Author’s note: This article is a direct rebuttal to the op-ed piece published by the Miami Herald on behalf of the President of Haiti on July 12, 2019.
The gridlock currently experienced in Haiti is a direct result of and the manifestation of the president’s inability to lead. Since Jovenel Moise was sworn in as president on Feb. 7, 2017, the situation in Haiti has gone from bad to worse. Today, the depreciation of Haiti’s national currency, the gourdes, is at an all-time high. According to the Bank of the Republic of Haiti, as of July 17, the exchange rate is 94.1066 Haitian gourdes to 1 U.S. dollar.
This is the rate in comparison to Feb. 7, 2017, where 66.08 gourdes equalled 1 U.S. dollar. This constitutes a drop of 30 percent in purchasing power of the people within 2 years of this administration. Wages have been stagnant. Even with laws in place, adjustments have not been made and inflation is increasing at an alarming rate over 18 percent a year for several years. The economy is contracted and no economic and or monetary policies to address the issues have been put into place.
The Moise administration’s current budget has been dubbed the “the criminal budget.”
A passport used to cost 2,000 gourdes and has now soared to 6,000 gourdes over a five-year period. All government services have more than doubled with no cost of living adjustments. Haitians are migrating to other countries at an alarming rate. President Moise and his administration have proven utterly incapable of addressing pressing issues surrounding the country in regards to infrastructure, health care, jobs, and education.
Security in the country has degraded due to an increase in gang violence. Many Haitians have been victims of robbery or violent crime. Nearly eight months ago, a dozen people including men, women, and children were massacred in the Port-au-Prince La Saline neighborhood. Their tortured bodies were fed to animals. Yet, the president and his administration remained silent and unresponsive to this heinous crime. Many of us in the Diaspora community have suffered financially due to the broken economic environment or have been victims of a violent crime ourselves.
On July 6 and 7 of 2018, the people came out and violently protested the direction taken in Haiti by the president’s administration. A year has passed, and nothing whatsoever has been done to address the issues. This administration has created a government ratified by Parliament, yet the problems persist. More to the point, since March 18, 2019, the house of Representatives has censured the government spearheaded by former Prime Minister Jean-Henry Céant for incompetence. Under Haitian laws, once censured none of the members of the previous cabinet should be considered for appointment. Despite this fact, Moise formed his cabinet again with 90 percent of the censured ministers in violation of Haitian laws. This defiant and unlawful action has created gridlock between his government and parliament.
His appeals to international audiences for an independent audit of the PetroCaribe funds lacks credibility. As the second phase of the investigation alleges, before the president came into office, he received nearly a million dollars from the funds to repair roads when he was in charge of Agritrans. This is a far cry from his business of growing bananas. This further highlights his incompetence to govern as there has been no pursuit of justice for all parties involved in the dilapidation of the PetroCaribe funds. It is clear that none of the promises made by Moise were kept and the situation in Haiti has worsened.
Haitian Police Chief Michel-Ange Gedeon testified before the Haitian Parliament this month that there are over 100 armed gangs festering all over the country with heavy weaponry. Every day there have been crises in a different part of the country. The police are incapable of controlling the situation. Over 90 percent of the frontier is not controlled by the government and Moise is unable to govern even with a majority in parliament.
We in the Haitian Diaspora have been conscious of the president’s inability to govern and have called for his resignation. We recommend these changes so that Haiti can start anew including:
- Stopping the illegal collection of the $1.50 from our currency transfers until a law is written and accountability is established.
- Stopping the collection of 5 cents on each call initiated by a Haitian living abroad.
- Stopping the collection of 5000 gourdes from Haitians living abroad in return for receiving minimal services in Haiti.
- Service of justice and payment of reparations to victims of the La Saline massacre.
- Service of justice and payment of restitution for Haiti in PetroCaribe debts.
- Service of justice and payment of restitution concerning the CIRH fund mobilized after the January 12, 2010 earthquake.
- Participation, facilitation, and collaboration of the Haitian diaspora in every decision concerning Haiti.
Finally, Moise must resign for his violation of public trust and his incapacity to provide solutions to problems plaguing the country.
Jacob Francois is founder of the Haitian Priorities Project; an advocacy organization that encourage and facilitate Haitians within Haiti to exercise their civic responsibility while adhering to democratic principles and respect for human rights.