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Exclusive | Strange Expenses for the Ouanaminthe Canal


Documents obtained exclusively by AyiboPost raise questions over the management of money collected for the border canal

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According to the official site fundraising for the canal on the Massacres River in Ouanaminthe, Haitian and foreign contributors committed nearly half a million US dollars and almost 43 million gourdes to the initiative.

The funds remaining today will not be enough to finalize the construction work, according to the committee.

However, non-public documents obtained by AyiboPost raise questions about spending already made by the committee, seven months after coming into effect. 

For example, entrepreneur and pastor Moïse Joseph is the member of the committee who made the vast majority of the major expenses in connection with the construction of the canal. His name is associated with around a hundred major transactions, according to documents obtained by AyiboPost.

Sometimes, Joseph is a direct beneficiary of the expenses since he owns a company working in the field of construction.

Moïse Joseph admits to AyiboPost that his company “sells services” to the canal committee, which appears to represent a blatant conflict of interest. According to Joseph, his company supports the project even when there are no financial resources available.

The summary statement of expenses which covers the period that extends from Sept. 19, 2023 to the beginning of 2024 shows payments to journalists of sums sometimes up to 150,000 gourdes for reporting costs and  » gratifications”.

Members of the committee “rewarded” themselves amounts ranging from 25,000 to 120,000 gourdes (For four, up to ten people). Police officers normally paid by the state received tens of thousands of gourdes from the committee.

The Protected Areas Security Brigade (BSAP) collects its own funds, but the documents in AyiboPost’s possession attest to several transfers amounting to hundreds of thousands of gourdes to the structure. These amounts are paid for surveillance services, confirms the treasurer of the committee, Gaston Étienne to AyiboPost.

Read also: “Kanal la Pap Kanpe,” one of the most significant social movements in Haiti

The total expenses recorded until April 25, 2024 amount to over 101 million gourdes, confirmed by Michèle Adrien, someone closely associated with the finance committee who attends most meetings. Adrien’s husband, Gaston Etienne, serves as the treasurer of the committee.

However, according to Moïse Joseph, the remaining balance cannot ensure the completion of the work.

Michel Hilaire is collecting money for the initiative in Canada through “Mouvman Kanal la Pap Kanpe” (MKPK).

The 1st of January this year, he distributed US$2,500 to “journalists, etc.” from a sum of US$10,000 intended for the canal committee, according to a list of expenditures in dollars obtained by AyiboPost.

Hilaire did not respond to requests for comment before publication. The list of paid journalists is not public either.

The “konbit” ideal with contributions from entrepreneurs for a national cause is more nuanced in the preliminary expenditure document for the construction of the canal.

The excavator operator alone costs the committee at least US$200 per day.

Rental and maintenance costs for the excavator amount to at least US$46,500, the documents show.

The 1st January this year, he [Hilaire] distributed US$2,500 to “journalists, etc.” of a sum of US$10,000 intended for the canal committee.

The name of a member of the committee – Moïse Joseph – is cited with that of a certain Henri Claude Audate in a gabion theft scandal on the construction site. To pay a law firm, 200,000 gourdes was released on March 20, 2024, as part of this case, according to the documents.

Joseph Moïse confirms for AyiboPost that indeed a law firm was hired to defend his case which, according to him, was initiated by political hands to tarnish his image.

Guillaume Josaphat is part of the committee. He is one of the initiators of the movement which resulted in the resumption of construction work on the canal in Aug. 2023.


Panoramic view of the excitement at the canal construction site in Ouanaminthe in September 2023. | © Pierre Michel Jean/AyiboPost

Josaphat managed bank accounts and the first contributions before the committee was installed on Sept. 19, 2023.

Michèle Adrien, an individual close to the finance committee criticizes Josaphat for failing to provide a detailed report – apart from a list of expenses without invoices – under his management.

To AyiboPost, Josaphat rejects the accusations. These are, according to him, “political maneuvers.”

The Haitian technology firm HtiPay Inc collects funds for the canal and gives real-time updates on most transactions.

Voices are being raised online to demand a detailed report of the money received and the expenses made.

According to computer scientist Haveson Florvil, head of HtiPay, the committee members’ lack of technical knowledge is one of the factors hindering this reporting process.

In addition, there is a problem with delegation and a game of influence between members of the committee, continues Florvil, who sometimes participates in the structure’s meetings.

Voices are being raised online to demand a detailed report of the money received and the expenses made.

In an interview given to AyiboPost in Nov. 2023, the committee spokesperson, Wideline Pierre, voiced her dissatisfaction with the “poorly detailed” expenditure monitoring available on the HtiPay website.

Pierre wants a detailed report that can be presented to the press.

“I don’t manage the canal’s money, but this reporting issue is a torment for me who speaks on behalf of the committee,” she declared. « Sometimes, I’ve even thought of resigning.”

Contacted by AyiboPost, the Treasury Commission said it had made efforts to make the traceability of transactions effective.

This did not prevent a member of the said commission from highlighting technical errors such as unrecorded expenses and sometimes the entry of a transaction several times.

Some members of the committee are using the initiative to build political capital, according to several sources familiar with these maneuvers.

According to the document entitled “summary of expenses,” on Oct. 11, 2023, the committee spokesperson, Wideline Pierre, had obtained the disbursement of 150,000 gourdes for 30 journalists covering the construction of the canal for their media.

Ethics prohibit a journalist from accepting money from the sources and subjects of his work. But Pierre maintains that it was a decision adopted by the entire committee.

I don’t manage the canal’s money, but this reporting issue is a torment for me, speaking on behalf of the committee. At times, I’ve even thought of resigning.

Wideline Pierre

Between the months of October and November 2023, around fifteen journalists whose names are clearly mentioned in the list of expenses received 5,000 gourdes in “gratification” from the committee. It is unclear whether these payments continue today.

Several sources of fundraising exist.

More than 100 deposits were made totaling a sum of US$143,362.35 into the committee’s bank account at UNIBANK, according to one of the documents obtained by AyiboPost.

Around thirty deposits are recorded on the account in gourdes at UNIBANK totaling 7,439,987.06 gourdes.

Donations in kind are estimated at around fifteen million gourdes, according to the accounting made by those responsible for HtiPay.

According to Michèle Adrien –the head of HtiPay, Florvil–did not want to share specific data concerning the amounts collected on the online platform.

For his part, Haveson Florvil told AyiboPost that the committee as a whole never showed a real desire to produce a detailed report.

“The HtiPay team will force the committee members to make the report public. We can block their access and all transactions on the platform,” threatens Florvil.

It should be noted that the relationship between the money collection platform and the construction of the canal has evolved over time.

At the beginning, HtiPay joined in a spirit of solidarity, making its computer system available free of charge for the canal construction project.

However, starting Jan. 1, HtiPay began charging fees on each transaction and required an amount for each service requested by the committee, confirms Haveson Florvil.

The committee as a whole has never shown any real desire to produce a detailed report.

Haveson Florvil

The committee has already paid 150,000 gourdes to HtiPay for an automatic report creation system, both parties confirm to AyiboPost.

Haveson Florvil submitted a first part of the report to the committee for the period of Sept. 1, 2023 to Jan. 15, 2024 and a second part for the Jan. 16, 2023 to March 31, 2024 period, notes AyiboPost.

Another report should be submitted for the period from April 1 to April 30, 2024, said Haveson Florvil.

According to Michèle Adrien, the report resulting from the HtiPay platform submitted by Haveson Florvil is riddled with errors.

“This report is not consistent with ours. It is not reliable and will be put aside. The treasury is working to finalize its report in order to present it to the public shortly,” maintains Adrien.

Some committee members do not want full details of spending revealed in the public report, according to interviews conducted by AyiboPost.

This report is not consistent with ours. It is not reliable. It will be put aside. The treasury is working to finalize its report in order to present it to the public shortly.

This question, as well as a trip by the spokesperson, Wideline Pierre, to France last January to participate in meetings with the Haitian community, is creating tensions, according to other members of the committee.

Upon her return to the country, Wideline Pierre did not want to present to the committee a report of her visit to France, arguing that it was “a personal trip,” informs an AyiboPost source at the committee level. This version of events is confirmed by Pierre.

The Cold War continues. From February to present day, Wideline Pierre no longer participates in committee meetings, informs Guillaume Josaphat.

Wideline Pierre mentions the relocation of the meeting venue to Ferrier as the reason for her absence because she is worried about her safety.

At the same time, a rivalry for the political fallout from the construction of the canal exists between spokesperson Wideline Pierre and coordinator Moïse Joseph, according to several testimonies and the admission of one of those concerned.

Read also: Haitian Peasants, Drivers, and the Displaced Share Views on Presidential Council 

While awaiting a final decision on whether or not to release a detailed report of the committee’s expenses, several structures and personalities continue to collect funds for the construction of the canal. Normally, they should be accountable to the public. But there is no indication whether they will do so.

By Rolph Louis-Jeune

Editor’s note: According to line 939 of the « summary of expenses, » a sum of 1,500 US dollars was paid to a certain Pierre Wilfrid. The descriptive line mentions « 1500 dol. US/committee by Berthrude Albert US. » Albert from the organization P4H contacted AyiboPost after publication to explain that the sum was given to the committee by a pastor as part of a Christmas party organized by P4H. According to Albert, Wilfrid is not part of P4H. Two committee members contacted after publication did not provide details on how the money was used. Line 951 mentions a « donation from (P4H) to BSAP agents 700 US dollars. » According to Albert, this money was transferred directly to the BSAP by P4H. It is not clear why the committee included it in its own summary of expenses. 18.37 7.5.2024

Cover image: Many people visiting the construction site of the canal along the Massacres River in Ouanaminthe in Sept. 2023. | © Pierre Michel Jean/AyiboPost

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Louis-Jeune est journaliste à AyiboPost depuis avril 2023. Il a fait des études en philosophie et en science politique à l'Université d'État d'Haïti.