Haiti’s political pundits seem to have found a new hobby: psychologist pretender. How to explain this almost similar take anticipating President Michel Martelly’s reaction to Arnel Belizaire’s arrest at the Tousaint Louverture Airport late last month and the swift call a day after by Haiti’s bi-cameral legislative chambers for the resignation of some key numbers of the new government? All these analysts point to Martelly’s mood as a barometer for his response to this unnecessary crisis.
Would the imprudently impudent president be again loud and vulgar? Or would the president heed the advice of many to be respectful, serious and presidential? The president was unexpectedly serene upon his return last week while brazenly spewing the government’s habitual line: they have nothing to do with the arrest of the Tabarre/Delmas representative, which almost no one believes.
These political commentators got everything wrong. It’s surely not a matter of the president’s mood. Instead, what we need to discern is how this presidency seems intent to drag Haiti into what I call the fourth phase of Duvalierism – or Duvalierism 4.0 if you will. The first phase ended with Francois Duvalier’s death in 1971 while the second phase evaporated in 1986 as Jean Claude Duvalier fled to France. A wave of post-86 military governments marked the third phase.
With Michel Martelly helming this country we are on the cusp of despairingly entering the fourth phase bathed in its own nuances. Let’s see how Martelly would like to turn the political clock back to the pre-1986 bad old days.
We already know how this regime is stacked with the sons and daughters of Claude and Adrien Raymond, Edner Day, Serge Conille, and Pierre E. Gousse – not to mention Jean Claude Duvalier’s. These were ruthless or ideological members of the despised regime who spared no effort to prop up Duvalierism.
President Martelly, surprisingly, received rare praise over his meetings with some of the former heads of state or generals that have led and/or bled the country since 1986. Folks gushing over this masquerade can’t seem to see the true motive: a slick attempt by Martelly and his camp to bestow legitimacy on Jean Claude Duvalier – see Martelly’s use of Duvalier’s son as his advisor to fund the former president’s affluent lifestyle. These meetings have nothing to do with this so-called effort at reconciliation as Martelly suggested. It may mean the legal pursuit of Jean Claude Duvalier is all but over.
Second aspect: At Marchand Dessalines to commemorate the 205th anniversary of Emperor Jean Jacques Dessalines’ death President Michel Martelly promised – free of charge- more than ninety thousand bags of fertilizers to the peasants of the Artibonite Valley and beyond. President Martelly is trying to shore up his base among Haiti’s peasantry and in due time will throw some crumbs to the urban poor. You can’t prepare to install some type of dictatorship without some support among the population.
The third aspect is the release of the document titled “Politique de Defense et de Securite Nationales”. At a time when the poor are living in squalid conditions this government plans to return with the disbanded army and waste precious resources that could have gone to alleviate the living conditions of the people. It’s a tool at Martelly’s disposal to do as he pleases. More will be said about this document in another article.
We knew how Michel Martelly wanted the 48th Legislature to amend the constitution to include back to back presidential terms. That didn’t happen. Martelly may have another opportunity to demand the same when the 49th Legislature will take up this issue in about 4 years. Well, no matter Martelly’s intent, the people of Haiti are the only ones able to move the political needle. As I said above, the people of Haiti have tried dictatorship and they hated it. In fact, that’s not what they signed up for when less than a quarter of the electorate voted Martelly into power.
Remember Graham Greene, the British author who coined the term “comedian” to describe the bloodthirsty government of Francois Duvalier. It appears the 2011version is here among us seemingly intent to wreak havoc against us.
Martelly is playing with fire – at his own risk.
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