November 22, 2022 — In the 16 months since the assassination of former Haitian president Jovenel Moïse, Haiti has slid into violence and turmoil. “Haitian people are living in what may be easily compared to hell,” Jesuit Fr. Jean-Denis Saint-Félix told America magazine earlier this month. In the absence of legitimate political leadership, Haiti is besieged by gang violence and basic infrastructure has collapsed, leaving Haitians without running water, transportation, or sufficient food access.
These rapidly declining conditions call for immediate international coordination to assist the Haitian people, says Fr. Saint-Félix. In letters addressed to the U.S. and Canadian governments respectively, Fr. Saint-Félix and North American Jesuit leadership urge both nations to support Haitian-led efforts to curb the violence and restore economic and social order. Whereas in the past, international interventions in Haiti have effectively ignored Haitian sovereignty, the Jesuits now call for an international response that prioritizes the needs and leadership of the Haitian people.
“What is needed at this time is not another foreign military intervention, but a Haitian-led solution,” the Jesuit letter states. “We urge you to work with community-based organizations to help Haitians rebuild trustworthy public institutions and a sustainable peace rooted in human rights and self-determination.”
In particular, the Jesuits identify several key reform measures:
- Ending gang violence by stemming the flow of weapons into Haiti and bolstering Haitian law enforcement institutions;
- And supporting structural reforms in Haiti and a government that can sustain them.