PARIS, FRANCE – Haitian president Jovenel Moise arrived in the French capital accompanied by several underlings who have not learned the first thing about diplomacy and protocol. The President did not have the proper visa and had to take the train because of a staff snafu in transportation arrangements. In addition to the not-so-proper arrival for a president, Mr. Moise put his feet in his mouth when he told a group of Haitian that he had to hire corrupt Haitian judges, that he knew are corrupt because the investigation about allegations of wrongdoings had not moved fast enough.
This is the same man who said a few weeks ago in Port-Au-Prince that Haiti has five problems all of them corruption prompting the United Nations representative and the US ambassador to Haiti to demand prompt actions against impunity and graft.  Mr. Moise like all presidents before him is aware of the cancer that is slowly killing the Haitian government and the Haitian people. Corruption is the reason why so many of Haiti’s benefactors do not trust the Haitian government with money. After the earthquake, some thirty countries promised nearly 15 billion dollars to Haiti’s recovery, but a fraction of that money has been given mostly to Non-Governmental Organizations because of corruption and governance issues relating to gross incompetence and mismanagement.
Haiti is no better than it was on the day after the earthquake. There are still people living in tents, unemployment has skyrocketed, and government officials continue to blatantly misappropriate much-needed resources.  The President acknowledged the problem but only paying lip service to it, refusing to take concrete actions.
This newspaper editorial board a few weeks ago published an opinion piece advising Mr. Moise to convene an anti-corruption committee with the help of the Haitian parliament to combat corruption, but the president has yet to speak about actions. Mr. President, we know what the problem is, you know what the problem is, what we need is concrete action. The US ambassador recently said that not one single government or former government officials had been arrested indicted or convicted for the embezzlement of some 2.1 billion dollars of the Petrocaribe fund. Why is that, Mr. President?
In the last two years, there have been two special investigations into the embezzlement of the PetroCaribe funds. Senator Youri Latortue’s investigation laid out the malfeasance of greedy government officials who placed the funds into their private bank accounts, yet Mr. Moise continues to make bold pronouncements about corruption without holding anyone accountable. We will be impressed with former government officials are indicted and convicted of embezzling the PetroCaribe fund.
Around the world from Brazil to Mozambique, governments are seeking to hold themselves accountable to the people they represent. They are seeking to make government more honest, to ensure that government officials understand that it is a privilege to represent and serve the people, not an opportunity to enrich themselves. Haiti refuses to move towards that direction, and we know all too well why.
In Haiti, corruption is a top-down government affair where everyone is involved in corruption. From the president to the lowest assistant. Everyone uses their position to enrich themselves, not to serve the people. This has been the culture of Haiti’s government, and regrettably, the world knows this too much, and that is the reason why, the world bank, IMF, the United Nations, the and the European Union do not trust the Haitian government with the management of resources for the benefit of the downtrodden.
Haiti is known as the poorest country in the western hemisphere partly because foreign investors often shy away from doing business in a corrupt unpredictable legal system. Haiti’s president is making the problem worse by openly acknowledging the retention of some fifty judges that have been accused of bribes and other craft. President Moise is very hesitant to take action because he understands that whatever actions he takes would have to commence with his office. Corruption in Haiti is never an isolated incident; it is a culture. One will be very hard pressed to find a Haitian government official who does not accept bribes, and some instances openly and actively seeking bribes and demand that bribe is paid to perform their official duties.
In Haiti, it cost nearly $3,000 US dollars to incorporate a company. For a country that needs outside investors, corruption has made doing business in Haiti almost impossible. Unfortunately, neither the President of the Republic nor the legislators understand the depth of the problem, and why they should work hard to stamp out corruption. Or maybe they understand but refuse to do anything about it because they are part of the problem.

Omega Staff Writers

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