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Haiti and it's unfortunate political choices.

By Jean Hervé Charles 

Ariel Henry, just before his resignation from power, made the political choice to pay 500 million dollars to Venezuela to eliminate the international debt of Petro Caribe of Haiti to the Bolivian Republic. This payment is negotiated with a tip of 12 million dollars for Ariel Henry.

This is an unfortunate political choice since Haiti could use Petro-Caribe's debt to make it as rich as Croesus. Let me explain. More than fifty countries have in the past used their international debt to restore their environmental coverage. Haiti, denuded opposite the Dominican Republic, would be on the way to becoming, like Dominica, a forest jewel.

Through the “debt against nature” program “debt swapping for nature” set up by environmental organizations and the Scandinavian countries which pursue a policy of friends of nature, Haiti would have the possibility of improving its vegetation cover. These countries undertake to pay the international debts of developing countries against a formal obligation to provide the country with fruit trees and trees for construction beautifying nature.

Given that the vast majority of land in the Republic of Haiti still belongs to the State, covering our hills with mahogany and cedar in exchange for payment of the international debt is an elementary exercise that an intelligent and concerned government interested in the future of the country would have undertaken.

Haiti is currently going through a security crisis due to the aggression of gangs against its citizens. But in my opinion the security crisis is minimal if we compare it to the environmental crisis. The security crisis is confined to the Capital and the Artibonite region while the environmental crisis extends across the entire national territory.

Haiti before and after its birth behaves as if tomorrow does not exist. Before his birth, colonists cut down the mahogany and cedar trees of Haiti to build the castles of Europe without bothering to replant seedlings. After the independence, Haitian citizens led by reckless governments engaged in a systematic destruction of the flora and the environmental resources.

If we continue in this destructive mess, despite the beneficial rain, Haiti is running at full speed towards its doom. We have a rural population to whom we do not offer infrastructure and no institutions that invade the urban space without planning.We have the hills around the towns where the rural population is packed together like sardines without toilets and sewers. The mangrove trees that lined the seaside are cut down to make charcoal. The sand from the rivers and the sand from the hills are exploited with the passion and the carelessness of the settlers.

In short, Haiti's environmental crisis is acute. We need the Petro-Caribe debt to get us out of this rut. With a payment of 200 million dollars per year paid to Venezuela by the Scandinavian countries, Haiti could gradually eliminate its debt and in return it would grant itself 200 million in national currency to engage in the environmental campaign.We had an international debt worth 1.5 billion dollars, if we received 200 million each year to pay our debt, for seven years we could allocate 200 million in the environmental program.

Haiti needs an intelligent Ministry of the Environment to propose to the next Haitian government this original project which will allow the country to build a Sovereign Fund as deep as the Dubai Fund but green as the Pearl of the Antilles.  

Jean Hervé Charles, LLB, MSW, JD can be reached at



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