Port-au-Prince fest postponed due to gang violence
Published: Nov 23, 2021 06:38 PM
The Port-au-Prince international jazz festival, traditionally held in late January, has been postponed indefinitely due to gang violence that has plagued the Haitian capital for months on end, event organizers said Monday.

"We can't take the risk, either for the 150 musicians or for our teams or for the public," Milena Sandler, director of the Haiti Jazz foundation which organizes the festival, told AFP. 

"We have been thinking for a while now that it would be difficult, even morally, to stage a festive event in this context," said the head of the festival that brings together musicians from more than a dozen countries every year. 

Long confined to the poorer districts of the capital, criminal gangs have in recent months extended their reach and increased the number of kidnappings. 

Their sway over the capital regularly prevents secure access to oil terminals, and the resulting fuel shortages have severely disrupted the transport sector, as well as forcing hospitals, businesses and schools to drastically reduce their activities. 

In this chaotic context, the US and Canada have recommended that their citizens living in Haiti have an emergency plan to depart from the country. 

Although the postponement has cast a shadow over the festival, Sandler nevertheless remained hopeful that the "Papjazz" will take place sometime in 2022. 

"If the situation in the country does not allow for the usual format of concerts over eight days, we will still have something and it won't be virtual," she said. 

"If it must be for one day, it will be for one day," said Sandler, adding that the Haitian and international partners of the festival were considering a program for the end of June 2022. 

The only previous time the festival had been canceled was in 2010, when a massive earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince and several towns in Haiti on January 12, leaving more than 200,000 people dead. 

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