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Haiti’s newsreel – Headlines summary by Dela Harlley- September 2nd, 2020

Despite assurances from the government and security forces to use improved and advanced strategies to address the security concerns in the country, it appears the opposite is happening as the number of victims of gun violence have increased, as evidenced in the assassination this past week of the President of the Haitian Bar Association, Monferrier Dorval, one of five (5) people killed in the country in the past week. Despite the latest operation named Terminator I, by the national police, the armed gangs roam freely and act with impunity. Crime continues to spread beyond the populous neighborhoods in the capital of Port-au-Prince to spread across the entire country. Each passing day carries with it the dangers that the criminals have controlled the country, with the government unable to assure the people with any concrete and actionable policies. Victims this past week are as diverse as the population; a prominent radio personality, a businessman and the eminent law professor. It appears the security forces and the political representatives do not have any strategy on how to stem the tide. Each week brings its number of killings, everyone condemns, announce new strategies but the situation remains unchanged, people dying mercilessly at the hands of gangs with no end in sight. While the police are informed, the government assures that they will crack down on the criminals and their acolytes, but as for the ordinary people, they cross their fingers and hope and pray that this constant stasis will come to an end.

But to hear President Jovenel Moïse talk about it, there are dark forces responsible for the galloping insecurity in the country. While mourning the assassination of the prominent lawyer Dorvil the president argues that members of this dark force are enemies of democracy and promote a single minded agenda. At a special meeting with the superior council of the national police, Conseil Supérieur de la Police Nationale (CSPN), the president promised additional resources in place to investigate this sordid act and apprehend the perpetrators and their intellectual masterminds. He took the opportunity to equally extend his sympathies to the families of all the other victims of the gun violence in the past week. Just yesterday, around Champs de Mars in Bel Air, downtown Port-au-Prince, armed individuals dressed in black invaded the public square and started shooting randomly, creating a panic situation where residents run for their lives for fear of becoming a collateral damage in a show of force that has clearly overwhelmed the state security forces. The gun battle that started around 3pm went on till 10pm in the night, causing a lot of wounded bystanders, some of whom have been taken to area hospitals and health centers. After the assassination of the President of the Bar Association, the national police declared a state of emergency. Meanwhile, many human rights groups, lawyer groups and generally, the entire population have condemned the assassination, including the federation of Haitian Bar Associations which called on members to observe work stoppage until Dorvil is buried.

Meanwhile, President Jovenel Moïse is accusing oligarchs of being responsible for the economic crisis linked to the precipitous depreciation of the gourde, pointing out that the people equate powerless of the monetary authorities in the face of these oligarchs to complicity. He warned that if this situation continues, it can lead to tensions and instability. He made it known that these oligarchs prevent the state from providing social services to the vulnerable. The state does not work to defend the interests of the disadvantaged people, and called on the monetary authorities to be vigilant to make sure that the US$150m recently injected in the market is strictly controlled so as not to fall in the hands of these oligarchs.

Following the demonstrations last week by educators in the public sector, the Ministry of Education is accused of retaliation with regard to some key educators and union leaders, Magalie Georges and Josué Méridien. Education Minister, Pierre Josué Agénor Cadet denounced those critics who accused him of not respecting the Teachers right to strike. He argues that transferring the educator was a move to stem corruption in the system because the said individual receives a salary as a consultant but does not deliver on any work, all the while ruling that her decision to take students out of class to protest school reopening is an irresponsible act. While questioned on the latter, the Minister assured that there was no transfer of posts. He said to have regretted the action by educators and students which disrupted schools in many cities including Mirebalais, Saint Marc, Jacmel and Croix des Bouquets. As far as the grievances aired, He said the salary demands could not be met during this fiscal year. So far, 95% of schools have reopened.

Finally, in a ceremony at the National Palace this past weekend, President Moïse honored one of the great cultural ambassadors of Haiti, Roger Montfort Eugene, popularly known as Shoubou. The 71 year old lead vocalist for the group Tabou Combo was given the l’Ordre national Honneur et Mérite au Grade d’officier for his fifty-two year career as one of the people who made popular the konpa dirèk rhythm created by Nemours Jean Baptiste. Shoubou has lived in New York since migrating from Haiti in 1963. Some of his hits include Ayiti Cheri and Bébé Paramouth.
Dela Harlley

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