Leaders of the consensual alternative for rebuilding Haiti, l’Alternative Consensuelle pour la Refondation d’Haïti, the radical opposition has promised to name an interim President in the next few days to end the long political turbulence the country has been navigating during the past several months. Gervais Charles, the leader of the select committee for a transitional President has indicated that three (3) judges from the Supreme Court have been referred to the group that is responsible for naming the interim president. Without disclosing the names of the nominated judges, Mr. Charles confirmed that numerous meetings have taken place with the judges over the course of the past few days. However, the judges of the Supreme Court have not publicly commented on this issue. Meanwhile, one of the spokesmen of the Alternative group, M. André Michel has promised that the interim President will be sworn in before Flag Day on November 18, 2019, and he or she would not be a ceremonial head but one who will have the mandate to govern and control the entire territory.
Meanwhile across the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, the barricade wars continue this past Monday, when several units of the Police, in conjunction with the Public Works department tried to take over some of the road being blocked by protesters. Instead of burning tires and other rudimentary equipment used to block roads, the authorities use real metal barricades to counter what the protesters were doing. In Delmas 34, the police used tear gas to dispel individuals trying to defend their roadblocks which consisted of a metal barrier soldered by welders to keep roads blocked. In other areas of the city, demonstrators used bricks to erect barriers and in other areas, there have been exchange of fire between the police and protesters. Sanitation services and the police were seen removing tires and blocks used by protesters to block vital intersections across the metropolitan area. The government’s aim is to remake the road network across the city accessible to jumpstart economic and commercial activity which has been crippled for quite some time now. But even though the authorities tried to take the upper hand in this issue by limiting the protesters ability to block roads, public transport has been tepid at best in the city.
Elsewhere, the government is continuing its offensive with the energy company, SOGENER, asking the company to pay a sum of US$123m to the state for overbilling the state energy company, EDH from 2007 through 2015. This decision is one in a line of a conflict between the state and company in which, according to the government prosecutor, Newton Saint Juste, a mafia that is stealing from the state and the people of Haiti. The government office of monetization of public aid and development, Bureau de Monétisation de l’Aide Publique au Développement (BMPAD), charged the company for the purchase of fuel. SOGENER is the only company that the government is pursuing, whereas the other two energy companies, EPower and Haytrac were not concerned about criticisms from President Jovenel Moïse and his administration. The state has cancelled all contracts for energy provision to the state electricity company. As a result, SOGENER have halted operation at their power stations, resulting in power rationing across the metropolitan area, despite EDH claim of producing over 60% of the electricity in the city.
In other news, the US has agreed to provide 2,000 tons of food aid to Haiti, following the government’s request for aid as weeks of protests has crippled all economic activities on the island. In another press release made public last week, the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health and Population, MSPP, announced the visit of a US naval hospital ship, USNS Comfort which will dock at the Haitian naval base at Bizoton, in Carrefour, South of the Capital from November 4, through 13, 2019. The aim is to provide needed medical services such as preventive and family medicine, examinations, tests and dental treatment, optometry dermatologic services, pediatric and feminine medicine and physical therapy. These services will be provided free of charge to the population so it is a good time to head to Carrefour to take advantage of this opportunity coming at a time when all activities are at a standstill in the country.
Finally, what appears to be a silver lining in the ever continuing saga of multiple ills facing the country, the US government decided to extend the TPS status for Haitian immigrants from January 2nd through January 4, 2021. Countries affected include Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Sudan, Nepal and Haiti. This is welcome news to some 60,000 Haitians currently in limbo, wondering what their fate will be when initially the Trump administration decided to do away with the TPS status they enjoyed under the Obama administration since the 2010 earthquake