Students with Haitian roots rue their country’s fate

Picture translation: “Stop Supporting Government Criminals.” Photo courtesy: Instagram @Morencyjo

On Friday, the Haitian government formally permitted prime minister Ariel Henry to request a “specialized armed force.”  Henry had requested the order to regain control and restore order in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, from the hands of gangs that had taken the city hostage in recent weeks.

Since Sept. 12, the fuel depot has been inoperable; up to 800,000 gallons of kerosene are stored on site.

Haiti has become a war zone for 150 to 200 gangs fighting to gain control of Port-au-Prince by blockading the country’s fuel terminals. This comes after the prime minister announced last month that fuel subsidies would be eradicated, doubling prices.

The citizens of Haiti reacted with protests blocking the roads with “iron gates and mango trees,” reported by PBS News Hour. A powerful gang took even deeper measures by digging trenches to secure the country’s largest fuel terminal. They are committing not to move or allow government officials the right to pass until Henry resigns and the prices for fuel and essential goods go down.

“To know my country is always on the news (and its never excellent news) is irritating and heartbreaking,” Rebecca Datilus, a FAMU student, said. “Yes, violence is rising in the country almost every day, but is that all we can talk or think about when it comes to Haiti? Throughout history, it’s been nothing but negativity toward Haiti. Are we not tired? Because I sure am. When will I turn on the news and hear someone talk positively about Haiti? When will I turn on the news and hear about the improvement in Haiti from the elected officials?”

 The violence continues to cripple the country as hospitals have decided to shut down due to no fuel. Parents aren’t sending their children to school in fear of getting caught in the crossfire of bullets and the burning of tires and buildings; innocent bystanders are killed while fleeing from the capital.

It has been reported that a cholera outbreak has taken place, and already eight people have reportedly passed away due to the outbreak.

Ross Ulyss, a Haitian-American student at FAMU, said, “Allowing foreigners into our country again to ‘help’ us hasn’t worked before, and it doesn’t resolve anything. The last time boots were on the ground; they left children behind, took money that belonged to our country, and exploited and took advantage of Haitian women. Haiti needs to be able to fix its problems, not add outsiders into our business. How can we be united as a country if we can’t come together? It just defeats the purpose.”

As Haiti’s citizens continue to protest and demand that officials change and start anew as conditions worsen, killings are at an all-time high, and families have no money to buy essential items and fear leaving their houses.

Tires are being burned, and businesses are shutting down and boarding up. Tension continues to rise since the request for international intervention to secure Haiti from the never-ending war within itself. Citizens want to see change but don’t believe it should come from the help of foreigners but their government officials.

“My country is going through a multidimensional crisis whose consequences threaten democracy and the very foundations of the rule of law,” Henry told the PBS News Hour. He condemned widespread looting and violence and said those responsible “have to answer for their crimes before history and before the courts.”

“Haiti is now in complete chaos,” said Alex Dupuy, a Haiti-born sociologist at Wesleyan University. “You have gangs doing whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want with complete impunity because the police force is not capable of bringing them under control.”

Henry’s de-facto government “doesn’t seem to be fazed at all by the chaos and is probably benefiting from it because it allows him to hold on to power and prolong as long as possible the organization of new elections,” Dupuy said in an article written for the PBS cover story.