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Haiti’ vs natural disasters

The 5.9 magnitude earthquake that shook the Artibonite, North and the Northwest Departments
has left in its wake a series of aftershocks and tremors that still haunt most residents in the North,
and across the country. According to the deputy mayor of Cap-Haïtien, Eusaïe Lefranc, though
people are frightened from the earthquake and its aftermath, the human toll is not all that terrible
in the city. People were afraid of the destruction that they preferred to remain on the streets, or
those who chose to remain in their homes have left their doors open in the event that there is
another shock and they need to rush out of their homes.
The place most affected is Port-de-Paix, where nine (9) deaths have been registered as of today,
and Gros Morne where the death toll stands at three (3). All these deaths have been attributed to
structures falling on people and in addition, there have been 188 people injured in the
municipalities of Terre-Neuve, Gros-Morne, Gonaïves, Cap-Haïtien, Port-de-Paix, Bassin-Bleu
and Plaisance. Hospitals and health centers in the area have reported caring for 151 of the
injured, most of whom have suffered fractures and minor injuries mainly due to panic attacks
after the quake. The area has sustained major structural damage to several homes. The main
question remains the way homes are built in the area which allow for such major casualties in the
event of these recurrent natural disasters. The Ministry of Interior has expressed the
government’s condolences to the aggrieved families and share in the loss of those who have been
displaced but call on the people to remain calm and follow instructions from government
officials on steps to take in such circumstances.
The geological engineer, Claude Preptit, tried to reassure the country that they should not panic
because aftershocks are expected after such an earthquake of this magnitude. Mt Preptit argued
that instead of rebuilding some of the public buildings such as schools and hospitals on
liquefiable soils, the government should relocate and build them in safer areas instead. So far,
there have been 117 homes destroyed and another 221 sustaining structural damages, according
to an official from the Institute of Technology and Animation, l’Institut de technologie et
d’animation (ITECA) in Gros Morne. Some of the aftershocks have been strong, as high as 5.3
on the Richter scale, recorded 10km off the coast of l’ile de La Tortue. On Sunday, President
Jovenel Moïse, along with Prime Minister Jean Henry Céant and several government ministers
and officials were in the North to tour the region and see firsthand the extent of the devastation,
and to coordinate help for people there. The Ministry of Health, in conjunction with the Red
Cross issued an appealed for blood donations urgently needed to care for the injured.
According to the spokesperson from the Ministry of Defense, some hundred members of the
Haitian Armed Forces, FADH, have been deployed to Gros Morne and Port-de-Paix. The
contingent included medical personnel, engineers and other personnel whose duty will be to care
for the injured and to remove debris and clear collapsed buildings. Other reinforcements are
expected to be sent to the affected region. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior has announced
that the government is mobilizing resources to come to the aid of the victims, by giving direct
instruction to specific agencies involved in risk management to come together to do their part in
clearing the area and caring for victims.
In other news, the government moved to sign a decree raising the minimum wage on average, by
20 percent. The sectoral breakdown of the wage increase is as follows: for workers and
companies in the economic sector (Sector A), which are usually growth and relatively stable
  • companies, the minimum wage grew by 25 percent from 350 to 420 gourdes per day. For
    companies in the business sector, (Sector B), the wage increase was 14.3% from 350 to 400
    gourdes a day; for Sector C, which are more vulnerable sectors, the minimum wage went up
    from 290 to 350 gourdes a day, representing an increase of 20.7%. In Sector E, domestic
    workers, the increase was a mere 7.5%, from 200 to 215 gourdes a day, and the final sector,
    Sector F, export oriented area, the increase is from 350 to 420 gourdes a day, an increase of 20
    gourdes more than proposed by the Wage Commission, while Sector G, representing the
    petroleum distribution and security agents has the highest increase of 33.3% from 300 to 400
    gourdes, and the final Sector (Sector H), increased from 350 to 400 gourdes a day. The report
    which was released by the wage commission, conseil supérieur des salaires(CSS) has been
    signed by all members of the commission, signed by the President and Minister of Labor.
    Meanwhile, workers for the industrial company, Compagnie de développement industriel
    (CODEVI) in the Northeast organized a strike Monday, October 8, 2018 to protest the meager
    wages, instead calling for a 1,000 gourdes minimum daily wage for their members in addition to
    improved working conditions. The strike action which started in the morning around the same
    time the government approved increasing their wage to 400gourdes. According to the organizers,
    there is no going back on their stand and they plan to protest until further notice.
    Elsewhere, the government has strongly condemned the assault on Nice Simon, the Assistant
    Mayor of Tabarre, by her live-in companion, Yves Léonard. According to the government
    spokesperson and Secretary of State for Communication, Eddy Jackson Alexis, the assault on
    Simon is unacceptable and the government condemns all forms of violence, and more
    importantly against public officials. While most human rights organizations and women’s groups
    have expressed their concern that justice may not be served in this particular case, given the
    perpetrator’s closeness to the current administration, the spokesperson assures the public that the
    government will not interfere with the justice in prosecuting this case because there is no
    proximity to the government when laws are broken. Mr. Yves Léonard, a real estate mogul is
    said to be President Jovenel Moïse’ landlord, and owner of the president’s actual residence. In
    addition, the Justice Minister Roudy Aly has recused the prosecutor at the court of first instance
    at Croix des Bouquet, Yvon Jean Noel, who has been accused by Ms. Simon for being close to
    her companion, Yves Léonard, and in collusion with the latter to prevent investigations into acts
    of corruption and embezzlement at the Tabarre City Hall. Mr. Yvon Jean Noel though has denied
    any involvement in illegal activities and instead accused Ms. Simon of using the case to escape
    prosecution in the case of the investigation into corruption under her watch. The Action
    Prosecutor of the Croix des Bouquet prosecutor’s office, Etzer Guillaume, has issued a warrant
    for Mr. Leonard and is in the process of trying to get Ms. Simon to retrieve her child.
    Dela Harlley

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