January 1st has always been a double celebration for Haiti and Haitians for the last 217 years. Beyond the traditional wishes for a happy prosperous and healthy New Year, is the reckoning that this day is also the anniversary of the independence of Haiti, an independence that was fought for with the blood and sweat of our forefathers. New Year’s Day therefore represents not only the beginning of a new calendar year, but a new world order borne out of the fight against dehumanization of people of color through slavery and all forms of oppression. As we celebrate the independence with traditional soupe joumou, which is soon likely to be designated a world treasure by UNESCO, we are reminded by the common wisdom that “Joumou pa jan donnen kalbas”. But if we are to take stock of the past year, it appears 2020 has been particularly difficult for Haïti; a year whose events, we hope will never be repeated in the future. In an interview on Télé Métropole’s Le Point program, former Minister Ady Jean Gardy listed off events that marked the year that was particularly hard for Haiti and Haitians. According to Mr. Gardy, long before the Covid-19 pandemic hit in mid-March, the year started with the workforce losing 25% of workers, with those lucky enough to be employed seeing their salaries reduced by 30%. From the depreciating gourde and the various cash injections from the BRH to stabilize the currency, to the energy sector and increasing insecurity brought about by armed gangs, the year was extremely painful for the average citizen.
It is now the time to break with the unprecedented level of negative activities on the collective psyche of the nation and make 2021 a real turning point for national awakening, a chance to change things for a better tomorrow. In order to do so, some people have called for writing messages across the spectrum of society, in classrooms walls and in other places to invite reflection as well as individual and collective responsibility. Just as 1986, 1991, 2004 and 2010 were all reflections on our collective past activities, so will 2020; neither good nor bad, neither sweet nor bitter, but just as transparent, taking the form of our past and ongoing behaviors. But in all sincerity, the year 2021 should serve as a lesson for us to understand that the Haiti we have today will be harvesting the seeds of yesterday, in all sectors of activity, and in particular in the schools where we develop and educate men and women, who will come to lead us, protect us, represent us, educate us, treat us and deliver justice to all of us.
In other news, fuel shortage has crippled vehicular traffic across the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince people, armed with empty jerrycans have lined up at the petrol stations in anticipation for a potential delivery of fuel for them to purchases. The head of the Office for Monetization of Official Development Assistance, BMPAD, Fils Aimé Ignace Saint Fleur has since announced that there will be fuel delivery, prompting drivers to take to the streets to stock up, but no deliveries were made as of late afternoon yesterday. Mr. Saint Fleur expressed his agency’s inability to address the shortage even though a tanker carrying 165,000 barrels of fuel has been at the harbor for the past two days. Mr. Saint Fleur stated that the problem cannot be solved by tankers because the problem persists even if tankers arrive every two weeks. Noting that the current shortcake was due to a delay of the tanker due to the holiday season, he called for the construction of terminals in the 3 major regions of the country to prevent shortages and stressed the importance of a significant private sector investment in this area to increase the country’s storage capacity. He noted also that the market which has grown exponentially in recent years cannot be framed by tankers only, meanwhile, the state and private entrepreneurs have been at loggerheads recently in the sector that has undergone significant changes under the Moise administration. Meanwhile, as of this writing, a gallon of petrol was fetching 1250 gourdes on the black market.
In a new development, PM Joseph Jouthe promised that he will track all armed groups down to their last hideouts, after a police raid carried out in Canaan, located in Croix-de-Bouquets, when heavily armed men in military fatigues were dislodged. The operation registered three casualties among the gangs with several others arrested and transferred to the DCPJ. Several fireams and vehicles were also seized, according to information provided by the Prosecutor at the civil court in Croix-des-Bouquets, Edler Guillaume. On Saturday January 2, 2021, the national#1 highway was blocked by these individuals in military uniforms, terrorizing the innocent civilians in Canaan and Bon Repos. In a tweet, the Prime Minister said the Haitian National Police (PNH) and the Armed Forces of Haiti (Fad’H) “are the only armed forces recognized by the Haitian Constitution.”
Finally, the anti-corruption unit, L’Unité de lutte contre la corruption (ULCC) has announced that the launch of five (5) investigations into suspicion of corruption in the use of public funds. The funds targeted are the road maintenance fund, Fonds d’entretien routier (FER) from 2015 to 2020; debit cards in the civil service sector, the use of management and development funds of local authorities. The other investigations involve certain auditors taking interests from the internal revenue service, Direction générale des impôts (DGI), and the use of local development and land use planning funds, commonly known as communal funds. The Director General of ULCC, Me. Hans Jacques Ludwig Joseph, had pointed the finger at a corrupt, unjust and unworthy “system” responsible for the corruption, which has prevailed in the country for centuries, during the International Anti-Corruption Day, on Wednesday, December 9, 2020. Through his firm Agritrans, a beneficiary of part of the PetroCaribe funds, for public works in the North of Haiti, Jovenel Moïse was suspected, in reports from the Court of Accounts and Administrative Disputes (CSCCA) , to have used “stratagems of embezzlement of public funds”