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The increasing deterioration of life in the country has prompted Catholic Bishops to pen an open
letter to address what they see as a cleverly orchestrated evil engineering with the goal of
breaking all the springs that still support sections of the society, especially coming on the 40 th
anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Haiti on March 9, 1983. Reprising the Pope’s words
pronounced on that fateful day in 1983, the bishops cried “Something Has to Change Here”,
and it has to be now. In their letter, the bishops castigated the authorities for what they call their
“disconcerting” indifference and inaction regarding abominable crimes such as thefts, rapes,
lootings, fires, kidnappings, murders, perpetrated, on innocent victims by armed gangs with total
impunity. Gang members continue to spread terror each day across the nation imposing
themselves on the people without the slightest fear or worry about the consequences of their
actions. It is becoming increasingly difficult to count the abuses and crimes committed by these
bandits, whose number keep growing exponentially, and making it unsafe for anyone to
passively live in the country. Haitian citizens go about their daily lives at the mercy of armed
gangs, who impose their own laws.
The bishops went on to state that 40 years after that fateful papal visit, water has since sunk its
bridges and as time goes by, the Haitian people have experienced incessant internecine disputes
that engender bad governance characterized by impunity, injustice, excessive inequality,
corruption, and violence among others. As these shortcomings persist, they become systemic and
corrupt the entire fabric of society, eroding the living conditions of our compatriots, many of
whom live in abject poverty. The bishops further question the motive of the government, rulers
who are supposed to defend and protect the citizenry, but who have shown much passivity in the
face of such cruel violence that plunges the whole society into collective anguish and despair.
According to the Bishops, the governance of Haiti must consider the common good and the
collective interest by neutralizing any temptation to seek possible personal or clan interest. It is
the royal road leading to a society open to the participation of all its citizens through consensual
Meanwhile, interim Minister of Justice and Public Safety, Emmelie Prophète Milcé, expressed
concern that the vast majority of armored vehicles that the government ordered and paid for,
from a Canadian company, has not been delivered, as the supplier failed to keep his word and
deliver on time, and this delay is hampering the plans that the national police, PNH, have put in
place to restore peace and security and stability to the country. According to her, the PNH
ordered 18 armored vehicles but have yet to receive all of them and the equipment needed to
execute their strategy to liberate several zones. Trying to appease those who have accused the
regime of indifference and ineptitude in the face of galloping crime and kidnappings, the minister
argued that if all the armored vehicles were delivered on time as stipulated in the contract signed
with the supplier, the police could implement their strategy to liberate the areas and put the gangs
out of business. In defense of the police, she argued that the PNH is facing the gangs and the
galloping insecurity all alone, while the government has been asking for help for about 5 months
now, from its international partners. Though there have been cooperation and training, it is the
PNH alone that has been doing the bulk of the work, with limited resources. They are extremely
busy, making interventions and operations everyday at all hours.
Another handicap is the slowness of the purchase of arms for the police. The Minister decried the
way it’s taking much longer for the arms that has been ordered to arrive. The current crop of

newly minted police officers, just graduated from the academy do not have arms in order to
perform their duties effectively. There is a mismatch in the country where legal arms are hard to
come by while a recently published UN report shows that illegal arms easily find their way to the
country, especially though the US, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. The gangs are armed
with sophisticated weapons brought illegally while the bureaucratic deadlock is making it
difficult for the police to legally obtain light weapons. But Ms. Milce hopes that for the new
class of police officers, the arms will arrive soon for them to help address the security issue in the
country once and for all. She concludes that she hopes that in a year or the next 14 to 15 months,
a legitimate government will be elected. Because of how thing are, the sterile polemics and
internecine disputes on short-range issues, Haiti is seen as a minor in the region and not a full
state, whereas there will always be differences, internal battles on issues and subjects that could
be settled properly if only all Haitians are willing to sit around the same table.
Addressing those who accuse the government of complicity with the gangs, the minister stated
that on the contrary, the government is in a hurry to leave power, and has not instrumentalized
any gangs. They do not support any gangs. To her, the peyi lòk movement is the one who has
supported the gangs in recent past. The government on the other hand is a transitional
government that wants to organize elections as soon as possible because the country needs a
legitimate government, which will have a mandate to work. They would like to put the country
on the road to democracy, and with regards to the police, they want them to fight the gangs in
order to resume control of the territory.
Finally, an ex-mayor of the town of Les Irois, Jean Morose Viliena, is facing a civil lawsuit in
Boston Massachusetts, accused of political violence and terror back in Haiti. The lawsuit, filed
under the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991 which allows civil lawsuits to be filed in the
U.S. against foreign officials who allegedly committed torture or extrajudicial killing — if all
legal avenues in their home country have been exhausted. According to the plaintiffs: David
Boniface, Juders Ysemé, and Nissandère Martyr, the former Mayor began a campaign of terror
against opponents of former President Martelly in 2007, especially Boniface who tried to defend
a neighbor who the mayor allegedly assaulted for piling garbage on the street. Mayor Viliena
allegedly led a group of men armed with guns, machetes and clubs to Boniface’s home. In
Boniface’s absence, his younger brother, Eclesiaste Boniface, was dragged out of the house and
fatally shot by one of Viliena’s men. When the victims sought justice in Haiti, the case was
dismissed. Now living in the US, the victims took the opportunity to address the injustice by
filing an action in the US court system.
Dela Harlley

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