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Haiti Through Our Voices

Zanmi nou! Welcome to the latest edition of Woy Magazine’s weekly newsletter, providing you with must-know news and commentary on Haiti and our Diaspora.

If there are years that ask questions and those that answer them, this past week has been a messy, shotgun wedding of the two. Last week, the bodies of two young dancers were found massacred following an intense and heartbreaking search for the two. They initially went missing after being dropped off in front of a well-known church, following a joint performance with a local artist.

The senseless murder sparked outrage back home and abroad. A march was quickly put together for this past Monday in front of the Ministry of Justice. The peaceful protest was quickly attacked by police officers who used tear gas and other intimidation tactics to disband the small group. Here are a couple of videos of such interactions:

In a new exclusive piece for Woy Magazine, Doris Lapommeray breaks down what happened at the protests and how activists have been curating a list of those who have died because of the intolerable violence:

Mwen fè lis moun ki mouri anba men bandi ann Ayiti paske mwen vle non moun sa yo ekri yon kote. Yo ka pa janm jwen jistis, men omwen nou ka konn non yo. Pou yo ka “egziste”, pou nou ka sonje yo. Nou vin antre nan yon bagay kote nou tèlman tande moun mouri, nou pa menm estomake ankò, oubyen nou estomake pou kèk segond epi sa fini. Nou pap janm chèche konnen ki non moun lan, ki laj li te genyen, ki metye li, kiyès ki te zanmi l ak fanmi l, kisa l te renmen, ki jan li te viv. 

The response by police has, in no way, slowed down the determination of activists ready to hold the government accountable for mounting insecurity and violence in the country. Following a silent protest held earlier this week, another sit-in in front of the Ministry of Justice is planned for Monday, July 6. Additionally, activists in Okap plan to protest the death of Mamoune Regis, a young girl who was killed while cleaning cars to earn a living.

Be sure to check out the hashtag #NouPapDomi on social media to catch up on all the discussions and mobilizations.

It’s safe to say that the Moïse Administration continues to serve up good reasons for these protests. This week, the Miami Herald reported that the president has granted executive clemency to 415 prisoners, 15 of whom are convicted killers and rapists. The unexpected pardons have garnered incredible outrage from the international community and human rights organizations:

Not only were they not consulted on the list, but human rights groups and representatives of the international community said the troubling pardons have nothing to do with their push to release a select group of prisoners — those on prolonged pretrial detention who are elderly, have underlying health problems or are accused of committing minor offenses — to slow the spread of the virus in Haiti’s jails.

As of today, Haiti has 6,101 recorded COVID cases resulting in 110 deaths. Despite seeing a continual uptick in cases, the country has officially reopened its borders and main international airport. While most flights to the country will be coming from Florida (which is now becoming the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States), the president continues to claim success in how Haiti is managing the coronavirus. It’s also important to note that the Dominican Republic closed its borders with Haiti a day after the country re-opened.

While the United States continues to struggle between battling a pandemic and political unrest, deportations have not slowed down one bit. In a new piece for Sapiens, Chelsey Kivland looks into the unspeakable crisis facing Haitian deportees:

“The same questions go through my head all day,” said Thomas, a 60-year-old deportee who returned to Haiti in November after five decades in the U.S. “Who will care for me if I get sick? I have no family here. Where will I go? I have no doctor here, and there is no hospital to go to without money. And I don’t know my way. I have to pay for a helper, and I have nothing. How can I live? Just don’t get sick, I tell myself. I pray for this.”

The prospect of getting sick and dying from the coronavirus in Haiti feels very real to deportees. In the early months of the pandemic, Haiti had recorded fewer COVID-19 infections and deaths than other Caribbean nations, but this has begun to change as more people return to Haiti, including deportees.

While we’re on the subject of mass deportations, we want to highlight a story that emerged this week about Haitian migrants being held in a hotel in Texas by ICE officials. Last year, Hilton Hotels pledged that they would no longer allow ICE to use their rooms as detention facilities, but the San Antonio Current discovered ICE has detained a Haitian family in a San Antonio Hilton hotel. The family’s three-year old hs tested positive for COVID and shows symptoms of the disease, but ICE refuses to grant them medical care. Abe Asher writes:

RAICES attorney Krystle Cartagena, who represents the family, said their three-year-old daughter is has tested positive for COVID-19 and is suffering with fever and chest pains. However, ICE has prevented the girl from accessing medical care.

The daughter and mother are being held in one room with a guard, while the father and their seven-year-old son are being held in a separate guarded room, according to Cartagena.

Additionally, attorney Vanessa Joseph stopped by Chokarella this week to break down the Trump Administration’s latest immigration policy that will certainly impact Haitian asylum seekers in the United States:

To sprinkle a little magic to end this week, check out this intimate and beautiful performance by Emeline Michel performing at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens here. See you next week!

For more content be sure to visit us at woymagazine.com and follow us on Twitter at @woymagazine.

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