Monday December 10, 2018 marked the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the revolutionary 30 article document signed this day in 1948 has been translated into more than 500 languages across the globe. The occasion was marked in Port-au-Prince at the Ciné Triomphe, under the theme “Leve Kanpe pou Dwa Moun”, Stand Up for Human Rights was attended by politicians of all stripes, the diplomatic corps and dignitaries in the forefront for human rights activism in the country such as Collette Lespinasse of the refugee support group, Groupe d’Appui aux Réfugiés et Rapatriés (GARR), Édouard Paultre of the Conseil National des Acteurs non Étatiques (CONANE), and Gédéon Jean, of the La Plateforme des Organisation des Droits Humains (POHDH). The celebration also marked the occasion to pay homage to the memory of the former Haitian Ambassador, Émile Saint Lot, who was signatory to this very important declaration in Paris, together with Eleanor Roosevelt.
President Jovenel Moïse, took advantage of this forum to renew his commitment of respect for human rights, while reiterating a commitment and determination to work harder to improve the living conditions of the Haitian people, while promoting a pact of governability to preserve stability and harmony in the country. Beyond the usual pronouncement of his administrations plans and policies and how they fit in the larger scheme of sustainable development, the President went on to charge his Prime Minister to do all that is necessary and possible to shed light on the events that took place at La Saline last month where more than 60 people were killed. Mr. Moïse also renewed his administration’s goal to establish a climate of peace in the country so that all citizens can live in tranquility, and warned that no one should attempt to politicize the tragedy that was the La Saline massacre, which he hopes the perpetrators will be brought to justice. A representative of the UN High Commission on Human Rights, Giuseppe Calandruccio, presented a portrait and plaque to the Saint Lot family in recognition of his role in bringing this declaration to life.
The hotel Villa Thérèse in Pétion-Ville was the scene last Friday, December 7, 2018 for the first workshop on open budgeting as well as the official launch of Innov’Action Haiti, an organization that aims to educate citizens on the budgetary process by providing for transparency in governmental budgeting. The workshop was organized by the Groupe Croissance, with young intellectuals, leaders and professionals attending to learn about open budgeting while raising funds for a worthy cause. According to the spokesperson for the group, and member of Innov’Action team, Melinda Jean Baptiste, the day was very informative, given the number of knowledgeable speakers, and fundraisers raised 3100 gourdes for the organization, Konbit Bliyotèk Site soley. According to Ms. Jean Baptiste, the open budget or transparent budgeting is the process of making all budgetary information fully known in a timely and systematic manner to all. Unfortunately, such information and information in general is not easy to come by in a place as Haiti, and remains the biggest obstacle, even though it is enshrined in Article 40 of the 1987 Constitution. This information deprivation constitutes a major challenge to budget transparency as the information needed to control how public resources are allocated. Countries that have adopted the open budget process, including the founding country, India in 1990, South Africa and Rwanda have benefitted immensely from this process and have seen corruption practically eradicated in their countries and public resources managed more effectively.
Meanwhile, a new soft drink producing factory is being built in Haiti, with plans to begin production next year. The San Miguel del Caribe, ISM Industries, a Peruvian soft drinks producer has decided to expand its activities to Haiti, after Peru, Brazil, Chile and the Dominican Republic, and to diversity its flavors. According to the company, the decision to expand operations to Haiti is part of their plan to grow beyond the borders of Peru. According to Cintya Añaños, Managing Director of the company in Peru and Chile, the new factory to be built in Haiti will cost around US$15million, and will produce fruit drinks, water and energy drinks.
In other news, the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince Guire Poulard passed away this past Sunday at a hospital in the capital, according to his colleague, Frantz Voltaire, Director of the Centre international de documentation et d’information haïtienne, caribéenne et afro-canadienne (CIDIHCA), who praised the former Archbishop as one of the pillars of the Catholic Church in Haiti. In similar vein, the Papal Nuncio in Haiti, Mgr. Eugène Martin Nugent announced that Pope Francis has appointed His Eminence, Monsignor Marie Erick Glandas Toussaint to head the church in Jacmel. Mgr Glandas was born on May 19, 1965 and began his Ministry in 1994 at the Cathédrale de Port-au-Prince as the Vicar, then to Fonds-Baptiste as a Priest at the Immaculate Conception Parish, then to Petit-Goâve as the Director of the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption parish. In 2007, he was named Priest of the Cathédrale de Port-au-Prince and in February 2008, he became the Director of Caritas at the Diocese. He was named auxiliary bishop at the Port-au-Prince Diocese where he remained until his current post.
Finally, there was a 3.7 magnitude earthquake in Nippes on Monday, according to the seismology division of the Bureau Mines and Energy (BME). The epicenter of the quake registered at 5:42 am was located in the sea on the coast of Grand Boucan, about 21 kilometers Northwest of Petit Trou de Nippes and 13 kilometers Northeast of Pestel. The bureau of civil protection which reported the quake confirmed that there were no significant material damages or loss of life. The last quake on record occurred on October 6, 2018, in the Grand Nord, with a magnitude of 5.8 on the Richter scale, causing 17 deaths and more than 330 wounded.