The horror that unfolded in Haiti yesterday, when a group of men invaded President Jovenel Moïse’s residence and assassinated him, has again turned the world’s focus on the impoverished nation.
Once again, the people of our Caribbean neighbour must endure a period of turmoil and confusion, looking to the outside world for help.
In the last two decades alone, Haiti has had to deal with the destruction of Tropical Storm Jeanne in 2004 that left 3,006 people dead and thousands homeless, a strong 7.0 earthquake that killed over 250,000 people in 2010 and a subsequent cholera outbreak that killed 10,000 and left one million ill.
For decades, the country has faced political conflict with several coup d’états, kidnappings, foreign military intervention and senior officials, including President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, going into exile. Corruption too, sucked away at its resources over the years while people suffered.
Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world.
Just two weeks ago, with the country not having received any vaccines to tackle the COVID pandemic, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley lamented that we’ve had to say sorry to Haiti yet again.
Surely, the people of the western part of Hispaniola have had far more than their share of woes.
To wake up to the news of more political chaos brought about by Moïse’s assassination and the wounding of his wife by what appears to be trained mercenaries, make us ask again what else needs to be done.
Certainly, it must begin with a strong response from outside in firstly helping Haiti understand what happened, deploying special resources to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
If the reports coming out of Haiti are true, those who carried out this heinous act are most likely not Haitian nationals. It also appears that their efforts were well-orchestrated, suggesting they may have already fled the country. In the midst of this bedlam, Haitian authorities simply cannot track them down alone.
Already, the Haitian Ambassador to the US has told CNN Haiti requires international help in this regard.
Finding the perpetrators could bring insight into who was behind this, a question, no doubt, on the minds of over 8 million Haitians. It will also point to what needs to be done to fix Haiti going forward.
Political instability is one sure way of turning away foreign investors and stymying the little opportunities for economic progress Haiti was expecting post-COVID-19.
Few need an explanation on what this means for a people still recovering from the years of tribulation. The world must turn its focus on reducing the suffering the citizens can face ahead.
Caricom, the Organisation of American States and the United Nations must realise that whatever measures they’ve previously employed to lead Haiti out of its deep distress, could all come crashing down without a swift, structured response.
We trust that it will not be long before clear pathways are outlined to help reduce the economic and social pressures likely to arise from this latest blot on the country.
Haiti, yes, we’re once again sorry, but hope that this will be the last time those words have to be said.