Recent Feature Articles

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, March 17, 2017

It’s time for the United Nations’ 2,300 blue-helmet soldiers in Haiti to head home after 13 years, the head of the world body recommended in a report to the U.N. Security Council this week.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said that the peacekeeping operation in Haiti should close by Oct. 15. Guterres made the recommendation in a 37-page U.N. report obtained by the Miami Herald.

“The military component should undergo a staggered but complete withdrawal of the 2,370 personnel,” Guterres said of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, which is more commonly known by its French acronym, MINUSTAH.

Guterres’ recommendation comes as President Donald Trump seeks to significantly cut the United States’ U.N. contribution with a particular focus on reductions in peacekeeping, environment and development. At the same time, the Trump administration is proposing to slash funding for the U.S. Agency for International Development, Haiti’s biggest donor.

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, March 15, 2017

“What goes around, comes around,” says the proverb, and former Haitian “rebel” leader Guy Philippe must be pondering this karmic truth as he languishes in his Miami, FL jail cell.

In February 2004, he played a key role in helping U.S. Special Forces kidnap then President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from Haiti and whisk him off to a seven year exile in Africa. Today, Philippe claims, through his lawyer, that U.S. government agents illegally kidnapped him from Haiti on Jan. 5, 2017 and, with “shocking and outrageous” conduct, flew him to Florida to stand trial because he has “too much information” about Washington’s overthrow of Aristide.

By Ken Karuri, Africa News, March 10, 2017

The United Nations is considering new measures to eradicate growing sexual abuse by its peacekeepers, including freezing payments to the countries of origin of the perpetrators.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday in an annual report that the number of cases of sexual exploitation or abuse involving peacekeepers and civilians employed in UN missions had jumped to 145 in 2016, compared with 99 the previous year.

The increase, according to the report, is explained by the fact that more victims are speaking out. The secretary general said that the reports in 2016 had emanated from 311 people, mainly women and minors.

Mr Guterres suggested retaining funding for countries of origin that would not investigate their accused soldiers deployed in peacekeeping missions within a “reasonable time”.

The funds would then be redirected to a fund for victims.

By Travis Ross, CHAN co-editor, March 12, 2017

A recent article by David McFadden of the Associated Press reports that the UN's military occupation force in Haiti known as MINUSTAH will "downsized in the near future". The UN plans to send 2,358 soldiers from 19 contributing countries over the next few months, according to the article. 

This comes as welcome news to Haitians, who have been demanding that MINUSTAH leave Haiti for over a decade. Despite McFadden's claims that MINUSTAH has "provided the only real security", the majority of Haitians have a different view of MINUSTAH's role in their country. 

Since arriving, MINUSTAH soldiers have been accused of multiple human rights abuses, including rape, child molestation, and murder. 

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, March 3, 2017

The evening before he died, two-time Haitian President René Garcia Préval, who led Haiti during food riots and its worst natural disaster, called his wife, Elisabeth, who was visiting Coral Gables. He had just returned from paying his respects after the passing of a friend, and had discovered a new restaurant, he told her.

Préval, who had come to prefer the quiet of home to public restaurants in his post-presidency years, was excited about his new Italian find, and he couldn’t wait to take his wife there, Elisabeth Delatour Préval said to the Miami Herald.

On Friday, she remembered the conversation: “He asked, when am I coming home?”

Préval died Friday at their home in Laboule, a neighborhood in the hills of Port-au-Prince. He was 74. The cause of death has not been confirmed but friends close to him, many of whom gathered at the hospital where his body lay on a metal gurney, say it was likely the result of a heart attack.

By Carol Gunesburg & Ronald Cesar, VOA News, March 2, 2017

Late last year, the United Nations vowed to intensify the fight against a deadly cholera outbreak its peacekeepers inadvertently carried to Haiti.

To date, however, the UN has raised just a small fraction of the estimated $400 million needed over the next two years to wage that campaign, according to a letter from the new secretary-general.

“The voluntary contributions that have been received are not yet sufficient and constitute only 2 percent of the amount," Antonio Guterres wrote in the letter sent last week to permanent representatives of the international body.

That would mean about $8 million. The letter said that as of February 8, five member states -- Chile, France, India, Liechtenstein and South Korea -- collectively had pledged almost $2 million to a U.N. multi-partner trust fund. Outside of that fund, Japan has promised $2.6 million and Canada has committed about $6 million.

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, March 1, 2017

Borrowing a practice used by the new U.S. President Donald Trump, Haiti’s new president Jovenel Moïse announced his choice for prime minister via Twitter on the evening of Feb. 22, 2017.

“After a second series of consultations with the presidents of the two chambers, I’ve made a choice of Dr. Jack Guy Lafontant as Prime Minister,” he tweeted in French.

Jovenel Moïse was exasperated after days of wrangling with his putative allies in Parliament, who were jostling and lobbying for various rival candidates, in particular House of Deputies president Cholzer Chancy, a reputed drug trafficker. The in-fighting was intense. The president ultimately decided to choose his own doctor (and that of his wife and father), whom he had been considering for the post of Health Minister.

“Jovenel finally got fed up and decided to choose his own man,” said Dr. Michel José Charles, a New York-based Haitian gastroenterologist who has known the prime minister pick for decades. Dr. Lafontant was a supporter of Jovenel Moïse since he launched his presidential campaign under the banner of the Haitian Bald Headed Party (PHTK) in 2015.

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, Feb. 22, 2017

An obscure physician who heads the Petionville Rotary Club has been designated as Haiti’s next prime minister by President Jovenel Moïse. Dr. Jack Guy Lafontant, a gastroenterologist and member of the American College of Physicians, confirmed to the Miami Herald that he had been tapped and was “awaiting official confirmation.”

That confirmation came after Lafontant’s name was published Thursday in the country’s official publication, Le Moniteur. Now he must convince both chambers of Parliament thatwith his cabinet and political program, he’s the right man for the job.

The choice of Lafontant, 55, came as a surprise to Haitian political watchers and lawmakers. One of them, Sen. Jacques Sauveur Jean, a member of Moïse’s ruling PHTK party, told Magik 9 radio station that he only learned of the news Thursday morning and had no idea who Lafontant was or what he looked like.

By Marc-Arthur Fils-Aimé, Haiti Liberté, Feb. 22, 2017

Haiti’s Nov. 20, 2016 elections did not live up to expectations. There was great hope that they would enable the country would emerge from its ever-deepening crisis. Instead, the elections were fraught with fraud and irregularities, sometimes similar but often different from that seen in 2015.

Electoral participation was only about 20%, enabling neo-liberal political parties without a proven program to seize power. Many of those elected are rumored to be drug traffickers, smugglers, and perpetrators of other heinous acts, thus depriving them of legitimacy and respect. The nation will suffer for at least the next four or five years.

By David Mcfadden, Associated Press, Feb. 20, 2017

Dozens of emaciated men with sunken cheeks and protruding ribs lie silently in an infirmary at Haiti’s largest prison, most too weak to stand. The corpse of an inmate who died miserably of malnutrition is shrouded beneath a plastic tarp.
 
Elsewhere, prisoners are crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in cellblocks so overcrowded they have to sleep in makeshift hammocks suspended from the ceiling or squeeze four to a bunk. New arrivals at Haiti’s National Penitentiary jostle for space on filthy floors where inmates on lockdown 22 hours a day are forced to defecate into plastic bags in the absence of latrines.
 
“Straight up: This is hell. Getting locked up in Haiti will drive you crazy if it doesn’t kill you first,” said Vangeliste Bazile, a homicide suspect who is among the about 80 percent of those incarcerated who have not been convicted of a crime but are held in prolonged pretrial detention waiting for their chance to see a judge.