Haiti: absurd and meaningless violence

June 20, 2019 — The Provincial of the Jesuit Province of Haiti, Jean Denis Saint-Félix, SJ, reported last week on the situation in the country, where demonstrators are protesting, among other things, for the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse. "We have this bitter impression that we have exhausted all the analysis mechanisms to properly understand the content, complexity and nuances of the humanitarian disaster that our country is currently experiencing, and has been for several years now," Fr. Saint-Félix said with regret. 

Jovenel Moïse was accused of embezzlement in a report by the Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes on the use of Petrocaribe funds. The Petrocaribe program allowed Haiti to have a preferential rate on Venezuelan oil, in return for a term repayment of this loan. 

Despite this report, the Club of Ambassadors of the so-called "Friends of Haiti" countries still supports Mr. Moïse, affirming that they must respect his mandate. "From a political point of view, this is a dead end," wrote Fr. Saint-Félix. Scandals, discredit, division and sclerosis characterize the political class. 

But several actors are trying to find solutions. Some 20 MPs are calling for the indictment of the head of state, who has been already abandoned by the Haitian private sector. The Church is also involved, by also positioning itself against Mr. Moïse, as well as against inaction and violence. 

The Metropolitan Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Max Leroy Mesidor, recently protested against the government's silence and revolting inaction by asking: "Who is leading this country? "Mesidor says he doesn't believe in the spontaneity of this violence. "It is organized," he maintains. And that is the opinion of almost the entire population, respected intellectuals and ordinary citizens. In addition to the voices of Catholic bishops, we are witnessing as well many initiatives from the Protestant sector, such as press releases inviting parliamentarians to focus more on the common good. 

This situation is causing unrest on the streets of Port-au-Prince and the main cities in the region. The angry demonstrators "attack almost everything on their way: buses, vehicles, shops, private homes, public institutions." Schools are therefore closed, and cases of rape, armed robbery and serious criminal incidents are reported. Several people were even murdered, including Rospide Pétion, journalist and presenter of Radio Sans Fin. "We see violence that is gratuitous and only directed against the ordinary people who are already struggling to access basic social services." The economy is also affected: all economic activities are at half mast, public markets are mostly deserted, tourism (one of the most promising sectors in the country) has almost stopped. 

Since February the country has not been governed. Society is gangstruck. Physical and moral violence and hunger are taking hold in our neighbourhoods and lounges. The fear is palpable. The safety of the lives and property of citizens is far from being guaranteed. Freedom of the press is under serious threat. To paraphrase Marie-Vieux Chauvet, we have the impression of dancing on a volcano. 

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