Diaspora

Haiti is complicated. Saving it doesn't have to be. | Editorial – Haitian Times

The Haitian Times
Bridging the gap
The international community is gaslighting Haiti, literally and figuratively. We all know it, and we all need to stop the pretenses if Haiti is to pick up where it left off in 1804 and achieve true liberation.
The gaslighting is real. Literally, the country is being set on fire by mobs angry at rising fuel prices, ironically enough, encouraged by gangs using revolution-era rhetoric to appeal to them. To get out of this one and stand tall against international pressures to get Haiti what it needs, we Haitians need to pull the wool from our eyes and call out the perpetrators. 
Figuratively, the gaslighting is happening on all fronts, in Haiti and outside of it, with heavy injections from Haiti’s so-called friends. 
The U.S., for one, has insisted on a “Haitian-led solution” for some time to Haiti’s crises. Yet, the State Department refuses to help endorse the solution that emerged from Haiti nearly a year ago: the Montana Accord. The agency also said the U.S. won’t “pick winners and losers” in Haiti, but by not supporting the solution that still stands out, isn’t that exactly what the U.S. is doing?
The entire U.S. response, at this point, begs the question: Is it really a Haitian-led solution if it requires U.S. approval to be recognized and accepted? The treatment reeks of paternalism. It implies Haitians can’t think well enough to pursue their proposed course and implement it.
Worse yet, the U.S. has turned a blind eye to the latest protests and “dechoukaj” that have been going on for a month. 
The other “friends of Haiti” — Canada, France, the Organization of American States — are closing their embassies and operations as though they haven’t seen the writing on the wall, literally, decrying corruption and deplorable conditions. These “friends” want to point the finger at each other and at Haitians. They blame the weapons the gangs rely on, Ariel Henry for not delivering elections and the Haitian police for not doing enough to squash the Izos, Barbecues and Tilaplis of the country. 
Gangs, no jobs, US border crisis – it’s all connected 
Speaking of which, the police have always said they were no match for the gangs. Earlier this summer, when PNH, Haiti National Police, ordered more equipment to battle the gangs, they had to deal with a months-long procurement delay. Why? First, the U.S. said it had to buy firearms through the regular Department of Commerce procurement process. But then, China warned member countries to reduce gun sales to Haiti because the weapons might end up in the wrong hands. 
The solution shouldn’t be more complicated than the problem.
Meanwhile, automatic rifles keep arriving in containers from Miami and elsewhere. More ordinary Haitians continue dying from shootouts or being burned alive. Many have been kidnapped, starved or left homeless. Haitians spend entire days hunkering down under their beds until the shooting stops. Until Izo gives them permission to sneak out with an armed escort for safe passage. Until plans to move to the DR or another escape route comes to fruition. 
Which brings us to the immigration and migration issues. No country wants to let Haitians in, it seems, even as diplomats and leaders claim to want to help. Research has found that the money Haitians abroad send back home outperforms funds given to Haiti through aid agencies and government programs. Yet, Haitians are either barred from entry or allowed to stay under unsustainable conditions.
The U.S. has 11 million job openings right now, including many in the home health care industry. Aides are leaving that industry for better conditions in retail and other sectors, leaving Americans to struggle alone at home. Since Haitians and other immigrants have long filled those jobs, imagine having an immigration policy that welcomes Haitians and places them into those jobs?
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Instead, anti-immigrant advocates insist on deporting Haitians. People like Ron DeSantis would rather bus immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard to play into party politics. Even with the temporary humanitarian parole granted to some, the asylum application system is so backed up, newcomers can’t take the next step to become permanent residents. As a result, they end up living on people’s couches, basements, churches and the streets for months and months.
Is that any way to treat your friends? No wonder that Kenya, Gabon and Ghana want to take a stab at it with Haitians, long-lost brethren that we are.
What all this shows us is that Haitians do need to push back against the internal and external manipulation strangling the country. Gangs, as our recent series has shown, are entangled in all kinds of history and current shadowy forces. They may be the worst of our crises today. Tomorrow, it’ll be something else, unless we start seeing the big picture and put Haiti’s well-being over money and personal ambition.
Clear solutions are feasible
So now what? The solution shouldn’t be more complicated than the problem. We learn this in elementary school math, so let’s apply it. If we cut through the complexity and prioritize saving Haitian lives, we can resuscitate Haiti.  
Here are some clear steps to take now, with suggested timelines. 
With ‘ambition and intention,’ solutions are easy
If we take these simple steps, with support and investment backing them, then at least we can say in good conscience we tried a Haitian-led solution. 
Something Malala Yousafzai said in an interview captures the mindset needed for this approach to work. She was speaking about investing in girls’ education, but her point applies to Haiti: “We just need an ambition and an intention. What to do is then easy.”
Putting unity on the Haitian flag 218 years ago was only the beginning of the revolution against global bondage. Throwing off the yoke fully will likely take another two centuries, but if we focus on being united, we would have planted the roots so deep this time around, our country will finally flourish.
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