Lawmakers who are calling for the impeachment of President Jovenel Moïse are looking forward to subpoena a number of former government officials and public servants to testify in the special impeachment hearings scheduled for Wednesday, August 7, 2019. According to MP Abel Descollines, the idea of having these public officials testify is not to conduct an investigation into the case, but to further understand the issues raised in the impeachment proceedings. Another MP, Joseph Manes supported the idea of having the officials testify, noting that there is no law that prevents the lower house of parliament to call on these persons to testify during special hearings, a feeling shared by fellow deputy, Jean Marcel Lumérant. The former officials of the government that the opposition parliamentarians want to appear before the house include former Prime Minister Jean Henry Céant, former Justice Minister Jean Roudy Aly, former Foreign Affairs Minister Edmond Bochit, former Minister of the Interior, Jean Mary Reynaldo, Former Chief of Police, Michel Ange Gédéon, President of the electoral Committee, CEP, Léopold Berlanger, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, René Sylvestre and the chief Prosecutor of the Court of Port-au-Prince, Paul Eronce Villard. Reacting to these demands, one of the majority MPs, Jean Marie Florestal, denounced the steps been taken by his colleagues and pointed out that only legitimate Ministers enter the parliament hearings. On the other hand, the opposition MPs who are bringing the impeachment proceedings against the president should rather make arguments to convince them of the correctness of their approach. For the impeachment to go through, 80 MPs must vote in favor.
On the economic front, things are not getting any better. In a study conducted by the food safety commission, La Coordination nationale de la Sécurité alimentaire (CNSA), the cost of a basket of food has increased by 25% during the first half of this year, compared to 10% for the whole of last year. The analysis looked at six (6) basic foodstuff consumed daily by the people as constitution the basket of goods. These include rice, wheat flour, corn, beans, sugar and vegetable oil. The increase in price is attributed to the devaluation of the gourde and its corollary, inflation, residual effects of the drought in 2018 and the poor harvest in the agricultural sector. To put in more concrete terms, the report stated that in June, the nominal cost of the basket of goods costs 1,730 per capita, or 8,650 gourdes per family of five (5), growing at a rate of 5% per month or 34% annually. This monthly increase is caused by imported grains (rice and corn) while the annual increase is associated with both locally produced goods and imported ones. The price of locally produced goods have remained stable throughout the month of June and in certain areas such as beans and corn, have actually dropped, but imported goods such as rice have gone up by 9% and corn by 4%.
Looking at the price increase by region, the study found the highest increase in the cost of goods in markets in Cap-Haïtien (10%), Jérémie (7%) and Croix des Bossales (7%). With regards to farming and food security, the study found that almost all the departments have experienced some drought which impeded the ability to grow and subsequently harvest a bumper crop. The accelerated depreciation of the gourde is also a major concern, increasing from 75 gourdes to the US dollar in January to 94 gourdes in June, 2019, representing a depreciation of 24% monthly or 40% annually. The inflation rate also increased from 17% in February to 18% in May, 2019, and at this rate, most households are not able to meet their basic food needs, forcing them to resort to negative adaptive strategies that further aggravate the socio-economic and political conditions in the nation.
Elsewhere, The US immigration services, USCIS, announced the termination of the family reunification program for Haitians launched in 2016 by President Barack Obama Administration. The program allowed thousands of Haitians who have a visa issued through family reunification to remain in the US with their families while waiting for their green card. In an article in the Miami Herald, the order to stop the visa process for these groups also limits access to asylum, expands the use of detention and ensures that cases are reviewed on a case by case basis. Most immigration advocates were taken by surprise with this announcement and lament the fact that ending the program for Haitians who are facing numerous hardships is inhumane. According to Marlene Bastien of the Family Action Network Movement, who is among those who advocated for the program said that given the fact that Haiti is facing one of its worst political crisis in history, the current administration should be doing more to facilitate the Family Reunification Parole Program, instead of ending it. She rhetorically asked how the president, who promised to be a champion of Haitians during the presidential campaign, is showing his support.