Canada and the United States land in Haiti amid political chaos
US and Canadian military planes landed on the tarmac in Port-au-Prince this weekend to deliver armored vehicles to local police forces. On Monday, the Prime Minister of Haiti asks the UN Security Council for even stronger support from his allies in order to stabilize his country in the grip of chaos.
Since Haiti announced the end of gas price subsidies in September, the country has suffered from riots, looting and protests.
This measure requested by the IMF should make it possible to free up funds for the Haitian State budget. Cutting off such subsidies also harms street gangs. The latter regularly bought the subsidized oil and sold it on the street to resell it elsewhere, earning a profit.
Since then, these gangs have taken control of the largest oil terminal in Port-au-Prince. They entered by force twice last week to steal thousands of liters of fuel each time, according to official communications from the Varreux terminal.
Moreover, the UN reports that approximately 60% of the country’s capital is controlled by these armed gangs.
Faced with this chaos, the prime minister and interim president, Ariel Henry, asked for the help of the international community for a « specialized armed force » to help pacify his country. This recourse to foreign countries is however seen as an “occupation” by some Haitians. Calls for “general mobilization” circulate widely on social networks.
Canada responded to this official request by opening a “new project” of $10 million over five years. In addition to delivering vehicles purchased by the Haitian government, Canada will train police officers on site.
Canada has already invested more than $225 million in security in Haiti since 1995.
The Perfect Storm
« I have never seen Haiti in this situation, » testified in an interview with the To have to former Canadian ambassador to Haiti Gilles Rivard. Never has « social chaos » taken on such proportions since he first set foot there in 1995.
For good reason, the president was assassinated a year and a half ago. The person responsible for naming his successor died of COVID-19 three weeks before this murder. The current interim president has never been sworn in. Members of the Senate are no longer appointed. In short, « there is no longer any law in Haiti, there is no parliament, there is a gaping hole » in the political sphere. Even after the terrible earthquake, “at least there was a Prime Minister, a President, a Chamber of Deputies and a Senate”.
Few chances remain according to him for Canadian, American or other troops to land in Haiti. International aid thus risks being limited to humanitarian aid and arms delivered to the Haitian national police.
“Sending forces to Haiti, whether under the cover of the United Nations or national flags, we know when we send them, but we never know when we repatriate them,” he underlines.
To stem this “perfect storm”, the country will have to draw “a roadmap” towards elections, according to him. “But you have to know where you’re going. Currently, it’s done blind, in a way,” observes Gilles Rivard.
A UN Security Council meeting on Haiti is scheduled for Friday.
Resurgence of cholera
Another misfortune for the Haitians: a cholera epidemic is circulating on the island. The infection is transmitted through contaminated water and can cause severe diarrhea and dehydration.
More than 600 cases and 35 deaths have been recorded since the beginning of October by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
The last cholera epidemic lasted until 2019 and killed more than 10,000 people. The bacterium was introduced by peacekeepers in 2010. The country was about to be declared free of this disease, according to PAHO. Nearly 100,000 children under the age of five are already suffering from acute malnutrition and are vulnerable to cholera.
With Agence France-Presse
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