Ariel Henry: An Itinerant Ex-Prime Minister Without a Country

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De facto Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry after landing on Mar. 5 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He has been unable for the past five days to return to Haiti, or even the island of Hispaniola.

(Français)

Since arriving in New York from Nairobi, Kenya on Sat., Mar. 2, former de facto Prime Minister Ariel Henry has been trying to get back to Haiti. But Haiti does not want him.

He spent several days in Manhattan, but no commercial flights could fly him and his large entourage to Haiti because the Port-au-Prince airport was closed after gunfire hit an Avolon charter jet bound for Cuba on Thu., Feb. 29. (No one was injured, and the damage was minimal.)

Over the weekend, Henry asked Washington to provide him with a military plane and soldiers to accompany him back to Haiti.

Ariel Henry and his entourage flew on Mar. 5 in a Gulfstream IV private jet, like the one pictured here.

On Mon., Mar. 4, Henry received his answer. “Through the weekend, senior U.S. government officials remained in close contact with senior Haitian government officials,” said John Kirby, White House National Security spokesman. “”After 72 hours of diplomatic contacts between Haiti and the USA, the Biden administration will not deploy American troops in Haiti to support the security operations of the Haitian National Police (PNH)… Furthermore, the United States will not provide a military plane to accompany the Prime Minister and his delegation to Haiti, currently blocked in the USA since Saturday due to the temporary suspension of commercial flights to Haiti.”

At that point, Ariel Henry and his cortege decided to charter, for tens of thousands of dollars, a private jet to fly to Santo Domingo. (Haïti Liberté obtained a quote of $56,000 for the same jet and route that Henry took.) They rented a Gulfstream IV, which seats 14 people, from a charter company, NXT Jet. They left Teterboro Airport in New Jersey (across the river from Manhattan) on Tue., Mar. 5 at 11:06 a.m. (EST). But about three hours into the four-hour flight, the air traffic controllers in the Dominican Republic informed Henry’s aircraft, tail number KPO129, that they did not have permission to land in that country, although the plane had already begun its descent from 35,000 feet to 25,000 feet. The plane had to divert its destination to Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where it arrived at 4:06 p.m. (AST).

The flight tracking of Henry’s chartered private jet on Mar. 5 shows it circling east of Turks and Caicos after the Dominican Republic prohibited him from landing there.

The diversion and successful blocking of Henry’s return – the first time this has happened in Haitian history – has emboldened the Haitian people to continue their mobilization to keep Ariel Henry out of the country as a beginning of radical system change. The watchword of the movement is DDN which stands for  “Deyò, Deyò Net.” (Out, Out for Good.)

“We in Viv Ansanm, we know where we are going, we know who our enemy is, we know whom we’re fighting with,” said Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, the spokesperson of the “Live Together” coalition which has united the anti-crime armed groups of his Revolutionary Forces of the G9 Family and Allies with those of the G-Pèp, which comprised mostly criminal gangs which have committed kidnapping, rape, extortion, and other crimes in recent years. “In our battle today, stopping Ariel Henry’s government from returning is just the first step, as we have always said. After we stop Ariel Henry’s government, we will assure ourselves that Haiti has a strong state, strong justice system to fight against the corrupt, and we will assure ourselves that we have a strong security system, so people can circulate whenever they want and come home when they want. Again, our objective is to see another Haiti.”

John Kirby, the White House national security spokesman: “The U.S. will not provide a military plane to accompany the Prime Minister and his delegation to Haiti.”

Meanwhile, Washington is continuing its desperate and clumsy efforts to organize a third foreign military intervention into Haiti in 30 years, although this one would not be overseen by the UN Security Council, but by the notoriously corrupt and brutally repressive Kenyan police force, although Kenya’s High Court has ruled it cannot be deployed. Nonetheless, President William Ruto and Washington are trying to circumvent the court order.

“We’re working with international partners to provide immediate support to the Haitian National Police and expedite the deployment of the Multinational Security Support Mission that will help restore security urgently,” said Kirby.

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