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At the recently concluded CARICOM summit in Bahamas, Caribbean leaders have shown their
reluctance to support the option of deploying foreign troops once again to Haiti, despite the
ongoing gang violence and instability in the country. Speaking at the closing press conference,
the Bahamian Prime Minister, Philip Davis said that the path to bringing peace and stability to
the country at this critical juncture does not include committing foreign boots on the ground but
rather building up the necessary mechanism that is in place. By this the Prime Minister is
referring to the national police; the idea is to equip the national police with the necessary tools to
have the independence and the patriotic zeal to protect and serve the citizenry. This will mean
working and resourcing them as much as possible like ensuring that food is provided for them,
they are paid on time all the while expanding the force to ensure that they have the demonstrated
capacity to deal with the issues that are in front of them. Earlier calls from the US centered on
sending a peacekeeping force with the possible leadership of Canada but it seems there’s some
reluctance on the part of the Canadian authorities to head such a force.
Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau, who also attended the summit, continues to shy away from
committing troops because of past failures of such endeavors. Mr. Trudeau favors his
government’s efforts to bolster the national police, and further highlights his government’s robust
issuance of sanctions against members of the political and economic elite whom Canadian
authorities accuse of financing the gangs. Caribbean nations such as Jamaica are beginning to
warm up to the idea of participating in an effort to salvage what is left of the security situation in
the country, but is still exploring other options. Suffice it to say that since PM Henry’s request for
international intervention, few countries have expressed willingness to join such a force. At the
summit, Mr. Henry tried to express the need for a foreign force to act quickly, because current
Haitian police force is suffering from low morale, with officers who are ill-equipped and poorly
paid. There are reports of lack of bulletproof vests and even bullets available for officers to do
their job while the gangs are equipped with the latest weapons. The force has recently been
rocked by several killings which caused members of the police to take to the streets to protest
their poor working conditions.
Meanwhile, the Biden immigration policy has not helped matters as it robbed the country of the
very police officers the country needed to fight the gangs. Speaking to the press, PM Henry
laments how the new Biden policy led to some 600 police officers to apply for passports to also
benefit from the immigration program; a number which has since grown up exponentially, that
the immigration director last week decided to open a special office to receive passport
applications from the police. The Caribbean leaders bemoan the policy that has become a draw
for anyone in Haiti and counterproductive in that it encourages the police to abandon their police
stations for the bright lights of South Florida and New York. CARICOM leaders believe that
they cannot allow this policy to derail efforts at finding lasting solutions in Haiti because there
are still a belief out there that a number of Haitians are prepared to work towards having a
peaceful country, to return to normalcy and there are those who, once certain that they will be
well resourced and properly supported will come out to help rebuild the nation. The regional
body is said to have taken the Haitian issue as their moral obligation and will work to assist in
resolving them.
PM Henry speaking with the Creole version of VOA stated that his administration has no hand in
the list of political and economic elite that have been targeted for sanctions by the US and

Canada. Mr. Henry further noted that they did not provide any lists and have not been given any
files to foreign governments related to the sanctions and while this is true, it’s also true that the
sanctions have helped to change the situation on the ground. If sanctions can help bring the main
protagonists of the crisis to dialogue, it would have been a laudable goal for the future of the
country. Since October, the US and Canada have regularly announced sanctions targeting
members of the political and economic elite. US sanctions are more discreet and fairly measured,
are characterized by visa restrictions and asset freezes, whereas the Canadian version registers its
sanctions within the framework of a legal provision entitled “Regulations on the special
economic measures affecting Haiti”, and as of now, about twenty people have been targeted by
Canadian government.
Elsewhere, physicians at the Hospital of the State University of Haiti (HUEH) continue their
strike that was started in December 2022 to demand better working conditions. Without loud
electronic devices to bring their grievances to the larger public, the strikers are doing what they
can to make their voices heard during the Port-au-Prince carnival. On Monday February 20,
2023, the doctors simulated an emergency cell of the hospital, on rue St Honoré. Hospital beds
in poor condition, without mattresses, old gallows that hold saline solution installations, are
installed in the street. According to Dr. Maximin Verléus, resident surgeon at the hospital, it is a
typical representation of the emergency room of the largest hospital center in the country,
maintaining that the HUEH is in an impractical sanitary environment. The doctors aim to show
people the deplorable state of current conditions at the hospital. While the administration is
working to meet the demands of the health workers, it is important for them to do so quickly so
as to avoid any health catastrophes especially during the 3 days of carnival. The demands of the
striking physicians are however clear: HUEH must be provided with materials necessary for its
operation. For about 12 months, the hospital has had less than four hours of electricity a day,
which is detrimental to patients’ health. Also, the hospital must be able to operate in better
sanitary and hygienic conditions, and not to repeat situations where patients in the post-operative
room are contract infections because of unsanitary. In addition, all patients in the hospital are
exposed to nosocomial diseases. The physicians want these conditions to me remedied in order
to provide the best care possible to patients.
Dela Harlley

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