Warped Lens

Jovenel Moise to Assume Haiti’s Presidency Under Cloud of Corruption

Jovenel Moise / Photo Credit: Yoani Sánchez

Jovenel Moise / Photo Credit: Yoani Sánchez

By Garry Pierre-Pierre

Jovenel Moise’s story sounded more like an American dream than a Haitian one. A year and a half ago, Moise, a political neophyte, was introduced to the Haitian public as the handpicked candidate of Michel Martelly to replace the outgoing president.

Here is the narrative that was spun for Moise. Moise is a self-made, dark-skinned man from the provinces. He came of modest means and went on to become independently wealthy. He was measured in speech and showed humility and humbleness. In short, he is the antithesis of the quintessential people who have risen to power in our politically and socially troubled homeland.

But there is another side to this yarn.

Now with less than a week before Moise is sworn as president of Haiti, we are learning that his narrative may be unraveling. Moise, has been accused of money laundering. Even by Haiti’s lack of respect for the rule of law, those are no small charges.

According to the Miami Herald, a judge is investigating a report by the government’s financial crimes unit indicating Moise may have laundered millions of dollars through at least one local bank, and a separate claim that he received special treatment to obtain thousands of dollars in business loans.

The investigation was initiated in 2013 after a bank contacted the financial crimes unit about suspicious transactions, said Sonel Jean-François, head of the unit that investigates money laundering.

This report was leaked in the Fall during the presidential campaign, but it received little traction until recently.

When I first heard of Moise and heard him speak, I was impressed. He came across as a humble man who is of the people and for the people. But there was something about his story that had me suspicious not only out of professional skepticism, but because Haiti has not shed its prejudices, and walls diving class and color remain as solid as a slob of granite. His story seemed to me like something created by political operatives familiar with American-style campaigning. Moise remained on message and kept his foot to the pedal during the race while other candidates vacillated when confusion reigned on the trail.

To be sure, we don’t know if Moise is guilty of these charges and am using the American standard that he is innocent until proven otherwise. But I am troubled by these accusations because once again, Haiti will swear in a new leader with his legitimacy being in question. If he is able to weather this storm, he will be most likely beholden to the economic elite. We know that this cabal has not had Haiti’s best interests at heart.

Furthermore, it makes fighting corruption almost impossible if those at the top are seen as a bastion of corruption. Having said that I am not sure that was a priority for this incoming administration anyway. But corruption has been one of the top evils bedeviling Haiti and has staunched any attempt at economic growth and social development. I spoke recently with a colleague who covers Haiti and she said that she is getting tired and bored after years of writing the same story again and again. I have been through that feeling a few times over the years.

I was optimistic about Moise. I thought he was a pragmatic Jean Bertrand Aristide. Someone who cares about the lot of the masses whose precarious existence should bother anyone with a conscience. But unlike his erstwhile predecessor, he seemed to be a consensus builder without the divisive language and the arrogance of the former priest turned president.

After these revelations, I have misgivings about Moise and whether he can truly lead this country that is so fractured and adrift. I don’t trust the system to allow him to rule fairly and redistribute wealth and make some inroads into improving the people’s lives. The rapacious business leaders in Haiti practice zero sum capitalism just like their political counterparts believes in zero sum politics. All of these zeros leave Haiti with nothing.

And so where do we go from here? Moise will be sworn in as president on Feb. 7 as mandated by the Haitian constitution. But his rule will be contentious and his administration will be weak and ineffective. I don’t mean to be a pessimist here, but my conversations with people on the ground in Haiti leaves me no choice. The situation is dour and the country lacks the key people in place to advance economically.

And Moise will take over the backyard of the destroyed palace at a time where the international community has turned its back on Haiti. They are experiencing Haiti fatigue as well, and Haiti’s only benefactor Hugo Chavez died nearly four years ago, whose country Venezuela, is having serious economic crisis of its own.

The guy that we just elected in the United States sits in Washington D.C. talking about cutting foreign aid because there is nothing in it for the U.S. Although that’s not true, it’s  for another column. The salient point is that there is not a hat filled with cash at the ready when Haiti comes calling. If you don’t believe me, see how the international community reacted after Hurricane Matthew.

And so if Haiti is to survive and improve its economic situation, it must reassure and convince foreign investors that Haiti is a sound place to do business and that the rule of law are respected and corruption is punished by the full extent of the law. With a president elect having faced his own accusations of corruption, the future for Haiti remains bleak.

Garry Pierre-Pierre

Garry Pierre-Pierre

Garry Pierre-Pierre is a Pulitzer Prize winning, multi-media and entrepreneurial journalist. Founder and publisher of Haitian Times.
Garry Pierre-Pierre
February 1, 2017

22 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Jovenel Moise to Assume Haiti’s Presidency Under Cloud of Corruption”

  1. GCG says:

    Please give my country a chance guys ,because all Haitians are concerned about their own countryside darlinghaiti,

  2. yvon torchon says:

    Based on pure hearsay. You should have gone to Haiti to prep your report. This has been old news, may be your personal interest is at play here.

  3. That is a lie you hate Jonel Moise because Jones seems to appear a great leader who could bring change to Haiti. What about Maiden Narcist under Aristide a President criminal that has been accused of 100,000 of deaths what about Jude Celestin the one who stole $80,000,000 under President prevalent and accused of killing the gay who didn’t allowed prevalent to give the money to focused only on jovenel it ‘s not going to happen bad looser Haitian people love jovnel

  4. I don’t like the way u puting ur finger at JM without giving him a chance to prove hmself .Wait after Feb.7 ,wait to see how is managing his administration in 100 days

  5. Josette Pope says:

    Mr Jovenel Moise, deserve a chance for our country sake. Thank you, blessing to him on his hard journey.

  6. Edmond says:

    I don’t like the way you approach the situation this country most have a president writer you like it or not he is the president let him what do you want.start a other problem again

  7. Pierre Grandoit says:

    If he is guilty he is guilty. If he is not guilty, he is not. Period!

  8. Pierre Grandoit says:

    Just remember my brothers. A country is a group of people who have and is doing great things together for the benefit of their people and their nation regardless of their political parties.

  9. Pierre Grandoit says:

    This is another attempt to destabilize and demoralize the democratic process of Haiti. I will like all to give him a chance. Socially, economically, and politically Haiti needs a true leader. A leader that is a realist. We often elect a populist. We desperately need a realist and populist together. May be he is the leader that Haiti is badly needed.

  10. Nana Dat says:

    Small tings by Caribbean and Haitian standards. Government was involved , not much you can’t involve yourself in under them. Give the man a chance, finally got a president.

    Stop expecting every to exploit every bad incident like Miss Universe when the international community doesn’t like the amount of crime , rape, and child abandonment , and human trafficking which are cultural more than political.

  11. Pierre Grandoit says:

    This is an attempt to weaken his ability to govern a souvereign and independent country.The man was elected in a democratic election Give him a chance to govern effectively. He needs all the helps he can get including your help. Economic and security is the main core of a country. Why the US is so strong? Because of money and security. They say make America strong again. I say make Haiti strong and rich now or never. The election is over. It is time to help.

    • Arlene says:

      I agree with your statement. I also believe we all must pray for President Moise. I’m not sure of his religion status, but I know the that the word of God says “without me, you can do nothing”. Let’s also pray for an100% increase of free education, the children are the future, let’s empower them so they can survive in the future.

  12. Pierre Grandoit says:

    My advise to you Mr. President is to be strong and try to contact people that can promote you effectively to make Haiti economically politically socially and judicially strong now.

  13. Pierre Grandoit says:

    I say again economic and security policies are the main core of a nation. With the two we can have an effective judicial system. I admired the great leaders who had giving us our independence. We must remember these leaders. But, to keep talking about Duvalier, Aristide, Preval and others to me we’re wasting our times. Tell me what these leaders had done for us. It is better to try to help the new leader that you have now. Put the past behind you and think about the present and the future. The election is over. Give him a chance. If he is doing a bad job. We will not be supporting him. If he is doing a good jod. We will all rally behind him and say the words of the great Dessaline. Liberty, Egality, Fraternity and thanks Lord for giving us a good, honest, effective, and capable man.

  14. Abe says:

    Apparently, this is another political hit-job against Haiti… Why kicking Haiti while she’s down and weak. Haitians need hope, not cynical, wet-blanket innuendo. Shame on you, Gary Pierre-Pierre! You seem to be routing for the failure of Haiti’s newest leader, again….

  15. Pierre Grandoit says:

    It is the world duties including the great US to help Haiti economically. After all if it wasn’t for Haiti the US would only be 49 States. Because the French lost their power and needed moneey to finance the war against Haiti independence. They sold Louisiana to the US at a bargain. basement price. We also had Haitians that were involved in the fight against the British to give the people of the US their badly needed freedom. Do you know that a Haitian named Jean Baptiste Desabre was the founder of Chicage?
    I am calling on the rich superpowers specially France and the Great United States to help Haiti. If my call to you is begging. Yes, I am a poor Haitian standing in your corners begging for my country and the Haitian people. We need you. Talks are cheap, actions are important. It is time for you the world powers to help us.

  16. Jean Auguste says:

    Haiti deserves a good leader not a fake one because the problem of Haiti as we all know. The politicians.

  17. Pierre Grandoit says:

    I understand your concerns. I must say to you my brothers Haiti can’t do it alone. We need the help of other nations.
    Haiti is a great nation with rich history. We need the help of others, specially the US to help us economically. As far as I am concerned the US and France owed the gratitude to Haiti. I am calling on the great nations to help us. In plain words we need money to create jobs and economic securities in Haiti. In the event the world superpowers failed to help Haiti now. I am predicting an economic, social and political catastrophes in Haiti sooner or later.
    I am also calling on all political parties to put their heads together regardless of their differences to stand behind the new President. I do expect agreements and disagreements. But, we must put the interest of Haiti and the people first to make make Haiti the great nation that Dessaline, Toussaint, Christophe, Cecile Fatiman, Capois Lamort, Petion and others had envisioned.

  18. Pierre Grandoit says:

    Words can’t express the feelings that I have to see the inauguration of the democratic elected President of Haiti.
    Now we have a man that I believe can move Haiti forward. Let me say this to you ” the Aristides, the Duvaliers,” it is time for you to put your differences apart to stand behind the new President
    Nous les Dessalines les Toussaints les Christophes les Petions les Buckmans, nous Somme fier de notre pays” Haiti” et notre president Moise. Let us joining hands together to say” bravo” Haiti.

  19. Pierre Grandoit says:

    I am happy to hear that Canada has offered $70,000,0000. for the development of Haiti. I believe the United States and France will follow the example of Canada.
    Once again I am calling on the rich/ superpower countries to help Haiti. We need money to move the country forward. Without the economic help from the world powers. The country and the people will suffer greatly.
    On behalf of my Haitian brothers, I will like to say”thank you Canada” for your initial help to my country. Your gouvernment kindness and understanding are very well appreciated. May God bless Canada and its people.

  20. Pierre Grandoit says:

    For theses who refused to accept the New Democratic elected President of Haiti. I want to get use to it. Just because this man isn’t front elite class of Haiti, you tend to criticize the man with fake and fabricated news. I must say to you. It is about time that a Black Country like Haiti selects a non traditional man from the elite class for their President.
    I am calling on all of you, the opposition parties to give the man a chance to govern. You have the right to agree and disagree for the benefit of your country. In the event that president Moise isn’t doing his job. It is your right as leader of your political parties to criticize without sending your “thogs” in the street to destroy and committing crimes against the people of Haiti. we must not try to demoralize the President. We must get together. We must call on the world superpowers to help Haiti with money. To me the main problem in Haiti is money. The young people have no job. Haiti needs money to create jobs and economic opportunities for the young population.

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