By Jean H Charles
I flew to New York one day after the inauguration of Michel Martelly as the 56th president of the Republic of Haiti. I returned to the island nation one month after to gauge and taste the change on the street and in the spirit of the people. I have not seen any change yet. The president has been facing gridlock on all sides.
The former president Rene Preval on his last day in power may have orchestrated a constitutional subterfuge, sending to the national printing house an amended version of the constitution that was not approved by the parliament.
This malicious maneuver is creating all types of setback that the new president finally has rescinded the entire project of constitutional amendment. It took two weeks for him to do so.
The legislature with a small majority in the Preval camp therefore not on the side of the president is lingering, taking its time before engaging the dispositions to receive, hear and approve the program of government of the new prime minister, Gerard Rouzier. Some senators had even openly demanded bribes before sitting for the session. Martelly has firmly stated that he has a popular mandate to bring about change. He will not be bought.
His detractors, mainly those with a sour grape from the Myrlande Manigat camp, his former rival, are criticizing every utterance, every move with an intensity that freezes stupidity.
Item, Martelly has brought back the custom of a national holiday on Ascension Day. He is accused of mutilating the modern republican spirit of God versus State.
Item, Wilson Jeudy the mayor of Delmas, a suburb of Port au Prince, has taken responsibility to dislodge some earthquake refugees on a park leading to the airport. That camp is suspected of being a hotbed for bandits harassing the travelers at night. The full national and international public relations system, including the American legislative Black Caucus, has been engaged to condemn Michel Martelly for this assault on democracy. The mayor of Delmas is accusing a senator from the north, Moise Jean Charles, a fierce supporter of the former president, of being the instigator of the confusion for political reasons. The citizens of Delmas, victims of the hooliganism in that camp, are grateful and thankful to the mayor.
Item, Michel Martelly is also being accused of using sexual innuendos that cannot be printed in this essay to describe his satisfaction of the shape and form of a new school building he was dedicating. Education for all is his passion. Sexual innuendos included.
The Diaspora has its grief against the new president for demanding a tax of $1.50 per international transfer and 5 cents per minute on calls to Haiti. The contribution will augment a fund dedicated to making schooling free and universal in the entire country. Privilege comes with responsibility, legislation is on the way to provide the Diaspora with voice and vote.
The hurricane and the rainy season are already creating havoc in parts of the country. Some thirty citizens have lost their lives due to flooding. There is urgency in protecting lives and limb yet the debate amongst the protagonists of the president has been around comma and style.
Haiti, like a fine flower, is in danger of extinction due to environmental negligence and the pressure of the population, accumulated through sixty years of ill governance, forcing the people to concentrate in the main cities without a proper assessment of its environmental impact.
President Martelly, as the first pilot helping Haiti and its people to take off, must focus on the big picture as well as the small details. I have often said that a nation at its transition is like an airplane taking off. The pilot must use all the power at its disposal so the plane will reach its cruising altitude.
The old guard wants nothing but the crash of the airplane and the pilot, so it can, like the vultures, enjoy the carcass.
President Martelly’s budding passion for Haiti, the genuine love and generosity of his wife for the lowly, can only augur the success of his government in spite of the odds against him. Stay tuned for an update six months from now.
June 13, 2011