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Saturday, May 8, 2010

A tall order for the next president of Haiti

By Jean Herve Charles:

The president of Haiti, Rene Preval, according to the Haitian Constitution in its articles, 134.3 and 149, cannot seek another mandate nor can he prolong his tenure beyond February 7, 2011. He has sent legislation to the Haitian Congress seeking a prolongation of his term until May 4, 2011. Such steps in the past have caused the demise of two Haitian presidents, Dumarsais Estime in 1950 and Paul Eugene Magloire in 1956.

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 next president of Haiti will have a tall order on his or her shoulder; he will have to combine the vision of John Marshall and Winston Churchill after the Second War in shaping the reconstruction of Europe for the rebuilding of the country; the magnanimity of Abraham Lincoln in preserving the Union while going to war against the rebelling South; the gallantry of Nelson Mandela in embracing his white jailers after his decade of imprisonment and he will need also the bravura of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in redeeming the United States to make good on its promise of one nation under God.

He will have first to delve into the state of the state of Haiti, the reasons why it is in a situation where, when you apply even the minimum standard of welfare and modernity, Haiti fell short in hospitality to its citizens before the earthquake of January 12, 2010.

The brand name Haiti is forever associated with the concept of a nation that defies the world order to dismantle the practice of slavery as it was implemented all over the Western Hemisphere. The gallant Haiti of 1804 is also the infamous Haiti of 1806 that assassinated its liberator, Jean Jacques Dessalines, and eradicated its name from the national frontispiece for the next one hundred years.

Henry Christophe, the second in command, tried but failed to inculcate the concept of nation building into the entire country. Supported by the French secret diplomacy, Alexander Petion succeeded in taking away the full command of the entire territory from Christophe. He succeeded also in imprinting the Haitian cultural ethos that we have today, Papa Petion and his subsequent successors is alright as long as he has a legacy that counts a lyceum in Port au Prince, Lycee Petion, and a city named after him, Petionville.

The citizens of Haiti have come to the reality of expecting little from their government and their government has assumed the obligation of providing not even the minimum standard of services to its citizens. Imagine, out of the 565 rural hamlets in Haiti, not five, not three, not a single one is equipped with electricity, potable water, decent roads, affordable habitat, incubation of business and entrepreneurship.

This Haiti, ruled by mulattoes and few illiterate black presidents during the first one hundred fifty years of its life as a nation, has caused an occupation by the Americans in 1915 and underdevelopment in every aspect of the national life. The indices in health, education, infrastructure and welfare were below standard in the entire republic.

Around that time, Jean Price Mars, a towering figure, a Martin Luther King, a Nelson Mandela ahead of the time, came with a message and a promise of redemption. He failed, though, to create a school and a movement that would carry the concept that we are all Haitians, as such beautiful and proud, deserving respect from each other, and services from a government for the people and by the people. By contrast, Lorimer Denis, Francois Duvalier and Dumarsais Estime, his students, succeeded in prostituting the concept of black is also beautiful into a doctrine of noirisme. It is now time for blacks only to get into the seat of power and influence.

Paul Eugene Magloire, the ideological neutral president, failed to realize the extent of the abyss of the Haitian social structure between people of the same nation, to bring about much needed correction. As such, his successors, Duvalier, Aristide and Preval, with their strict application of the noirisme doctrine have sunk Haiti into an abyss so deep that the world was taken by surprise on January 12, 2010, when the lead was raised into the open on the state of squalor so widespread in the entire country. In fact, the black presidents of the last fifty years have been as delinquent in their governance of Haiti as the mulatto presidents have been in their one hundred fifty years of government.

To solve the puzzle, the next president will have to shift into another paradigm of conceptual thinking to move Haiti into a sustained development mode. If we expect each president only to build their own trophy city: Petionville, Magloireville, Estimeville, Augusteville, Prevalville, we may wait another one hundred years before Haiti is equipped with rudimentary structure of modernity.

To apprehend and solve the problem of Haiti, he must apply the Renan Doctrine of solidarity and welfare for all. Ernest Renan, albeit his racists remarks about blacks, has laid down the best known formula to create a nation that shall become harmonious and hospitable to all. His criteria called for the full control of one’s border with one’s own army to do so. He called for the love and the admiration of the founding fathers through civic education into the mores and the ethos of the nation; last but not least, the obligation to leave no one behind, alien or not, minorities as well as the majority to create a nation harmonious for all.

The next president of Haiti will have to go beyond the politics of slogan to institute true affirmative action programs in the form of incubating small business enterprises to fill the deep divide between the different social classes in the country.

He will need to call on investors – national and international -- to form a public- private partnership to build roads, airports, ports and power plants. He will have the task of decentralizing the institutions to make them hospitable to all citizens, while rooting out the virus of corruption. He will need also to effectuate a better coordination of the mission and the tasks of the many nonprofit organizations – ONG -- established in the country.

The new government will need to go back to the drawing board to stop the implementation of the tent cities. No nation ever developed under a tent city. The internal refugees shall be encouraged to return to their ancestral homes with funding, and institutional resources to root them in the new setting. The Republic of Haiti has 140 small towns, 565 rural hamlets and 10 major cities beyond the capital that would welcome the refugees with open arms with a minimum of national funding. In fact, the amount of money wasted in temporary tent cities would have already put Haiti onto the road of reconstruction if this ill advised policy had not been implemented.

Last but not least, he will need to build artist’s villages to rekindle the creativity of the critical mass of Haitian artists. The next president shall also try to make Haitian people smile and laugh again while they tell stories and jokes with the wit that is the hallmark of the Haitian ethos.

Haiti in 2011 will have to lead an epic battle, not with bullets but with ballots to recreate or perfect 1804. In 1807, it made a left turn from the founding fathers’ doctrine and dream of creating a Haiti and a world that would be full of opportunity for all, instead of a dog eat dog principle, with the crumbs going to the perceived meek and the lowly.

The United States, with the advocacy of Dr Martin Luther King and the leadership of Lyndon Johnson, has embarked on the road of a more perfect society. It is a work in progress; it has already produced the first black family in the White House, the Obama family.

Recently, some countries in Asia, Singapore and Malaysia, in particular, have understood the strength of the Renan doctrine. Their government has sought to apply the principle in their governance practice. Malay, Indians and other ethnic groups have learned to live and coexist with each other for the glory and the wealth of the nation.

In the Caribbean, Haiti occupies the last place in development with Guyana because of their governance discriminatory practice. The Indo Guyanese have their own political party, the PPP, and the black Guyanese have also their own, the PNP. The Indo-Guyanese, in the majority, that occupy the seat of power, pay a lip service to the black Guyanese, pauperizing the country for both.

There is a movement now in Trinidad to export that movement onto the political canvas with the Unity Party organized by the Indo-Trini citizens. I am predicting it will not succeed; Patrick Manning will win the May election on the strength of the tradition of multi cultural harmony in Trinidad between most of the ethnic groups.

The new Haitian government will have to engage the Diaspora and the true of friends of Haiti all over the world to create the space of hospitality for the majority of Haitians. We have seen not only on TV but with our own eyes how there was no respect for the living nor for the dead. Pretending, as some counterparts in the international community want us to accept the status quo as the guiding light to continue a legacy and shape the future of Haiti, can only lead into a Goudou-goudou or a Poseidon much stronger and much destructive than the one on January 12, 2010.

Haitians will have to deliver, albeit with their ballots, the blow the Haitian founding fathers delivered to the troops of Napoleon in November 1803 to create a country hospitable to all.

I have laid down the hospitable doctrine in several articles (the Haitian solution part II) in One should visit the site in the commentaries section.

To conclude, Haiti and its new government should reflect and ponder on this message:

I have been without sleep, and I have fought, sometimes alone
And if I have been fortunate enough to transmit into your hands
The sacred legacy that you have trusted with me
Remember it is now into your hands to cherish and maintain that
Sacred Nation.

Jean Jacques Dessalines
Message to the Nation
On January 1, 1804

May 8, 2010