Nourishing Hope in Haiti

Report of the Promoter of Justice and Peace of the Province of Toulouse

As the humanitarian situation in Haiti continues to deteriorate, the five Dominican friars residing in Port-au-Prince strive to keep the flame of hope burning. Their presence, their prayer and the activities they strive to maintain comfort the inhabitants. Recently, Brother Ignace Berthot, OP, Promoter of Justice and Peace of the Province of Toulouse, which is the Province responsible for the Dominican mission in Haiti, described the situation in a report that can be read on Document.

The report begins: “For more than thirty years, Haiti has been living through major crises: political, economic, social etc. Over the years, the country has held several legislative and presidential elections” which have been the subject of protests, usually with the presence of militias or armed gangs. As Br Ignace Berthot recounts in the report, two UN peace missions that relieved the US forces in 1995 have failed. Brother further explains, “The situation is gradually deteriorating…. The political crisis is unending. In this chaotic situation, the political class is showing no signs of willingness to find a sincere and genuine solution. Everyone seems to be interested in gaining power in order to enrich themselves and further impoverish the Haitian people…. The country’s economic and social development has been forfeited by the permanent instability.”  The report cites the acute economic crises that Haiti has experienced during the past few decades and underlines that the country is “economically dependent on the outside world” so that “the Haitian economy is now totally devastated. Even the private business sector is accused of colluding with gangs working on behalf of the country’s five richest families to control and monopolise the market.  This phenomenon of the criminalisation of the economy has not only increased, but is also generating new social inequalities” which manifest themselves, for example, in restricted access to basic social services. “Insecurity and violence are plunging more and more of our brothers and sisters into fear, terror and mourning,” the report continues.

“Thus human rights in Haiti are not only being violated, but completely denied. The minimum right to life is not guaranteed, so how can we speak of peace and justice?” asks Brother Ignace, who stresses that, “Peace is a value. It is the fruit of justice and is built progressively in the search for the order willed by God.”

Faced with this situation, the Promoter of Justice and Peace of the Province of Toulouse says, “It has been difficult for me to take concrete action in Haiti. The social situation is becoming increasingly desperate. Multiple crises and problems are appearing as major handicaps to the promotion of human rights.”

Br Ingace also related that he has had exchanges with the European, Latin American and Caribbean promoters and that they are working together on a small educational project to provide training in Justice and Peace in order “to show that everyone’s responsibility is to promote life and the dignity that belongs to every human being” and “to raise awareness of the fact that our first right is to life.”

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