Being a nation with no previous democratic experience in our two centuries of existence, in terms of technicality, we Haitians are not doing too bad in our handling of our democracy. We have a lot of work to do, but we are on the right path.

Democracy is an ongoing process. Therefore, we must never stop growing, and we certainly must never stop strengthening our institutions if we want to enjoy the beauty of a strong democracy in Haiti.

The institution of democracy is not really a component of Haiti’s problems, since most Haitians favor a democratic Haiti embedded in these two basic principles: freedom of expression and freedom of choice. What we really need to do going forward is to civically educate the people on how to play the game of democracy with a winning state of mind. And the way you achieve that is by teaching them the rules of the game and how to apply them in their daily lives.

I am convinced that our problems are both political and economical. So fixing them requires of us all to be bold in our approaches.

By now, regardless our ideological differences, we all can agree on the fact that we have a vacuum of leadership in our country. In fact, you do not need to take my word for it. Just take a look at the way the aftermath of the earthquake has been managed. The so-called recovery plan they crafted along with the international community is an embarrassment.

Leadership and mediocrity/incompetence are mutually exclusive. It is impossible to get commonsense and proactive leadership out of dumbfoundedness, a trait which only incompetence and mediocrity nurture.

The solution to that aspect of the country’s problems is in the hands of the Haitian people, not those of the international community. We, the people of Haiti, need to break ties with mediocrity; it has proven time and time again to be the opposite force preventing us from progressing forward.

Solving the leadership problem will not happen overnight; it will take time. But we must keep in mind that we cannot be having the same failed politicians on the wheel leading the nation and expecting different results. Their failure has contributed to what Haiti has become today. So we need a new generation of leaders to emerge from the rubble of the disaster to send these “rat do kale” politicians occupying the country’s political landscape for over a quarter of a century to retirement. We need to retire their old, archaic and obsolete ways and replace them with the freshness of ideas emanating from a new class of leaders. We have no control over time, but we do have control over who we are going to choose to represent us and speak on our behalf.

On the economic front, in terms of economic wellbeing, Haiti was, prior to January the 12th, already a “failed” state. The earthquake did nothing but worsening the situation.

The country was the way it was mainly because of the financial or monetary conditions imposed upon it by the major international financial institutions -World Bank, IMF, etc. -dominated for the most part by the United States. If the US really cares and wants to help us to rebuild our nation, they need to start with addressing the evil manners the country has been dealt with by these international financial organizations. Otherwise, any effort to rebuild the country will be vainly undertaken.

In conclusion, we must not believe in the fallacy that the international community has our best interests. It would be foolish to have that in mind. They have their own agenda, which always conflicts with ours. The destiny of our nation lies in our hands. If the international community is really serious about building a strong partnership to help us rebuild our country, they need to be honest about it and stop playing games. In whatever capacity they want to help us, the approach must be systematic and comprehensive, meaning it must not be limited to the infrastructural aspect of the problem. It needs to go beyond that -it needs to touch on the way the country has been treated by the international financial organizations. Until they do that, any reconstruction effort will be a waste of time, money and resources.

REJOICING CHILEAN MINERS: Preval is not their president


Rejoicing chilean miner seconds after being brought to safety

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.

NINE MONTHS AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE: Haitians Are Still Waiting on Santa Claus

Regardless the countless openings made available to us by the peoples that welcome us as guests in their home countries, we in the Diaspora cannot be living in our misperceived comfort zone of Chinese food eating and Kool Aid drinking to think that Haiti can do without us. Somehow, we need to find our political voice and activism to get involved in the political, social and economic debates going on inside the country. We, not the international community, are the savior of Haiti. No one can love and care about the country we call ours more than we do.

After the earthquake of January the 12th which basically put the country on its knees, it is more pressing today than it has ever been to get united around one agenda so we could do for ourselves what we have been desperately waiting for decades on others to do for us. We cannot and will not accomplish anything if we do not put aside all the bickerings and wranglings that are keeping us apart, thus preventing us from coming together as one people to overcome the challenges and solve our problems.  

The unity movement we are propagating needs to have three legs –social, political and economic. We already have the economic upper hand. We have been contributing about 2 billion dollars a year to the country’s economy. This is no small contribution; it cannot and must not be overlooked.

In any country, the economic power is the engine that tilts the political balance in one way or the other. If you do not represent anything economically speaking, do not expect to weigh anything on the political scale. Your economic standing is the drive that determines your political strength to influence the politics of things. Now that we know we have the economic upper hand, how can we capitalize on it?

We need to create and develop liaison organizations and establish partnerships with the political powerhouses on the ground. Politics is all about cutting deals and making compromises to get what you opt for, which in the world of politics we call LOBBYING. This is a world where you do not get anything with nothing.

If we organize ourselves in a systematic way, playing the game of politics on the ground in Haiti to get, for instance, the dual citizenship bill introduced, voted on in both chambers of Congress, and signed into law by the president of the country will be a piece of cake.

That should not be a matter of political struggle, not when we are all Haitians who just happen to be living outside the country. We do not need to be subject to a citizenship test to prove that we are Haitian. Being Haitian is not just a matter of nationality; it is also a matter of heart. Your home is where your heart is. And for most of us, our hearts are in Haiti.  

Way before the earthquake, the country was severely hurting with a brain drain phenomenon –skilled people leaving the country and migrating to foreign lands. The situation has gotten amplified as a result of the disaster. Now very few people with skills are left inside the country, explaining the reason why we are relying on these NGOs to take care of the country’s business. As I’ve said many times, the economic brain (skills/savoir faire) and blood (money) of the country are in the Diaspora, not inside the country. So any politics of isolation of the Diaspora is doing nothing but further alienating the country.

We have enough manpower and expertise in our ranks to rebuild our earthquake-stricken and poverty-stricken nation. Quite frankly, I refuse being entertained with the idea that a foreign country or dignitary has the solution to our problems; I reject any proposal that wants to make believe that the international community is here to rescue the country from the abyss it finds itself today. Believing in such foolishness is to believe in Santa Claus. Nine months after the quake, we are still sitting on our butts allowing ourselves being played by an international community that does not really give a damn about us.

It is time that we open our nostrils and start smelling the coffee. If these guys were going to do for us, they would have done so long ago, especially when some of them were and are still in control of the leadership of the world. In fact, some of them have their prints in the economic and foreign policies that got us where we are in the first place.

It is up to us Haitians to do for ourselves what we want and how we want it done. The rescue of Haiti lies in the hands of the Haitian people. Bill Clinton, however compassionate and sympathetic he may be with respect to the Haitian cause and struggle, cannot do anything for Haiti if we Haitians do not come through to set the tone and tell him what we want and how we want it done.

Finally, we in the Diaspora have this date with history which we need to show up for. We cannot stand her up this time. We need to come together as one to build our nation physically and psychologically like the Jews did to give birth to their independent nation of Israel six decades ago. We –dark-skinned and light-skinned Haitians, peasants and professionals, rich and poor, young and not so young, men and women across all social, religious, economic and political spectrums –need to converge our efforts with our brothers and sisters on the mainland to realize a social and economic 1804. We can make it happen. This is the moment for our generation to write its chapters in Haitian history. We are no different than our forefathers who brought amazement with their heroic spirits to the minds of the skeptics with their political movement that culminated in the independence of our great nation. So let’s not let this date with history bypass us.