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It seems the charter flights to Nicaragua that have recently served as the preferred route to people fleeing the country may yet be dealt another blow after the Ariel Henry government shut things down briefly last week. The U.S. government also came out yesterday to voice its concern for the surge in these charter flights whose passengers’ final destination is the U.S. It warned of stern measures against those organizing these flights. In a tweet by the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Brian Nichols stated that no one should profit from the desperation of vulnerable immigrants, whether they are smugglers, private companies, officials, or governments. These flights facilitate clandestine immigration, and the diplomat expressed his government’s decision to deal with those involved in these flights that enable this form of irregular migration, as his government continues to advocate for the use of safe and legal channels. Earlier, Eric Stromayer, charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, warned in a video message that people traveling illegally to the U.S. will be deported when caught and will subsequently lose their right to enter the U.S. by legal means. On Monday, the White House announced that following the summit of leaders of the Partnership for Economic Prosperity of the Americas, President Biden announced additional humanitarian assistance of about US$485 million to meet the needs of refugees, migrants, and other vulnerable populations in the Western Hemisphere, including those displaced in Latin America and the Caribbean and those affected by the political and economic crisis in Venezuela.

These flights are costly. People pay between US$3,000 and US$4,000 to travel to Nicaragua, landing directly at the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport in Managua, effectively bypassing the dangerous Darien Gap. This jungle stretch separates Colombia from Panama and circumvents U.S. asylum restrictions. Before the suspension of flights by the Ariel government, there were an average of 15 flights per day from international airports in Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haïtien. Daily charter flights from the Dominican Republic, Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and other countries. Manuel Orozco, who leads research on remittances, migration, and development at the Inter-American Dialogue, a think tank based in Washington D.C., indicated that no fewer than 31,000 Haitians on at least 268 flights have traveled to Nicaragua since August, according to the Miami Herald.

Elsewhere, the crime wave continues unabated as at least seven (7) suspected kidnappers were killed in a shootout with the police on Monday, November 6, 2023, in Delmas. According to a kidnapping victim, armed men in two vehicles rushed at him. They threw him out of his car as he was leaving his home in Puits Blain 32 to go about his daily activities. Calls to the police resulted in a rapid response by the brigade d’Intervention (B.I.) from the Delmas 33 police station, the Petion ville, and Port-au-Prince stations, which further received reinforcement from specialized units such as BIM, UDMO, and BLVV, which mobilized as soon as the alert was made. The area was cordoned off to prevent the criminal elements from escaping with the victim. According to the police report, during the exchange of gunfire, seven of the bandits were killed, several firearms were seized, and the victim was freed. Two of the suspected kidnappers were wearing police uniforms but did not have any identification with them. Only one of the kidnappers was found with an identification card, Henry Jocelyn, dressed in a CIMO uniform.

According to sources, the police have implemented a security system in the metropolitan area to counter the actions of criminals and ensure the safety of the population and the protection of their property. The National Police Force is determined to fight against all forms of criminality, especially kidnappings, and the HNP continues to appeal for the excellent collaboration of the population.

In the meantime, the gangs controlling the Verreux Terminal are imposing new fees on transporters of petroleum products, effectively creating new headaches for these drivers. According to reliable sources with an oil company, the sector is surviving under the controlled influence of gangs, and there’s a bidding war. In addition to the 200,000 gourdes paid per month per truck for access to the terminal, the gangs have imposed an additional 20,000 gourdes per truck for each load. The payment for access to and from the terminal is one thing. When leaving the terminal, the fuel can be intercepted and stolen by any groups based in Delmas 2, Brooklyn, Cité Militaire, Simon Pelé. So, one must also pay one of these groups operating near the terminal. One driver confided about the difficulties they face by transporters in delivering petroleum products to provinces, especially to Cap-Haïtien, Gonaïves, and Port-de-Paix. Sometimes transporters pay up to 1 million gourdes for a truckload of product dent to the North. The driver added that from a strictly business perspective, the trip is hardly worth it for transporters. Oil companies pay 4 to 5 gourdes per gallon if the delivery is made in the metropolitan area. If you spend 20,000 gourdes per load for a truck carrying 5,000 gallons, it doesn’t even cover the operating costs. He regretted the state’s negligence and the lack of industry-wide solidarity to find lasting solutions.

Finally, an OAS technical delegation that came to observe the canal on the Massacre River said to submit a report on their observation soon. The delegation, which consisted of Jean Michel Arrighi and Andres Sanchez, was in the country from October 30 through November 1. The information was put out by the Ministry of Foreign and Religious Affairs (Ministère haïtien des affaires étrangères et des cultes, MAEC), which said the delegation was there to learn and gather technical information on the construction of the canal and to meet with the ad hoc multidisciplinary commission for the management of shared waters between both countries.

The OAS delegation was satisfied with the quality of the exchanges with the Haitian authorities and the technical expertise demonstrated by the commission members. MAEC also emphasized how the Henry government continues to favor the path of dialogue and once again invites the Dominican party to return to the negotiating table to find a fair and equitable solution to the dispute linked to the use of shared water resources of the Massacre River.

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