Haiti: Ariel Henry Assumes the Presidency

 (Fuente: EFE)

Ariel Henry had been chosen by Jovenel Moïse as his successor two days before the assassination.

Neurosurgeon Ariel Henry assumed the presidency of Haiti on Tuesday. The assassinated ex-president, Jovenel Moïse, had designated Henry as his successor two days before his death, but without the support of local parties.

At the moment of taking the oath of office, Henry called for national unity and a joint effort to “stop this race to the abyss”.

The President-designate assured that only dialogue and consultation will make it possible to define the contours of the policies to be followed during this period, and to adopt the essential decisions for the transformation of society, especially the living conditions of the most vulnerable.

After Moïse’s assassination, Henry had received the support of the ruling party, the Tet Kale, but this gesture was quickly diluted.

“Mr. Ariel Henry has made a display of selfishness, of egocentrism without limit. We must realize that there is no way out without a concerted proposal, without something that has the minimum national consensus”, evaluated physician and political analyst, Jean Hénold Buteau.

“Anyone who at this time enters into an institutional chaos, is not only disrespectful, but also totally irresponsible. He is not going to be able to solve anything,” Buteau added, quoted by Sputnik news agency.

Who is Ariel Henry?

Henry is 71 years old, trained as a doctor at universities in France and Haiti and has experience in public administration: he was part of the government of Michel Martelly, Moise’s predecessor, for 14 months marked by political instability.

Between January and September 2015 Herny served as Minister of the Interior and then headed the Social Affairs and Labor portfolio until March 2016.

Ten years earlier, in 2004, after the forced resignation of former President Jean Bertrand Aristide, Henry formed, along with six other personalities, the so-called Council of Wise Men, a body in charge of proposing a new Prime Minister to Haiti’s interim presidency.

He was a member of the Social Democratic Party, then of the Haitian Revolutionary Progressive Nationalist Party, founded by his mentor Serge Gilles. The doctor also joined the Fusion of Haitian Social Democrats structure and until 2014 was a member of the Patriotic Union, created by former President René Preval (1996-2001 and 2006-2011).

As a health professional, he chaired the board of directors of the Ecumenical Welfare Society from 1992 to 1999, and was deputy director in charge of programs of the humanitarian agency Adra-Haiti from 1992 to 1996.

He was also part of the Cabinet of the Minister of Public Health from June 2006 to September 2008, and served as head of Human Resources from September 2008 to October 2011.

Henry was one of the health authorities responding to the cholera epidemic that broke out in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake that killed 300,000 people. The outbreak, attributed to the UN peacekeeping mission, caused another 10,000 victims, according to official figures.

In 2020, he was a member of the multisectoral commission for the management of Covid-19, which so far has 19,553 patients, 510 deaths, and more than 3,000 hospitalized since March last year.

At the same time, he heads the neurosurgery department of Bernard Mevs Hospital, one of the most renowned in the country.

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