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Gangs and hurricanes | The multiple challenges of a Haiti without effective governance practicing the policy of the empty chair

  • May 8, 2024
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The “Presidential Transitional Council” appears more as a formal designation than as a tangible manifestation of effective governance. Indeed, concrete actions from the government are absent, leaving the field open to gangs and the insecurity that results from them. The fact that members of the former defeatist government Tèt Kale 3-SDP-Fusion-RDNP-Inite… continue to occupy key positions in this new team calls into question the real nature of the change hoped for and long awaited by tens of millions of Haitians on the ground and off.

Haiti is plunged into a deep humanitarian crisis as gang violence ravages the capital, Port-au-Prince, and residents now fear the approach of hurricane season.

The surge in gang violence has displaced 360,000 people from their homes, forcing them to seek shelter in makeshift accommodation such as tents, parking lots and schools. Despite the transitional government’s communication efforts, the reality on the ground paints a very gloomy picture. “The country is still not managed or administered.” Administrative inefficiency is blatant, symbolized by the retention of members of the old team within the new government. This continuity in power only perpetuates systemic dysfunctions.

The selection of Patrick Michel Boisvert as de facto Prime Minister, without any precise legal or constitutional procedure, raises the question of the legitimacy of his authority. This institutional confusion is exacerbated by the persistence of gang violence, tragically evoked by the deadly attack on innocent bus passengers Tuesday afternoon.

One expert, speaking to the New York Times, warned of the looming threat of hurricane season, which could trigger a “catastrophe.” Pierre Marie Boutin, an agent of the civil protection agency, lamented: “They arrived by public transport with all their household goods – beds, mattresses and furniture. In a month hurricane season will begin, and we are not ready. In the event of a disaster, we are helpless. We have nothing, and the consequences would be truly disastrous. »

Laurent Uwumuremyi, Haiti director for Mercy Corps, a US-funded humanitarian organization, also confirmed, saying: “Many people are living in small makeshift shelters. In view of the current situation and its evolution since the end of February, it seems unlikely that an improvement is imminent. »

The United Nations, accused of “blessing the gang federation”, has warned that the number of displaced people is expected to exceed 400,000, with hundreds of unaccompanied children, including orphans, arriving in temporary camps.

The escalation of gang violence earlier this year coincided with efforts by then-Prime Minister Ariel Henry to negotiate a unilateral and unconstitutional deal that would see Kenyan police officers move into Haiti to confront gangs on mission. . During Henry’s absence from the country, gangs launched attacks on prisons and the main airport.

Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, Haiti’s best-known terrorist gang leader, acting as a puppet in the hands of powerful political-financial institutions, allegedly pushed Henry to resign under the threat of civil war and -called “genocide”.

A United Nations expert recently described Haiti as an “open-air prison” as the country’s situation reaches “apocalyptic” proportions. William O’Neill, the UN-designated independent human rights expert based in New York, said: “Schools, hospitals, key government institutions – everything is at risk right now. Port-au-Prince and its surroundings resemble an open-air prison. There is no way to escape – by air, land or sea. In fact, it’s not even that much open air anymore because residents are afraid to leave their homes. »

Regarding reports of child recruitment by gangs, he expressed serious concern, saying: “This development is extremely worrying. The gangs have directed their violence against people they view as a threat to their continued dominance in the territories they control. »

The bitter observation that real power in Haiti is often determined by foreign powers accentuates the fragility of national sovereignty. In this climate of political instability and the imminent threat of hurricanes, the Haitian people remain prisoners of uncertainty and helplessness.