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A precarious calm in Haiti

The precarious calm in these few days has compelled some schools and parents to secretly reopen their doors to students who have been shut of school for the past 10 weeks because of the continuing protests to ouster President Jovenel Moïse.  Principals and Directors of schools, as well as parents in the metropolitan area are beginning to lose patience on the long closure of schools and the effect the long blockade is having on their children. Some of the private school in the metropolitan area are beginning to feel the pinch as they are unable to pay their staff and are secretly opening their doors to students who go to school without inviting the ire of the protesters. But the educators were hoping that schools would resume at a gradual pace this week starting from the primary grades and progressively to the secondary and tertiary levels but the results so far has been timid, because on the one hand, most parents are afraid that sending their children to school in this environment will only invite violence on them by the protestors who have vowed to burn down schools that dare to open. On the other hand, the economic paralysis meant most households have little by way of resources to pay or buy materials for their children to go to school. The Ministry of Education is expected to announce a new school calendar, fixing early December as the start of the school year and July 2020 as the end of the school year instead of June, as has been the tradition.

 

The two international organizations involved with the welfare of children, UNESCO and UNICEF have called on the government and social, economic and political actors to work together to allow for the immediate reopening of schools to ensure continuity in the education of children. According to the Ministry of Education, 70% of schools across the country have been closed, meaning some 3 million children have not been able to go to school for over 50 days out of the 189 days expected, creating a significant learning deficit for these children. According to Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, all children have a right to a free primary education and access to secondary and higher education, despite any political or social turmoil. Educating these children opens the door to their future, allowing those who are poor and marginalized in society to move out of poverty and function well in society.

 

Meanwhile, despite the calm and the rebounding of commercial activities, banking and transportation across the country, there have been barricades erected on certain roads in the metropolitan area and some of the major cities across the country. There was sporadic gunfire heard in the south of the capital, though people went about their business as usual. But when doctors, nurses and midwifes tried to get to work Tuesday morning, they were forced to turn around at Trois mains on Route 9 because the National 1, Carrefour Drouillard has been blocked. Other roads blocked included Carrefour Fleuriot, Tabarre 27 and Carrefour Marassa, Fonds des Nègres and Miragoâne. It seems the authorities are unable to control the situation in the country, which is gradually running out of hand with armed groups roaming the streets, stealing, raping and killing with impunity. Just this past Sunday, two French nationals who came to the country to adopt a baby were killed in cold blood, while the next day, Charlot Jeudy, founder of Kouraj, and an activist for LGBT rights was found dead in his home. Circumstances around his death are still unclear.

 

But in commemorating the International day for the elimination of violence against women, on Monday, President Jovenel Moïse called for the eradication of all forms of violence towards women and insisted on the necessity of the judicial authorities to act decisively and effectively against the aggressors. While noting that 12% of women are victims of violence, 58% of which are committed by loved ones, spouses, lovers or family, he stressed that these statistics are alarming and such violence towards women constitute a key impediment to the overall human development of the society. He encouraged victims to report their assailants and assure that his administration will continue to work to eradicate this human rights violation.

 

In other news, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft was in Haiti to meet with the main political actors and after the meeting made a public declaration to the effect that President Jovenel Moïse, who is democratically elected, has expressed to her his determination to address the urgent needs of the population, promote economic prosperity and build a better and brighter future for all Haitians. She said her discussions with the main economic and political actors led to the need to guide and support state institutions because a fully functioning government must fight corruption, investigate and prosecute human rights violations, including those responsible for the killings in La Saline and Belair; and fight drug and human trafficking. She called on the leaders to come together, put their differences aside and come up with an all-inclusive solution for the well being of the Haitian people. The Unites States, she said, is willing to accompany them in this pursuit. After this meeting, the President met with the leaders of the other branches of government in hopes to find an inclusive agreement by the end of the year. In the meeting with Deputy Gary Bodeau and Senator Carl Murat Cantave, Presidents of the lower and upper houses of parliament respectively, and the Chief Justice, Rene Sylvestre, the President was advised to listen to and be more receptive to all the voices of the people including those asking for his departure.

But soon after the departure of the US envoy, a local organization, Konbit ayisyen pou lojman altènatif (KAYLA) denounced her presence on the island, as an attempt to force the opposition to form a government with the current administration. In a press release, the organization criticized those countries called friends of Haiti, known as the Core Group, representing the international community are only defending their interests to the detriment of the Haitian people. According to KAYLA, the history of coups d’états in the Americas and the US involvement in such does not give her any moral or ethical standing to come and lecture the Haitian people.

Finally, the artist Manno Beats won the “Best African Act in the Diaspora” award at the recently held All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA). Musicians from across the continent and the Diaspora converged on Lagos the past Saturday for the 6th annual even which is rapidly becoming a window on the music industry in Africa, which has become innovative and prolific in recent years. Manno Beats won the award with his single “Akouna” which came out on July 30, 2019, with the collaboration of Afrotonix and Vox Sambou. The song was nominated for two categories: Best African Act in the Diaspora, with other renowned artists as Aya Nakamura and Maître Gims; and for the “Best Artist in African Electro” with such competitors as Black Coffee, David Ghetta and Mister Izi among others.

Dela Harlley

 

 

 

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