Originally published in the Miami Herald
Miami Herald Editorial Board
March 10, 2020
In January, President Jovenel Moïse announced — by tweet — the end of the bicameral Parliament. All members of the lower chamber and two-thirds of the Senate are gone. There are just 10 senators left. All this after Haiti failed to hold legislative and local elections in October 2019.
Moïse is carrying out one-man rule — badly. He is ruling decree. He is confiscating private property and canceling government contracts. He has constitutional “reforms” in his sights and, in a push to reform the energy sector, is trying to arrest private power providers.
This alone should raise eyebrows in the United States and the rest of the hemisphere. But the administration has not made a peep; nor did it last week, when an embattled Moïse installed, without a political agreement with the opposition, Joseph Jouthe, prime minister, his fifth in three years.
Meanwhile, violence is ever present: Gangs who control one-third of the country are armed to the teeth, despite a U.S. arms embargo; tensions are so high that Carnival was canceled last month when disgruntled, underpaid Haiti National Police — funded by the United States, among other countries — staged a deadly shootout with soldiers from the newly formed Haitian Armed Forces; and, as detailed by the Herald’s Jacqueline Charles, kidnapping has escalated just since December. No Haitian citizen is safe from being taken for what little ransom poor families can scrape up, and U.S. citizens and other foreign nationals have been among the victims, too. Last week, the U.S. State Department raised its travel advisory for the country to Level 4 — Do Not Travel.