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The numerous crises facing the nation have made this Christmas one of the most uneventful one in recent history. Even less than 24 hours before the date celebrating the birth of Christ, Port-au-Prince does not look anywhere near how it looks in the past. Taking the pulse of the capital, most residents affirm that they don’t have the spirit of the season any longer, and Port-au-Prince might as well lose the fervor of the holidays if the current trend of crises after crises continues. One of the salespeople interviewed on the streets of Port-au-Prince, who usually sell toys during the holidays, a more profitable venture in years past, compared to her regular wares of sweets, says this year she had resigned herself to selling sweets because her clients simply could not afford to buy the toys for their children. The security situation has made matters worse that the spirit of the season couldn’t be found anywhere. Another businessman found his clientele missing this year. He usually sells jewelry to the Diaspora who comes home during this period to celebrate with their families. But with the increasing kidnapping and crime, they’re mainly staying away, for fear they could fall victim to what has befallen countless number of their compatriots. The Diaspora has always been a motor of economic engine around this time when things were more stable and peaceful. The fuel shortage also created a hardship for taxi drivers who also lament the slowing down of services. According to them, the more people go out, the more they (the taxi drivers) are in demand, but the current situation created an environment in which when they get a fare, there may be no fuel to drive them and when they do have fuel, there may not be a fare because the cost becomes more prohibitive for their customers. Sad to say that even if the spirit of the holidays resides in the hearts of the people, the triumvirate of fuel scarcity, insecurity and the economic crises has conspired to rob them of this spirit.

Meanwhile, a new accord to move the country out of the morass has been signed on December 21, 2022. Entitled the National consensus for an inclusive transition and transparent elections, “Consensus national pour une transition inclusive et des élections transparentes”, the accord was signed at the Karibe Convention Center Hotel and designed to establish a political balance in the move to return the country to order and a minimum of security that would be necessary for the restoration of life back to normal. This accord though is not what Prime Minister Ariel Henry hoped for, nor is it that of the international community. To hear the facilitator of this accord, Charles Tardieu says it, it is a citizens’ initiative of civil society looking to find a Haitian solution to the crisis. According to him, they worked with civil society organizations, political groups, whatever they are, the business community, the government and the international community to come up with this consensus document, which is an inclusive approach that is not in opposition to anyone.  While detailing the process for coming to this accord, Mr. Tardieu stressed that this accord is unlike the Montana accord that was subsequently rejected, and considering the challenges facing the country, to wit: general insecurity, social and humanitarian conditions, constitutional reform, strengthening the rule of law, economic reform and creating conditions for free and fair elections, are all motivation to ensure that reforms and progress translate into long-term stable change for the ordinary Haitian citizen. The accord will allow a transition period that will encompass new general elections to be held in 2023, the entry into office of a newly elected government on February 7, 2024, and the first year of the mandate of this first post-reform government.

Elsewhere, the leader of the Pitit Dessalines party, Jean Charles Moïse, has condemned the accord saying it is of no value and he’ll put it in the trash. He attacked the signatories, especially Mrs. Mirlande Hyppolite Manigat, whom he said to have a lot of respect for. Without detailing what in the accord has drawn his ire or that’s not in the best interest of the people, he went to attack the economic sector which he said had circulated what he calls a piece of paper on which they’ve made their mea culpa while still keeping the credit, the US dollar and high cost of living going on. All these came up during a pre-recorded message he made to wish his followers, and indeed the nation a merry Christmas in which he stated that he cannot wish them a Merry Christmas, but can wish them courage, because their courage and determination are the only things that will get the country out of the quagmire that it’s in. Though he’s a politician who has declared that he wants peace in the country, he announced the resumption of demonstrations against the government for January 2nd, at Trou du Nord.

Finally, Kim Ives of Haiti Liberte gave a testimony to the UN Security Council last Wednesday, December 12, 2022, at the insistence of the UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed for the deployment of a multinational force to Haiti. In his testimony, he took to task the international community’s portrayal of Jimmy Cherizier, alias Barbeque’s as a bad guy when he’s one of the good guys fighting to restore order in his neighborhood. According to Mr. Ives, there have been reports deemed authoritative that do not paint the real picture of what is actually going on, and by following such reports, the international community in effect is lumping together the “good guys” with the “bad guys” in one basket called “the gangs.” He went on to say that “The irony is that this body now threatens to uproot this germinating sprout of Haitian self-defense. Indeed, in its Resolution 2653 of Oct. 21, the UN chose to sanction one and only one person, accusing him of threatening “the peace, security, and stability of Haiti” and charging, on the grounds of contested allegations, that he has “planned, directed, or committed acts that constitute serious human rights abuses.”

According to Mr. Ives, “the sanctioned man was not Joseph Wilson alias “Lamò Sanjou,” the leader of the 400 Mawozo gang, who admittedly and publicly kidnapped 17 North American missionaries and five French priests and two nuns last year. It was not the self-professed kidnapper known as “Izo,” leader of Village de Dieu’s Five Seconds Gang, which killed four Haitian cops and wounded seven others in March 2021. It was not Renel Destina alias “Ti Lapli,” another proud kidnapper whose criminal gang controls the area of Grand Ravine and with “Izo” has cut off the highway leading to Haiti’s southern peninsula – 40% of the country – for almost two years. It was not Kempes Sanon, the leader of the Belair gang, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping but escaped in February 2021, killing the civilian director of the Croix-des-Bouquets prison during his get-away. But the sanctioned person was Jimmy Cherizier who is the spokesman for a federation of neighborhoods known as the “Revolutionary Forces of the G9 Family and Allies, Mess with One, You Mess with All,” dedicated to keeping kidnapping, extortion, rape, and other crimes out of their midst. Cherizier got his start as a stellar cop fighting criminal gangs. The Haitian envoy, Jean Victor Généus, did not agree with Mr. Ives’s assertion and stated that portraying bandits and criminals who kill, rape and kidnap as revolutionary leaders and opposition leaders simply does not correspond to reality. Adding that numerous reports from human rights organizations both nationally and internationally have demonstrated the irrefutable culpability of these individuals and to whitewash them and pass them off as what they are not, is doing the country a disservice.

Dela Harlley

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