Diaspora

Former US diplomat Pamela A. White says “normal” diplomacy in Haiti will not work – caribbeannationalweekly.com

A former United States ambassador to Haiti Pamela A. White says it is time to throw away the gloves and stop pretending that ‘normal” diplomacy will work in Haiti.
The former diplomat who served in Haiti from 1982 to 85, told the House Committee on Foreign Relations that while she had seen corruption and gang warfare and hundreds of burning tires as well as demonstrations in the streets and violence against innocent civilians, “I have never seen anything like the total breakdown of civility that is the current situation in Haiti.”.
Speaking on the theme “Haiti at the Crossroads: Civil Society Responses for a Haitian-led Solution,” she said in her 40 years serving as a diplomat around the world, “it is time to throw away the gloves and stop pretending that ‘normal” diplomacy will work in Haiti.
“As everyone knows who cares about the Haitian people, Haiti is a failed state. There is no legitimate government, no judiciary, no parliament, and a weak police force incapable of stopping the gangs that now rule over 60 percent of the capital.
“There is no chance of planning elections under the current security crisis. There is absolutely zero doubt that Haitians are living in hellish conditions,” she said, adding that all social services were terminated months ago.
The former diplomat said that Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, has the highest number of kidnappings in the world.
“There are weekly beatings and body burnings. Children in orphanages are terrorized with bullets zooming over their heads with no care as to their safety. The Haitian National Police (HNP) have fewer weapons, fewer members, and a lot less money with which to carry out operations than gangs do.”
She told the House Committee that on September 18, a well-respected employee of the telecommunications company, Digicel was found beaten to death in her car, a victim of a botched kidnapping attempt.
“Last week two respected Haitian journalists were gunned down in broad daylight. In August a former senator and current director of public policy was shot and then burned to death in his car. According to the UN, 209 people were killed in a Port-au-Prince slum between July 8 and 17. A further 254 sustained gunshot wounds. About three thousand residents have been forced to flee.”
White said all the international players espouse again and again that increased security, private sector growth, and improved education and health services are all needed.
She said while they are correct “why not admit that what is needed right now is not some complicated five-year plan to solve all of Haiti’s many, many challenges, but boots on the ground right now”.
She said last week, the UN pledged an additional US$10 million to a new security basket that it will manage with the United States government pledging three million dollars.
“I cannot for the life of me determine what could possibly be done with 13 million dollars that would begin to put a dent in the terrorism that is seen daily in Haiti,” she said, adding “before we can talk about anything else in Haiti, we need to address the security situation and don’t be fooled, it won’t be cheap”.
White said while she is not saying that the police force in Haiti should be equal to the New York Police Department “there must be a force with trained professionals who can outgun the thugs.
White said even desperately needed humanitarian aid is under siege with gangs hijacking boats, planes, and trucks that are attempting to deliver critical food and medical items to the most vulnerable.
CMC/
 
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