Cardi B, Karen Civil and more show support for #FreeHaiti movement
Celebrities are using their platforms to elevate visibility about the current crisis in the island nation
Over the last few days celebrities have used their social media accounts to show their support for the #FreeHaiti movement; a hashtag meant to bring visibility to the ongoing standoff between the current Haitian government officials and pro-democracy activists.
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According to a report by the Miami Herald, the protests began back in February, after thousands of Haitians took to the streets calling for the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. Moïse, who has been backed by the U.S is accused of attempting to establish a dictatorship as the country continues to buckle under the weight of economic hardships and skyrocketing violence rates.
Protestors argue Moïse should’ve stepped down on Feb. 7 of this year, given that his five-year term began in February 2016, following the 2015 presidential election. But his supporters, which including some US lawmakers, counter that he has only served four years in office, as his term didn’t officially begin until 2017.
The discrepancy comes from the fact that the 2015 presidential election was annulled for fraud, prompting a re-election in November 2016 which resulted in another Moïse victory. The Haitian government is now arguing that given the delay, the president’s term didn’t begin until Feb. 7, 2017, giving him an extra year to rule the small island nation.
“We want to end with all of the corruption and impunity. We want to end with the old practices; so many people do not want to give us this chance to decide for ourselves,” said Emmanuela Douyon, an activist with the anti-corruption grassroots group, Nou Pap Dòmi (We Aren’t Sleeping), noting frustrations of those who have felt dismissed in the current crisis plaguing their nation.
“This is what we are defending: the right to decide for ourselves.”
Douyon and those who think like him are calling on other nations to put pressure on the current president to step down and allow free and fair elections to be conducted as soon as possible.
In effort to raise more awareness on Haiti’s political crisis, which has resulted in a wave of violence and kidnappings, social media users have begun using the #FreeHaiti hashtag.
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The growing list of celebrities expressing support for the movement includes names like Haitian actress Garcelle Beauvais, Cardi B, Bobby Shmurda, Karen Civil, French Montana, MC Hammer, and Tory Lanez. You can see some of their posts below.
The United States is currently Haiti’s biggest donor, providing the country with over $150M in humanitarian aid last year; however, as theGrio previously reported, in the month of February alone the Department of Homeland Security allowed ICE to deport over 900 Haitians citing Title 42 of the U.S. Code, which the Trump administration invoked during the pandemic.
Making matters worse is that an internal document obtained by Buzzfeed revealed that DHS officials knew that deporting Haitian immigrants back to their country during these times of political instability would put them in harm’s way – and did it anyway.
Friday, Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez and his Republican colleague, Marco Rubio, led the charge calling for a new round of deportation protections, writing in a in a letter intended for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas:
“We write to express our deep concern about the complicated economic, security, and humanitarian challenges in Haiti and respectfully request that you consider redesignating Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Haiti’s protracted political crisis exacerbates the severe and prolonged humanitarian needs sparked by the 2010 earthquake.”
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“As we are speaking there is a flight to Haiti carrying asylum seekers,” California-based immigration activist Guerline Jozef said Friday. “As we speak over 129 people are on a flight to Haiti, including what seems to be a newborn baby…it is unconscionable for us as a country, as a people of as this great United States of ours to continue the cruel, inhumane practice.”
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