By Milo Milfort
There have been three days of celebrations in the Haitian capital, from last Sunday to this Tuesday, although for the first time with special hours: instead of lasting until 3 in the morning, this year the party was limited to 10 in the tomorrow at 6 pm.
A decision that was made for two reasons, firstly, the violence in the country, immersed in an unprecedented security crisis marked by the omnipotent armed gangs, and secondly, the blackouts.
But not the whole country is partying. On this occasion there has been no carnival at the national level and some areas of Haiti have preferred to remain without celebrations.
This is the case of the municipality of Pétion-ville, on the outskirts of the capital, where armed groups have become strong.
As reported at the time by the municipal council of Pétion-ville, it was decided that there would be no carnival “in view of the situation in the country, which is experiencing gloomy days due to insecurity and the multidimensional crisis that is plaguing Haiti.”
Carnival in Haiti under strict police surveillance
On the contrary, Port-au-Prince did decide to celebrate the carnival, under the motto “Reconciliation for peace” and with a budget of 121 million gourdes (more than 756,000 dollars at current exchange rates).
The festivities are concentrated in the Campo de Marte, in the heart of the capital and its main public square, located not far from the National Palace, which was destroyed by the earthquake in January 2010 and has not yet been rebuilt.
Given the very high levels of insecurity in the city, to protect the parades the National Police has deployed various units, including those in charge of maintaining order CIMO and UDMO and the tourist Politour.
“While operations continue throughout the country to dismantle and persecute gangs, the National Police, as part of its motto to protect and serve, actively participates in carnival festivities,” according to the police’s Facebook page.
These days, although with less public attendance than on previous occasions, the colorful parades of groups and bands, music, dance and also alcohol take to the streets.
Due to the carnival festivities – one of the most important cultural and traditional events in Haiti – the public administration, commerce, industry and schools remain closed.
Controversial celebration amid the crisis in Haiti
But the carnival is not without controversy and public opinion criticizes artists who this year do participate in the event after criticizing in previous editions that there were celebrations in the midst of the crisis.
A situation that has not improved. Kidnappings continue in the country by armed gangs that have taken the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince hostage.
In 2022, Haiti registered more than 1,000 kidnappings, in a context of worsening sociopolitical and economic crisis.
In addition, in the midst of the resurgence of cholera that has already claimed hundreds of lives, doctors at the only public hospital in the country have been on strike for more than two months demanding better working conditions, which has led them to leave on the street several times.