Monday, July 26, 2010

Haiti and the international community

By Jean H Charles:

There is a tug of war going on, right now between the nationals of the Republic of Haiti and a sector of the international community. The citizens of Haiti, the candidates to the presidential election, the political parties, the civil society, the churches (with the exception of the Voodoo imam) are all in unison refusing to go to the poll under the baton of the current president and the current electoral board.

Jean H Charles MSW, JD is Executive Director of AINDOH Inc a non profit organization dedicated to building a kinder and gentle Caribbean zone for all. He can be reached at: jeanhcharles@aol.comThe international community led by Edmond Mulet, the UN resident in Haiti, is pushing full speed ahead for the election to take place on November 28, 2010, under the direction of the discredited principals. Who is the toro (the bull) in Haiti? The people of Haiti or the international community? This determination will soon come to a final decision. The cost of the election as set by the board is around 27 million dollars. The Haitian government has earmarked only 7 million, expecting the additional 20 million to come from the international community.

What are the issues behind the tug of war?

The present Haitian government for the past ten years (in spite of the presence of international observers) has exhibited a pattern of deception, fraud, strong-hand maneuvers, abuse of the state purse for politicking, even commanding execution killings to lead the result of the election to suit its political ambition.

The devastating January 12 earthquake has brought about a paradigm shift in the mind and the determination of the people and the political class in Haiti to bring about significant change in the way business is conducted in the country. It is clear that, six months after the disaster, the Haitian government has not risen up to the task of leading the way for the reconstruction of a new Haiti.

As such there is a line on the sand. Akin to 1800 when the former slaves refused to go back to the slave plantations under the command of Napoleon and his deputy Bonaparte, the Haitian people in 2010 are united, ready to fight, not to return to the status quo of the past, the culture of disrespect for the majority of the people, the culture of corruption with arrogance. If history is a guide that helps to pierce the future, I am predicting the Haitian people will have the upper hand in this tug of war.

What are the stakes?

The stakes are high, Haiti’s name and future is on the radar of the international press. Some 1.5 million people are under tents that are being tested by the inclement weather. Half a million people may have perished with inhumation in the ground or under the rubble without proper identification. Internal migration in and out of the city of Port au Prince, not by choice but by necessity, is widespread. The emotional stress of some 4 million, nay their physical being has not been addressed.

Rene Preval and the international institutions with crocodile tears on their faces request an election for the sake of political stability. Indeed, moderate free and fair elections took place in Haiti during the last twenty years only during the political transition -- Trouillot -- Latortue -- that led to Aristide and Preval governments.

An international community ready to bring solace to the Haitian people would welcome an enlightened transition that would provide coordination for the recovery, leadership for the reconstruction and equity for a free and fair presidential election.

When the Preval government has demonstrated that it is unable and unwilling to provide elementary first aid to the refugees of the earthquake, compounding its task with a mammoth crucial presidential, legislative and local sheriffs’ election is foolish at best, aiding and abetting a criminal enterprise at worst.

Already the liberty of the press has been compromised. The threats, the menaces have become stronger. Even a well known Haitian American of the caliber of Wyclef Jean has been a target for elimination because of his position that paints the true picture on the ground. Dr Tunep Delpe, a well known political leader, was saved from assassination through the diligence of some alert citizens. Social and political blogs have been closed because of genteel but persistent threat against the blogger.

What is the alternative?

Legitimacy has been the concern of those seeking the umbrella of political stability. The present Interim Haiti Reconstruction Committee, created to manage the business of rebuilding the country, is running on a slow line. Rene Preval, the Haitian president, is at best lukewarm, at worst suspicious of the committee. He took months to name an executive director.

When he did it was his buddy instead of the best economic mind that the country has produced. (No offense to my buddy!) The French Ambassador to Haiti, Didier Le Bret, qualified the situation as “inexistent progress”. US lawmakers labeled the members of the Haitian government as “virtual incapacities”. Senator Richard Lugar of the US Senate characterized the Haitian president as “a self-destructive individual”. The ordinary citizen said the government is nowhere visible.

On the eve of the impending hurricane season, utmost care and attention should be focused on the at-risk population, numbered now at some three million people. The international community should have a hands-off attitude, when the Haitian people as a whole are putting in process a mechanism for denying legitimacy to the corrupt, inept and maybe criminal Haitian government.

It should have been the province of the court to make such a political decision. The Preval government has been so derelict in its duties and constitutional obligation that he has failed to name the Chief Judge for the past five years.

The Haitian Constitution has ample provision for a vacancy due to unexpected circumstances. The most senior judge of the Supreme Court shall run the executive office assisted by a prime minister of popular consensus.

I have already suggested names of individuals with high degree of competence, passion and equity ready to assist the international community and the Haitian people to help Haiti engage in the fast road of recovery for the welfare of the people, not the present bogged down politics of disaster profiteering mixed with arrogance and indifference towards those in distress.

Pierre D Sam with 20 years experience abroad with the FAO and twenty more years experience locally, with successive Haitian governments, as well as younger economic experts in food and environmental security such as Jean Erich Rene and Guichard Dore would fit jointly or individually the bill with elegance, expertise and competence.

A national strike was scheduled for this week, an atmospheric deformation filled with rain and hell is scheduled to hit Haiti hard this weekend. There has been demonstration on the street every day; time is of the essence to bring at least and at last well deserved solace to the resilient people of Haiti!

July 26, 2010