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 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.
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.
The UN Security Council may not agree on much but it is unanimous in urging Haiti to settle political differences and hold elections. The conditions for having an election are challenging - and flawed elections have made Haiti's situation worse in the past. Still, the current political impasse is untenable. As insecurity increases, gangs once again fill the void. Protests are frequent, the economy is not growing, and basic services do not reach those most in need. In short, the risk of collapse is real. An article by Miami Herald journalist Jacqueline Charles folllows.
There is a long history of peace-keeping operationa in Haiit - as well as a long history of peace-keepers exploting women and children. A Haitian court has ordered a former UN peacekeeper from Uruguay to pay child support to a women he impregnated in 2011. This case is a step towards justice for the mother and the child but it could also encourage more court cases nationally and globally. In Haiti alone, hundreds of children may have been fathered by UN peacekeepers. The full article by New Humanitarian Journalist Paisley Dodds follows.
One of the most distinctive aspects of Haitian culture is generousity. If you are well and truly screwed, somebody will step up to help you. Since the start of the pandemic, Haitian immigrant and Miami resident Doramise Moreau has cooked 1,000 meals a week on top of her job as a janitor. The next time a politician disparages Haiti or the Haitian Diaspora, let us remember and share stories about the kindness and decency of people like Doramise. The article in the Miami Times follows.
Haiti often seems to be perpetually instable, at a crossroads, at an impasse. It is important to remember though that Haiti is full of talented young people who, if given the opportunity, go on to do great things. Haiti is sorely in need of new leaders in government, in civil society, and in the private sector. The Haitian Education and Leadership Program (HELP) has long provided scholarships to high performing students in Haiti who would not otherwise be able to pursue higher education. On 26 February, HELP Haiti will hold a webinar in which several successful alumni will speak about their experiences with the program. Think about participating and supporting their work. More information follows as well as the registration link.