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The fate of Nikolas Cruz and the tumultuous situation in Haiti

Haiti Gangs and Business
Rodrigo Abd
RULE OF LAW SUNK Haitian gang members brandish the smuggled military-style weapons that have helped them gain control of much of the country

Haiti’s political and economic climate has been spiraling for some time, but now it seems to be at a breaking point. Insecurity, the fuel crisis and the rising cost of living have led to large protests that halt activity in major cities for hours. Cholera has returned to the country and has already killed more than a dozen people.

Gangs have taken over most of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital city. Roads have been blocked off in the capital and across the country, preventing aid from reaching vulnerable populations. Haiti is in a humanitarian crisis and acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry has called on foreign nations to step in.

In today's South Florida Roundup, Leonie Hermantin, director of development and communication at Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center in Miami, said that, like other Haitians, she is outraged by Prime Minister Henry’s call for foreign intervention.

But she wasn’t surprised at the move. “Powerless, unpopular dictators do this,” she said. “He’s following the playbook.”

While many in Haiti are asking for Ariel Henry to depart, they are not looking for foreign intervention at this time, she said. With Haiti’s police outgunned, outmanned and outfunded, she is concerned that Prime Minister Henry is calling for intervention as a way to crush his opposition.

Henry’s government has been supported by President Joe Biden and other nations, including Canada and France, in what is known as the Core Group.

Odelyn Joseph
Haitians protesting in Port-au-Prince last month against the takeover of their neighborhoods by violent street gangs.

But Hermantin and other influential Haitians have been urging them to instead turn to the Montana Accord - a diverse group of economists, religious leaders, attorneys, labor unions and professional associations.

They're not saying peace can't be reached without foreign intervention, they just have a different vision and view on what that looks like, Hermantin said. They want to establish a temporary government that the Haitian people would recognize, in order to set up elections.

“It’s the first time in my understanding of Haitian history that you have folks from so many different, sometimes opposing sectors … have come together to say we need to be given the space,” Hermantin said.

They just want their suggestions to be heard by the Biden administration, she said.

Dan Foote, an American diplomat and the former U.S. Special Envoy for Haiti, said ignoring what Haitians have to say about their plight is what made him resign from his position.

He was involved in the reconstruction of Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and told of the time he was in a meeting — and noticed there weren’t any Haitians taking part. He went back to the nation after the assassination of President Moïse and saw that it was worse than before.

Upon his return, Haitians asked him to just listen to them. So he did.

“When I saw that the U.S. government, my colleagues, were ignoring a civil society federation of groups and political opposition parties and folks from across the country representing a lot of Haitians in favor of Ariel Henry … I just couldn’t look myself in the mirror and be a part of that anymore," he said.

On the South Florida Roundup, we also spoke to WLRN's Broward Reporter Gerard Albert III about the verdict in the sentencing of Nikolas Cruz. The jury unanimously decided he should serve life in prison on 17 counts.

Listen to the full episode above.

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Natu Tweh is producer of The Florida Roundup and The South Florida Roundup at WLRN.