'Haiti Is Ungovernable With This Constitution'

Manuel Pérez Bella and Milo Milfort

Port-au-Prince, Dec 7 (EFE) .- 'Haiti is ungovernable with this Constitution,' says the president of the Caribbean country, Jovenel Moise, in an interview with Efe in the midst of a deep political crisis and after three months of protests in streets.

The Haitian head of state advocates the drafting of a new Constitution to strengthen the figure of the president and, in addition, explains the reasons why he refuses to resign, despite the popular clamor to leave the position he has held since 2017.


Moise reveals that negotiations for the formation of a government of 'national unity' could bear fruit before the end of December, while warning that if these negotiations fail, no measures can be taken to address the 'famine' that affects to several regions of the country.

Haiti was totally paralyzed by mass protests between September and mid-November, some of them spontaneous and others sponsored by opposition groups.

The demonstrations, which are still repeated, triggered fuel shortages and spread rapidly as an expression of popular discontent over corruption, crime out of control and lack of life prospects in the poorest country in America.

Since 1987 Haiti has had 17 presidents, has seen coups, a UN intervention and a devastating earthquake; Even so, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) believes that the current crisis is unprecedented.

QUESTION: During the protests from September to November, 42 people died, 19 at the hands of the Police according to the UN. How do you rate the response of law enforcement?

ANSWER: I condemn violence in all its forms. It doesn't matter where it comes from. I have been saying this since my election campaign until today, I am a supporter of nonviolence. We cannot respond to violence with violence. I also say it in one of my speeches: political violence always leads to violence. Normally there have been deaths, as we know, I'm sorry. I offer my condolences to the parents of the victims. But I want to tell you that we are on the side of nonviolence.

Q: You have announced conversations to find a way out of the crisis. Who are you talking to and what?

A: We are working. I must tell you that the dialogue is permanent for me. Since I came to power, I have understood that the country is divided. The country is broken. And that's why I made the decision to talk to everyone: my brothers of the moderate opposition.

There are some who speak of radical opposition in Haiti. I don't think there is any radical opposition, there is a political opposition. These are people who are involved in politics there and who will one day have to run the country as well. I am the head of a country that today is in a dead end: we must find a solution.

And I talk to a lot of people. It would be a bit difficult because, as you know, in politics there are things that are done but not said. We are talking, we are talking and we are talking with many people. We are working to reach a political agreement because we are all sons and daughters of Haiti. We have to take some height.

We must cultivate wisdom so that Haitians can talk to each other, find a solution, find a political agreement. From this agreement, we go directly to a Government of national unity. And this national government with a very clear roadmap must work to solve the problems of people that everyone knows.

Q: When will there be a solution?

A: I work very hard. I must tell you that sometimes we spend more than 20 hours a day working to find a solution to this crisis, so that the crisis does not go beyond 2019. So that we can wake up after December 31 with a country where we have someone which is elected (for prime minister) at the level of the opposition or someone neutral or someone from civil society. Because the important thing today is not just the deadline, we are late.

In principle, it is abnormal that the country has been without a government for 10 months and without a budget for 14 months. It is not a matter of delay. We no longer arrive on time. Here, we are in a logic of an emergency situation. A country where there is a humanitarian crisis in several areas. In the department of the West, for example, we are experiencing a famine. In the department of the Northwest, in the lower northwest area, we are also suffering from a famine.

It is important that we find a solution to unlock the situation so that the economy can move. And to move the economy requires a legitimate government. And it is this Government that we seek. I don't think time is on our side. I am aware of it. We need a government of extreme urgency.

Q: Are you in favor of amending the Constitution or changing it? Why?

A: I don't speak with talk. Maybe, it's a weakness on my part. I am not a traditional politician. I come from the private sector. I must tell you that Haiti is tired of this Constitution. Not only is the Constitution a source of political crisis for the country, but it is also incompatible with our culture. The Haitian people are a presidential people. Everything that doesn't work is blamed on the president. All the problems of the country are of the president. And yet, the Constitution grants extremely limited powers to the President of the Republic.

Q: So, are you in favor of a new Constitution?

A: That is for sure. I campaigned on amending the 1987 Constitution. I spent 22 months talking about this. And yet, today I am no longer talking about an amendment. I am talking about a constitutional revision, because the country is ungovernable with this Constitution. And when I talk about constitutional review – I want it to be clear in everyone's mind – it is not for President Jovenel, it is the next president who will benefit from this constitutional review.

It is my two years and ten months at the head of the country that allow me to say that we must change this Constitution. Because in fact, it is a Constitution that prevents the emancipation and development of the country. The country we all dream of: political stability, as I say in my election campaign, which is the first public good. We cannot have that stability with this Constitution.

Q: Almost all sectors of national life ask for his resignation. What concrete reasons justify being held in power?

A: These are the promises I have made, my conviction and my vision of the country. This land of Haiti has known my blood, my sweat and my tears. That is why, as president of Haiti – I am at the head of this country – I believe that what I am saying, I said that there is no country in the world that can talk about development without the necessary infrastructure. I am referring to roads, electrical and hydraulic services and digital infrastructure. There is no country in the world where we can talk about development without these things. That's why I say it myself, and I'm doing it.

Q: You said that it is necessary to attack the system in order for the country to achieve stability. Are you not a key player in the system that has benefited from it?

A: As I talked about the system. This system has guardians, heirs and teachers. I am neither guardian, heir, nor the master of the system. I am the president of all Haitians, those who are rich and those who are poor. I am not only president of the poor or the rich. I am president of all Haitians. I am also the president of the law. I will enforce the law. I am the president that I am here to enforce the interests of the people. The interests of the people are the interests of the State.

Q: What mistakes have you made in this crisis?

A: What I regret most is not having worked to better understand the system at the beginning. It took me too long. Therefore, during my first speech I apologize to the Haitian people. It is an extremely complex system. We have a wild predation system. Is not easy. They are sectors … I give the example of the electricity sector. The State is paying and the people do not receive services. What is the role of the State? The state is there to serve. The State cannot play this predator role.

Q: Ten years of the devastating earthquake in Haiti will be celebrated. How much international money has arrived in the country and what was it used for? Were the funds well used or was it a missed occasion?

A: When I arrived at the head of the country, I asked for an expense sheet to be prepared after the earthquake. But it was hard to get it. Much of this money has been spent through NGOs. This is a sad reality. A lot of money was spent. Some say 10,000 million. Some people talk about 8,000 million dollars. Some people talk about 6,000 million. There are many numbers. But through the Ministry of Planning, what I have as a report is that a lot of money has been spent. Several billion dollars. But the results are not satisfactory.

mp-mm / dmt / jcg