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Since coming into the country over a week ago, CARICOM emissaries have tried occasionally to seek a consensus with the various stakeholders but have yet to reach an agreement. The emissaries continue to press on and hope another meeting today with the main political actors would yield tangible results. With no deal in sight, the current central sticking point is the call for the resignation of interim Prime Minister Ariel Henry, a request on which there is hardly any agreement, even among the signatories to the Kingston agreement. There have been meetings even on Zoom to come to some form of understanding. Still, without concrete developments in sight, most of the key stakeholders have resolved to work tirelessly for a workable agreement by the end of the month. According to Emmanuel Ménard of the Force Louverturienne party, one of the signatories to the Kingston agreement, they have given themselves from September 12, 2023, till the end of the month to find a solution, tackling all forms of issues with everything on the table. Though there’s no negotiation agenda, there’s no taboo subject either. Mr. Ménard argues that though he does not support the position that Ariel Henry resigns as a condition for moving negotiations forward, he nonetheless wants the issue addressed during the talks. To him, the words are to restore the executive power, so if the Prime Minister does not want to make any concessions, it will show that he’s not part of the solution, and at that point, calls for his departure will be considered the only solution.

While on the topic of the Prime Minister, his recent trip to Jérémie to officially open the school year and dedicate some new schools was marred by angry residents who decried his leadership, calling him careless and incompetent regarding his governing style and issues facing the country. His motorcade was pelted with rocks as they approached the populous neighborhood in Jérémie known as “Nan site.” The hostilities forced the presidential motorcade to seek refuge at a nearby police station. Despite this setback, the Prime Minister went ahead to inaugurate infrastructure projects, including the new Prévilé High School, which was built with funding from the national education fund, Fonds National de l’Education (FNE), thanks to the surtax imposed on remittances (US$1.50) and the 5cents imposed on telephone calls. As part of the government’s 51 school construction projects from September 2021, eight schools have been inaugurated so far, and 17 infrastructures are already completed and awaiting inauguration, while 26 others will be ready by next December to be inaugurated in January 2024. The Prime Minister was unable to guarantee the return to school, in due form, in the West department because of criminal activities ruining the lives of citizens in several neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, a new conflict is brewing between the two nations that call the island of Hispaniola home. The Dominican Republic has taken drastic measures to oppose the proposed construction of a canal on the Massacre River, which runs through both countries. The Dominicans complained that the channel, if built, would significantly affect the water supply on their side, thereby hurting their farmers. To address the issue, President Luis Abinader convened a security meeting to consider sanctions against Haiti. The measures taken by his government include suspending visa issuing service to Haitians, the closure of the border, and the threat of closure of land, air, and sea traffic between the two countries. The National Security Council also took steps to provide Dominican farmers with water supply by reactivating customs support on the Dajabón River, at the mouth of the La Vigía canal, as a short-term measure to guarantee water supply to Dominican producers and to start the construction process of the Don Miguel Dam project as a long-term solution. The design of the dam project began last year, and its construction is expected to take about 30 months, with an estimated cost of about 2.7 bn pesos. Finally, they requested a bilateral binational water table meeting to agree on a final solution. The threat to close the border crossing at Dajabon will be a big blow to cross-country commerce, legal or illegal, because this area is one of the few remaining functioning borders between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which has been tightening its border security amid worsening gang warfare in Haiti. The Dominicans have an interesting take on this project, which they see as violating Article 10 of the Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Arbitration between the Dominican Republic and the Republic of ‘Haiti, signed in 1929. The Security Council concluded that Haitian nationals were promoting this unilateral project to harm their government and create conflict with the Dominican Republic. The latter is advised to remain resolute in dealing with this issue.

Finally, yesterday was September 11, which had come to represent the day in 2001 when hijackers flew a plane into the Twin Towers, attacked the Pentagon, and crashed into another aircraft in a field in Pennsylvania. But these are not the only sordid anniversaries that the day has been known for. On this day in 1973, the coup d’etat that overthrew Chilean President Salvador Allende was born, ushering in General Augusto Pinochet, whose dictatorship has claimed so many lives that it is still unclear how many people have disappeared during the reign. It’s the same day in 1988 when the bloody attack on the Saint Jean Bosco church where many catholic faithful lost their lives. Also, on this day in 1993, the political activist and businessman Antoine Izméry was forcefully removed from the Sacré-Cœur church in Turgeau by a commando and executed in plain view of everyone. The attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, also took place on this day in 2012, making the date scary. Already, there have been killings this day in Haiti.

Dela Harlley

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