Haitian President Michel J. Martelly

When President Martelly returns to the country from his week-long trip in the United States, he will have to address the nation to state his administration’s position on the contention between the executive and the legislative –generated by the arrest on Thursday afternoon of Deputy Arnel Belizaire at the Toussaint Louverture Airport in Port-au-Prince as he was entering the country from his trip in France.

This speech will be the most important and delicate one he will ever have to deliver since he got in the National Palace six months ago, for it will have the potential to make or break his presidency.

The situation in Haiti as we speak is like a bomb that is ticking and needs to be defused as soon as possible. That means time is of the essence; there is absolutely no time to waste. As he is going to try his best to defuse it, he will have to be extremely careful to not let the unexpected worst occur.

My advice to him is to not try to pass the blame on anyone. The only best way for him to appease the situation and send everyone home with a happy face is to take personal responsibility for what happened and admit it was a technical faux pas in the way the prosecutor, Mr. Felix Leger, went about to carry out the order that was explicitly given to him.

Not only does he need to give the reasons as to why what he intended doing did not work out as expected, he also needs to include the nature of the miscalculation. Otherwise, he will have a hard time to get himself out of it and put the situation behind him.

There is nothing more humble when a leader is strong enough to be honest with his people to admit his missteps; the people love that. This will make him come out as a strong man, a man of character willing to go down so his lieutenants could be safe from enemy fire. That is, indeed, what responsible and resolute leaders do when the though gets going.

All responsible leaders mess up at some point in time during their tenure in command. And when they do, they always take personal responsibility because the bulk always stops with them. Only the coward ones pass the blame on their subordinates. President Kennedy, for instance, took full personal responsibility in the wake of the Bay of Pigs disaster.

Less than three months after President Kennedy took office, in April of 1961, as the United States wakening from the embarrassing disaster at the Bay of Pigs, when CIA-backed Cuban exiles hit the beaches of their home country only to face defeat in their attempts to overthrow the Fidel Castro government in Cuba, Kennedy took full personal responsibility for the disaster. He did not try to blame it on anybody but himself. In his address to the nation, he eloquently said: “I am the responsible officer of the government.” The strategy paid off. He then got his highest approval rating of his presidency -83% in the Gallup Poll.

President Kennedy, then a newly elected president, per most historians’ accounts, made many mistakes in his handling of the Bay of Pigs invasion. But he learned very quickly from them to better himself for the job he was elected to do for the country.

Politics is a learning profession, meaning politicians learn how to respond to issues and adapt as they go.  There is no one silver bullet or blueprint as to how to avoid and solve all problems. Each issue is unique in its own genre.

So this is President Martelly’s crisis to deal with just like the Bay of Pigs disaster was President Kennedy’s embarrassment to deal with. Like President Kennedy, President Martelly has a lot of learning do. The way he will respond to this issue will tell a lot of his character. I can only hope he does the right thing, what all responsible leaders would do in his situation –taking personal responsibility and not trying to pass the blame on anyone. That is how trust and confidence that leadership will be better in the future is instilled.