HAPPENINGS by RAJ
- Pancarte PetroCaribe Challenge, Jovenel Moïse behind bars.
October 17 will mark the 212th anniversary of the assassination of Haiti’s hero of independence, Jean-Jacques Dessalines. On that date, there is a callfor nationwide demonstrations to draw more attention on the $3.8 billion heist of the PetroCaribe Fund by government officials, from 2008 to 2016. Meanwhile, the government has announced a first : The Ministry of Education will organize all sorts of games throughout the country for the youth, in remembrance of that fateful day, only two years after the declaration of independence. Then there’s this intriguing information released Friday (Oct. 5) by the internet site “Loop News.” The Police, it is stated, deployed throughout the country to enforce a government decision to ban all demonstrations, including sit-ins, throughout the country, from October 14 to the 30th. Reactions were swift against the possibility of arbitrary cancellation of the nationwide civilian movement.
Despite denial on radio by a spokesperson of the Police saying the latter had not issued such order issued, a communiqué on the letterhead of the National Police, signed by Michel-Ange Gédéon himself, and states otherwise. Issued October 5, 2018 from the office of the General Director to the Central Directors, as well as to the Departmental (ministates) Directors, the seemingly official document states, “Dispositions to be taken :
“-Annul all vacation and permits so that your personnel will be ready for action beginning October 15 until further notice.
“-Identify and secure all strategic buildings in your jurisdictions (such as Parliament, the various ministries and State buildings, the National Penitentiary and other prisons, the seat of the SuperiorCourt of Accounting, the water reservoirs, the electric plants, specially the hydroelectric plant at Péligre, the public market places, the supermarkets, commercial centers, bridges, national as well as departmental roads, etc.)
“-Reinforce the surveillance of territorial and maritime borders.”
Considering what happened last July 6-8, following the government’s announcement of steep hikes on fuel prices, when rioters caused havoc in Port-au-Prince and surroundings, the Police seems to be getting ready for major disturbances throughout the country. It is a difficult task for approximately 15,000
members of the National Police to control a population of about 12 million spread over a mountainous country the size of the state of Maryland. Several Haitian citizens have taken to social media calling for “peaceful demonstrations.” Dignified demonstrations, most agree, will send a more powerful message to the world.
To be noted : October 17 is next Wednesday, exactly one week from today.
Since the launching of the #PetroCaribe Challenge in mid-August, the movement against the Haitian leadership, past and present, has been gaining ground inside Haiti as well as in Haitian communities abroad. Nevertheless, the official stand against impunity and corruption by the Catholic bishops of Haiti
has had the effect of a bombshell. The leadership of the Catholic Church has decisively joined the
citizensin the fight against the ills ravaging the nation.
On September 27, after a Plenary Assembly held in Cap-Haitien, Haiti’s second largest city, the bishops representing Haiti’s 10 regions, including the only Haitian cardinal and three bishops-emeritus, issued a wide-ranging communiqué of which we give excerpts.
*“We are living difficult moments in our history as a people.” “We can’t help but be concerned about the ills rav- aging our country. . . . Actually, we must acknowledge that our country issick. The illsthat gnaw
at us are: impunity, corruption and the violence of the armed gangs.” In addition to seeing, without any good reason, the one who was jailed for good cause going about freely.” Moreover, “Through impunity justice is trampled. And the lack of justice means a State of lawlessness.”
Other than impunity, there is corruption. “Another scourge is corruption. . . . As proof, take the PetroCaribe affair, which has provoked a healthy awakening of the people’s civic and patriotic
conscience. . . . Our greatest wish isto see justice reign, asthe final verdict of the institutions concerned are respected and applied as intended. That is also the desire of the whole nation.”
The appeal to fight against the ills that thwart the development of the country could not be stated more clearly. “ We, Catholic bishops of Haiti, urge allsons and daughters of the nation to look at this crisis as an opportunity to root out impunity, corruption, the violence of the armed gangs and, once and for all, to get the country from the slump in which it is mired.” For the full text and the signatures of the bishops, turn to pages 10 and 11.
This sortie of the Haitian Catholic bishops leaves the leadership of the Haitian Protestant clergy in an awkward situation. According to a dispatch, September 27, from the online Kapzy News, Brignol Dorcé, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Gonaïves, has stated that it is “the duty for the church to denounce
acts of corruption.” He urgesthe church to get involved and to support the PetroCaribe movement, adding, “The church is not only called upon to preach the gospel to sinners.” The national leaders of the Protestant denominations are put on notice.
President Moïse in Pearl River, N.Y., and in Manhattan did not escape Haitian demonstrators
As was previously reported, President Jovenel Moïse decided to meet members of the Haitian community at the Hilton Hotel in Pearl River, far from Brooklyn, Queens and New Jersey communities with large concentrations. Yet, even there, demonstrators showed up, shouting hostile slogans against the president and his associates responsible for the heist of $3.8 billion from the PetroCaribe Fund.
Nonetheless, the president was buoyed by some 200 people who showed up, including New York Assembly member Clyde Vanel who presented him a plaque, congratulating him for his determination to bring meaningful changes to Haiti.
In a 20-minute speech, President Moïse laid out some of his accomplishments during his 19 months in office: building 1,500 kilometers of roads throughout the land. In addition, they will not cost as much as in the past, because he has tackled corruption in that business. He discovered that an asphalt distributor
charged the State $3.85 per gallon of asphalt while buying it at $1.27, making a hefty profit of $2.48 on each gallon. Unfortunately, President Moïse did not say how many gallons of asphalt are used per kilometer. That would have helped in calculating the savings for the State. He noted, however, that he’s spending $200,000.00 instead of the $1.5 to $2.5 million per kilometer before.
Still on the corruption dossier, he discovered 23,000 “zombie” checks that is for inexistent State
employees. Yet he said nothing about who the perpetrators of the fraud are and howlong theywere at it. Neither did he say whether there have been arrests. Some analysts assert that bigwigs with official contacts in the system are probably involved, thus inhibiting the president from doing anything against them. There may be some truth to that, because in his September 26 speech, President Moïse declared that there are “people with powerful interests” who could “cause one to go to hell alive” if their interests were to be touched.In the same breath, without citing any name, hementioned a company that has a $10 million contract monthly spread over 15 months and which can pay itself directly by tapping into the State’s account at the Central Bank, whenever payment is late. Obviously, he was referring to one of the private electricity providers are accused of “selling blackout” to the clients.
President Moïse and histeam also ran into protesters in Manhattan on Thursday (Sept. 27) when the chief went shopping on Fifth Avenue and had stopped by the Haitian Consulate on Second Avenue. The noisy demonstrators had placards showing the president behind bars and were shouting : “To jail they belong.”
In his speech to the United Nations Assembly on Thursday, President Moïse rightly raised the issue of the cholera brought to Haiti in the fall of 2010 by Nepalese soldiers under the MINUSTAH, the UN Peace Mission to Haiti. Before Secretary General Ban Ki-moon left his post in December 2016, he finally admitted that the UN was “morally” obliged to help Haiti wipe out cholera. A $400 million fund to that end is far from reaching its goal.
Diplomatically, President Moïse made the International Monetary Fund (IMF) responsible for the fuel riots last July that brought down the government of Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant. Though the IMF urged the Haitian government to cut fuel subsidies to the public to get a loan from the international organization, it’s doubtful that the IMF would have pushed for immediate hikes of more than 100%.
President Moïse also asked help from the UN to end poverty in Haiti by 2030. He noted various sectors that need adequate funding to realize the goal. These include agriculture, education, electricity, health, potable water, reforestation and road infrastructure, giving a dollar amount for each sector. The total amounted to $2.8 billion. Comments on social networks aren’t tender toward the president. Invariably, people note that the $3.8 billion heist of the PetroCaribe Fund would cover all those expenses with one billion left for additional projects.
Based on the president’s speech in Rockland County and the hostility displayed toward him and his government by protestors and the critical comments on social media, one gets the impression that he’s way over his head. By just talking and taking no action, President Moïse proves himself under siege. In fact, when he landed in Haiti on September 28, from a week in New York, he faced another demonstration, this time from some people who called themselves “Original PHTK,” the “Bald-Headed Party” under whose banner he assumed power. They fault the president for ignoring them in distributing
governmental posts. They even mentioned two oftheir allies who were dismissed in the cabinet shakeup when the new Prime Minister came in three weeks earlier.
And now talks of “coup d’état” is in the air. On Monday, October 1st, Louis-Jodel Chamblain, who has participated in previous coups, was heard in an interview on a radio station in Port-au-Prince stating that “a coup is in the planning stage” against the president.The wouldbe plotters have weapons, but lack ammunition, Chamblain said, adding that he has both arms and ammunition but wouldn’t participate in any coup, unless they discuss with him about whetherwhat is being done is “in favor of the people.” He dismissed his questioner who said, “But with that declaration, the police could soon arrive at your place
to arrest you.” The following day, the District Attorney for Port-au-Prince issue a warrant for Chamblain to show up on Friday (Sept. 5) to his office. Nothing is said about whether that was done and what has resulted.
The social networks are abuzz about two Haitian-born Cana- dians who are bestowed the title of “Chancelor of the national Order of Quebec,” along with 32 others, for their contribution to society. Wilson Sanon was recognized for his research in sickle cell anemia. After two of his sons died from the hereditary disease, Dr. Sanon delved into research of the disease. His work in genetics has
made him a reference when discussing sickle cell anemia. He is President Director General of the “Sickle Cell Association of Quebec.” As for Patrick Paultre, the other Haitian-Canadian, he holds an engineering doctorate in paraseismic technology who has trained hundreds of others in the field. In recognizing him, mention was made of the sadness he feltwhen the 7.0 magnitude 2010 earthquake destroyed Port-au-Prince and surroundings causing more than 250,00 deaths and thousands of wounded, some having been amputated of limbs. Oddly, Haiti’s northwest re- gion,with its capital ofPort-de- Paix, was hit Saturday evening (Sept. 6) by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake that can’t compare with that of 2010. Based on preliminary official figures, the toll is 12 dead, 188 wounded, 23
homes destroyed and 18 damaged. It’s feared that those figures will go up as outlying areas are reached. On Sunday, tremors were felt in various parts of the country, including in suburbs east of Port-au-Prince. RAJ, October 10, 2018
Cet article est publié par l’hebdomadaire Haïti-Observateur, édition du 10 octobre 2018 et se trouve en P.1, 16 à : http://haiti-observateur.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/H-O-10-octobre-2018.pdf