I'd like to thank the committee for inviting me today.
I want to provide a brief overview of the situation before I discuss my recommendations.
Today is November 4. In Haiti, political paralysis has led to the emergence of violence at the hands of armed groups, the undermining of police, justice and other institutions, widespread insecurity, economic paralysis, deteriorating socio-economic conditions, rapidly worsening living conditions for the majority of the population and a total loss of confidence in authorities, fuelled by government paralysis.
Things are where they are for many reasons. Going back 36 years, the collapse of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986 gave rise to an ever-deteriorating political discourse. With the political and social environment becoming increasingly adversarial, political and social divides have grown, and Haitian society has become more and more fragmented and divided.
Many actors have a hand in the current situation. Political activists, for one, are constantly fuelling political strife, blaming one another for causing all the country's woes. Refusing to budge, those same activists consistently stand in the way of consensus building, with their my-way-or-the-highway attitudes and their unwillingness to compromise, bend or look for win-win solutions. Then, there are the authorities, whose game is the same as the political activists'. Add to that the unofficial and illegitimate armed groups that fuel the state of insecurity by using violence against the people—mainly in the form of kidnappings, rapes and threats—against police, against institutions—courts, in particular—and against political activists. Those armed groups know they can count on a significant inflow of illegal guns and ammunition, as well as weapons taken from police officers and kidnap ransoms.
Police forces are increasingly overwhelmed and unable to stand up to the unofficial and illegitimate armed groups. Police killings are becoming more frequent.
Widespread opposition to foreign interference exists in Haiti and the Haitian diaspora. That is largely due to the failings of foreign involvement in the past.
Foreign military troops inflicted violence on vulnerable members of the population, women and children, in particular. Rising housing and food prices also play a role, as does disease. Soldiers from Nepal are suspected of having brought cholera to Haiti.
The international community's political support for the current government is contested. Not only does the current regime appear to lack leadership and be powerless, but it is also negotiating in bad faith with political opponents. Since the assassination of the country's elected president Jovenel Moïse over a year ago, no timetable has been set for an election.
Nevertheless, some support for foreign military intervention exists in Haiti, since most of the population is suffering terribly. More and more, people lack the basic necessities, face violence and feel abandoned. I have two brothers in Haiti, and they are telling me the same thing.
As regrettable as foreign military intervention is, it is still preferable to violence at the hands of armed gangs.
Now I'll turn to some recommendations.
As I see it, there is no way around foreign intervention. However, it is important to bear in mind the mistakes of the past so that history does not repeat itself.
I also think that Haitian authorities should not be the only people at the negotiating table.
I'll leave it there because I'm out of time, but I would be happy to answer any questions you have.