The 2019 Crises And Protests In Haiti

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Ongoing protests against the current Haitian President have recently intensified across the country. According to local sources, 17 people have been killed and nearly 200 injured since violence escalated around four weeks ago. The protests have directly impacted local infrastructure, most notably the health sector. Hospitals have been strained to close due to access constraints and a lack of medical supplies and staff. Education has also been affected, where according to some sources, nearly 2 million children are unable to attend school due to closures as a result of the unrest. Many humanitarian organizations have had to suspend their operations, including WFP, due to security concerns and lack of fuel. Demonstrations calling for the resignation of the Haitian President, Jovenel Moise, have been recurring throughout the country for over a year; in June, protests resulted in 2 deaths and four injuries. 

However, the heightened level of violence in recent weeks reflects the deteriorating economic and political situation. Haiti is facing a sharp deterioration of the political and socio-economic situation. The political opposition organized a large demonstration on June 9, calling for the President’s resignation, which gathered several thousand Haitians in Port-au-Prince and other major cities. The demonstration turned violent, with roadblocks and looting reported. Three deaths have been linked to the demonstrations, cars were burned, and buildings were damaged. On June 10, commercial activities were limited, and schools remained closed. 

The unfolding situation has resulted in the cancellation of the mission of EU Member States’ humanitarian counselors to the UN this week. Haiti is facing a large-scale food emergency, with 37% of the rural population needing humanitarian food assistance.

Haiti’s humanitarian crisis is currently vastly underfunded (<10%) and is, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the most underfunded crisis in the world in 2019.

Overview Of The Political And Economic Crises In Haiti In 2019 Currently, Haiti is going through one of its worst crises ever. Practical international community involvement is urgently required. Since a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the nation on August 14, 2021, Haiti has been experiencing a severe food and security crisis. 

About 4.5 million people in the nation are severely food insecure. Haiti’s inflation rate has reached 26%, and the crisis between Russia and Ukraine is causing food prices to rise quickly. Along with these economic problems, the nation has seen violent battles between armed factions since June 2021, negatively influencing social and economic life in Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital. The people of Haiti are rife with anxiety and worry.

When the Haitian government declared in 2018 that it would gradually end gasoline subsidies, there was a great deal of protest. Protests against Jean-Charles Mose’s administration and his proposed constitutional referendum grew in 2019 and then again in 2021. 

These protests were met by the police using disproportionate force. President Moise was killed, and his wife was injured when armed men broke into their Port-au- Prince home due to the political tension that had built up. Only five weeks later, the nation saw a devastating earthquake that destroyed entire neighborhoods and claimed more than 2,000 lives. Following this, gang violence and political unrest sharply intensified, throwing Haiti into a severe crisis. 

Street protests have been growing recently due to lousy leadership, insecurity, gasoline shortages, and price rises. According to an assessment by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), gangs are thought to control more than a third of the capital city. The assassination of the President sparked gang warfare, which later got out of hand and affected the country’s economy, food security, oil supply, and transportation system.

Due to its vulnerability to hazards, Haiti has seen back-to-back disasters, including a significant earthquake in 2010, a hurricane in 2016, and another earthquake in 2021. Additionally, the nation’s agricultural industry has been gradually declining, leaving it dependent on imports for more than half of its food needs. The country’s farmers went bankrupt when the rice tariff in Haiti was reduced from 30% to virtually nil in the 1980s. The nation has also experienced ongoing gang violence throughout its history. Haiti’s economic situation has worsened in the current global environment due to the war in Ukraine driving up petroleum costs. Fuel expenditures have become unaffordable nationwide due to growing prices and government fuel subsidies.

The difficulties facing Haiti may be categorized into three main categories. First off, with a non-functional parliament and only a few operating public institutions, the government is now governed in a very constitutional manner. Second, with half the nation under the hands of criminal gangs with significant political ties, citizen protection is practically nonexistent. Finally, the nation is experiencing severe economic hardships. In Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince, one in five children in Haiti under five are acutely malnourished. Any one of these difficulties would be extremely overwhelming for a nation to face on its own. Its descent into one of the biggest crises in its history was made worse because these all came undone simultaneously.

In a recent statement, the Organization of American States (OAS) said that the world community was to blame for the crisis currently engulfing Haiti. According to the report, “the international community’s presence in Haiti over the past 20 years has amounted to one of the greatest and most glaring failures implemented and carried out within the context of any international collaboration.” While the organization’s recognition of the role that foreign players played in the current situation that Haiti is experiencing was positive, the fact that it continued by asserting that only the international community could resolve this catastrophe is troubling. It declared that the “core group”—Haiti’s self- declared guardians consisting of ambassadors from nations such as the United States (US), France, Spain, Brazil, Germany, Canada, and the European Union, as well as officials from the United Nations and the OAS, must provide funds to pay the bill and aid Haiti in resolving its crisis. 

The core group has repeatedly turned to criminally motivated factions worldwide, many of whom are Haitians, expecting them to bring stability to such crisis-torn countries, so expecting them to rescue the country from the political and economic destruction it is currently experiencing is pretty ironic. The criminal groups in Haiti have merely retaliated against the leading group by intensifying corruption, instability, economic and social damage, and gangs with their kidnapping, rape, murder, and mayhem, further compounding the problems faced by the common Haitian. 

As if this were not enough, the nation now lacks a functioning legal system to handle prosecutions against these thugs. Moreover, Haiti’s jail system is already overloaded. Educated Haitians believe that leaving their nation is the only practical choice, and many apply for asylum in the US. The Biden administration has quickened the return of Haitians, nevertheless.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) Opposition leaders are calling for a nationwide push Monday to block streets and paralyze Haiti’s economy as they press President Jovenel Moïse to give up power. Tens of thousands of their young supporters were expected to heed the call. People stood in lines all day Sunday under a brutal sun to get water, gasoline, and other essential supplies before a round of protests that many worried would turn more violent than a demonstration Friday, during which several homes and businesses were burned as police fired tear gas at protesters. 

Several people have died in the past three weeks amid the political clashes. “I have a feeling that the country is going to change,” said Yves Bon Anée, a mason standing next to eight empty plastic jugs that he would fill with gasoline at $2 a gallon for friends, family, and himself. He planned to resell his portion to make money because he could not find work in weeks. He continued, “My kids are suffering,” referring to his three young boys.

According to opposition leaders and supporters, a lack of gasoline has forced many gas stations in the city to close because suppliers want the cash-strapped government to pay them more than $100 million that is owed to them. They also hold government corruption and rising prices responsible. Additionally, protesters call for a more thorough inquiry into claims that senior government figures misappropriated billions of dollars from a Venezuela-subsidized oil plan to finance critical social projects. 

Despite the upheaval, Moise, who took office in 2017, has stated he would not resign. Instead, during a speech broadcast on television at 2 a.m. on Wednesday, he asked for peace, harmony, and discussion. Since the beginning of the most recent protest wave around three weeks ago, the president has made few public appearances.

Professor Laurent Dubois, an authority on Haiti at Duke University, predicted that the nation will become increasingly impasse until the parties compromise. There is a lot of worry and dread that Haiti is headed in a path we have not seen in a while, he added. Haitian history is entering a new phase. Still, it will be impossible to foresee what it will bring. As required by law if a president steps down, opposition leaders calling for Mose’s resignation say they anticipate a transitional administration following the appointment of the top judge of Haiti’s Supreme Court.

The country’s middle class has declined, according to André Michel, an attorney, and professor of human rights, who claimed that Haiti’s existing political system had caused suffering, underdevelopment, and corruption that have led to poverty.

Michel urged the world community to support the overthrow of Moise. He stated that Haiti needed to construct a new society and state. The people’s will is evident, Michel declared. “He will plunge the nation into turmoil if he persists on staying in office.”

At a press conference on Sunday, opposition leaders asked the large crowd of supporters to begin blocking roadways and to assist them in finding Mose, whom they claim has fled. Opposition Sen. Youri Latortue, who has always refuted corruption claims leveled against him by American officials more than ten years ago and who once headed a party affiliated with Mose’s Tet Kale group, was one of those leading the campaign to identify Moise.

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