Former Haitian Prime Minister Claude Joseph launches new party to revive «dying» country

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Archive – Claude Joseph, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Haiti – EDNA LESHOWITZ / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO

Haiti’s former Foreign Minister Claude Joseph, interim Prime Minister after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, has launched a new political project with which he aspires to attract the youth and revive a country that «is dying», in the face of a regime such as the current one which, in his opinion, is marked by shadows of suspicion and endemic corruption.

Joseph, former chargé d’affaires at the Haitian Embassy in Spain, is the main promoter of Comprometidos por el Desarrollo (EDE), a formation that he defines as «of the center» and with which he wants to gather «the leaders of tomorrow», among whom he includes himself.

«It’s time because the youth in Haiti don’t trust traditional leaders. We are looking for better alternatives», he explains in an interview to Europa Press in Madrid, from where he also calls to add the Haitian diaspora to a transformation process to which he does not dare to put dates.

The assassination of Moise in July 2021 meant for Haiti another step in an institutional vacuum that remains unresolved to this day, with an interim administration under Ariel Henry that has not set any electoral deadline. Growing insecurity and humanitarian decline, exemplified by a cholera outbreak, further cloud the context.

Joseph laments that the country is «hugely divided», the result of «a corrupt system» that acts «to the detriment of the people». According to the former minister, in charge are «oligarchs» who control practically all sectors and who «put» the current president in charge of Haiti.

«They are comfortable with Henry», explains Joseph, who does not hesitate to involve this alleged network with the assassination of Moise and to point out the current interim president as the «main suspect» of the crime, because of his alleged contacts with those directly responsible.

In fact, he considers Henry to be what is understood as a political «bad actor» and, therefore, asks to be included in the ‘black list’ of sanctions that countries such as the United States have begun to draw up. «If someone is involved in the assassination of Jovenel Moise, he should be sanctioned,» he adds.

The former minister, on the other hand, does not look favorably on the dispatch of a new UN mission, another of the initiatives proposed by the UN to try to tackle the current emergency. Such a mission, he says, «is very likely to support the interim government», even though it is «illegitimate and unpopular».

Joseph advocates improving the capacity of the police, with «well-trained, well-paid and well-equipped» units, since otherwise they cannot confront armed groups such as the one that this very week has left more than twenty dead in Cabaret, a town north of Port-au-Prince.

He sees in this improvement of its own capacities a key tool to guarantee security and to break the current «vicious circle», as he believes that the interim government uses gang activity to justify the fact that elections cannot be called in the short term.

«It is clear that they have no will to hold elections,» but «only through elections will we be able to start again,» he insists. Joseph regrets that this process is not a «priority» for an administration that wants to hold on «as long as it can in power».

EDE aspires to go to this long-awaited appointment with candidates on all fronts, including the presidential one. Asked if he sees himself as president, Joseph is willing «if that is what the party decides» and defends that he «has good ideas for the country» and experience in positions of responsibility.

ABINADER’S «RACISM» Joseph has been particularly critical in recent weeks of the deportation policy of the Dominican Republic, a neighboring country whose practices have also been questioned by the UN Human Rights Office.

The former minister distinguishes between Dominican citizens, who «are good people», and a political class which, in his opinion, uses Haitians to cover up internal problems at the expense of not respecting the bilateral agreements in force.

The Dominican president, Luis Abinader, «is a racist who hates Haiti and Haitians», says Joseph, who accuses the Dominican authorities of separating families, carrying out deportations at dawn or perpetrating «bad treatment».

Security, he adds, «is a pretext». «I do not believe that Haitians represent a threat to the security of the Dominican Republic, that is not true», he says, defending the contribution of his compatriots also for the development of the neighboring country.

In contrast to his views on Dominican policies, Joseph considers Spain «a very good ally» of Haiti, where it has never put «strategic interests» first. Thus, he underlines the importance of the aid for cooperation and development coming from Spain and adds: «They have been concerned about Haiti for years».