Haiti

 

  • CHILE: ‘Migration restrictions do not tackle the causes of migration’

    Delio.CubidesCIVICUS speaks with Delio Cubides, migration legal advisor at the Chilean Catholic Migration Institute (INCAMI), about the situation of migrants in Chile, and the restrictive measures and mass expulsions that took place this year. Founded in 1955, INCAMI is a civil society organisation dedicated to supporting migrants in Chile, including through providing reception services, social assistance, advice on document regularisation, training and support in finding employment.

    How did Chile get into its current situation of anti-migrant protests and mass expulsions?

    To answer this question, we should place ourselves in the international context, to which Chile is no stranger. Since 2010, there has been an increase in the number of migrants from non-border countries, such as Venezuela and Haiti, which has surpassed the inflow from border countries.

    To a certain extent, Chile has been viewed in the region as a country with security and institutional and economic stability, while since 2013 the political, social and economic situation in Venezuela has led to an exponential increase in the inflow of people from that country, with a peak in 2013 and another in 2018, despite the fact that, unlike Haitian migration, there is no family reunification visa for Venezuelans in Chile.

    Faced with this increase in migration, the current administration of Sebastián Piñera began to adopt restrictive measures; 30 days after taking office in 2018, it enacted a policy aimed at limiting the entry of Haitians and Venezuelans. Haitian migration was heavily restricted by the implementation of a simple consular tourist visa for entry into Chile and, like other migrants, also by the elimination of the work contract visa.

    Although we do not have exact figures, we know that the rejection rate for consular visas requested by Haitians has been high; testimonies from Haitian migrants that we deal with in our offices report numerous rejections for reasons beyond their control or due to requirements they are unable to comply with.

    For example, in order to grant a permanent stay permit to migrants already present in Chile, the government requires a criminal record certificate that must be obtained from the consulate of the country of origin. In the case of countries such as Haiti, the high cost and lengthy processing time in the country of origin is compounded by the fact that, in the current political, social and health context, the certificate is almost impossible to obtain. As a result, many people are unable to submit it within the established deadlines. This requirement is currently limiting access by hundreds of people of Haitian origin to the so-called ‘extraordinary regularisation process’.

    For migrants from Venezuela, a consular visa requirement known as a ‘democratic accountability visa’ was imposed in 2019. But the desperate situation in Venezuela continued to push people to migrate despite the obstacles, as migration restrictions do not address the causes of migration.

    What these measures did not achieve, the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic did: in November 2020 the government suspended around 90,000 visa procedures for Venezuelan applicants, and many others who had already been granted their visas or had their final interview scheduled could not enter Chile because the suspension of international flights prevented them from doing so within the 90-day period established by law; therefore, their applications were administratively closed without any consideration for the pandemic situation.

    Many people have filed amparo appeals – writs for protection of constitutional rights – and have managed to have their cases reopened, but Chile has clearly opted for a strategy of restriction. All these measures were taken to regulate and control a migratory flow that was growing, but many of us see it as a reflection of the lack of empathy for the humanitarian reality that these people are going through in their countries of origin. Many of them had requested protection or were in the process of reuniting with their families, and their projects were cut short either by the pandemic or by administrative restrictions.

    Is Chilean society polarised around the issue of migration?

    I don’t see such polarisation. The situation in the city of Iquique, where in September 2021 there was a march against the arrival of migrants, was an isolated event. It was also the result of the stress that can build up in a situation of coexistence in undignified conditions, a result of the lack of public policies capable of anticipating the drama of this humanitarian crisis.

    On social media, opinions are polarised and people say many things, but these positions have not materialised in marches on the capital, Santiago de Chile, or in other cities. On the contrary, in Iquique we have seen migrants on the streets in extremely difficult conditions, and city residents welcoming and helping them to the best of their ability.

    The situation in Iquique was also one of exclusion from the possibility of regularisation of people who entered through unauthorised passages, a direct result of Law No. 21.325 on Migration and Aliens passed in April this year. In the previous regularisation process in 2018, migrants who entered through unauthorised passages were allowed to register, although no work permits were granted. Migrants know this is the case, but they prefer this precarious situation to going hungry in their countries of origin.

    In the context of the pandemic, because of health restrictions, many migrants were forced to stay in public places, unable to go anywhere else, undocumented and excluded from social benefits. This created difficulties for local residents, as well as for the migrants themselves who lacked state assistance.

    It was only after some Venezuelan migrants died while crossing the border that the Chilean state began to provide assistance, on the understanding that they were in fact refugees or asylum seekers.

    What should the state do in this situation?

    The state has an obligation to provide a solution to this situation. An alternative could be for it to coordinate with the private sector, which is in need of workers, especially in construction, agriculture, services and in some professional categories. The situation of people fitting these profiles could be regularised through coordination with the private sector, providing them with training and job placement. This would provide a different perspective on migration and would help avoid situations of dependency and lack of autonomy.

    It seems that restrictions are not the best solution. Restrictions do not stop migration, and instead deepen the violations of migrants’ rights, as they make them susceptible to the challenges of the labour market and the housing rental market and limit their access to basic rights such as health and education. They are also of no use to the authorities, who do not know where migrants are, who they are, how many they are or how they have arrived.

    Over the entire recent period since Chile returned to democracy, none of a series of governments developed a real migration policy that reformed and updated existing regulations. The current government has been the only one to propose a change in the law on migration and in migration management, but, due to the context and the pressure of migratory flows, it has turned out to be a restrictive policy, or at least one that seeks to limit the flow. It is a policy that discourages people from entering the country, driving those in a regular situation to exhaustion due to eternal waits to obtain documents, lack of communication by migration authorities and bureaucratic centralisation in Santiago.

    We are now in the middle of an election campaign, and in such times migration can be exploited to win votes. The government programmes of all the candidates have very limited information on this issue, but all who have spoken about it have done so in a restrictive tone. I think the problem lies there, more than in the fact that there is xenophobia within society. It seems that migrants only begin to be heard when they become an electoral force, which in Chile is just beginning to happen.

    How adequate is the new law to achieving ‘safe, orderly and regular’ migration?

    Law 21.325 reflects well the position of this administration on the issue of migration. It should be remembered that in December 2018 Chile refused to sign the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, arguing that each country should retain its sovereignty to set its migration rules, even though Chile had been one of the countries that had led its drafting process.

    The new law has some positive aspects and enshrines some rights, such as the rights to health, education, family reunification and work. It includes visas for minors and gives consideration to people with disabilities and women, giving them protection in certain specific cases such as pregnancy, smuggling and trafficking and gender-based violence. It decentralises the revalidation of diplomas and increases the administration’s presence in Chile’s regions. It also gives people with dependent visas autonomy to develop an economic activity.

    Although these rights are not currently refused, they are not guaranteed by law either, but rather recognised administratively, which makes them somewhat fragile.

    At the same time, the new law represents a shift in migration management. Until now, the law allowed for changes of status within the national territory, but the new law will not allow this: all visas must be obtained from consulates in the migrants’ countries of origin. This will give the administration the ultimate decision on how many migrants to allow in, which and under what conditions. This is perhaps the biggest change introduced by the new law. Only in some cases will certain people be allowed to change their migration status, but this will depend on the content of the regulatory degree that is issued to implement the new law.

    What work is the Chilean Catholic Migration Institute doing in this context?

    As it is beyond our reach to tackle the causes of migration, we defend the rights of migrants. Our objectives are to welcome, protect and integrate them. 

    We advocate with the authorities, which sometimes comes at a cost. This is necessary work because although there are migrants’ organisations, they tend to be organised around one person, a leader, and are not highly institutionalised. There are organisations for Colombians, Ecuadorians, Haitians and Venezuelans, among others. There is also Chile’s National Immigrants’ Coordination, which brings together several organisations, has a presence in protests and social media, and includes several Haitian, Peruvian and Venezuelan collectives.

    We also provide legal advice, which is what is most lacking in Chile, due to a lack of access to information, which is not promoted by the authorities who should be attending to migrants. We help with online forms and procedures and provide social assistance, particularly in the form of shelter, as there are no state-run shelters for migrants.

    Everything that exists in Chile in the area of migrants’ reception and services is the result of civil society initiatives, largely by organisations, institutions and services of the Catholic Church. INCAMI is the Catholic Church’s main body on migration issues: through the work teams of the Pastoral of Human Mobility (PMH) in each of Chile’s regions, we coordinate the reception and care of migrants with other Church bodies. Our resources are limited, but during the pandemic we have opened churches to receive women and children and we have provided all the attention we could through social media.

    We listen to what people need, something the authorities don’t do. With the help of some municipalities, we accompanied the return of thousands of people not only from neighbouring Bolivia, but also from Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, Venezuela and other countries.

    Our migration teams travel not only within the Metropolitan Region of Santiago but also to Chile’s regions, to visit the municipalities with the greatest presence of migrants and offer them the possibility of regularising their status, obtaining a visa, working under fair conditions, contributing to the social security system and accessing their fundamental rights. Sometimes we do this with the support of PMH teams in the regions, government authorities or the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

    What support do organisations defending the rights of migrants in Chile need from the international community?

    We face a regional challenge that requires a regional response. States should coordinate an international approach to migration, as is already being done by the Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V), led by the United Nations Refugee Agency and the IOM. Further progress is needed in this process, as the Venezuelan situation is far from over.

    In order to assist migrants while doing very necessary advocacy work, we need resources: staple foods to assemble basic food baskets and economic resources to pay for accommodation, among other things. It is important to remember that migrants are not the problem, but rather the symptom of realities undergoing deeper transformation, and most of them require protection.

    Civic space in Chile is rated ‘obstructed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.
    Get in touch with the Chilean Catholic Migration Institute through itswebsite or itsFacebook andInstagram pages, and follow@INCAMIchile and@JosDelioCubides on Twitter. 

     

  • CHILE: “Las restricciones migratorias no atacan las causas de la migración”

    Delio.CubidesCIVICUS conversa con Delio Cubides, asesor jurídico migratorio del Instituto Católico Chileno de Migración (INCAMI), acerca de la situación de las personas migrantes en Chile, y sobre las medidas restrictivas y las expulsiones masivas que tuvieron lugar este año. Fundado en 1955, el INCAMI es una organización de la sociedad civil dedicada a apoyar a personas migrantes en Chile, proveyendo, entre otras cosas, servicios de acogida, asistencia social, asesoramiento para la regularización de documentos, capacitación y apoyo en la búsqueda de empleo.

    ¿Cómo se llegó en Chile a la actual situación de protestas contra migrantes y expulsiones masivas?

    Para responder esa pregunta deberíamos situarnos en el contexto internacional, al que Chile no es ajeno. Desde 2010 se percibe un aumento en la cantidad de personas migrantes de países no fronterizos, como Venezuela y Haití, que han superado al flujo procedente de países fronterizos.

    En cierta forma, Chile ha sido visto en la región como un país con seguridad y estabilidad institucional y económica, al mismo tiempo que la situación política, social y económica en Venezuela hizo que desde 2013 el ingreso de personas de ese país creciera exponencialmente, con un pico en 2013 y otro en 2018, pese a que, a diferencia de lo que ocurre con la migración haitiana, no existe en Chile una visa de reunificación familiar para venezolanos.

    Frente al aumento de las migraciones, la actual administración de Sebastián Piñera comenzó a tomar medidas restrictivas; de hecho, a los 30 días de asumido su mandato en 2018 publicó una minuta destinada a limitar el ingreso de personas haitianas y venezolanas. La migración haitiana se vio especialmente restringida por la implementación de un visado consular de turismo simple para el ingreso a Chile y, al igual que el resto, por la eliminación del visado por contrato de trabajo.

    Aunque no tenemos cifras exactas, sabemos que la tasa de rechazo de las visas consulares solicitadas por personas haitianas es alta; testimonios de migrantes haitianos que atendemos en nuestras oficinas dan cuenta de numerosos rechazos por motivos que les son ajenos o por requisitos que no está en sus manos cumplir.

    Por ejemplo, para la tramitación de la permanencia definitiva de las personas migrantes ya presentes en Chile, el gobierno solicita un certificado de antecedentes penales que debe obtenerse en el consulado del país de origen. En el caso de países como Haití, al costo elevado y la prolongada tramitación en el país de origen se suma el hecho de que, en el actual contexto político, social y sanitario, el certificado es casi imposible de conseguir. En consecuencia, muchas personas no logran presentarlo dentro de los plazos establecidos. En la actualidad, ese requisito está limitando el acceso de cientos de personas de origen haitiano al llamado ‘proceso de regularización extraordinaria´.

    A las personas migrantes procedentes de Venezuela se les impuso en 2019 la exigencia de una visa consular conocida como ‘visa de responsabilidad democrática’. Pero la situación desesperada de Venezuela siguió impulsando a las personas a migrar a pesar de los obstáculos, ya que las restricciones migratorias no atacan las causas de la migración.

    Lo que no lograron estas medidas lo hicieron las restricciones impuestas por la pandemia de COVID-19: en noviembre de 2020 el gobierno suspendió alrededor de 90 mil trámites de visas a personas venezolanas, y muchas otras con sus visas ya otorgadas o próximas a la entrevista de otorgamiento no pudieron ingresar a Chile porque la suspensión de los vuelos internacionales les impidió hacerlo dentro del plazo de 90 días que les otorga la ley; en consecuencia, sus trámites fueron cerrados administrativamente sin ninguna consideración por la situación de pandemia.

    Muchas personas han interpuesto recursos de amparo y han logrado reabrir sus casos, pero claramente Chile ha optado por una estrategia de restricción. Todas estas medidas se tomaron para regular y controlar un flujo migratorio que venía en crecimiento, pero muchos lo vemos como un reflejo de la falta de empatía a la realidad humanitaria que atraviesan estas personas en su país de origen. Muchas de ellas requerían protección o estaban en proceso de reunificarse con sus familias, proyectos que se vieron truncados ya sea por la pandemia, ya por las restricciones administrativas.

    ¿Está la sociedad chilena polarizada en torno del tema de la migración?

    Yo no veo tal polarización. La situación de la ciudad de Iquique, donde en septiembre de 2021 se produjo una marcha contra la llegada de migrantes, fue un hecho aislado, fruto también del estrés que puede generar una situación de convivencia en condiciones indignas, como consecuencia de la falta de políticas públicas que se anticiparan al drama de esta crisis humanitaria.

    En las redes sociales las opiniones se polarizan y la gente dice muchas cosas, pero estas posiciones no se han materializado en marchas en la capital, Santiago de Chile, o en otras ciudades. Al contrario, en Iquique hemos visto migrantes en las calles en condiciones sumamente difíciles, y a residentes de la ciudad ayudándoles y acogiéndoles en la medida de sus posibilidades.

    La situación en Iquique también fue de la exclusión de la posibilidad de regularización de las personas que ingresaron por pasos no habilitados, por efecto de la Ley 21.325 de Migración y Extranjería aprobada en abril de este año. En el anterior proceso de regularización de 2018 se permitió la incorporación de ingresantes por pasos no habilitados, aunque no se otorgaron permisos de trabajo a quienes se inscribieron. Las personas migrantes lo saben, pero prefieren esa precariedad antes que pasar hambre en su país de origen.

    En el contexto de la pandemia, a causa de las restricciones sanitarias, muchas personas migrantes se vieron obligadas a quedarse en plazas públicas, sin poder ir a ninguna parte, sin documentos y excluidas de los beneficios sociales. Esto generó dificultades para los residentes locales, así como para los propios migrantes desprovistos de asistencia estatal.

    Recién luego de que se produjeran muertes de migrantes venezolanos durante su cruce de la frontera, el Estado chileno comenzó a proveer asistencia, entendiendo que se trataba de personas refugiadas o solicitantes de refugio.

     

    ¿Qué tendría que hacer el Estado frente a esta situación?

    El Estado tiene la obligación de dar una solución a esta realidad. Una alternativa puede venir de la articulación con el sector privado, que requiere trabajadores sobre todo en la construcción, la agricultura, los servicios y ciertas profesiones. La situación de estas personas podría regularizarse previa coordinación con tal sector, brindándoles capacitación e inserción laboral. Esto daría otra perspectiva a la migración y evitaría situaciones de dependencia y de falta de autonomía.

    Pareciera que poner restricciones no es la mejor solución. Las restricciones no detienen las migraciones, y en cambio profundizan las vulneraciones de derechos de las personas migrantes, pues las hace susceptibles a las inclemencias del mercado de trabajo o del mercado de alquiler de vivienda y les limita el acceso a derechos básicos como salud y educación. Esto tampoco resulta útil para la autoridad, que no sabe dónde están, quiénes son, cuántos son o cómo llegaron.

    En todo el período reciente desde la recuperación de la democracia, ninguno de los sucesivos gobiernos de Chile desarrolló una verdadera política migratoria que incluyera una reforma y actualización de la normativa. Este gobierno ha sido el único con una propuesta de cambio en la Ley de Extranjería y en la gestión migratoria, pero, a causa del contexto y de la presión de los flujos migratorios, ha devenido en una política restrictiva, o cuanto menos limitante de los flujos. Es una política que desincentiva el ingreso al país, llevando también a las personas en situación regular a la extenuación por la eterna espera en la obtención de documentos, la escasa comunicación de la autoridad migratoria y la centralización de la gestión en Santiago.

    Ahora estamos en campaña, y en estos tiempos el tema migratorio puede ser instrumentalizado para ganar votos. Los programas de gobierno de todos los candidatos son muy pobres esta materia, pero todos los que han hablado del tema lo han hecho en un tono restrictivo. Creo que el problema pasa por ahí, más que por el hecho de que haya xenofobia en la sociedad. Pareciera que el migrante solo comienza a ser oído cuando se vuelve una fuerza con capacidad de elección, lo cual en Chile apenas empieza a ocurrir.

    ¿Qué tan apta es la nueva ley para lograr una migración “segura, ordenada y regular”?

    La Ley 21.325 refleja bien la posición de esta administración en torno al tema de la migración. Hay que recordar que en diciembre de 2018 Chile se negó a firmar el Pacto Mundial para una Migración Segura, Ordenada y Regular, alegando que cada país debe conservar su soberanía para fijar sus reglas migratorias, pese a que Chile había sido uno de los países que había liderado su redacción.

    La nueva ley tiene algunos aspectos positivos y garantiza ciertos derechos: a la salud, a la educación, a la reunificación familiar y al trabajo. Incluye visa para menores de edad y considera a las personas en situación de discapacidad y a las mujeres y les da protección en ciertos casos específicos como embarazo, tráfico y trata y violencia de género. Descentraliza la revalidación de títulos y aumenta la presencia en las regiones. Asimismo, concede autonomía para el desarrollo de actividad económica a las personas con visa en calidad de dependientes.

    Si bien estos derechos actualmente no están negados, tampoco están garantizados en la ley, sino que se conceden por vía administrativa, lo cual les confiere cierta fragilidad.

    Al mismo tiempo, la nueva ley representa un cambio en la gestión migratoria. Hasta ahora la normativa permitía el cambio de estatus dentro del territorio nacional, pero la nueva normativa no lo va a permitir: todas las visas deberán obtenerse en los consulados de los respectivos países de origen. Eso entregará a la administración la decisión última de cuántos migrantes permite entrar, cuáles y en qué condiciones. Este es tal vez el mayor cambio propuesto en la nueva ley. Solo en algunos casos se permitirá a algunas personas cambiar su estatus migratorio, pero esto dependerá de los contenidos del reglamento para la implementación de la nueva ley.

    ¿Qué trabajo realiza el Instituto Chileno Católico de Migración en este contexto? 

    Como está fuera de nuestro alcance atacar las causas de la migración, defendemos los derechos de las personas migrantes. Nuestros objetivos son acogerlas, protegerlas e integrarlas. 

    Hacemos incidencia con las autoridades, lo cual a veces tiene costos. Este es un trabajo necesario porque si bien existen organizaciones de personas migrantes, suelen estar organizadas en torno de una persona, un líder, sin mucha institucionalidad. Hay organizaciones de colombianos, ecuatorianos, haitianos y venezolanos, entre otros. También está la Coordinadora Nacional de Inmigrantes Chile, que nuclea a varias organizaciones, tiene presencia en las manifestaciones, en las redes sociales, y cuenta con presencia de varios colectivos haitianos, peruanos y venezolanos.

    También prestamos un servicio de asesoría legal, que es lo que más escasea en Chile, por falta de acceso a la información, que no es promovido por la autoridad que debería atender a las personas migrantes. Nos encargamos de trámites digitales y brindamos asistencia social, particularmente bajo la forma de casas de acogida, ya que no hay albergues para migrantes gestionados por el Estado.

    Todo lo que existe en materia de acogida y atención a personas migrantes en Chile es por iniciativa de la sociedad civil, y mayormente de organizaciones, instituciones y servicios de la Iglesia Católica. INCAMI es el organismo de la Iglesia Católica de Chile referente en temas de migración: a través de los equipos de trabajo de la Pastoral de Movilidad Humana (PMH) en las distintas regiones de Chile, coordinamos con otros organismos de la Iglesia la recepción y atención de personas migrantes. Nuestros recursos son limitados, pero durante la pandemia hemos habilitado iglesias y parroquias para recibir a mujeres y niños y hemos brindado toda la atención que hemos podido a través de las redes sociales.

    Nosotros escuchamos lo que las personas precisan, cosa que las autoridades no hacen. Con ayuda de algunas municipalidades acompañamos el retorno de miles de personas no solamente de la vecina Bolivia, sino también de Colombia, Ecuador, Haití, Venezuela y otros países.

    Nuestros equipos de atención migratoria se desplazan no solo dentro de la Región Metropolitana de Santiago sino también a las regiones, para visitar las comunas con mayor presencia de migrantes y acercarles la posibilidad de regularizarse, tener una visa, trabajar en igualdad de condiciones, aportar al sistema previsional y acceder a sus derechos fundamentales. En ocasiones lo hacemos con el apoyo de los equipos de la PMH en las regiones, de algunas autoridades o de la Organización Internacional para las Migraciones (OIM).

    ¿Qué apoyo necesitan de la comunidad internacional las organizaciones que defienden los derechos de las personas migrantes en Chile?

    Enfrentamos un desafío regional que requiere una respuesta regional. Los Estados deberían coordinar un abordaje internacional de la migración, como ya lo está haciendo la Plataforma Regional de Coordinación Interagencial para Refugiados y Migrantes de Venezuela (R4V), liderada por la Agencia de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados y la OIM. Se requiere seguir avanzando en este proceso, pues la situación que vive Venezuela está lejos de terminar.

    Para asistir a las personas migrantes al tiempo que hacemos este necesario trabajo de incidencia necesitamos recursos: bienes alimentarios para armar canastas básicas y recursos económicos para el pago de alojamiento, entre otras cosas. Es importante recordar que las personas migrantes no son el problema, sino que son el síntoma de realidades en transformación más profunda, y en su mayoría requieren protección.

    El espacio cívico en Chile es calificado como “obstruido” por elCIVICUS Monitor.
    Póngase en contacto con el Instituto Católico Chileno de Migración a través de susitio web o sus páginas deFacebook eInstagram, y siga a@INCAMIchile y a@JosDelioCubides en Twitter.

     

     

  • HAÏTI : « Il est possible de passer de l’ingérence étrangère à un véritable leadership du peuple haïtien »

    Ellie Happel

    CIVICUS s’entretient avec Ellie Happel, professeur de la Global Justice Clinic et directrice du Haiti Project à la New York University School of Law. Ellie a vécu et travaillé en Haïti pendant plusieurs années, et son travail se concentre sur la solidarité avec les mouvements sociaux en Haïti et la justice raciale et environnementale

    Quels ont été les principaux développements politiques depuis l’assassinat du président Jovenel Moïse en juillet 2021 ?

    En tant qu’Américaine, je voudrais commencer par souligner le rôle que le gouvernement américain a joué dans la création de la situation actuelle. L’histoire des interventions étrangères improductives et oppressives est longue.

    Pour comprendre le contexte de la présidence de Moïse, il faut toutefois remonter au moins à 2010. Après le tremblement de terre qui a dévasté Haïti en janvier 2010, les États-Unis et d’autres acteurs extérieurs ont appelé à la tenue d’élections. Les gens n’avaient pas leur carte de vote ; plus de deux millions de personnes avaient perdu leur maison. Mais les élections ont eu lieu. Le gouvernement américain est intervenu au second tour des élections présidentielles haïtiennes, en appelant le candidat et fondateur du parti PHTK, Michel Martelly, à se présenter au second tour. Martelly a été élu par la suite.

    Pendant la présidence de Martelly, nous avons assisté à un déclin des conditions politiques, économiques et sociales. La corruption était bien documentée et endémique. Martelly n’a pas organisé d’élections et a fini par gouverner par décret. Il a choisi lui-même Moïse pour successeur. Le gouvernement américain a fortement soutenu les administrations de Martelly et de Moïse malgré l’augmentation de la violence, la destruction des institutions gouvernementales haïtiennes, la corruption et l’impunité qui ont eu lieu sous leur règne.

    La mort de Moïse n’est pas le plus gros problème auquel Haïti est confronté. Pendant son mandat, Moïse a effectivement détruit les institutions haïtiennes. Le peuple haïtien s’est soulevé contre le régime du PHTK en signe de protestation, et il a été accueilli par la violence et la répression. Il existe des preuves de l’implication du gouvernement dans des massacres de masse de personnes dans des régions connues pour leur opposition au PHTK.

    Deux semaines avant l’assassinat de Moïse, un militant de premier plan et une journaliste très connue ont été assassinés en Haïti. Diego Charles et Antoinette Duclair demandaient des comptes. Ils étaient actifs dans le mouvement visant à construire un Haïti meilleur. Ils ont été tués en toute impunité.

    Il est clair que la crise actuelle n’a pas pour origine l’assassinat de Moïse. Elle est le résultat de l’échec des politiques étrangères et de la façon dont le gouvernement haïtien a réprimé et stoppé les manifestations de l’opposition qui demandait des comptes pour la corruption et la violence, et qui exigeait le changement.

    Ce qui me donne actuellement de l’espoir, c’est le travail de la Commission pour une solution haïtienne à la crise, qui a été créée avant l’assassinat de Moïse. La Commission est un large groupe de partis politiques et d’organisations de la société civile (OSC) qui se sont réunis pour travailler collectivement à la reconstruction du gouvernement. C’est l’occasion de passer de l’ingérence étrangère à un véritable leadership du peuple haïtien.

    Quel est votre point de vue sur le report des élections et du référendum constitutionnel, et quelles sont les chances que des votes démocratiques aient lieu ?

    Dans le climat actuel, les élections ne sont pas la prochaine étape pour résoudre la crise politique d’Haïti. Les élections ne devraient pas avoir lieu tant que les conditions d’un vote équitable, libre et légitime ne sont pas réunies. Les élections de ces 11 dernières années démontrent qu’elles ne sont pas un moyen automatique de parvenir à une démocratie représentative.

    Aujourd’hui, la tenue d’élections se heurte à de nombreux obstacles. Le premier est celui de la gouvernance : les élections doivent être supervisées par un organe de gouvernance légitime et respecté par le peuple haïtien. Il serait impossible pour le gouvernement de facto d’organiser des élections. Le deuxième problème est la violence des gangs. On estime que plus de la moitié de Port-au-Prince est sous le contrôle des gangs. Lorsque le conseil électoral provisoire a préparé les élections il y a quelques mois, son personnel n’a pas pu accéder à un certain nombre de centres de vote en raison du contrôle exercé par les gangs. Troisièmement, les électeurs haïtiens éligibles devraient avoir des cartes d’identité d’électeur.

    Le gouvernement américain et d’autres acteurs doivent affirmer le droit du peuple haïtien à l’autodétermination. Les États-Unis ne devraient ni insister ni soutenir des élections sans preuve de mesures concrètes pour garantir qu’elles soient libres, équitables, inclusives et perçues comme légitimes. Les OSC haïtiennes et la Commission indiqueront quand les conditions sont réunies pour des élections libres, équitables et légitimes.

    Y a-t-il une crise migratoire causée par la situation en Haïti ? Comment peut-on relever les défis auxquels sont confrontés les migrants haïtiens ?

    Ce que nous appelons la « crise migratoire » est un exemple frappant de la manière dont la politique étrangère et la politique d’immigration des États-Unis à l’égard d’Haïti ont longtemps été affectées par le racisme anti-Noir.

    De nombreux Haïtiens qui ont quitté le pays après le tremblement de terre de 2010 se sont d’abord installés en Amérique du Sud. Beaucoup sont repartis par la suite. Les économies du Brésil et du Chili se sont détériorées, et les migrants haïtiens se sont heurtés au racisme et au manque d’opportunités économiques. Des familles et des individus ont voyagé vers le nord, à pied, en bateau et en bus, en direction de la frontière entre le Mexique et les États-Unis.

    Depuis de nombreuses années, le gouvernement américain ne permet pas aux migrants haïtiens et aux autres migrants d’entrer aux États-Unis. Il expulse des personnes sans entretien de demande d’asile - un entretien de « crainte fondée », qui est requis par le droit international - vers Haïti.

    Le gouvernement américain doit cesser d’utiliser le titre 42, une disposition de santé publique, comme prétexte pour expulser des migrants. Le gouvernement américain doit au contraire offrir une aide humanitaire et soutenir le regroupement familial et la relocalisation des Haïtiens aux États-Unis.

    Il est impossible de justifier une expulsion vers Haïti à l’heure actuelle, pour les mêmes raisons que le gouvernement américain a déconseillé aux citoyens américains de s’y rendre. On estime à près de 1 000 le nombre de cas documentés d’enlèvement en 2021. Des amis expliquent que tout le monde est en danger. Les enlèvements ne sont plus ciblés, mais des écoliers, des marchands de rue et des piétons sont pris en otage pour exiger de l’argent. Le gouvernement américain a non seulement déclaré qu’Haïti n’était pas un pays sûr pour les voyages, mais en mai 2021, le ministère américain de la sécurité intérieure a désigné Haïti comme bénéficiaire du statut de protection temporaire, permettant aux ressortissants haïtiens admissibles résidant aux États-Unis de demander à y rester parce qu’Haïti ne peut pas rapatrier ses ressortissants en toute sécurité.

    Les États-Unis doivent mettre fin aux déportations vers Haïti. Les États-Unis et d’autres pays d’Amérique doivent commencer à reconnaître, traiter et réparer la discrimination anti-Noir qui caractérise leurs politiques d’immigration.

    Que devrait faire la communauté internationale, et en particulier les États-Unis, pour améliorer la situation ?

    Premièrement, la communauté internationale devrait suivre l’exemple des OSC haïtiennes et s’engager de manière sérieuse et solidaire avec la Commission pour une solution haïtienne à la crise. Daniel Foote, l’envoyé spécial des États-Unis pour Haïti, a démissionné en signe de protestation huit semaines après son entrée en fonction ; il a déclaré que ses collègues du département d’État n’étaient pas intéressés par le soutien de solutions dirigées par les Haïtiens. Les États-Unis devraient jouer le rôle d’encourager la recherche d’un consensus et de faciliter les conversations pour faire avancer les choses sans interférer.

    Deuxièmement, toutes les déportations vers Haïti doivent cesser. Elles ne sont pas seulement des violations du droit international. Elles sont aussi hautement immorales et injustes.

    Les étrangers, y compris moi-même, ne sont pas les mieux placés pour prescrire des solutions en Haïti : nous devons plutôt soutenir celles créées par le peuple haïtien et les organisations haïtiennes. Il est temps pour le peuple haïtien de décider de la voie à suivre, et nous devons le soutenir activement, et le suivre.

    L’espace civique en Haïti est classé « réprimé » par leCIVICUS Monitor.

    Suivez@elliehappelsur Twitter.

     

  • HAÏTI : « La communauté internationale ne s’est jamais attaquée aux causes profondes de la crise »

    NixonBoumbaCIVICUS s’entretient avec Nixon Boumba, militant des droits humains et membre du Kolektif Jistis Min nan Ayiti (Collectif pour la justice minière en Haïti), sur la situation politique en Haïti après l’assassinat du président Jovenel Moïse. Formé en 2012, le Collectif pour la justice minière en Haïti est un mouvement d’organisations, d’individus et de partenaires de la société civile haïtienne qui font pression pour la transparence et la justice sociale et environnementale face à l’intérêt international croissant pour le secteur minier haïtien. Il sensibilise les communautés touchées aux conséquences de l’exploitation minière dans cinq domaines : l’environnement, l’eau, le travail, l’agriculture et la terre.

     

  • HAITI: ‘The international community has never addressed the root causes of the crisis’

    NixonBoumbaCIVICUS speaks with Nixon Boumba, a human rights activist and member of Kolektif Jistis Min nan Ayiti (Haiti Justice in Mining Collective), about the political situation in Haiti following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Formed in 2012, Haiti Justice in Mining Collective is a movement of Haitian civil society organisations, individuals and partners pushing for transparency and social and environmental justice in the face of growing international interest in Haiti’s mining sector. It educates affected communities on the consequences of mining in five areas: the environment, water, work, agriculture and land.

     

  • HAITI: ‘There is opportunity for a meaningful shift from foreign interference to true leadership of Haitian people’

    Ellie HappelCIVICUS speaks with Ellie Happel, professor of the Global Justice Clinic and Director of the Haiti Project at New York University School of Law. Ellie lived and worked in Haiti for several years, and her work continues to focus on solidarity with social movements in Haiti and racial and environmental justice.

    What have been the key political developments since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021?

    As an American, I want to begin by emphasising the role the US government has played in creating the present situation. The history of unproductive and oppressive foreign intervention is long.

    To understand the context of the Moïse presidency, however, we have to at least go back to 2010. Following the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January 2010, the USA and other external actors called for elections. People did not have their voting cards; more than two million people had lost their homes. But elections went ahead. The US government intervened in the second round of Haiti’s presidential elections, calling for candidate and founder of the PHTK party, Michel Martelly, to be put into the second round. Martelly was subsequently elected.

    During the Martelly presidency we saw a decline in political, economic and social conditions. Corruption was well documented and rampant. Martelly failed to hold elections and ended up ruling by decree. He hand-selected Moïse as his successor. The US government strongly supported both the Martelly and Moïse administrations despite the increasing violence, the destruction of Haitian government institutions, the corruption and the impunity that occurred under their rule.

    Moïse’s death is not the biggest problem that Haiti faces. During his tenure, Moïse effectively destroyed Haitian institutions. Haitian people rose up against the PHTK regime in protest, and they were met with violence and repression. There is evidence of government implication in mass killings – massacres – of people in areas that were known to oppose PHTK.

    Two weeks prior to Moïse’s assassination, a prominent activist and a widely known journalist were murdered in Haiti. Diego Charles and Antoinette Duclair were calling for accountability. They were active in the movement to build a better Haiti. They were killed with impunity.

    It is clear that the present crisis did not originate in Moïse’s assassination. It is the result of failed foreign policies and of the way the Haitian government repressed and halted opposition protests demanding accountability for corruption and violence, and demanding change.

    What currently gives me hope is the work of the Commission for Haitian Solution to the Crisis, which was created prior to Moïse’s assassination. The Commission is a broad group of political parties and civil society organisations (CSOs) that came together to work collectively to rebuild the government. This presents an opportunity for a meaningful shift from foreign interference to true leadership of Haitian people.

    What is your view on the postponement of elections and the constitutional referendum, and what are the prospects of democratic votes taking place?

    In the current climate, elections are not the next step in addressing Haiti’s political crisis. Elections should not occur until the conditions for a fair, free and legitimate vote are met. The elections of the past 11 years demonstrate that they are not an automatic means of achieving representative democracy.

    Today, there are many hurdles to holding elections. The first is one of governance: elections must be overseen by a governing body that has legitimacy, and that is respected by the Haitian people. It would be impossible for the de facto government to organise elections. The second is gang violence. It’s estimated that more than half of Port-au-Prince is under the control of gangs.  When the provisional electoral council was preparing for elections a few months back, its staff could not access a number of voting centres due to gang control. Third, eligible Haitian voters should have voter ID cards.

    The US government and others should affirm the right of the Haitian people to self-determination. The USA should neither insist on nor support elections without evidence of concrete measures to ensure that they are free, fair, inclusive and perceived as legitimate. Haitian CSOs and the Commission will indicate when the conditions exist for free, fair and legitimate elections.

    Is there a migration crisis caused by the situation in Haiti? How can the challenges faced by Haitian migrants be addressed?

    What we call the ‘migration crisis’ is a strong example of how US foreign policy and immigration policy towards Haiti have long been affected by anti-Black racism.

    Many Haitians who left the country following the earthquake in 2010 first moved to South America. Many have subsequently left. The economies of Brazil and Chile worsened, and Haitian migrants encountered racism and a lack of economic opportunity. Families and individuals have travelled northward by foot, boat and bus towards the Mexico-USA border.

    For many years now, the US government has not allowed Haitian migrants and other migrants to enter the USA. They are expelling people without an asylum interview – a ‘credible fear’ interview, which is required under international law – back to Haiti.

    The US government must stop using Title 42, a public health provision, as a pretext to expel migrants. The US government should instead offer humanitarian assistance and support Haitian family reunification and relocation in the USA.

    It is impossible to justify deportation to Haiti right now, for the same reasons that the US government has advised US citizens not to travel there. There are estimates of nearly 1,000 documented cases of kidnapping in 2021. Friends explain that anyone is at risk. Kidnappings are no longer targeted, but school kids and street merchants and pedestrians are being held hostage to demand money. The US government has not only declared Haiti unsafe for travel, but in May 2021, the US Department of Homeland Security designated Haiti for Temporary Protected Status, allowing eligible Haitian nationals residing in the USA to apply to remain there because Haiti cannot safely repatriate its nationals.

    The USA should halt deportations to Haiti. And the USA and other countries in the Americas must begin to recognise, address and repair the anti-Black discrimination that characterises their immigration policies.

    What should the international community, and especially the USA, do to improve the situation?

    First, the international community should take the lead of Haitian CSOs and engage in a serious and supportive way with the Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis. Daniel Foote, the US special envoy for Haiti, resigned in protest eight weeks into the job; he said that his colleagues at the State Department were not interested in supporting Haitian-led solutions. The USA should play the role of encouraging consensus building and facilitating conversations to move things forward without interfering.

    Second, all deportations to Haiti must stop. They are not only in violation of international law. They are also highly immoral and unjust.

    Foreigners, myself included, are not best placed to prescribe solutions in Haiti: instead, we must support those created by Haitian people and Haitian organisations. It is time for the Haitian people to decide on the path forward, and we need to actively support, and follow.

    Civic space in Haiti is rated ‘repressed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.
    Follow@elliehappel on Twitter.

     

  • HAITI: The conditions for democracy are not being met

    French

    Following the publication of our report, ‘Democracy for All: Beyond a Crisis of Imagination’, we continue to interview civil society activists and leaders about their work to promote democratic practices and principles, the challenges they encounter and the victories they score in doing so. CIVICUS speaks toJean Marc-nel Etienne, president of the Union of Brothers for Alternative Integrated Development (UFADI), a Haitian civil society organisation that works to promote human rights, particularly in the areas of health and education.

    What are the minimal conditions for a functioning democracy and an enabled civil society? Are those conditions being met in Haiti?

    Democracy guarantees rights and duties to all people without exception, regardless of their origin, skin colour or culture. Rights can be summarised as follows: the right to education, the right to food, the right to housing, the right to the freedom of expression and all other civil rights. As far as duties are concerned, I would say that the beneficiaries of rights must, in return, respect the norms and principles that society imposes on them in order to guarantee its smooth operation.

    In the early 1990s, Haiti chose to become a democracy. Three decades later, however, the country finds itself in chaos. What caused this situation? Do the Haitian authorities fulfil their duties towards the population? Is democracy effectively in place in Haiti?

    If we take into account the reality of Haiti, and particularly the level of social inequalities, we can say that the conditions for democracy are not being met. They have been flouted by our own leaders. The Haitian population has been left to its own devices. Many measures seemed to have been taken to improve our situation, but they all remained on paper without any impact whatsoever on the daily lives of the population.

    Should we really specify the main limits of democracy in Haiti, where opposing parties have used democracy without keeping any limit or respect for others? Democracy is about behaviour - it requires the actual enjoyment of a full set of civil, social and political rights. This is in essence what constitutes the cornerstone of citizenship: the right to choose a leader, the right of expression – these rights cannot be denied to any individual no matter how low their rank or class. As a result of claiming their citizenship rights, over the past three decades the Haitian people have acquired a political conscience that is irreversibly their own and that no one can take away from them. But when the people's rights are not democratically respected, there will always be a struggle against the functioning of the government in place, either to overthrow it or to claim rights. And in Haiti the political parties both in the government and in the opposition do not respect democracy: all they do is protect their own interests while the situation of the population remains critical.

    What other major challenges does domestic civil society face in Haiti?

    The challenges that civil society faces in Haiti are revealed by an analysis of the national economy, which raises burning issues that must be approached with policy positions and strategies. These are growth, institutionalisation and good economic governance. The global context has led to the development of a weak local economy that over time has become vulnerable because of the inadequacy of the elements necessary for its reproduction, the absence of vision and objectives, the lack of concern for sustainability, and the inability to self-correct. This has resulted in major challenges for civil society.

    First, civil society faces the challenge of contributing to the development of strong socioeconomic foundations for future generations. Haiti has one of the highest proportions of young people in the world, and today’s 15-year-olds are unlikely to be able to take care of the older generation 20 years from now.

    Second, civil society must do its work in a politically and economically unstable society. Funding is low compared to needs, and when credit is available, it is only for carrying out profitable short-term activities that don’t improve local productivity, which would require longer-term efforts. Imports account for more than 50 per cent of the country's overall supply, while exports represent barely 20 per cent of aggregate demand, which has been mostly the result of an excessive liberalisation of foreign trade in the absence of remediation measures. The vulnerability of the economy puts civil society in a precarious situation. In order to obtain sufficient means to implement its projects, it is forced to become externally dependent.

    Third, to implement its projects fully, civil society requires adequate infrastructure in sufficient quantities. This is the 21st century and we don’t even have an adequate electric supply. But poorly enforced taxes, dubious customs supervision, poorly designed liberalisation, various exemptions and hidden forms of protectionism, have developed risk aversion among capital holders, who therefore remain confined to activities that have nothing to do with what is required for national production. Additionally, the state is unable to generate the resources it needs because most economic activities take place in the informal sector, which makes the tax base very narrow. The taxes levied on the few activities that operate formally leave the state with no room for manoeuvre to produce and provide the necessary services and ensure equity in their distribution.

    Finally, there is the challenge of putting institutions at the service of development and collective well-being. Civil servants should not be confused with the state; on the contrary, they should steer the state towards the fulfilment of the collective well-being.

    What were the key issues that sparked the recent anti-corruption protests in Haiti? What has been the response to the violence that left a number of protesters dead?

    Demonstrators asked: ‘Where is the Petrocaribe fund?’ - that is, they demanded an investigation into the embezzlement of funds from the Venezuelan Petrocaribe programme, which supplied crude oil to Caribbean and Central American nations on very generous terms. Last year the Haitian parliament published a report blaming former senior officials for irregularities in the use of these funds, but no prosecutions followed, so demonstrators demanded punishment for those who embezzled Petrocaribe funds. In other countries in the region these were used for infrastructure projects, while in Haiti they ended up in somebody’s pockets.

    According to several analysts, the Petrocaribe affair is the largest operation of corruption and misappropriation of public funds and the biggest financial crime in the history of Haiti. Those responsible must be tried and sent to prison. Haiti will or should cease to exist as a state if there is no trial in the Petrocaribe case. Many young people have mobilised to demand action. While the struggle to shed light on the fraudulent use of the Petrocaribe fund was not born on social media, but rather was triggered by a parliamentary report, the movement grew considerably thanks to online activism, with the #PetrocaribeChallenge hashtag trending.

    This challenge moved beyond social media and took a new dimension by taking to the streets. In multiple locations in Haiti - including Port-au-Prince, Port-of-Peace, Fort-Liberté, Hinche, Mirebalais, Jérémie, Jacmel, Gonaïves, Saint Marc, Ouanaminthe, Cap-Haïtien and Les Cayes - and among Haitian diaspora abroad - in Montreal, New York and Paris - thousands of demonstrators marched, with numbers increasing dramatically by the day. Armed with signs, posters and banners, chanting remarks hostile to political and judicial authorities, they vehemently challenged the incumbent government to shed light on the use of the Petrocaribe funds.

    The #PetroChallenge movement culminated on 17 October, when tens of thousands of people demonstrated, mostly peacefully, in almost every major city in Haiti. The event brought together a wide range of people, including children, adults, older people and young people, high school students and university students. There were violent clashes between the police, who fired several times with live ammunition, rubber bullets and teargas, and protesters, who responded by throwing stones and bottles and setting up burning barricades. And again in mid-November, demonstrations took place day after day, again with violent clashes with the police. This time, the demonstrations also became a kind of referendum against the president, as many members of the political opposition took advantage of the mobilisations to demand the president’s ousting.

    On 18 November unspeakable crimes were committed. Many people were killed, in addition to those already killed in previous protests, including young children, and several people were killed even in their homes.

    The gigantic demonstrations that took place across the country on those days, involving several hundred thousand people, perfectly illustrate the classic axiom of Sun Tzu, which goes that if you roll a ball along a steep slope, the force required is minimal, but the results are incalculable. 17 October and 18 November thus became doubly historic - both because of the reason they were summoned, to protest against the misuse of public funds, and because they were the most massive in decades.

    Is this a pre-revolutionary situation? If so, who will it benefit? If we scrutinise carefully a few pivotal periods in the history of revolutions, we note that, unlike the revolutions of the past, modern revolutions are made by a minority against the majority. Indeed, when people talk about ‘mobilising the masses’, they have only one goal: to immobilise them. When agitators, instigators, leaders, self-proclaimed ‘leaders of the people’, charlatans, demagogues and false prophets have succeeded in the name of democracy, that is to say, when this majority has been struck by general paralysis, petrified on the spot, the fruits of the revolution have fallen into their hands like a loose stone.

    What kind of support does Haitian civil society need, including from international civil society organisations and international organisations?

    In Haiti more than a third of children are out of school. The government lacks the capacity and the will to engage in a policy of struggle against extreme poverty. The strongest support that Haitian civil society needs from the international community is to help provide education as a public good that the state has not been able to provide in the country. But the question of the role of Haitian civil society in the face of a humanitarian crisis is too complex. It will take a struggle for hegemony, for a logical and distributive change of resources which is now a challenge. We have seen that the motives of political actors of the country are uniform, so we must strictly conceptualise civil society strategically as a competitive space. This will require the political actors of civil society in Haiti to work in favour of a democratic society.

    Civic space in Haiti is rated as ‘obstructed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.

    Get in touch with UFADI through theirwebsite.