On Friday July 9th, I attended a presentation in Boston, Massachusetts by Guy Theodore, who is a potential candidate for the Haitian presidency in 2010. If first impression matters, in that regard, Guy Theodore and the organizing committee for that event left a very poor impression on me.
The event which was schedule to start at 6 PM, indeed did not start until after 7:20 PM. The master of ceremony did not even acknowledge the audience until 7 PM, and gave a lame excuse as to why they were so late. A few people in the audience were not too happy about the late start, but remained very polite to wait for Guy Theodore to start his presentation. Nonetheless, that was not the main reason I left the assembly unimpressed.
Guy Theodore, on paper is as qualified as anyone to become the next president. It is his constitutional right to exercise his civic duty. But, after listening to him giving a brief overview about why he thinks he would be the best choice for the position, I was left with more doubt than assurance.
For starter, Guy Theodore claimed to have served in the U.S Air Force as Colonel from 1977 to 1983. He went on to say that they wanted to promote him as General in Air Force, but refused because he did not want to renounce his Haitian citizenship. I even heard in a brief interview that he gave to a broadcaster in New York that he was given special clearance to join the Air Force as an officer because he was a surgeon. Somewhere along the line something does not add up.
I researched the laws governing the U.S Armed forces, and nowhere did I see that a person who is not a United States citizen could be received a commission. The law is explicitly clear that in order to become an officer in the U.S Armed Forces, one must be a U.S citizen. It is always possible for congress to make an exception, but Guy Theodore would have to be clearer on this story. For now, it does not sound like something I can believe.
Now onto Guy Theodore’s vision for Haiti. He claimed to have done so many great deeds in his native region of Pignon in the North of Haiti, and people close to him have attested to that fact. He built a hospital, many schools, set up micro credit for the women there, and he even said at the conference that he has paid full educational tuition from kindergarten to the university level for at least 22 people from the region. Those deeds are remarkable, and he definitely deserved our acknowledgement.
His vision for Haiti is the re-establishment of the Armed Forces, tackle the insecurity issue and the constitutional amendment on double nationality, and lastly promote development of the country. He talked about agriculture as one sector in which the government could invest more resources in order to put people to work. He did not elaborate in any specifics on any of those areas. He did not present us with a clear vision for education, how he will end poverty and hunger in Haiti, most discouraging of all, as a medical doctor, he did not even introduce to us any plan for public health.
I am not writing this piece to bash Dr. Guy Theodore, but if we are sincere about change, we can’t use the same old tactics, and the same old fashion politics. Haiti can no longer take a chance, and my first impression of Dr. Theodore is that he would like for us to take a chance with him because he has done some good in Pignon over the last 26 years. In my book, this is not enough.
We do not have the luxury of time. We can’t waste another election on hope that things will get better. Dr. Theodore is the leader of MODEL PRDH, a political party in Haiti, which has been very silent throughout all the turbulences of the recent past. How could we expect such political platform to bring change?
I was surprised to hear Dr. Theodore responded to a question about why it is now that he wants to be involved in Haitian politics, he answered that he was a Depute in 1988 and that he also funded some people under the table to overthrow the Duvalier regime back in the days. I think again, if we want change and if this man is really going to be all that he claimed, the people must know more details about him.
We need to stop electing people based on recommendations of a few. They must be scrutinized by the all sectors of the civil society and whatever they have to offer must be able to withstand the strongest of pessimistic views.
Sometimes, it saddened me when I see people who are good at something refusing to be great at it. There is nothing wrong in continuing to help poor communities. But the Haitian ego often defies that logic. The moment, one starts to do some good or speaks eloquently, often their Haitian friends would tell them that they should run for the Presidency. Sometimes, it would be best to concentrate on what we do best. There are so many ways to change Haiti without becoming the next President. It is a shame that time after time, we are seeing so many people with great potentials neglecting their strengths, only to enter the political scene unprepared.
At his age, if Guy Theodore was serious about becoming the next President, he would have had details planning on exactly what he would do to bring Haiti on the path of progress. Honestly, sitting in that room that Friday afternoon for more than one hour waiting on Mr. Theodore to present his brief overview made me realize that he is not yet ready, and I have to wonder if Haiti is ready to take a chance on him, just because he claimed to be a good guy. The first impression was not too impressive.