How did the people of Haiti wake up the morning they announced the assassination of the president?
“It’s not just a morning news, it’s not a bolt from the blue. The real problem is that gangs have become armed political groups in Haiti in recent years. They have money, weapons. They are supported by groups that have their own agenda of interests ».
Father Rick Frechette, American, doctor and priest, spent forty of his 67 years in Haiti, where he leads the projects of the Francesca Rava Foundation. Loved by the poor, poorly tolerated by the powerful on duty, he constantly lives on the edge of the road. And what happened the other night in President Jovenel Moïse’s villa is (also) a reflection of what happens in the streets of Haiti every day. «For years the population has lived in terror of these gangs. Who have money, heavy weapons ».
Where does the money come from?
“From the fact that they are allowed to finance themselves with crime with impunity. Kidnapping, theft, extortion. Nobody pays them directly, but the gangs operate with absolute impunity. Everywhere. They document their actions and share them on social networks. They are not afraid of anyone. They go around with weapons in hand. And they are sponsored by powerful groups. Here, this I can say. This is the starting point for understanding what is happening in Haiti ».
And President Moïse?
“He and the government have never really condemned this violence. When the
gangs shot at the Doctors Without Borders hospital which had to close in Martissant (a neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, ed), there was not a word of condemnation from the authorities. The day before yesterday a nurse in an ambulance was shot in the head in the Carrefour area. Also in this case, total silence ».
Silence and impunity.
“These people who are not afraid of anything were not even afraid to kill the president. There is no telling which group is responsible, but it is clear that it was an organized and planned murder. This is what people on the street say today. And the message that has passed is: no one is safe ».
“It could be a descent into utter chaos: looting everywhere, emptying prisons, a new round of revenge. But even if this does not happen, everyone is wondering what will be the next moves of the various armies in the field. Open war as happened in the Cité Soleil area? Will it be an opportunity to control the next president, influence the next prime minister? A brutal civil war? This is the big concern. But I have no inside information, no dialogue with any of the great actors on the scene. Mine are the impressions of those who live on the street. And he has the problem of filling 360 cylinders ».
«At the San Luca hospital we need five or six cylinders a day for each Covid patient in serious condition. We have to go and refill them by crossing Port-au-Prince in the areas where they shoot. We cannot see the sick die before our eyes. But we all live in fear of war. This morning, for example, after the death of the president, the staff did not come to the hospital. Those who worked the night shift had to do the day shift and will also do the second night. And there is always oxygen to fetch ».
And the vaccines?
“Here in Haiti, 11 million inhabitants, we haven’t seen any yet. Whoever has a visa and money goes to Miami ».
What would you do with a fistful of extra cash?
“We could better help displaced people who fled from areas where gangs are rampant and fighting each other. We would buy medicine for the sick. We could increase oxygen production for this wave and those to come. While waiting for the vaccines, we urgently need oxygen ».
July 8, 2021 (change July 8, 2021 | 07:10)
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