Haiti

On July 6, Haiti exploded. By the tens of thousands, Haitians poured into the streets of Port-au-Prince to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moise. Robert Roth looks at the roots of the rising that ousted the prime minister and forced a government back down.

The protests were sparked by the government’s announcement that it would cut or remove subsidies on fuel. This led to a 38% rise in petrol prices, with the price of kerosene jumping 50% to US$4 a gallon.

Haiti exploded in early July in a nationwide uprising whose Kreyòl watchwords are nou bouke — we are fed up, writes Kim Ives.

Trump reportedly referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations during an immigration meeting with lawmakers, saying, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

There can be no doubt that Haiti has many severe challenges, or that the cesspool of US power, and other dominant nations, are at their root.

After an announcement from the Donald Trump administration that it is terminating temporary protections for about 59,000 Haitians who fled to the United States after a devastating 2010 earthquake, journalist Naomi Klein warns decisions by the United States and Canadian governments indicate how wealthy nations may handle climate refugees in the years to come.

Haiti’s Senate has passed a bill that makes same sex marriage a crime and bans public displays of support for LGBTI rights. The bill — which would affect Haitian nationals and foreigners — will now go to the Chamber of Deputies, although a date for a vote has not been set.

Haitian law already defines marriage as being between a man and woman. But this bill seeks to expressly criminalise same sex marriage, with “parties, co-parties, and accomplices” to a same-sex marriage  — meaning even those who simply attend — facing potential jail terms of up to three years and an $8000 fine.

Hundreds of Haiti's factory workers protested in Port-au-Prince on July 10 against the government’s proposed paltry rise in the minimum wage.

Currently paid US$4.75 a day, workers mainly from factories outsourced to foreign companies are demanding wages rise to US$12.75 dollars for eight hours of work.

However, the government has said the minimum wage should only rise by 55 cents.

In a very lacklustre ceremony, with almost no international presence save a delegation of US diplomats, Jovenel Moïse was appointed president of Haiti this month. But no media outlet reported that, at the same time, Haitian streets were boiling with protests in rejection of Moïse and his administration. 

When Donald Trump is sworn in as president on January 20, he will take over the running of the US intelligence agencies — the CIA, FBI, NSA etc — that have brought charges to discredit the outcome of his election.

The Electoral College has rubberstamped Trump’s election and Congress has ratified it. The storm over allegations of Russian interference in last year’s elections will pass as The Leader takes charge and cleans house in these agencies.

But there are some things that should be noted about this brouhaha.

There is a very sinister, hellish thing behind the tepid concern that rears its head when a country like Haiti suffers a tragedy.

As 800 people died and 90% of parts of southern Haiti were destroyed by Hurricane Matthew earlier this month, leaving whole towns flattened, and people homeless and without basic infrastructure, the trending hashtag was #PrayForFlorida.

The images and accounts of Haiti’s devastation following Hurricane Matthew’s passage on October 4 are gut-wrenching. The death toll is in the hundreds and continues to rise. Entire villages in the country's southwest were obliterated. The response of a Haitian government, left besieged and without resources by decades of foreign plunder, is anaemic. The victims’ anguished appeals for help are heart-rending. The United Nations now says 1.4 million people are in need of assistance, urgent and immediate for half of them.

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