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The increasingly and now all too familiar pervasive insecurity situation in the country prompted Haitian activists in the US to converge on the White House for a rally calling on the Biden Administration to end its support for the Ariel Henry government. Many Haitians accuse Mr. Henry of complicity in causing the insecurity situation to persists because he does nothing to curb the violence spreading wildly across all parts of the nation. Holding placards and Haitian Flags, protesters demanded for the US to let Haitians decide their own future as many Haitians are convinced that the US is actively sustaining Ariel Henry in power. The situation in the country has taken a turn for the worse in recent days as fuel shortages caused by increasing prices and gangs’ blockade of access to the fuel depots forced many businesses and hospitals to shut their operations, at the same time that the country began to record new cases of cholera after a three-year absence of the illness on the island.

Meanwhile in Haiti, anti-government protests were in full scale across the country, as  anger over the state of affairs prompted protesters to resort to looting and armed confrontation with the police with at least one woman reportedly killed , Prime Minister Ariel Henry has requested assistance from the  international community for a rapid response force to help the national police following a cabinet meeting last week, his government came up with a resolution to request a specialized armed force be deployed immediately to the country to stop the humanitarian crisis that is taking place  as a result of the actions of the criminal gangs and their sponsors. The resolution was based on three (3) major points; the need for foreign military intervention, rapid response to the immediate health crisis brought about by the resurgence of cholera and the potable water crisis, and the creation of an inter-ministerial commission to develop guidelines of specific to be taken to address the various crises in the country.

The government’s formal request for foreign intervention comes after Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States, tweeted Thursday that “Haiti must seek urgent assistance from the international community to help resolve security crises, determine the characteristics of an international security force” since the police have struggled to control gangs with their limited resources and chronic understaffing. With only some 12,800 active officers for a country of more than 11 million people, the gangs have only grown in power since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. On Wednesday, the office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti proposed a “humanitarian corridor” to allow the delivery of fuel and aid to people in need. He noted that the country is also facing a new outbreak of cholera, with several deaths reported and dozens of patients treated. At least 13 US congressional leaders have demanded that US President Joe Biden’s administration stop showing support for Henry and suspend all deportations, given the extreme physical security risks and the dire humanitarian situation. The Congress members further asked the US government to support legitimate efforts to create a transitional Haitian government that respects the will of the people.

In similar vein, 19 OAS countries signed a resolution affirming their commitment to help Haiti overcome its security concerns at the organization’s general assembly meeting held in Lima Peru. They also called on the international community to provide security assistance and strengthen the Haitian police. Just like other entities, the OAS members urged all parties to the current conflict to immediately establish humanitarian corridors and restore the supply of fuel to the Varreux terminal, as well as drinking water to meet the basic needs of the population and allow hospitals to respond to the increase in cholera cases in the country. The OAS further called for the finding of Haitian solutions to a typical Haitian problem, resulting from an inclusive dialogue. They encourage all stakeholders including women and youth, to pursue an inclusive, peaceful and constructive political dialogue to identify a viable and lasting political solution. Without such an agreement, restoring security will continue to be a challenge, as will the holding of free and fair elections.

Despite Ariel Henry’s government’s decision to authorize direct and urgent foreign intervention in the country, very few people inside Haiti country are in favor of such a move, especially with the history of past interventions still vivid in the minds of the people. One such group is the veterans’ association, l’Association militaire d’Haïti (AMIDH), which issued out a statement expressing their opposition to such a move, calling the behavior of the ministers authorizing such a demand, through their resolution of Thursday, October 6, 2022 as criminal and calling for them to be tried for crimes of high treason against the state. The statement went on to state that they challenge Ariel Henry and members of his government for the right, quality and legitimacy to bring foreign boots to the home soil once again, and calling the whole project as deceitful. Most officers prefer to die at the hands of their compatriots than to have foreign boots defile their homeland. The country has known past military interventions, especially from the US, on July 28, 1915 and again in September 19, 1994 with both experience a bitter pill in the mouth of Haitians. The transport owners’ unions also oppose the request for military troops on Haitian soil again. The veterans’ group did not feel the Henry government was interested in providing efficient equipment to the national police because it was not a top priority of the government which was waiting for the opportune moment to betray the people. According to the unions, the de facto government’s request is akin to an attempt by an illegitimate, unpopular and increasingly contested government to use foreign forces to maintain itself in power at all costs, and thus delay Haiti’s return to the constitutional and democratic order. They call on the people to remain vigilant and to protest any form of foreign occupation.

Finally, heavily armed individuals attacked a police station in Thomassin on Monday, October 10, 2022. The police officers posted here riposted and called for reinforcements through social media. They were able to repel the gangs and as of now, there were no casualties reported. According to local residents, automatic weapon fire was raging as Thomassin looks to becoming the new Baghdad.

Dela Harlley

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