Haiti Marks Independence Anniversary Day Amid Deepening Crisis

Source:  TeleSUR
January 1 2020

Haiti has been struggling for more than two centuries to establish itself as a modern and stable state.Haiti has been struggling for more than two centuries to establish
itself as a modern and stable state. | Photo: Reuters

Over 4.5 million Haitians, almost half of the population, will be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2020, the United Nations warned. 

Haiti celebrated Wednesday its 216th independence day in the midst of political turmoil and a profound social and economic crisis.

RELATED: Hundreds of Haitian Children Fathered, ‘Left in Misery’ by UN Peacekeepers: Report 

The government of President Jovenel Moise has been facing nationwide protests calling for its removal after scandals emerged involving the head of state along with other officials in cases of severe corruption, and after fuel shortages, dwindling food supplies, and mismanagement of public funds further plunged the impoverished country in one of its worst economic and social crisis in years.

To mark the day of independence, Moise gave a speech and denounced graft, urging Haiti’s elite to work with the government.

“We’re still extremely poor,” he said at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, adding that “those who continue to get rich find it normal that they do not pay taxes, find it normal that there can be no competition, find it normal that they set prices for consumers, especially when this consumer is the state itself.”

The world’s first black-led republic

Moise’s speech marked 216 years since the Caribbean nation gained its independence and became the world’s first black-led republic, forcing France to surrender its colonial rule over the slave-driven plantation formerly known as Saint-Domingue.

Led by Toussaint-Louverture, who declared the abolition of slavery, former slaves fought against France between 1791 and 1804 when General Jean-Jaques Dessalines finally defeated French forces and declared independence, reviving the island’s native name: Ayiti.

Haiti’s problems, however, which can be traced back a long way, have only been getting worse since its birth as a Republic.

The country has been fighting and struggling for more than two centuries to establish itself as a modern and stable state, but it has been mercilessly punished, used, and exploited by the West, making a sustained political, social and economic development almost impossible.

Illegitimate debt imposed by France

The island was, for instance, burdened with an illegitimate debt imposed by France in exchange for lifting a naval and diplomatic blockade. The former colonial power demanded that Haiti pay 150 million gold francs in “reparations” to former French slaveholders. According to several estimates, that was 10 times the country’s yearly revenue.

For over a century, Haiti was required to finance the debt, hampering the possibility to invest in infrastructure, social services, and industrial development.

19-year-long occupation by the United States

It wasn’t until 1947 that Haiti was finally capable of paying compensation to slaveholders and human traffickers. By then, it had already suffered a 19-year-long occupation by the United States (1915 – 1934), during which racial inequalities were exacerbated.

In 2004, Haiti officially demanded France to pay back the money, stressing that it was a “grave injustice” that prevented Haiti from developing as fast as other countries. France has so far rejected any possibility of paying back the illegitimate debt it claimed from Haiti.

And as Haitians commemorate one more year of independence, it seems there is little to celebrate as the United Nations (U.N.) estimates that more than 4.5 million Haitians representing almost half of the population will be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2020. Among the most vulnerable, about 60 percent are women and more than 45 percent are children.

“One in three Haitians needs urgent food aid, that is 3.7 million people, a significant increase compared to 2.6 million people at the end of 2018. If no immediate action is taken, between March and June 2020, 1.2 million people will be able to eat a meal every two days and around 2.8 million people will be able to eat a single meal a day, “ U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said, expressing that a worsening economic crisis is the last thing Haitians need, given the poor quality of life in the island.

Haiti: Opposition Meets with President, Demands His Resignation

Source: TeleSUR
December 17 2019

Despite the popular pressure, Moise -who is backed by the United States- said he would carry on his term until its end.Despite the popular pressure, Moise -who is backed by the United States-
said he would carry on his term until its end. | Photo: Reuters

The whole spectrum of opposition forces agree that the president’s resignation is the first condition if a way out of the crisis is to be found.

Members from the Haitian opposition Passarelle platform, who have been meditating since November between radical opposition parties and the government, met Monday with President Jovenel Moise to hand him a copy of the so-called Marriott agreement, signed by several groups to demand the president’s immediate resignation and the establishment of a transitional government.

RELATED: Haiti Descends Into Worst Violence in Years as Gang Violence Increases

Despite the president’s calls for dialogue and union, his opponents backed by hundreds of thousands of protesters who have been taking to the streets for almost a year, have been refusing to negotiate, as the whole spectrum of opposition forces agree that the president’s resignation is the first condition if a way out of the crisis is to be found.

Lacking unity

The Haitian opposition however is fragmented. On Monday, spokesman for the opposition Democratic and Popular Sector (DPS), Michel Andre, which is one of the president’s strongest critics, rejected the meeting between the committee representing the platform and the president, saying that Moise should not have met with Passerelle, but with the DPS.

Nonetheless, Andre agreed that the first step towards an end to the political, economic and social crisis must be the resignation of the president, the establishment of an interim administration, and trials for those state officials involved in cases of corruption, especially the embezzlement of Petrocaribe funds, meant to finance infrastructure development along with health, education and social programs across the impoverished nation.

Haiti has been experiencing a situation of fragile calm since last month after consecutive months of mass anti-government protests that paralyzed the country.

On Dec. 2, some schools reopened, as services such as public transportation and public administration along with some businesses resumed their activities.

Call for deep transformation 

The mass demonstrations that mobilized almost all sectors of civil society, call for the deep transformation of a system that has been governing the Caribbean nation since the end of the dictatorship in 1986 and seen as profoundly unequal and corrupt.

Despite the popular pressure, Moise –who is backed by the United States– said he would carry on his term until its end, pointing out that his resignation would be “irresponsible” while using the Constitution as his legal argument to retain his position.

The unrest in Haiti started in February following major corruption allegations.

As the country was already dealing with a tense economic crisis and high inflation, a report was published accusing Moise and dozens of officials of having embezzled US$2 billion from Petrocaribe, the cut-price-oil aid program that Venezuela offered to several Caribbean countries, among them Haiti.

The Carribean island of 11 million people has been struggling for decades to overcome extreme poverty along with widespread corruption. These last ten years were particularly harsh for Haiti, which went through one of the world’s deadliest earthquakes in 2010, an epidemic of cholera, brought in accidentally by United Nations peacekeepers, and Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

Haitians Reject Visit of US Representative as US Interference

Source:  TeleSUR

November 21 2019

Image result for haitians protest visit of kelly craftSocial and political organizations in Haiti reject the visit of the United States
ambassador to the United  Nations, Kelly Craft

Dozens of people were brutalized by security forces as they were protesting Kelly Craft’s visit.

Social and political organizations in Haiti rejected the visit of the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, who arrived in the country on Wednesday.

RELATED:  UN Peacekeeping 15-year Mission Ends With Mixed Legacy in Haiti

Videos on social media showed protesters expressing anger over what they call the U.S.’s interference in Haitian politics, signaling Craft’s visit as its latest instance.

Social organizations have been calling out the U.S. for backing up the widely unpopular President Jovenel Moise and demanding an immediate end to the meddlings in the nation’s internal affairs.

A spokesman for the Consensual Alternative for the Refoundation of Haiti, Andre Michel, categorically rejected Craft’s visit and her country’s repeated calls for dialogue.

‘We will not negotiate with corrupt people, with those who perpetrated the La Saline massacre. Resignation and nothing else,” Michel said in a reference to the president.

Craft is visiting Haiti “to highlight the support of the U.S. for a more peaceful, secure, prosperous and democratic future for the Haitian people,” U.S. diplomatic mission in Port-au-Prince said.

The representative of Washington met with  Moise and some of the island’s political and economic leaders, with the alleged purpose of encouraging the adoption of urgent measures and form a government “in the service of the people”.

“A fully functioning government must fight corruption; investigate and prosecute human rights abusers, including those responsible for the La Saline and Bel Air killings; and combat narcotics and human trafficking,” the representative said following the meeting, apparently ignoring that the president himself is accused by his own people of these abuses.

“President Moise and other democratically elected leaders have an obligation to come together, put aside differences, and find an inclusive solution for the benefit of the people of Haiti,” she added.

How many more diplomats will President Trump send to #Haiti to prevent Haitians from draining the #shithole?
What in the neocolonial hell is this? He sends Kelly Craft – a rich white woman to convince poor black people that fighting against misery and oppression is undemocratic.

On the other hand, dozens of people were brutalized by security forces as they were protesting Craft’s visit near the Toussaint Louverture International Airport.

Police officers, who have been accused by some to be funded and trained by the U.S. and to take their orders directly from the U.S. embassy, fired shots in the air forcing protesters to the ground before beating and kicking them, demonstrators said.

As the crisis faced by Haiti is deepening, this visit is the fourth time a U.S. official goes to the island so far this year.

In June, the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs deputy assistant secretary Julie Chung met with Moise, as well as a mission led by Carlos Trujillo, former U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS).

In March, just after strong anti-government protests paralyzed the capital, deputy secretary of State for Political Affairs, David Hale, met with government and opposition officials; shortly after followed by Republican Senator Marco Rubio.

The U.S. has been constantly supporting the Haitian president who is accused of financial crimes, including fraud, money laundering, and embezzlement of hundreds of million of dollars meant for the country’s development.

How the U.S. Is Strangling Haiti as It Attempts Regime Change in Venezuela

Source: Portside.org
February 19 2019

haiti-protests.jpegProtests broke out a week ago across Haiti. What motivated the streets to be on
fire this time was the rise in prices of fuel and the position taken by Haiti against
the government of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela.,
Estailove St. Val/EPA-EFE

Last year, in October, Haitians followed two Twitter hashtags that went viral—#PetrocaribeChallenge and #KotKobPetwoKaribea. If you are not Haitian and do not follow Haitian politics carefully, you can be forgiven for not noticing this development. The complaint on Twitter—and soon on the streets—was simple: what has happened to the billions of U.S. dollars that was in the Venezuelan-financed Petrocaribe program?

In 2005, when oil prices began to creep upwards and when the Bolivarian socialists led by Hugo Chávez were at their peak, 14 countries from the Caribbean met in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, to launch the Petrocaribe scheme. The idea was elegant. Venezuela, with one of the world’s largest oil reserves, would sell oil to the struggling Caribbean islands through a very lucrative deal. Part of the oil price was paid up front, and the rest was to be paid back over the years at a ridiculously low interest rate (1 percent).

Island nations of the Caribbean, who had struggled with debt and high import prices for energy, now found relief. Haiti and Nicaragua, which were not part of the 14 original members, joined Petrocaribe in 2007. “The Caribbean shouldn’t have problem this century and beyond,” said a buoyant Chávez.

Venezuela Had a Debt to Haiti

An economics of solidarity defined the Bolivarian socialist approach to the Caribbean. If the Caribbean countries thrived, then Venezuela would prosper in turn. The test of this generosity came in 2010, when Venezuela decided not only to write off Haiti’s debt after the earthquake but provided funds in addition for reconstruction. “It was not Haiti that had a debt with Venezuela,” Chávez said then, “but Venezuela had a debt to Haiti.” Since 2007, Venezuela had provided $4 billion in oil through Petrocaribe.

The debt that Venezuela had, in the long-term thinking of Chávez, was because of something that happened in 1815. The first president of the Republic of Haiti, Alexandre Pétion, gave Simón Bolivar sanctuary and armed him to return and liberate Gran Colombia (the vast northern lands of South America). Bolivar had promised Pétion that he would emancipate the enslaved Africans in Gran Colombia. This is what he did. Without Pétion’s demand and Bolivar’s victory, Chávez—whose ancestors had been enslaved—said on a visit to Haiti in 2007, “I would not be here.”

Haiti’s Debt to the West

No such generosity has come from the West. In fact, from the first fires of Haiti’s revolution, Western powers—from France to the United States—have attempted to destroy the Haitian republic. In 1804, France forced Haiti to agree to pay it $21 billion for the “theft” of enslaved Africans and others. It took Haiti till 1947 to pay off this odious, disgusting debt. France has never apologized for it. Nor has Citibank, which made billions off the payments. Neither France nor Citibank has considered replaying the inhumane plunder.

Venezuela’s generosity was not matched by any Western country or financial institution. Instead, the West piled on debt upon debt onto Haiti. Even the “assistance” given during the 2010 earthquake made Western companies money. “These guys are like vultures coming to grab the loot over this disaster,” saidHaiti’s former minister of defense Patrick Elie. The amount of money stolen from the disaster relief and the increase to Haiti’s debt is as yet uncalculated. Millions of dollars were raised—such as by the American Red Cross—but very little of it was spent to lift up the burdens of the Haitian people.

IMF vs. Venezuela

Last February, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said it would provide Haiti with $96 million in low-interest loans and grants. But it demanded that the Haitian government cut its crucial fuel subsidy. This subsidy has been a part of Petrocaribe’s program. Protests broke out across Haiti, which led to the resignation of Haiti’s prime minister Guy Lafontant in July (for an assessment of those protests, please read Dossier 8 from Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research).

The IMF demand for cuts in fuel subsidy came after revelations that Haiti’s elite had pilfered the funds from Petrocaribe. In 2017, Lafontant’s government released a 600-page Senate report on Petrocaribe’s previous decade. The investigation found that Haiti’s ruling class had stolen enormous amounts of these key funds. No one was called to account—not any of those who stole the money nor the banks that enabled them to do so. Noises about letting the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Litigation take hold of the report seemed to drift into nowhere.

In the midst of this scandal, the IMF policy directive was insincere. The IMF said that the Haitian poor, who had not stolen the money from Petrocaribe, should pay higher fuel prices to help set Haiti’s finances in order. No reparations from France or Citibank, no accountability for the theft of the Petrocaribe funds—none of that. Instead, Haitians—almost 60 percent of whom live below the poverty line—must pay high fuel premiums for the IMF’s paltry loans.

End of Solidarity

Protests broke out a week ago across Haiti. What motivated the streets to be on fire this time was the rise in prices of fuel and the position taken by Haiti against the government of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela.

In the midst of the economic war against it, Venezuela has not been able to provide Haiti with subsidized fuel. Haiti’s people had to now go to the U.S. oil companies and pay U.S. prices for fuel. This has created bottlenecks in the supply of fuel and frustration at the rising prices. Novum Energy—of the United States—kept ships sitting in Port-au-Prince harbor, waiting for the cash-strapped Haitian government to pay up before unloading 164,000 barrels of petrol and 205,000 barrels of kerosene. There is no solidarity pricing here (in fact, Haiti has to pay $20,000 per day to each ship that is sitting in the harbor as a penalty). These firms want cash, and they want full price.

To add insult to injury, Haiti’s government decided to join with the United States in the vote at the Organization of American States (OAS) against Venezuela. As recently as 2017, Haiti’s representative to the OAS—Harvel Jean-Baptiste—had voted against a similar anti-Maduro resolution. But this time, Haiti’s Léon Charles voted with the United States. It was a vote that provoked anger in the streets of Haiti. The one country—Venezuela—that had come to Haiti’s aid was here being betrayed. That is the mood.

Anachronistic Monroe Doctrine

Meanwhile, other Caribbean countries stood firm. The Caricom (Caribbean Community) group of 15 states from Antigua and Barbuda to Trinidad and Tobago drafted a strong statement to defend the sovereignty of Venezuela. They have worked to create the atmosphere for dialogue, which resulted in the joint Uruguay and Mexico sponsored meeting in Montevideo, Uruguay, on February 7.

These small island states know the great peril of allowing the anachronistic Monroe Doctrine (1823) to be fully revived. The idea that the American hemisphere is the “backyard” of the United States is not only humiliating, but it is also against the spirit and letter of the UN Charter.

It is this humiliation that motivates the people of Haiti to take to the streets. Their message is simple: if you won’t let us breathe, we won’t let you breathe, and if you suffocate Venezuela, you suffocate us.

This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

CARICOM To Present Points on Venezuela, Haiti, Guyana

Source:  TeleSUR
February 27 2019

caricom 3

The 30th two-day CARICOM summit is set to end Wednesday and heads of state will give their collective decisions regarding Venezuela, Haiti and regional climate change.

Leaders of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are expected to give a press conference Wednesday afternoon on their collective stance regarding Venezuela and Haiti after two days of closed doors meetings in St. Kitts. The CARICOM heads of state are also expected to comment on issues of climate change and migration in the Caribbean.

RELATED:  CARICOM Reiterates Support for Peaceful Resolution in Venezuela

TeleSUR correspondent Laura Prada, reporting from the 30th CARICOM summit taking place this week Basseterre on St. Nevis Island, says that leaders will soon comment on the unfolding events in Venezuela.

On Tuesday the Caribbean heads of states and diplomatic officials reiterated their support for a peaceful solution for Venezuela and roundly rejected any interventionist tactics in the country like those proposed by the U.S. government under Donald Trump and the Lima Group heads of state.

“Our community could be justifiably proud of our stance and efforts to help the people of Venezuela resolve their crisis,” said CARICOM chairman and host Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris.

“I have no doubt in my mind that the principled position taken by CARICOM working with like-minded countries has prevented so far a catastrophe on our borders. We will continue to urge that dialogue is the only way to achieve a lasting solution,” said Dr. Harris Tuesday.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) has also long-supported dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition to find a peaceful resolution and Tuesday offered his country as a summit site for such talks.

“The doors of our territory are open for dialogue and intermediation so that there can be dialogue (carried out) by Uruguayans, many diplomats of the world, the U.N., (and) including Pope Francis,” said the Mexican president.

TeleSUR’s Prada adds that the leaders will also comment on the current situation in Guyana where the coalition government of President David Granger collapsed in a 33-32 no-confidence vote brought forward by the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) by the National Assembly Dec. 21, 2018. The Granger administration has since appealed a High Court ruling in January that says the vote was valid.

According to Prada CARICOM delegates are to speak on Haiti where citizens are demanding the “resignation of President Jovenel Moise.” Moise took office in 2017 following protracted elections and is under tremendous pressure from opposition parties to step down over mishandling of domestic affairs as well as the use of funds from PetroCaribe, an oil alliance between several Caribbean states and Venezuela.

Police repression during protests that began several weeks ago has resulted in at least 26 deaths and 77 people being injured.

In a previous CARICOM statement, the organization said it “is deeply concerned about the continuing violent protests in Haiti, which have resulted in the loss of life, property, destruction of infrastructure and caused grave distress.”

Leaders will also make statements regarding climate change and migration in the Caribbean.

Haitian Prime Minister Calls for Reduction of State Privileges

Source:  TeleSUR
February 17 2019

  • A demonstrator walks past a burning barricade during anti-government protests in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, February 15, 2019.

In a speech given late Saturday, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Henry Céant said the country’s problems are rooted in three areas; corruption, and the inequality and decades of bad governance, and argued that the only way out of the crisis, is dialogue.

Amid tense scenes in the Caribbean nation of Haiti, Prime Minister Jean-Henry Céant has called for a series of privilegs to be reduced, which includes a 30 percent reduction of the Office of the Prime Minister’s budget, as well as the withdrawal of privileges to the State’s top officials.

RELATED:  Haiti’s President Calls for Dialogue Following Street Protests

These administration cuts are the latest in an effort to eliminate corruption and smuggling in the country.

Céant, in a speech given Saturday, promised to investigate the whereabouts of the US$2B from the Venezuelan PetroCaribe discount oil program that was supposed to be invested into programs for the poor, according to the Miami Herald.

He said Haiti’s problems are rooted in three areas; corruption, and the inequality and decades of bad governance, and argued that the only way out of the crisis, is dialogue.

“It’s been 10 days since children have been unable to go to school, hospitals can’t provide healthcare, big businesses and small businesses can’t function,” he said, addressing the nation.

“It’s been 10 days since the government lost a lot of money. At the same time, the population has suffered a lot. Because of the roadblocks, it cannot find water, can’t eat, nor find gas nor electricity. All of this can take us to deep humanitarian crisis.”

Céant reiterated that “unnecessary privileges will be withdrawn from state officials,” with fuel and telephone expenses, and “useless trips abroad,” among the many requests of the Prime Minister.

TeleSUR also reported that he is considering an increase in the minimum wage, and the reduction of the price of food.

The street demonstrations began on Feb.7, with many demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse as well as urgent calls to address the socioeconomic crisis that crosses the Caribbean island.

To date, unofficial reports indicate that at least eight people have died in the demonstrations, while the opposition raises the figure to 50. However, there is no official information on the number of deaths nor the circumstances in which they have alleged to have died.

Protesters Demand The Resignation of Haiti’s President Moise

Source:  TeleSUR
February 13 2019

haitian flag 2

Police crackdown leaves at least seven people dead and dozens injured.

Haitians took to the streets Tuesday, for the sixth day in a row, to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, with increasingly violent protests virtually paralyzing the country.

RELATED:  3rd Protester Dead in Haiti Protests

In Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, banks, schools, businesses and fuel stations remained closed, some of which have been looted by angry citizens who joined the riots that began on Feb. 7.

Despite the situation, President Moise has been quiet after the call for dialogue that he made on Feb. 9, which has been widely rejected by citizens and politicians.

On Thursday, the streets of Port-au-Prince were also altered by the burning of tires and other objects, an expression of social discontent in a country whose economic situation worsened this year due to a sharp depreciation of its currency (gourde), an electricity crisis derived from gasoline shortages, and double-digit inflation.

Additionally, the police repression caused the death of at least seven people with several dozens wounded.

6th day of protests in #Haiti. Large demonstrations, burning and looting all across the country.

The people want an end to the Clinton/Obama installed @PHTKhaiti criminal regime.

“We are in the final phase of the Government of the Tet Kale Party,” Jean-Charles Moise, former presidential candidate, said warning that “the whole country is united to get President Moise out of power. We will be on the streets until he leaves … and that day will be very soon.”

In the midst of the pressing crisis, the Haitian government declared ‘economic emergency’ on Feb. 5, an exceptional measure which implies reducing the cost of basic goods to try to alleviate the crisis.

So far, however, President Moise has failed to get the approval of a fiscal budget of US$1.6 billion, rejected last month by the Chamber of Deputies.

Reports say Police chased unarmed protesters into the Embassy where the Protesters hoped to find refuge, Police entered & as usual ‘Shot Unarmed Protesters’, you can see the aftermath. It has been noted that the #UN trained Police seem to take Pleasure in Killing Poor Haitians.

In Haiti, where about eight million people survive on less than US$2 a day, the economy grew just 1.4 percent in 2018. In an attempt to bring down the budget deficit, President Moise  reduced public spending, an option which was not well received by citizens, opposition politicians and social leaders.

According to the economist Camille Chalmers, the executive provisions are a mockery because they continue the policy of austerity measures which were already decreed in 2017.

Since then, the government has not complied with its own provisions because the privileges for the ruling class increased to the point that a senator costs the Haitian state much more than what it costs in other Caribbean countries.