To the Editor:
Re “All but Poverty and Despair Is at a Halt in Haiti” (front page, Oct. 21):
After decades without the living standards and opportunities Haitians deserve, circumstances have rapidly deteriorated in recent months.
This crisis results from a political battle between opposition politicians and President Jovenel Moïse. You present the protests as “outrage over allegations that the government misappropriated billions of dollars meant for social development projects.”
Yet while allegations that PetroCaribe funds were misspent are credible, not a single allegation relates to spending under the Moïse administration. President Moïse has sought to carry out reforms combating corruption between government and big business, and empowered Haiti’s judiciary to investigate PetroCaribe and other corruption cases.
But his plans were so blocked that he dismissed his cabinet and proposed “compromise” cabinets, including technocrats and opposition figures. All were rejected or refused a vote by opposition leaders. Without a government, there was no approved budget, leaving the country’s services and plans paralyzed.
President Moïse has proposed clear steps toward a unity government. It’s time for opposition leaders to show a willingness to work together to address the country’s concerns.
The writer is Haiti’s foreign minister.
To the Editor:
What we’re seeing in Haiti is nothing new. Yes, this is the worst it’s ever been, but the root cause is old news.
President Jovenel Moïse is a symptom of a willfully broken system, not the malady. At the same time, his blatant incompetence over how to provide a solution to help Haiti out of this perpetual cycle of chaos merits his immediate departure from the country.
Those who say he should stay in power simply because he is a democratically elected president overlook the fact that there is a democratic and political process in place to remove an unfit president from office.
Almost all sectors of Haitian society have coalesced to denounce his ineptitude. Anything other than a formal impeachment proceeding against him is a direct assault on the will of the people and on democracy.
The impeachment process is a better road because it is within the framework of the Constitution, and it forces the political class to deal with the systemic problem. Mr. Moïsehowever, has already signaled that if he is forced to leave, he will not go quietly.
There are many, including parliamentarians and business people, who are complicit in this.
The writer is publisher and editor in chief of The Haitian Times.
To the Editor:
This is a particularly troubling time for the people of Haiti and for organizations seeking to aid them.
At Haiti Cardiac Alliance, an NGO devoted to providing lifesaving cardiac surgery to Haitian children and young adults, we and our patients have suffered. We have been threatened and stopped at barricades. Bullets have whizzed past.
We ration driving because of roadblocks and fuel shortages; patients can’t travel to the hospital for appointments or medications; passports and visas have become near impossible to obtain. Costs are up, and our mettle has certainly been tested.
But it is not true that there is no hope. In mid-July we fielded a screening trip to rural Haiti. We treated more than 40 children in two days. Our “whatever it takes” philosophy has gotten over 60 more to surgery since the crisis began.
One could see Haiti as a microcosm: Global resources are scarcer, and those in unimpeded power reach for ever-diminishing spoils. At Haiti Cardiac Alliance and our partner organizations, we believe that by continuing on, patient by patient, family by family, we maintain a feeling of dignity that allows our patients and those near them to feel worthy and to stand up for themselves.
The writer is board chair of the Haiti Cardiac Alliance and an associate clinical professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Medicare for All Children
To the Editor:
Medicare for All Children is an obvious solution to two problems: how to protect children and how to get to Medicare for All eventually, and without widespread disruption. The critical step is for a child with the proposed Medicare coverage to keep that coverage indefinitely.
This could start even smaller to get the kinks out (for example, for children 5 and under). And the ages covered could expand faster as the resources are available.
The writer is emeritus professor of economics at M.I.T. and a 2010 Nobel laureate in economic sciences.
Let’s Keep Our Forests Intact
To the Editor:
Maintaining our intact forest ecosystems is a vital part of avoiding the worst effects of climate change. Yet in “Build More Wooden Buildings” (Op-Ed, Oct. 7), Frank Lowenstein, Brian Donahue and David Foster advocate cutting them down for lumber as a climate solution, relying on rosy assumptions about the amount of carbon that actually remains locked up in a tree once it’s felled.
Much of the lumber in the United States comes from the boreal forest of Canada, which industry is clearcutting at a rate of more than a million acres every year. The boreal forest holds almost twice as much carbon as is in the world’s oil reserves, most of which is stored in the forest’s soils, not its trees.
When the forest is logged, this carbon is released into the atmosphere. Even the carbon in the wood itself doesn’t all stay locked up. Between the biomass left on the forest floor and the carbon lost during manufacturing, lumber retains only about 30 percent of its original carbon.
The writers also don’t mention that logging threatens the Canadian boreal’s immense value for hundreds of indigenous communities and for many of the North American bird species that have plummeted in the last 50 years.
Forests are critical to solving the climate crisis, but they have to remain intact.
The writer is an environmental law fellow in the Canada Project of the Natural Resources Defense Council.