While celebrating the 218th anniversary of the Haitian Flag, May 18, 2021, civil society organizations within the country and in the US planned joint protests in opposition to what they call the unconstitutional and illegal referendum on the constitution and elections being organized and promoted by President Jovenel Moïse. The protests are also aimed to highlight the hypocrisy of the international community that still supports Mr. Moïse’s autocratic rule. The organizers hope to bring the world’s attention to what is happening in the country; the issue of Haiti is not that people are not responsible for their lot, but international superpowers as well as incompetent leaders and outlaws. Protest organizers noted that in 2011, international superpowers imposed the presidency of Michel Marthely, an incompetent drug addict devoid of leadership capabilities on the unsuspecting people of Haiti. In addition to the protest the referendum, those planning to attend the rally in Washington, included Haitian artists who are poised to denounce the international support for deviants, bandits, and squanderers of the PetroCaribe funds.
While opposition to the referendum is gaining momentum, the President is finding it increasingly difficult to broker political agreement on the choice of a Prime Minister and formation of a government of national unity. The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) is forging ahead with preparations for the June 27th referendum, according to information from the director of communications of the CEP, Richardson Dumel and the spokesperson, Hubert Jean. According to the duo, the electoral institution, which is deemed illegal by many opposition groups, received the first shipment of election materials last week. Mr. Jean stated that more than 24,000 bottles of indelible ink, 2,950 training kits, 2,000 smart phones for the rapid transmission of results and computer equipment for the vote tabulation center arrived in the country last weekend in the first shipment of sensitive and non-sensitive material. A second shipment of 12,000 kits of non-sensitive equipment such as ballot boxes, voting booths for polling stations is expected in the country this week. The sensitive materials are for training temporary staff and the CEP is also getting ready to reveal its position on the participation of the diaspora, where and how the diaspora will vote and any disputes stemming from the referendum. As for Communications Director Richardson Dumel, who was not sworn in by the courts for the position he currently holds, the CEP is moving forward with establishing structures ready for the referendum, by setting up departmental referendum offices as well as communal offices staffed, equipped and ready to go. Despite all these preparations, various individuals have noted that there was no public call for tenders or the origins of the purchase of equipment for the referendum.
In other news, the international organization, Education Cannot Wait (ECW), announced approval of a US$12million funds to support education in the country. According to the Director, Yasmine Shérif, an official letter was sent to Pierre Josué Agénor Cadet, Minister of Education (MENFP) stressing that Haiti is one of eight (2) priority countries to benefit from its 2021 education support funding. A fact-finding mission of the organization is currently in Haiti to evaluate the implementation of the project and has held several working meetings with MENFP authorities, as well as educators and heads of UN agencies in the country. A MENFP press release indicated that this funding is focused on the multi-year Resilience Program which will allow the country to apply, for an amount of 12 million US dollars (for a period of three years), more precisely an amount of 4 million US dollars per year to support the education of girls and boys affected by the multiple crises impacting the country. For his part, Minister Cadet praised the ECW for their interest in Haiti, which is going through a lot, following political turmoil and the Covid-19 pandemic, worsening the socio-economic crisis impacting the quality of education. The minister sees this $ 12 million fund as a boon to finance the education sector plan which sets out the main directions for the next ten years. This new support will, according to the MENFP, strengthen the current programming in to improve access to and quality of educational opportunities.
Meanwhile, the increasing insecurity in the country, further worsened by the conflicts between landowners and armed gangs, has worsened living conditions for residents in the displaced persons’ camp at Tabarre Issa in Galette Greffin, an area in Petionville. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), t incidents reported in recent weeks include shelters set on fire, people killed and injured, while 24 women reported cases of physical violence. These tense situations have forced the population to flee the site and seek refuge in areas where living conditions remain precarious. The organizations estimated that people living in areas where gangs imposing their will encounter serious vulnerabilities to violence. The densely populated region is home to 508 households, or 2,496 people, including 1,305 women, including 10 pregnant and 159 breastfeeding women, 824 children, 67 people living with a disability and 102 elderly people. Furthermore, the increase in armed attacks against communities has reached an unprecedented level, disrupting access to basic social services, including health care for the internally displaced persons. The UNFPA and IOM are calling on all state and non-state actors to make concerted efforts to allow safe and sustainable access to humanitarian aid to the displaced population. This urgent call is being made especially for the protection of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, whose health needs must remain at the heart of any intervention efforts. People displaced because inter-gang conflicts urgently need access to safe and quality services after being exposed to such a high level of violence.
Finally, security forces in the Dominican Republic have arrested Woodly Éthéart, popularly known as Sonson La Familia, and handed over to the Haitian police authorities on Sunday, May 16, 2021. Suffice to note that in 2019, the Haitian authorities requested help from their Dominican counterparts after a “botched” trial. Woodly Éthéart, Renel Nelfort, also known as Renel Le Récif, and others were prosecuted for kidnapping, followed by kidnapping for ransom, murder, illicit trafficking in narcotics, vehicle theft, illegal possession of firearms, forgery, usurpation title, money laundering, and other criminal activities.