PORT-AU-PRINCE, Ouest, HT (sentinel.ht) – This is how a man, known in Haiti and in foreign diplomatic circles as the poster-boy for political corruption, illegitimately becomes a senator and manages to maintain that power; through distraction.
The Haitian media is intently following a senate ethics investigation into the management of funds from the Petrocaribe program and by doing so playing into the distraction set up by the ethics committee Chairman, Youri Latortue.
Senator Youri Latortue, whose legitimacy has been highly questioned following the 2015 elections, announced Monday that his committee, the Special Ethics and Anti-Corruption Committee, would be presenting its final report on the management of Petrocaribe on Thursday.
The problem: Youri Latortue is known in Haiti and by diplomats from around the world as “the most brazenly corrupt of leading Haitian politicians”. This quote found in cables released by WikiLeaks from the U.S. Embassy in Haiti in communication with the State Department. The cables recognized Latortue as a “mafia boss”, “drug dealer” and “poster-boy for political corruption”.
Furthermore, Youri Latortue served as top adviser to former President Michel Martelly (2011-2016) whose very administration the Petrocaribe funds were available and is therefore the focus of the senate committee’s investigation.
Justice more elusive
Like in all matters involving Haitian politics, the foundation of this investigation can only serve to create more problems.
Because Latortue was a member of the administration he is now investigating, the possibility that he may have played a role in entrapping the investigation’s subjects will and must be raised.
Can the integrity of the investigation be counted upon? The Haiti Sentinel has learned from a source that Latortue has attempted to extort money from subjects in the investigation.
Lastly, the Petrocaribe matter deserves a lot of attention but the likelihood that justice become more difficult to reach by the actions of the special committee rises because many leads are being exposed.
But observers of Haitian politics realize that Youri Latortue’s presence at the head of this committee, this investigation, above all other possible functions is an attempt to legitimize his status as a Senator at a time when he and the 50th Legislature was facing much criticism for coming of a widely-fraudulent electoral cycle.
Youri Latortue was one of two senators elected in the first round of the “violence-plagued” and fraud-ridden elections of August 9, 2015. In order to obtain this victory, Latortue challenged the preliminary results and presented tally sheets that the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), itself, never had in its possession.