Haiti is suffering the effects of $4 billion in unaccounted development funds, as 78 inmates escape prison in Aquin following anti-government protests and understaffed prisons. The Guardian reported that four lives have been claimed due to violent demonstrations.
The anti-government protests stem from the unregulated allocation of development funds set aside for economic and infrastructure development, as a part of the Petrocaribe deal, a Venezuelan government energy cooperation agreement that provides some Caribbean and Latin American countries with subsidized petroleum products and financing spread over a 25 year period. The deal led to Haiti building up billions in debt to Venezuela.
According to the Guardian, months of violent demonstrations surge with protesters using the slogan“Kot kòb Petrocaribe a?” (“Where’s the Petrocaribe money?”) as Haitian President Jovenel Moise confirms that the alleged misuse of funds will be investigated. Jovenel tweeted, "no one will escape justice. It’s a moral and judicial duty.”
The Guardian also reported that prison guards have patrolled nearby demonstrations leading to unmonitored prisons, leading to 78 prisoners recently fleeing after a scheduled shower.
Intertwined with Haiti's recovery efforts from both the 2010 earthquake that rocked Port-au-Prince and Hurricane Matthew that struck southwestern Haiti near Les Anglais in 2016, is the backdrop of Venezuela's political and economic turmoil, which the deal was originally intended to alleviate and help with the overall political influence of the nation. Instead, President Maduro, who has been criticized for his alleged authoritarian leadership style has sought to tighten the terms of the agreement, with the implosion of Venezuela's oil market and the decline of oil production from 3.4 million barrels a day to less than 1.4 million barrels in 2018.
Back in 2017, a special Haitian Senate commission accused more than 12 former government officials and heads of private firms of embezzling $2 billion in Venezuelan oil loans which could have helped to rebuild efforts after the 2010 earthquake. Moise has responded to this by backing efforts to remove all forms of corruption within the Haiti government and attempting to end fuel subsidies, which was then reversed due to public discontent.
“What we are enduring today is because of Jovenel [Moise] … they are hungry,” said Joseph to the Guardian. His stock of fish was ransacked by looters during a recent demonstration.
According to the World Bank, despite international efforts, Haiti is the most impoverished country in the Americas with 59 percent of Haiti’s population living below the national poverty line of $2.41 a day and approximately 24 percent of the population living in extreme poverty on less than $1.23 a day.
Joseph continued, “We don’t have good leaders: if there was work in the country, this would never have happened.”
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