SANTIAGO – Amid weeks of anti-government protest in Haiti, at least nine people have been killed and dozens more injured, as thousands of Haitians have taken to the streets of Port-au-Prince to protest. Haitian immigrants living in Chile told Chile Today their opinion about the matter.
Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was thrust into the middle of a corruption scandal over missing money from the Petrocaribe Fund that Venezuela provides to the island nation. In addition, millions of people are angry because of the rising cost of living. The price of food, gas, and other necessities has doubled in recent weeks, making it harder to survive. People from the opposition believe this is due to government corruption.
“I think the Haitian people can no longer stand the situation in the country,” said Winchel St. Eloi, who has been living in Santiago, Chile for 16 months. He works as a Creole-Spanish translator. He told Chile Today that he moved to Chile in search of a better life that he could not find in Haiti.
St. Eloi says that the situation in Haiti is dire. “There’s government corruption, insecurity, high unemployment, lack of access to health care, and inflation, and now people are saying we’ve had enough,” said St. Eloi.
“I think the removal of the president is not the solution”
Protesters and government opposition groups say they want President Moïse to step down immediately. Moïse has stated that he has no plans to resign. St. Eloi says that he believes that removing the president will do little to nothing to ending the country’s woes. “I think the removal of the president is not the solution. Since 1986 after the end of the dictatorship of Jean Claude Duvalier, we’ve almost never had a stable government,” said St. Eloi. However, there are many people who believe that removing Moïse would be a start in cleaning the government of what they believe are corrupt politicians.
Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and the country’s protests and economic woes have made living in Haiti even more difficult and dangerous. Many people are forced to live on just US $2 a day. Jacques Jordany also has been living in Santiago for 16 months, and he works in a vegetable market. He says he is concerned for his family back home because of the violence and lack of necessities. “My daughter couldn’t go to school because of the protests. There are groups in the street with arms,” says Jordany.
Jordany has provided this exclusive video to Chile Today of men walking the streets with arms. It was recorded by his cousin, who is currently in Haiti.
St. Eloi says he dreams of one day returning to Haiti but is not sure if that dream will come true. “I have a lot of concerns. I wonder if I’ll be able to return to my country one day with rights and if people will be able to stop immigrating to other countries for a better future with more opportunities,” said St. Eloi. In Haiti, there is a negative net migration, which means more people are leaving the country than entering. Many of those people who have left have come to Chile out of desperation in order to start a new life.
Thousands of Haitians living in Chile are hoping to see a resolution to the problems their country faces. This is a country that has been ravaged by deadly hurricanes and earthquakes, with weak infrastructure, essentially adding insult to injury. St. Eloi says that he believes that Haiti has a long way to go before seeing improvements in the economy but that the government should be more proactive in the process.
“The government should create sources of employment, bring foreign investments, more access to education and increase the minimum wage,” said St. Eloi. In the meantime, Haitians living here in Chile will be watching what transpires in their country hoping for the best, but acknowledging that the situation may get worse before improving.
Anthony Hill is a multimedia journalist for Chile Today. He was born in the Bronx, New York and is currently living in Santiago, Chile. He double majored in journalism and political science at the State University of New York at Oswego. Before coming to Chile Today, he was a reporter for the NBC station in western Massachusetts.