Tomer Avital in the wake of the approval of the 2023-24 budget For the sake of the journalists and presenters…
Written by Diana Thebaud Nicholson // May 2, 2023 // Americas, Government & Governance // Comments Off on Haiti 2022-
Haitian activist describes grisly killings in the streets as residents rise up against gangs
‘If anybody wants the definition of hell, they can come and experience it in Haiti,’ says Vélina Élysée Charli
Haiti: Plan de Réponse Humanitaire L’essentiel (avril 2023)
Depuis 2021, les gangs ont refermé progressivement leur étau sur Port-au-Prince, où les meurtres, prises d’otage et viols se produisent au quotidien. Les gangs étendent désormais leur influence au-delà de Port-au- Prince, y compris dans les zones du nord considérées comme le grenier à blé du pays, à un moment où près de la moitié de la population ne mange pas à sa faim. L’insécurité croissante continue de pousser des milliers de personnes hors de leurs foyers, paralyse le fonctionnement des services de base et risque d’annuler les acquis obtenus dans la lutte contre l’épidémie de choléra déclarée le 2 octobre 2022.
… Depuis 2021, les gangs ont refermé progressivement leur étau sur Port-au-Prince, où les meurtres, prises d’otage et viols se produisent au quotidien. Les gangs étendent désormais leur influence au-delà de Port-au- Prince, y compris dans les zones du nord considérées comme le grenier à blé du pays, à un moment où près de la moitié de la population ne mange pas à sa faim. L’insécurité croissante continue de pousser des milliers de personnes hors de leurs foyers, paralyse le fonctionnement des services de base et risque d’annuler les acquis obtenus dans la lutte contre l’épidémie de choléra déclarée le 2 octobre 2022.
$720 million plan to support millions facing gangs, hunger and cholera
The UN and partners are appealing for $720 million to support more than three million people in Haiti.
The 2023 funding appeal is the largest for the Caribbean country since the devastating 2010 earthquake and more than double the amount requested last year.
The UN humanitarian affairs office (OCHA) said the number of Haitians who require aid to survive doubled over the past five years to 5.2 million, and the aim is to reach 60 per cent, or 3.2 million people.
The full 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan, which will be launched on 19 April, comes at “a critical time”, said Ulrika Richardson, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti.
“With the situation in the country rapidly deteriorating, this year’s plan will address the most immediate humanitarian and protection needs while strengthening people’s and institution’s resilience to natural shocks,” she said.
“At the same time, what the people of Haiti desperately want is peace and security, and we should all support efforts to that end.”
Haiti’s outgunned police will have to wait even longer for Canadian armoured cars
Another delay in the delivery of Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles (MRAPs) to Haiti means that Haitian police will have to wait even longer for the vehicles they desperately need to protect their dwindling force from Haiti’s ruthless and well-armed gangs.
The manufacturer has confirmed for CBC News that the earliest potential delivery date is May 3 — and that is subject to change.
Why Canada is pushing back at U.S. pressure to put boots on the ground in Haiti
One Afghan vet calls potential mission ‘a nightmare waiting for a place to happen’
Haiti is on the brink of collapse, ravaged by gang violence, hunger, disease and corruption. Andrew Chang explores how the situation became so dire, and why Canada and the U.S. can’t reach a consensus on how to help.
An unstoppable force collides with an immovable object in Ottawa this week.
The (normally) unstoppable force is direct and heavy U.S. pressure on Canada — in this case, to lead some kind of mission to save Haiti. The immovable object is a Canadian government and military determined to avoid being dragged into the Haitian quagmire.
The Trudeau government did not take the kind of direct approach that then-prime minister Jean Chrétien did when the Americans invited Canada to join the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Instead, it stalled, dissembled, ragged the puck and offered alternatives until the Biden administration finally appeared to ease up on its pressure campaign.
If intervention is off the table for now, that would come as a relief to Canada’s Armed Forces. Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre said this month he doubted Canada could pull off such a mission right now, given its commitments in Europe.
Haiti’s sudden turn for the worse puts Trudeau on the spot
(CBC) “There’s one event that tells it all,” Haitian businessman Marco Larosilière told CBC News from his home in Port-au-Prince.
“Last week, the general inspector of the national police was kidnapped with his son in front of his school.”
If a high-ranking official of the national police is not safe, said Larosilière, “what about the rest of the population?”
“It’s unbearable,” he added. “You feel that every day, the situation is getting worse and worse. And you’re thinking it can’t be worse. And the next day, you find out it’s worse.”
Larosilière’s own neighbourhood has so far been spared, although he can hear the gunfire. He’s essentially trapped in Port-au-Prince, unable to reach his agrifood business in Haiti’s south because of the gangs’ stranglehold on the capital.
Over the past two weeks, the situation in Port-au-Prince has taken a sudden and dramatic turn for the worse.
Dr. William Pape of Cornell University is a member of the World Health Organization’s scientific committee and one of Haiti’s most distinguished medical doctors. He warned last week that the country could be on the road to a Rwanda-scale massacre (albeit without the inter-ethnic element of those events).
And last week, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) was forced to close its hospital in Cite Soleil, a place famous for staying open no matter what. “We are living scenes of warfare just meters from the establishment,” said MSF medical adviser Vincent Harris in a media statement.
Canada’s top general concerned military lacks capacity to lead Haiti mission
(Reuters) – Canada’s top general said he was concerned that his country’s armed forces, already stretched thin by support for Ukraine and NATO, do not have the capacity to lead a possible security mission to Haiti.
Haiti’s government and top United Nations officials have called for an international force to support Haitian police in their struggle against gangs, which have become the de facto authorities in parts of the country.
Canada to deploy navy vessels to Haiti as violence worsens
(AP) — Canada will send navy vessels to Haiti for intelligence-gathering as part of efforts to quell worsening gang violence in the Caribbean nation, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday.
Trudeau made the announcement in the Bahamas at an annual meeting of Caribbean leaders where a key topic has been Haiti’s surge in killings, rapes and kidnappings blamed on gangs emboldened since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, also at the meeting, has pleaded for a full-fledged international military intervention to stem the mayhem. His country requested help from the U.N. Security Council in October, and has suggested the U.S. and Canada lead a force. No such intervention has come together, and neither country has offered to take the lead.
Caribbean leaders to tackle Haiti’s woes amid migration
(AP) — Top Caribbean leaders are expected to debate Haiti’s spiraling chaos and its impact on the region during a biannual meeting this week, with some complaining bitterly about a constant stream of migrants arriving on their shores as they flee poverty and worsening violence.
The three-day meeting of the Caribbean trade block known as Caricom starts Wednesday in the Bahamas.
Some of the group’s 15 members are pushing to get key Haitian stakeholders to a neutral nation in the region to reach a consensus agreement on holding elections in the impoverished country that has been stripped of all democratically elected institutions.
However, the international community and local officials have noted that elections cannot be held in Haiti until violence is quelled.
Haiti’s foreign minister, Jean Victor Généus, warned during an Organization of American States meeting Friday that insecurity has risen and will spill over into neighboring countries.
Criminal Power in Haiti and Hunger as an Instrument of Governance
Author: César Niño
(Georgetown Journal of International Affairs (GJIA)) Around two hundred criminal groups operate in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, a city with a population of one million people. These numerous gangs have established a criminal order capable of hindering the supply of food and humanitarian aid in Haiti; this criminal sovereignty, organized through the illegal activity and violence, manufactures political legitimacy for these gangs. While the criminal network and governmental corruption in Haiti has drawn the attention of the international community, the related food insecurity crisis has not received significant external concern. This article analyzes the use of hunger as an instrument of criminal governance and reinterprets the meaning of sovereignty and governance within the context of criminality
Canada sends military aircraft into Haiti’s skies as gang violence escalates
(CTV) Haiti’s political and humanitarian crisis has led to calls for Western countries to intervene, with the Canadian government saying the aircraft deployment comes in direct response to Haiti’s request for help.
The government says the patrol aircraft is currently in Haiti and will remain there “for a number of days” to help with surveillance and intelligence efforts.
Key suspects in killing of Haiti president Jovenel Moïse ‘sent to US for trial’
Investigations in Haiti have reached a virtual standstill after threats and intimidation against judges
Four key suspects in the killing of the Haitian president Jovenel Moïse were transferred to the US for prosecution, according to officials, as the case stagnates in Haiti amid death threats against local judges.
Rivera, along with Solages and Vincent, face charges including conspiring to commit murder or kidnapping outside the US and providing material support and resources resulting in death, the US justice department said.
UN envoy to Haiti hopes UN will OK international intervention to combat gangs
The UN special envoy for Haiti said Wednesday she heard “caution” from the United States and Canada about possibly leading an international armed force to help Haiti combat gangs but not “a definite “No.”
Helen La Lime expressed hope that the UN Security Council will deal positively with the issue of the force requested by the Haitian government. She said at a new conference that an international armed force would be a partner of the Haitian National Police “that would go against the gangs.”
She spoke a day after the United States and Canada showed no interest at a Security Council meeting for deploying their security personnel despite renewed appeals from the UN and Haiti for help to end worsening violence in the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation. They are the two countries most often mentioned as possible leaders of an international force in Haiit.
Bob Rae: Major military intervention in Haiti would not have sustainable impact
(Globe & Mail) Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, says a foreign military intervention in Haiti would have little sustainable impact, and that discussions continue on what assistance Ottawa and allies could offer to deliver long-term stability to a country in crisis.
… He said a slew of UN military interventions in Haiti in the 1990s and 2000s have failed to bring about long-term stability. “We have to admit there’s been a history of what I would call large-scale military interventions that have not worked,” Mr. Rae said.
He said Canada’s policy, however, is to insist on a “Haitian-led” approach to all elements of a solution, from security to politics to development.
Mr. Rae said kidnapping is widespread and important transportation routes in the country remain blockaded by gangs. The priorities for Canada and its partners are security, public health and addressing the continuing humanitarian situation and political instability.
“There has to be a commitment to stability from all of the major political parties and all of the major social and political and economic groups in the country. And there has to be a process created that leads eventually to an election and constitutional government,” he said.
Mr. Rae is looking at assistance that would create order in Haiti. “You can’t have development and you can’t have people living confidently going about their business unless there’s a degree of order.”
He said Canada, the U.S. and the UN are making plans on how to restore order and rebuild the country. “The question is what form of intervention would be the most sustainable and that is what we are still discussing.”
Interview with US Ambassador to Canada David Cohen
(Politico) — New year priorities: Haiti continues to be a hot topic between the U.S. and Canada while the humanitarian situation worsens in the country.
Any involvement in Haiti, Cohen said, “in all likelihood, will need to be a United Nations-sponsored and the United Nations-organized effort.”
He said any assistance is more likely to be related to the police than military “just to sort of adjust some of what people have been talking about.”
Sanctions targeting “Haitian elites” is Global Affairs Canada’s current go-to approach to quelling gang terror in the country.
This interview excerpt has been edited for length and clarity.
The U.S. sees potential in Canada taking a leadership role in Haiti, could you help us understand what that leadership role is?
The United States does have an interest in Canada stepping up and playing a leadership role in whatever is determined to be in the best interests of resolving the situation in Haiti, which first and foremost will be something that Haiti is interested in. Haiti has to ask for help.
If there was a takeaway from the NALS on Haiti, it wasn’t at the level of “will Canada play a leadership role?” Or, “what will that leadership role look like?”
The agreement was that Canada and the United States should work together with the United Nations to try to develop what an engagement and external engagement would look like, in order to support the Haitian National Police to bring some stability to Haiti, all under the guidance, direction and at the request of Haiti. And once we have that, then we can address the issue of what a leadership role by Canada would look like.
Is there any timeline for that external engagement?
It’s ongoing. First, you have to have the plan. We have started the Canada-U.S.engagement in trying to determine what that engagement would look like.
There’s a plan for a plan.
Well, there was an agreement to talk about what a plan would look like. I don’t know that that in and of itself is a plan. That was the major Haiti takeaway from the NALS.
Canada’s ambassador to the UN Bob Rae discusses the situation in Haiti and what sort of role this country might play.
Haiti is in turmoil. How can Canada help?
Haiti has been mired in political turmoil in the year-and-a-half since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, with gangs continuing to control much of the capital Port-au-Prince. This week, the U.S. national security adviser suggested Canada could lead “some sort of multinational security support” to Haitian police. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, would only state that Canada and its partners are “preparing various scenarios” to respond if the situation deteriorates.
But how much worse can things get? And what further steps is Canada considering? Host Catherine Cullen is joined by Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the UN, who travelled to Haiti twice last year and has been advising the federal government on the path forward. The House also hears from Haitian-Canadians on what they hope to see next from Canada.
Haiti crisis: how did it get so bad, what is the role of gangs, and is there a way out?
(The Guardian) Earlier this week, the terms of Haiti’s last 10 remaining senators officially expired, leaving the Caribbean country without a single elected government official as it faces a set of intersecting catastrophes: famine, cholera, devastating gang violence, fuel shortages and economic collapse.
“The situation is unprecedented in Haiti’s history,” Prof Matthew Smith, a historian of Haiti who joined UCL in London as director of the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery after many years at the University of West Indies. “You could see the country’s history as a series of crises with brief periods of hope and peace – but there hasn’t been anything like this.”
How did Haiti get here?
The country has been in a state of electoral and constitutional turmoil since the assassination of the president, Jovenel Moïse, in 2021 at the hands of Colombian mercenaries with unknown paymasters, but the immediate crisis can be traced back further.
Haiti has not held functional elections since 2019 – and the country has been in a fragile state since the 2010 earthquake that killed up to 300,000 people. But Moïse’s death in July 2021 – and a new earthquake the following month – sent the situation spiralling out of control.
Moïse was replaced by an acting president, Ariel Henry, who is unelected and widely viewed as illegitimate. In September, the G9 gang coalition blockaded the main port and fuel terminal after Henry caused fuel prices to double when he announced a cut to fuel subsidies – a development that brought the crisis to new heights. Haiti is now experiencing its worst-ever famine, with 4.7 million people facing acute hunger.
At the same time it is impossible to understand the current situation without acknowledging the dark history of international interventions, including US occupation from 1915-1934, that have blighted Haiti. “Those interventions have shaped Haiti,” Smith said. “There’s a chain-link connection.”
Long before the litany of recent disasters, he said, “the Duvalier dictatorship [the rule of father and son François, or “Papa Doc”, and Jean-Claude, or “Baby Doc”, Duvalier from 1957-1986] destroyed the hopes of a functioning state that serves the nation..”
There is an even deeper history. For generations after independence in 1804, Haiti was saddled with the impact of “reparations” to France – the country that enslaved its people – in some years spending 40% of government revenue on its resulting debts. That burden severely hampered economic growth and the development of robust public services.
Trudeau hedges on military mission to Haiti
(Globe & Mail) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hedged Wednesday when asked whether Canada was prepared to lead a military mission to Haiti and he declined to say whether Ottawa has run out of soldiers to deploy.
Canada’s top soldier, General Wayne Eyre, last year said the Canadian Armed Forces are “stretched thin” as demands at home and abroad mount. The military has faced recruitment problems, and last October, Gen. Eyre told MPs “the military that we have today is not the military that we need for the threats that are appearing in the future.”
Mr. Trudeau did not directly answer a direct question on whether Canada has troops it could send to Haiti. Canada’s largest military deployment right now is in Latvia on the western flank of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Canada has also committed to an additional military presence each year in the Indo-Pacific, including deploying three frigates there per year – up from two per year.
He did say however that Canada and its allies “are preparing various scenarios if it does start to get worse” in Haiti. The Prime Minister said a priority now is equipping the Haitian National Police to combat gang violence against Haitian citizens that is impeding the delivery of critical services and humanitarian aid.
Haiti left with no elected government officials as it spirals towards anarchy
Last 10 remaining senators leave office, with gangs controlling much of capital, a malnutrition crisis and a cholera outbreak
The expiration of the officials’ terms at midnight on Monday formally concluded their time in office – and with it, the last semblance of democratic order in the beleaguered Caribbean nation.
Haiti – which is currently engulfed in gang violence and the worst malnutrition crisis in decades – now officially has no functioning parliament as the senators were the last of 30 to remain in office after successive failed efforts to hold elections.
Haiti Needs Help
Foreign Troops Might Be the Least Bad Option
By Renata Segura
(Foreign Affairs) In Haiti, violence, hunger, and cholera threaten to kill thousands of people. As conditions grow ever more dire, gangs are preventing humanitarian assistance from reaching those on the brink of death. A record 4.7 million people face acute hunger and almost 20,000 people are enduring “catastrophic hunger,” meaning they are at risk of starving to death, according to an October report from the UN World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization. Those in greatest danger live in Cité Soleil, the largest slum in the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and home to about 260,000 people. The area is controlled by gangs; for the past six months, lawlessness and violence have made it nearly impossible for urgent humanitarian assistance to reach those most in need.
Fighting between rival gangs for the control of roads leading to the capital caused close to 500 deaths over the summer.
The violence and instability have also created conditions for cholera to make a deadly comeback.
Samuel Madistin, the president of the Je Klere foundation, a civil society organization in Port-au-Prince,“People often don’t ask the right questions. Whether one is for or against foreign military intervention in the country is not the right question. For us, the question is whether today Haiti has crossed the threshold of the duty to interfere. We think so.”
… diplomats in New York started discussing the possibility of sending military support to the Haitian police in July and a UN mission to assess needs visited the country soon thereafter. Following Henry’s formal request for international military assistance in early October, UN Secretary General António Guterres endorsed the proposal in a letter to the UN Security Council, where it was later discussed at the request of Mexico and the United States. Those two countries also drafted a resolution establishing sanctions against gang leaders and their sponsors, including an asset freeze, a travel ban, and an arms embargo. The Security Council unanimously adopted it on October 21. Another draft resolution, which so far has not been sent to the whole Security Council, proposes the creation of a multinational force that would operate with the blessing, but not under the mandate, of the UN.
… what causes anguish to the mission’s potential foreign backers and contributors, as well as to Haitians who support it, is not whether there is a case for intervention but whether the conditions are in place for anything more than a fleeting success followed by a return to today’s dangerous conditions, or worse.
Why there’s absolutely no way Canada could pull off a military intervention in Haiti
The entire Canadian Army could provide just 11,000 front-line soldiers, roughly the same amount of personnel as the Toronto Police
(National Post) With their country increasingly overrun by gangs, Haiti’s political leaders are now calling for a foreign military intervention to restore order in the Caribbean nation. … But with the Canadian military plagued by critical shortages of almost everything as well as one of the worst staffing crises in its history, there are almost no circumstances in which it would be even remotely possible to mount a friendly invasion of Haiti.
Just last month, chief of defence staff Gen. Wayne Eyre ordered a halt to all non-essential activities within the Canadian Armed Forces in order to address a staffing shortage that senior officers are now referring to as a “crisis.”
And that’s in addition to Canada’s usual deficiencies in kit and logistics. For one, the Canadian military is unique among G7 nations for having no amphibious capability, which might be a factor in its ability to supply and equip an expeditionary force stationed on a Caribbean island.
In the 1990s it took a U.S. force of 25,000 to conduct Operation Uphold Democracy, a UN-sanctioned mission to reverse a military overthrow of Haiti’s elected government.
Haiti is only five years removed from the last time that foreign boots were on its soil. From 2004 to 2017, the country was host to Operation MINUSTAH, a Brazilian-led UN peacekeeping mission that comprised roughly 5,000 soldiers and police, as well as civilian staff.
Notably, MINUSTAH was originally planned to last just six months, but ended up lasting for 13 years. It’s also remembered chiefly for the harms it inflicted on Haiti, including a deadly cholera outbreak and large numbers of illegitimate children left behind by deployed peacekeepers.
Campbell Clark: Canada could not mount a whole Haiti mission even if it wanted to
The United States keeps asking Canada to lead a military mission to Haiti, and Ottawa keeps saying maybe. What the Canadian government doesn’t want to say out loud is that it can’t do it.
Haitian leaders must all agree before Canada would lead a potential military intervention, Trudeau says
U.S. has suggested Canada could lead a multinational force in Haiti
(CBC) A potential Canadian military intervention in Haiti can’t happen unless all political parties in the troubled nation agree to it, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday.
Speaking from Tunisia on the final day of the two-day Francophonie summit, Trudeau announced $16.5 million to help stabilize Haiti, where gangs are strangling access to fuel and critical supplies amid a worsening cholera outbreak.
About half the money is going toward humanitarian aid, and some of the rest is intended to help weed out corruption and prosecute gender-based violence.
But Haiti’s government has asked for an international military intervention to combat gangs who have strangled access to fuel and critical supplies in the middle of the outbreak.
‘Haiti needs us’: Canada, U.S. pledge action as gangs strengthen their grip on the island nation
(CBC) U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly promised Thursday that the two countries will do something about the deteriorating situation in Haiti — a country in a state of anarchy as it grapples with marauding gangs, food and fuel shortages and a resurgence of cholera.
What exactly the two countries have planned for the poorest country in the Western hemisphere wasn’t revealed today — but it could include some sort of intervention by police and military personnel.
Haiti’s current leaders have called for foreign support to restore a semblance of stability to the chaotic country.
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has said he wants a “specialized armed force” to assist Haitian police in countering anti-government gangs.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference after meeting Joly in Ottawa, Blinken said the U.S. and its allies are assembling a coalition of willing nations to provide “contributions of personnel and equipment for a potential mission” to the island nation.
After armoured vehicles from Canada land in Port-au-Prince, here’s a look at Haiti’s latest security crisis
(CBC) Foreign military aid requested by Haiti’s beleaguered government has arrived in the Caribbean country — including armoured vehicles from Canada — as a security crisis intensifies.
Armed gangs have been blockading Haiti’s main port since last month following a move by Ariel Henry, Haiti’s unelected prime minister, to cut fuel subsidies.
Kidnappings and other crimes are rife; hospitals and banks are often closed as they are unable to access fuel and basic supplies.
Haiti’s government has appealed for military intervention from foreign troops to help quell the violence and end the fuel blockade. The United Nations Security Council could discuss that proposal on Monday.
How did Haiti get to this point?
Pinpointing the beginning of the most recent round of unrest is not simple; Haiti has been suffering from economic, governance and security challenges for decades.
“What’s going on now is not new,” Chantal Ismé from the Montreal-based group Maison d’Haïti told CBC’s The National.
Some analysts say the power of the gangs has grown since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, exacerbating previous political and security challenges.
Who are the gangsters behind recent unrest?
Led by former police officer Jimmy Chérizier, nicknamed Barbecue, the port blockade has been organized by an alliance of gangsters known as “G9 and Family.”
After overpowering an understaffed and under-resourced police department, the gangs have gone so far as to request seats in the governing cabinet, demanding that Henry’s government grant amnesty and void arrest warrants against their members.
The gangs use extortion, violence and rape to control territory, particularly in Haiti’s poorest slums, observers say. Helen La Lime, the top UN official in Haiti, told reporters that human rights abuses including rape and sexual assault have reached alarming levels.
Canada ‘carefully considering’ pleas for help from Haiti
Caribbean country facing gang blockade of fuel terminal, shortages, high crime and cholera outbreak
Haiti’s leader requests foreign armed forces to quell chaos
(AP) — Haiti’s government has agreed to request the help of international troops as gangs and protesters paralyze the country and supplies of water, fuel and basic goods dwindle, according to a document published Friday.
The document, signed by Prime Minister Ariel Henry and 18 top-ranking officials, states that they are alarmed by “the risk of a major humanitarian crisis” that is threatening the life of many people.
It authorizes Henry to request from international partners “the immediate deployment of a specialized armed force, in sufficient quantity,” to stop the crisis across the country caused partly by the “criminal actions of armed gangs.”
It wasn’t clear if the request had been formally submitted, to whom it would be submitted and whether it would mean the activation of United Nations peacekeeping troops, whose mission ended five years ago after a troubled 11 years in Haiti.
As gang violence consumes Haiti, donor nations — Canada included — seem reluctant to get involved
‘The gangs are even occupying the courthouse’ — Bob Rae
Dozens of people, including women and children, have been killed in recent weeks amid new clashes between gangs fighting over territory as their power grows following the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.
Haiti has been lurching from crisis to crisis for a long time. But at no point in the recent past — perhaps not since the immediate aftermath of the 2010 earthquake — has the country’s plight seemed so hopeless to so many of its people as it does today.
Caribbean leaders, traditionally opposed to outside interventions, are facing an influx of Haitian boat people fleeing what Bahamian PM Philip Davis calls “a failed state.”
The Dominican Republic has deployed its army to the border with Haiti to prevent spillover from what its president Luis Abinader calls a “low-intensity civil war.”
Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the UN, visited the country recently. He told CBC News that he found “the gangs have taken control of much of Port-au-Prince. The gangs are even occupying the courthouse.”
Canada’s embattled diplomats in Haiti, under ambassador Sébastien Carrière, are sheltering in place at home as it is no longer safe to travel the streets of Port-au-Prince.
Canada’s human security presence in Haiti has dwindled to almost nothing. A nation that once had over 2,000 military personnel in its Joint Task Force Haiti, as well as about 100 police officers, now has just two RCMP officers in the whole country.
And despite the foreign security funding, the gangs have been gaining ground since last year — when Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his own bedroom.
Investigating Haiti’s ‘Double Debt’
For a new five-part investigation, a team of Times journalists tabulated the amount that Haitians had to pay France for their freedom and explored how the massive sum still affects Haiti today.
More than 200 years ago, enslaved Haitians successfully revolted against their French masters and declared themselves free. Two decades later, the French government demanded Haitians pay reparations to former slave masters, under the threat of war. Without the funds to pay, Haitians had to take out a loan from French banks. This would come to be known as the “double debt,” and is part of the reason Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world today.
Times journalists spent more than a year sifting through thousands of pages of archival papers, ledgers and correspondences to calculate the exact amount that Haiti paid France: $560 million in today’s dollars. Leading historians, who assessed the work done by The Times, said it is the first time this amount has been tabulated. Further estimates by The Times found that the double debt cost Haiti from $21 billion to $115 billion in lost economic growth over time.
Finding out who benefited, and who suffered, was not the only goal. “The bigger question at the end was what did it mean,” said Catherine Porter, an international correspondent who has covered Haiti since the 2010 earthquake. “How did it hamper the development of the country?”
The concept grew out of Ms. Porter’s initial investigations into the debt in 2020, and a conversation with Michael Slackman, The Times’s assistant managing editor for international news. They wanted to know what factors had made Haiti such an outlier in terms of its extreme poverty and corruption.
The Root of Haiti’s Misery: Reparations to Enslavers
The Ransom: A Look Under the Hood
Thousands of pages of original documents, and hundreds of books and articles. Here are the historians and researchers on which the Haiti project drew.
6 Takeaways About Haiti’s Reparations to France
How did the modern world’s most successful slave revolt give birth to a desperately poor nation? Here is a summary of what a team of New York Times correspondents found out.