EDITORIAL – Haiti policy: What happens next?

THE question “what happens next?” is very useful when examining public policy.

Today we ask this question with regards to our policies surrounding Haiti.

After the CARICOM meeting, it seems we have chosen our horse to back when it comes to dealing with the situation in Haiti.

Member states of CARICOM after the meeting here in The Bahamas agreed to provide direct support to the Haitian National Police in a bid to bring stability to a nation that is in desperate need.

Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis is the chairman of CARICOM at present and he declared that support, saying the goal was “building up the security mechanism that is in place”.

He said: “That is the Haitian police. Working and resourcing them as best we can and, for example, ensuring that food is provided to them and that they are paid and at the same time expanding for the force to be able to ensure that they have the capacity to deal with the issues that are there.

“So, we are not there yet with boots on the ground.”

So let us ask that question – what happens next? Having backed the police, how do we support them?

Last week, a senior US State Department official said that “we are in a situation where the [police] cannot defend itself or assure the security of the national territory”, according to The Miami Herald.

In Haiti itself, more and more police have been abandoning their posts. A humanitarian programme from the Biden administration meanwhile is being used by public officials and police officers in Haiti to leave the country.

There are reports that about a third of the police force is quitting – so who is it that we are backing? Our support mechanism may be too little, too late. If that is the case … what happens next?

We can provide food and pay to the officers who remain, but will they have the numbers to control the gangs in Haiti? The evidence of recent times suggests not.

Over the weekend, it was noticeable that a number of public officials took the time out to mark the first anniversary of the war in the Ukraine, and to speak out against it.

Far fewer have spoken out about the disaster taking place on our own doorstep, for disaster is what Haiti is experiencing.

One of the symptoms of that disaster is the increase in migration as people get out of a country controlled by gangs and with no elected institutions in place.

And there we face our own “what happens next” question with regard to shanty towns, in terms of what happens to the people who are displaced if shanty towns are knocked down by authorities.

If they are demolished by proper authorities – and not by vigilante action as some are unwisely encouraging – then it must go through a proper process. But in that process, we should ask where the residents go.

According to past surveys, as many as 80 percent have some form of status in The Bahamas, be it being Bahamian or having an appropriate permit – so where do they live instead?

Shanty town living is not anyone’s first option, we would imagine. Many are paying some form of rent – but we have a shortage of legal and affordable accommodation so they turn instead to such homes.

If all 20 percent of those who do not have some form of legal status here are deported, that still leaves 80 percent looking for somewhere to live. What happens next to stop the problem repeating in a new location, and another, and another.

In Abaco, for example, many living in shanty towns have been employed as part of rebuilding efforts there. With nowhere to live, that workforce will either find somewhere else to set up, or if they do leave, then who fills the gap in workers? We repeat, many have legal standing, so even if those without permits are removed, that is still likely to leave a shortfall to get the work done that needs doing.

This needs to be the second half of the plan – not only the removal of shanty towns, but the replacement with affordable places to live for those who are here legally.

What happens next? Ask the question next time someone tells you what they’re going to do about a problem. It might just show how much thought has gone into it.


birdiestrachan 3 months ago

The government is not responsible for shanty towns residents living accommodations their employees should find places for them use the guest room let them live there until they can find a place to live


birdiestrachan 3 months ago

Their employer who can not manage without them . Will be happy to help them and allow them to move into their homes and find them a place to live as a rule many construction sites have living accommodation on the site


stillwaters 3 months ago

Say why are there not boots on the ground yet in Haiti?.....because those gangs are waiting for yall to set foot in Haiti. See how bad and powerful yall are.....go there. Even Canada is just sitting quietly in their boats outside Haiti.


LastManStanding 3 months ago

What happens next?

Go home if you don't have papers, or find a legal place to stay like everyone else if you do. It really is that simple.


GodSpeed 3 months ago

Nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.


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