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A new crisis, this time of political nature, is shaking these days our neighboring Republic of Haiti, where, in recent weeks, violent protests against corruption have paralyzed the capital city Port-au-Prince and caused deaths and substantial material losses.

It is essential for all the parties in conflict to be extremely prudent, to have patriotic generosity and democratic vocation to resolve disputes peacefully and within the constitutional framework. It is the least that a noble country deserves, a nation that has long been plunged into the terrible consequences of poverty, ungovernability, and violence.

The international community must keep an eye on the possibility of the conflict impacting other countries in the region, as has been the case in the past.

Protests in Port-au-Prince and other cities followed the publication of the second report of an official audit on the Haitian government’s use of the billions of dollars saved in oil purchases by participating in the PetroCaribe program, through which Venezuela sold crude oil with deferred payments for 25 years and with interest as low as 1 percent.

According to that program, participating countries had to invest what they saved in oil to finance social programs aimed at the most disadvantaged sectors, which in Haiti, one of the ten poorest countries in the world, is almost the entire population.

The audit, commissioned by the Haitian National Assembly, accused former President Michel Martelly of embezzlement scheme involving hundreds of millions of PetroCaribe dollars between 2008 and 2016. It also accused current President Jovenel Moïse because two of his companies were paid at least twice $ 1 million for the construction of a rural road to the north of Haiti.

Protesters mainly claim to put an end to corruption, to prosecute those who are responsible and  for the resignation of Moïse, who has not explained the accusations against him and has lost the confidence of both the population and the National Assembly, which in March dismissed Haiti's Prime Minister, Jean Henry Céant, and leaving the executive branch virtually inoperative.

The demands for accountability, transparency and honesty made by members of the National Assembly, opposition parties and civil society groups are fair and deserve the decisive attention of the Haitian authorities. They are valuable claims in any democracy, but more so in a country as profoundly poor as Haiti, where they should extremely carefully handle every resource.

However, violent methods used by opposition sectors, which include acts of vandalism against the government and private property, attacks on the physical integrity of opponents and even burning vehicles and historic buildings, are not acceptable. Nor is it acceptable, on the other hand, the excess of force from the Haitian government that has been documented.

Haiti has been stuck for too long in corruption and ungovernability and that has prevented the country from getting out of poverty. Violence and unrest have never solved any problem before, nor will they solve it now. Whichever way you look at it, our beloved neighbor will not move forward until the different political and civic forces sit at the table, resolve their differences peacefully and understand that they must build a country where institutionality is reasonably immune to corruption and abuse.


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