Life is returning to normal for residents in Port-au-Prince and across the nation after a week of demonstrations and antigovernment protests that paralyzed much of the country. Schools have reopened but many parents, fearing for the safety of their children generally kept their children at home but a precarious calm has returned and fresh calls for additional protests has been met with total apathy. The call for new protests came from a fringe group within the opposition coalition known as the Secteur démocratique et populaire. The main demands of the protestors which include a lot of young people have always been the two main sticking points: judicious prosecution of those implicated in the PetroCaribe scandal and unconditional departure of President Jovenel Moise. However, the government has enjoyed support from the international community and other institutions that are calling for dialogue to resolve these issues. It appears that the calm atmosphere in the country these few days is only temporary and underneath, there are simmering tensions as there are no clear solutions being formulated for the myriad socio-economic problems facing the nation; including corruption, crime and violence. For those anticorruption militants in the south of the country, the president resigning from office is a constitutional and patriotic act, as much as respecting the presidential mandate, because they have apparently concluded that under this president, there cannot be justice in the PetroCaribe scandal.
According to Prime Minister Jean Henry Céant, the only way to address the many problems facing the nation is to dialogue with the opposition and all sectors of the society. Invited to a talk show on Métropole TV, the Head of government expressed his displeasure at the calls for civic disobedience and violence by political actors that has paralyzed the nation for a week now, making it virtually impossible to run the country. He acknowledged that the life of each Haitian is precious in the eyes of the government and plans to launch an investigation into the unfortunate events that took place last week. Mr. Céant added that it is sad that the country has come to this unfortunate junction and dialogue is the only peaceful approach that can be deployed to bring the country out of this impasse. He hinted at contacting some members of civil society and democratic institutions and letters will be forthcoming in the coming days. More importantly any discussions will focus on the strengthening democracy and the rule of law, not the other way around and the President’s mandate will be non-negotiable, in fact it will not be part of the discussions on the table at all.
Meanwhile, President Jovenel Moïse indicated that he intends to serve his 5-year term in office as mandated by the constitution, despite calls for his resignation by the opposition. In a speech to the nation, the President denounced the actions of the opposition that seeks to undermine his government by violating the constitution. According to him, the political fight must focus on ideas during elections and not violence in the streets that resolves nothing. Without naming the leaders of the demonstrations, the president said that nothing justifies violence and threats of violence towards government officials and business leaders and reiterated his determination to pursue dialogue with all sectors of society to find a way forward. With regards to the armed gangs creating havoc across neighborhoods in the capital, the President announced the reactivation of the disarmament commission, while noting that the courts must deal severely with those responsible for the crime wave because impunity does not go well with democratic institutions. Other institutions and international organizations that have expressed similar sentiments include the United States, thought the Under Secretary of State for the State Department, Ambassador Kenneth H. Merten, the Core group, and both houses of the Haitian Legislature.
Four members of the border patrol were lynched in Malpasse this past Saturday after a confrontation with drivers transporting goods and people from the Dominican Republic. It all started when a border guard, Philippe Accilaire, was alleged to have fired upon two drivers transporting goods from the Dominican Republic, causing residents in this border town to take matters into their own hand by burning the officer and three of his colleagues alive. A fourth officer who jumped into the Azuei lake later drowned. The national police have condemned the attacks and though the town has since returned to normal and economic activities going on normally, the police are opening an investigation into what actually happened.
Elsewhere, last Sunday was International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the women’s rights group Kay Fanm took the opportunity to speak on the violence to women they have documented for more than a year. From January 2017 through June 2018, the organization recorded 362 cases, 44% of which were violence towards girls and 56% towards women. With regards to sexual violence, 89% of victims are girls while 11%, women. The group also stressed the difficulties victims face when they report these cases to the authorities so that the perpetrators can answer for their actions, especially when the perpetrators are men in positions of authority. The group plans to continue their fight against violence towards women wherever they may be and to also work for a national plan for the fight against violence towards women 2017-2027.
Finally, Haitian actress, Fabienne Colas was honored in Toronto with the Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 Award, alongside some 39 other inspiring personalities across the country. The award recognizes 40 visionaries, innovators and exceptional leaders who are under 40 years old. The actress and producer who is 39 has graced the big screen for quite some time and is considered the most popular Haitian actress in Canada. She received the award as one of the most inspirational women in the black community in Montreal. She took to tweeter to announce her joy at being recognized with such a prestigious award and dedicated it to her most cherished two islands; Haiti and Montréal, and as the only French speaking woman from Quebec and only female of color to have received the award.