The much-anticipated appearance of Prime Minister Guy Lafontant before the Haitian legislature to answer questions about his administration and a potential vote of no confidence in his administration, scheduled for Thursday, June 28, 2018 was postponed sine die. The Speaker of the House has decided to suspend the hearings and there was no exchange between the government officials and the 16 lawmakers who called for the Prime Minister to appear before the House. The Speaker asked government officials to leave, when opposition lawmakers insisted that the five (5) new ministers also leave the conference hall. At issue is the alleged discontent of the lawmakers that four (4) of the recently appointed Ministers to the Lafontant Administration have not been thoroughly vetted and have not produced the venerated certificat de décharge which makes public all their financial assets. The Ministers are Guyler C. Delva of Culture and Communication; Jean Roudy Aly of Justice and Public Safety; Jean-Marie Reynaldo Brunet of the Interior; and Jobert C. Angrand of Agriculture. However, a government spokesperson revealed that the Prime Minister discussed this issue with the concerned Ministers on the eve of his impending appearance before parliament, and that the government is working to obtain the necessary papers. As of now, no official decision has been made and the new ministers have been participating in cabinet meetings and enjoying the perks of their office. A letter from the superior court of accounts and administrative disputes, Cour Supérieure des Comptes et du Contentieux Administratif (CSCCA), confirmed what the opposition lawmakers were criticizing the administration about. The Speaker of the House agreed to form a special commission to investigate the matter and postponed the meeting with the Prime Minister until a resolution is found. Nevertheless, the House with a majority of pro-government lawmakers must sanction the report of the commission before any meeting with the Prime Minister takes place. Present at this meeting were 107 deputies, a record number in attendance, given that there are other distractions such as the World Cup and patron saint festivities.
In other government news, a new Supreme Court body was sworn last week in Port-au-Prince. The nine (9) member body of the Conseil supérieur du pouvoir judiciaire (CSPJ), was sworn in before a cross section of representatives from state institutions and civil society. In a speech to the gathered body, the outgoing President of the Supreme Court, Justice Jules Cantave, who is also president of the Court de Cassation, gave a report on the advances made by the august body under his presidency in the past six (6) years, noting that he was happy to have worked to improve the working conditions and strengthen the capacity of judges. But he conceded that there is more work to be done to change the image of judges before the public, as lax. Speaking on behalf of the Senate, the Senate President, Senator Jean Renel Sénatus, who also heads the Justice and Security Committee in the senate pleaded for the independence of the judiciary and for better administration of justice. The mandate for the new Council extends to June 2021, according to the law of November 13, 2007 which established this body at the head of the judicial system in Haiti. But the current composition is interesting because it is the first time since 2012 that the body is exclusively male, contrary to the constitutional quota of 30% female participation in the political life of the country. The first CSPJ body had a woman during the 2012-2015 term, and two women during the 2015-2018 term but none this time around. The judicial body is composed of representatives from the Court de Cassation, the Bar Association, Court of Appeals, Peace Tribunals, the Ministry of Justice and civil society.
Meanwhile, the Aid Effectiveness Committee, Comité d’efficacité de l’aide (CEA) recently organized a workshop that addressed cooperation between the government and its international partners. The Moïse/Lafontant administration has proposed that their strategy to use foreign aid revolves around three priority areas of agriculture, the environment and infrastructure; therefore they are not in favor of using this foreign aid to fund actions of non-governmental organizations. In the interest of focusing on these priorities, the government has decided that any form of aid or foreign grant to the country will have to come through the government which will then determine which priority areas to divert the funds.
Talking of priority areas, Jobert C. Angrand, Minister of Agriculture (MARNDR) inaugurated the national seed laboratory this past weekend with the technical and financial support from the United Nations’ FAO and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) through its Technology through Transfer to Farmers Program. The laboratory is expected to allow the national seeds service, Service National Semencier (SNS) to control the seed crop in the country by certifying the seeds, both local and imported, and to provide farmers with seeds that meet standards, leading to guaranteed higher agricultural yield, with positive spillover effect for food security especially in rural areas.
Furthermore, on environment issues, FOKAL is taking steps to protect the Morne Hôpital area by setting up a fruit nursery, and foresters at Saint Jude, a neighborhood in Morne. There are some 25 model farm gardens been developed to benefit several families by agronomists, agro technicians in collaboration with farmers in the area. The Morne Hospital area has always been exposed to the risk of landslides, floods and overflowing with alluvial deposits that run down with each heavy rainfall. As part of its interventions in addressing this issue, FOKAL contributes to the improvement of the know-how of the farmers, the protection of the slopes and the increase of income of the farmers through the products produced. To curb practices such as burning, uncontrolled cutting of trees, the plowing of sloping plots and their clearing, FOKAL promotes the installation of these nurseries, provides technical monitoring to these facilities and training families, which has facilitated the establishment of anti-erosion structures to stop the speed of water runoff, the presence of stone cords, live ramps and dry-stone sills. This activity helps to curb soil erosion and devastating floods, especially during the hurricane season, it puts the spotlight on the importance of the reforestation of Haiti and the protection of the environment as a tool for economic growth and job creation.
Elsewhere, the former military leader, Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy, who headed the military government after the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship died of lung cancer last week in the Dominican Republic, where he went into exile after his government was overthrown three months later by non-commissioned officers in the army. The funeral is scheduled for Saturday in the Dominican Republic according to his wishes.
Brooklyn will now boast of a new neighborhood, Little Haiti, which covers parts of Ditmas Park, Flatbush, East Flatbush, and Midwood, and is generally bounded by E. 16th Street, Parkside Avenue, Brooklyn Avenue, Avenue H, and includes Church Avenue between Brooklyn and Albany avenues. This designation was made by the New York City Council on last week by a bill designating the swath of Central Brooklyn as Little Haiti Cultural and Business District, introduced by state assemblywoman of Haitian descent, Rodneyse Bichotte (D–Flatbush). This designation is very important, especially in these Trumpian times when public policy is targeting immigrants. The Council’s support for Little Haiti will allow Bichotte and other leaders to get to work on projects that can help bring more tourism dollars and other investments to the area.
Finally, the world cup is going strong with the last of the group of 16 games played . There has been no shortage of surprises with the early exit of such big names as Germany, Argentina, Spain and Portugal. Qualifying for the quarter-finals are France-Uruguay; Brazil-Belgium; Russia-Croatia and Sweden/England