Haiti Descending Into Chaos, Last Elected Officials Flee

The already chaotic conditions in Haiti are deteriorating rapidly, as the last ten remaining elected officials in the nation left their offices last week. As a result, the Caribbean country is now entirely governed by people its citizens did not elect.

Ariel Henry assumed office as Haiti’s prime minister shortly after the assassination of democratically elected President Jovenel Moise in 2021.

Henry has never been sworn into office, although he has assumed dictatorial powers.

The Haitian Senate’s 30 seats and congressional chamber’s 119 seats are all now vacant. In addition, every elected municipal mayor has either been reappointed or replaced by the installed regime.

University of Virginia political scientist Robert Fatton was born in Haiti. He said the “situation is catastrophic”. He added, “It would not be an exaggeration to say that the current crisis is one of the most severe crises that Haiti has ever confronted.”

No elections have been held in Haiti since 2016, five years before Moise was assassinated. Moise assumed dictatorial power and suspended regular elections in 2018 and 2019.

Moise named Henry as the national prime minister shortly before he was killed. However, Henry was never sworn in, as the legislature could not meet because of a lack of a quorum.

As Haiti’s effective dictator, Henry has said he intends to hold national elections sometime this year.

Henry has reportedly been negotiating with several political parties and civil organizations about how to move forward with reinstating democratic government. So far, Henry has refused to accept a reported proposal for a two-year interim government to be led by a prime minister and president until new secure, and fair national elections can be scheduled.

Meanwhile, uncontrolled gang violence and cholera are wreaking havoc on the Haitian people. Medical personnel have estimated that around 25,000 have been infected with cholera since last October. In addition, at least 150,000 citizens have been displaced from their homes by gangs that control vast swaths of the nation.

Widespread violence has forced many foreign aid groups to cease operations in Haiti. That includes the healthcare volunteers with Doctors Without Borders. Thousands of schools have been closed as parents are afraid to let children leave the tenuous relative safety of their homes.

Kennesaw State University professor of Haitian studies Cecile Accilien said, “I grew up under dictatorship, so I’m not idealizing the Haiti I grew up under, but this is the first time I think we have seen this level of lawlessness, this level of gang violence where people’s lives do not matter.”

Without a stable currency, Haiti is plagued by uncontrolled inflation. Reports indicate that around 40% of the population struggles to find enough food.

The nation has also faced two major natural disasters in recent years. A Category 5 hurricane destroyed much of the nation’s infrastructure in 2016, and a major earthquake killed at least 2,000 people in 2021.

Conditions in Haiti have led to a surge in immigration – legal and illegal – into the United States.