The security situation in the country is reaching alarming proportions in recent days and the police are trying their best to establish order, as they try to apprehend elusive gang leader known as Arnel. Last Saturday, the national police (PNH) undertook an operation in the Village de Dieu neighborhood, where 80 people were arrested, hundreds of homes were searched and three unregistered motorcycles impounded in the home of Arnel. This detailed announcement was made by the spokesperson of the PNH, Michel-Ange Louis-Jeune during a press conference, where it was also announced that 23 years old gang leader; Ronald Rébélus who lives on the Rue Saint Paul was arrested. Gangs have been known to cut off entire neighborhoods in order to monitor and control police activity in the communities, by controlling when they come in and out. An investigation has been opened by the PNH to determine the gangs’ source of guns and ammunition and any groups that may be helping them carry out their nefarious activities. Police have asked for the community at large to help them with any information they may have to this effect. These armed gangs have been terrorizing neighborhoods in the metropolitan area and as a result of clashes last week, a gang leader known as “Bout Jeanjean” has been transferred to a police guarded hospital where he’s receiving medical care following a recent shootout.
Next, there were violent clashes this past Sunday in the Cathedral of Gonaïves, where during a mass celebrating the patron saint of the city, Saint Charles Boromée, a fight broke out between supporters of Senator Youri Latortue and a group known as Platfòm Pou sove Latibonit, (PLASOLA). The fight was recorded by an onlooker who shared it on social media and as a result, many people watching were repulsed at the odious incident in the house of worship. Former vice-delegate from the Gonaïves municipality under former President René Garcia Préval, Woobens Bordenave and another young man were severely beaten. It has been gathered that tensions have mounted between the two groups for some time now following the PetroCaribe report with each questioning the legitimacy of the other to carry out the fight against the embezzlement and bringing to justice those implicated in the report. For Mr. Bordenave, former advisor to President Michel Martelly does not appear to be a legitimate candidate to carry the fight for justice for PetroCaribe, and long before the ceremonies commemorating the patron saint, the group showed up in Tee-Shirts with the words “Mouche leta kot kòb Petrokaribe” emblazoned on them, claiming to start a new movement called Petro Saint Charles. As a victim of this clash, the former delegate has made a complaint before the courts yesterday, hoping that his aggressors will be brought to justice. Senator Youri Latortue has denied any knowledge of this aggression and plans to visit the victim soon to iron out any differences among their supporters. The prosecutor, Serard Gasius, also promised a swift investigation and prosecution of the case without political bias, but with the respect for the rule of law.
As the PetroCaribe issue gains momentum, the Core Group also added their voice to the growing concerns to bring the perpetrators to justice. In a letter dated November 2, 2018, the group which consists of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Ambassadors of major European countries, North America, the EU and the Organization of American States, OAS have expressed their concern for the exercise of democratic values as demonstrated in the recent uprising of youth, workers and civil society to demand justice. But while they are impressed with the right to popular expression through democratic means, they abhor violence and called on all parties to try to avoid violence at all cost. They called on all branches of government to make possible a national dialogue that is peaceful and address the concerns of all parties involved. They equally applauded the police for their professionalism and restraint shown in these recent street demonstrations and called on all parties to be vigilant and resist any violence.
In other news, bound to rattle a lot of people in the days to come, the Minister of Finance, Ronald Décembre, announced that an increase in fuel prices is inevitable, because the country cannot simply afford to subsidize the cost of petroleum much longer. According to Mr. Decembre the government is not discussing whether or not adjusting prices is possible but rather how to do so without disrupting economic activities and with less burden on consumers, especially those with limited means to support themselves and their families. One option is for the government to subsidize public transportation and pass on the cost to private individuals who are willing to use their cars. The increase which caused three days of popular uprising in July, leading to the dissolution of the Lafontant government is rearing its ugly head again but this time, the government is cautious not to provoke the populace, and also with the coming budget in the next few days, government officials explained that the state had to pay 2 billion gourdes to oil companies to make up for losses on the sale of petroleum, an amount that included grants until September 2018.
Meanwhile, an initial group of 176 Haitian migrants will be returning home from Chile as part of the Chilean government’s new program of voluntary return for migrants to their home country. Most people who registered to go back home have done so because of personal reasons. In a study of some 100 Haitian migrants living in Chile, 66 percent have stated unemployment as their main reason for wanting to return home, while others have stated their inability to meet the demands of their relatives back home. Others stated the climate as a reason while one lady decided to return home because of her employer raping her. All told, these people have made up their minds to return because the economic reasons that propelled them to seek green pastures have proven illusive. While some human rights groups have deemed this decision racist and xenophobic, the refugee rights group, Groupe d’appui aux rapatriés et réfugiés (GARR) has called on the Haitian government to welcome the returnees with dignity and provide for their resettlement. Once returned, these migrants cannot re-enter Chili for a period of nine years.
Finally, the first ever GedeFest was a resounding success as throngs of festival goers enjoyed themselves at the cemetery of Port-au-Prince in Carrefour where music food and dancing were in full display. The festival which is the Voodoo version of the catholic festival of All Saints Day saw most believers dressed in black white and purple clothes and visit Baron Samedi’s tomb in the cemetery. The festival paid tribute to New Orleans, a sister city with historical roots, as former French colonies with similar religious and gastronomic similarities.