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Haiti newsreel : unstoppable gangs

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How to find a lasting solution to the gang problem, the increasing insecurity and the multifaceted problems that have afflicted the nation in recent years is still a debate without any clear solution in sight. Absent a roadmap and clear articulation of the problem, officials and the general populace are at a place where they’re not able to forge concrete and workable solutions to the problems. It’s in this light that Major Eddy Marcelin also tried one more time to articulate what he sees as a solution to the gang question. During the 218th anniversary of the Battle of Vertieres, he pleaded, almost tearfully, to the authorities to provide him with a tank, two assault vehicles and a combat helicopter to be able to neutralize the gangs in about two weeks. This requests though was quickly put in context as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Haiti (FAd’H), General Jodel Lessage pointed out that the request is a personal one from the major and not an official request from the Armed Forces, stressing that the proliferation of armed groups in the country is not only military. Accepting the fact that the statement is that of the Major expressing his feeling in an emotionally charged moment, which received mixed response form the people. The Army head conceded that there are military solutions, but the problem of armed gangs is not exclusively military but a social problem which if there is the willingness to resolve will have to consider all other problems facing the nation such as access to food, jobs, medicine, and rebuilding after the earthquake etc.

It seems Maj. Marcelin’s call for munitions has sparked a debate on the needs of the armed forces. The Chief of staff, while distancing the Major’s declarations from the official stance of the Armed Forces recognized the needs for armed materiel for the Army. He conceded that the army had made request for equipment from the government. The Defense Minister, Dr. Enold Joseph conceded that there were equipment purchases made to help the army support the efforts to combat criminality in the country and delivered to the country but would not explain as to why they’ve not been delivered to the army. The army said they have numerous problems including training the corps and this is causing frustration in the camp as they feel as if they’re giving their all but coming up short, not seeing the end of the tunnel. One of the most prominent figures to weigh in on this issue is the former President and ex Lieutenant General of the Army, who compared the heartfelt wish of the officer to that of the Greek scholar, Archimedes, who in explaining the virtues of the principle of the lever exclaimed that “give me a place to stand and I will lift the world.” While the Major’s statement should not be taken literally, it is a cry out for the effective rearmament of the military. According to Prosper Avril, this plea clearly means that the integrity of the national territory can be restored at short notice if the Armed Forces of Haiti are equipped to do so. He therefore recommends returning the institution back to where it was since its creation until its dismantling, to “guarantee the security, defense and integrity of the territory. of the Republic.” (Article 264).

Meanwhile the plot thickens around the investigation into the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. The widow of the deceased president, Martine Moïse has asked for an autopsy of the corpse of Gilbert Dragon, one of the alleged assassins of the former President of the Republic Jovenel Moïse, who died as a result of the Covid- 19. This demand is in line with some suspicion on the part of some elements which holds that the system, whatever that is, is trying to eliminate witnesses who could provide details on the assassination of the president. But the lawyer, Patrick Laurent spelled out the real ramifications of an eventual autopsy, citing the request as a double-edged sword. According to the lawyer, if such an autopsy, which must be granted by a judge, proceeds, it can lead to foreign countries that could help arrest suspects would be weary to extradite them fearing that they may be killed. He thinks this is a sensitive topic that should not have been addressed in the press. Before taking any action regarding this investigation, it would be prudent to think carefully of the ramifications so as not to undermine the judicial and investigative systems. While Martine Moïse calls for an autopsy, the human rights network, RNDDH, for its part is calling for an investigation into the death of the former police commissioner who was imprisoned since July 2021 in connection with the president’s assassination.

The human rights watchdog argues that the Justice department should have taken the necessary steps to evacuate the defendant to the hospital on time, because a health check-up by the defendant on November 12, 2021 showed that he was in critical condition. Mr. Dragon, who was accused of planning and coordinating the assassination of President Moïse was alleged to have spoken to Mr. Joseph Félix Badio, one of the main suspects, 76 times between May and July 7, 2021, and was in permanent contact with one police officer who control the president’s movement on Tuesday July 6, 2021.

Finally, a Reuter’s wire article on MSN’s website reported that several thousand Haitian migrants congregated outside a stadium in southern Mexico that has been re-purposed into a migration office, urging authorities to let them pass freely through Mexico. Two caravans of migrants largely from Haiti and Central America have departed from the southern city of Tapachula in recent weeks, many taking off on foot for the long journey in hopes of reaching the U.S.-Mexico border. Thousands of people have also remained in Tapachula, close to the Guatemala border, where they are applying for refugee status and hope to receive visas to let them transit the country. Also, two of the 17 US citizens abducted in Haiti a month ago were released. The duo, who are members of a missionary group have been freed in Haiti and are safe, “in good spirits and being cared for,” their Ohio-based church organization said Sunday. Christian Aid Ministries officials did not provide or confirm the names of the missionaries released, the reasons for their release, where they are from or their location. In the Nov. 21 statement posted on its website the ministry urged discretion to protect those still in the hands of the gang.

Dela Harlley

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