Haiti has good reason to mistrust the international community

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The writer is the Dean of Kiskia University

The assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise in 2021 created a deep governance vacuum. The Constitution did not stipulate this scenario in the absence of Parliament, as was the case at that time. But a tweet from the head of the United Nations Office in Haiti announced that Ariel Henry, whom Moise appointed as the next prime minister but was not sworn in, should replace the then-acting prime minister. After this unprecedented foreign intervention, the prevailing global discourse was that the solution to the crisis must be led by Haiti.

The same global community then spent nearly three years watching Haitian politicians tear each other apart. The illegitimate, illegitimate and incompetent government has, among other sins, handed the country over to criminal gangs and made daily hell for Haitians of all classes. The decline has been rapid and dramatic on all fronts: gangs occupying more than 80 percent of the capital, Port-au-Prince, the accelerating impoverishment of the middle class, corporate bankruptcies, and the dysfunction of state institutions. The government remained committed to external support only.

Henry resigned this month after armed gangs prevented him from returning from abroad. Now the “Haiti-led solution” is being determined by CARICOM, the Caribbean trading bloc. He supports a formula that would modify the seven-member Transitional Presidential Council (known as the “Seven-Headed Serpent”). Every Haitian citizen expects the international community to prove its ability to ensure the smooth establishment of power without being defeated by gangs.

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The big question is whether this presidential council will survive. Can you really make the quick, difficult, and sometimes unpopular decisions that circumstances require? Can they even agree on the choice of prime minister? Although it is not very popular due to the financial burden it imposes, can it gain the public's trust? Will it resist collapse when the time comes to deploy a UN-backed security force, against which many of its members are still fighting? How can we prevent it from influencing the use of state resources for the benefit of its allies during the upcoming elections?

Many organizations believe one solution is to fill the ongoing presidential vacancy with a judge from Haiti's highest court. This formula is simple, practical and follows the country's legal and political traditions.

Another big issue is whether gangs should be invited to the negotiating table. There are precedents related to other political movements in Latin America, such as the FARC movement in Colombia. But gangs in Haiti have no political agenda. They serve the government, the opposition and the business sector interchangeably. Their violent actions indiscriminately target businesses, police stations, critical infrastructure, schools, universities, slums and even hospitals. What is the gain from negotiating with them?

Haiti also wonders whether it should trust the international community. Since its creation in 1804, after fighting against the Spanish, English and French, relations with the West have never been happy. Trade embargo imposed by the United States in 1806; The debt of 150 million francs imposed by King Charles X of France in 1825; Various American occupations and United Nations peacekeeping missions. All of these have left us with more poverty, more political instability, weaker institutions, more corruption, more disillusionment, and less democracy.

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The Caribbean, which has never been a significant player in previous crises in Haiti and today acts as a US proxy, does not inspire confidence. It seems that every time the world interferes in our politics, it is to our misfortune. Even today, despite the rhetoric to the contrary, the proposed solution is not a Haiti-led solution. Haiti is a very complex society. Those who seek solutions for us need humility, accuracy, and historical depth if they are to arrive at appropriate answers.

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