Statement of MAKON on insecurity in Gros Morne

Walking on the road near Grepen in Gros Morne
 
[The community of Gros Morne where we have worked with the Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center for 20 years now, has been spared the worst of the violence over the last three year. They have certainly felt the insecurity, been impacted by road blocks, fuel shortages and so on. However, in the last two weeks violence has been increasing, with attacks on women merchants at the local market, robberies and attacks on the road.  In response to these attacks a coalition of 27 community organizations came together this week as “Makon” to issue the following statement encouraging local authorities and all the people of the communal sections of Gros Morne to work together to confront the crisis.]
 
(vèsyon kreyòl la anba a)

Makon Community Group of Gros Morne is an umbrella group composed of 27 local community organizations and civil society groups that are active in the town of Gros Morne and all 8 communal sections. Makon meets monthly to discuss, share, and propose solutions for the betterment of our community. Makon strongly condemns all of the violent acts committed against market women and all other acts of violence that are victimizing our society, such as violence against women and girls, kidnapping, and theft. This is spreading throughout the country, and no one is safe. During the past 2 months, Gros Morne has become unsafe. 

Consider the fact that multiple acts of kidnapping have been committed in Savanne Carree, in the communal section of Pendus, on the border between the communes of Gros Morne and Bassin Bleu. This has given Gros Morne a bad reputation nationally. Makon strongly condemns these actions, and asks every person in our society to work together to stop these dishonest and violent acts. We have never experienced an atmosphere in Gros Morne as violent as it is now. This used to be a place where everyone lived peacefully, and we refuse to tolerate this syndicate of dishonest and criminel people of bad faith and bad blood. They are causing major disturbances in the area as they cause families to cry out in pain as children are left orphaned. Despite the fact that there was a general malaise of social, political, and economic indifference regarding the socio economic suffering of the poor, Gros Morne has never been this violent. We are now living in a time when the people of Gros Morne cannot leave their homes at 5AM out of fear. Consider the fact that in a single week, a young man was shot in Fon Ibo, a market woman was shot and robbed in Lestere, an old man was shot and killed, and this is not even a complete list of those who were shot. Churches can no longer hold nighttime services due to the level of insecurity. 

Makon condemns all of these acts, and pleads with each and every member of our local society to work together to stop these terrible acts of violence. 

We Ask : 

  1. Local authorities must take public action to identify this network of dishonest and criminel people of bad faith and bad blood and arrest them
  2. All citizens of Gros Morne must collaborate with the police and the judiciary by sharing any information that they are able to, without putting themselves in danger. We have never experienced Gros Morne as it is now, and we will not tolerate this change in our town. 
  3. Everyone must use logical methods to identify unknown persons in their local area, and alert the police and the judiciary about any suspect persons. 
  4. Local police and judicial officials must make a phone number available, and highly publicized, so that citizens can call them 24/7.
  5. The police must make regular patrols of the area, especially in the zones of Fon Ibo, Grepen, Ti Guinen, Cite Lucien, Campeche, Ba Moulin, Mòn Salin, Rivyè Mansel, and Cressac. 
  6. The state must provide resources for the local Gros Morne police, in every sense of that word. 
  7. The police must be honest about what they are seeing, and what they can and cannot do to help. If an issue arises that is beyond the police, where they feel that they cannot make an intervention, they must make the population aware of this as soon as possible. 

We hope that everyone will take action as responsible citizens in order to save our community. 

Let´s use all of the strength of the Gros Morne community to stop these violent acts!

This message is important for everyone in all sectors of our society. 


Nòt Espas Makòn Kominal Gwomòn

Makòn Kominal Gwomòn ki se espas kote majorite OCB (27) ki nan sosyete sivil ògnize a non vil Gwomòn ak 8 seksyon kominal yo, toujou reyini chak mwa pou diskite, pataje, pwopoze solisyon pou byennèt kominote a, Kondane ak tout fos li, tout zak asasinay sou ti machan yo ak lòt qwo zak malonèt sosyete a ap sibi tankou (vyolans sou fanm ak tifi, kidnapin, vòl elatriye) ki gaye sou tout peyi a kote pèson pa epanye. Sitou nan vil Gwomòn pandan 2 dènye mwa sa yo. 

Lè nou konsidere plizyè zak kidnapin ki repete nan SAVANN KARE/PANDI nan limit GWOMÒN ak BASENBLE. Tout sa yo fè Gwomòn komanse genyen move repitasyon. MAKÒN kondane zak sa yo ak tout fos li epi mande pou chak kouch moun nan sosyete a mete men pou te konn viv alèz, nou pap tolere pou yon ekip: SANSAL, MALFEKTÈ, SANGINÈ, MALFWA vin simen latwoubly epi kontiniye mete dlo nan je fanmi yo, lage timoun san manman san papa non lari a. Malgre tout endiferans sosyal, politik ak ekonomik ki konn genyen, GWOMÒN paka mache menm nan 5è non maten. Lè nou konsidere nan yon semèn yon jenn gason pran bal nan Fonyibo, yon madanm ki pral cheche lavi Leste pran bal epi rive pedi 23 mil dola, yon sitwayen ki pral cheche lavi mouri anba bal epi plizyè lòt moun pran bal. Oken legliz pa ka fonksyone nan sèvis aswè yo pou site sa Sèlman.

MAKÒN kondane zak sa yo epi mande pou chak kouch mou nan sosyete a mete men pou frennen tout vye zak sa yo.

NOU MANDE:

  1. Fòk tout otorite local yo mete aksyon piblik an mouvaman pou rive dekouvri rezo MALFEKTÈ, SANSAL, SANGINÈ ak MALFWA sayo epi mete yo anba kòd
  2. Fòk Sitwayen ak Sitwayèn pote kole pou yo kolabore ak lajistis, lapolis nan pataje enfòmasyon pandan yap pwoteje pwòp tèt pa yo, paske nou pat janm gen yon Gwomòn kanibal e nou pap tolere sa
  3. Fòk chak sitwayen ak sitwayèn de fason Teknik rive idantifye tout moun yo pa konnen non lokalite yo, epi pou tout moun ki parèt sispèk nan lokalite a rele lapolis ak LAJISTIS
  4. Fòk LAPOLIS ak LAJISTIS mete nimewo telefon disponib 24/24 epi pibliye yo ak afiche yo tout kote
  5. Fòk LAPOLIS fè patwouy tout kote nan vil sitou: FONYIBO, GREPEN, TIGINEN, SITE LUCIEN, NAN KANPECH, BA MOULIN, MON SALIN, RIVYE MANSÈL, KRESAK… elatriye
  6. Fòk LETA nan piwo nivo ranfòse LAPOLIS GWOMON nan tout sans
  7. Fòk LAPOLIS sispann kale wès nan komin nan si toutfwa genyen kèk pwoblèm ki fe yo paka fè entrèvansyon se pou yo avèti popilasyon an sa byen rapid.

Nou espere ke ou tout an jeneral ap pran reponsabilite nou pou sove kominote a.

ANN MAKÒN FÒS NAN GWOMÒN NOU POU KWAPE SANGINÈ SA YO!!!

Mesaj sa a konsène tout sektè an jeneral

ESPAS MAKÒN KOMINAL GWOMÒN

 

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JPIC Franciscan Family of Honduras Statement on Free Trade Zone Law

Photo: Protest in Roatan against the ZEDE project “Honduras Prospera”. Citizen photography, originally in El Faro

[The Justice Peace and the Integrity of Creation Committee of the Franciscan Family of Honduras is a fellow member of the Franciscan Network on Migration. The new free trade zone law in Honduras continues the current government’s pattern of providing open access to Honduras’ natural resources and exploitation of workers. Speaking out against such “reform” is crucial. This kind of liberal investment environment, promoted as a means to address the “roots of migration,” will likely make things worse in the long run by dislocating communities and undermining labor.]

JPIC STATEMENT OF THE FRANCISCAN FAMILY OF HONDURAS

“We reject the expropriation of the common home” 

Monday, July 12, 2021, Santa Rosa de Copán To all the Honduran people:

The Franciscan Commission on Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC), faced with the problematic situation confronting the Honduran nation in light of the imposed law of the so-called “Zones of Employment and Economic Development ”(ZEDES), sees a proposal that affects territorial sovereignty and the Rights of Peoples, the care of biodiversity, ecosystems and hydrographic basins; it also deteriorates democracy, nullifies citizen participation and increases the impoverishment of households, including that of native peoples and the rural population.

The magisterium of the church in numeral 2420 of the Catechism states: “The church expresses a moral judgment, in economic and social matters,’when the fundamental rights of the person or the salvation of souls demand it’ (GS 76,5).” Pope Francis in the encyclical Laudato Si, expresses that, This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will[…]This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22).”

Considering that the Bicentennial of Independence is celebrated this year, we ask our representatives (diputados) to imitate the founders and heroes of this nation, who fought and defended our territory against colonialism and illicit and dishonorable forms of appropriation by ill-intentioned and unscrupulous people against the common good.

Therefore, we express our feelings:

  1. We are concerned about the rights of indigenous peoples who are being violated, threatened and dispossessed, which makes them lose their territories, their livelihoods and their culture.
  1. We reject the decision taken by the National Congress and ratified by the Judiciary, which violates popular sovereignty, and all this again shows the interest of a political and economic class that is taking over the property of the common home in Honduras.

  2. We reject the neo-colonialism of the government, which hands over control with treachery, premeditation, malice and advantage, and without prior consultation with the sovereign Honduran people.
  1. We strongly demand that the National Congress nullify said law, since it is not legitimate, valid or lawful.
  2. We join the courageous mayors, Dioceses, parishes, institutions, professional associations, Universities (UNAH), CNA, ASONOG, FOSDEH, indigenous peoples in resistance (Garífunas, Lencas, Chortis), and many more who have raised their voices against this unpatriotic, harmful and exclusive project.
  1. We call on all brothers and sisters to join us in opposing this project to the detriment of the nation, so that the sovereignty, peace and integrity of our Honduran territory prevail.

The Franciscan JPIC invites the Honduran people, and especially young people “to be God’s today”, as Pope Francis expresses it in Christus Vivit # 64; to be the present and the future of the nation, being people who propose solutions or are active subjects of the transformation of the current reality, and in whose adulthood may well enjoy contributing to the nation.

“Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth, 
who sustains us and governs us and who produces 
varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.”
Saint Francis of Assisi

The original untranslated statement in Spanish is available here.  

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The song remains the same: The United States in Haiti this week

This week a new interim government was established in Haiti and the United States appointed a special envoy to represent US interests in the effort to move forward on elections, provide security and to offer support for the investigation into Moise’s assassination. Along the way, the Biden administration demonstrated once again the inability of the US government to listen to anybody standing outside the echo chamber clamoring about the indispensable role of the United States in finding a solution. As we’ll see, it is not as though alternative messages from Haitian civil society have been hidden. If there is one positive in the US response thus far it is that there are no occupation troops being deployed – not yet at least. Whether this is an indication that the administration is actually listening, or simply reluctant to engage the optics of US troops moving from Afghanistan to Haiti, is an open question.

A “new” government

Shortly after president Moise was assassinated on July 7, 2021, acting prime minister Claude Joseph took the reins of government. Joseph, the former foreign minister, had been appointed by Moise as an interim prime minister earlier this year but was replaced with Ariel Henry by Moise the day before his death. Henry was never officially sworn in, and thus Joseph, with the support of Haiti National Police head Leonel Charles, declared himself in charge, and was recognized as such by US appointed UN diplomat Helen La Lime a couple of days later. Meanwhile, Henry claimed interim status for himself. Along with the ten members of Haiti’s senate that are technically still in office (though, absent a quorum, the senate cannot actually do business), Henry formed a government with Joseph Lambert as interim president and himself as interim prime minister. Behind the scenes, businessman Reginald Boulos supported the arrangement. It came to light that he had already hired a lobbyist to press the case for a new government with US policy makers before Moise was killed. 

The Lambert/Henry formation never actually took power, but the United States, fearing further turmoil (or more to the point, the lack of negotiating partner to dominate), stepped into the Joseph/Henry divide to negotiate a backroom deal last weekend that led to a new interim government with Henry as prime minister, and Joseph back in his role as Foreign Minister. Jake Johnston, writing in the American Prospect this week, says, “What this really means is that Haiti’s political class is dividing the spoils of government out of public view once again, and negotiating with foreign powers to ensure that whatever emerges is recognized by the international community.” Indeed, in The New York Times this week one can read about how various factions of Haiti’s elite are competing for legitimacy – in Washington – by hiring lobbying firms. 

With a new government in place – not a government with any public legitimacy, or one that emerges from a constitutionally recognized process – the United States can now proceed. And so, on Thursday, Biden appointed Daniel Lewis Foote as special envoy to Haiti. Foote is a career diplomat that once served as Deputy Chief of Mission for the US embassy in Haiti, and, more to the point in this case, was once acting head of the State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. Foote’s mission:

The Special Envoy will engage with Haitian and international partners to facilitate long-term peace and stability and support efforts to hold free and fair presidential and legislative elections. He will also work with partners to coordinate assistance efforts in several areas, including humanitarian, security, and investigative assistance. Additionally, the Special Envoy will engage stakeholders in civil society and the private sector as we pursue Haitian-led solutions to the many pressing challenges facing Haiti.

There is another way

While this is going on, a conference of civil society leaders representing the Commission for a Haitian Led Solution is being convened this weekend to craft proposals for a more participatory transition plan. Johnston notes:  

This civil society–led organization formed many months ago, bringing together more than 300 organizations representing unions, farmers, churches, anti-corruption activists, feminist movements, human rights organizations, and many others. The conference would have begun earlier, but hotels refused to provide space. Many participants have received pushback from political leaders across the spectrum, and for a clear reason: The commission’s work is a threat to the political class. It is also a threat to the holding of elections later this year.

However, the United States, with Foote pressing the issue, seems determined to press forward with elections in Haiti. The single minded mantra concerning elections is increasingly out of step with the voices of many Haitians, who have been arguing for a different path for months now. This week Haitians were making their case in the United States.

One Wednesday, the Haitian Studies Association, Center for Economic and Policy Research, and other groups sponsored a panel discussion with speakers drawn from Haiti’s vibrant civil society, including the Rosy Auguste Ducena of RNDDH, Velina Elysée Charlier, Nou Pap Dòmi, Magali Comeau Denis, Komisyon pou Jwenn yon Solisyon Ayisyen, Mario Joseph, BAI, Sabine Lamour, SOFA, Josué Merilien, UNNOH/ Konbit and David Oxygène, MOLEGHAF.

The presentation can be watched on Youtube here:

Members of the Commission also briefed members of congress this week. Other members of civil society have met with administration officials in the United States.

The Haiti Response Coalition also released its statement, signed by 146 organizations, calling for policy makers to listen to Haitian voices, including on the question of elections. The letter calls for, 

Ensuring that conditions for fair, participatory, and credible elections are in place before rushing Haiti to the polls. Elections are a fundamental part of the democratic process. However, they must be free and fair and perceived as legitimate in order to strengthen democracy. Elections will not be free and fair without inclusive voter registration, an independent and legitimate electoral body, and the security necessary not only to vote, but also to campaign leading up to election day. Meaningful participation requires that women and other marginalized groups also participate in the electoral process. A race to hold elections on an internationally-imposed timeline risks further eroding democracy in Haiti.  

We note that Foote’s mandate (above) says that he ”will engage stakeholders in civil society and the private sector as we pursue Haitian-led solutions.” Is this just another Democrat lifting progressive language, while bullying ahead with business as usual? Or is Biden finally listening? Of course, we will know by what the US actually does – not what its diplomats say in press releases. And thus far, Biden’s team does not seem to get it, at all. 

But maybe there is a seed here we can nurture. Afterall, what choice do we have?

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Update from Haiti: Ten days since Moise’s assassination

In the ten days since Jovenel Moise was assassinated the international media has been primarily focused on the constantly shifting details of the attack itself. The Haitian police have arrested nearly 30 people for involvement, including nearly 20 Colombians (some with US training background) apparently working under contract with a Miami based security company, run by a Venezuelan ex-pat. Several more Colombians were killed in fighting with Haiti’s police, and others remain at large. A Haitian-American doctor has been arrested as one of the possible “masterminds” behind the plot, and the head of Moise security has also been brought in for questioning. 

Meanwhile, some things remain the same…

In some ways, the division of power within Haiti looks similar to before the July 7th assassination. Claude Joseph as acting prime minister, working alongside Leonel Charles as head of the Haitian National Police, represents the continuity of Moise’s governing coalition such as it was. The political opposition situated in the remnants of Haiti’s senate have nominated Senator Lambert as acting president, and Ariel Henry as acting prime minister, proposing that they assemble an interim government to oversee elections – to be held in 2022. Finally, there are hundreds of civil society organizations who are calling to launch a participatory process of selecting an interim authority to oversee a new electoral process. 

For now, the United States and international community seem to be backing Joseph, though the US did dispatch a team to facilitate conversation between Joseph and the official political opposition. President Biden is dispatching Marines to lock down the US embassy in Port au Prince, but has indicated that more troops from the United States were “not on the agenda.” For now, then, the fear of military intervention has been forestalled. However, the voices of social movement leaders continue to be set aside by US policy makers – which is a dynamic we seek to change.

There continues to be reports of attacks in the popular neighborhoods of Port au Prince, where armed groups have been fighting for weeks now, displacing 14,000 people or more. Security concerns have made reaching some of those displaced nearly impossible for local partners. We have delivered some funding to help those displaced, and are also now raising general funds so that we can respond in other ways to the crisis as well.

A Call to Action from social movements

The message from social movement partners in Haiti and the folk we work with here in the United States is that Haitians must lead in this transition – and not just an acting prime minister. Rather calls for an inclusive process should be heeded. This week a statement was circulated for organizational signatures to lift up this central message alongside other relevant points. The statement includes the following principles to guide further action

A Haitian solution. Haitians should lead in building the path forward. Foreign actors must not impose solutions from abroad. Even prior to Moïse’s murder, Haitian organizations have been building consensus for a transitional government. Foreign governments and international institutions must not overstep their role by declaring who has authority in Haiti, particularly when that conflicts with Haitian law.

We need only look to the recent MINUSTAH mission to see that foreign military interventions fail to create lasting public democratic institutions that are necessary for any country to function. Despite spending 13 years and $7 billion — ten times Haiti’s GDP– the MINUSTAH mission left Haiti with more guns and less democracy. The mission also afflicted Haiti’s citizens with sexual exploitation and abuse, leaving behind hundreds of children fathered by peacekeepers, and was responsible for introducing cholera to Haiti, killing an estimated 10,000 people.

A commitment to a participatory dempcratic process. After decades of foreign intervention and aid policies that have destabilized Haiti, each branch of the Haitian government has been systematically dismantled, and public confidence in Haiti’s governance has declined to nearly nothing. Haitian organizations and civil society have long been calling for a transition government to restore stability, basic security, and democracy. Haiti must have a transition process in order to rebuild its democratic institutions, and this process must be inclusive of all sectors of Haiti’s population. 

Ensuring that conditions for fair, participatory, and credible elections are in place before rushing Haiti to the polls. Elections are a fundamental part of the democratic process. However, they must be free and fair and perceived as legitimate in order to strengthen democracy. Elections will not be free and fair without inclusive voter registration, an independent and legitimate electoral body, and the security necessary not only to vote, but also to campaign leading up to election day. Meaningful participation requires that women and other marginalized groups also participate in the electoral process. A race to hold elections on an internationally-imposed timeline risks further eroding democracy in Haiti. 

Protection for the right to free expression and the right to life. Over the past three years, all Haitian people have learned that there is no safety; there is no guarantee that they will make it home when they leave. Human rights defenders and activists are frequent targets of threats and attacks, and essential health care workers have been injured and killed through kidnappings, attacks and gang violence. Gender-based violence, including rape, has been increasing during this crisis, and thousands of women and girls have been displaced from their homes, making them even more vulnerable. 

Three years ago, on July 6-7, 2018, the emerging evidence that government officials had stolen more than $2 billion from state coffers and rising gas prices sparked the first in a series of protests against corruption and impunity. These massive mobilizations of Haitians across class and political lines marched together to call for accountability and democracy. They were consistently met with brutal repression from the government and indifference from the international community. 

There have been 18 massacres documented in Port-au-Prince over these past three years. Perpetrators have targeted neighborhoods active in opposition protests, and have not been held accountable. Human rights groups have documented connections between officials and the armed groups responsible for these massacres, including Moïse and other government ministers.  Further, some argue that these massacres  constitute crimes against humanity. 

Recognition of how foreign interventions have contributed to current conditions in Haiti. While many are calling Haiti a “failed state”, what we see is the failure of centuries of policies imposed on Haiti by the international community, including aid policies, that prioritized foreign interests and short-term gains over sustainable democracy and prosperity for Haitians. The 2010 earthquake was an opportunity to rebuild Haiti with strong public institutions. However, despite hundreds of millions of aid dollars, Haiti’s entire public administration was outsourced to foreign institutions and NGOs. 

To read the full statement connect HERE. If your organization can sign, you can do so HERE.  The statement with signatures will begin to circulate next week, including to member delegations at the United Nations and policy makers in the United States.

Must See Webinar

Finally, the Haitian Studies Association is sponsoring a webinar with social movement leaders from Haiti on Wednesday July 21 from 11:00 to 12:30 EDT. Participants are:

Moderator: Mamyrah Dougé-Prosper, University of California, Irvine

Panelists: Rosy Auguste Ducena, RNDDH; Velina Elysée Charlier, Nou Pap Dòmi; Magalie Comeau Denis, Komisyon pou Jwenn yon Solisyon Ayisyen; Sabine Lamour, SOFA; Josué Merilien, UNNOH/ Konbit

The event is Co-Organized by the Haitian Studies Association, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Haiti Response Coalition, Haitian Studies Institute at Brooklyn College, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University, and North American Congress on Latin America.

Click HERE to register

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Haitian civil society is clear: No Intervention, support Haitian-led solutions

Twenty-eight people have been arrested by the Haitian National Police for involvement in the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse – including 2 Haitian Americans and 26 men from Colombia, some identified as former military by Colombia’s government. The arrests followed two days of confusing reports about gunfights, attackers taking shelter in the Taiwanese embassy (which is in Petionville, near Moïse’s private residence), and the burning of vehicles thought to have been used in the attack. Colombian police have been present in Haiti for some time. In terms of an official mission, at least, some were brought in to work with the Haitian National Police to assist with confronting the recent wave of kidnappings – a program coordinated by the United States International Bureau of Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) .

Details of the attack itself have begun to come out. Maria Abi-Habib, bureau chief for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean for The New York Times covered many of these details on The Daily podcast this morning. As with everything else, these details leave more questions than answers. The fact that the attackers encountered no resistance in entering Moïse’s residences is of huge concern. Former Senator Steven Benoît appeared on the radio program in Haiti on Friday, and said that Moïse had been killed by his own security people, and that the Colombians had been set up. Le Noveulliste reports that the two Haitian Americans arrested claimed to have been translators, and that the units had gone to the presidential palace to arrest Moïse, not to kill him. 

Whatever the truth is, it is clear that the quick arrests conducted by Haitian National Police have not settled the question.  As Woy magazine noted on Friday, 

Many Haitians were quick to call out the irony of the Haitian National Police (PNH) being so quick to find those allegedly responsible for Moïse’s death as many previous high-profile killings, including that of Mèt Monferrier Dorval (who was shot and killed in his home which is in the same neighborhood as Moïse’s home), Evelyne Sincere, Gregory St. Hilaire, and even that of their very own colleagues who died during the Vilaj de Dye mission remain unsolved. There’s also the case of Matisan, Site Solèy and other parts of the greater Port-au-Prince region are still under the complete control of gangs, crippling parts of the capital and displacing thousands of men, women and children in the process.

Meanwhile, the international response has consisted largely of statements of shock and concern, alongside appeals for calm and condemnations of Moïse’s murder. The United Nations Security Council met on Thursday to discuss Haiti in a closed session. Following the session, Helen La Lime, who heads the UN office in Haiti, said that the government has requested more security support.

The United States Department of State held a press briefing on the situation in Haiti on Wednesday afternoon. The DOS spokesperson indicated that the US still supports Haiti sticking with the elections timeline – a position that was reiterated by Mathias Pierre, Haiti’s Minister for Elections, to The Guardian

Pierre, the elections minister, said on Thursday night that a presidential vote as well as a constitutional referendum that had been slated for 26 September before the assassination of Moïse would go ahead as planned.

“It [the vote] was not for Jovenel Moïse as president – it was a requirement to get a more stable country, a more stable political system, so I think we will continue with that,” Pierre said. He added that preparations had long been under way and millions of dollars disbursed to carry out the votes.

The Washington Post’s editorial board, which had been increasingly militant in its call for foreign intervention in Haiti – even prior to Moïse’s assassination – is now arguing for a military intervention under UN or other auspices. It is not clear how influential this line of argument will be; however, the prospect of a military intervention is clearly a concern.

A Haitian led solution

As Brian Concannon makes clear in his interview with Ian Masters, within Haiti, most people do not want to see a foreign intervention. There were more guns on the street and a severely weakened institutional framework for government when the last UN peacekeeping mission left, relative to the situation before they arrived. The UN mission also introduced cholera through carelessness, and its soldiers were involved in sexual exploitation of young people in the communities they operated in.

There is a broad consensus within Haiti that there should be no foreign military intervention. There should also be no rush to hold elections; rather, an interim authority composed of a wide range of political and civil society actors must be empowered to create the conditions for elections. A statement issued from multiple sectors, including representatives of political parties, and social movement organizations, issued a call for a conference of organizations, “to find a national compromise to resolve the crisis.”  They “ask the international sector to recognize that it is Haitians who must solve Haiti’s problems in order to bring their true solidarity to this Haitian solution.” 

Pierre Esperance, Executive Director of the National Human Rights Defense Network in Haiti, echoes this position in Just Security, writing,

Supporting Haitian solutions for Haiti is not as difficult as it sounds: civil society has known a transitional government would be necessary for quite some time. Civil society has developed a roadmap for a transition. The plan would include, among other things, the need for a transition period of sufficient length to restore electoral infrastructure, to strengthen the judiciary to credibly rule on elections, and to reinforce police capacity to counter gang violence and ensure a safe environment for elections. The Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis – a body created in January 2021 with the support of more than 300 notable Haitian organizations and institutions, including the Episcopal and Protestant churches (as well as my own organization, the National Human Rights Defense Network) – is the latest iteration of this effort. This commission has already met with Haitian political parties, civil society organizations, and the private sector to build out a plan for a feasible political transition.

In short, there is a clear need for an investigation in to assassination of the president – as called for in a statement by the Coalition of Civil Society Actors on Friday, and international support for a Haitian-led solution. No intervention.

As Mamyrah Dougé-Prosper and Mark Schuller argue in an excellent analysis published by NACLA

Activists in Haiti are clear that they do not want a foreign invasion or an occupation force. Not only woefully failing at its mission of disarmament, the 15-year UN mission that introduced cholera to Haiti and a wave of sexual violence also provided stability for foreign extractivism and profiteering in tourism, agribusiness, textile, and mining sectors.

It is clear that we do not have the answers today. We may never know who was in on the plot to assassinate Haiti’s president. We need to be asking different questions. Or rather, we need to take on different actions that concretely contribute to a people’s agenda. What if instead of scrambling for news on Haiti and deciphering the real issues from the analyses and opinions of international Haiti experts, we supported the Haitian people’s efforts to tell their own stories and share their own dreams directly with us?

We will be sharing more statements from Haitian civil society organizations in the coming days. You can also check Haiti Watch’s website, which includes statements from Haitian organizations on the crisis over the past several months – most have been translated.

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Jovenel Moïse has been assassinated

Haiti’s acting president, Jovenel Moïse was assassinated this morning. Press reports are largely leaning on a brief statement by interim prime minister Claude Joseph for details. The statement reads (translation, CNN),

“At around one (1) o’clock in the morning, on the night of Tuesday, July 6 to Wednesday, July 7, 2021, a group of unidentified individuals, some of whom were speaking in Spanish, attacked the private residence of the President of the Republic and fatally wounded the Head of State. The First Lady was shot and is receiving the necessary treatment.

“Condemning this heinous, inhumane and barbaric act, the Prime Minister a.i., Dr. Claude Joseph, and the CSPN are calling for calm. The security situation in the country is under the control of the Haitian National Police and the Haitian Armed Forces.

“All measures are being taken to guarantee the continuity of the State and to protect the Nation.

“Democracy and the Republic will win.”

The Miami Herald is reporting that videos show that the attackers claimed to be with the DEA:

The assailants claimed to be agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to videos taken by people in the area of the president’s home. Moïse, 53, lives in Pelerin 5, a neighborhood just above the hills in the capital.

On the videos, someone with an American accent is heard yelling in English over a megaphone, “DEA operation. Everybody stand down. DEA operation. Everybody back up, stand down.”

Sources said the assailants, one of whom spoke in English with an American accent, were not with the DEA.

“These were mercenaries,” a high-ranking Haitian government official said.

Residents reported hearing high-powered rounds fired with precision, and seeing men dressed in black running through the neighborhoods. There are also reports of a grenade going off and drones being used.

Moïse’s assassination comes amidst an escalation of violence in the capital. Over the last month, armed groups have been fighting over control of parts of Port-au-Prince, leading to the displacement of thousands of people in Martissant, Grand Ravine, and Delmas. The southern part of the country has largely been cut off from the capital as a result. During one night last week, June 30, fifteen people were murdered including reporter Diego Charles and opposition activist Antoinette Duclair. 

Adding to the confusion is the question of succession. According to the 1987 constitution, the president of the Court of Cassation (Haiti’s Supreme Court) is supposed to take over as an interim authority, but the head of the court, René Sylvestre, recently died with COVID-19. Moïse had just announced the appointment of Ariel Henry on Monday as the new prime minister, but he has not been approved by the Council of Ministers yet; there is no acting parliament which would normally have to approve a new Prime Minister. Claude Joseph is standing as interim prime minister and will have to work with the Council of Ministers to craft a way forward.  

The United States Press Secretary said, “It’s a horrific crime and we’re so sorry for the loss…we stand ready and stand by them to provide any assistance that’s needed.”

Andy Levin, who chairs the House of Representative’s Haiti Caucus, said, “The murder of Jovenel Moïse is a devastating if not shocking example of the extent to which the security situation in Haiti has unraveled. For months, violent actors have terrorized the Haitian people with impunity while the international community—the United States included, I fear—has failed to heed their cries to change course and support a Haitian-led democratic transition.”

Meanwhile, citing a fear of further instability, the president of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader, ordered the Haiti/Dominican border closed.

As this is a developing story, consider checking for regular updates on the Haiti Watch Twitter account. 

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A Franciscan Family Response to Eta and Iota: Psychosocial Intervention in Shelters

In December, the Quixote Center delivered funding to one of our partners in the Franciscan Network on Migration for a project called “Psychosocial Intervention in Shelters: A Response to Eta and Iota.”

To understand how this work addresses and supports migrants, it is important to take a step back and consider factors that drive mass migration. The immediate causes of migration are varied, but weather and other disasters have driven many large-scale migrations. Hurricane Mitch is well known to the friends of the Quixote Center, given the massive impact it had in Nicaragua. Neighboring Honduras experienced dramatic upheaval as well. Within the country, a study published six year later showed that more than 90% of the working-age population was living in a municipality different from the one in which they had been born. More than 80,000 Hondurans who sought safety abroad have been granted Temporary Protected Status in the United States since Mitch.

When hurricanes Eta and Iota swept through Central America in November 2020, the effects were likewise devastating and Honduras was flooded in several regions. Many displaced families ended up in congregate settings such as shelters and the effects of such trauma in childhood can be especially serious. While immediate physical needs were being met, there were also attending risks of both unaddressed emotional trauma and further victimization that frequently target vulnerable populations. 

Raquel Rodas, a Honduran leader in the Franciscan Network and a trained psychologist, worked together with a team to elaborate a project to address and mitigate some of these risks. Recruiting and training advanced undergraduate students in psychology from the National Autonomous University of Honduras, there were two key elements:

  • 48 volunteers facilitated a total of 45 workshops spread out over 15 days at 5 shelters, reaching 280 children. Each child participant received a kit designed for therapeutic “play” activities as well as meals.
  • Created and printed posters that were installed in each of 13 shelters, detailing types of abuse and report hotline numbers as well as public health information.

Check out the project’s “Transparency Portal” to see a photo gallery and additional documentation and video testimonials in Spanish.

Click here to support the Franciscan Network on Migration to make future projects and initiatives possible.  

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Franciscan Network on Migration Participates in UN Dialogue on Human Rights of Migrants

One June 24, 2021 the Advisory Committee of Franciscan Network on Migration collaborated with Franciscans International and together with 30 other organizations (including the Quixote Center) to make a joint Declaration on the harsh reality faced by migrants in Mexico, Guatemala and the United States. The statement as delivered by Ana Victoria López Estrada is below in English and Spanish.

47th Session of the Human Rights Council

Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants

23 June 2021
Delivered by: Ana Victoria López Estrada

Thank you Madame President,

We thank the Special Rapporteur for his report on “pushbacks” and their impact to the human rights of migrants.

We agree with the Special Rapporteur that the principle of non-refoulement is characterized by its absolute nature without any exception. However, we are concerned that the practice to return migrants is performed without an individual assessment and in contexts of militarization of borders, particularly in the United States, Mexico and Guatemala.

We have witnessed an excessive increase of military and security personnel in migratory verification and control tasks.

From June 2019 to December 2020, the military and the Mexican National Guard detained 152.000 migrants on the southern border, including 27.000 children.3 In Guatemala, the Border Patrol has detained and immediately returned migrants, especially during the “caravans” in September 2020 and January 2021, without allowing them to request international protection. These detentions and returns are made with an excessive, arbitrary, and indiscriminate use of force. For these reasons, we are concern by current negotiations between the United States, Mexico and Guatemala on increasing the militarization of their borders. 

Finally, there are hostilities, harassment, surveillance, defamation and aggressions against human right defenders, shelters and spaces supporting migrants, even during the pandemic.

It is urgent that the Council calls on Mexico, the United States and Guatemala to comply with their international obligations and to stop detaining and returning migrants and asylum seekers.

Thank you Madam President.


47° Sesión del Consejo de Derechos Humanos

Diálogo Interactivo con el Relator Especial de los derechos humanos de los migrantes

23 Junio 2021

Presentada por: Ana Victoria López Estrada

Gracias Sra. Presidenta,

Agradecemos el reporte del Relator Especial sobre las “devoluciones en caliente” y su impacto en los derechos humanos de las personas migrantes.

Coincidimos con el Relator en el carácter absoluto e incondicional del principio de no devolución. Sin embargo, nos preocupa que las devoluciones de personas migrantes se realizan de forma masiva sin una evaluación individual y en contextos de militarización de las fronteras, particularmente en Estados Unidos, México y Guatemala.

Somos testigos de un aumento excesivo de las fuerzas armadas militares y de seguridad, en tareas de control y verificación migratoria. De junio de 2019 a diciembre de 2020, las Fuerzas Armadas y la Guardia Nacional Mexicana detuvieron a 152 mil personas migrantes en la frontera sur, incluidos 27 mil niños y niñas.1 En Guatemala, la Patrulla Fronteriza ha detenido y deportado de inmediato a personas migrantes, especialmente durante las “caravanas” de septiembre de 2020 y de enero de 2021, negándoles el derecho a buscar protección internacional. Estas detenciones y devoluciones se hacen con un excesivo, arbitrario e indiscriminado uso de la fuerza. Por eso nos preocupa las negociaciones entre Estados Unidos, México y Guatemala de incrementar la militarización de las fronteras.2

Por último, hay una intensa hostilidad, acoso, vigilancia, difamaciones y agresiones en contra de personas defensoras de las personas migrantes; así como de albergues y espacios de atención a personas migrantes incluso durante la pandemia.

Es urgente que este Consejo exija a los gobiernos de México, Estados Unidos y Guatemala a cumplir con sus obligaciones internacional y abstenerse de continuar con las detenciones y devoluciones de migrantes y solicitantes de asilo

Gracias Sra. Presidenta.

Organizations / Organizaciones

  1. Asamblea Ciudadana contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad – ACCI

  2. Acción Ecuménica por los Derechos Humanos(AEDH)

  3. Asistencia Legal por los Derechos Humanos A.C. (ASILEGAL)

  4. Centro de Derechos Humanos “Fray Francisco de Vitoria O.P” A.C

  5. Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Córdova A.C.

  6. Colectiva Luna Celaya

  7. Colectivo de Observación y Monitoreo de Derechos Humanos en el Sureste Mexicano

  8. Congregations of St. Joseph

  9. Dominicans for Justice and Peace

  10. Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación (ERIC-SJ)

  11. Franciscans International

  12. Frontera con Justicia A. C. [Casa del Migrante Saltillo]

  13. Fundación Arcoiris por el respeto a la diversidad sexual.

  14. Grupo belga ‘Solidair met Guatemala’

  15. Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology

  16. JPIC Familia Franciscana – Guatemala

  17. JPIC HFIC Provincia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

  18. JPIC México- Hogar Franciscano

  19. Kino Border Initiative

  20. La 72, Hogar-Refugio para personas migrantes

  21. Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, Inc.

  22. Peace Brigades International

  23. Programa de Asuntos Migratorios Universidad Iberoamericana Ciudad de México

  24. Protección Internacional Mesoamérica

  25. Quixote Center

  26. Red Franciscana para Migrantes en Centroamérica, México y Estados Unidos

  27. Red Jesuita con Migranres Centro Norteamérica (RJM-CANA)

  28. Red Jesuita con Migrantes – Guatemala

  29. Red Jesuita con Migrantes LAC

  30. Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos “Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos” – México

  31. Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados

  32. Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur

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US Migration Policy Under Biden: Signs of Hope and Cause for Concern

As a candidate Biden promised, and seemed poised early on, to chart a new path toward a more people-centered reform agenda.  As president he has taken many hopeful steps, but still leans on deterrence and criminalization to a degree that is concerning.

Biden entered the presidency prepared to take quick action on immigration. His very first day in office, the administration announced a moratorium on most deportations, new enforcement guidelines for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and halted new enrollments in the controversial Migration Protection Protocol (“Remain in Mexico” program). During the first week new legislation was introduced to provide a path to citizenship for unauthorized migrants living in the United States, expand support to Central America to address the “roots of migration” and re-write visa rules for temporary workers. 

Several signs suggest hopeful change in policy toward refugees and asylum-seekers: 

The Migration Protection Protocol (MPP) has been formally ended

MPP was one of Trump’s more controversial policies. People seeking asylum in the United States were forced to wait in Mexico for their asylum hearings, ultimately just over 70,000 people. Beginning in April of 2020 these hearings were suspended because of COVID-19. By the time Biden took office, some families had been waiting over two years in Mexico. Human Rights First documented 1,300 victims of violent crimes among those forced to wait in Mexico under MPP. 

Following the decision to halt new enrollments in the program in January of 2021, Biden’s new border policy team established a screening process to get people with asylum claims out of the temporary and often dangerous camps and shelters they had been living in, and into the United States to await their hearings. As of May, most of those who still had asylum claims under MPP had been admitted. In June, MPP was formally ended.

Biden’s Attorney General overturns Sessions efforts to limit grounds for asylum

In 2018, Donald Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, instituted new rules that limited the grounds upon which one could seek asylum. Sessions targeted people who were fleeing violence perpetrated by non-state actors, under the general claim that if people were not fleeing political persecution they would not qualify as refugees. In separate rules, he limited the ability of women fleeing domestic violence to qualify for asylum, and denied asylum to those fleeing gang violence. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland overturned these rules last week, reversing decisions Session had made in cases involving asylum claims from Guatemala and Mexico. From Reuters: “The significance of this cannot be overstated,” said Kate Melloy Goettel, legal director of litigation at the American Immigration Council. “This was one of the worst anti-asylum decisions under the Trump era, and this is a really important first step in undoing that.”

Central American Minors Program reinstated/expanded

In 2015 the Obama administration established a program that allowed children from Central America to apply for asylum while still in their home country, before risking a dangerous journey through Mexico and an uncertain future at the border. The program was widely viewed as a promising step, but was never able to process enough children – leading to a massive backlog of applications. When Trump became president, he cancelled it – leaving 2,700 children already approved in limbo.

In March 2021, the Biden administration re-opened the Central American Minors Program (CAM), which specifically seeks to reunite children in Central America with a parent in the United States. The first phase of the program was revisiting applications that were in process at the time Trump ended the program in 2017. Last week, CAM was expanded to take on new applications.

In the face of all this good news, it is still important to point out where work remains to be done. These are some areas that offer cause for concern:

Title 42 enforcement remains a huge problem

In March of 2020 the Centers for Disease Control and Protection issued an order citing authority to limit migration under Title 42 of the U.S. code on public health grounds. As a result, the Trump administration had been denying everyone encountered at the border a chance to seek asylum – including unaccompanied children. People thus denied, have been summarily expelled – most into Mexico. Biden has continued to employ Title 42 to expel most people encountered at the border. Even here, there are a few rays of light, as the administration has ended the expulsion of children, and slowed the expulsion of families. Until Title 42 is ended, however, it will remain the primary hurdle facing people seeking asylum in the United States.

The message remains: Don’t Come

As a candidate and since taking office, the administration has focused on undoing Trump-era border policies that closed off avenues to asylum. This is an important effort, still incomplete as indicated by Biden’s continued enforcement of Title 42. 

But every step along the way, Biden and Harris have repeated the same refrain – “Don’t come to the United States.” Throughout the spring, US embassies in Haiti and Central America were posting memes of Biden telling people not to come to the United States. During a press conference in Guatemala in June, Kamala Harris said, “I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border: Do not come. Do not come….The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border.”

In addition to the continued use of Title 42 already mentioned, those who do make it across the border are also being increasingly redirected to detention facilities. The number of immigrants being held in detention has ballooned from 14,000 to 24,000 since Biden took office. Though 14,000 was an historically low number, the direct result of Trump closing off the border in 2020, the increase in detention over the last few months is the clearest indication that Biden remains committed to a punitive framework for addressing migration. With so many people displaced due to poverty, violence, and other systemic injustices and the US in a privileged position to provide support, such policies must change. 

 

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Statement on the Killing of Franciscan Friar in Mexico

On June 12, 2021, Fray Juan Antonio Orozco Alvarado, O.F.M., a Franciscan friar, headed to church to celebrate Mass in Tepehuana de Pajaritos, Durango, Mexico and was caught in crossfire between two rival gangs and died, along with several other unnamed persons. As part of our work with the Franciscan Network on Migration, we are sharing the statement put out by the advocacy team on this killing. The Statement is available in both English and Spanish below.

STATEMENT ON FRAY JUAN ANTONIO OROZCO ENGLISH

 

PRONUNCIAMIENTO FRAY JUAN ANTONIO OROZCO.docx

For some press coverage on the shooting, see these articles below:

Vatican News: Muerte violenta de un sacerdote junto a otras personas

El Universal: Muere misionero en fuego cruzado en Durango

Agenzia Fides: Priest killed in a shootout between drug trafficking cartels

 

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Contact Us

  • Quixote Center
    P.O. Box 1950
    Greenbelt, MD 20768
  • Office: 301-699-0042
    Email: info@quixote.org

Directions to office:

6305 Ivy Lane, Suite 255. Greenbelt, MD 20770

For public transportation: We are located near the Green Belt metro station (green line)