Monday, June 27, 2011

Haiti has lost a nation-builder in Guito Toussaint

By Jean H Charles

On June 12, 2011, in the evening, with the moon shining on the elite of Haitian society, brought together on the plaza of the Police Academy to celebrate the 16th anniversary of the creation of the Haitian police department, the atmosphere was festive and congenial. It was the Haiti of old time, the innocent Haiti in its golden age under President Paul E Magloire. President Martelly, sharp and dapper as Magloire, was singing with Jacques Sauveur Jean, a famous artist for the pleasure of the assistance.

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 director of the police department, Mario Andresol, gave with brio a rendition of Charles Aznouvour. The speeches and the artistic part of the evening were at their end. As the buffet style banquet was beginning, two police inspectors seated at my table received a call: the president of Haiti’s National Bank of Credit was either kidnapped or killed at this very moment. They immediately left the festive party to be at the scene of the crime.

The party went on as scheduled but the mood was different. The dancing did not take place. A giant cake prepared for the occasion remained uncut and later mobbed by the service worker attendants.

I did not know Guito Toussaint but I knew something unusual was happening at the Haitian National Bank of Credit. It was transmuted into one of the most efficient banks in the nation. Guito Toussaint had succeeded in turning around a corrupt and decadent institution into the pride of the nation.

My personal encounter with the Haiti National Bank of Credit was not a pleasant one in the past. I had brought into Haiti an American investor ready and willing (a check on hand) to buy a bankrupt sugar mill in the north of Haiti called the Welsh Co., owned by the bank. As we were visiting the plant, a mob allegedly sent by associates of some of the directors of the bank was destroying the very same plant. Producing sugar in Haiti was against the interest of those who were using the bank’s money to import sugar from abroad.

When I visited the bank to urge the directors to save what could be saved from the pilfering of the economic assets of the plant, I was looked at as an intruder.

Guito Toussaint, recruited to lead the bank from its certain death, succeeded in bringing and keeping the confidence of a team dedicated to creating a national jewel for the benefit of the country.

Guito Toussaint hailed from the north of Haiti (the border town of Ouanaminthe) where it is still possible to find men of character not abused by the fifty plus years of ill governance, where corruption, greed and avarice have became the staple of the Haitian ethos.

He studied at the INAGUE – the Institute for International Affairs – the corresponding French ENA for Haiti where generations of young men and women are trained to become excellent public servants.

Along with a group of ten classmates who shared friendship, collegiality and the love for the motherland, Guito Toussaint was engaged in the business of nation building.

His last passion was Kay Pam (my own house) a product of the National Bank of Credit whose inauguration was planned on the very day of the funeral of the director of the Bank. In a land ravaged by the earthquake where housing is at a premium, Guito Toussaint has devised an instrument to provide a mortgage at a low rate of 8% to qualified subscribers.

He belongs in the class of those men and women who defy the interest groups that drag a country down, to create a nation that will become hospitable to all.

The outpouring of love and grief following Guito Toussaint’s assassination was an indication that Haiti is ready to get rid of its demons. Finding the criminal hands (wherever it may fall) who ordered and executed this death will be the signal that Haiti is entering in the domain of the rule of law, the precursor of growth and prosperity.

June 27, 2011