By Gerlin Olin
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – On January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0MW earthquake struck Haiti and caused major damage in Port-au-Prince, Jacmel and other cities in the region. Notable landmark buildings were significantly damaged or destroyed, including the Presidential Palace, the National Assembly building, the Port-au-Prince Cathedral, and the main jail. Among those killed were Archbishop of Port-au-Prince Joseph Serge Miot and opposition leader Micha Gaillard, while studies indicate that Michel Martelly and Jovenel Moise’s presidency failed the country.
According to reports, many countries responded to appeals for humanitarian aid, pledging funds and dispatching rescue and medical teams, engineers and support personnel. The most-watched telethon in history aired on January 22, called “Hope for Haiti Now,” raising US$58 million by the next day.
Communication systems, air, land, and sea transport facilities, hospitals, and electrical networks had been damaged by the earthquake, which hampered rescue and aid efforts; confusion over who was in charge, air traffic congestion, and problems with prioritizing flights further complicated early relief work. Port-au-Prince’s morgues were overwhelmed with tens of thousands of bodies. These had to be buried in mass graves.
According to reports, The Red Cross raised almost $1 billion, but they only build six little houses for the earthquake victims. A lot of other organizations from foreign countries raised billions of dollars for the earthquake victims but all the money went missing. Even the former president of the US Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton went to Haiti after the earthquake “pretending that they were helping but they went back to the US with a lot of funds.”
After the devastating earthquake, Michel Martelly was sworn in as president of Haiti [May 14, 2011] marking the first time in Haitian history that an incumbent president’s peacefully transferred power to a member of the opposition. On the anniversary of the earthquake, the incumbent Haitian prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, resigned to allow Martelly to choose his own prime minister. Martelly was quick to pledge reforms for the post-earthquake reconstruction process.
Martelly was the president of Haiti until February 2016, but he got involved in “corruption” throughout his presidency. According to multiple reports, funds went missing, even the PetroCaribe funds went missing under his administration. After the earthquake, the Haitian population believed that the presidency of Martelly allowed Organizations from foreign countries to “steal the earthquake money and they believe the administration knew where the money went.”
Between March and April 2012, Martelly “involved in corruption” with seeming allegations that during and after the 2010 earthquake and presidential election, he had accepted $2.6 million in bribes to ensure that a Dominican Republic construction company would continue to receive contracts under his presidency. Martelly denied the allegations. Companies owned or controlled by Félix Bautista had received no-bid contracts worth $200 million, awarded by former Haitian prime minister Jean-Max Bellerive. In November 2013, anti-government protests were held in the country over the high cost of living and corruption.
“Why the presidency of Michel Martelly allowed that? Do they know where the money went? What happened to the money? How come the Haitian population doesn’t know where the money went?”
After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, billions of dollars raised for Haiti but all the money went missing, according to reports, no one knows where all the money went until today.
In 2016, Michel Martelly is said to have used money from the Haitian government to sponsor the election of the current Haitian president Jovenel Moise, a leader of his party PHTK.
In 2017, Haitians questioned what ‘Jovenel Moise’ and his ‘PHTK’ friends did with the ‘Petrocaribe’ money that Venezuela gave them for development. Unfortunately, the current Haitian president ‘Jovenel Moise’ and ‘PHTK’ voted against Venezuela and joined the US instead of showing the Haitian population where the money went.
Petrocaribe is an aid program Venezuela offers to several Caribbean states but whose funding is suspected of being misappropriated.
A January report from Haiti’s Superior Court of Auditors added fuel to the fire after it cited disastrous management practices and the suspected diversion of nearly $2 billion (€1.7 billion) from the Petrocaribe fund. The anger over Petrocaribe has since burgeoned into a grassroots movement against widespread corruption in Haiti, which is ranked 161 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.
‘Where is the money?’ The Petrocaribe alliance allows some Caribbean states to purchase Venezuelan oil on preferential terms.
“The savings from this agreement were supposed to fund sustainable social projects and strategic investments to help the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with development,” the movement says on its website.
But Haiti has never seen those promised benefits. Throughout last summer, young Haitians mobilized on social media using the #PetroCaribeChallenge hashtag, planning several demonstrations and sit-ins in Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital, to demand an audit. The first rally took place on August 24 at Haiti’s Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes.
Some local media praised their efforts. “It is high time for a new stratum of civil society to wake up and move from the virtual to the real,” said an editorial in Haiti’s Le Nouvelliste. “It is high time that it demanded … that light be shed on the use of the PetroCaribe fund.”
Little by little, the Haitian diaspora also mobilized in cities around the world. From New York to Montreal and from Miami to Paris, the exiles also began asking: “Where is the money?”
In October of 2017, a Haitian Senate report detailed how, between 2008 and 2016, funds that had been accumulated through Haiti’s participation in Venezuela’s oil-purchasing program, Petrocaribe, were misused, misappropriated, or embezzled by government officials and their cronies in the private sector.
The Haitian government was supposed to use the extra money to develop Haiti’s economy and fund social programs. Instead, at least $2 billion (equivalent to almost a quarter of Haiti’s total economy for 2017) went missing and Haitians saw few of the promised benefits, according to protesters and local media.
From 2017 until today, for more than three years, Haitians outside Haiti and across Haiti have been taking to the streets to demand the resignation of president Moïse amid allegations that his administration and PHTK wasted all the money that was supposed to develop Haiti.
Haitian taxpayers owe Venezuela billions of dollars for the borrowed oil that Moise and PHTK wasted, but thanks to the former Haitian Senator ‘Moise Jean-Charles’ who met president ‘Nicolás Maduro apologized on behalf of the Haitian population. According to the Haitian populace, Moise Jean-Charles, the founder and main leader of Pitit Dessalines, is the only honest leader and the only hope for Haiti.
The US even forced Haiti to vote against Venezuela because the American people want to keep Haiti down forever so they can continue to exploit the resources of Haiti and take advantage of the Haitian people. According to the protesters across Haiti, the PetroCaribe program was effectively a way for Venezuela to give other countries development loans but the current Haitian government and PHTK ruined the previous opportunity because the money went missing.
Haitian protesters and political actors got a lot to say about Haiti joining with the US and voted against Venezuela. “Haitians are being punished for being the first black nation that helped and taught many countries how to get their freedom. Through the years, Haiti is being punished for the liberation of many slaves around the world. Unfortunately, that’s why they don’t want Haiti to prosper,” said Werley Nortreus.
“Etazini pa renmen Ayiti epi yo vle kontrole Ayiti.”, said Duckens, a protester.
From 2011 until today, nothing has changed in Haiti, and the Haitian population is still suffering and living in poverty. Billions of dollars raised and wasted for nothing may have caused Haiti to stay the same.
“Haiti is part of America but how come all the countries in America are well-developed, except Haiti. How come the US and the United Nations don’t give honest Haitian leaders money to develop Haiti?,” said Nortreus.
In 2018, the media reported president Donald Trump called Haiti a “sh*thole country”, even when Haiti is part of America and the United Nations.
“Do you think the US used verbal words in order to forced Haiti to vote against Venezuela? Do you think parents that really love their children would use verbal words to push them to do something? Hell no”, said opposition leaders.
“I don’t think they would call Haiti a “sh*thole country” if the Haitian Revolution leaders like Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and the others were alive today,” said Nortreus. Today in 2020, Haiti is still the same, nothing good going on. There’s no good hospitals, no industries, nothing good going on in 2020.
“I don’t want to speak much on these issues, but I think if they knew better, they would do better, but we are still brothers and sisters”, said Nortreus, founder of Vanyan Sòlda Ayiti.