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By Jean Denis Saint-Félix, SJ, Superior of the Jesuits in Haiti

Haiti is part of the Jesuit Province of Canada 

For some time now, Haiti has been in the midst of an accutely worrying sociopolitical crisis. There is a collective sense of frustration among the people whose desire is to stand strong and resilient in the face of a terribly harsh and disturbing reality. The people who have attempted to preserve their dignity in spite of the extreme ugliness of their situation that has been witnessed across the globe. We have reached a critical moment in our existence as a people, a time when we must break with this lamentable and untenable state of affairs, in order to usher in a new era. From a president in office who was shot in his home to a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that affected the southern area of the country to the inhumane deportation of our compatriots on the American border in search of a better life, we are now at a breaking point.  

We, Jesuits, in Haiti — like all Haitians and because we are close to the men and women of the country through our mission and our apostolates — are indeed experiencing the pain and frustration of daily life as a result of the current crisis.

The proliferation of armed gangs throughout much of the country has led to the forced displacement of thousands of Haitians from their homes, resulting in a painful state of insecurity. On the political level, there is absolutely no reason to be optimistic about the future; agreements are made and broken according to the dangerous tactics and manipulations of the so-called leaders and politicians.  

We, Jesuits, in Haiti — like all Haitians and because we are close to the men and women of the country through our mission and our apostolates — are indeed experiencing the pain and frustration of daily life as a result of the current crisis. The Jesuit Territory of Haiti of the Province of Canada has, in recent months, faced numerous challenges. Fr. Rogério Da Silva, SJ, at the end of his mission in Haiti, was kidnapped and detained, but the outcome was positive.

We continue to be attentive to the evolving sociopolitical situation, sharing with others our analysis and expertise and accompanying our people in their struggle for better living conditions. 

The premises of the Jesuit Service for Migrants (JSM) were completely burned down on October 4. Four of the Foi et Joie’s offices and its archives were destroyed. Chaos ensued as the wave of Haitian migration was intensifying due to the sociopolitical crisis that continues to consume our daily life. The JSM, a social apostolate, has been working on migration issues for more than 20 years — accompanying deported migrants, promoting their respect and dignity, and defending their rights. Administrative follow-up is ongoing, and we are counting on the support of our partners and friends to put Jesuits back on their feet, so that we can all continue our mission. 

We are more than convinced that the situation cannot remain as it is. The people have already suffered too much. Despite the very real risks, we continue our efforts to help make a difference. A commission was set up in the aftermath of the August 14 earthquake to provide a tangible and effective response to the victims, as was the case after Hurricane Matthew. We continue to be attentive to the evolving sociopolitical situation, sharing with others our analysis and expertise and accompanying our people in their struggle for better living conditions. 

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