The world has just finished watching the rescue operation that was going on in Chile all day yesterday; I am sure Preval too has, for it was being broadcasted around the globe minute by minute and action by action.
The 33 Chilean miners had been trapped under the ground for over 2 months, precisely since August 05. The Chilean government, led by President Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echenique, ought to be praised for the sophisticated operation they put together to bring these men to safety. Mind you, this government has been in power for only seven months, and the country has just got through an 8.8-magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale, releasing an energy range between 500 and 900 times that of the magnitude 7.0 quake that hit Haiti on January the 12th.
By most people’s accounts, the government’s response to the tragedy was excellent. I bet the 33 miners are right about now thanking their God or gods for not being in a country like Haiti. Otherwise, they would have been left under the ground to die. If the authorities in that country were irresponsible like Preval, the president of Haiti, the miners would have had to “naje pou yo soti,” meaning they would have had to dig their way out.
Preval’s “naje pou w soti” philosophy could have not been any more evident than it has during and after the earthquake. While the people were dying and confused about which direction to go and whom to turn to, he was nowhere to be found -not even the foreign journalists dispatched on the ground minutes after the quake could find him. He went AWOL “Absent without leave” on the people.
All day yesterday, President Piñera of Chile and his staff were on the scene overseeing the operation to make sure that everything went as planned and expected. That played very well in the psychology of the rescue workers who were there doing their very best to bring the 33 men to safety. Yet, when the earthquake hit Haiti, it took our president days, if not weeks, to come out of the hole he was hiding in to show his selfishness, to make a statement only to complain about his palace and his house being destroyed. His selfish attitude could easily be translated in these terms: “the hell with the people; my palace and my house collapsed.”
The people of Haiti did not ask Preval to go out there and physically remove them from under the rubbles. They only expected him to command and lead in time of war, disaster and distress. As a leader of a country, that’s what is required of you in situations like these. You have to be able to instill confidence in the people and make them believe that better days are ahead. And when you go AWOL into hiding and fail to do so, you’ve got to be held accountable.
Preval’s irresponsibility and failure to respond caused more people to lose their lives in the aftermath of the disaster. Some lives could probably have been saved had he used his office to command and lead in an expeditious manner. He has people’s blood in his hands. In the United States military, the institution I spent six years of my life in, that man would have been court marshaled and jailed for having failed to fulfill his duty expectedly and, because of that, loss of lives occurred. It is time that we hold our leaders accountable.
Accountability is the essence of good governance. We need to make an example out of that man. We don’t need to do anything more than what the Constitution of the land prescribes. We’ve got to organize the people to ask that the government’s response to the crisis be investigated. Preval needs to answer some very pertinent questions so we will know what went wrong and what needs to be done to not repeat the same stupid and silly mistakes in the future. We need to know why he, the president of the country, was so irresponsive for weeks while the people were desperately waiting on him to come through to provide them with guidance and reassurance in the middle of the disaster.
Now, what Preval’s fate should be is not for me to tell. But I am sure the law of the land has something for him. Therefore, he must be given what he deserves for the acts of failure he displayed.