Quixote Center, Written by Tom Ricker, October 29, 2020.
The headlines on Haiti are once again sensational. Haiti is “on the brink,” “burning,” facing “barbarism” and so on. To be clear, Haiti is facing another trough in the decades long up and down struggle for democracy and accountability. The contours of the latest manifestation of tensions run along the same lines as they have over the past three years – anger at a government largely seen as illegitimate, anger at the spiraling economic crisis made worse by COVID, anger at the ongoing violence of gangs, which operate largely with impunity and in some cases in a coordinated fashion with the National Police. Murders that are widely believed to be politically motivated are on the rise, such as the shooting of the head of the Port-au-Prince Bar Association, Monferrier Dorval, in front of his house, hours after criticizing the government’s drive for constitutional reform. People are nervous and angry, and in parts of the country, increasingly desperate. When they protest now, however, they face lethal force from the police, or a potential backlash from armed groups.
As always beneath the headlines and media framing, there is the other Haiti. Where there is not so much chaos, but rather the predictable exercise of privilege and power in a setting where resources are increasingly scarce. There are the people who take advantage, protected in doing so by the violence of the state, which ultimately seeks to contain the poor, not serve them. On the other side there is the grassroot organization of those seeking to build a different kind of society. Students, peasant associations, women’s groups, labor unions, what remains of the grassroots church movement and so on. What so often happens in these times, is that their voices are drowned out amidst the cries for “stability,” “order” and (at the moment), “elections.”
In this update we touch on the recent currency confusion, the call for elections and current political violence, and…