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Fresh off controversial visit to Jamaica, Kanye West arrives in Haiti

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

In 2011, West's wife, reality star wife, Kim Kardashian, and her mother, Kris Jenner, visited Port-au-Prince on a charity trip.

He is the second high-profile celebrity to visit Haiti in the past few days. Tennis star Naomi Osaka, who traveled to Haiti shortly after her win at the U.S. Open, visited Cap-Haitien on Thursday. Osaka, whose father is Haitian and mother is Japanese, had spent several days visiting the seaside town of Jacmel where her Osaka Foundation is based. The world's third-ranked player, Osaka recently announced that she's sitting out the French Open, citing a lingering left hamstring injury.

The two later accidentally ran into each other at the Cap-Haitien airport as Moise came to welcome West to Haiti, and Osaka prepared to leave the city after a 48-hour visit that included a tour of the 19th-century mountaintop fortress, the Citadelle Laferriere.

As West received a tour of one of Haiti's most highly-sought after areas for development, an impromptu protest with periodic gunshots broke out in the capital after a Haiti National Police officer, Pascal Alexandre, was released from jail after a month. Pascal's imprisonment had led to violent protests by a rogue police outfit known as Fantom 509, which set government buildings and cars on fire while masked officers demanded Alexandre's release.

The high-profile celebrity visits of West and Osaka come as Haiti's political crisis deepen and the country continues to be marred by spreading insecurity and criminality by armed gangs, accusations of bullying by a government minister and violations of the constitution by Moise.

 

In a three-page letter this week addressed to U.S. Ambassador Michele Sison in Port-au-Prince, a Haitian human rights group, the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, outlined its concerns over what it says is confirmation that "the U.S. government is instructing President Moise on what to do."

The Sept. 24 letter follows a series of controversial Tweets by the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince, including one welcoming Moise's establishment of a Provisional Electoral Council, or CEP, that has ignited controversy over the choice of its nine members, duration of its existence and a mandate to prepare a constitutional referendum as well as legislative, local, municipal and presidential elections.

"The forced 'establishment' of this new CEP, whose swearing in was rejected by the (Supreme Court), reduces the State to the personal will of President Jovenel Moise and definitively institutes a dictatorship in the country," the letter said. "While recognizing the legitimate right of the United States to defend its interests in the region, it must help establish a democratic society that respects human rights in Haiti and not support the dictatorial project of Moise and his allies, who are driving the Haitian people into abject poverty."

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