Teachers, religious leaders, lawyers, farmers and crisis veterans who thought they had seen it all in recent years saw with indignation the democracy they fought for wither, destroyed under President Jovenel Moise’s turn.
The snipers have attacked, and a drifting country now looks rudderless. Moses is dead, murdered in his own room, and the few leaders who remain in the country are so busy vying for his place that they haven’t even planned to bury him. It took them a week to announce that they had formed a committee to organize the ceremony.
“All these fights,” lamented Monique Clesca, a former UN official who met other Haitian leaders on Tuesday (13) at the bottom of a restaurant in the green suburb of Pétionville, a ten-minute drive from the place where the president was killed.
For months, as Haiti sank into crisis under Moïse’s government, with protests across the country and a parliament shrunk to a shell in the absence of an election, Clesca’s group, which consulted more than 100 popular organizations, met regularly, desperate to find the intention to make the country work again. Health care, active justice, schools, food: their goals were both fundamental and ambitious.
Now the crisis is even worse. The whole focus seems to be on who will become Haiti’s next ruler, she said. But the group wants the country to think big, reinvent itself and make a plan for a different future.
As Haitians did in 2010, when an earthquake killed more than 220,000 people and razed much of the capital, many are hoping that this crisis will provide an opportunity to start over and dream, but this time with better results. “It’s a horrible trauma,” said Magali Comeau Denis, businesswoman and former Minister of Culture and Communication, addressing the civic meeting. But, she said, “together we can be strong.”
In the restaurant, where the executives gathered in a performance area – there was sound equipment and drums set up on a nearby stage – the air was muggy, even with the rainy season breeze coming in. infiltrated. The atmosphere was militant. The power struggle will do nothing for ordinary Haitians, the leaders said. “The political solution will not be the real solution,” said Comeau Denis. “It will not take into account the deep demands of the population.
In any case, that seemed to be the usual policy for Haiti for the past week. When the United States, a longtime major player in the country, sent a delegation this weekend, it met the three politicians who are keen to seize power. But local activists working to make things better on the ground said they should join the conversation. Some were encouraged by President Joe Biden’s consensus request on Monday. “Haiti’s political leaders must unite for the good of the country,” he said.
But civic leaders meeting on Tuesday, known as the Commission, admitted they needed more time to find a broader consensus on where Haiti should go. They plan to hold a series of forums across the country to get ideas and agree on some priorities. Alarmed by entrenched corruption, activists want an investigation into accusations that money from a Venezuela-sponsored oil program called PetroCaribe has been embezzled.
Three condemnatory reports from the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Litigation revealed in detail that most of the $ 2 billion loaned to Haiti under the program has been embezzled or spent over eight years by a number of governments.
A week after the country woke up to the staggering news of the president’s assassination, the capital remains fearful and shocked. By day, the streets are again congested with the traffic of motorcycle taxis and tap-taps, local buses made from refurbished vans. At night, things change. As night fell on Monday, Port-au-Prince was plunged into darkness, looking more like the countryside than a thriving city of over a million people.
It was another blackout, which occurs more and more frequently and which Moise had promised to remedy, without success. The normally chaotic streets were deserted. Many of those who saw each other were lining up at gas stations. Gangs fighting fiercely in the city had all but shut down one of the country’s main highways, separating the capital from fuel supplies and causing shortages.
On Tuesday, a group of people asking for help sat at the door of St. Peter’s Church, which is opposite the police station, where many murder suspects were taken. There, angry crowds gathered last week, calling for justice. “We are heartbroken, he is missing,” said Dorecelie Marie Arselian, 75, of Moise. She wore a large straw hat and watched the barefoot children devour the noodles given to them by the Good Samaritans.
The Haitian government has declared 15 days of national mourning. In an executive order, he ordered that the flag be hoisted at half mast and that nightclubs and other establishments remain closed. He called on radio and television stations to broadcast appropriate music.
In Haiti, white is the color of mourning. Clesca was dressed in white when she met the other activists on Tuesday, but it was a coincidence, she said, and not to mark Moise’s death. She wore white for two full years after her mother died in 2016.
“One of the things she always said was, ‘Am I going to die without seeing a better Haiti?’ », Remembers Clesca. “Now my biggest fear is what will happen to my children. What will happen to Haiti? We have to fight. It is the only country we have.”