Haiti: poverty, corruption, fraud … “we are very close to a humanitarian crisis”

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UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Haiti is going through a serious crisis since February 7th. In Port-au-Prince, protests follow one another to denounce corruption and the bad economic situation. According to the former presidential candidate and leader of the opposition UNIR party, Clarens Renois, President Moïse is helping to divide the population. Sputnik interviewed him.

The violence and the demonstrations multiply in Haiti since February 7th. This Antillean country of about 11 million people lives in serious political unrest. So much so that observers fear that the situation will quickly degenerate into a humanitarian crisis. At least that is what Sputnik Clarens Renois, candidate for the presidential election in December 2016, and head of the National Union for Integrity and Reconciliation (UNIR), center-left, claims.

“We are very close to a humanitarian crisis. I even think that the United States has planned to send humanitarian aid because there is no more water, there is no more gas in the service stations. There is also no propane gas, etc. There is therefore a real humanitarian crisis in prospect if the situation of blockage should last,” said Renois in an interview with Sputnik.

But what are the main factors explaining the crisis? Clarens Renois identifies several. The problem is primarily “socio-economic”. In recent history, all political crises in Haiti have been partly triggered by poverty.

“There is, of course, the catastrophic socio-economic situation first. There are about 70% of the unemployed in the labor force and the rate of inflation is very high. GDP is also very low with virtually no growth. […] This is a pretty important factor, because the population lives in a great misery. There are regions where people are on the alert for undernourishment,” said Renois.

Combined with precariousness, the increase in the price of commodities has contributed to the emergence of the protest movement. President Jovenel Moïse is accused of not keeping his promise to improve the quality of life of the population. It should also be understood that Haiti imports between 75% and 80% of its products, which keeps it in a state of dependence on foreign countries.

“In recent months, the price of basic necessities has increased dramatically, making it difficult for the population to eat. This is an important aspect. The country produces virtually nothing. This country imports almost everything, “said the head of the National Union for Integrity and Reconciliation.

If the problem is economic, it is also fundamentally political. The popularity of President Moses would decline visibly. Having come to power in February 2017, its legitimacy would now be widely disputed.

“The political factor is that the president did not have much popular legitimacy. He was elected by less than 20% of the electorate. There is also a lot of suspicion [of fraud, editor’s note] in his favor, “said Mr. Renois.

The mandate of President Moïse has already been marked by several politico-financial scandals. Popular anger is linked to the Petrocaribe scandal , a loan granted to Haiti by Venezuela. Like former President Michel Martelly, Jovenel Moses would have spent Petrocaribes funds without people knowing how.

“There is the factor of corruption. An investigation was launched into the Petrocaribe Fund, a multi-billion-dollar Venezuela-funded program to help Haiti. Unfortunately, the money was not well spent. Firms had big contracts and the projects were not realized. It turns out that Mr Jovenel Moïse, who also has firms, benefited from these contracts. […] This was revealed by the Superior Court of Accounts of Haiti. The name of the President is among those presumed responsible for this vast corruption,” denounced our interlocutor.

Clarens Renois also criticizes President Moïse’s style of governance, which he accuses of dividing the population and “refusing any dialogue”. Not only would the President lead in the interest of a few rich people, but the “arrogant tone” of his latest speeches would have set oil on fire. By involving protesters in organized crime, the President would also continue to deteriorate the social climate.

The politician explains that “over his two years of management, the President has made many enemies in the other political parties by his leadership and because people have understood that he led for part of the wealthy class.”

Political crisis, economic crisis, Haiti brings together all the ingredients of a humanitarian drama. Will he be able to avoid it?

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