HAPPENINGS par RAJ
- A dismal start for the new Prime Minister
The new Prime Minister,Joseph Jouthe, announced by presidential tweet early Monday morning, March 2, before an official decree later that day by President Jovenel Moïse, was inaugurated on Wednesday, March 4. In his inaugural speech, he set the tone for the government he would lead. It will be subservient to the Head of State.
In his inaugural speech, Mr. Jouthe said: “When I entered the President’s office, I had my head full of my own ideas. When I left the office, I came out with my head full with his own ideas.”In other words, the Prime Minister will be implementing President Moïse’s policies. One wonders what they are?
For sure, they must have discussed the prevailing situation of in security in Haiti where gangs are turning certain parts of the country, including in the capital, into zones of no man’s land where they take their kidnapped victims, American citizens included, while negotiating their ransom?
However, other than insecurity, there are issues of priority, such as hunger haunting one third of the population of 11 million. What did the Prime Minister think about corruption that gangrenes the Haitian administration? Early in his presidency, Mr. Moïse had declared war against corruption. During a visit to New York for the UN General Assembly in September 2017, he had declared in a speech that Haiti was suffering from a major ill: “Corruption, corruption, corruption, corruption, corruption.” Imagine that, he said it five times.
That was then, but the president has been mute on the question ever since. In fact, the State Auditors, La Cour supérieure des comptes et du Contentieux administrative (CSC/CA), said in its second report, last May, on the PetroCaribe Fund that before he was sworn into office, businessman Jovenel Moïse had used his companies, including a bogus one, “in an embezzlement scheme” to defraud the Fund. Certainly, Prime Minister Jouthe won’t address corruption in the administration. And forget PetroCaribe!
The same day the Prime Minister was inaugurated, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince issued a statement in which it said that it would work with Moïse and Jouthe, but urged them to improve security and economic growth and “organize free, fair and credible legislative elections, as soon as technically feasible.” It’s an illusion to believe that this team can organize any “free, fair and credible” elections. With what electoral cards when the existing ones are being replaced by Dermalog, a German company which was given a contract under the table, without CSC/CA approval, to produce new cards? It’s a set-up to rig all elections.
The day after the Prime Minister’s inauguration, the U.S. State Department issued “Travel Warning level 4,” the highest such warning, concerning Haiti. “Do not travel to Haiti, due to crime, civil unrest and kidnapping. ”
That’s no way to treat a friend, according to Prime Minister Jouthe. In an interview he gave to the Port-au-Prince daily Le Nouvelliste, published Friday, March 6, the day after the Travel Warning, Mr. Jouthe said in his meeting with U.S. Ambassador Michele B. Sison, he discussed the State Department warning to American travelers and other points concerning the cooperation between the two countries. He emphasized, he said, that it’s not the moment for the American State Department to put Haiti back at the level 4.
Le Nouvelliste quotes the Prime Minister who was quite expansive: “As far as I am concerned, it’s not the moment. For two weeks before, I knew that this was coming. I spoke to the State Department, to the U.S. Treasury and to the White House to ask them to revise the warning. Unfortunately, they went ahead and made it public. I have asked them again to rethink what has been done.” (Translation ours)
Indeed, it’s unfortunate for Haiti, but Prime Minister Jouthe and President Moïse should know, that unlike them who could care less about what happens to Haitian citizens, the U.S. officials are very concerned about the kidnapping of some American citizens in Haiti.
Meanwhile, according to Le Nouvelliste, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, put out a tweet acknowledging that “Ambassador Sison indeed did meet with Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe to discuss urgent work to be undertaken by the new government on behalf of the Haitian people as far as security is concerned, the fight against corruption and relaunching economic growth and the organization of free, fair and credible legislative elections.” (Translated from French)
Based on the foregoing, relations between the protectors of the Moïse Jouthe administration and the protected themselves are not what they should be, especially only days after the Prime Minister was inaugurated. Apparently, the Prime Minister doesn’t feel very secure either. In his interview, Mr. Jouthe said: “My management is based on results. And if I can’t provide the results, I must give the place to someone else. We can’t have a country functioning in this manner.” He didn’t say exactly what manner, but we get the idea.
A hard-hitting editorial yesterday (March 1t0)in the Miami Herald puts the U.S. administration on notice: “Haiti’s Jovenel could turn into an autocrat. The U.S. can’t let that happen.” The first paragraph opens with “Haiti is a rolling, boiling mess. But, in so many ways it’s our mess too. Haiti suffers in our hemisphere and for South Florida, it’s our back yard.
We can’t publish the whole editorial without first getting permission. But this paragraph tells the story as it is: “. . .Where the administration has gone after Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro, a veritable dictator who has overstayed his welcome and whose incompetence has tanked the country’s economy, undercut its legal institutions and sent millions of citizens fleeing across its borders, it has been too passive in thwarting Haiti’s dubious leader.” (bold type ours.)
Of course, there’s a reason for the U.S. administration to cuddle “Haiti’s dubious leader,” because he had joined Washington in condemning the Maduro administration, ending Haiti’s centuries-old friendship with Venezuela, to be in the company of Washington. Though top officials in Washington may not say it publicly, they may think of their Haitian “friend” in terms attributed to Franklin D. Roosevelt, in remarks made in 1939 about the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasia Somoza Garcia. He supposedly said: “Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.” RAJ, March 11, 2020
Cet article est publié par l’édition de l’hebdomadaire Haïti-Observateur du 11 mars 2020 VOL. L No. 8, et se trouve en P. 7 à : http://haiti-observateur.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/H-O-11-March-2020-1.pdf