I DISAGREE WITH MARTELLY’S SOCIALIST VIEWS

I am glad I spent time to carefully listen to this clip of Mr. Martelly. At the very end of it, he unveils his plan to reform our agricultural practices or means of production. His plan is pure socialistic, which we don’t need for Haiti.

I am for the state to subvention or give incentives to the farmers to help them to cultivate the lands -just like we do here in the United States. I wholeheartedly disagree with him, however, when he wants the state to run agro-credit institutions to lend the farmers money to cultivate their lands. We don’t need that. Keep the state out of the credit market. Let the private sector compete for better rates to the farmers. When it is like that, you create a competitive marketplace where the farmers can go around and shop for the institution that could give them the best deal.  

I also disagree with him in that he wants the state to buy the farmers’ harvests from them in an attempt to control prices on the national market. So if he does that, how could he expect the farmers to compete for better quality products and better prices for those products then? You cannot have players competing against each other in the sector of government. Basically he wants to do (to us) the same thing we allowed the American farmers to do to us. I say let the competition in the market dictate how prices should be fixed and controlled. In other words, let the market control itself. We don’t need the state to be like a godfather controlling the market.

Also, he talks about creating jobs in the peasantry sector, which I disagree with. Government is not in the business of creating jobs. The job of government is, rather, to enact economic policies that would encourage job creation by the private sector.  

As I said many times before, in Haiti, the biggest competitor is the state, causing a problem for the private sector to compete for greater performance and returns on their investments. The market tends to be stalled when the state gets to compete against the private sector. If anything, we need to encourage a competitive market environment, not discouraging it. That’s what capitalism teaches us. We don’t need a socialist economy in the likes of Mr. Martelly’s proposal. It is not good for business, and certainly not good for the economy.

AXAN ABELLARD: JUST MY TWO CENTS

Presidential candidate Axan Abellard of KNDA

First, let me thank you, sir, for having left this video interview on my page on Facebook. At least, it gives me an idea as to where you stand on some of the key issues. You make sense in most of the things you said, but you left me a little perplexed for having not said a word with respect to the integration of the Diaspora in the development of the country and the reform of our system of justice. I understand the time allocated for this video interview may have not been a lot, but I think you missed a golden opportunity. How could you not be addressing these issues?

You talked about a program of job creation, and I think that is great. But how can you possibly think of any developmental plan without reaching out to the Diaspora, especially when we contribute over $2 Billion dollars a year to the country’s economy? We in the Diaspora have our own issues too, sir. We are tired of being economic contributors with no representation. We need to have a say in the internal politics of the country and have our own representation in Congress. And for all that to happen, the Haitian citizenship must be granted to us Haitians who happened to acquire the citizenship of our host countries.

In terms of the military, you are speaking my language -the return of the HAITIAN military to replace the MINUSTAH. I think that’s a must. You score some heavy points with that agenda item. To restore confidence in the foreign investors and the Haitian investors living in the DIASPORA, you have got to put the wave of insecurity under control. And so far, the UN troops currently occupying the country are not doing so. That was great to see you speaking in those terms.

You talked about a specialized intelligence agency to fight the corruptive practices in the public administration. I disagree wholeheartedly with you on that, sir. We don’t need another bureaucracy to fight corruption. We just have to enforce the law. By the way, don’t we have a Court Superieure des Comptes? It should be and it is the responsibility of that institution -to audit and investigate fraudulent practices in the public administration. Here in the US, we have an Inspector General (IG) inside almost every institution serving as watchdog to make sure things are being conducted according to the established internal rules, regulations and policies. So you don’t need another bureaucracy. We already have one. Let me tell you what we need. We need CAPITAL PUNISHMENT for these people. We need to be killing them. Once you prosecute and KILL five of them publicly, you will see if things will not be under control in a matter of weeks. I think you are a little too soft on this issue. I am for tough measures to fight corruption, especially in HAITI where it has become a CANCER. Well, again, I cannot blame you for your softness, for you are a politician running for office, meaning you have got to always be politically correct in your statements.

Well, though I disagree with your approach, unlike your rival Wilson Jeudy, at least you have a plan. That man plans on building a prison on the island of La gonave to jail the senators and other high government employees who are found guilty of stealing the people’s money. And the rationale behind that is that if the prison is destroyed and the prisoners are trying to escape, they will have the sharks in the sea waiting for them. That’s his plan to fight corruption. lol lol lol 😀 Excuse me, sir, if you see me laughing out so loud. This is the most ludicrous stuff I have ever heard in my life. lol lol lol lol lol 😀 I am sure you are now laughing too.

On the issue of taxation, I commend you for planning on working with our international friends to modernize our system at the General Bureau of Taxation (DGI) and train the staff there to make them more effective in their efforts to bring tax revenues into the country’s treasury. But I think it should be made a CRIME to not pay taxes in Haiti. Once we have the modernized system in place, we need to come up with laws to criminalize tax evasion. Then again, you cannot enforce something when you don’t have the system to do that. That would be foolish, would it not?

I see that you dodged the question on how to restore the authority of the state. You said: “Il faut moderniser l’etat” as though that is going to restore its authority. Yes, the computerization and modernization of our system is important, but I am not sure if it will restore the authority of the state.

I do agree with you on the necessity to strengthen the municipalities. The mayor in a city is the administrator, the president, the head of that city. If everything someone in the cities needs, it must be handled by somebody in Port-au-Prince, then what is the sense of having the local governments? Just have one central administration in Port-au-Prince and have everyone travel there for everything they want. Wait a minute!! Isn’t it the way it is now? What am I talking about? lol

Overall, it was a great interview. Many things you said I disagree with, but I do agree with you for the most part. Good luck, sir! You have a winning message. Just get out there and market it to see if the buyers will be interested in buying it.

P.S. Here are some issues –education, healthcare and agriculture -you slightly touched on but did not really get into details: 

  1. On the issue of public education, you only stated that 40% of our school age kids are not going to school. I would love to know what your plan is to remedy to this gruesome reality.
  2. Health care is a serious situation in Haiti. You mentioned that many pregnant women in labor in Haiti are being transported on the back of a horse to get to the nearest health care center, which, in many instances, is located tens of miles away. I am wondering what you have in your social agenda to fix this health care disparity issue.
  3. I did not hear you say anything about agriculture, a key component in our economy. Just let me know how important that is in your economic agenda. I hope it is somewhere to be found in your plan to reform our economy.

DEFORESTATION WON’T STOP KILLING HAITIANS

 
 

 

Aerial photo taken from above the border

 

Definition

 

Deforestation refers to the total logging and/or burning of forest space -whether this destruction is due to cattle ranching, plantation agriculture or real estate development. It is also the permanent conversion of forest cover to non-forest purposes. There is a big difference between deforestation and forest degradation. While forest degradation may change the ecology of certain forest aspects, it does not, however, destroy all forest cover, which is what deforestation does. So deforestation is much more serious than forest degradation.

Historical aspect of the Haitian deforestation

The majority of us Haitians are descendants of slaves brought from Africa in the 1600s by French colonizers, who then destroyed tens of thousands of acres of forest for the purpose of cultivating the sugar cane that placed Haiti in the lead of the world’s sugar producers. Hence, more forests were destroyed to fuel the sugar mills and be shipped to Europe to make furniture of mahogany and dyes or colorant from campeachy.

After the revolt of the slaves that culminated in the defeat of the Napoleon Army and gave birth to the nation of Haiti, the world’s first Black republic in 1804, great plantations were partitioned among the slaves. Under the inheritance law that governed the then French society, land is distributed among a man’s heirs. A demographic explosion of the Haitian society was going to compromise the applicability of that inheritance law. “One of the fastest growing populations in the world — Haitian women average five births each — has reduced the average holding to little more than a half acre. That is not enough to support a family of seven even in a good rainy season” (Braken, 2004).

The economics of deforestation in Haiti

Because the land could no longer satisfy the farmers’ daily obligations, they found themselves under intense economic pressures for income -simply to take care of their family. So unbearable such a reality has become for them, they had to chop trees to make and sell charcoal.

In a report filed in September 23, 2004 by Amy Braken of the Associated Press, who quoted Mr. Victor, an agronomist, the deforestation in Haiti has moved from bad to worse. According to that same report, from 1950 to 2004, the 25 percent of Haiti’s 10,700 square miles that was covered with forest has reduced to only 1.4 percent.

According to David Adams, a former USAID director in Haiti, over the past 20 years, the U.S. Agency for International Development has planted 60 million trees in Haiti, but the poor chop down 10 million to 20 million trees each year.

Consequences

The rapid destruction of forest cover has serious economic, ecological and ethical consequences on the lives of the Haitian people. Millions of people in Haiti as well as other poor countries around the globe face permanent poverty as a result of the deforestation reality. In a case study titled Deforestation in Haiti, such a devastating reality got Kristen Picariello to say, “If one were to fly over the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the border appears like it was drawn by an ‘acetylene torch’ owing to massive deforestation in Haiti.”

We cannot address the deforestation reality in Haiti without placing under the microscope the most recent tragedy of hurricane Janne. Dan Bjarnason, in an article entitled Deforestation in Haiti published in the CBC News Online of October 01, 2004, stated that Janne had a big toll on Haiti because the country’s natural defenses were extinct. He went further to say that Janne was yet to become “a full-blown hurricane when it hit Haiti. At that point, it was only a tropical storm. Still its impact was enormous.”

Comparing Haiti to its next door neighbor, the Dominican Republic, one can see a heartbreaking reality. The Dominican Republic is lush, green, and fertile. On the same island, neighboring Haiti is mostly mountainous and virtually denuded of trees. That’s the troubling difference that exists between the ecological profile of the two countries sharing the same island.

Haiti’s forests then were destroyed to fuel colonial sugar mills; now its people, impoverished by a thread of gangster governments, are left with no other alternative but to destroy what is left of their trees just to survive.

“There are simply no jobs in Haiti, and for many people, cutting down and selling trees is a form of income, which they would otherwise not have,” says Daniel Erikson of Inter-American Dialogue. “Then the other side of it is 70 to 80 percent of the Haitian people have no access to modern electricity, so they need wood-based charcoal to cook, to provide fuel for heat, for light.”

One does not need a Ph.D in environmental economics to understand the reason why tropical storms are a calamity in Haiti. Ken MacDonald of the University of Toronto did a tremendous job at explaining the situation in very basic terms. He said that when there are no trees to break and absorb the fall of raindrops in a storm, they (those raindrops) crushed into the ground like bullets.  Because the soil is not strong enough to sustain and absorb the water, not having any place to escape to, it accumulates over land in a very short period of time -a situation that gets even worse because of the slope that covers most of Haiti.

The politics behind the issue

After the floods of May of 2004 that killed hundreds of people and left thousands without a home, interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue said, “The root of the problem is that we have to go and reforest the hills and until we do that, every two, three, four years after some heavy rain, the same thing could happen again.” That is very true, but what did he do to solve the problem? Absolutely nothing!!! The problem with our politicians is that they are good talkers, not so good actors. What he said in 2004, we knew it then and still do today. He said we have to go on and reforest the hills, how is it going to get done? As the person in charge of the country then, that’s what he should have been talking about, not telling us something we already know.

It is not that we don’t have environmental laws to remedy to that chaotic reality of deforestation that the country is living at this present moment. According to that same gentleman Erickson quoted earlier, “Haiti actually has some environmental laws that are quite reasonable and quite good, but there’s absolutely no enforcement, and in most of the country, you have no functioning state whatsoever.”

Projecting toward the future

The future looks very gloomy for us in our battle against deforestation. It has been forecast that as the population mushrooms or swells in the next 20 years, twice as many people will be going after the fewer trees we have left. And Jean-Andre Victor, one of Haiti’s top ecologists, predicted that if nothing is done to take care of the deforestation problem, the situation will continue to deteriorate and other catastrophes are foreseeable. So inaction on the part of the government is not warranted; it is not going to efface the problem. If nothing gets done with a sense of urgency, the situation will get worse and more people’s lives will be exposed to greater and unthinkable natural calamities.

We need a comprehensive reforestation strategy which will take into consideration our geographical location, the people’s socioeconomic reality, the available and alternative sources of energy, the psycho-sociological aspect of the issue and all that. So this is a very complex issue whose scope must not be underestimated.

A comprehensive reforestation strategy will not come to light by spontaneous generation. We do need good and proactive leadership which only active and responsible politics can foster. That’s why it is imperative that we stop falling for political talkers. It is time to put in office political actors with a clear understanding of the people’s problems and a clear vision for the future to lead the country.

Any development plan for Haiti must incorporate the country’s ecological health. There can never be social and economic developments if this issue of deforestation is not properly addressed. This issue is so crucial that it is a make or break issue for any prospective development plan for Haiti. So, yes, deforestation is Haiti’s number one serial killer.

http://www.american.edu/TED/ice/haitidef.htm

http://www.waterconserve.info/shared/reader/welcome.aspx?Linkid=35159

Source: Copyright 2004, Associated Press

Date: September 23, 2004

Byline: AMY BRACKEN, Associated Press Writer

INDEPTH: HAITI

Deforestation in Haiti

CBC News Online | October 1, 2004

Reporter: Dan Bjarnason