A proposal to save democracy in Haïti : US Policy Towards Haiti and Engagement of the Haitian Diaspora


During the March 12 hearing, four members of Haitian Civil Society explained Haiti’s situation to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  At the end of the hearing, the Committee members came to the conclusion that the conditions on the ground in Haiti are not suitable to permit safe, fair, and credible presidential and legislative elections.  This conclusion was reached in a bi-partisan fashion.  HADiC is grateful to all of the individuals who contributed to the policy paper. 

Almost 35 years after overthrowing the ruthless Duvalier dictatorship, Haitians find themselves under  another iron  grip dictatorship: the Jovenel Moise dictatorship.   But  unlike the Duvalier dictatorship,  which  for  the  most  part  grew  the  Haitian  economy;  it  is  contracting  under  the much  inepter  and  more  corrupt  Moise  dictatorship.    Today,  Haitians  live  under  precarious conditions where their lives are negatively impacted by a number of situations including:

  Random murder by gangs created and supported by the Jovenel Moise regime.

  Massacres organized by President Moise’s advisers and committed by the gangs.

  Increasing hunger due to government mismanagement.

  Rampant government corruption.

  Squandering of meager government resources.

  Kidnapping for ransom by pro-regime gangs.

  Refusal of President Moise to pay government workers such as police officers.

  Gang raping of women of all age group.

The political instability in Haiti has overspilled its borders to continually become an imminent threat to the security of countries within the Western Hemisphere, even to the United States. Many  Haitians  are  encouraged  to  leave  the  country  to  South  America,  Brazil  and  Chili  in particular  while  another  group  joins  the  Central  America  caravans  to  show  up  at  the  US- Mexican border checkpoints.   President Moise and his associates are involved in a number of criminal activities defying   requiring serious attention including:

i)   Gun  running  to  the  extent  that  Haitian  National  Police  assault  rifles  have  been  used and/or recovered in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

ii)   Money  laundering  where  the  president,  Jovenel  Moise,  came  in  office  with  a  money laundering charge.

iii)  Issuance of fake passports by Haitian Embassies and consulates

The worst part about this is that these crimes are being committed under the nose of American and United Nations diplomats.   Haiti’s reversion to dictatorship is certainly being carried with the acquiescence of those diplomats.

The  Moise  administration  is  not  only  a  destabilizing  force  in  the  Western  Hemisphere  and  a danger to  US  security,  his  actions  are  providing China  and  Russia  the  ammunition  to  make  a mockery of long-standing US policies at the UN Security Council and other venues.  During a UN Security  Council  meeting  in  2020  on  the  La  Saline  massacre  (Port-au-Prince  neighborhood), Chinese and Russian diplomats questioned US resolve and ideals in Haiti.  European diplomats, particularly France, have begun to question the motives of US Diplomats stationed in Haiti.

On   February   7,   2021;   Jovenel   Moise’s   term   will   end   according   to   Haiti’s   Constitution. Unfortunately, he  is  illegally  extending  his  term,  prolonging  the  misery of  the  Haitian  people through  decrees  violating  the  Haitian  Constitution.  Under  no  circumstances,  shall  the  US condone an undemocratic government in Haiti.  Moreover; an illegal Moise government in Haiti is not only a destabilizing force in the Western Hemisphere but it also sets a bad precedent for the  start  of the  Biden  administration.   Recognizing  that  a  democratic  and  prosperous Haiti  is more  advantageous  to  the  stability  of  the  Hemisphere,  the  Haitian-American  Diaspora  is proposing a number of policy recommendations to help bring Haiti back on track to democracy and prosperity including:

a.   Not recognizing the Moise Government after February 7, 2021.  According to Article 135 of  Haiti’s  Constitution,  which  set  its  strict  electoral  calendar,  Moise’s  term  ends  on February 7, 2021.  The US should not entertain Moise’s illegal effort to extend his term.

b.   Visa revocation for Haitian politicians or any other individuals suspected of involvement in corruption.

c.    Prosecution for non-payment of US taxes for holders of US citizenships and permanent residencies.

d.   Classify the PetroCaribe $4  billion  embezzlement scheme  as a crime against  humanity and refer its perpetuators to the International Court of Justice.

e.   Support  for  loan  and  grant  applications  to  multilaterals  such  as  the  Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank, and Caribbean Development Bank.

f.    Support  for  loan  and  grant  applications  to  the  US  Development  Finance  Corporation (USDFC) and the Export-Import Bank (ExIm).

g.   Increase aid to Haiti in the area of health, security, and governance.


CONTENTS                                                                                                                      PAGE

1           A DICTATORSHIP IN THE MAKING…………………………………………………….. 1

1.1        Haiti’s Electoral Calendar………………………………………………………………… 1

1.2        Extra-Constitutional Decrees …………………………………………………………… 2

2           A GOVERNMENT-RUN CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE…………………………………. 3

2.1        Proliferation of Government-Sponsored Gangs………………………………………. 3

2.2        Massacres ……………………………………………………………………………….. 4

2.3        Corruption………………………………………………………………………………….. 5

2.4        Assassinations ……………………………………………………………………………. 5

2.5        Gun Running……………………………………………………………………………… 5

3           A FAILED ECONOMY……………………………………………………………………. 6

4           COMPLICITY of US and UN DIPLOMATS……………………………………………… 6

5           PROPOSITIONS ………………………………………………………………………….. 7

5.1        Support for Democracy…………………………………………………………………. 7

5.2        Intolerance of Criminals……………………………………………………… 8

5.3        Diplomacy …………………………………………………………………………….. 8

5.4        Support for American-Led Private Enterprise   Initiatives……………………. 8


Despite   having   a   majority   in   parliament   from   2017   to   2019,   the   Jovenel   Moise administration refused to submit a constitutionally obligated bill to parliament to hold elections in  2019.    Fearing  that  his  party  would  lose  that  mid-term  election  due  to  his  unpopularity, President  Moise  preferred  to  dissolve  parliament  and  rule  by  decree.    The  dissolution  of parliament would also permit him to attempt to prolong his term which should end on February

7, 2021 according to Haiti’s strict electoral calendar (Figure 1).   His administration is facing the prospect of justice for a number of crimes committed against humanity, including:

   Massacres:  a  number  of  government-supported  massacres  of  opposition  supporters resulting in over 100 dead individuals and at least 10 women raped.

   Corruption: The Moise administration has been accused of being of the most corrupt in the  history  of  Haiti.   It  is  also  accused  of  covering  for  the  PetroCaribe  embezzlement crimes of the previous administration (the Martelly Administration).

  Assassination of political opponents:

Realizing that he will face justice and spend the rest of his life behind bars, President Moise is choosing to illegally prolong his term instead of carrying fair and credible elections.   In effect, Haiti  is  facing  a  new  dictatorship  almost  35  years  after  overthrowing  the  ruthless  Duvalier dictatorship where 30,000 Haitians were killed with government support.

1.1        Haiti’s Electoral Calendar

Haiti’s electoral calendar is derived from Article 134.2 of its Constitution ratified in 1987. Since its inception, no president has served beyond their terms unless approved by parliament even through coup d’etats.  As displayed in Table I, Jovenel Moise would not be the first Haitian

President  who  failed  to  fulfill  a  5-year  presidential  term.    According  to  Article  134.2  of  the Constitution,  the  President’s  5-year  term  starts  at  the  end  of  the  term  of  the  last  elected president.   President  Aristide  was  reminded  of  that  when  he  returned  from  exile  in  1994  to serve his term.   When Aristide tried to prolong his term with the belief that he should serve 5 years, he was told to abide by the constitution.   An identical situation occurred when Michel Martelly started his term late due to disputes in the 2011 election causing him to enter office on May 15 instead of February 7.   When Martelly wanted his term extended insisting that he should serve a 5-year term, he was referred to Article 134.2 of the Constitution.

With the precedence of Aristide only serving a portion of his terms both times (Table I), Martelly  was  forced  to  accept  the  fact  that  the  framers  of  the  constitution  desired  a  strict electoral calendar.  He was forced to hand power to a transitional government.  But that did not prevent  him  from  creating  chaos  in  2016  causing  the  country  to  go  through  a  long  electoral process spending a lot of money in the process.   As a result of the chaos caused by Martelly, Jovenel Moise took office later than the anticipated February 7, 2016 date although his term started on that date.  According to Article 134.2 of the constitution, his term ends on February

7, 2021.  While Mr Moise is trying to illegally extend his term by one year, that did not stop him ending the terms of the 10 senators who were subject to the same rules as he was.   By using the  same  constitutional  rules  against  those  10  senators,  Moise  is  in  effect  accepting  that  his term ends on February 7, 2021.  Hence, trying to extend his term is simply an illegal maneuver. The US should not recognize any illegal governments in Haiti.

1.2        Extra-Constitutional Decrees

Even  with  a  majority  in  parliament,  the  Moise  administration  conveniently  refused  to send  a  bill  to  parliament  to  organize  parliamentary  elections  in  2019.    The  absence  of  a parliament will give him the opportunity to rule by decree.  Although the absence of parliament gives the president certain rights in ruling by decree, it does not give the President legislative powers.  Unfortunately, Moise’s decrees are showing his thirst for full dictatorial powers.  Since ruling by decree, Moise has promulgated 38 decrees with the most egregious being:

   On  June  15,  2020,  he  published  a  decree  relative  to  the  new  national  identification number by which he threatened to punish anyone who does not have the card within 120 days.  His wife, who is not part of the government, went to Germany to negotiate a sole-source  contract  with  the  company  Dermalog.    The  contract  for  manufacturing, securing, and designing the new card is being disputed at the Court of Auditors’ level for it did not follow rules set by Haitian procurement law.   The decree remains unpopular because it is impossible for 12 million Haitians to get the new card within the timeframe allowed  in  a  country where there is  only  one  institution  that  offers such  a  card.   This decree is authoritarian as it may help Mr Moise rigs and steals the next election.

   On September 18, 2020, he published a decree by which he nominated members of a provisional  council  whose  most  of  the  members  of  this  CEP  are  the  subject  of  fierce disputes and denunciation due to the fact that he did not consult with several sectors before  such  nominations.   This  decree  violates  article  192  of  the  constitution,  which states  that  the  nomination  of  the  members  for  the  CEP  must  be  a  partisan  endeavor among the three branches of the government.  One his hand-picked CEP’s missions is to organize  the  constitutional  referendum  in  order  to  write  a  new  constitution.    This decree,  furthermore,  violates  article  284.3  of  the  constitution  that  claims  that  any popular consultation to modify the Constitution by referendum is strictly prohibited.

   On November 6, 2020, he signed a decree that reduces the Court of Auditors’ advisory and jurisdictional prerogatives. This decree removes from the Court of Auditors all of its constitutional  oversight  powers  of  a  priori  control  of  public  procurement  contracts  to give them to another government agency.  This decree eliminates « check and balances » It violates article 200.2 of the Constitution, which clearly states the Court’s full authority to review all contracts before their approval.

   On  November 26, he published  another decree that  created an  intelligence  agency to surveil Haitians who opposed his regime.  This decree constitutes a real danger that can even lead to waves of people missing on an unadorned accusation of troublemakers and subversive acts committed.  Moreover, he reinforced his decree by declaring a terrorist any  Haitian  who  burns  tires  during  a  protest  or  blocks  traffic.  This  is  an  additional harbinger of a return Duvalier era like rule

Jovenel  Moise  is  the  only  president  of  the  Caribbean  region  who  rules  his  country without  a parliament   and   turns   the   executive   into   a   legislator   by   arbitrarily   issuing   illegal   and unconstitutional decrees.   The only remaining step is to declare himself president for life.


As   the   2010   decade   concludes,   the   actions   of   the   Haitian   Central   Government demonstrate  that  the  country  is  being  run  as  a  criminal  enterprise,  which  sole  purpose  is staying in power by all means for personal enrichment of a designated select few. Below in this section, we describe how specific manifestations of Haiti now being a criminal state undermines Western Hemisphere security.  This is of utmost US interest.

2.1        Proliferation of Government-Sponsored Gangs

Haiti’s  National  Human  Rights  Defense  Network,  abbreviated  as  RNDDH  in  French, estimated that over 76 gangs operate in all corners of Haiti.  Most of them were created during the last four years.  While these gang members (Figure 1a) can barely afford a $2 flip-flop, they proudly display their AR-15 and AK-47 assault rifles which can retail for up to $2,000 in the US but are illegal in Haiti.   Hence, these assault rifles cannot even be legally imported into Haiti.

Yet, they are purchased in the US and smuggled through the ports in Haiti which are controlled by  the  government.   Gang  leaders,  such  as  the  famous  Barbecue  (Figure  1c),  normally  have access to Haitian National Police (PNH in French) weapons.   These factors indicate that these gangs are controlled by Haitian politicians, not just any Haitian politician but the ones in power.

Haitian  politicians  have  long  used  armed  individuals  to  intimidate  voters  and  win elections.  But the proliferations of gangs over the last four years has taken another dimension never seen before in the history of Haiti.   Not only are the gangs better armed, but they have also  become  more  violent.    Protected  by  politicians  and  specialized  elements  of  the  Haiti National  Police,  the  gangs  are  terrorizing  working-class  and  poor  neighborhoods,  extorting businesses, and battling rivals for expanded territory as they repress dissent.  It is all being done in collusion with the government, which is not only seeking to hold on to its tenuous grip on power but control the outcome of the next elections, the human rights organizations say.

2.2        Massacres

In early December 2020, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated two high-level Government of Haiti officials (Fednel Monchery and Joseph  Duplan)  and  their  gang  collaborators  as  committing  serious  human  rights  abuses according to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.   Fednel Monchery (Figure 2a) was the Director General (#2 official) of Haiti’s Ministry of the Interior and Local Authorities in  President  Jovenel  Moise’s  administration.    Joseph  Pierre  Richard  Duplan  (Figure  2b)  was President  Moise’s  Departmental  (US  equivalent:  state)  Delegate.   Both  of  these  government officials  (Figures  2  a&b)  planned  the  attack  and  provided  police  uniforms,  weapons,  and vehicles to gang members led by Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier (Figures 1c and 2c) to carry out the infamous La Saline Massacre in late 2018.  Cherizier is the self-proclaimed leader of the G9 and  Family  gang  alliance,  a  collection  of  nine  gangs  that  control  the  slums  of  Port-au-Prince under tacit government approval.   Along with murderous massacres, G9 and other gangs run racketeering enterprises and widespread ransom kidnappings across Haiti.

At  least 9  massacres have occurred under Moise’s regime.   The La Saline Massacre  of November  2018  is  the  most  infamous  of  several  major  alleged  government  orchestrated massacres  that  have  occurred  within  the  last  two  years  in  Haiti.   A  second  major  massacre occurred in November 2019 in the Bel Air neighborhood.  Jimmy Cherizier (Figures 1c and 2c) is implicated  in  participating  in  both  of  these  campaigns.    In  La  Saline,  Mr  Cherizier  led  gang members and Haitian National Police (HPN) officers on a killing orgy where they massacred 71 innocent civilians, including women and children, in addition to raping 10 women.   For the Bel Air  massacre  in  2019,  at  least  20  murders  were  documented.   In  addition;  OFAC  documents stated  that  in  May  2020,  Jimmy  Cherizier was  responsible  for  a  five-day  rampage  in  multiple Port-au-Prince neighborhoods consisting of civilians being murdered and homes burned.

2.3        Corruption

Since  2015,  Haiti  has  steadily  been  registered  as  increasingly corrupt  by  Transparency International,  an  organization  that  tracks  corruption  around  the  world.    Today,  Haiti  ranks 161/198 countries on Transparency’s Corruption Index (Figure 3).  The Petrocaribe corruption investigation      documents      the      most egregious  handling  of  foreign  assistance managed   by   Haiti   in   the   21st    century. Ideally, Petrocaribe, would fund sustainable development  projects  in  Haiti. The cost of Petrocaribe to Haiti is $4 billion plus  dollars.    This  number  is  significant. Haiti’s  GDP  in  2019  was  only  $9  billion dollars. Its per-capita GDP, for a country of 11  million  people,  is  under  $1,000  dollars per year. The quote below from Fritz Jean, a   former   governor   Haiti   Central   Bank governor  in  regards  to  Haiti’s  Petrocaribe accurately briefly sums this debacle:

It  was  a  missed  opportunity  for  Haiti.  The volume of [Petrocaribe] transactions totaled US$4.5 billion. The debt was one part of it, about US $2.1 billion. There was tremendous waste. The monies are in tax-havens. We could have used the financing, about US $2 billion, to double or triple the value through investments.”

2.4        Assassinations

The  assassination  of  the  president  of  the  Port-au-Prince  Bar  Association,  Montferrier Dorval,  in  late  August  2020  elicited  global  condemnation.  Remarks  on  this  shock  came  from Haiti   society,   the   European   Union   and   the   United   Nations.     Mr   Dorval   was   a   lawyer, constitutional   scholar   and   provided   influential   insight   to   ongoing   discussions   regarding proposed reforms to Haiti’s constitution.  Mr Dorval’s statements in the radio regarding Haiti’s constitutional reforms were not interpreted as favoring the opinions of the current presidential administration in Haiti in the morning prior his assassination later on at night at his home within a few blocks from the president residence.

2.5        Gun Running

Despite a US arms embargo, the US to Haiti gun trade is big business.   The name of a prominent  Haitian  Senator  and  a  former  PNH  police  chief  were  mentioned  during a  2019  US court trial in a case of being complicit in the illegal trafficking of 166 semi-automatic firearms and 30,000 rounds of ammunition from the United States to Haiti.  The Florida gun shop owner responsible for the US side of the transaction was convicted in this case.  This case highlights an additional destabilizing influence that  Haiti  currently has  in the  Western  Hemisphere.   Media reports  since  the  early  2000s  have  guns  arriving  in  Haiti  from  foreign  sources  being  shipped across Haitian borders to countries across the Caribbean, fueling violence and destabilization. Up to 300 guns per year from Haiti are exchanged to Jamaica for drugs.

3           A FAILED ECONOMY

Despite being given almost $50 billion over the last 10 years by the Haitian Diaspora and the International Community in addition to preferential trade advantages by the US and the EU, the Moise administration and its predecessors have not been able to get the economy going. Figure 4a shows that Haiti’s per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDC) decreased sharply from 2013 to 2016 after increasing sharply the two prior years.  Those years of no economic progress corresponds to the Martelly administration.   The GDP increased marginally under a transition government in 2016.   After President Moise took over in 2017, all economic progress stopped and even turned downward.  The reasons for a lack of economic progress are due to:

  A corruption level never experienced in Haiti’s history.

  Gross government mismanagement

As a result of the callousness of Haitian politicians, the economic figures show that over the last 7 years, Haitians have moved from living in poverty to living in misery.   Relative to its neighbors (Figure 4b), Haiti is considered a basket case.


Today Haiti has reverted back to a dictatorship.   Death squads disguised as gangs and kidnappers reportedly with ties to the government have been terrorizing the population. The economy  is  in  complete  shamble.  The  people  have  been  crying  out  their  last  grasp  for assistance against a government planned insecurity that is forcing them to live in constant fear.

This blunt deterioration of the situation has happened over the last two years, starting with the intervention of the Core Group and its siding with the government against the people after the street protests of July 6, 7, and 8 of 2018.   The role of the US Ambassador, Michele Sison  (Figures  5  a  & b), and  of the  head  of  the United  Nations representative in  Haiti,  Helen Lalime (Figures 5c), would prove decisive at helping the current president to repress the will of the people and to fulfill its long held dictatorial ambitions.   Time and time during 2018, 2019 and  2020,  the  people  took  to  the  streets  by  the  millions  to  protest  against  government exactions. Time and time again, the US ambassador and the head of BINUH would side with the government, discounting the outcries of the people.  It was with extreme sadness and revulsion that Haitians witnessed openly the complicity of the two diplomats at the installation of a de- facto government (Figure 5b) by the president in March of this year, following his dismissal of parliament two months before.  Everything done in Haiti has since been dictatorial and illegal.

Since  arriving  in  Haiti,  Ambassador  Sison  has  behaved  as  an  extension  of  the  Moise regime  rather  than  a  defender  of  American  Interests  and  values.   Mrs  Sison  and  Mrs  LaLime have  actively  provided  the  current  regime  with  unabated  support,  logistics,  advice,  and materials in the pursuit of its actions.  After human rights organizations uncovered the LaSaline massacre, Mrs Sison and Mrs LaLime did not bring the crime against humanity to the attention of their respective governments.   Even after Mr Moise dissolved parliament to rule by decree, Mrs Sison continues to hold meetings with government officials (Figure 5b) without objecting to the deterioration of democracy in Haiti.  This tacit approval by the representative of the world’s most  powerful  country  and  the  UN  representative  has  emboldened  Moise  to  trash  Haiti’s Constitution and global norms in his quest for dictatorial power.

5           PROPOSITIONS

This coalition of a multitude of organizations is proposing a number of policy positions that  the  US  can  undertake  to  bring  Haiti  back  on  track  to  democracy  and  prosperity.   Those propositions are outlined below:

5.1        Support for Democracy

Given that President Moise’s constitutional mandates ends on February 7, 2021 yet no elections (presidential and legislative) have been scheduled; the Haitian-American community is requesting the following actions from US policymakers including but not limited to:

i.      For the US Government to not recognize the Moise government after February 7, 2021 since it will be an illegal government.

ii.       Withdraw the accreditation of the Haitian ambassador to the US after February 7, 2021.

iii.     Support  a  legal  transitional  government  to  bring  Haiti  back  on  track  to  security, democracy, and prosperity.

5.2        Intolerance of Criminals

A  great  part  of  Haiti’s  problems  is  due  to  corruption  and  other  crimes.   A  number  of perpetrators of those crimes come and hide in the US.   Given that the perpetuators of those crimes  normally  hold  US  visas  or  permanent  residencies,  the  Haitian-American  community  is requesting the following actions from US policymakers including but not limited to:

a.   Visa revocation for Haitian politicians or any other individuals suspected of involvement in corruption.

b.   Prosecution for non-payment of US taxes for holders of US citizenships and permanent residencies.

c.    Classify the PetroCaribe $4 billion embezzlement scheme as crime against humanity and refer its perpetrators to the International Court of Justice.

5.3        Diplomacy

US  and  United  Nations  diplomats  stationed  in  Haiti  have  been  the  main  enablers  of President  Moise’s  crimes.   This  is  primarily  due  to  the  fact  that  they  do  not  understand  the country’s culture and history.   Mr Moise’s crimes and mismanagement of the country do not only negatively affect Haitians; it also affects the Western Hemisphere’s stability and the United States’  physical  security.  It  also  provides  China  and  Russia  unlimited  ammunition  to  make  a mockery  of  long-standing  American  policies  worldwide.   The  Haitian-American  community  is requesting  that  the  next  US  Ambassador  to  Haiti  be  a  highly  qualified  Haitian-American  who can promote long-term US interests while recognizing the unique nuances that Haiti presents.

5.4        Support for American-Led Initiatives

Given   that   the   Haitian-American   community   provides   the   bulk   of   the   $3   billion remittance that keeps Haiti going, the country’s lack of economic progress has been an ongoing major  burden  on  the  Haitian-American  community.    Cities  and  regions  with  large  Haitian populations  such  as  Queens  (NY),  Elizabeth  (NJ),  Plantation  (FL),  Brooklyn  (NY),  West  Palm Beach, (FL), Randolph (MA), North Miami (FL) are carrying the burden of Haiti’s corruption and mismanagement.   Some Haitian-American families do not have any savings and the possibility of living the American Dream since they must support relatives in Haiti.

To alleviate this situation while creating jobs in the US and Haiti, a few Haitian-American professional organizations have proposed investment funds for Haiti.   Those investment funds would help US companies increase their market shares in a  number of sectors of the Haitian economy such as energy, textiles, food, and a host of others.  The Haitian-American community is requesting the following actions from US policymakers including but not limited to:

  Support  for  loan  and  grant  applications  to  multilaterals  such  as  the  Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank, and Caribbean Development Bank.

  Support  for  loan  and  grant  applications  to  the  US  Development  Finance  Corporation (USDFC) and the Export-Import Bank (ExIm).

  Increase aid to Haiti in the area of health, security, and governance.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Ce site utilise Akismet pour réduire les indésirables. En savoir plus sur comment les données de vos commentaires sont utilisées.