Gang violence in Haiti's largest city continues to have a pervasive negative impact that reverberates throughout the country, affecting security, the economy, food security, education, and health care. According to Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald, dozens of people have been killed and more than a hundred injured in a new round of deadly violence "aggravating fuel shortages, raising transportation costs and making an already troubling humanitarian crisis even worse." Further, 20,000 residents of the densely populated slums have been displaced by gang violence since May. A July 8 article about gang violence in Port au Prince is copied below and linked is an update by Charles.
A bit late in posting this, but in response to the recent New York Times series, a major French bank is hiring researchers to look into the history of its involvement in Haiti. It is not straight-forward given mergers and the loss of almost all relevant documentation over the years, hence the need for outside expertise. Haiti's history is one of exploitation by individual, institutions, and countries. As the article by Matt Apuzzo points out, foreign banks have played a significant role in maintaining an ecosystem of exploitation. This investigation is welcome and would not be happening without the NYT journalists and their reporting.
Gangs in Port au Prince thrive when there is an absence of governance, no rule of law, and economic stagnation. The UN has described current levels of gang violence as unprecedented and affecting all aspects of life - for example, 11 medical centers and 442 schools have closed. National roads connecting Port-au-Prince to the rest of the country are dangerous, limiting the movement of people and goods. While the security situation continues to deteriorate Haiti's developmental issues remain unaddressed - environmental degradation, lack of infrastructure and investment, poor basic services, and unrelenting brain drain. Security is not enough to address these underlying problems but it is a prerequisite - and the gangs will not give up territory willingly. The full CNN article follows.
The New York Times has run an excellent multi-part series on how the United States and France impoverished and de-stabilised while enriching themselves. The piece, copied below, is entitled "The Ransom" and covers how Wall Street, and in particular the Bank that became Citigroup, urged the US occupation of Haiti. Other pieces in this series include "The Root of Haiti's Misery: Reparation to Enslavers", "Haiti's Lost Billions", and "How a French Bank Captured Haiti" and "Demanding Reparations and Ending Up in Exile." Both in the past and at present Haitians struggle with racism, corporate greed, and political exploitation of other countries. This aspect of Haitian history is rarely tought in the USA or France - but it should be.
This is not the first time that insecurity, poverty, a compromised police force, and a polticial power vacuum has enabled a surge in kidnappings. What is different this time is both the extent and the methods - police officers, doctors, priests, and entire busses of people have been kidnapped. Both rich and poor are vulnerable. The companies that continue to operate in Port au Prince are moving their staff into compounds, transporting them in armored cars, and some are commuting by boat to avoid the roads entirely. In this environment, instability will persist, the economy will not grow, and those who can will leave through either regular or irregular means will do so. As is so often said, Haiti is at a crossroads - the way ahead is uncertain. The full article by Washington Post contributor Anthony Faiola and Widlore Merancourt follows.
While the United States scrambles to resettle Afghan refugees, Haitian asylum seekers are being deported en masse. Many have experienced or witnessed human rights abuses but are being returned without a proper hearing. The UN Refugee Agency has expressed concern that these returns may violate international law. Human Rights Watch and many other advocacy organisations, domestic and internatrional, have denounced these returns from an administration that campaigned on making the asylum process humane and transparent. The Diaspora and its partners are mobilzing to demand due process and dignity. More information follows in the article by Washington Post journalists Tim Craig, Sean Sullivan, and Silvia Foster-Frau below.
The Haitian President has been killed in his home and his wife wounded. He came into power in 2017 and has been ruling by decree since January 2020. While he did little to address Haiti's underlying issues, and may in fact have made them worse, neither he nor his wife deserved this. The former president's seventh prime minister had not been nominated yet, the President of the Supreme Court died of COVID, and the path ahead for replacing the President is unclear. Amongst all of Haiti's problems, the government is now in disarray. The full article by Miami Herald Journalists Jacqueline Charles and Johnny Fils-Aime is below with updates to follow.
The U.S State Department has releaed its 2021 Trafficiking in Persons (TIP) reports. Haiti is "Tier 2" country meaning it is falling short in many areas. The economic downtown, political instability, and conflict increased vulnerability. Of note, the government did not make efforts to combat child domestic slavery with estimates of the number of restaveks in Haiti as high as 300,000. The number of street children has likely increased and "orphanage entrepeneurs" continue to operate unlicensed shelters as profit-making enterprises. The concrete steps Haiti could take to improve prevention and response are laid out in the Haiti section of the report copied below.
The Biden Administration will now allow Haitians who were in the United States as of May 21 ro apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This will protect Haiitians from being deported which is especially important given the ongoing pandemic, political instability, as well as kidnappings and other forms of violence that come with it. This also gives Haitians, who are nothing if not hard working, the freedom to work legally so they can contribute to the communities where they live. More information on this welome development from the Miami Herald's Jacqueline Charles follows below.
Haiti is a religious country and social movements, when they take off, often have the participation of its faith communities. The Catholic Church has closed its institutions for three days to demand the release of kidnapped priests and nuns. Regardless of religious affiliation, nobody is safe until the present political crisis is resolved, the country has a government that actually governs, and security can be restored. It is time for the faith communities to work together in making that happen. The full article on the strike by AP journalist Evens Sanon follows.