GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is urging “unity” in the “current multifaceted challenges” facing Haiti, as the member country celebrates its 218th anniversary of independence on Saturday.
“The Community sends a message of hope to all Haitians as they commemorate this auspicious event that has served as an inspirational symbol of indomitable strength for the region,” CARICOM Secretary General, Dr. Carla Barnett said in a congratulatory message.
“As the government and people of Haiti enter a new year of independence, CARICOM extends its best wishes for goodwill and unity to prevail in the current multifaceted challenges,” she said in the message to Haitian Prime Minister, Ariel Henry.
She said that CARICOM wanted to take the opportunity also to assure Haitians of its “unwavering commitment… as they seek to overcome the challenges they face and build a country of which all its citizens can be proud”.
In 2021, Haiti faced a number of challenges including the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July,7, a massive 7.2 earthquake in August and a series of street demonstrations. In addition, the French-speaking CARICOM country has been plagued by a series of criminal activities with many Haitians and foreign nationals being kidnapped by gangs for ransom.
Earlier this week, as Haiti prepares for the independence celebrations, the construction of the stand on the Place d’Armes to welcome officials, was suspended after armed gangs fired upon venue, causing panic and seriously injuring at least one person, who has since been identified as Jean Elie Saintélus, a carpenter working on the construction of the stand.
In addition, one gang leader, has publicly called on prime Minister Henry not to set foot in Gonaïves. On Saturday as part of the independence celebrations since it will be completely barricaded by his gang members.
On Wednesday, commercial activities were paralyzed, with most businesses including banks as well as schools were closed as armed individuals forced small traders to clear the sidewalks and later setting barricades of flaming tires.
The Haitian National Police in Gonaïves said that all measures will be taken to ensure security and to facilitate the arrival of the Prime Minister and members of the government.
The Prime Minister’s office has so far confirmed that Ariel Henry will visit Gonaïves on January 1.
On January 1, 1804, Haiti became the second independent country in the Americas after General Dessalines declared the nation independent from France. The country was previously known as St. Domingue, but Dessalines renamed it Haiti.