Hapenings. Since it will be Sunday, probably people will be going to church

Hapenings by RAJ

It’s happening on November 18, four days from now. Since it will be Sunday, probably people will be going to church. Isn’t that what most Christians do on Sunday ? But in Haiti, this Sunday will be totally different. Perhaps some Catholics will go to the Four o’clock Mass, if that tradition is still followed. Or, the pews may be less full because some congregants want extra sleep to be fully ready for the big day that this Sunday will be. Services probably will be cancelled at many Protestant churches because the pews could be empty otherwise. In fact, some pastors have taken the day off. As for the Voodooists, their schedule is more flexible, especially since their meetings usually take place at night.

November 18 is “Day of Indignation!” Others say “Day of Reckoning!” Yes, that is the day that most Haitian organizations have chosen to continue their demand that the government account for the $3.8 billion of the PetroCaribe Funds, which was embezzled and wasted by government officials during an eight-year span, from 2008 to 2016. As reported, the PetroCaribe Fund was set up to help Haiti’s development with profits made from the sale of discounted Venezuelan petroleum products. The program was the brainchild of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who was building a power base throughout the region to counter increasing pressure from Washington for his socialist policies and alliance with the communist regime in Cuba.

The Sunday nationwide March is a sequel to the October 17 one which drew approximately 3 million people in almost all Haitian cities asking three questions in Creole : “KoT KŌB PETWoKARIBE A?” “BARE VoLĒ Yo”. “MARE VoLĒ Yo”. (“Where is the PetroCaribe Money?” “Corner the Thieves.” “Handcuff the Thieves.”)

Following the impressive October 17 March, the government made some cosmetic changes. President Jovenel Moïse dismissed 18 advisers at the Palace, including the two top ones –Wilson Laleau and Yves Germain Joseph―whose names appear in two separate reports of the Senate Ethics and Anti-Corruption commission that carried an extensive investigation of the Petro-Caribe heist. Also, Prime Minister Jean-Henry Céant vowed to get to the bottom of the Petro-Caribe affair. To that end he said he would set up a commission widely representative of civil society to review all the documents relating to PetroCaribe.

Almost all the organizations that were contacted declined participation. They believe that a new commission is a stratagem to further delay any trial of those mentioned in the reports as responsible for the biggest theft in Haiti’s history. Gary Bodeau, Speaker of the House, was first to say he disagrees with the idea of a civilian commission. Understandably so, for the Senate already carried out two detailed investigations.

Others were quite critical of the Prime Minister’s commission. Senator Patrice Dumont said, “By deciding to create a commission to look into PetroCaribe, the Prime Minister and the President can hardly hide the fact that they don’t believe in the existence of the State.” In other words, the work done by the Senate commission is worthless. Moreover, President Moïse is going against his own words. Did not he say that he had influenced the Senate to send the Senate report to “La Cour supérieure des comptes et du contentieux administratif” (French acronym CSC/CA)? That’s the government agency which oversees financial transactions by government entities. And the CSC/CA already announced that its report would be ready in January.

The journalist Roberson Geffrard of the Port-au-Prince daily Le Nouvelliste, issued a tweet, October 25, asking Prime Minister Céant some pertinent questions : “Did the Latin American countries and the Dominican Republic create commissions to shed light on Oderbrecht?”

That’s the major Brazilian firm which was caught in an elaborate web of corruption in several countries in Latin America and in the Dominican Republic. Millions of dollars in bribes were given to high government officials in several countries to facilitate Oderbrecht in obtaining fat government contracts on the cheap. The journalist continued: “Did Brazil set up a civilian commission to look in the Petrobras [scandal]?”

The upshot of it all is that no commission has been set up yet. Some of the people fired four days after the October 17 March have been reinstated in their posts. Not the two highest officials who were replaced by individuals who had been at the Palace under the dictatorship of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier.

It’s in this context that the November 18 marches throughout the country will take place. This time many of the demonstrators are asking for more than a trial. For example, the self-styled “Democratic and Popular Sector” issued a communique on Monday in which it said “Our objectives are: 1. The realization of the PETROCARIBE trial; 2. The resignation of Jovenel Moïse who’s the main obstacle to the completion of the PETROCARIBE trial; 3. The organization of the National Sovereign Haitian Conference with inclusive participation of all to set up the foundation for the emergence of a new social project.” Signing are Schiller Louidor, Marjory Michel and André Michel.

To be noted, Mr.Michelis the lawyer who successfully filed complaints for about 60 plaintiffs against several officials involved in the looting of the PetroCaribe Fund. Both representatives of the United Nations and of the United States in Haiti had applauded the citizens who decided to take the matter to court. But the court seems to be overtaken by the street. November 18 is indicative of the defeat of the French slave masters on that date in 1803, six months to the day after the various warring factions against the French had agreed to fight under one flag and one leadership, with the motto “L’Union Fait la Force.” (“In Unity There’s Strength.”)

What about an impressive march in Cap-Haitian last Saturday?

Last Saturday, November 10, one week and a day shy of the announced countrywide march of November 18, a mammoth demonstration throughout the narrow streets of Cap-Haitian was impressive. Was former presidential candidate Moïse Jean-Charles showing his popularity or was he distracting people from the issue at hand : the PetroCaribe Challenge ?

The organizer of the successful march is the flashy leader of the “Pitit Dessalines Party,” the “Children of Dessalines” political party, which has a strong base in Haiti’s second largest city. By starting the march at Vertières, he was sending a powerful message. That’s where the last battle for independence occurred on November 18, 1803. After 12 years of guerilla warfare and pitched battles, the rag-tag army of former slaves defeated the seasoned troops of Napoléon Bonaparte.

Before leaving Vertières where there’s a monument in memory of the veterans, Mr. Moïse lowered the Red-and-Blue Haitian flag and raised the Red-and-Black flag that Jean-Jacques Dessalines had adopted for his empire. Soon after independence was declared on January 1st, 1804, Dessalines, the liberator, dropped his title of Governor General and assumed that of Emperor, with the title of Jacques 1st. He also chose the Red-and-Black to replace the original Red-and-Blue flag created at Arcahaie, on May 18, 1803.

Interestingly, Dessalines is the originator of the Red-and-Blue, when he tore the white from the middle of a French flag and gave the two other pieces to Catherine Flon to sow. Considering that independence resulted from the unity of the Black and the mulattoes, the unilateral declaration of an empire by Dessalines was a major faux-pas that would lead to his assassination on October 17, 2006 at Pont Rouge, on the northern outskirts of Port-au-Prince.

Following the emperor’s assassination, Haiti was divided into North and South, a situation that continued until the death, in 1820, of Dessalines’ successor, Haiti’s sole king, Henri Christophe, who chose the title of Henry 1st. Thus, the unilateral action of Moïse Jean-Charles to, illegally, raise a new flag in the north is resurrecting an old controversy that died in 1820 when Jean-Pierre Boyer reunited the country, following the suicide of King Henry 1st with a self-inflicted bullet to the temple. At this time unity is the watchword as we demand KoT KŌB PETWoKARIBE A? BARE VŌLĒ Yo. MARE VŌLĒ Yo. (Where’s the PetroCaribe Money ? Corner the Thieves. Handcuff the Thieves.) RAJ november 14, 2018. 

P.S.―Before going to press, we saw this editorial of Raphaël Théoma Daniel over Galaxie FM, on november 13. According to the editorialist, the monument at Vertières is abandoned, having become a cesspool. no flag has flown over the monument since God only knows.

Therefore, Moïse Jean-Charles has only taken over an abandoned monument to the shame of the authorities who claim to be patriotic. Probably Mr. Jean-Charles intends to clean up the place in the name of which a nationwide demonstration is taking place.

Still, raising a flag, which is causing controversy, is detrimental to what’s happening. The Prime Minister already issued a rebuke of the act, but came short of ordering the arrest of Mr. Jean-Charles. That could be inflammatory, and a major distraction to the matter at hand : The nationwide demonstration against the spendthrift of the $3.8 billion from the PetroCaribe Fund. RAJ.

Cet article se trouve en P. 1, 16 de l’édition du 14 novembre 2018 de l’hebdomadaire Haïti-Observateur et, est à : http://haiti-observateur.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/H-O-14-novemebe-2018.pdf