Celebrities are throwing their support behind the #FreeHaiti movement as a massive standoff continues between the current government and pro-democracy activists.
According to the Miami Herald, the demonstrations began back in February, when thousands of Haitians took to the streets demanding the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. The U.S.-backed leader has been accused of trying to establish a new dictatorship as the country continues to endure economic hardships and surging rates of violence.
Anti-corruption activists say Moïse should’ve stepped down on Feb. 7 of this year, as his five-year term began in February 2016 following the 2015 presidential election. However, Moïse and his supporters—including some U.S. lawmakers—say he has only served four years in office, as his term didn’t officially begin until 2017. So, where does this conflict stem from? It goes back to the 2015 presidential election, which was ultimately annulled for fraud. A re-election was held in November 2016, which resulted in another Moïse victory. Because of this delay, the Haitian government argues Moïse’s term didn’t begin until Feb. 7, 2017, just months after the second round. The U.S., United Nations, and Organization of American States have also sided with Moïse, recognizing 2022 as the end of his term.
Moïse has been ruling by presidential decree ever since the country’s parliament dissolved in 2020. He has yet to organize parliamentary elections, which has left many of his constituents unrepresented. His opponents say his lack of action has contributed to the country’s growing crime rates, including a recent wave of murders and kidnappings.
Activists are now calling on other nations to put pressure on Moïse and ensure free and fair elections are conducted as soon as possible. The U.S. is Haiti’s biggest donor, as it provided the country with more than $150 million in humanitarian aid last year; however, many have slammed the Biden administration for continuing to deport Haitian immigrants under Title 42 of the U.S. Code, which the Trump administration invoked during the pandemic.
“As we are speaking there is a flight to Haiti carrying asylum seekers,” California-based immigration activist Guerline Jozef said Friday. “As we speak over 129 people are on a flight to Haiti, including what seems to be a newborn baby...it is unconscionable for us as a country, as a people of as this great United States of ours to continue the cruel, inhumane practice.”
In effort to raise more awareness on Haiti’s current crisis, social media users have begun using the #FreeHaiti hashtag. Those who have expressed support for the movement include celebrities like Cardi B, Bobby Shmurda, Karen Civil, and Tory Lanez. You can see some of their posts below.