This past week was very monumental and historic in the annals of Haitian politics. We have witnessed two events: The meetings of present and former Haitian presidents, and the approval of Garry Conille’s Government by the Haitian parliament. These two events were monumental and historic for the following reasons:
For many years, we have espoused a political culture that dictates the following: “if you do not agree with me, you must be my enemy and therefore I must get rid of you.” Former presidents often find themselves in exile because of disagreement with present presidents. Opposition members often find themselves in exiled, assassinated or in prison, simply because of political disagreements.
In some countries, political opponents exchange ideas and share pleasantries. They are seen as friends and colleagues. President Obama may disagree with House speaker John Boehner, but they hardly speak ill of each other. Socialist Senator Jean-Pierre Bel, the head of the French senate and President Sarkozy may disagree on the right course of action for France, but they hardly denigrate each other. However, in Haiti, until very recently, political opponents must be shunned.
As the voice of the opposition, I commend President Michel Martelly for his display of political courage, and political maturity. The meetings with Haiti’s former presidents such as Jean Bertrand Aristide, a former president ridiculed by citizen Martelly, and Jean Claude Duvalier and others was a departure from old political lexicon. For many years, I have preached and talked about political reconciliation and its effect in the political psyche of the Haitian people. The presidential meetings were not just meetings between present and former Haitian Presidents; they are signs of political maturity, a departure from the scotch- earth political theory that we Haitians have mastered so well. These meetings represent a new beginning in the Haitian political discourse. The fact that we may espouse different political views or are from different political parties should not negate the fact that we are all Haitians and we strive to leave a better Haiti for our children. While we may have different ways of resolving our problems, those ways should never get in the way of something greater – and that is we are all Haitians, and we must, despite our differences unite for the greater good of Haiti.
While I oppose some of President’s Martelly political views, I am not so cynical not to recognize a positive step toward the right direction. Unlike the old oppositions, my opposition is a constructive one. It is not the kind of opposition that seeks to denigrate, debased, disrespect, humiliate and embarrass the opponent. My opposition is fixated in what is best about Haitians. It is about what we believe to be in the greater good for the greatest number of our people. My approach to opposition is the promulgation and forging of issues meaningful to everyone such as: pure and portable water for everyone; the breaking down of the business monopoly; engaging in the building of infrastructure, agricultural, development and creation of jobs; security for and to all Haitians. Those are the issues that I am working on for the benefit of all Haitians. I am prepared to assist in the achievement of these worthy goals. You may be opposed to Martelly, but what we do together for our country has nothing to do with president Martelly. Mr. Martelly is a president like any other presidents who come and go, but what we do for our country shall have lasting effect. While I am an exiled, I continue to work very hard for the benefit of all Haitians. I may be physically in exile but my heart forever remains with my brothers and sisters in Haiti.
Unity of purpose contributed to our independence. We became the first black republic because of a common destiny, a common goal, and a common love for our country. Today, we are divided by class, by color, by greed, and by culture. We must believe that our destiny is tight together. Whether you are rich or poor, mulato or black, religious or voodooist, intellectual or proletariat, we shall rise and fall together. Our destiny as a nation is tied with what is the best about us – and that is the resiliency of a great nation.
I applaud Martelly for being the first Haitian president to achieve something that we often witness in countries such as the United States, Canada and France. I also applaud Aristide for agreeing to such a meeting. I must say that I was emotionally moved when I saw photographs of Martelly embracing Aristide. These photographs must not only represent a symbol of unity but a true unity based on mutual respect for political dissent, and understanding.
I thank the Haitian parliament including the presidents of both houses for approving the new government of Garry Conille. That was a show of great unity, and I do hope this was not political theater but true and concrete unity for the rebuilding of our country. The choice of Garry Conille was an excellent choice that would eventually push Haiti forward toward the right direction.
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