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The 9th summit of the Americas, the institutional gathering of the Heads of State and governments in the western hemisphere, kicked off yesterday, June 6, 2022, in Los Angeles, under the theme “Building a sustainable, resilient and Equitable Future”. For Haiti, attendance at this summit is very significant because according to Ambassador Guy Lamothe, the country’s presence at this gathering of leaders creates an opportunity to make the current government’s roadmap better known to the international community. Prime Minister Ariel Henry who is expected at the summit plans to highlight the country’s security priorities which are an essential element of the country’s reappropriation of its future. Mr. Henry made this known during a press conference at the diplomatic lounge at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport last Friday. Through discussions with other hemispheric leaders the Haitian government hopes to harness the expertise of the larger regional community to help restore order in the urban areas occupied by criminal gangs.  

The Haitian delegation plans to also discuss the reconstruction of the southern peninsula, devastated on August 14, 2021 as well as steps for dialogue between the various political factions within the country that has so far make it difficult for a consensus to be reached in moving the country forward. Additionally, the government plans to discuss the fight against Covid-19, the economic and health consequences of the pandemic, global warming, regional security and its corollaries, and the management of renewable energies. As an aside, the Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador has snubbed the summit following the US’s decision to exclude Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua from participating in the conference that formally brings together all the governments and heads of state from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean. In an article that appeared in the French paper Paris Match, the Mexican premier was quoted as saying that he not going to a summit where not all countries in the region are invited. Mr. Obrador further that there is no need to change the exclusionary policy that has been imposed for centuries.

Elsewhere, there has been fuel shortages in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area in recent days, as can be seen at most of the filling stations that have remained closed because of lack of fuel supply from the distributors. According to the road transportation union, Syndicat du secteur transport terrestre haïtien (STTH) the main culprit in this artificial shortage is the state itself, which had refused to intervene or find ways to prevent the private sector’s control of the fuel distribution process. According to union representative, Méhu Changeux, the fuel shortage is creating tensions between drivers and passengers and the state has failed to form a commission, comprised of the private fuel importers, the state and the transport workers union to find a sustainable and lasting solution to the shortage. To the union, the commission can find a solution because all activities under the supervision of the commission would be done in total transparency. At the same time, the price of petroleum products has tripled on the black market, while the authorities have announced that 33 tankers carrying 86,176 gallons of diesel and 149,310 gallons of petrol have arrived at the Varreaux fuel depot in Cite Soleil on Sunday, June 5, 2022, hopefully to the petrol stations to supply the needed petrol. During a similar situation last April, the association of petrol station owners, l’Association nationale des propriétaires de stations-services (ANAPROSS) called for an agreement between the state and the petroleum companies to prevent this from happening again and for the authorities to adapt to the realities of the international market, according to Marc André Dériphonse of ANAPROSS. 

In what is increasingly a repeated pattern, unknown persons have broken into the Port-au-Prince courthouse Sunday evening, vandalizing, and destroying property especially in the chambers of prosecuting attorneys including that of Jean Wilner Morin and Ikenson Edume. According to the prosecutor general in Port-au-Prince, Jacques Lafontant, these cases of repeated burglary and destroying of sensitive documents pending the relocation of the courthouse are moves aimed at pushing him to resign. 

The fate of Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic continues to be of concern to refugee rights activists who have expressed the issues about the continued mistreatment from the Dominican authorities. According to GARR, 9,009 Haitian migrants were deported back to Haiti during the month of May. These include 4,488 people who were deported, 772 expelled and 3,746 who spontaneously returned. Among these returnees are women and children including pregnant women, including 12 pregnant women deported between May 23-27, who went to hospitals in the DR for neonatal treatment. With such random deportations and forced removals, Haitian nationals in the Dominican Republic are on edge because at any time, they can be summarily arrested and deported.

A recent article in the Miami Herald talked about two dozen Haitians who departed from the coast of the Dominican Republic in a small motorboat, headed for the coast of Puerto Rico in early March and have not since been heard from. According to relatives, passengers were told to dress totally in black and to leave cell phones and any identifying documents including passports behind. They were suspected to have taken to the seas through the treacherous Mona Passage.  The disappearance of the group remains a mystery and a source of anguish for relatives, who refuse to accept that a boat full of people could just vanish. The agencies that routinely patrol the area — the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Dominican Navy — say they have no record of a boat fitting that description capsizing in the passage.

Finally, after his concern in Little Haiti, Miami was cancelled; former President Michel Martelly was banned from performing in Sarcelles, France on Friday June 10, 2022. In a statement by the mayor of Sarcelles, Patrick Haddad, the decision to ban the concert of this “controversial artist” comes after a meeting with local authorities as well as the organizer of the show who demonstrated his inability to ensure security for a show of this magnitude with the potential for disturbing public order. The mayor went on to say how much the Haitian community have called and expressed their concerns over the artist coming into their community. The Haitian Diaspora, under the umbrella of a group, la Fédération de la Diaspora Haïtienne d’Europe (FEDHE), wrote to the mayor expressing their opposition to the former President coming to their community to perform. The ban also addressed the provocative and sexist lyrics, at times making apologies for rape and degrading women are some of the concerns leading to the ban.

Dela Harlley

June 6, 2022

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