Suppose nature has been more temperate than usual with the people of Haiti during the last five years; this small Caribbean island that was once the pearl of the Antilles, an attractive place for foreign tourists, has now become an unlivable country for its inhabitants for various reasons: unemployment, extreme poverty, social injustice, insecurity, impunity and moral delinquency, corruption, deterioration of purchasing power, the opacity of public spending, mismanagement, galloping inflation, devaluation of the national currency against the dollar, acute petrol crisis, kidnappings, the resurgence of the cholera epidemic, proliferation of criminal gangs that sow terror, fear and death in many families. What has happened over the last year seems like a horror movie where violence has become part of the daily life of the island’s inhabitants. According to analysts, Haiti is caught between the violence of criminal gangs, the recklessness of the national government and an international community that is spinning its wheels.
This reality is perfectly described in verses 10-12 of Psalm 54: “… I see violence and strife in the city making rounds on its walls day and night. Within are mischief and trouble; treachery is in its midst; oppression and fraud never leave its streets.”.
Given this reality that has no name, many consider Haiti a cursed country where tragedy after a tragedy happens, which is why many Haitians leave the country in search of a better future elsewhere, sometimes risking their lives or rights. The events of the last few months, in particular, are sad and further confirm the breakdown of the state and put the country in the spotlight.
But, as a Redemptorist missionary, I remain hopeful that the country can get out of this impasse. I believe that it is never too late to reach a historic solution, including through sacrifices and concessions for the “greater good of this people”. To get out of this impasse, the country needs each of its children to reach out to reconcile with one another. Still, achieving this requires a collective awareness on the part of all political and economic actors to end the rivalries that do nothing but impoverish the country and its inhabitants more and more each day.
What Pope Francis affirms in his encyclical letter Fratelli Tutti # 232 is a strong message that must echo in the hearts of the country’s political and economic actors in order to get out of this maze. As the Holy Father rightly says, “there is no end to the construction of social peace in a country, but it is a task that gives no respite and demands the commitment of all. A task that asks us not to falter in the effort to build the unity of the nation and, despite the obstacles, differences and different approaches on how to achieve peaceful coexistence, to persist in the struggle to promote a culture of encounter, which requires placing the human person, their highest dignity, and respect for the common good at the centre of all political, social and economic activity. ”
It is indeed no easy task to overcome the bitter legacy of injustice, hostility and mistrust left by the conflict. This can only be achieved by overcoming evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21) and cultivating reconciliation, solidarity and peace (Fratelli Tutti 243).
Although today, there is talk of an intervention of a robust military force to stop this multidimensional crisis affecting the country, I think the country’s real problem is a lack of interest in the common good. This is the result of what we are experiencing.
May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Hope and Perpetual Help, intercede for the country so that the people of Haiti may come out of this abyss in which they find themselves at this moment so that they can look at the past with gratitude, live the present with passion and dream of the future with hope.
Fr. Renold Antoine, C.Ss.R.