President Jovenel Moise (l) and former Haiti president, Michel Martelly

The Honorable Jovenel Moise

President of Haiti

National Palace

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Dear JOMO,

I hope you don’t mind me using that name to address you at this time, but I thought given the nature of my letter, this term of endearment would be more appropriate. You know, non-Haitians that I meet across the globe have often asked me what can be done to solve Haiti’s problems. Over the years I’ve settled on a stock answer. I tell them – as well as Haitians who also wonder about this nagging issue – that once Haitians in Haiti decide that they want to bring about change, then you’ll see things begin to change.

JOMO, I am happy to say that that moment is upon us. Unprompted Haitians took to Twitter to articulate their displeasure about the missing billions in the Petrocaribe fund whose provenance has left millions of Haitians miffed. The hashtag, #PetrocaribeChallenge trended very well on Twitter.

For good measures, hundreds of concerned citizens staged a sit-in again demanding answers. The indelible beauty of this movement is that it didn’t come at the urging of the Blan, Diaspora, Bourgeoisie and the other usual suspects that Haitian leaders use to discredit or to deflect a movement or something they find uncomfortable.

The next couple of weeks will be instructive JOMO as the pressure mount to find answers. You see, school is about to open and the people are flat out broke and the Diaspora is already sending every disposable penny they have already. So your constituents will be restless. They are looking to you for answers.

I know you don’t have any answers for the moment. But there is something you  can do. You can hire an outside (non-Haitian) team of forensic accountants that can trace every penny from that fund. It’s amazing what these professionals can do. There was an old American now defunct company called Enron and many other organizations that used their services to great success. They’re like magicians with numbers.

You see JOMO, you have no other choice because people are saying you might be implicated in this mess, although I doubt it. I think your boys from PHTK  are trying to set you up for the fall but don’t go for the rope a dope. You got a country to run and to defend. People say you’re protecting your predecessor because he helped you ascend to the presidency. Even if that’s the case, you can’t help anybody in this instance. The nation’s gaze is upon you and they want answers and you owe them the correct answers to some very serious questions. This is a lot of money we’re talking about. You see Hugo Chavez gave Haiti that $2 billion loan, as well as, that heavily subsidized oil because he was tired of Haitians being disrespected by the West. As you are well aware, Western governments don’t trust your and other Haitian governments to use money for its intended purpose. Hugo, God rest his soul, wanted to prove these imperialists wrong and gave the money directly to Rene Preval’s administration

Now, most people believe that most of the money is gone. How can that be because that’s a lot of cash? Let me break it down for you. Someone sent me this information and I thought I would share it with you. What can $2 billion get you:

A university. So far the most expensive university that was recently built is the Limonade  and that was for $50 million. If you build one in each of the 10 departments in the country you will spend $500 million.

A stadium. Most of the venues we watched the World Cup matches in Russia cost roughly $300 million

Hospital. If Haiti decided to build three major hospitals that cost about $300 million each; we have the cash. You know how so many people are dying because they don’t have time to get to Miami, Cuba and Dominican Republic for their care because they were in critical conditions and couldn’t travel and there are no trauma care in the country. JOMO, do you know that’s the number one reason why there is a travel advisory by U.S. and Canada on our beloved homeland?

You have money to build roads, airports and so on. Don’t worry about schools because the Diaspora is contributing $1.50 to education for each money transfer that is sent to friends and relatives.

Oh, no. I forgot that no one has also accounted for that money as well. You know what, you should add the money transfer and phone call fees to the accountant’s scope of work while you’re at it. The Diaspora has been grumbling about that but you know we’re not organized, and we’re hoping against hope that schools are built and teachers are paid on time.

But no one is answering our questions and those from Petrocaribe. One of my colleagues asked your predecessor that thorny question –  and in his own unique style, body twisting, head stretching from side to side – indignant as ever pointed to Best Western, Marriott hotels as shinning examples of where the Petrocaribe money went.

The strange thing is that he wasn’t even inebriated. He was stone cold sober when he said that. We don’t believe that the government invested much, if any cash, in building these hotels. If it did, it would be dereliction of duty.

If you follow my suggestions JOMO, you will be a hero of the Haitian people. They will remember you as the president who broke the vicious cycle of endemic and systemic corruption. In modern time, no president has even thought about curbing corruption. You can change that. You must change that. After the forensic accountants issue their report, you must let the justice system take its course and punish those who are clearly implicated in fraud and grift. You see these grifters are turning Haiti into a nation of drifters. Things are so bad for the average Haitian that they are willing to live anywhere, no matter how dehumanizing they may find their lives in their new land. Their reasoning is that things are worse for them in their homeland. That’s sad and I am sure it rips your heart to know that as president you are ruling over a people who would rather be anywhere but home.

You have a lot to think about and it won’t be easy. It wasn’t easy for Dessalines, Toussaint and Petion when they faced the mighty Napoleon Army. This army of thugs who are pillaging the country’s coffers got nothing on Napoleon. Go Get Them.

Garry Pierre-Pierre

Garry Pierre-Pierre is a Pulitzer-prize winning, multimedia and entrepreneurial journalist. In 1999, he left the New York Times to launch the Haitian Times, a New York-based English-language publication serving the Haitian Diaspora. He is also the co-founder of the City University Graduate School of Journalism‘s Center for Community and Ethnic Media and a senior producer at CUNY TV.

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