On Monday, July 5, 2021, President Jovenel Moïse named well-respected neurosurgeon and former minister of the interior Dr. Ariel Henry to assume the role of his 7th Prime Minister in as many years. In announcing the nomination, the President specified the reason for his choice of Dr. Henry who has been tasked with forming an open government with political and civil society organizations, restoring security in the country and organizing general elections and the referendum. The newly nominated Prime Minister is one of the country’s leading neurosurgeons who worked in France for 19 years before returning to Haiti. He was a member of the Social Democratic Party; the Haitian Revolutionary Progressive Nationalist Party founded by his longtime friend and mentor Serge Gilles, and later joined the Fusion of Haitian Social Democrats before leaving to join INITE, the party formed by former minister and supporters of the late President René Préval. He was a staunch anti-Aristide campaigner who worked to force President Jean Bertrand Aristide out of power, after the opposition accused him of committing fraud in the 2000 elections. Dr. Henry’s brother, Elie Henry, is the prominent pastor kidnapped on December 24, 2020 together with his daughter and released four days later.
The nomination of the Prime Minister was expected to bring some form of consensus and tame the ever-growing political tensions and instability in the country, but quite the contrary has happened. several opposition political organizations including INITE, Fusion and INIFOS, all headed by friends and colleagues of the former Minister of the Interior and Minister of Social Affairs under the Martelly administration have decided to maintain their distances from this choice, stressing that they do not intend to join the next government. The interesting thing about his appointment is that none of the leading figure in the political parties and organizations of which Dr. Henry has been associated with at one time or another, are celebrating his appointment. According to former Senator Sorel Jacinthe, who leads the INITE party, Dr. Ariel Henry is a friend but since 2014, he has not being a member of the INITE party. Mr. Jacinthe stated that when Dr. Henry told him about his impending appointment as Prime Minister, he discouraged him, because his group wants nothing to do with Jovenel.
One of the main reasons that Dr. Henry s appointment was met with disdain and skepticism is that the President made the appointment without consultation with the opposition, thus the way in which with the appointment came about cannot be ignored. The country has not had a parliament since January 2020 and the President rules by decree, and did not bother to seek a political consensus before making his latest appointment. To make matters worse, empowering Dr. Henry with the task of addressing various issues that Mr. Moïse, himself, failed to address in over four years in office. Those familiar with political events in Haiti believe that it would have been ideal for Dr. Henry’s appointment to the position, even without the stamp of approval from parliament, if it would have been the result of conversations between President Jovenel Moïse and opposition groups as well as with civil society. These groups have insisted all along that they cannot participate in elections as long as Mr. Moïse remains in office and they no longer recognize him as the legitimate leader of the nation. Only time will tell how Dr. Henry’s impact will be.
In other news, the small plane crash on Friday, July 2, 2021 in Beauséjour (Léogâne) which killed six (6) people onboard, including one Haitian-American who is a native of Jacmel, two other Americans, two Dominican pilots and two Venezuelans, continues to claim more victims as gangs invaded the area, terrorizing residents because they believed that there was vast amounts of cash on the plane. The gangs are coming for one Sadrac Gilmisse and a member of CASEC. Mr. Sadrac Gilmisse is accused by the gangs of being among the first to arrive at the scene of the accident and of having taken the money that was on board the plane. He was attacked in his home, together with his son, who sustained serious wound in his abdomen. The father could not be reached to confirm if in fact he had pocketed any monies retrieved from the crash site.
A member of CASEC who arrived at the site 2 hours after the crash reported seeing a throng of onlookers at the scene so that if there was money onboard, his agent would not have been there in time to retrieve the said money. Heavily armed men went to the agent’s home to threaten him and his family to render the money by this Monday, July 5. Police officers and a journalist who were at the site also confirmed the presence of heavily armed men in the area. The journalist was strip searched, by individuals with guns drawn and pointed at him, while the police who took the difficult road to Beauséjour through Jacmel road, after three hours by car and motorbike and 5 hours of walking, the police were able had to push back some of the armed men. For faster access to the crash site, police officers from the Léogâne police station passed through Carrefour the day after the crash after spending a night on the road. Carrefour, where the inhabitants of certain localities of Beauséjour go to shop, makes it possible to reach Léogâne, because of the bumpy state of the roads in the interior.
Finally, the southeastern part of the country has been spared the wrath of Hurricane Elsa with little to no serious property damage nor loss of lives during its landfall on Sunday. However, farming suffered because of the strong winds in Grande Anse, an area exposed to hurricanes. There were two deaths reported in the Dominican Republic.
On Tuesday, July 6, 2021, the Grenadines will face Bermuda and are hoping to recreate their success in 2019 when they made it to the finals of the Gold Cup. We wish them success in their quest. A cup will surely uplift the spirit of a people beaten down by so many afflictions over the years.