The political and economic protests roiling Haiti are causing unprecedented lawlessness and impunity, compounding the suffering of Haitians, said the head of an Italian foundation working there.
“I know there are other situations around the world that are difficult and appealing for our attention, but here this is really a potential catastrophic situation,” said Fiammetta Cappellini, a Haiti-based country representative for the Rome-based AVSI, a non-profit organisation created in 1972 and guided by Catholic social teaching.
Cappellini noted that some of the agency’s 17 international staff and 100 Haitian staff in the country participated in an unprecedented but peaceful Catholic-led march through Port-au-Prince on October 22.
Marchers called for a resolution to the crisis that has paralysed the country. Frequent protests in Port-au-Prince, other regional cities and the rural areas have shut down transportation, closed businesses and hospitals and forced children to stay home from school, paralysing the Caribbean nation of 11 million.
In recent weeks, the US Embassy in Haiti issued a security alert regarding possible protests in Haiti, and the last of UN peacekeepers left the country after a 15-year presence.
Protesters, including Catholic leaders, have been calling for an end to corruption and mismanagement and for the removal of Haitian President Jovenel Moise.
“This was a bit unexpected because normally the Church tries to be somewhat neutral and not politically engaged, but the population in the country is deeply suffering in this situation,” Cappellini said.