angle li rele Special Drawing Rights – SDR). FMI poko deside sou sa men se yon bagay l ap konsidere. Poutèt Ayiti gen yon ti rezèv ak on depandans sou pwodui enpòte, alokasyon sa a t ap bay leta yon bourad ki nesesè anpil.

Li trè pwobab ke si kriz la pwolonje, l ap mete plis presyon sou yon sityasyon ensekirite alimantè frajil nan peyi a. Anpil timoun depann de pwogram manje lekòl yo ki anpil fwa finanse pa òganizasyon entènasyonal. Asistans entènasyonal ap enpòtan nan asire ke gouvènman an ap ka touche kouch popilasyon ki pi vilnerab yo, men fòk aktè entènasyonal yo fè atansyon pou yo pa repete menm erè yo fè deja. Asistans manje ta sipoze ajanse pou li asire pwokiman manje lokal epi pou li sipòte pwodiksyon nasyonal.

Devlopman pandemi Kowonaviris la an Ayiti mande aksyon imedya e konsète de aktè lokal ak entènasyonal, men nan yon peyi kote echèk asistans ak entèvansyon entènasyonal evidan, fòk moun ki konsène nan repons lan fè tout sa yo kapab pou asire yon pi bon fiti pou peyi a.

Jou ki te 19 Mas la, prezidan ayisyen Jovenel Moïse te konfime 2 premye ka Kowonaviris nan peyi a. Depi lè a, nimewo a ogmante a 8. Pou li reponn a sitiyasyon an, prezidan an deklare yon eta dijans sou peyi a; li mande pou tout lekòl, faktori, legliz, peristil, ak lòt espas relijye yo fèmen; li mete entèdiksyon pou moun soti ant 8è nan aswè ak 5è nan maten, epi li fèmen fwontyè peyi a. Gouvènman anonse demach sa yo apre li te finn kanpe tout vòl kap soti nan plizyè peyi.

Premye ka ki te repòte yo te soti nan de moun ki te vwayaje nan lòt peyi. Li enpòtan pou nou note ke leta pa gen anpil kapasite pou li fè tès yo. Mèkredi 25 Mas, te gen 58 tès ki te fèt nan tout peyi a selon dènye rapò epidemyolojik yo. Ministè Sante Piblik anonse yon plan 37.2 milyon dola ameriken pou li konbat pandemi sa a. Òganizasyon lokal ak entènasyonal deja kòmanse travay sou yon repons.

Apre près 2 lane manifestasyon san repons nan men gouvènman an, sitiyasyon ekonomik Ayiti a te rann lavi a difisil pou majorite popilasyon an. Goud la pèdi valè, to a kontinye monte e gouvènman an pako jwenn mwayen pou li ogmante lajan kap fè ekonomi a mache. Gouvènman ayisyen an pa gen anpil resous fiskal ki pou ede l fè fas a pandemi Kowonaviris sa a, e fanmi ayisyen yo ki te deja ap fè fas ak lavi chè ap kontinye viv san yo pa konn sa k ap tann yo demen.

Gen plizyè fasèt ki konplete youn lot nan repons a viris la nan peyi dayiti. Youn dwe konsantre sou sistèm sante peyi a epi kapasite l pou li detekte, trete, epi kontni viris la. Lòt la dwe gade kapasite gouvènman an pou li etabli e aplike lwa ki ankouraje distans sosyal. An sa ki gen rapò ak dezyèm fasèt sa, li enpòtan pou gouvènman an konsidere kijan popilasyon ayisyèn lan viv, entèraji epi siviv, pou lwa ak desizyon gouvènman an ka efektif nan kontni viris la, pwoteje popilasyon an epi asire ke li gen aksè a byen nesesè yo.

Nan moman an, ka ki repòte yo se ka enpòte, men avèk difikilte gouvènman ayisyen an ap genyen pou li enpoze yon karantèn, gen anpil chans pou COVID-19 la gaye nan peyi a. Menm ke deklarasyon eta dijans peyi a te nesesè, fòk efò yo pa kanpe la. Fòk gouvènman an bay pèp la bourad ak sipò legal pou travayè ak pòv yo epi lajan pou sistèm sante peyi a. Nan sans sa a, kominote entènasyonal la jwe yo gwo wòl. Bank Mondyal, Fon Monetè Entènasyonal ak lòt òganizasyon devlopman entènasyonal dwe libere resous pou Ayiti ak lòt peyi k ap devlope pou yo ka byen reponn a pandemi sa a.

Sistèm sante a

Depi avan pandemi Kowonaviris la te rive Ayiti, sistèm sante peyi a te deja gen gwo difikilte. Dapre yon etid ke Research and Education Consortium for Acute Care in Haiti (REACH) fè, Ayiti posede sèlman 124 kabann swen entansif ak 64 respiratè atifisyèl pou yon popilasyon ki gen plis pase 11 milyon moun. Lòt ekspè nan sante piblik Ayiti estime chif sa yo ka pi piti. Se yon gwo pwoblèm paske anpil ayisyen antre nan kategori moun ki a gran ris pou maladi sa a.

Depi kounye a, gen rapò ki sot nan Lopital Inivèsite Deta Ayiti (HUEH) ki di pa vreman gen preparasyon ni resous pou pwoteje moun k ap travay nan lopital yo. Sa se lakòz anpil moun refize travay. HUEH te youn nan edifis ki pou te rekonstwi ak lajan devlopman entènasyonal men apre plis pase 10 lane, plan sa yo poko reyalize.

Sistèm sante Ayiti a depann anpil de aktè prive, ONG epi asistans ak don entènasyonal. Dr. Youri Louis di jounal Haitian Times la ke depi 2013, 64 pousan nan bidjè lasante Ayiti a baze sou èd entènasyonal. Nan plizyè pati nan peyi a, aksè a swen soti sèlman nan ONG ak aktè ki pa nan leta.

Nan yon sistèm ki fragmante, fòk kowòdinasyon an byen fèt. Nan sans sa a, li bon anpil ke òganizasyon nasyonal ak entènasyonal deja ap rankontre pou diskite epi kowòdone mekanis repons. Moun ki enplike nan koze lasante an Ayiti kapab kowòdone repons yo pa rapò a jan yo te reponn epidemi Kolera a, ki te simayen nan peyi a apre sòlda Nasyon Zini te entwodui l nan peyi a. Menm ke repons a epidemi Kolera a pa t bon, dènye lane sa yo wè efò ki pi byen òganize e ki mennen kèk devlopman pozitif.

Sandra Wisner ki travay nan Enstiti pou Jistis ak Demokrasi an Ayiti (IJDH) di jounal Haitian Times la ke fòk repons gouvènman an bay kominote yo plis ankadreman:

Sa vle di aksè epi asire sèvis yo disponib poi kominote yo – kidonk rann tès, trasaj, ak tretman yo disponib kote moun yo ye; asire ke sant sante yo gen resous ak ekipman nesesè, e pou moun k ap travay sou teren yo gen resous yo bezwen pou yo bay pasyan yo bon jan sèvis.

Depi tranblemanntè 12 Janvye 2010 la, Ministè Sante Piblik la te toujou youn nan enstitisyon gouvènman an ki resevwa plis don. Malgre sa, on gwo pòsyon nan asistans entènasyonal la pa rive sipòte sistèm sante peyi a. Li enpòtan pou efò k ap devlope pou fè fas a kriz sa a akse sou ranfòse sistèm sante nasyon an. Byen ke nan 10 dènye lane yo vinn gen ti amelyorasyon, depans pou sante piblik ak nasyonal pako ase e li redui anpil tou

Nan kad batay kont COVID-19 la, gouvènman ayisyen fè apèl a peyi Kiba pou asistans li. Gouvènman an anonse ke te gen 348 profesyonel lasante Kiben nan peyi a pou ede a repons lan, anpil nan yo te deja nan peyi a nan kad asistans jeneral a lasante nan peyi a.

Ekonomi a

Byen avan Kowonaviris la rive nan peyi a, ekspè yo te deja prevwa ekonomi ayisyen an te pral redui de 1% pou chak moun an 2019. Desizyon gouvènman an pran pou li fèmen biznis pral ajoute plis difikilte ekonomik. Strès ekonomik Kowonaviris la ap afekte dyaspora a tou e li posib tou pou nou wè yon rediksyon nan lajan dyaspora a konn voye Ayiti tou, ki se yon gwo sous pou ekonomi peyi a. Ekonomi ayisyen an depann de vèsman sa yo ki yo menm ka redui pandan kominote dyaspora a fè fas a pwòp difikilte pa li ak karantèn epi biznis ki ap fèmen.

Jesyon kriz sa a ap vinn pi difisil paske ayisyen depann anpil de ekonomi enfòmèl la. 60 pousan popilasyon an viv ak mwens ke 2 dola ameriken chak jou. Malgre gouvènman an mande pou tout biznis fèmen, reyalite a se ke anpil moun depann de ekonomi enfòmèl la pou yo siviv.

Nan sans sa a, malgre anons gouvènman yo, mache ak transpò piblik kontinye fonksyone. Mank direktiv pou chofè ak pasaje yo enkyete jounalis nan peyi a. Menm si piblik la okouran de viris la, sa pa chanje anyen, popilasyon an kontinye itilize transpò piblik pou li deplase ak mache piblik pou li manje. Gen plizyè sendika transpòtasyon ki fè rekòmandasyon pou chofè yo redui kantite pasaje pou bis ak taxi pran, men malgre sa leta poko pran inisyativ klè pou li bay direktiv pou ranfòse rekòmandasyon sendika yo epi jere koze transpòtasyon an.

Pandan gouvènman an mande pou tout faktori fèmen tou, li pako klè si gouvènman an ap bay sipò finansye bay travayè yo ki pral afekte. Antèn Ouvriye, ki se yon òganizasyon ki reprezante ouvriye ki travay nan fakotri, kritike gouvènman an poutet li pap asire salè yo pandan faktori yo fèmen. Mèkredi 25 Mas, Premye Minis Joseph Jouthe te anonse ke travayè piblik ak moun ki travay nan sektè tekstil la t ap resevwa lajan pou on mwa men li pako klè kilè sa t ap rive ni ki kantite lajan leta dispoze pou inisyativ sa a.

Pou li ka asire ke kominote yo ka pran aksyon pou yo pwoteje tet yo, fòk gouvènman an kontinye bay sèvis de baz tankou aksè a manje, dlo epi kouran. Kèk peyi deja kòmanse demach ki nesesè epi ogmante depans leta nan sèvis de baz ak pwogram sosyal. Anpil nan yo priyorize sibvansyone salè travayè yo epi lòt deja kòmanse distribye manje bay moun ki depann de aktivite jounalye pou yo siviv. Byen ke resous Ayiti limite, fòk repons gouvènman an gen mezi ladan l pou bay popilasyon an yon souf ekonomik, espesyalman pou machann, ouvriye, ak ti komèsan ki depann anpil sou ekonomi enfòmèl la pou yo viv.

Malgre tou, leta ayisyen depann anpil sou lwa fiskal tankou ogmante kredi atravè bank santral epi f on ti lage sou orè peman, byen ke s on bon bagay, demach sa yo pa p gen gwo enpak sou majorite ayisyen. Si pa gen vre asistans entènasyonal,  gouvènman an ka pa gen resous fiskal nesesè pou li asiste popilasyon an kòrèkteman nan kriz sa a.

Fenomèn monte pri a deja kòmanse e l ap mete plis strès sou yon popilasyon ki deja frajil. Youn nan rezon ki lakòz sa se ke chèn distribisyon manje an Ayiti repoze anpil sou manje enpòte, ki gendwa vin pi difisil pou jwenn nan sitiyasyon moman an. Pandan gouvènman an asire ke ap gen distribisyon manje, fòk li priyorize regilasyon pri manje yo tou pou yo pa monte twòp epi pwoteje moun k ap achte manje. Sa t ap on bon opòtinite pou leta envesti nan sektè agrikilti peyi a, sa t ap on rezon pou stabilize lavi agrikiltè ak machann epi yon bon opòtinite pou ranfòse pwodiskyon nasyonal.

Èd entènasyonal

Li enperatif pou nou rekonèt ke enkapasite pou leta ayisyen byen reponn a kriz sa relye a yon listwa dominasyon, okipasyon ak eksplwatasyon entènasyonal, an plis de plizyè lane move politik sou èd entènasyonal ki destabilize kapasite leta. Malgre sa, menm jan ak tranblemanntè 12 Janvye a, nou ka wè gouvènman ayisyen an pa p ka byen reponn ni jere kriz sa a san sipò kominote entènasyonal la.

Fon Monetè Entènasyonal la ak Bank Mondyal di nan yon deklarasyon ke y ap ankouraje tout “kreditè bilateral yo pou yo kanpe peman dèt peyi IDA ki mande abstansyon.” Byen ke majorite det Ayiti a konsesyonèl (prè yo akòde a to ki swa trè piti oubyen ki a zewo), sponnsò bilateral ak miltilateral ta sipoze kanpe tout koleksyon ak sèvis sou dèt pandan pandemi sa a. BID deja anonse ke yo etabli yon fasilite prè espesyal pou peyi ki enpakte nan pandemi Kowonaviris la.

Fon Monetè Entènasyonal la gen posiblite pou li bay yon vèsman san presedan bay peyi k ap devlope tankou Ayiti, gras ak yon alokasyon spesyal (an angle li rele Special Drawing Rights – SDR). FMI poko deside sou sa men se yon bagay l ap konsidere. Poutèt Ayiti gen yon ti rezèv ak on depandans sou pwodui enpòte, alokasyon sa a t ap bay leta yon bourad ki nesesè anpil.

Li trè pwobab ke si kriz la pwolonje, l ap mete plis presyon sou yon sityasyon ensekirite alimantè frajil nan peyi a. Anpil timoun depann de pwogram manje lekòl yo ki anpil fwa finanse pa òganizasyon entènasyonal. Asistans entènasyonal ap enpòtan nan asire ke gouvènman an ap ka touche kouch popilasyon ki pi vilnerab yo, men fòk aktè entènasyonal yo fè atansyon pou yo pa repete menm erè yo fè deja. Asistans manje ta sipoze ajanse pou li asire pwokiman manje lokal epi pou li sipòte pwodiksyon nasyonal.

Devlopman pandemi Kowonaviris la an Ayiti mande aksyon imedya e konsète de aktè lokal ak entènasyonal, men nan yon peyi kote echèk asistans ak entèvansyon entènasyonal evidan, fòk moun ki konsène nan repons lan fè tout sa yo kapab pou asire yon pi bon fiti pou peyi a.

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On March 19, Haitian president Jovenel Moïse confirmed the first two cases of the novel coronavirus in Haiti. The number has since increased to eight. In response, the president has declared a state of emergency and ordered schools, factories, and religious entities to close; established a curfew; and closed the country’s borders. The government announced the new policies after previously suspending air travel from most countries.  

The initial reported cases both related to individuals who had traveled internationally. There has, however, only been limited local testing. As of March 25, 58 tests had been administered nationwide, according to the latest epidemiological update. The Ministry of Health has outlined a plan to combat the pandemic in Haiti, estimating a budget of $37.2 million. Already, international and local organizations have been meeting to coordinate the response.

After nearly two years of sustained protests and government inaction, the economic situation in Haiti has already made life exceedingly difficult for the vast majority of the population. The currency has rapidly depreciated, inflation has remained elevated, and the government has been unable to increase revenues domestically or through international assistance. The Haitian government has few fiscal resources to draw upon in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, and Haitian families, many already pushed to the edge, are facing an increasingly perilous future. 

There are multiple complementary aspects of the response to this virus in Haiti. One centers on the health care system and the ability to adequately detect, treat, and contain the virus. The other relates to the government’s ability to establish and enforce policies that encourage physical distancing. In addressing the latter, it is important to consider how the Haitian population interacts, lives, and survives in order to implement effective policies to contain the virus, protect the population, and ensure access to essential goods.

The cases reported have so far been marked as imported, but with the difficulties of enforcing a sustained national quarantine, Haiti is facing the very real risk of COVID-19 spreading locally. While declaring a state of emergency nationwide was a necessary step, it needs to be boosted by provisions for workers and the poor, and allocations for the health care system. The international community must also play a role, with the World Bank, IMF, and other multilateral development organizations immediately freeing up resources for Haiti and other developing nations to respond to the pandemic.  

The Health Care System

Prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Haiti’s health care system faced many challenges. According to a 2019 study by the Research and Education consortium for Acute Care in Haiti (REACH), Haiti only has an estimated 124 ICU beds and 64 ventilators for a population of more than 11 million. Other public health experts have put those figures even lower. This is a serious concern, especially given the relatively high proportion of the population considered to be at an elevated risk.

Already, there have been reports from the State University Hospital (HUEH) of inadequate preparation and supplies of protective equipment, which has led to some health professionals refusing to work. The HUEH was one of the marquee post-quake international reconstruction projects, but, more than ten years later, those plans remain mostly unrealized.

Haiti’s health care system overall is extremely reliant on private actors, including foreign assistance and NGOs. Dr. Youri Louis told the Haitian Times that, as of 2013, 64 percent of Haiti’s health budget derived from international assistance. In many parts of the country, access to health care is only provided by nonstate actors.

In such a fragmented system, coordination will be critical. In this regard, it is positive that national and international organizations are already meeting and discussing coordinated response mechanisms. Health actors in Haiti can draw upon their experiences combatting the cholera epidemic, which spread in Haiti after its introduction by United Nations troops in 2010. While the response to cholera was woefully inadequate, more coordinated and concerted efforts in recent years have led to some positive developments. As Sandra Wisner of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti told the Haitian Times, empowering communities must be a key aspect of any successful response:

This includes access and ensuring services are available to communities ― so having available where people are, tracing, treatment; health facilities resources with the necessary supplies, and ensuring front line workers have the resources and tools they need to provide safe and effective care and treatment for patients.

Since the 2010 earthquake, the Haitian Ministry of Health has been one of the only government institutions that has received direct donor support. Nevertheless, a significant portion of foreign assistance bypasses national health systems. It is vitally important that efforts to respond to the current pandemic also focus on strengthening the government’s health care infrastructure. Though some improvements have been evident over the previous decade, national health spending remains woefully inadequate and has actually decreased in recent years

The government has also appealed to Cuba for assistance in fighting the pandemic. The government announced there were 348 Cuban health professionals in the country to respond, many of whom were already in the country as part of Cuba’s decades-long assistance in providing health care in Haiti.

The Economy

Even before the arrival of the novel coronavirus, the Haitian economy was projected to shrink by 1 percent on a per capita basis in 2019. The government’s directive to close businesses will bring additional economic hardship. Remittances, on which the Haitian economy relies, may also see a reduction as diaspora communities struggle in their own communities with quarantines and business closures. 

Haitians’ reliance on the informal economy will make responding to the crisis even more difficult. Some 60 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day. Though the government has directed businesses to close, the reality is that many rely on the informal economy to survive.

In this regard, despite the government’s announcements, public markets and public transportation continue to operate. Local journalists have raised concerns about the lack of guidelines for drivers and passengers. While the public might be aware of the virus, most people still depend on public transportation and public markets to survive and get around. Unions have taken the lead by recommending a reduction in the number of passengers allowed on taxis and buses, but there has yet to be any clear initiative from the state to enforce the unions’ recommendations and regulate transportation. 

While the government has ordered factories closed, it is unclear what, if any, financial support from the government will go to impacted workers. Antèn Ouvriye, an organization representing factory subcontractors, has criticized the government for not ensuring salaries will continue to be paid during closures. On March 25, de facto prime minister Joseph Jouthe announced that public workers and those working in the textile industry would receive one month of wages; however, it remains unclear exactly when that would take place and how much the government will be able to afford. 

In order to ensure communities are able to take action to protect themselves and are able to stay at home, the government must act to provide the resources necessary to sustain people’s livelihoods, including access to food and water. Some countries have acted to reinforce and increase government spending on essential services and social safety net policies. Some have prioritized subsidizing revenue by ensuring salaries are maintained, while others are providing meals to those who rely on daily activities for their basic needs. Although Haiti’s resources are limited, the government response needs to incorporate economic relief for the population, especially for street vendors, factory workers, and small business owners, many of whom rely on the informal economy to make a living.

The government, however, has thus far relied on monetary policy ― increasing access to credit through the central bank and relaxing repayment schedules. This, however, is likely to have only a limited impact for the vast majority of Haitians. Without greater international assistance, it is unlikely the government will have the fiscal resources available to properly support the population throughout the crisis.

Price gouging has already started, putting a strain on an already fragile population. This is partly due to the fact that the Haitian food supply depends largely on imports, which are likely to decline during the current situation. While the government has announced measures to ensure food distribution, it must make a priority of protecting consumers from price spikes. This also presents an opportunity to invest in and expand the agricultural sector, which could provide stability for farmers and sellers, and increase national production.

International Aid

It is imperative to recognize that the Haitian state’s inability to adequately respond to the crisis is tied to a legacy of foreign domination, occupation, and exploitation, and to decades of foreign aid policies that have eroded the state’s capacity. Nevertheless, it is increasingly clear, as with the 2010 earthquake, that the Haitian government will not be able to adequately respond to the current crisis without increased support from the international community. 

The IMF and the World Bank have issued a statement urging “all official bilateral creditors to suspend debt payments from IDA countries that request forbearance.” Though most of Haiti’s debt is concessional (loans provided at very low or even zero interest rates), bilateral and multilateral donors should immediately suspend any debt servicing requirements for the duration of the pandemic. The Inter-American Development Bank has also announced a special lending facility for countries impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The IMF could also provide an unprecedented influx of reserve assets to developing countries, including Haiti, through a Special Drawing Rights allocation. The IMF is reportedly considering this. With its dwindling reserves and reliance on the importation of goods, such a boost would be extremely valuable to Haiti.

It is also likely that a prolonged crisis will exacerbate an already fragile food security situation in much of the country. Many children rely on school feeding programs, which are often funded by international organizations. International assistance will be key in ensuring the government is able to reach the most vulnerable in responding to the pandemic, but international actors must be wary of repeating past mistakes. Food assistance should be designed to ensure local procurement of available goods, and to support investment in national production.

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic in Haiti requires immediate and concerted action by local and international actors; but in a country where the failures of international assistance and intervention are so readily apparent, those involved in the response must make every effort to ensure a more sustainable future.

On March 19, Haitian president Jovenel Moïse confirmed the first two cases of the novel coronavirus in Haiti. The number has since increased to eight. In response, the president has declared a state of emergency and ordered schools, factories, and religious entities to close; established a curfew; and closed the country’s borders. The government announced the new policies after previously suspending air travel from most countries.  

The initial reported cases both related to individuals who had traveled internationally. There has, however, only been limited local testing. As of March 25, 58 tests had been administered nationwide, according to the latest epidemiological update. The Ministry of Health has outlined a plan to combat the pandemic in Haiti, estimating a budget of $37.2 million. Already, international and local organizations have been meeting to coordinate the response.

After nearly two years of sustained protests and government inaction, the economic situation in Haiti has already made life exceedingly difficult for the vast majority of the population. The currency has rapidly depreciated, inflation has remained elevated, and the government has been unable to increase revenues domestically or through international assistance. The Haitian government has few fiscal resources to draw upon in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, and Haitian families, many already pushed to the edge, are facing an increasingly perilous future. 

There are multiple complementary aspects of the response to this virus in Haiti. One centers on the health care system and the ability to adequately detect, treat, and contain the virus. The other relates to the government’s ability to establish and enforce policies that encourage physical distancing. In addressing the latter, it is important to consider how the Haitian population interacts, lives, and survives in order to implement effective policies to contain the virus, protect the population, and ensure access to essential goods.

The cases reported have so far been marked as imported, but with the difficulties of enforcing a sustained national quarantine, Haiti is facing the very real risk of COVID-19 spreading locally. While declaring a state of emergency nationwide was a necessary step, it needs to be boosted by provisions for workers and the poor, and allocations for the health care system. The international community must also play a role, with the World Bank, IMF, and other multilateral development organizations immediately freeing up resources for Haiti and other developing nations to respond to the pandemic.  

The Health Care System

Prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Haiti’s health care system faced many challenges. According to a 2019 study by the Research and Education consortium for Acute Care in Haiti (REACH), Haiti only has an estimated 124 ICU beds and 64 ventilators for a population of more than 11 million. Other public health experts have put those figures even lower. This is a serious concern, especially given the relatively high proportion of the population considered to be at an elevated risk.

Already, there have been reports from the State University Hospital (HUEH) of inadequate preparation and supplies of protective equipment, which has led to some health professionals refusing to work. The HUEH was one of the marquee post-quake international reconstruction projects, but, more than ten years later, those plans remain mostly unrealized.

Haiti’s health care system overall is extremely reliant on private actors, including foreign assistance and NGOs. Dr. Youri Louis told the Haitian Times that, as of 2013, 64 percent of Haiti’s health budget derived from international assistance. In many parts of the country, access to health care is only provided by nonstate actors.

In such a fragmented system, coordination will be critical. In this regard, it is positive that national and international organizations are already meeting and discussing coordinated response mechanisms. Health actors in Haiti can draw upon their experiences combatting the cholera epidemic, which spread in Haiti after its introduction by United Nations troops in 2010. While the response to cholera was woefully inadequate, more coordinated and concerted efforts in recent years have led to some positive developments. As Sandra Wisner of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti told the Haitian Times, empowering communities must be a key aspect of any successful response:

This includes access and ensuring services are available to communities ― so having available where people are, tracing, treatment; health facilities resources with the necessary supplies, and ensuring front line workers have the resources and tools they need to provide safe and effective care and treatment for patients.

Since the 2010 earthquake, the Haitian Ministry of Health has been one of the only government institutions that has received direct donor support. Nevertheless, a significant portion of foreign assistance bypasses national health systems. It is vitally important that efforts to respond to the current pandemic also focus on strengthening the government’s health care infrastructure. Though some improvements have been evident over the previous decade, national health spending remains woefully inadequate and has actually decreased in recent years

The government has also appealed to Cuba for assistance in fighting the pandemic. The government announced there were 348 Cuban health professionals in the country to respond, many of whom were already in the country as part of Cuba’s decades-long assistance in providing health care in Haiti.

The Economy

Even before the arrival of the novel coronavirus, the Haitian economy was projected to shrink by 1 percent on a per capita basis in 2019. The government’s directive to close businesses will bring additional economic hardship. Remittances, on which the Haitian economy relies, may also see a reduction as diaspora communities struggle in their own communities with quarantines and business closures. 

Haitians’ reliance on the informal economy will make responding to the crisis even more difficult. Some 60 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day. Though the government has directed businesses to close, the reality is that many rely on the informal economy to survive.

In this regard, despite the government’s announcements, public markets and public transportation continue to operate. Local journalists have raised concerns about the lack of guidelines for drivers and passengers. While the public might be aware of the virus, most people still depend on public transportation and public markets to survive and get around. Unions have taken the lead by recommending a reduction in the number of passengers allowed on taxis and buses, but there has yet to be any clear initiative from the state to enforce the unions’ recommendations and regulate transportation. 

While the government has ordered factories closed, it is unclear what, if any, financial support from the government will go to impacted workers. Antèn Ouvriye, an organization representing factory subcontractors, has criticized the government for not ensuring salaries will continue to be paid during closures. On March 25, de facto prime minister Joseph Jouthe announced that public workers and those working in the textile industry would receive one month of wages; however, it remains unclear exactly when that would take place and how much the government will be able to afford. 

In order to ensure communities are able to take action to protect themselves and are able to stay at home, the government must act to provide the resources necessary to sustain people’s livelihoods, including access to food and water. Some countries have acted to reinforce and increase government spending on essential services and social safety net policies. Some have prioritized subsidizing revenue by ensuring salaries are maintained, while others are providing meals to those who rely on daily activities for their basic needs. Although Haiti’s resources are limited, the government response needs to incorporate economic relief for the population, especially for street vendors, factory workers, and small business owners, many of whom rely on the informal economy to make a living.

The government, however, has thus far relied on monetary policy ― increasing access to credit through the central bank and relaxing repayment schedules. This, however, is likely to have only a limited impact for the vast majority of Haitians. Without greater international assistance, it is unlikely the government will have the fiscal resources available to properly support the population throughout the crisis.

Price gouging has already started, putting a strain on an already fragile population. This is partly due to the fact that the Haitian food supply depends largely on imports, which are likely to decline during the current situation. While the government has announced measures to ensure food distribution, it must make a priority of protecting consumers from price spikes. This also presents an opportunity to invest in and expand the agricultural sector, which could provide stability for farmers and sellers, and increase national production.

International Aid

It is imperative to recognize that the Haitian state’s inability to adequately respond to the crisis is tied to a legacy of foreign domination, occupation, and exploitation, and to decades of foreign aid policies that have eroded the state’s capacity. Nevertheless, it is increasingly clear, as with the 2010 earthquake, that the Haitian government will not be able to adequately respond to the current crisis without increased support from the international community. 

The IMF and the World Bank have issued a statement urging “all official bilateral creditors to suspend debt payments from IDA countries that request forbearance.” Though most of Haiti’s debt is concessional (loans provided at very low or even zero interest rates), bilateral and multilateral donors should immediately suspend any debt servicing requirements for the duration of the pandemic. The Inter-American Development Bank has also announced a special lending facility for countries impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The IMF could also provide an unprecedented influx of reserve assets to developing countries, including Haiti, through a Special Drawing Rights allocation. The IMF is reportedly considering this. With its dwindling reserves and reliance on the importation of goods, such a boost would be extremely valuable to Haiti.

It is also likely that a prolonged crisis will exacerbate an already fragile food security situation in much of the country. Many children rely on school feeding programs, which are often funded by international organizations. International assistance will be key in ensuring the government is able to reach the most vulnerable in responding to the pandemic, but international actors must be wary of repeating past mistakes. Food assistance should be designed to ensure local procurement of available goods, and to support investment in national production.

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic in Haiti requires immediate and concerted action by local and international actors; but in a country where the failures of international assistance and intervention are so readily apparent, those involved in the response must make every effort to ensure a more sustainable future.

On February 20, the UN Security Council held a meeting to discuss the situation in Haiti. The Miami Herald’s Jacqueline Charles reports: 

Both U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres’ representative in Haiti, Helen La Lime, and Marie Yolene Gilles, a leading human rights activist in the country, painted a climate of deteriorating human rights and disappearing rule of law. Gilles said Haitians are subject to raging malnutrition, kidnappings for ransom, rapes and gang violence that have forced the courts in Port-au-Prince to be closed since September.

“The two associations of magistrates in the country have deserted the tribunals until safety returns,” she said.

Gilles, who heads the human rights group La Fondasyon Je Klere [FJKL], said while there are 23 known armed gangs in the capital, around a third of Haiti is under gang control.

La Lime, who heads the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), had hoped to arrive at the Security Council meeting bearing news of progress in long-stalled efforts to break the political deadlock in Haiti. However, in nearly two years of protests and political conflict, the Haitian government and international actors have failed to lead meaningful talks. At the Security Council, La Lime once again appealed for all political actors to enter into dialogue. While supporting those efforts, ambassadors from the United States, France, and Germany, among others, called for the timely planning of legislative elections — and the prioritization of elections over constitutional reform, the latter of which President Jovenel Moïse began promoting after parliamentary terms expired in January. 

“The Haitian people must have a voice in selecting its leaders. And further, while constitutional reforms are necessary and welcomed, they must not become a pretext to delay elections,” US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Kraft said.

Incidentally, the UN Security Council met a few days after BINUH and the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) released a report on gang violence and human rights abuses in the popular Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Bel Air. This report detailed events that took place last year between November 4 and 6. Bel Air residents had erected barricades and participated in a two-month period of protests known as “Peyi Lock.” According to the UN report, three different gang leaders entered Bel Air in an attempt to get residents to remove barricades in exchange for money. Those efforts failed, and were followed by a series of attacks over a period of three days. 

More than 50 armed men were seen opening fire on civilians and setting fire to private vehicles and at least 30 homes, the UN found. At least three people were killed and six were wounded. Local rights organizations have put the toll even higher

The violence in Bel Air, as Gilles told the Security Council, was not a new development. Local rights organizations, including Gilles’s FJKL, have documented a series of violent attacks, often with the involvement of police officers, in popular neighborhoods throughout the capital. In the case of Bel Air, the UN report mentioned the presence of at least three police officers, signaling that there were political motives behind this attack. 

The UN report also alleged that a former police officer, Jimmy Cherizier, also known as “Barbecue,” led the November Bel Air attacks. Local human rights organizations, as well as the UN itself, have also alleged the involvement of Barbecue in the La Saline massacre in November 2018, in which dozens of civilians were massacred. More than 100 members of the US Congress condemned that attack in early 2019. 

The UN report notes: 

… more than a year after the fact, the lack of progress is particularly worrying and the involvement of Jimmy Cherizier, alias Barbecue, in other similar acts demonstrates the direct impact of impunity on the recurrence of violence and on the population. Of the thirteen recommendations made in the June 2019 report on the La Saline case, none has been fully implemented. 

But while the UN is now calling for an end to impunity and the political protection that perpetuates it, the organization’s own record reveals the shallowness of these pleas. 

In November 2017, UN police officers “secured the perimeter” of a school in the Grand Ravine neighborhood of Port-au-Prince as part of a joint raid with the Haitian police. Inside that school, Haitian police officers, including Jimmy Cherizier, massacred nine civilians. 

That Cherizier has been able to continue to operate, and led the raid on Bel Air even after his involvement in two previous massacres, is a testimony to the privilege of immunity that many politically protected gangs enjoy. These reports show that gangs have unlimited access to a supply chain of both arms and money when it comes to political repression and violence. But the UN’s own actions relating to Cherizier reveal the hypocrisy of their recent calls for accountability, and may point to one of the reasons the institution has failed to play a productive role in the current situation. 

In early 2018, Susan Page, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) and head of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), applauded progress made in regard to the Petrocaribe investigation and called for accountability for the victims of the Grand Ravine massacre. She was seriously criticized by the Haitian government and the UN quickly acquiesced, replacing Page with Helen La Lime. 

In its report on Bel Air and at the Security Council meeting last week, officials pushed for accountability and a more consistent fight against impunity in Haiti. But the road to empowering local authorities and institutions must start with the culture of impunity within international institutions. UN police were involved in the raid that resulted in Cherizier and other officials massacring nine civilians in 2017, but violent UN raids are not simply a recent phenomenon. After the deployment of thousands of foreign military soldiers to Haiti in 2004, UN troops repeatedly led raids into poor neighborhoods of the capital, often resulting in civilian deaths. Though the Dominican Republic’s representative to the UN pointed to recent violent actions as the “result” of the departure of UN soldiers in 2017, the more appropriate lesson is that a policy of combating violence with violence has been an abject failure. 

The UN’s credibility crisis, however, goes even deeper. It took six years for the UN to accept any responsibility for introducing cholera in 2010, which has since killed at least 10,000 Haitians and sickened hundreds of thousands more. The UN has still failed to properly respond to the epidemic. 

Far from addressing root causes, the billions the UN spent on “peacekeepers” in Haiti has instead consolidated a political and economic system that bears significant responsibility for the on-going violence and instability of the country. 

That the UN is now willing to expressly call for accountability in response to incidents such as Bel Air may be a positive development, but it must also be deepened to reflect a recognition of the responsibility of international organizations. This entails depicting a more complete picture of repeated attacks on popular neighborhoods. The police force in Haiti continues to be politicized with the tacit support of international actors, who have supported it with billions of dollars.  Meanwhile the institution has proven itself more at the service of the sitting government than the population it is meant to protect. 

An honest accounting of the violence in Haiti must also address the political and economic elite who sponsor these violent outbursts with arms, money, and protection — a phenomenon that transcends political affiliation. Nevertheless, the UN investigations into the massacres of La Saline and Bel Air, as well as research by local human rights organizations, make abundantly clear the relationship between the current government and its allies and the ongoing repression in popular neighborhoods throughout the capital. 

To move forward, the international community must first recognize its own role in stoking Haiti’s current political, economic, and social crisis. Until they do, international calls for accountability — and pleas for dialogue — will continue to ring hollow. 

On February 20, the UN Security Council held a meeting to discuss the situation in Haiti. The Miami Herald’s Jacqueline Charles reports: 

Both U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres’ representative in Haiti, Helen La Lime, and Marie Yolene Gilles, a leading human rights activist in the country, painted a climate of deteriorating human rights and disappearing rule of law. Gilles said Haitians are subject to raging malnutrition, kidnappings for ransom, rapes and gang violence that have forced the courts in Port-au-Prince to be closed since September.

“The two associations of magistrates in the country have deserted the tribunals until safety returns,” she said.

Gilles, who heads the human rights group La Fondasyon Je Klere [FJKL], said while there are 23 known armed gangs in the capital, around a third of Haiti is under gang control.

La Lime, who heads the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), had hoped to arrive at the Security Council meeting bearing news of progress in long-stalled efforts to break the political deadlock in Haiti. However, in nearly two years of protests and political conflict, the Haitian government and international actors have failed to lead meaningful talks. At the Security Council, La Lime once again appealed for all political actors to enter into dialogue. While supporting those efforts, ambassadors from the United States, France, and Germany, among others, called for the timely planning of legislative elections — and the prioritization of elections over constitutional reform, the latter of which President Jovenel Moïse began promoting after parliamentary terms expired in January. 

“The Haitian people must have a voice in selecting its leaders. And further, while constitutional reforms are necessary and welcomed, they must not become a pretext to delay elections,” US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Kraft said.

Incidentally, the UN Security Council met a few days after BINUH and the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) released a report on gang violence and human rights abuses in the popular Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Bel Air. This report detailed events that took place last year between November 4 and 6. Bel Air residents had erected barricades and participated in a two-month period of protests known as “Peyi Lock.” According to the UN report, three different gang leaders entered Bel Air in an attempt to get residents to remove barricades in exchange for money. Those efforts failed, and were followed by a series of attacks over a period of three days. 

More than 50 armed men were seen opening fire on civilians and setting fire to private vehicles and at least 30 homes, the UN found. At least three people were killed and six were wounded. Local rights organizations have put the toll even higher

The violence in Bel Air, as Gilles told the Security Council, was not a new development. Local rights organizations, including Gilles’s FJKL, have documented a series of violent attacks, often with the involvement of police officers, in popular neighborhoods throughout the capital. In the case of Bel Air, the UN report mentioned the presence of at least three police officers, signaling that there were political motives behind this attack. 

The UN report also alleged that a former police officer, Jimmy Cherizier, also known as “Barbecue,” led the November Bel Air attacks. Local human rights organizations, as well as the UN itself, have also alleged the involvement of Barbecue in the La Saline massacre in November 2018, in which dozens of civilians were massacred. More than 100 members of the US Congress condemned that attack in early 2019. 

The UN report notes: 

… more than a year after the fact, the lack of progress is particularly worrying and the involvement of Jimmy Cherizier, alias Barbecue, in other similar acts demonstrates the direct impact of impunity on the recurrence of violence and on the population. Of the thirteen recommendations made in the June 2019 report on the La Saline case, none has been fully implemented. 

But while the UN is now calling for an end to impunity and the political protection that perpetuates it, the organization’s own record reveals the shallowness of these pleas. 

In November 2017, UN police officers “secured the perimeter” of a school in the Grand Ravine neighborhood of Port-au-Prince as part of a joint raid with the Haitian police. Inside that school, Haitian police officers, including Jimmy Cherizier, massacred nine civilians. 

That Cherizier has been able to continue to operate, and led the raid on Bel Air even after his involvement in two previous massacres, is a testimony to the privilege of immunity that many politically protected gangs enjoy. These reports show that gangs have unlimited access to a supply chain of both arms and money when it comes to political repression and violence. But the UN’s own actions relating to Cherizier reveal the hypocrisy of their recent calls for accountability, and may point to one of the reasons the institution has failed to play a productive role in the current situation. 

In early 2018, Susan Page, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) and head of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), applauded progress made in regard to the Petrocaribe investigation and called for accountability for the victims of the Grand Ravine massacre. She was seriously criticized by the Haitian government and the UN quickly acquiesced, replacing Page with Helen La Lime. 

In its report on Bel Air and at the Security Council meeting last week, officials pushed for accountability and a more consistent fight against impunity in Haiti. But the road to empowering local authorities and institutions must start with the culture of impunity within international institutions. UN police were involved in the raid that resulted in Cherizier and other officials massacring nine civilians in 2017, but violent UN raids are not simply a recent phenomenon. After the deployment of thousands of foreign military soldiers to Haiti in 2004, UN troops repeatedly led raids into poor neighborhoods of the capital, often resulting in civilian deaths. Though the Dominican Republic’s representative to the UN pointed to recent violent actions as the “result” of the departure of UN soldiers in 2017, the more appropriate lesson is that a policy of combating violence with violence has been an abject failure. 

The UN’s credibility crisis, however, goes even deeper. It took six years for the UN to accept any responsibility for introducing cholera in 2010, which has since killed at least 10,000 Haitians and sickened hundreds of thousands more. The UN has still failed to properly respond to the epidemic. 

Far from addressing root causes, the billions the UN spent on “peacekeepers” in Haiti has instead consolidated a political and economic system that bears significant responsibility for the on-going violence and instability of the country. 

That the UN is now willing to expressly call for accountability in response to incidents such as Bel Air may be a positive development, but it must also be deepened to reflect a recognition of the responsibility of international organizations. This entails depicting a more complete picture of repeated attacks on popular neighborhoods. The police force in Haiti continues to be politicized with the tacit support of international actors, who have supported it with billions of dollars.  Meanwhile the institution has proven itself more at the service of the sitting government than the population it is meant to protect. 

An honest accounting of the violence in Haiti must also address the political and economic elite who sponsor these violent outbursts with arms, money, and protection — a phenomenon that transcends political affiliation. Nevertheless, the UN investigations into the massacres of La Saline and Bel Air, as well as research by local human rights organizations, make abundantly clear the relationship between the current government and its allies and the ongoing repression in popular neighborhoods throughout the capital. 

To move forward, the international community must first recognize its own role in stoking Haiti’s current political, economic, and social crisis. Until they do, international calls for accountability — and pleas for dialogue — will continue to ring hollow. 

Magnitude of earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010: 7.0

Years since an earthquake of that magnitude struck Haiti: 168

Number of aftershocks, over 4.5 magnitude, in the week after the initial tremor: 51

Total number of government ministry buildings, before the earthquake: 29

Number of government ministry buildings that stood after the earthquake: 1

Number of United Nations troops and police stationed in Haiti, at the time of the earthquake: 9,057

Date on which the United Nations voted to increase the number of troops by 4,000: January 19, 2010

Number of US military personnel sent to Haiti, or stationed on ships off Haiti’s shores, by the end of January 2010: 22,200

Number of US citizens evacuated from Haiti in 2010: over 16,000

Cost of the US military’s response to the earthquake: at least $461,000,000

Official death toll: 316,000

Estimated death toll, based on survey data: 46,190 to 84,961

Estimated value of damages and losses, in percent of Haiti’s 2009 GDP:  113

Amount pledged by donors for short- and long-term reconstruction at a March 2010 donor conference: $10.7 billion

Percent of $2.4 billion in donor provided humanitarian assistance that went to the Haitian government from 2010 to 2012: 0.9

Billions in humanitarian and reconstruction aid disbursed by donors from 2010 to 2012: $6.4

Percent of that which was disbursed directly to Haitian organizations, institutions or companies: less than 0.6 percent

Percent of US families that donated to earthquake relief efforts: 45 percent

Estimated amount of private money raised, predominantly by NGOs: $3.06 billion

Number of homes destroyed by the earthquake: 105,000

Number of homes damaged: 208,000

Estimated number of individuals displaced by the earthquake: 1.5 million

Number of individuals evicted from camps for the internally displaced, between June 2010 and March 2011: 230,000

Estimated number of individuals living in damaged or destroyed houses in 2011: 1,036,174

IDP camp population in December 2019: 33,000

Population of Canaan, an area about 15 kilometers outside of the capital, at time of earthquake: 0

Population of Canaan now: at least 300,000

Amount of money raised by the American Red Cross for Haiti: $486,000,000

Number of new houses built by American Red Cross (as of June 2015): 6

Number of new houses USAID planned to build after the earthquake: 15,000

Original estimated cost of those 15,000 houses: $59 million

Number of houses USAID actually built: 900

Miles from Port-au-Prince where the original housing construction site was planned: 8

Miles from Port-au-Prince where 750 of the 900 houses were actually built: 130

Projected average cost of the new houses: $8,000

Final average cost of the 750 houses built in Northern Haiti: $77,125

Number of those 750 houses originally built to earthquake standards: 0

Amount spent by US taxpayers to fix structural problems with the 750 houses: $21,237,888

Date by which the two main US contractors involved in housing construction were suspended from receiving US government contracts: March 25, 2015

Amount the two suspended contractors were fined: $0

Total USAID spending for Haiti since January 2010: $2,479,512,152

Percent of that amount that went to contractors inside the Beltway (Washington, DC; Maryland; and Virginia): 54.1 percent

Percent of USAID spending that went directly to local Haitian companies or organizations: 2.6 percent

Amount disbursed to Chemonics International and Development Alternatives Incorporated: $473,992,419

Amount spent in 2012, on lobbying against USAID reforms, by the Coalition of International Development Companies (which includes Chemonics and DAI): $250,000

Amount allocated by USAID and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to support the Caracol Industrial Park, the international community’s flagship postquake project: $350 million

Date on which the industrial park was inaugurated: October 22, 2012

Number of jobs the State Department promised the new industrial park would create: 65,000

Total number of jobs at the industrial park, as of 2017: 10,214

Amount allocated by USAID to build a new port in support of the industrial park: $72 million

Date on which USAID abandoned its plans to support a new port in northern Haiti: May 2018

Minimum number of residents displaced by the construction of the Caracol Industrial Park: 400

Date on which those 400 residents reached an agreement with the IDB and Haitian government on corrective measures, including access to new land: December 8, 2018

Daily minimum wage, in Haitian gourdes, in 1990: 15

Daily minimum wage, in Haitian gourdes, in 2019 (adjusted for inflation, in 1990 gourdes): 9.6

Millions of dollars in textiles exported to the United States in 2009: $491

In 2019: $740

Year in which per capita GDP reached its pre-earthquake level: 2013

Average annual per capita GDP growth in the years since 2013: 0.1 percent

Exchange rate at time of earthquake (Haitian gourdes per US dollar): 40.5

Exchange rate today: 92

Inflation rate in 2009: 3.43

Inflation rate in 2019: 17.58

Number of United Nations missions in Haiti since the earthquake: 3

Total number of years that the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) remained in country: 13

Number of Sri Lankan peacekeepers who abused children in a sex ring from 2004 to 2007: at least 134

Number of those peacekeepers removed from Haiti: 114

Number of those peacekeepers imprisoned: 0

Number of Haitians reporting children fathered by UN troops or other personnel: 265

Minimum number of allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation at the hands of UN troops or other personnel in Haiti, from 2004 to 2016: 150

Date the first Haitian contracted cholera: October 19, 2010

Number of days it took the United Nations to admit responsibility for introducing cholera to Haiti: 2,129

Official number of cases registered since: 819,000

Official number of deaths: 9,789

Factor by which epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux believes this underestimates the death toll: 8

Cost of the 13-year MINUSTAH mission: $7,207,843,300

Fraction of that which donors spent in responding to the cholera outbreak: 1/10

Amount raised by the UN’s multidonor cholera trust fund: $10,615,595

Haiti’s ranking in the UN Human Development Index in 2009: 149

In most recent update: 169

Number of Haitians undernourished (three-year average from 2008 to 2010): 5 million

Number of Haitians undernourished (three-year average from 2016 to 2018): 5.4 million

Number of people in Haiti in need of “urgent food assistance” now: 3.7 million

Dollar amount of food imported by Haiti in 2009: $483.9 million

In 2018: $909.9 million

In 2019: $729.1 million

Dollar amount of food exported by Haiti in 2009: $28 million

In 2019: $20.7 million

Percent increase in rice consumption, 2009 to 2019: 40.7

Percent increase in local rice production, 2009 to 2019: 13.8

The cost, in 2010, of purchasing the entire local rice crop to use as food aid: about $70 million

Metric tons of food aid sent by USAID to Haiti in 2010: 152,960

Total cost: $161,792,300

Date on which former US president Bill Clinton apologized for undermining Haiti farmers for the benefit of rice producers in Arkansas: March 10, 2010

Local agricultural production, in metric tons, bought by the World Food Program for food assistance programs in Haiti, in 2018: over 700

Children who receive school meals from World Food Program in Haiti today: 275,000

Percent of those meals that contain local products: 15

Date on which Hurricane Matthew made landfall on Haiti’s Southern Peninsula: October 4, 2016

Number of years since a hurricane of similar magnitude struck Haiti: 62

Estimated percent of crops destroyed in the Grand’Anse region: 100 percent

Estimated percent of livestock killed in the same department: 85–90 percent

Estimated amount Haiti needed for reconstruction after the hurricane: $2.2 billion

Amount requested in a UN flash appeal for humanitarian funding: $139 million

Percent of flash appeal that was funded: 62.1 percent

Average UN humanitarian funding appeal for Haiti, 2011–2019: $200,961,058

Average percent funded: 44

Total foreign assistance disbursed in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake, as of 2018: $11,581,637,407.32

Total amount of budget support provided by international donors: $282,503,604

Number of Haitian presidents since 2010 earthquake: 4

Percent of the 11,181 tally sheets of electoral results that were never counted or never received after the November 28, 2010 election: 12.2 percent

Date on which members of the international “Core Group” threatened then President Rene Preval with forced exile: November 28, 2010

Participation rate in that election: 22.8 percent

Date on which a draft OAS audit of the elections, which recommended changing the results, was leaked: January 10, 2011

Date on which then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Haiti to pressure the Preval government to change the results of the election: January 30, 2011

Date on which Michel Martelly, who had initially placed third and missed the runoff, was sworn in as president: May 14, 2011

Value of in-kind support that a USAID contractor provided to an organization linked to Martelly’s campaign to clean the streets of the capital before the inauguration: $98,928

Number of elections held in Martelly’s first four years in office: 0

Date on which the terms of the entire lower house and two-thirds of the Senate expired: January 12, 2015

Number of political parties that registered to participate in Haiti’s August 2015 legislative elections: 128

Number of candidates: 1,852

Number of seats up for grabs: 139

Percent of votes that were never counted due to irregularities, including fraud and violence: 25 percent

Date on which Haiti’s first-round presidential election was held: October 25, 2015

Number of candidates participating in the 2015 presidential election: 54

Date on which the planned second-round presidential election was indefinitely called off due to widespread irregularities: January 22, 2016

Number of untraceable votes in the October 25, 2015 election, according to an independent verification commission: 628,000

Date on which a new parliament was sworn in despite the election being canceled at the presidential level: January 11, 2016

Participation in the 2016 rerun presidential and partial legislative election: 18 percent

Number of elected senators arrested and extradited to the US to face drug trafficking charges before taking office: 1

Date on which Jovenel Moïse was inaugurated president: February 7, 2017

Number of votes received by Moïse: 590,927

Current Haitian population, estimate: 11 million

Average annual disbursement, through the Venezuela-led Petrocaribe program, 2011–2015: $270.8 million

Date on which former president Michel Martelly appointed the brother of his political party’s president to lead the agency that controls the Petrocaribe fund: February 3, 2015

Date on which Jovenel Moïse, Martelly’s chosen successor, registered as a presidential candidate: May 21, 2015

Date on which the government authorized $1 million in disbursements from its Petrocaribe account to Agritrans, a company owned by Jovenel Moïse: May 26, 2015

Minimum amount allocated to a project to build sports centers, run by former president Michel Martelly’s son: $27.7 million

Date on which Gilbert Mirambeau Jr., a Haitian filmmaker, Tweeted a photo of himself, blindfolded, holding a sign asking where the Petrocaribe money is: August 14, 2018

Percent of Haiti’s 10 departments that experienced massive demonstrations on October 17, 2018 asking where the Petrocaribe money is: 90 percent

Minimum number of Haitians killed by armed gangs and corrupt police on November 13, 2018 in the La Saline neighborhood of Port-au-Prince: 70

Date of the second mass mobilization demanding accountability for Petrocaribe corruption: November 18, 2018

Date on which Haiti’s Superior Court of Auditors released its first report on Petrocaribe: January 31, 2019

Date on which the second report was released: May 31, 2019

Number of pages in the second report: 612

Number of government officials or private sector actors imprisoned due to Petrocaribe corruption: 0

Number of foreign mercenaries arrested outside the Haitian central bank in February 2019: 7

Days those mercenaries remained in jail before US officials intervened and facilitated their flight back to the U.S.: 3

Total prison population: 10,905

Fraction of prison population that is still awaiting a trial: 3/4

Number of inmates in Port-au-Prince’s “national penitentiary”: 3,626

Number the prison was built to hold: 778

Number of Haitians killed during demonstrations since July 2018: 187

Percent who died from a bullet wound to the head: 22.5

Minimum number of civilian massacres: 5

Estimated number of individuals killed in those massacres: 127

Number of police officers killed in 2019: 44

Months that Haiti has not had a prime minister ratified by parliament: 10

Date on which Haiti broke longstanding diplomatic precedent and voted against Venezuela at the Organization of American States (OAS): January 10, 2019

Date on which President Donald Trump invited Jovenel Moïse to Mar-a-Lago to thank him for his vote: March 22, 2019

Number of US members of Congress who wrote to the State Department in March 2019 pushing for human rights and corruption accountability in Haiti: 106

Number of civil society and other organizations that signed a document in late 2019 calling for Moïses’s resignation and the formation of a transitional government: 107

Number of elections held under Jovenel Moïse: 0

Date on which the terms of the entire lower house and two-thirds of the senate expire: January 13, 2020

               

Magnitude of earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010: 7.0

Years since an earthquake of that magnitude struck Haiti: 168

Number of aftershocks, over 4.5 magnitude, in the week after the initial tremor: 51

Total number of government ministry buildings, before the earthquake: 29

Number of government ministry buildings that stood after the earthquake: 1

Number of United Nations troops and police stationed in Haiti, at the time of the earthquake: 9,057

Date on which the United Nations voted to increase the number of troops by 4,000: January 19, 2010

Number of US military personnel sent to Haiti, or stationed on ships off Haiti’s shores, by the end of January 2010: 22,200

Number of US citizens evacuated from Haiti in 2010: over 16,000

Cost of the US military’s response to the earthquake: at least $461,000,000

Official death toll: 316,000

Estimated death toll, based on survey data: 46,190 to 84,961

Estimated value of damages and losses, in percent of Haiti’s 2009 GDP:  113

Amount pledged by donors for short- and long-term reconstruction at a March 2010 donor conference: $10.7 billion

Percent of $2.4 billion in donor provided humanitarian assistance that went to the Haitian government from 2010 to 2012: 0.9

Billions in humanitarian and reconstruction aid disbursed by donors from 2010 to 2012: $6.4

Percent of that which was disbursed directly to Haitian organizations, institutions or companies: less than 0.6 percent

Percent of US families that donated to earthquake relief efforts: 45 percent

Estimated amount of private money raised, predominantly by NGOs: $3.06 billion

Number of homes destroyed by the earthquake: 105,000

Number of homes damaged: 208,000

Estimated number of individuals displaced by the earthquake: 1.5 million

Number of individuals evicted from camps for the internally displaced, between June 2010 and March 2011: 230,000

Estimated number of individuals living in damaged or destroyed houses in 2011: 1,036,174

IDP camp population in December 2019: 33,000

Population of Canaan, an area about 15 kilometers outside of the capital, at time of earthquake: 0

Population of Canaan now: at least 300,000

Amount of money raised by the American Red Cross for Haiti: $486,000,000

Number of new houses built by American Red Cross (as of June 2015): 6

Number of new houses USAID planned to build after the earthquake: 15,000

Original estimated cost of those 15,000 houses: $59 million

Number of houses USAID actually built: 900

Miles from Port-au-Prince where the original housing construction site was planned: 8

Miles from Port-au-Prince where 750 of the 900 houses were actually built: 130

Projected average cost of the new houses: $8,000

Final average cost of the 750 houses built in Northern Haiti: $77,125

Number of those 750 houses originally built to earthquake standards: 0

Amount spent by US taxpayers to fix structural problems with the 750 houses: $21,237,888

Date by which the two main US contractors involved in housing construction were suspended from receiving US government contracts: March 25, 2015

Amount the two suspended contractors were fined: $0

Total USAID spending for Haiti since January 2010: $2,479,512,152

Percent of that amount that went to contractors inside the Beltway (Washington, DC; Maryland; and Virginia): 54.1 percent

Percent of USAID spending that went directly to local Haitian companies or organizations: 2.6 percent

Amount disbursed to Chemonics International and Development Alternatives Incorporated: $473,992,419

Amount spent in 2012, on lobbying against USAID reforms, by the Coalition of International Development Companies (which includes Chemonics and DAI): $250,000

Amount allocated by USAID and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to support the Caracol Industrial Park, the international community’s flagship postquake project: $350 million

Date on which the industrial park was inaugurated: October 22, 2012

Number of jobs the State Department promised the new industrial park would create: 65,000

Total number of jobs at the industrial park, as of 2017: 10,214

Amount allocated by USAID to build a new port in support of the industrial park: $72 million

Date on which USAID abandoned its plans to support a new port in northern Haiti: May 2018

Minimum number of residents displaced by the construction of the Caracol Industrial Park: 400

Date on which those 400 residents reached an agreement with the IDB and Haitian government on corrective measures, including access to new land: December 8, 2018

Daily minimum wage, in Haitian gourdes, in 1990: 15

Daily minimum wage, in Haitian gourdes, in 2019 (adjusted for inflation, in 1990 gourdes): 9.6

Millions of dollars in textiles exported to the United States in 2009: $491

In 2019: $740

Year in which per capita GDP reached its pre-earthquake level: 2013

Average annual per capita GDP growth in the years since 2013: 0.1 percent

Exchange rate at time of earthquake (Haitian gourdes per US dollar): 40.5

Exchange rate today: 92

Inflation rate in 2009: 3.43

Inflation rate in 2019: 17.58

Number of United Nations missions in Haiti since the earthquake: 3

Total number of years that the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) remained in country: 13

Number of Sri Lankan peacekeepers who abused children in a sex ring from 2004 to 2007: at least 134

Number of those peacekeepers removed from Haiti: 114

Number of those peacekeepers imprisoned: 0

Number of Haitians reporting children fathered by UN troops or other personnel: 265

Minimum number of allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation at the hands of UN troops or other personnel in Haiti, from 2004 to 2016: 150

Date the first Haitian contracted cholera: October 19, 2010

Number of days it took the United Nations to admit responsibility for introducing cholera to Haiti: 2,129

Official number of cases registered since: 819,000

Official number of deaths: 9,789

Factor by which epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux believes this underestimates the death toll: 8

Cost of the 13-year MINUSTAH mission: $7,207,843,300

Fraction of that which donors spent in responding to the cholera outbreak: 1/10

Amount raised by the UN’s multidonor cholera trust fund: $10,615,595

Haiti’s ranking in the UN Human Development Index in 2009: 149

In most recent update: 169

Number of Haitians undernourished (three-year average from 2008 to 2010): 5 million

Number of Haitians undernourished (three-year average from 2016 to 2018): 5.4 million

Number of people in Haiti in need of “urgent food assistance” now: 3.7 million

Dollar amount of food imported by Haiti in 2009: $483.9 million

In 2018: $909.9 million

In 2019: $729.1 million

Dollar amount of food exported by Haiti in 2009: $28 million

In 2019: $20.7 million

Percent increase in rice consumption, 2009 to 2019: 40.7

Percent increase in local rice production, 2009 to 2019: 13.8

The cost, in 2010, of purchasing the entire local rice crop to use as food aid: about $70 million

Metric tons of food aid sent by USAID to Haiti in 2010: 152,960

Total cost: $161,792,300

Date on which former US president Bill Clinton apologized for undermining Haiti farmers for the benefit of rice producers in Arkansas: March 10, 2010

Local agricultural production, in metric tons, bought by the World Food Program for food assistance programs in Haiti, in 2018: over 700

Children who receive school meals from World Food Program in Haiti today: 275,000

Percent of those meals that contain local products: 15

Date on which Hurricane Matthew made landfall on Haiti’s Southern Peninsula: October 4, 2016

Number of years since a hurricane of similar magnitude struck Haiti: 62

Estimated percent of crops destroyed in the Grand’Anse region: 100 percent

Estimated percent of livestock killed in the same department: 85–90 percent

Estimated amount Haiti needed for reconstruction after the hurricane: $2.2 billion

Amount requested in a UN flash appeal for humanitarian funding: $139 million

Percent of flash appeal that was funded: 62.1 percent

Average UN humanitarian funding appeal for Haiti, 2011–2019: $200,961,058

Average percent funded: 44

Total foreign assistance disbursed in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake, as of 2018: $11,581,637,407.32

Total amount of budget support provided by international donors: $282,503,604

Number of Haitian presidents since 2010 earthquake: 4

Percent of the 11,181 tally sheets of electoral results that were never counted or never received after the November 28, 2010 election: 12.2 percent

Date on which members of the international “Core Group” threatened then President Rene Preval with forced exile: November 28, 2010

Participation rate in that election: 22.8 percent

Date on which a draft OAS audit of the elections, which recommended changing the results, was leaked: January 10, 2011

Date on which then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Haiti to pressure the Preval government to change the results of the election: January 30, 2011

Date on which Michel Martelly, who had initially placed third and missed the runoff, was sworn in as president: May 14, 2011

Value of in-kind support that a USAID contractor provided to an organization linked to Martelly’s campaign to clean the streets of the capital before the inauguration: $98,928

Number of elections held in Martelly’s first four years in office: 0

Date on which the terms of the entire lower house and two-thirds of the Senate expired: January 12, 2015

Number of political parties that registered to participate in Haiti’s August 2015 legislative elections: 128

Number of candidates: 1,852

Number of seats up for grabs: 139

Percent of votes that were never counted due to irregularities, including fraud and violence: 25 percent

Date on which Haiti’s first-round presidential election was held: October 25, 2015

Number of candidates participating in the 2015 presidential election: 54

Date on which the planned second-round presidential election was indefinitely called off due to widespread irregularities: January 22, 2016

Number of untraceable votes in the October 25, 2015 election, according to an independent verification commission: 628,000

Date on which a new parliament was sworn in despite the election being canceled at the presidential level: January 11, 2016

Participation in the 2016 rerun presidential and partial legislative election: 18 percent

Number of elected senators arrested and extradited to the US to face drug trafficking charges before taking office: 1

Date on which Jovenel Moïse was inaugurated president: February 7, 2017

Number of votes received by Moïse: 590,927

Current Haitian population, estimate: 11 million

Average annual disbursement, through the Venezuela-led Petrocaribe program, 2011–2015: $270.8 million

Date on which former president Michel Martelly appointed the brother of his political party’s president to lead the agency that controls the Petrocaribe fund: February 3, 2015

Date on which Jovenel Moïse, Martelly’s chosen successor, registered as a presidential candidate: May 21, 2015

Date on which the government authorized $1 million in disbursements from its Petrocaribe account to Agritrans, a company owned by Jovenel Moïse: May 26, 2015

Minimum amount allocated to a project to build sports centers, run by former president Michel Martelly’s son: $27.7 million

Date on which Gilbert Mirambeau Jr., a Haitian filmmaker, Tweeted a photo of himself, blindfolded, holding a sign asking where the Petrocaribe money is: August 14, 2018

Percent of Haiti’s 10 departments that experienced massive demonstrations on October 17, 2018 asking where the Petrocaribe money is: 90 percent

Minimum number of Haitians killed by armed gangs and corrupt police on November 13, 2018 in the La Saline neighborhood of Port-au-Prince: 70

Date of the second mass mobilization demanding accountability for Petrocaribe corruption: November 18, 2018

Date on which Haiti’s Superior Court of Auditors released its first report on Petrocaribe: January 31, 2019

Date on which the second report was released: May 31, 2019

Number of pages in the second report: 612

Number of government officials or private sector actors imprisoned due to Petrocaribe corruption: 0

Number of foreign mercenaries arrested outside the Haitian central bank in February 2019: 7

Days those mercenaries remained in jail before US officials intervened and facilitated their flight back to the U.S.: 3

Total prison population: 10,905

Fraction of prison population that is still awaiting a trial: 3/4

Number of inmates in Port-au-Prince’s “national penitentiary”: 3,626

Number the prison was built to hold: 778

Number of Haitians killed during demonstrations since July 2018: 187

Percent who died from a bullet wound to the head: 22.5

Minimum number of civilian massacres: 5

Estimated number of individuals killed in those massacres: 127

Number of police officers killed in 2019: 44

Months that Haiti has not had a prime minister ratified by parliament: 10

Date on which Haiti broke longstanding diplomatic precedent and voted against Venezuela at the Organization of American States (OAS): January 10, 2019

Date on which President Donald Trump invited Jovenel Moïse to Mar-a-Lago to thank him for his vote: March 22, 2019

Number of US members of Congress who wrote to the State Department in March 2019 pushing for human rights and corruption accountability in Haiti: 106

Number of civil society and other organizations that signed a document in late 2019 calling for Moïses’s resignation and the formation of a transitional government: 107

Number of elections held under Jovenel Moïse: 0

Date on which the terms of the entire lower house and two-thirds of the senate expire: January 13, 2020

               

In August 2015, President Michel Martelly inaugurated the Delmas viaduct, a four-lane overpass designed to ease the capital’s grid-locked streets. “This viaduct proves once again that together we can achieve great and beautiful things,” Martelly told the large crowd that had assembled. “More than a dream, more than a project, this viaduct is now one of the symbols of Port-au-Prince.”

Underneath the overpass, bands provided live entertainment throughout the hours-long inauguration ceremony which eventually turned into a political rally. Martelly’s term as president was coming to an end, and presidential elections were set to take place in a few months.

“This is the man I have picked to succeed me for my party,” Martelly said from the stage, calling up the man next to him for all to see. “His name is Jovenel Moïse.”

Nearly four years later, on May 31, 2019, Haiti’s Superior Court of Auditors (CSCCA) released a 600-page investigation into more than $2.3 billion in Petrocaribe-related expenditures between 2008 and 2016, when Moïse eventually secured the presidency. The report identified nearly $2 million in questionable payments made to Moïse in late 2014 and early 2015. The largest came just days after he registered as the governing party’s presidential candidate.

As for the viaduct, Martelly was right. It has become a symbol of Port-au-Prince. A concrete symbol of government waste. And a rallying point for Haiti’s growing anticorruption movement.

On October 17, 2018 and again on November 18, 2018 massive anticorruption protests took place in Port-au-Prince and in provincial towns across the country. “Where is the Petrocaribe money?” They demanded. In the capital, before marching up Route Delmas — which runs from the poorer neighborhoods downtown straight up the hill to the comparatively wealthy Petionville — the various organizations and neighborhoods participating amassed at the overpass.

Now, approaching a year since the launch of their movement, organizers are planning another march for June 9. Armed with the CSCCA report, the question is no longer where did the money go, but what is the government going to do about it. There won’t be any confusion about where the demonstration will begin.

But the story of the viaduct itself reveals just how difficult it will be to ensure justice and accountability in Haiti – and abroad. It’s not just the Haitian government that may be reticent about following the money. The implications of the Petrocaribe scandal in Haiti are vast and extend far beyond the country’s own borders and its own political class.

***

Plans for the Delmas viaduct have been around for decades, the brainchild of the politically connected local representative of the Canadian conglomerate SNC-Lavalin, Bernard Chancy. In 2005, SNC-Haiti completed a study on the viability of the project, but couldn’t find the funding to make it a reality.

In the meantime, SNC-Lavalin and its local subsidiary were becoming increasing involved in Haiti. The firm handled the design and construction of the new Canadian Embassy, inaugurated in 2004. It undertook the engineering studies and then supervised the construction of a number of other structures, including the Faculty of Agronomy and Veterinary Medicine. The firm found itself on the UN’s approved vendor list, and on the receiving end of millions in Canadian foreign assistance funds.

In Canada, the firm became one of the Liberal Party’s most steadfast donors. But it had political connections in Haiti as well. A family relation of its Haiti representative, Michael Chancy, was a deputy agricultural minister in Rene Préval’s 2006-2011 government and then was one of the only senior administration officials to be retained in the new administration of Michel Martelly.

But according to a senior Haitian government advisor during the Préval years, SNC-Haiti, despite its political connections, was unable to convince Préval during either of his two terms in office to approve the viaduct project, which the president dismissed as “a rip-off.”

That didn’t stop SNC-Haiti from once again attempting to sell its pet project to the incoming Martelly administration though. And the earthquake presented an opportunity for Bernard Chancy and the Delmas viaduct.

Donors pledged billions of dollars toward Haiti’s reconstruction, and the “gold rush” was on. The vast majority of donor funds went to international organizations or private firms in the donor’s home country. The government of Haiti, meanwhile, became increasingly reliant on the Venezuela-led Petrocaribe initiative. From 2011 to 2015, the oil-for-loans program provided the government with more than $250 million per year.  The new administration was eager to show it was doing something, however expensive or nonsensical the project.

But as the viaduct project reveals, much of the government’s Petrocaribe funding also went to international companies – though often via a local subsidiary.

In the fall of 2012, SNC-Haiti, operating under the name LGL S.A., updated its earlier viaduct analysis. On December 27, 2012, the Haitian government signed a $16.6 million contract with a different company, Estrella, to build the Delmas viaduct. Estrella, one of the largest construction companies in the Dominican Republic, also received a $13.6 million contract to build another viaduct on Route Carrefour, the main road leading from the capital to the south of the country.

The Haitian government provided Estrella with an advance on both projects and awarded a $2.7 million contract to supervise the work to LGL S.A., the SNC-Lavalin local affiliate led by Bernard Chancy.

According to the contracts, which the CSCCA analyzed as part of its report, Estrella was to finish both projects by February 2015. Oddly, LGL S.A.’s supervisory contract ended in November 2014.

At the end of the 18-month deadline, the projects were nowhere near finished. The Delmas viaduct appeared closer, but the Carrefour viaduct had barely been started. And the costs had increased. The CSCCA found that, for the Delmas viaduct, the cost of earthwork had increased by 213 percent and “drainage and sanitation” by 141 percent.

LGL’s supervision contract came to an end in late 2014, but in February 2015, the government gave an additional $5 million to Estrella to continue work on the Delmas viaduct. Though Martelly inaugurated the overpass in August 2015, Estrella received more than $600,000 in 2016 for costs related to the project.

Today, the Delmas viaduct is at least operational, but the Carrefour overpass has yet to be completed. LGL received $2.1 million of its supervision contract. Estrella received nearly $30 million – and that could still increase. Millions more were allocated to the project and have yet to be disbursed.

The CSCCA auditors wrote that the government agency responsible for both projects, the Ministry of Public Works, “did not implement the project in accordance with the principles of efficiency, effectiveness, or economy” and that its actions did not comply with “sound management practices.”

It came as little surprise to the thousands of Haitians who have gathered underneath the overpass before each recent anticorruption demonstration.

***

In the aftermath of the CSCCA report, most of the focus has been on President Jovenel Moïse. It was the president who, responding to the increasing pressure from the anticorruption protests, tasked the CSCCA with investigating the fund in late 2018. No government officials or private sector actors have yet to appear in court over Petrocaribe-related corruption. “We will await the CSCCA report,” the president said repeatedly in one form or another.

Popularized during his election as “The Banana Man” due to his ownership of a banana plantation, Agritrans, it turns out the firm may have had more success as a government road-building contractor. And now that the court has implicated Agritrans in the Petrocaribe affair, calls for the president’s resignation have come from disparate corners of the political landscape.

But it’s not just the Haitian government who is afraid of where a judicial investigation may lead.

“For sure, the [governing party] received money from Petrocaribe,” a foreign diplomat stationed in Haiti told me late last year. “The government doesn’t want an investigation.” But, the source added, “the international ramifications of Petrocaribe are far greater than we know.” It’s not just Haiti that may not be interested in following the money.

Estrella received more than $100 million in Petrocaribe funds, and wasn’t even the largest Dominican recipient. And then there are the businesses in the United States and Canada, often operating through local branches and linked to members of the diaspora.

Many are quick to point out the pervasive level of corruption in Haiti, but few want to look at the international reach of that corruption. Or, viewed differently, the corrupting influence of international actors within Haiti.

SNC-Lavalin is currently embroiled in a corruption scandal that reaches all the way to the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau. It was revealed in 2018 that the company had been illegally funding politicians for years. Then, as a SNC-Lavalin came under legal scrutiny again over bribes paid to the son of former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, the firm attempted to cash in on those long-standing political connections. The Attorney General of Canada resisted the political pressure, but was promptly pushed out of her position. A taped phone call revealed she had previously been threatened with losing her job if she pursued the case against SNC-Lavalin.

Then there is Estrella. Like SNC-Lavalin, Estrella has received contracts not just from the government of Haiti, but multilateral and bilateral donors in Haiti as well. And in the Dominican Republic, Estrella also finds itself embroiled in corruption allegations. The firm was part of a consortium with Odebrecht, the Brazilian multinational, to construct the Punta Catalina coal-fired power plant. Prosecutors have alleged Odebrecht paid some $92 million in bribes to secure the contract and have issued a number of indictments in the Dominican Republic.    

Odebrecht, the center of the hemisphere’s largest corruption scandal, has acknowledged paying bribes to government officials throughout the region. The fallout from the Odebrecht scandal has already ensnared high-level government officials in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, and Mexico. Investigations are ongoing across the hemisphere.

*** 

On June 9, many Haitians will once again meet underneath the Delmas overpass before proceeding up the hill to Petionville. And Haitian president Jovenel Moïse will be serenaded with calls for his resignation. It is his involvement that has received media attention and popular scorn.

But this is a scandal that extends far beyond the current president, and far beyond Haiti altogether, as the case of the Delmas viaduct makes clear. Still, the president faces a problem. As I told Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald, “President Moïse has pledged action, and action will be necessary to calm political tensions— but it will be very difficult to judicially pursue members of the private sector or former government officials when it is the president himself who now stands accused.”

Whatever the fallout from the CSCCA report and the Petrocaribe scandal, it’s worth remembering that Haitians do not have a monopoly on corruption – not even in their own country. Perhaps that can be added to the list of what the Delmas viaduct has come to symbolize.

In August 2015, President Michel Martelly inaugurated the Delmas viaduct, a four-lane overpass designed to ease the capital’s grid-locked streets. “This viaduct proves once again that together we can achieve great and beautiful things,” Martelly told the large crowd that had assembled. “More than a dream, more than a project, this viaduct is now one of the symbols of Port-au-Prince.”

Underneath the overpass, bands provided live entertainment throughout the hours-long inauguration ceremony which eventually turned into a political rally. Martelly’s term as president was coming to an end, and presidential elections were set to take place in a few months.

“This is the man I have picked to succeed me for my party,” Martelly said from the stage, calling up the man next to him for all to see. “His name is Jovenel Moïse.”

Nearly four years later, on May 31, 2019, Haiti’s Superior Court of Auditors (CSCCA) released a 600-page investigation into more than $2.3 billion in Petrocaribe-related expenditures between 2008 and 2016, when Moïse eventually secured the presidency. The report identified nearly $2 million in questionable payments made to Moïse in late 2014 and early 2015. The largest came just days after he registered as the governing party’s presidential candidate.

As for the viaduct, Martelly was right. It has become a symbol of Port-au-Prince. A concrete symbol of government waste. And a rallying point for Haiti’s growing anticorruption movement.

On October 17, 2018 and again on November 18, 2018 massive anticorruption protests took place in Port-au-Prince and in provincial towns across the country. “Where is the Petrocaribe money?” They demanded. In the capital, before marching up Route Delmas — which runs from the poorer neighborhoods downtown straight up the hill to the comparatively wealthy Petionville — the various organizations and neighborhoods participating amassed at the overpass.

Now, approaching a year since the launch of their movement, organizers are planning another march for June 9. Armed with the CSCCA report, the question is no longer where did the money go, but what is the government going to do about it. There won’t be any confusion about where the demonstration will begin.

But the story of the viaduct itself reveals just how difficult it will be to ensure justice and accountability in Haiti – and abroad. It’s not just the Haitian government that may be reticent about following the money. The implications of the Petrocaribe scandal in Haiti are vast and extend far beyond the country’s own borders and its own political class.

***

Plans for the Delmas viaduct have been around for decades, the brainchild of the politically connected local representative of the Canadian conglomerate SNC-Lavalin, Bernard Chancy. In 2005, SNC-Haiti completed a study on the viability of the project, but couldn’t find the funding to make it a reality.

In the meantime, SNC-Lavalin and its local subsidiary were becoming increasing involved in Haiti. The firm handled the design and construction of the new Canadian Embassy, inaugurated in 2004. It undertook the engineering studies and then supervised the construction of a number of other structures, including the Faculty of Agronomy and Veterinary Medicine. The firm found itself on the UN’s approved vendor list, and on the receiving end of millions in Canadian foreign assistance funds.

In Canada, the firm became one of the Liberal Party’s most steadfast donors. But it had political connections in Haiti as well. A family relation of its Haiti representative, Michael Chancy, was a deputy agricultural minister in Rene Préval’s 2006-2011 government and then was one of the only senior administration officials to be retained in the new administration of Michel Martelly.

But according to a senior Haitian government advisor during the Préval years, SNC-Haiti, despite its political connections, was unable to convince Préval during either of his two terms in office to approve the viaduct project, which the president dismissed as “a rip-off.”

That didn’t stop SNC-Haiti from once again attempting to sell its pet project to the incoming Martelly administration though. And the earthquake presented an opportunity for Bernard Chancy and the Delmas viaduct.

Donors pledged billions of dollars toward Haiti’s reconstruction, and the “gold rush” was on. The vast majority of donor funds went to international organizations or private firms in the donor’s home country. The government of Haiti, meanwhile, became increasingly reliant on the Venezuela-led Petrocaribe initiative. From 2011 to 2015, the oil-for-loans program provided the government with more than $250 million per year.  The new administration was eager to show it was doing something, however expensive or nonsensical the project.

But as the viaduct project reveals, much of the government’s Petrocaribe funding also went to international companies – though often via a local subsidiary.

In the fall of 2012, SNC-Haiti, operating under the name LGL S.A., updated its earlier viaduct analysis. On December 27, 2012, the Haitian government signed a $16.6 million contract with a different company, Estrella, to build the Delmas viaduct. Estrella, one of the largest construction companies in the Dominican Republic, also received a $13.6 million contract to build another viaduct on Route Carrefour, the main road leading from the capital to the south of the country.

The Haitian government provided Estrella with an advance on both projects and awarded a $2.7 million contract to supervise the work to LGL S.A., the SNC-Lavalin local affiliate led by Bernard Chancy.

According to the contracts, which the CSCCA analyzed as part of its report, Estrella was to finish both projects by February 2015. Oddly, LGL S.A.’s supervisory contract ended in November 2014.

At the end of the 18-month deadline, the projects were nowhere near finished. The Delmas viaduct appeared closer, but the Carrefour viaduct had barely been started. And the costs had increased. The CSCCA found that, for the Delmas viaduct, the cost of earthwork had increased by 213 percent and “drainage and sanitation” by 141 percent.

LGL’s supervision contract came to an end in late 2014, but in February 2015, the government gave an additional $5 million to Estrella to continue work on the Delmas viaduct. Though Martelly inaugurated the overpass in August 2015, Estrella received more than $600,000 in 2016 for costs related to the project.

Today, the Delmas viaduct is at least operational, but the Carrefour overpass has yet to be completed. LGL received $2.1 million of its supervision contract. Estrella received nearly $30 million – and that could still increase. Millions more were allocated to the project and have yet to be disbursed.

The CSCCA auditors wrote that the government agency responsible for both projects, the Ministry of Public Works, “did not implement the project in accordance with the principles of efficiency, effectiveness, or economy” and that its actions did not comply with “sound management practices.”

It came as little surprise to the thousands of Haitians who have gathered underneath the overpass before each recent anticorruption demonstration.

***

In the aftermath of the CSCCA report, most of the focus has been on President Jovenel Moïse. It was the president who, responding to the increasing pressure from the anticorruption protests, tasked the CSCCA with investigating the fund in late 2018. No government officials or private sector actors have yet to appear in court over Petrocaribe-related corruption. “We will await the CSCCA report,” the president said repeatedly in one form or another.

Popularized during his election as “The Banana Man” due to his ownership of a banana plantation, Agritrans, it turns out the firm may have had more success as a government road-building contractor. And now that the court has implicated Agritrans in the Petrocaribe affair, calls for the president’s resignation have come from disparate corners of the political landscape.

But it’s not just the Haitian government who is afraid of where a judicial investigation may lead.

“For sure, the [governing party] received money from Petrocaribe,” a foreign diplomat stationed in Haiti told me late last year. “The government doesn’t want an investigation.” But, the source added, “the international ramifications of Petrocaribe are far greater than we know.” It’s not just Haiti that may not be interested in following the money.

Estrella received more than $100 million in Petrocaribe funds, and wasn’t even the largest Dominican recipient. And then there are the businesses in the United States and Canada, often operating through local branches and linked to members of the diaspora.

Many are quick to point out the pervasive level of corruption in Haiti, but few want to look at the international reach of that corruption. Or, viewed differently, the corrupting influence of international actors within Haiti.

SNC-Lavalin is currently embroiled in a corruption scandal that reaches all the way to the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau. It was revealed in 2018 that the company had been illegally funding politicians for years. Then, as a SNC-Lavalin came under legal scrutiny again over bribes paid to the son of former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, the firm attempted to cash in on those long-standing political connections. The Attorney General of Canada resisted the political pressure, but was promptly pushed out of her position. A taped phone call revealed she had previously been threatened with losing her job if she pursued the case against SNC-Lavalin.

Then there is Estrella. Like SNC-Lavalin, Estrella has received contracts not just from the government of Haiti, but multilateral and bilateral donors in Haiti as well. And in the Dominican Republic, Estrella also finds itself embroiled in corruption allegations. The firm was part of a consortium with Odebrecht, the Brazilian multinational, to construct the Punta Catalina coal-fired power plant. Prosecutors have alleged Odebrecht paid some $92 million in bribes to secure the contract and have issued a number of indictments in the Dominican Republic.    

Odebrecht, the center of the hemisphere’s largest corruption scandal, has acknowledged paying bribes to government officials throughout the region. The fallout from the Odebrecht scandal has already ensnared high-level government officials in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, and Mexico. Investigations are ongoing across the hemisphere.

*** 

On June 9, many Haitians will once again meet underneath the Delmas overpass before proceeding up the hill to Petionville. And Haitian president Jovenel Moïse will be serenaded with calls for his resignation. It is his involvement that has received media attention and popular scorn.

But this is a scandal that extends far beyond the current president, and far beyond Haiti altogether, as the case of the Delmas viaduct makes clear. Still, the president faces a problem. As I told Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald, “President Moïse has pledged action, and action will be necessary to calm political tensions— but it will be very difficult to judicially pursue members of the private sector or former government officials when it is the president himself who now stands accused.”

Whatever the fallout from the CSCCA report and the Petrocaribe scandal, it’s worth remembering that Haitians do not have a monopoly on corruption – not even in their own country. Perhaps that can be added to the list of what the Delmas viaduct has come to symbolize.

On February 17, Haitian police arrested seven Blackwater-like security contractors a few blocks from the country’s Central Bank. Driving in unmarked vehicles and transporting semi-automatic rifles, drones, and other tactical equipment, the contractors claimed to be on a government mission. Four days later the US “rescued” them. None are expected to face charges.

Over the course of just a few days, the case took on political significance much greater than the detention and release of the contractors. The chain of events initiated by the detention revealed the weakness of the nation’s justice system and the precariousness of the current Haitian administration; it exposed the close ties between criminal networks and the ruling party; and casts doubt on the idea that this was a simple security operation gone wrong.

Launch the investigation below.

Nan kreyòl

Our Boss Will Call Your Boss
An investigation into American security contractors arrested in Haiti and their “rescue” by the US government

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On February 17, Haitian police arrested seven Blackwater-like security contractors a few blocks from the country’s Central Bank. Driving in unmarked vehicles and transporting semi-automatic rifles, drones, and other tactical equipment, the contractors claimed to be on a government mission. Four days later the US “rescued” them. None are expected to face charges.

Over the course of just a few days, the case took on political significance much greater than the detention and release of the contractors. The chain of events initiated by the detention revealed the weakness of the nation’s justice system and the precariousness of the current Haitian administration; it exposed the close ties between criminal networks and the ruling party; and casts doubt on the idea that this was a simple security operation gone wrong.

Launch the investigation below.

Nan kreyòl

Our Boss Will Call Your Boss
An investigation into American security contractors arrested in Haiti and their “rescue” by the US government

Enter

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Years since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti: 9

Estimated number of aftershocks that measured 4.5 or greater: 59

Number of people who died in the earthquake, according to Haitian government: 316,000

Number of people displaced: 1,300,000

Number of people who remained in internally displaced persons camps, as of September 2017: 37,867

Estimated population of Canaan, a barren hillside north of the capital, pre-earthquake: 0

Estimated population of Canaan now: 300,000

Minimum number of new homes necessary to meet demand: 500,000

Estimated damage and economic losses from earthquake, in percent of Haiti’s GDP: 120 percent

Total amount of aid disbursed by donors, since 2010: $7,538,885,632

Amount of aid given to the government in the form of budget support: $280,844,071

Total amount of approved World Bank projects in Haiti since the earthquake: $1.167 billion

Total aid awarded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID): $2.3 billion

Of that amount, percent of which was given to organizations or companies located inside the Beltway (Maryland, DC, Virginia): 55.5 percent

Percent of which was awarded directly to Haitian organizations or companies: 2.3 percent

Total amount of contracts awarded to the DC-based company Chemonics International: $298.55 million

Total amount of contracts awarded directly to all Haitian firms: $52.95 million

Amount allocated by USAID and the Inter-American Development Bank to support the Caracol Industrial Park, the flagship post-quake project: $350 million

Number of miles from the earthquake epicenter to Caracol: 190

Date on which the industrial park was inaugurated: October 22, 2012

Number of jobs the State Department promised the new industrial park would create: 65,000

Total number of jobs at the industrial park, as of 2017: 10,214

Percent by which garment sector employment has increased countrywide since 2010: 93 percent

Minimum number of residents displaced by the construction of the Caracol Industrial Park: 400

Date on which those 400 residents reached an agreement with the IDB and Haitian government on corrective measures, including access to new land: December 19, 2018

Daily minimum wage in the garment sector: 420 gourdes (less than $6)

Daily minimum wage requested by unions: 1000 gourdes

Percent of garment factories noncompliant with social security and other benefit payments in 2018: 75 percent

Total remittances sent to Haiti in 2018, according to the World Bank: $2.5 billion

Haiti’s rank among countries with the highest remittances as a share of GDP: 5

Minimum number of Haitians who emigrated to Chile in 2017: 105,000

Number of Haitians living in the United States with Temporary Protected Status (TPS): 59,000

Date on which then-candidate Trump proclaimed that he would be Haiti’s “greatest champion”: September 16, 2016

Date on which the US announced it was ending TPS for Haitians: November 20, 2017

Date on which it was reported that President Trump referred to Haiti as a “shithole” country: January 11, 2018

Date on which a trial in New York commenced contesting the US decision to end TPS: January 7, 2019

Ratio of per capita public health funding in Haiti compared to Cuba: 1:60

Percent by which child mortality decreased, between 1990 and 2015: 50 percent

Factor by which Haiti’s child mortality rate remains greater than the Latin America and Caribbean average: 5

Percent of health facilities that charge user fees: 93 percent

Percent of the national budget that went to health in 2004: 16.6

In 2016: 4.4

Percent of national budget that went to the Senate and Chamber of Deputies last year: 5.8 percent

Number of political parties that registered to participate in Haiti’s August 2015 legislative elections: 128

Number of candidates: 1,852

Number of seats up for grabs: 139

Percent of votes that were never counted due to irregularities, including fraud and violence: 25 percent

Date on which Haiti’s first-round presidential election was held: October 25, 2015

Date on which the planned second-round presidential election was indefinitely called off due to widespread irregularities: January 22, 2016

Number of untraceable votes in the October 25, 2015 election, according to an independent verification commission: 628,000

Date on which the Haitian government announced it would rerun the presidential election on October 25, 2016: June 6, 2016

Date on which the United States, which was opposed to the decision, announced it would not fund the rerun election: July 7, 2016

Total cost of the rerun election, paid entirely by the Haitian government: $55 million

Date on which Hurricane Matthew made landfall on Haiti’s Southern Peninsula: October 4, 2016

Number of years since a hurricane of similar magnitude struck Haiti: 62

Amount requested in a flash appeal for humanitarian funding by the United Nations: $139 million

Percent of flash appeal that has been funded since: 62.1 percent

Estimated percent of crops destroyed in the Grand’Anse region: 100 percent

Estimated percent of livestock killed in the same department: 85–90 percent

Estimated amount needed for reconstruction after the hurricane: $2.2 billion

Number of days the passage of Hurricane Matthew delayed the presidential election: 26

Estimated voter turnout in the 2016 presidential election: 18 percent

Number of elections in Latin America and the Caribbean which have experienced that low a turnout before: 0

Date on which Haiti officially relaunched the military, disbanded since 1995: November 18, 2017

Percent of the six members of the high command who also held positions in the disbanded military: 100 percent

Budget for the Armed Forces of Haiti in 2018-2019, in dollars: $6 million

Minimum amount the Government of Haiti invested in Agritrans, a banana exporting plantation run by current president Jovenel Moïse: $6 million

Date on which Moïse appeared at Agritrans to mark the first shipment of bananas to Europe: September 8, 2015

Date on which the 2015 presidential campaign officially began: September 9, 2015

Date on which the second, and last, shipment of bananas to Europe was made: April 2016

Number of jobs the plantation was expected to create: 3,000

Estimated number of individuals displaced by the creation of Agritrans: 1,000

Estimated average annual economic loss of those displaced: $1,433

Dollar amount of import tax exemptions that Agritrans benefited from between 2014 and 2017: $573,543

Dollar amount of food imported by Haiti in 2009: $483 million

In 2018: $909 million

Dollar amount of food exported by Haiti in 2009: $25.8 million

In 2018: $21.5 million

Number of rural Haitians facing acute food insecurity: 2,054,161

Number facing a “food emergency situation”: 571,129

Exchange rate at time of earthquake (Haitian gourdes per dollar): 40.5

Exchange rate today: 76.3

Percent by which gas prices would increase following a July 2018 government announcement: 38 percent

Days of protests and rioting that followed the announcement: 3

Approximate number of hours it took the government to rescind the increase: 24

Percent of the gasoline subsidy that benefits the wealthiest segments of society: 90 percent

Average annual per capita GDP growth, since 2009: 0.3 percent

Amount of debt relief granted by Venezuela after the earthquake: $295 million

Estimated amount that Haiti currently owes Venezuela: $1.44 billion

Average annual disbursement, through the Venezuela-led Petrocaribe program, 2011–2015: $270.8 million

Number of pages in a 2017 Haitian Senate investigation into Petrocaribe spending that found significant irregularities and alleged widespread fraud and abuse: 617

In the annex to the report: 619

Minimum amount allocated to a project to build sports centers, run by former president Michel Martelly’s son: $27.7 million

Date on which Gilbert Mirambeau Jr., a Haitian filmmaker, tweeted a photo of himself, blindfolded, holding a sign asking where the Petrocaribe money is: August 14, 2018

Percent of Haiti’s ten departments that experienced massive demonstrations on October 18, 2018 asking where the Petrocaribe money is: 90 percent

Minimum number of individuals wounded by police gunfire at a funeral for protesters killed during the October 18 demonstrations: 3

Minimum number of Haitians killed by armed gangs and corrupt police on November 13, 2018 in the La Saline neighborhood of Port-au-Prince: 70

Number of officials held accountable for wrongdoing related to Petrocaribe: 0

Number of individuals held accountable for the massacre at La Saline: 0

Years remaining in President Jovenel Moïse’s mandate: 3

Years since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti: 9

Estimated number of aftershocks that measured 4.5 or greater: 59

Number of people who died in the earthquake, according to Haitian government: 316,000

Number of people displaced: 1,300,000

Number of people who remained in internally displaced persons camps, as of September 2017: 37,867

Estimated population of Canaan, a barren hillside north of the capital, pre-earthquake: 0

Estimated population of Canaan now: 300,000

Minimum number of new homes necessary to meet demand: 500,000

Estimated damage and economic losses from earthquake, in percent of Haiti’s GDP: 120 percent

Total amount of aid disbursed by donors, since 2010: $7,538,885,632

Amount of aid given to the government in the form of budget support: $280,844,071

Total amount of approved World Bank projects in Haiti since the earthquake: $1.167 billion

Total aid awarded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID): $2.3 billion

Of that amount, percent of which was given to organizations or companies located inside the Beltway (Maryland, DC, Virginia): 55.5 percent

Percent of which was awarded directly to Haitian organizations or companies: 2.3 percent

Total amount of contracts awarded to the DC-based company Chemonics International: $298.55 million

Total amount of contracts awarded directly to all Haitian firms: $52.95 million

Amount allocated by USAID and the Inter-American Development Bank to support the Caracol Industrial Park, the flagship post-quake project: $350 million

Number of miles from the earthquake epicenter to Caracol: 190

Date on which the industrial park was inaugurated: October 22, 2012

Number of jobs the State Department promised the new industrial park would create: 65,000

Total number of jobs at the industrial park, as of 2017: 10,214

Percent by which garment sector employment has increased countrywide since 2010: 93 percent

Minimum number of residents displaced by the construction of the Caracol Industrial Park: 400

Date on which those 400 residents reached an agreement with the IDB and Haitian government on corrective measures, including access to new land: December 19, 2018

Daily minimum wage in the garment sector: 420 gourdes (less than $6)

Daily minimum wage requested by unions: 1000 gourdes

Percent of garment factories noncompliant with social security and other benefit payments in 2018: 75 percent

Total remittances sent to Haiti in 2018, according to the World Bank: $2.5 billion

Haiti’s rank among countries with the highest remittances as a share of GDP: 5

Minimum number of Haitians who emigrated to Chile in 2017: 105,000

Number of Haitians living in the United States with Temporary Protected Status (TPS): 59,000

Date on which then-candidate Trump proclaimed that he would be Haiti’s “greatest champion”: September 16, 2016

Date on which the US announced it was ending TPS for Haitians: November 20, 2017

Date on which it was reported that President Trump referred to Haiti as a “shithole” country: January 11, 2018

Date on which a trial in New York commenced contesting the US decision to end TPS: January 7, 2019

Ratio of per capita public health funding in Haiti compared to Cuba: 1:60

Percent by which child mortality decreased, between 1990 and 2015: 50 percent

Factor by which Haiti’s child mortality rate remains greater than the Latin America and Caribbean average: 5

Percent of health facilities that charge user fees: 93 percent

Percent of the national budget that went to health in 2004: 16.6

In 2016: 4.4

Percent of national budget that went to the Senate and Chamber of Deputies last year: 5.8 percent

Number of political parties that registered to participate in Haiti’s August 2015 legislative elections: 128

Number of candidates: 1,852

Number of seats up for grabs: 139

Percent of votes that were never counted due to irregularities, including fraud and violence: 25 percent

Date on which Haiti’s first-round presidential election was held: October 25, 2015

Date on which the planned second-round presidential election was indefinitely called off due to widespread irregularities: January 22, 2016

Number of untraceable votes in the October 25, 2015 election, according to an independent verification commission: 628,000

Date on which the Haitian government announced it would rerun the presidential election on October 25, 2016: June 6, 2016

Date on which the United States, which was opposed to the decision, announced it would not fund the rerun election: July 7, 2016

Total cost of the rerun election, paid entirely by the Haitian government: $55 million

Date on which Hurricane Matthew made landfall on Haiti’s Southern Peninsula: October 4, 2016

Number of years since a hurricane of similar magnitude struck Haiti: 62

Amount requested in a flash appeal for humanitarian funding by the United Nations: $139 million

Percent of flash appeal that has been funded since: 62.1 percent

Estimated percent of crops destroyed in the Grand’Anse region: 100 percent

Estimated percent of livestock killed in the same department: 85–90 percent

Estimated amount needed for reconstruction after the hurricane: $2.2 billion

Number of days the passage of Hurricane Matthew delayed the presidential election: 26

Estimated voter turnout in the 2016 presidential election: 18 percent

Number of elections in Latin America and the Caribbean which have experienced that low a turnout before: 0

Date on which Haiti officially relaunched the military, disbanded since 1995: November 18, 2017

Percent of the six members of the high command who also held positions in the disbanded military: 100 percent

Budget for the Armed Forces of Haiti in 2018-2019, in dollars: $6 million

Minimum amount the Government of Haiti invested in Agritrans, a banana exporting plantation run by current president Jovenel Moïse: $6 million

Date on which Moïse appeared at Agritrans to mark the first shipment of bananas to Europe: September 8, 2015

Date on which the 2015 presidential campaign officially began: September 9, 2015

Date on which the second, and last, shipment of bananas to Europe was made: April 2016

Number of jobs the plantation was expected to create: 3,000

Estimated number of individuals displaced by the creation of Agritrans: 1,000

Estimated average annual economic loss of those displaced: $1,433

Dollar amount of import tax exemptions that Agritrans benefited from between 2014 and 2017: $573,543

Dollar amount of food imported by Haiti in 2009: $483 million

In 2018: $909 million

Dollar amount of food exported by Haiti in 2009: $25.8 million

In 2018: $21.5 million

Number of rural Haitians facing acute food insecurity: 2,054,161

Number facing a “food emergency situation”: 571,129

Exchange rate at time of earthquake (Haitian gourdes per dollar): 40.5

Exchange rate today: 76.3

Percent by which gas prices would increase following a July 2018 government announcement: 38 percent

Days of protests and rioting that followed the announcement: 3

Approximate number of hours it took the government to rescind the increase: 24

Percent of the gasoline subsidy that benefits the wealthiest segments of society: 90 percent

Average annual per capita GDP growth, since 2009: 0.3 percent

Amount of debt relief granted by Venezuela after the earthquake: $295 million

Estimated amount that Haiti currently owes Venezuela: $1.44 billion

Average annual disbursement, through the Venezuela-led Petrocaribe program, 2011–2015: $270.8 million

Number of pages in a 2017 Haitian Senate investigation into Petrocaribe spending that found significant irregularities and alleged widespread fraud and abuse: 617

In the annex to the report: 619

Minimum amount allocated to a project to build sports centers, run by former president Michel Martelly’s son: $27.7 million

Date on which Gilbert Mirambeau Jr., a Haitian filmmaker, tweeted a photo of himself, blindfolded, holding a sign asking where the Petrocaribe money is: August 14, 2018

Percent of Haiti’s ten departments that experienced massive demonstrations on October 18, 2018 asking where the Petrocaribe money is: 90 percent

Minimum number of individuals wounded by police gunfire at a funeral for protesters killed during the October 18 demonstrations: 3

Minimum number of Haitians killed by armed gangs and corrupt police on November 13, 2018 in the La Saline neighborhood of Port-au-Prince: 70

Number of officials held accountable for wrongdoing related to Petrocaribe: 0

Number of individuals held accountable for the massacre at La Saline: 0

Years remaining in President Jovenel Moïse’s mandate: 3

More than two months have passed since an innocuous tweet went viral and a social media campaign targeting government corruption in Haiti began. Using the hashtags #PetrocaribeChallenge and #KotKobPetwoKaribea (“where is the Petrocaribe money?”), the campaign has shifted the paradigm in Haiti and forced a reckoning over alleged fraud and mismanagement in the $2 billion Venezuela-financed Petrocaribe program. This anticorruption movement, which has brought together disparate groups ? both formal and informal ? from across the political and economic landscape of the country, now faces a critical moment.

A Country on Edge

Tomorrow, October 17, is expected to be the largest demonstration yet; a prospect that has the entire country on edge. The US Embassy has issued a security warning requiring employees to “shelter in place.” President Jovenel Moïse, who, despite being implicated in the wrongdoing, has pledged to support an investigation, visited police stations across the capital region over the weekend in anticipation of the protest. “In the camp of power, the panic is palpable,” warned Mario Andresol, the former chief of police. Some 1,500 officers will be deployed throughout the capital. Businesses have already begun boarding up windows. Reports of money being distributed to keep people away from the protests have circulated widely, as have mysterious audio and video clips warning of a bloodbath. “As October 17 approaches, the authorities are doing all the ‘bagay’ [things] to defeat the announced insurrection,” Andresol said.

By focusing on the possibility of violence, the government is attempting to intimidate the population into not participating, while laying the groundwork for blaming opposition political actors if things do go south. Last week, Schiller Louidor, an outspoken government critic, was hauled before a court to answer questions after using the term “Petro-dechoukay,” a reference to dechoukaj (literally “the uprooting,” but more easily translated as rioting). However, what likely scares the government more than the possibility of violence is a massive and largely peaceful demonstration; a demonstration that the government is not able to demonize or use to deflect attention from itself and its lack of response to calls for greater accountability.

The reality is that this movement appears to have tapped into a deep reservoir of political frustration, and not just among those who have taken the streets for years in opposition to the ruling party. With inflation in double digits, the local currency continuing to depreciate, and the cost of living rising each week, the country’s economic malaise has reached the middle and even upper classes of society. If those calling for an investigation into the Petrocaribe accounts are to be successful, they will need the support of a broad-based coalition. Nevertheless, there is also a palpable fear among those tepidly supportive of this movement and tomorrow’s protests who are also deeply distrustful of the popular organizations that have been leading the opposition in the streets. There will be a lot riding on tomorrow’s protest for the future of this burgeoning anticorruption campaign, as well as for a government attempting to stave it off.

Why Petrocaribe?

Haiti formally joined the Petrocaribe initiative in 2007. Under the program, Haiti ? as well as more than a dozen other Caribbean and Central American nations ? received discounted oil, paying a portion of the bill up-front and converting the remainder into a long-term concessional loan to be used for government investments and social spending.

In contrast to traditional donor support that generally bypasses the government entirely, Petrocaribe serves as direct support to the government. As the price of oil rose throughout the early 2010s, the Petrocaribe program filled government coffers. From 2012 to 2015, Haiti spent an average of $270 million a year through the initiative, a critical source of financing for a government sorely in need of additional revenue. Haiti has spent some $1.8 billion of Petrocaribe-related funds since joining.

However, Petrocaribe has been plagued by a lack of transparency. While some have warned for years of the dangers posed by such expenditures without proper oversight, it was elevated to the forefront of Haiti’s political consciousness by an unlikely source: Senator Youri Latortue, whom a former US Ambassador once described as the “poster-boy for political corruption in Haiti.” Though few trusted Latortue’s motives to be anything other than craven politics, his efforts in many ways laid the groundwork for today’s anticorruption movement.

In the fall of 2017, Latortue and a small senate commission released a 600-plus page report (with a similar length appendix) on nearly 10 years of Petrocaribe. The investigation found that over the course of multiple administrations, the program was characterized by mismanagement, waste, fraud and abuse; ghost companies that received no-bid contracts; payments for work that was never completed; and a host of other financial improprieties. The investigation directly implicated high-level government officials, including current president Moïse. Though the report was never formally approved by Parliament, it has hung over the heads of Haiti’s political class ever since.

What Comes Next?

While the current anticorruption movement is largely leaderless and brings together many organizations and individuals with different interests, one demand is clear: an independent investigation into the decade of Petrocaribe largesse.

Though initially critical of the senate report, President Moïse has since changed his rhetoric and pledged to support an investigation. The government has tasked the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Litigation (CSCCA) with this and the body has pledged to release its work in early 2019. However, there are reasons to be skeptical that this can lead to accountability. To begin with, the CSCCA is responsible for approving government contracts, meaning that the body now set to investigate is the one that already signed off on most of the contracts in question. Further, many question the ability of the CSCCA, or of any governmental body, to adequately and independently investigate.

Perhaps most importantly, the CSCCA has already produced a report on a limited amount of Petrocaribe spending and despite finding significant problems, nothing was ever done to follow up. In fact, it was the work of the CSCCA that originally provided the basis for the Senate to investigate Petrocaribe. By kicking the investigation back to the court, the cycle of investigation continues, while the prospect of real accountability dithers.

The CSCCA audited government spending for the fiscal year 2014-2015 and produced a public report on its findings, though this has received scant attention. The findings, however, remain relevant. The court found the selection of projects to be financed by Petrocaribe to be procedurally lacking, as many either did not have specificity or did not appear to be sustainable. By making multiple budget amendments and reallocations of Petrocaribe resources throughout the year, the court found that it allowed the government to conceal its actions under the investment program. The government “gave itself many liberties … and poured into illegality,” the court wrote.

The system, the court concluded, was set up for failure and did not support accountability efforts. “A significant portion of public spending is indecipherable,” the audit found, adding, “There is a culture of accountability to be established … and appropriate information systems must be put in place.”

It therefore seems unlikely that a further investigation undertaken by the court will be able to adequately follow the money wherever it may lead or otherwise satisfy the demands of those taking to the streets in tomorrow’s protests. This brings us back to the importance of tomorrow’s events. Without sustained public pressure, it is clear the governing party will not provide the necessary level of transparency to ensure real accountability.

More than two months have passed since an innocuous tweet went viral and a social media campaign targeting government corruption in Haiti began. Using the hashtags #PetrocaribeChallenge and #KotKobPetwoKaribea (“where is the Petrocaribe money?”), the campaign has shifted the paradigm in Haiti and forced a reckoning over alleged fraud and mismanagement in the $2 billion Venezuela-financed Petrocaribe program. This anticorruption movement, which has brought together disparate groups ? both formal and informal ? from across the political and economic landscape of the country, now faces a critical moment.

A Country on Edge

Tomorrow, October 17, is expected to be the largest demonstration yet; a prospect that has the entire country on edge. The US Embassy has issued a security warning requiring employees to “shelter in place.” President Jovenel Moïse, who, despite being implicated in the wrongdoing, has pledged to support an investigation, visited police stations across the capital region over the weekend in anticipation of the protest. “In the camp of power, the panic is palpable,” warned Mario Andresol, the former chief of police. Some 1,500 officers will be deployed throughout the capital. Businesses have already begun boarding up windows. Reports of money being distributed to keep people away from the protests have circulated widely, as have mysterious audio and video clips warning of a bloodbath. “As October 17 approaches, the authorities are doing all the ‘bagay’ [things] to defeat the announced insurrection,” Andresol said.

By focusing on the possibility of violence, the government is attempting to intimidate the population into not participating, while laying the groundwork for blaming opposition political actors if things do go south. Last week, Schiller Louidor, an outspoken government critic, was hauled before a court to answer questions after using the term “Petro-dechoukay,” a reference to dechoukaj (literally “the uprooting,” but more easily translated as rioting). However, what likely scares the government more than the possibility of violence is a massive and largely peaceful demonstration; a demonstration that the government is not able to demonize or use to deflect attention from itself and its lack of response to calls for greater accountability.

The reality is that this movement appears to have tapped into a deep reservoir of political frustration, and not just among those who have taken the streets for years in opposition to the ruling party. With inflation in double digits, the local currency continuing to depreciate, and the cost of living rising each week, the country’s economic malaise has reached the middle and even upper classes of society. If those calling for an investigation into the Petrocaribe accounts are to be successful, they will need the support of a broad-based coalition. Nevertheless, there is also a palpable fear among those tepidly supportive of this movement and tomorrow’s protests who are also deeply distrustful of the popular organizations that have been leading the opposition in the streets. There will be a lot riding on tomorrow’s protest for the future of this burgeoning anticorruption campaign, as well as for a government attempting to stave it off.

Why Petrocaribe?

Haiti formally joined the Petrocaribe initiative in 2007. Under the program, Haiti ? as well as more than a dozen other Caribbean and Central American nations ? received discounted oil, paying a portion of the bill up-front and converting the remainder into a long-term concessional loan to be used for government investments and social spending.

In contrast to traditional donor support that generally bypasses the government entirely, Petrocaribe serves as direct support to the government. As the price of oil rose throughout the early 2010s, the Petrocaribe program filled government coffers. From 2012 to 2015, Haiti spent an average of $270 million a year through the initiative, a critical source of financing for a government sorely in need of additional revenue. Haiti has spent some $1.8 billion of Petrocaribe-related funds since joining.

However, Petrocaribe has been plagued by a lack of transparency. While some have warned for years of the dangers posed by such expenditures without proper oversight, it was elevated to the forefront of Haiti’s political consciousness by an unlikely source: Senator Youri Latortue, whom a former US Ambassador once described as the “poster-boy for political corruption in Haiti.” Though few trusted Latortue’s motives to be anything other than craven politics, his efforts in many ways laid the groundwork for today’s anticorruption movement.

In the fall of 2017, Latortue and a small senate commission released a 600-plus page report (with a similar length appendix) on nearly 10 years of Petrocaribe. The investigation found that over the course of multiple administrations, the program was characterized by mismanagement, waste, fraud and abuse; ghost companies that received no-bid contracts; payments for work that was never completed; and a host of other financial improprieties. The investigation directly implicated high-level government officials, including current president Moïse. Though the report was never formally approved by Parliament, it has hung over the heads of Haiti’s political class ever since.

What Comes Next?

While the current anticorruption movement is largely leaderless and brings together many organizations and individuals with different interests, one demand is clear: an independent investigation into the decade of Petrocaribe largesse.

Though initially critical of the senate report, President Moïse has since changed his rhetoric and pledged to support an investigation. The government has tasked the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Litigation (CSCCA) with this and the body has pledged to release its work in early 2019. However, there are reasons to be skeptical that this can lead to accountability. To begin with, the CSCCA is responsible for approving government contracts, meaning that the body now set to investigate is the one that already signed off on most of the contracts in question. Further, many question the ability of the CSCCA, or of any governmental body, to adequately and independently investigate.

Perhaps most importantly, the CSCCA has already produced a report on a limited amount of Petrocaribe spending and despite finding significant problems, nothing was ever done to follow up. In fact, it was the work of the CSCCA that originally provided the basis for the Senate to investigate Petrocaribe. By kicking the investigation back to the court, the cycle of investigation continues, while the prospect of real accountability dithers.

The CSCCA audited government spending for the fiscal year 2014-2015 and produced a public report on its findings, though this has received scant attention. The findings, however, remain relevant. The court found the selection of projects to be financed by Petrocaribe to be procedurally lacking, as many either did not have specificity or did not appear to be sustainable. By making multiple budget amendments and reallocations of Petrocaribe resources throughout the year, the court found that it allowed the government to conceal its actions under the investment program. The government “gave itself many liberties … and poured into illegality,” the court wrote.

The system, the court concluded, was set up for failure and did not support accountability efforts. “A significant portion of public spending is indecipherable,” the audit found, adding, “There is a culture of accountability to be established … and appropriate information systems must be put in place.”

It therefore seems unlikely that a further investigation undertaken by the court will be able to adequately follow the money wherever it may lead or otherwise satisfy the demands of those taking to the streets in tomorrow’s protests. This brings us back to the importance of tomorrow’s events. Without sustained public pressure, it is clear the governing party will not provide the necessary level of transparency to ensure real accountability.

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