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The plan to get a transitional government in place in Haiti is being tested

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Who will Haiti's next leader be? It seems to be anyone's guess. Days after the country's prime minister announced his intention to resign, the plan to get a transitional government in place is being tested.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Yeah. Politicians of all stripes have also started jockeying for power. And Haitian citizens, well, they are expressing reservations. NPR's Eyder Peralta is in the Dominican Republic, right at the border with Haiti. Eyder, let's start with what you've been seeing and hearing down there at the border.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Yeah. A, we've been seeing a lot of Americans evacuating from Haiti, and we've been seeing Dominican authorities deporting busloads of Haitians. They've long run a mass deportation program here and they haven't stopped it despite the circumstances. The Haitians I've talked to have expressed a sense of desolation, of dread. So many people here I've talked to say this is in God's hand. I met Rafael McKesson. Even at 23, he's cynical. He says, yes, the Prime Minister has promised to resign, and yes, the international community has crafted this plan to put a transitional council in charge, but he's pessimistic.

RAFAEL MCKESSON: (Non-English language spoken).

PERALTA: And he says ever since he was a kid, Haiti has been in disarray. So he asks, what makes you think that anything will be different now?

MARTÍNEZ: Wow. Now, that's along the border in Northern Haiti. Have you been able to gauge at all the reaction in the capital, Port-au-Prince?

PERALTA: There's been broad praise for the Prime Minister's decision to resign, but there's been sharp criticism of this plan, which was brokered by the international community to install this transitional council. One example - I spoke to Guy Philippe. He's a former senator, former chief of police, he helped lead a coup against Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and he was sent to jail in the U.S. for drug-related money laundering. He was deported to Haiti three months ago, but he says he wants to be president, and he has built a following fairly quickly. What he told me is that this plan was drafted without any Haitian input and it puts in power the same politicians who got Haiti into this mess. He says the plan focuses on sending foreign forces to fight the gangs, and he says it ignores an open secret in Haiti that politicians were the ones who have funded and armed the gangs in Haiti.

GUY PHILIPPE: The biggest gang in Haiti is the state of Haiti itself. It's the president, the prime minister, the ministers, the elite. They are the worst gangs in Haiti.

PERALTA: So Guy Philippe has started a campaign for president. He promises to give amnesty to the foot soldiers and come after the politicians who he says put them there.

MARTÍNEZ: You mentioned foreign forces to help fight the gangs. That was a peacekeeping force that was arranged. Is it still happening? I mean, does it look like it's going to be deployed?

PERALTA: It's been stalled. The Kenyans who are supposed to lead this force say they will not send their police until Haiti has a new leadership. This deployment was approved by the U.N. last year and it has been delayed over and over. And this is yet one more wrinkle.

MARTÍNEZ: And one more thing. I mean, you're reporting from the Dominican Republic side of the border. Are you still hoping to get into Haiti?

PERALTA: That's a sore subject, A...

MARTÍNEZ: OK.

PERALTA: ...But look, we've been trying, but Dominican authorities have not allowed us to leave their country...

MARTÍNEZ: Oh, wow.

PERALTA: ...By land and cross into the border into Haiti. They say it's for our own safety. They say it's to avoid a diplomatic problem with Haiti. The airports are closed in Haiti, so a land crossing with the Dominican Republic is the only way for us to get closer to this story. But unfortunately, despite days of appeals to the Dominican Foreign Ministry, to immigration authorities, to the presidency, we have not been allowed to exit the Dominican Republic, to cross into Haiti, to bring our listeners this story.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. That's NPR's Eyder Peralta. Thanks a lot.

PERALTA: Thank you, A. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.