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The just ended Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles has been hailed as a success according to the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken. Speaking to the press at the end of the weeklong conference, the Secretary of State said that attending countries made meaningful and concrete commitments on a wide range of issues that directly affect peoples’ lives and laid the foundation for further regional cooperation. Some of the key takeaways from the summit included a commitment from the US government to train some 500,000 health personnel for the entire region and the adoption of the first ever declaration on immigration signed by countries across the continent, including a pledge to be open to receive refugees but also to deport those who may not meet the asylum conditions.

At the very summit, Prime Minister Ariel Henry pleaded in favor of the need to resolve the problems that push people to emigrate to other parts of the continent, especially to the United States, including problems of insecurity and political instability. Mr. Henry’s address focused on the need for massive investments to create stable jobs and provide a future for young people and find lasting solutions to problems of poverty, unemployment, lack of opportunity, inequality, insecurity and political instability. While acknowledging his governments’ commitment to cooperate with countries repatriating Haitian migrants Mr. Henry further requested that the migrants be treated with humanity and their fundamental human rights respected. The Prime Minister recalled the factors that have fueled the current crisis facing his country, citing the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, the devastating earthquake of August 2021, and the rise of armed gangs, who kidnap, torture kill and restrict the free movement of people. Regarding the assassination of President Jovenel, Moïse, Mr. Henry stated that those who planned and financed the assassination are still free and threaten the justice system. Similarly, he took the opportunity to renew his commitment to the organization of free, fair, and transparent elections, but did not mention specific deadlines for the holding of these elections.

Meanwhile, in a report by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, on the performance of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) over the past year recommended the extension of the UN mandate for another year. This request for an extension comes at a time when the current mandate, initially extended to June 15, 2022, comes to an end and a new assessment due on June 16, 2022, was initially submitted to the Secretary General in April 2022, citing the various problems plaguing the nation and looking for adequate resources to support the national police. According to the request, the root cause of instability in the country require political solutions which remain the most appropriate and effective structures to address the problems. The UN sees their political mission as a necessary tool and asked for the BINUH to be empowered to use its good offices to address the root causes of instability which, according to them, is inherently political. The empowering of the BINUH requires intensifying support for the national police to combat armed gang violence and extend their presence into all sectors of the society, including in neighborhoods that are increasingly controlled by gangs. The police will need sustained long-term support and commitment from the international community to achieve transformational change in security, a change that is necessary to restore the authority of the state both in the capital Port-au-Prince and across the nation.

While on the topic of security, the symbol of justice in the nation, the Port-au-Prince courthouse was a scene of a daring takeover this past Friday, by heavily armed gangs, a scene worthy of a Hollywood movie. Heavily armed individuals attacked the courthouse located in the Bicentenaire section of Port-au-Prince. The gangs took over the courthouse with all guns blazing, creating panic as people ran for cover. There was random shooting in all directions; it was a chaotic scene resulting in several people being wounded. Those at the courthouse to attend to business had to run for their lives, leaving their vehicles and important documents scattered around. The police who quickly rushed to the scene were no match to these individuals, as the criminals were more heavily armed than the police. As of this writing, there have been no casualties, but many were reportedly wounded and most of the important legal documents housed in the courthouse are now in jeopardy. Former Justice Minister, Camille Édouard Junior was appalled by this and called it an absence of the state’s authority, and a trivialization of all the symbols of the state. While noting that this is an egregious problem, Mr. Edouard Junior warned that we could be witnessing a strategy of criminals of all stripes to dismantle the state, and the only way to wrestle control of the state back is for the state to restore its authority. There’s no way the state has to cover to the wishes and dictates of the criminal gangs and for all that its worth, the state must do what is necessary and needed to restore its authority from these criminals.

Finally, the journal Le Nouvelliste, on Monday launched the 28th edition of the Livres En Folie, the annual literary event that was opened by the Minister of Culture and Communication, Emmelie Prophète in Pétion-Ville. The Minister stated that this book fair is part of a sustainability approach and encourages the organizers of this event to maintain this initiative for the benefit of Haitian literature. The two main guests of honor for this year’s event are Louis Phillipe Dalembert and Pierre Raymond Dumas, who stated that they are proud and happy for this mark of honor. Unibank, which partnered with the newspaper to organize the fair, said it will make available all its facilities to facilitate buyers to place and receive their orders. A hundred authors are expected to attend and sign their books and more than 1,000 books will be available at the fair.

A Haitian migrant who works with the president of the farmers union in the Majagual section of La Rosa, municipality of Galván , in the mountainous area of Bahoruco province was assassinated yesterday by a group of seven (7) individuals, including 3 military brothers, who also went on to set 8 houses ablaze. The migrant died of gunshot wounds and machete cuts. And a great number of Haitians have been praying for a quick recovery for Cardinal Chibly Langlois, who was involved in a serious car accident.

Dela Harlley

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