People Searching For Light In Hard Times

Haiti is in a constant battle for its freedom, to this day Haiti remains in chaos
Being displaced by gangs, hundreds of Haitians line up for food distribution provided by the UN.
Being displaced by gangs, hundreds of Haitians line up for food distribution provided by the UN.
Haitians Line Up for UN-Distributed Food / UN Photo/Logan Abassi / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

Since the initial assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 2021, political instability and violence have rocked Haiti. Armed groups and militias control a large majority of the capital city Port-au-Prince. Diseases like cholera plague the people, along with a shortage of drinking water led to the collapse of the country’s health system. Another issue is that Haitians are finding it increasingly difficult to afford food with the rising inflation. 

The IRC states that over 2,000 murderers and 1,114 kidnappings were recorded in just 2021. Despite the efforts of national police, armed gangs control important roads, disrupting the flow of goods in the area. Ultimately because of the vicious gangs over 155,000 people were displaced.

“I don’t keep up with the news much, but I have heard about all the horrific stuff that is happening,” sophomore Joanna Colas said. “It’s heartbreaking to see all the gang activity and kidnappings.”

Spanish and French teacher Shane Lefaure notices that Haiti has long had a history of corruption, destruction, and death. Lefaure states that Haiti has three main issues that define it as a struggling and desperate nation.

“Overpopulation, deforestation and only one-third of the country can grow or cultivate field crops,” Lefaure said. “I remember I was on a plane, and we flew over Hispaniola, which is the island that the Dominican Republic and Haiti are on. As we flew over you could see the border so clearly. The Dominican Republic had lush green forests, and vegetation, while Haiti had nothing.”

Haitian Liaison Jonas Bonneval, who has lived in Haiti for most of his life, states that Haiti has multiple reasons for its deforestation and lack of vegetation.

“One of the main issues and causes of deforestation is corporate energy choices, many of them use wood to function,” Bonneval said. “There are also the hard choices many families have to make since they have no electricity, and gas is very scarce; they use charcoal. Another reason is Haiti has a lot of natural disasters. Every time a hurricane passes, it takes a part of the forests with it.”

The country of Haiti has not seen effective leadership in decades. Ariel Henry was the Prime Minister, and after the assassination of Jovenel Mosie in 2021, he took power as President and Prime Minister. Currently, the unpopular Ariel Henry resigned and has been staying in Puerto Rico since last week, not stepping on Haitian soil due to the fact vicious gangs took over their International Airport. 

“Since the independence of Haiti in 1804 from the implications of imperialism, foreign control has stepped on the Haitian people,” Bonneval said. “After that, bad governing and corruption led to the insecurity the country faces today.”

While to this day there is a lot of corruption in Haiti, a change is being made.

“I have always done my best to help Haiti, as have many other conscientious patriots who are aware of the path the country is taking because of the bad governing and corruption that previous leaders were practicing,” Bonneval said. “What I can do is defend the rights of the Haitian people before the international community to let them know that Haiti must have rights and self-determination. They must stop giving us puppet leaders who will not defend the interests of Haiti and the Haitian people.”

Susan Wamsley who serves as the Councilwoman at large for the city of Logansport states that there are many difficulties that Haitians face, with that being said she still has hope for a brighter future.

“The current no government situation in Haiti has been building for years due to continuing political unrest,” Wamsley said. “I think the city of Logansport is doing a good job of making services available to the new influx of immigrants in Haiti. Communication is a problem that is difficult to overcome and requires interpreters. We presently do not have the resources to fulfill all their needs including employment but we are moving forward and hopefully helping them adjust to their new cultural environment.” 

Another leader of the Logansport Community Mayor Chris Martin was recently at a meeting with other city officials where they met with Haitian church leaders to speak about cultural diversity.

“The city of Logansport, under this administration, will continue to bridge the gap between our community and those who are here to feel included,” Martin said. “Inclusion in Logansport needs to improve and be a focus. We’re doing that and we are looking forward to a better Logansport.”

Members of the Haitian community and churches meet with city officials to talk with city officials about cultural diversity. (Courtesy of Logansport Police Department )

Bonneval says that while he physically left Haiti, he will always remember his country and hold a deep fondness for his people.

“Haiti is the mother of freedom,” Bonneval said. “Haiti was the first black republic in the world, even though now the country is living in times of difficulty, we still hope it will change. That must change. That is changing.”

Bonneval believes that other nations that also stand for freedom should help each other out to make sure freedom stands.

“The United States is still present in Haiti, they are there in all the important decisions the country’s leaders are making,” Bonneval said. “They have a great responsibility in the dire situation the country is living in today. I think the army should have come earlier to prevent more innocent lives from dying and to correct the mistakes they made in the way they implement their international policy.”

 With everything that is going on in Haiti Bonneval says that the preservation of freedom is something that we should strive to protect and defend. He states that there are people out there who don’t want the freedom of the Haitian people. He believes that the people are what matters most. Haiti was the first all-black republic in the world, they saw each other as equal humans, something America failed to do until decades later. Now a bigger problem faces Haiti that threatens the survival of the country and its people. A problem that can be solved by not giving up.

Haitians are one of the most resilient people I know,” Bonneval said. “We will continue to resist until we reach the goal given to us by Jean Jacques Dessalines which is “Freedom and well-being for all.”

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