This is not the first time that insecurity, poverty, a compromised police force, and a polticial power vacuum has enabled a surge in kidnappings. What is different this time is both the extent and the methods - police officers, doctors, priests, and entire busses of people have been kidnapped. Both rich and poor are vulnerable. The companies that continue to operate in Port au Prince are moving their staff into compounds, transporting them in armored cars, and some are commuting by boat to avoid the roads entirely. In this environment, instability will persist, the economy will not grow, and those who can will leave through either regular or irregular means will do so. As is so often said, Haiti is at a crossroads - the way ahead is uncertain. The full article by Washington Post contributor Anthony Faiola and Widlore Merancourt follows.
While the United States scrambles to resettle Afghan refugees, Haitian asylum seekers are being deported en masse. Many have experienced or witnessed human rights abuses but are being returned without a proper hearing. The UN Refugee Agency has expressed concern that these returns may violate international law. Human Rights Watch and many other advocacy organisations, domestic and internatrional, have denounced these returns from an administration that campaigned on making the asylum process humane and transparent. The Diaspora and its partners are mobilzing to demand due process and dignity. More information follows in the article by Washington Post journalists Tim Craig, Sean Sullivan, and Silvia Foster-Frau below.
The investigation into the assassination of Haitian Presien Jovenal Moise has broadened to include law enforcement in both Haiti and South Florida, including finding those who provided logistical and/or financial support. Part of the investigation is being carried out in Colombia given the significant role of hired Colombian mercenaries, both in custody and at large. The full article by Miami Herald journalists Kevin Hall, Jacqueline Charles, and Jay Weaver follows.
The Haitian President has been killed in his home and his wife wounded. He came into power in 2017 and has been ruling by decree since January 2020. While he did little to address Haiti's underlying issues, and may in fact have made them worse, neither he nor his wife deserved this. The former president's seventh prime minister had not been nominated yet, the President of the Supreme Court died of COVID, and the path ahead for replacing the President is unclear. Amongst all of Haiti's problems, the government is now in disarray. The full article by Miami Herald Journalists Jacqueline Charles and Johnny Fils-Aime is below with updates to follow.
The U.S State Department has releaed its 2021 Trafficiking in Persons (TIP) reports. Haiti is "Tier 2" country meaning it is falling short in many areas. The economic downtown, political instability, and conflict increased vulnerability. Of note, the government did not make efforts to combat child domestic slavery with estimates of the number of restaveks in Haiti as high as 300,000. The number of street children has likely increased and "orphanage entrepeneurs" continue to operate unlicensed shelters as profit-making enterprises. The concrete steps Haiti could take to improve prevention and response are laid out in the Haiti section of the report copied below.
Haiti has yet to deliver a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine. There are many reasons for this - a weak government, political instability, an already over-burdened health system, other pressing problems such as gang violence, and a false sense of confidence that the pandemic would affect Haiti only minimally. According to the Miami Herald, USAID announced a $16.1 million commitment to assist Haiti in the battle against COVID-19, it was providing lab equipment, disease surveillance, hand-washing stations and 50 oxygen concentrators to be distributed to 16 hospitals. It remains to be seen whether Haiti will be able to secure and use vaccines that the United States could provide. The full article by Jacqueline Charles is linked and copied below.
Haiti's poor governance, failure to address the underlying causes of political instability, and weak response to COVID-19 continue to disproportionately affect the vulnerable. UNICEF estimates severe childhood malnutrition may double this year. Humanitarian assistance can and should be used to save the lives of malnutritioned children - but until the Haitian government has the will, capacity and resources to address the needs of its people, food security will remain the perpetual struggle. The full article by Associated Press journalists Pierre Richard Luxama and Danica Coto follows.
The Biden Administration will now allow Haitians who were in the United States as of May 21 ro apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This will protect Haiitians from being deported which is especially important given the ongoing pandemic, political instability, as well as kidnappings and other forms of violence that come with it. This also gives Haitians, who are nothing if not hard working, the freedom to work legally so they can contribute to the communities where they live. More information on this welome development from the Miami Herald's Jacqueline Charles follows below.
Haiti is a religious country and social movements, when they take off, often have the participation of its faith communities. The Catholic Church has closed its institutions for three days to demand the release of kidnapped priests and nuns. Regardless of religious affiliation, nobody is safe until the present political crisis is resolved, the country has a government that actually governs, and security can be restored. It is time for the faith communities to work together in making that happen. The full article on the strike by AP journalist Evens Sanon follows.
Haiti has many surnames including "Poorest Country in the Western Hemisphere", "Republic of 10,000 NGOs, and "at a Crossroads". For all is beauty and potential, it remains held back by poor governance, political intsability, and crushing poverty. It's a hard narrative to change when most of the coverage is of flawed elections (or no elections), power struggles, and protests. If the Haitian government truly wants to change how it is viewed it needs to show that it cares about and invests in its own people. The Miami Herald Editorial Board recommends starting with COVID vaccination - which has not yet taken place. It would be a start.