The Haitian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIH) must once again express its concern about the undeniable resurgence of banditry in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince and its surroundings over the course of the last few month and, in particular, during the last thirty days.  The organization is outraged by the crimes being committed with impunity by armed gangs openly claiming their allegiance to the ousted Lavalas movement, which is participating in the electoral process.

The kidnappings number in the dozens each day, with victims being sequestered in lawless neighborhoods that are completely beyond the control of national authorities.  These barbarous crimes, without precedent, have affected all classes, but particularly the poorest–who are subject not only to the terrorism of the armed groups in their midst, but to the unfeeling passivity and complacence of MINUSTAH forces on the ground.

The Haitian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is also shocked by the unsettling silence of the government of the Republic which, to date has not even been able to supply the command and officers of the Haitian National Police with the equipment and materiel necessary to be able to live up to its responsibility to “protect and serve.”

Today, it is obvious that this climate of insecurity, which could easily spread throughout the country; together with the existence of these “no-man’s lands,” where a significant number of voters reside; represent a real threat to the holding of free, fair and credible elections.  The electoral process, already fragile, is in clear and present danger.

One of the principal causes of the failure of this “transition”–which was supposed to bring security and serious elections to the country — is the absence of political will on the part of those in charge of the United Nations’ presence here, who have consistently refused to take concrete steps to address the problems associated with the existence of armed criminal and terrorist groups in the country, particularly in Cité Soleil.

In addition, then, Haiti’s private sector demands that MINUSTAH and, in particular, Ambassador Juan Gabriel Valdés, take courageous, intelligent and vigorous action to deal with these criminals and terrorists–using all necessary force, and commensurate with similar measures being taken by democratic governments throughout the hemisphere.

To demonstrate its disapproval of both the government’s and MINUSTAH’s handling of the insecurity, to honor the memories of all of the victims of this climate of terror, and to demand that proper elections be held in the country, the Haitian Chamber of Commerce and Industry calls upon the entire population of metropolitan Port-au-Prince to observe a general protest strike this Monday, January 9, 2006.

All of us are affected by this lawlessness.  We must stand together against it. Laborers, merchants, public functionaries, white-collar workers, industrialists, the unemployed, parents, school children, students and teachers-let us all participate in this day of protest to demand of Mr. Juan Gabriel Valdés:

1)       that he give clear and precise orders to the troops under his command that CITÉ SOLEIL, like BEL AIR, be liberated from these gangs who prey upon the population, so that its people-today living as hostages-may finally be able to return to their normal lives.  The people of CITÉ SOLEIL deserve to live in peace!

2)       that he order his troops to provide proper assistance to the Haitian National Police, and to collaborate closely with them in the investigation, arrest and bringing to justice of the “chimères,” the kidnappers and other criminals who are terrorizing the metropolitan area. The Haitian people have suffered enough!

3)       that he take concrete and forceful  measures to bring security to the metropolitan area permanently-rather than the sporadic and fleeting relief currently being provided.  Our future as a nation depends upon it!

MINUSTAH’s unambiguous mandate from the Security Council is to establish and maintain a stable and secure environment so that we can have credible elections and begin the economic, social and political reconstruction of our country.

Today, with this general strike, the people of Haiti insist that the United Nations and its representatives finally honor this commitment.