Port-au-Prince Jazz Fest postponed due to gang violence
The Port-au-Prince International Jazz Festival, traditionally held at the end of January, has been postponed indefinitely due to the gang violence that has plagued the Haitian capital for months, organizers of the event announced on Monday.
“We can not take any risk, neither for the 150 musicians nor for our teams nor for the public,” Milena Sandler, director of the Haiti Jazz Foundation, which organizes the festival, told AFP.
“We had thought for a while that it would be difficult, even morally, to organize a festive event in this context,” said the head of the festival, which brings together musicians from more than ten countries each year.
Long confined to the poorest districts of the capital, the gangs have in recent months extended their reach and increased kidnappings.
Their grip on the capital regularly prevents secure access to oil terminals, and the resulting fuel shortages have severely disrupted the transport sector and forced hospitals, businesses and schools to drastically reduce their activities.
In this chaotic context, the United States and Canada recommended to their citizens living in Haiti to have an emergency plan to leave the country.
Sandler nevertheless remained hopeful that the “Papjazz” will take place in the course of 2022.
“If the situation in the country does not allow the usual format of eight-day concerts, we will still have something and it will not be virtual,” she said.
“If it has to be for a day, it will be for a day,” Sandler said, adding that the festival’s Haitian and international partners are considering a program for the end of June.
The only time the festival was canceled was in 2010, when a severe earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince and several towns in Haiti on January 12, killing over 200,000 people.