Last Thursday was the second anniversary of the January 12, 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of Haitians and tested the limit of human endurance. Despite the missteps and missed opportunities, Haiti is slowly recovering with help of true global citizens and the inner strength of its people, although its future as a stable and prosperous country is imperiled by the actions of the self-appointed nation-builders that descended upon it since that fateful day. In a twist of irony, these nation-builders, authenticated adepts of economic liberalism, have embraced central planning as a model for economic development in Haiti and expected it to work. Like the discredited Five-Year plan that was the norm in communist countries, the IHRC bureaucratic approach to development will come up short of its goals.
The IHRC (Interim Haiti Recovery Commission), it must be said has been an impediment to the reconstruction of Haiti. The brainchild of the nation-builders, it is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, a bureaucrat’s heaven and its supporters see it as indispensable to the reconstruction effort because of Haiti’s notorious record of mismanaging foreign aid. This rather half-baked argument is simplistic as it does not take into account the logic behind foreign aid, which usually benefits the donor-nation while locking the beneficiary into an induced-dependency state. Does it make sense for nation A, which earns a fortune exporting food products to nation B, to help the latter develop its agricultural sector and become self-sufficient in food production? The IHRC whose very existence depends on the largesse of nation A, for example, is promoting this fallacy and the gullible inhabitants of nation B are falling for it.
Since its creation on March 31st 2010 at an international donor’s conference in New York and approval by the Haitian Parliament on April 16th of that year, the IHRC has not only usurped the constitutional prerogatives of the Haitian government but also been responsible for the near-paralysis that best describes the situation in Haiti. Its emphasis on promoting the infallibility of the international community’s approach to solving Haiti’s complex issues and its funding projects that benefit a select group of Haitians and the legions of NGOs while ignoring the need to rebuild the symbols of the state (the destroyed presidential and legislative among others) is startling to say the least. The Haitian legislators were right in calling for a reassessment of the IHRC, as its failure to heed their plea to include more Haitians in its governing body is a testament of the paternalism and arrogant attitude of the international community toward Haiti.
Conspiracy theories aside, it is obvious that the IHRC’s main purpose is to further weaken the Haitian state, thus ensuring the continuity of the status quo in place since February 29, 2004. As luck would have it, the current Haitian government is helping the IHRC achieve its nefarious goals. Now the relevant question would be: can the Martelly government, with its misplaced priorities, be trusted with the reconstruction? 8 months into Martelly’s ascension to power, it is evident that the Kompa singer-turned-politician has yet to grasp the ramifications of his single-minded approach to governing. His admission of having made mistakes, though welcome, may not be enough to rally the skeptics unless he disavows his almost messianic drive to remobilize the Haitian army. Such change of direction should not be hard for Martelly as it does not require much reasoning. Presently, the country cannot afford the expenditures associated with having a standing army when 60% of its budget is financed by foreign donors.
Last week, Bill Clinton, the former US president and co-chairman of the IHRC, which is actually in a legal limbo because of the legislative branch’s decision not to authorize its continued existence, made it plain that the legislators may have no other choice but to renew the commission’s mandate. Far from being a subtle appeal for a compromise or empty words, the statement is a direct order to the legislators not to interfere with the work of the IHRC. In other words, the nations financing the reconstruction may reconsider their pledges unless the IHRC is authorized to continue its work which, thus far, has had no noticeable impact on those Haitians who were lead to believe that “help was on the way.”
For a functioning constituent-state to address the needs of its constituencies, it must, first and foremost, have administrative control over its internal affairs. That is presently not the case with Haiti under the Security Council-mandated military occupation (2004-?) and its factual administration by foreign-financed NGOs. To put it succinctly, the takeover of Haiti is proof of the temerity and arrogance of the international community. It is a naked form of colonialism and a mockery of the United Nations Charter, which binds the member-states to the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples. To make matters worse, the nation-builders and social engineers expect the Haitian people to be grateful to them for the unsolicited and defective experiment that has brought tears and suffering to millions.
Dependency is not synonymous with servitude. In spite of everything, the Haitian people are grateful to those who are genuinely interested in alleviating their suffering, but steadfastly resentful of the vested interests and arrogance of the self-appointed nation-builders. The IHRC unfortunately has yet to come to this realization. After all, the international community can always blame the victim.

Garry Pierre-Pierre

Garry Pierre-Pierre is a Pulitzer-prize winning, multimedia and entrepreneurial journalist. In 1999, he left the New York Times to launch the Haitian Times, a New York-based English-language publication serving the Haitian Diaspora. He is also the co-founder of the City University Graduate School of Journalism‘s Center for Community and Ethnic Media and a senior producer at CUNY TV.

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