By Jean Junior Celestin, Le Nouvelliste, July 14, 2023
The American Roman Catholic priest, well known in the humanitarian sector, told the Miami Herald newspaper that the gang leaders of Cité Soleil have indeed signed a document which, among other things, declares, "We promise our loving God to work hard to end violence and bring peace to all people."
Hagan, a 81-year-old Catholic priest, told the Miami Herald "they're not saying: we're going to stop shooting or we're going to stop doing this. But they are saying they are more for peace and forgiveness."
"People were at the dock at Cité Soleil 25. People were swimming and there was no shooting," Father Hagan said, describing "a great day." "People really seemed to be getting back to business. They looked so happy. They have some hope now."
Hagan, founder of the Hands Together charity, revealed that he had been in contact with the gang leaders for several weeks in an attempt to negotiate a deal. "He had them sign the document written on letterhead belonging to Hands Together. Written in English and Creole, the document puts God at the center and asks the leaders to make every effort to ensure the safety of all our children and elders."
Hagan said he knew of no other armed groups involved in the peace agreement. "He said he was able to rely on an agreement the leaders had made among themselves not to resort to violence between 6pm and 6am. He also believes that the gangs are tired and are seeing the consequences of their fighting," said the newspaper. "Not a day goes by that I don't meet them, and as far as I know, this little seed started with us," said the priest.
Tom Hagan is among many Roman Catholic priests and pastors who continue to work as humanitarians despite the deteriorating security climate in Cité Soleil, one of the poorest and most densely populated communes in Port-au-Prince.
Translated by CHIP editors
Posted July 16, 2023