MESSAGE TO THE NATION
PRIME MINISTER DOCTOR ARIEL HENRY
OFFICIAL RESIDENCE, 7 FEBRUARY 2022
Ladies and Gentlemen Haitian Compatriots,
Sisters and Brothers living in the 10 departments
My Fellow Citizens in the Diaspora
I wanted to talk to you today, February 7, an important date for all Haitians. There has been a lot of noise, a lot of intimidation about this date. But for all true Democrats, February 7 is the date the Haitian people chose to break with dictatorship. On that day, the Haitian people decided to end completely the old dictatorial practices. A few months later, we chose to adopt democracy as the best way to live together. Unfortunately, 36 years later, we must recognize that we have failed to establish a truly democratic system. Every time we take three steps forward, we are taken two steps back by some evil forces.
February 7, 2022, is the day when a newly elected president should have been sworn in before the national assembly and installed in the national palace. It could not happen today because of the circumstances that we all know.
Today marks 7 months since July 7, 2021, when President Jovenel Moïse was brutally and mercilessly assassinated. We can all see that the investigation has not progressed. Other countries are arresting people suspected of this crime. Our justice system is weak, which is the reason why no one trusts it enough to send back the incarcerated to stand trial here. We must render justice for the President. Because if we can’t even provide justice to a President, how the average Joe or Jane will get justice. I have informed the CSPJ and the Senior Judge of the Court that, following to our efforts, many friendly countries are ready to provide technical assistance to the judges on the case of President Moïse as well as Maitre Dorval’s.
In the situation our country finds itself today, it needs all its children to understand the seriousness of the situation, and the necessity to decide how to do things differently. The basic thing today is not to fight for a short-lived piece of power. The struggle of all Haitians who are serious, is the struggle to see how we can make our country and all its institutions resume normal functioning, and operate democratically. 36 years after the Haitian people turned away from dictatorship and adopted democracy, it is important and urgent that we give the people the opportunity to choose their leader.
Today, February 7, all those who say they are Democrats should have only one concern in mind: how can we, this time, hold good elections, without corruption, without fraud, without the distribution of money, without violence, without gang support. The concern of all Democrats should be to work together, so that this time, the election does not lead to contestation, and does not generate crisis after crisis.
This time, it is up to the Haitian people to stand up, and choose the right people who are ready to abide by the law, who have good projects, to hand over the responsibility to lead the country at all levels. But we will talk about that in more detail at another occasion.
To go to the polls, to hold popular consultations to adopt a new constitution, there are many conditions to be met. First of all, the strong security issue has to be resolved. We must put under arrest all the terrorists who are shooting bullets at innocent victims that are simply walking by, who are kidnapping adults and children, who are leaving so many people mourning. We cannot ask the population to go to the polls if we cannot guarantee that they will be able to walk freely in the country and campaign in every city, in every neighborhood, without fearing for their lives.
The whole government is working on that. The Haitian National Police (PNH) is beginning to have successful anti-gang interventions: in Savyen, in Lakwa Peris, the gas terminals have resumed their daily activities, the police are seriously curbing the bandits at their bases in the Croix des Bouquets area. Some schools that had been closed for more than 3 years in several difficult neighborhoods have reopened, the end of the year’s festivities went on smoothly. We are looking for more means, more equipment and training for our police officers, so that they can continue to successfully complete their mission. I warn the bandits in other areas, we will come for them. We know that security is everyone’s main concern, and we will solve it.
We can’t ask people to go to the polls if everyone mistrusts the Dermalog card. That is why we have already launched a call for bids to find a specialized international firm that will have a serious evaluation, called an audit, of the system. The International Francophone Organization also offered its help.
On our flag is a slogan that says “L’Union Fait La Force”. Our society is too divided. There is too much discord, too much disagreements among us. I promised to go visit all the sectors and that’s what I did. This brought us to the September 11, 2021 Accord, which brings together many major political parties that had been fighting against each other, many civil society and popular organizations. Whenever Haitians decide to unite, it is a good thing. That’s why I’ve met Montana’s compatriots several times, and I’ll continue to reach out to them. It’s been barely five days since I last spoke to Louisiana compatriots, and I will continue to see them. But one thing must be clear to everyone, no one, and I repeat, no one, has the authority or the right to meet at an hotel or abroad to decide in small groups who should be president or prime minister. It’s childish game and a distraction.
The situation the country faces is too serious for us to waste time in playing musical chairs at the highest level of the State. We have seen for some time that certain people think that violence can give power. On January 1, an attempt to assassinate me was made in Gonaïves. In the past few days, some people have decided to commit acts of terrorism, including riding on motorcycles or cars and shooting at peaceful citizens. I am saying to all those who are tempted to use gangs, terrorists, and armed bandits to seize power that they will be treated as terrorists and armed bandits. It is a matter of time before that happen as we are beginning to identify them. But when they will be condemned by the justice system, I don’t want to hear anyone saying that they are being persecuted for political motives or that they are political prisoners.
Allow me to take my hat off to the Haitian people as they have demonstrated their political maturity regarding the difficult situation the country is going through. There were groups waiting for the population to take to the streets, make a mess, burn tires, smash cars, destroy small vendors’ merchandises. But today, the people understand the political game. “Bouki fè Filozofi”. Nobody can entice the people to block the country, destroy it, nor use the same people to defend their political or personal interests. We needed to break from the old system but by the people.
Brothers and sisters,
The country’s economy is lagging behind. I have always thought that the economic problems are one of the main sources of the crisis we have been going through for a long time. Our economy is too small to allow 12 million people to live well, get jobs, receive good services from the State. Did you know that only 5.6% of the taxes are collected by the State in a small economy that has been shrinking for the past three years? While in other countries in the region, the tax burden is between 17 and 21%. Smuggling is embezzling a lot of money that could be used to provide more services to the people. We need more investment; we need to create more jobs. That is why I am asking the people who have weapons in their hands, and all those who feed and use them, to PAUSE, and DEPOSE. What they are doing is keeping the people in poverty, preventing tourists from returning to the country, preventing investors from creating jobs.
Our resources are limited but we are looking for increased means to help those who are worse off. We know that there is a lot of misery out there, so we have to find a way to reach the neediest people in the poorest neighborhoods.
The IMF has not been talking with the Haitian government for some time. I can announce that, in the next few days, the Minister of Finance will resume discussions with them. This means that our efforts and sacrifices, and the discipline we put into managing public finances, begin to prove us reliable, thus that we can be trusted. I would also like to announce that after the successful meeting which took place in Canada about security in Haiti, we will hold a big roundtable on February 16, where all the “Donors” will look at how they can help us in the recovery and reconstruction of the southern part of the country devastated by the August 14 earthquake. We can save the country. We can have a fresh start; we just have to unite our efforts.
We can’t afford to waste any more time. We are moving forward with those who want to solve the problem of insecurity, put in place a credible Electoral Council, organize a popular consultation to validate the new constitution, organize good elections so that we can hand over the direction of the country quickly to newly elected authorities, at all levels, chosen by the people of Haiti freely and transparently. We will make public the calendar that will lead us to the establishment of our democratic institutions. I invite all Haitians of good will to come together to make this project a success. It is through dialogue that we will rebuild the Rule of Law. Let’s continue the dialogue.
Let us ask God to enlighten us all, to make good choices in the interests of Haiti and all Haitians.