- Haiti is officially becoming a gangster-state, apparently with international approval by Raymond A. Joseph
Events of the past week indicate that the Haitian government is moving full speed ahead in officializing the gangs that have caused havoc in the country. More troubling, however, is the apparent involvement of the international community, including the United States, in facilitating this turn of events.
On Sunday, June 21, Jimmy Chérizier, alias Barbecue, organized a parade with members of his “G9 Family,” a self-styled federation of gangs, in the vast shantytown of Grand Ravine, in Martissant, south of Port-au-Prince center city. Barbecue, it should be noted, is a 43-year-old former police officer, who has an outstanding warrant for his arrest. He is accused of having led the attack, in November 2018, against defenseless citizens in what has been declared the “La Saline Massacre,” during which more than 70 people, including the elderly, women and children were killed, their bodies thrown on heaps of garbage for swine to feed on. Last year both the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights weighed in with damning reports concerning that massacre.
Then, on Monday, June 22, Emmanuel “Toto” Constant landed at the Port-au-Prince international airport. He has been deported by the United States, after weeks of indecision, due to objection of some U.S. legislators, lawyers representing immigrants and human rights organizations. They pleaded against deporting that former strongman and infamous killer to Haiti, especially at a time that the country is besieged by problems of all sorts, including COVID-19.
Constant, 51 years old, we’ll point out, is wanted in Haiti for having conducted massacres of civilians during the reign of terror under the military government between 1991 and 1994, following the overthrow, September 30, 1991, of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Condemned in 2008 in a Brooklyn court for real estate fraud and larceny to 37 years in jail, he was released last April after serving only 12 years of his sentence. Constant has always maintained that he collaborated with the CIA when he ran his Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH).
Is it coincidental that these two infamous killers are projected in the forefront at this time when President Jovenel Moïse asserts that he will organize “democratic elections,” that he failed to hold for months?
By his actions, singlehandedly, he’s deprived the country of a Parliament since last January and has empowered himself to rule by decree. All this under the glare of the BINUH, that United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti which, in October of last year, replaced the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), itself having replaced the United Nations Mission for the Stability of Haiti (MINUSSTAH), which had been in the country since 2004. Under UN’s watch, the gangs have proliferated, to the point of being officially recognized. By their action, or inaction, the leaders of the international community, with the United States playing a key role in Haiti, have been rather cynical, as they’ve watched the evolution of the gangs. In that light, one questions the release of Toto Constant from jail after serving only one third of his sentence. One wonders also, what role the Federal government played in his early release, and what will be his new mission in Haiti.
A first-rate killer, will Toto Constant become an adviser to Barbecue, as the latter expands his “federation of gangs,” with sup port from the government? There’s a saying, “If you can’t fight them, then join them.” Would that be the reasoning behind Washington giving tacit approval to the formation of a new criminal organization in Haiti, styled after the Tontons-Macoute gestapo-like police of François “Papa Doc” Duvalier? After all, for years, during the Cold War period, Washington cuddled that ruthless murderer of a dictator who boasted about being a “bulwark against communism!”
Meanwhile, André Michel, the activist lawyer of the opposition “Democratic Sector” group, on Monday, June 22, denounced Jimmy Chérizier’s “alliance of criminals” and noted that before their deployment in Grand Ravine, they had a meeting among them where some government officials were present. Referring to the parade, he said, “To have such a deployment in full view of all, without being disturbed, is irrefutable proof that election is impossible with Jovenel Moïse in power.”
In its editorial, last week, the Haiti-Observateur aptly concluded: “What more eloquent testimony could there be to show that these criminals are enlisted in Jovenel Moïse’s private militia, the mission of which is to terrorize the population? Clearly, Barbecue had the blessing of the Head of State to carry out the Sun day activities in Grand Ravine.”
Meanwhile, two Haitian human rights organizations, the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (French acronym RNDDH) and “Foundation Je Klere” (Bright Eyes Foundation) released detailed reports in which names of police officers working with Barbecue are cited. Le Nouvelliste, the Haitian daily, ran a story last Thursday, June 26, publishing the names of five policemen, who accompanied Jimmy Chérizier in armor-plated police vehicles during the raids of May 23 to the 27th in the following neighborhoods of the capital considered strongholds of opposition groups: Pont Rouge, Nan Brooklyn, Chancerelles, Fort Dimanche and Tokyo. According to RNDDH, 34 people were killed, including three minors and six women, with eight more sustaining gun wounds.
Minister of Justice and Public Safety Lucmane Dellile denounced the human rights organizations during an impromptu press conference that same Thursday. The reports only show their anti-government bias, he said. “They’re the ones who defend the bandits when we decide to track them down,” he asserted, adding “but they say we are organizing massacres.”
Indeed, last month, the minister announced publicly that he planned to attack Village de Dieu, in Port-au-Prince’s southern section of the Bicentenaire, next to the bay area. He summoned residents, who are not allied to the bandits, to relocate within 72 hours. Of course, there was a general outcry about Delille’s announcement, which was interpreted as a message to help the bandits escape, while putting the whole community at risk of being decimated.
Contacted by Le Nouvelliste, Hervé Julien, Inspector general of the Haitian National Police, said he has begun an enquiry to “verify what is said in the RNDDH report.” Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe, also said he welcomed the report and everything will be done to find the underlying cause of police involvement, “with armor-plated police vehicles” no less, against the civilian population. President Moïse’s silence in the matter has been deafening.
However, more troubling is the attitude of Helen Meagher La Lime, head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH), who briefed the Security Council on the current situation in Haiti. Via videoconference, last Friday, June 26, La Lime, rightly, put the emphasis on COVID-19, explaining how Haiti was ill prepared to deal with an expected onslaught of the pandemic, and asked aid for the country. Though she said that the “vicious circle of mistrust, recrimination and ultimately violence” is intruding at a time when unity to fight the pandemic should be the main objective, she failed to say anything about the implication of the government in creating an atmosphere of fear, which is the root cause of the mistrust she has mentioned.
For La Lime, what is needed is “Constitutional reform” to break the cycle and create conditions for institutional stability, good governance and the rule of law, which she says are “three essential characteristics for the country to thrive.” She also mentions elections that must be held. Are these possible with President Moïse still in power? Who will trust him to undertake any “Constitutional reform?” What democratic elections can he oversee?
As things stand, the various UN missions to Haiti, going back to the 1994 “Operation Uphold Democracy,” can’t claim to have succeeded in stabilizing Haiti, in enhancing justice or in making the country more democratic. On the contrary! Now, after more than a quarter century of involvement in Haitian affairs, the UN comes across as being complicit in the rise of gangs being the masters of Haiti’s destiny. What a distinction to be added to UN’s legacy in Haiti of nearly 10,000 Haitians dead and more than 800,000 infected from the cholera brought to the country by UN troops, and hundreds of fatherless children left behind by its sex-craved so-called peacekeepers! RAJ, July 1st, 2020
Cet article est publié par l’hebdomadaire Haïti-Observateur édition du 1 juillet 2020, Vol. L, No.25, et se trouve à P. 1, 7 à : http://haiti-observateur.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/H-O-1-juillet-2020-1.pdf