My aunt risks her life every day to go to work. My cousins cannot go to school. My family cannot leave the house. They survive in fear, every day. This is the current reality of living in Haiti.
The distance from New York City to Chicago, or Sacramento to Portland, is roughly 700 miles. 700 miles also happens to be the distance between Miami and Haiti, one of the poorest and most corrupt nations in the world. It only takes about 2 hours, by plane, to travel this distance. That’s barely enough time to finish your complementary airplane peanuts! How is it that America, one of the most economically stable and privileged nations, is so physically close, yet so distant in support of this struggling nation?
On Sunday, February 7, 2021, Haitian President Jovenel Moïse refused to leave office on what was expected to be his last day. Moïse claimed that his presidential efforts were stunted during his first three years in office supposedly because of the constitutional requirement that the National Assembly must approve almost all significant actions of the president. Moïse also claimed that, “The 1987 constitution took all the power out of the president’s hands. The president has zero power and the people demand everything from the president of the republic.” Chaos and unrest emerged, which is common in Haiti. Schools were forced to close their doors in fear that students and teachers would get kidnapped or killed. Haitians are afraid to leave their homes and complete essential tasks such as going to work or the grocery store. Moïse tried to convince his citizens that he is, “not a dictator,” and that his, “term ends February 7, 2022.” Over 20 people were arrested on accusations of plotting to kill Moïse.
Haiti is struggling, and not just politically, economically, and socially. Haitians explain that their country is in the worst state they have seen, with the government unable to provide the most basic services. There is constant poverty and hunger, and more recently there has been devastating natural disasters and disease outbreaks.
What could America, a country with a surplus of resources, possibly do to aid this grappling nation? That’s right, deport the Haitians that came to America to escape the chaos, and bring them back into the chaos. On the Monday after Moïse refused to leave office, a plane arrived in Haiti filled with over 20 children who were deported by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. President Biden ordered a 100-day prohibition on these deportations, but a Texas judge blocked the order temporarily, which allowed the agency to defy the Biden administration’s intentions. Haitians were trying to escape, but deportations accelerated quickly.
Moïse was widely blamed for worsening the daily lives of Haitians, amidst a global pandemic, and nearly lost all of his popular support. There are regular fuel shortages, hospitals are having to cut services and/or close, public transportation no longer is available, and businesses are attempting to cope. Haiti looks to America for guidance during these times. But, Several members of The Senate and House advised the State Department to deny Moïse’s efforts to stay in power. A State Department spokesman claimed that, “The situation remains murky.” Haiti looks to America for guidance during these times and often receives little to none. It is a difficult situation because Haiti has been so close to collapsing, so many times, that it’s complex to solve these systemically ingrained issues.
People concerned about Haiti have rightly called for a council of members from the United States, the U.N., the E.U., and the O.A.S., come together to organize a group of civil society leaders to tackle this issue. The Biden administration should be reviewing what is happening in Haiti and how the United States and its allies can aid this trying nation. My family, along with the other 11 million citizens of Haiti, do not deserve to suffer any longer below their unqualified and selfish leaders.
Claire Fouché is a junior at Rio Americano High School.