Haiti’s newsreel : News highlights by Dela Harlley
In an interview with Radio Métropole on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe reiterated his determination to obtain satisfactory results from his government and as such any officials or civil servant incapable of exerting their functions and duties must resign from the government. Mr. Joute added that he plans to govern by example. This interview follows the public rebuke of the Police Commissioner, Rameau Normil, during the 5th community dialogue on Sunday, August 9, 2020 at the National Palace, in the presence of President Jovenel Moïse. During what was termed as a sternly worded rebuke, the Prime Minister chastised the police commissioner for the incompetence of his department to address or confront the security issue in the country, especially with the gangs running roughshod across the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, holding communities hostage. Defending his undiplomatic and direct language in regard to the police commissioner, the Prime Minister said his criticism of the police commissioner and the unsatisfactory work he feels they are doing is not an attack on him personally but a professional rebuke of a less than competent work, given the fact that people are not satisfied with what the police are doing in regards to the security situation in the country. If his choice of words hurt some people, he is sorry, but he doesn’t think it fair to lie to the people and that his aim is to change the living conditions of the people; because his family lives in the country and after his term as prime minister comes to an end, he’ll return to life in the country. People should not be offended nor should his outspokenness be an obstacle to the necessary harmony within the public administration because asking for an efficient government and civil service is not an unreasonable request.
While on the topic of security, the government, through the Minister of Justice Rockefeller Vincent, plans to fight armed gangs across the country. During a visit to the national prison, the minister stressed the importance of getting rid of the gangs that are responsible for fear and insecurity across the nation, making this issue one of his main concern. This determination is in line with President Jovenel Moïse’s directive to the Ministries of Justice, Defense and Interior to rein in gang violence, during the most recent cabinet meeting. The gangs and criminals must be made to know that the government will not continue to tolerate their actions; that they should be ready to either go to prison or the cemetery.
Meanwhile, as directed by the Ministry of Education (MENFP), the new school year began on Monday, August 10, 2020, across the nation, amid new guidelines and instructions and protestations from parents and educators. In the capital region, both public and private schools opened as planned albeit with guidelines stipulated by the education ministry. According to officials from local schools such as René Jean from Collège Le Flambeau, Jean Marc Charles from LNPV, Fausta Elira from Collège Isaac Louverture, and Cathony Dodard Jean from LHL, students were expected to wear masks, only two students per desk and some principals have taken to rotate students so as to reduce the number of students in the classroom at any one time. Some schools have taken to gradually open so that there will not be crowds on the campus at any one time. While the schools are eager to use the measures stipulated by the Ministry to help students learn, a number of teachers and educators from public schools protested poor working conditions in front of the Ministry of Education in Nazon , calling for a minimum 50,000 gourdes monthly salary. They threaten not to go to class if their demand for an increase in salary is not met. These educators may have found an ally in Zanmi Timoun, the foundation that fights for children, which deplores the absence of real and effective sanitary guidelines in the schools to address the menace of Covid-19. According to the foundation, there have not been any measures taken to address physical distance and hand washing measures in the public schools. They call on the authorities to address these issues in order to assure parents that their children will be safe in the schools.
Elsewhere across the globe, given the economic hardship brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, most governments have taken measures to help their citizens by providing direct financial aid to help them cope as well as attempt at revitalizing their economies. This help is however absent in Haiti where the cost of living continues to go up, with the dollar now at 122 gourdes, one wonders how families cope with this new reality. With the increasing costs of basic necessities, most people have complained about their inability to feed their families. In some markets in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, the 25kg bag of rice is selling between 2000 to 2500 gourdes, while just last November, the same rice costs between 1700 to 1800gourdes. A gallon of oil that costs 600gourdes now sells between 750 and 850gourdes. Residents have blamed this price increase on the government’s inaction and fear that this can have consequences on the security problem across the country. They call on the government to act immediately to address this pressing problem before it gets out of hand.
Finally, we mourn the passing of one of the most authentic and modest journalists of our time, Anthony Pascal, popularly known as Konpè Filo. A venerable and fervent defender of the Creole language, Konpè Filo was one of the few journalists to have survived the Duvalier regime, working alongside the late Jean Dominique at Radio Haïti Inter, and then Radio Télé Ginen, where he has a national following with his popular program, Kalfou. The cinematographer, Arnold Antonin, vividly captured his treatment under Duvalier in a short film called Le droit à la parole, in 1984, which chronicled his, and Liliane Pierre-Paul of Radio Kiskeya’s exile under the dictatorial regime of the Duvaliers.
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