Ariel Henry clings to power and Haitians return to the streets
Prime Minister of Haiti Ariel Henry
Last Wednesday night, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry spoke to his country through a network of mass media, in anticipation of which a wide range of domestic expectations and special attention in countries of the hemisphere had been opened.
In the end, he had a message sprinkled with desires, but hardly empty for his adversaries, with whom he did not share the blame for the crisis, nor did he open the doors to the possibilities of dialogue to reach an agreement and thus put an end to the traumatic Haitian drama.
The outlook there, for the moment, does not bode well. The Haitian people took a break and listened to the head of government, but at the end of the speech, they were left with nothing but disappointment and a lot of anger.
That is why they have retaken to the streets, applying their fatal formula: destruction, fires, looting, attacks, shootings, and blockades of roads and highways.
And it is these misfortunes that make it clear why now the government, knowing that the situation will not improve nor will it be able to impose law and order, asked yesterday for international support for the “immediate deployment of a specialized armed force,”
Before his speech, Henry awakened a state of expectation in all Haitian districts, mainly in the most radical and insurgent enclaves against his administration.
Many believed he could address some of the concerns of the population, whose centuries-old miseries have brought the country to the brink of the final collapse, with almost daily protests in most of the territory.
The list of demands raised after the worsening of the socio-political crisis, following the “tablazo” that hurt people’s pockets due to the increase in gasoline prices, was ignored by the Prime Minister by skipping this critical issue.
Moreover, he took a firm and defiant stance. First, he made it clear that there would be no change to his measure to increase the price of oil derivatives, and he again targeted “a group of people” who benefit from the subsidy.
The key line of his message was to motivate support from the international community to face the crisis, more broken now by the cholera outbreak, water shortages, road blockades, insecurity, lack of fuel, and school closures.
With these setbacks, the Varreux Terminal is in the hands of gang members associated with Jimmy Scheizier, alias “Barbecue,” and there is no way to get them out of their trenches.
The most recent episode occurred when police attempted to unblock the area but were met with heavy fire and had to retreat.
Referring to these same gangs, Henry vigorously attacked them, accusing them of trying to bring “an entire town to its knees.”
Thus, for those with any illusions that Henry would cave in and resign, Henry not only asked for internal support for his measures but imperatively sentenced, “You have to agree with me….”
Another thing. At no point in his speech did Ariel Henry signal that he might pack his bags and leave 6110 Avenue de la République headquarters behind, as demanded by hostile sectors.
Not by coincidence, crowds took to the streets to celebrate an alleged resignation of the head of government, but those celebrations gradually died after the minister published a denial, with this sarcastic message: “I am here, I did not resign; we do marketing.”
What does this “marketing” suggest? Simple, very clear: the government seems to have thrown a “hook” to its adversaries. They likely rolled the “ball” that Ariel resigned to measure the reactions.
Marketing research techniques may have done this job since their purpose is to “improve the marketing of a product,” and the one that “markets” the Haitian government’s management needs an improvement. Besides, “a button is enough to prove it.” That is exactly what Ariel said: “we do marketing.”
Returning to the subject line, in a nutshell, the political enemies and gang leaders demanding the head of the Henry ended up shoring any hope of any change for the good of their objectives.
What are the two demands that have dominated the order in the plan of protests, both scattered and unified, against the government of the embattled Prime Minister Ariel Henry?
First, a lowering of the price of all petroleum products were affected by the elimination of the fuel subsidy and, second, the resignation of the premier and all members of his cabinet.
Beyond these two intense popular demands ringing in all corners of Haiti, the rest are demands that have been put into the everyday struggle programs of the political parties and popular collectives to attract the discontented.
The Prime Minister pointed out that the recent reforms were not only aimed at reducing $400 million in fuel subsidies and “closing a lucrative black market” but at “collecting millions in uncollected customs duties from tax evaders.”
On this, he said emphatically, “you have to agree with me,” warning that “we can’t take all the customized prescriptions to serve a small group of people and subsidize a single product.”
Of the criminals, the Haitian premier said, they are holding Haiti hostage and trying to bring “a whole people to their knees,” believing that this is the only way to come to power.
“The irresponsible and criminal behavior of these people has created a humanitarian crisis that we have never seen, we have never experienced in the land of Haiti and that threatens the sovereignty of Father Dessalines,” he said.
These people, according to Henry, are “associated with some bad politicians and some bad people; plunging our country into an unprecedented disaster.”
All is clear. Ariel has decided to stay, but he will have to deal with more fury and disruptions in the rowdy Haitian streets. Amid this dilemma, only the days to come can mark his and his government’s fate and test whether the opposition resistance is capable of exhausting its oxygen reserves.