Former governor general Michaelle Jean joins call for international help for Haiti

Michaelle Jean

OTTAWA — Former governor general Michaelle Jean was among dozens of high-profile signatories to an open letter issued last week calling for international help for Haiti.

The letter in French, with the title “Taken hostage, Haiti is dying” argues that Haiti needs help to avoid becoming a failed state.

The signatories include Senegalese President Macky Sall, who currently chairs the African Union, former UN under-secretary-general Adama Dieng and the former heads of government of Timor-Leste, Chad, Mali, Nigeria and the Central African Republic.

Jean was born in Haiti and was a UNESCO special envoy for that country after serving as Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in Canada from 2005 to 2010.

The letter notes that virtually the entire Haitian population descends from slaves brought from Africa, and that in 1804 the country was the first to successfully overthrow a colonial government.

It also points out that Haiti, “the first Black republic, perhaps the most fragile within the family of nations, is short of food, drinking water, fuel, peace, justice.”

When Haiti ousted the French, Paris imposed a crippling debt to compensate slave owners and the country faced a series of invasions, corrupt governments and deforestation.

“These factors could only result in a failed state, fed for many decades with the adrenaline of violence and the jolts of anarchy and chaos,” the letter states.

In July 2021, President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated after a crackdown on Haitian democratic institutions.