I remain a fervent optimist when it comes to Haiti. I honestly believe that one day, sooner rather than later, many of Haiti’s trouble will be a thing of the past, but the realist in me won’t let me be too naïve in my optimism of a better future for my country.
For more than two decades, we, the Haitian people, have been forced-fed a pseudo-democracy; One, which is not locally funded enough to be real, and which is not built on a sound foundation to stand alone. The major problem with this pseudo-democracy in Haiti is the lack of what we could call cohesive participation, whereby the majority of us would not simply follow what we are told is good for us, but rather we would seek and make a reality of what is good for us. It should be done cohesively, whereas everyone accepts to play their part.
It is a process where community triumphs over individuality, where nation is bigger than individual, where the rule of laws is supreme and respected by all, regardless of social, economical or educational status. We need to cohesively and simultaneously participate in the building of this new nation.
How do any of us explain the electoral procedure that just ended with the acclamation of Michel J. Martelly as the next president of the country? No, I am not talking about his lack of experience or the songs he used to sing, but rather, I am referring to the lack of substances that were presented throughout the campaign, and the obvious absence of the majority of the electorate. Both, the first and second round of the elections had low voters turn-out. So, how exactly do we explain this democracy? Can we have democracy without the people’s participation?
For a country that has been torn apart from decades of bad governance, and which was rendered worst after the colossal destruction by the earthquake of January 12th, 2010, we must ask ourselves what roles are we, the people, playing in the further destabilization and destruction of our country.
I, at some point, believed that fair and inclusive elections could bring better days to Haiti. Unfortunately, we did not have either. I was always skeptical about Haiti holding elections before our representatives could execute a plan to get people permanent shelters in the wake of the earthquake, but our own lack of prioritizing have left us with limited alternative. Hence, an un-trusted and unconstitutional electoral institution was financed by the international community to stage a selection in Haiti, all in the name of democracy.
The point here is not to complain about who won or lost the selection, but rather it is to really put the emphasis on us, the children of Haiti. Why do we feel so impotent to take charge of our own country and national interests? On the surface, if we bought the ideas of this pseudo-democracy, we might start to believe that we are taking ownership of our affairs, but analytically speaking, we are just allowing ourselves to be used in a process that we have no control over.
These past elections were organized, financed and decided, not by Haitians but by Haiti’s donors, intruders, and bluntly its colonizers. It was framed in such a way that again with the naked eyes, we might think we were in control, but the end result was never in doubt. Yes, it looks like the people got the president and parliamentarians they wanted, but for the financiers of the elections, it’s never about the individual in front of the cameras, but all about those institutions we only know by acronyms.
It remains possible that those who got selected might become rebels and try to follow up on their extravaganza promises, but if history is any guide, we should know what could happen next. There exist other possibilities, whereas the new government can decide to play nice with the financiers, let them get their ways, and for once remains focus on elevating the living conditions of those at the very bottom, by investing in a structural system that will allow people to have access to the basics of life such as potable water, affordable housing and nutrition, jobs that pays livable wages, education, and so forth. But all of these are not in the game plan of those neo-colonizers, who are quick to invest in Haiti’s status quo system.
We are being sold on a scam, whereby modern tactics are being used, and without any resistance we are agreeing to buy it. Democracy by its very basic definition is the power of the people, which is to say the people get to dictate the rules of the game, but in Haiti, it is clear that the people are being told what to do, just as when to vote, whom to vote for, what projects to accept and so forth.
On the day of the second round results, I was inside of the Conseil Electoral Provisoire, where the results were being read, and soon after Michel Martelly was proclaimed victorious with more than 67% of the votes, members of the media inside the room started to cheer. By the time, I got outside of the building; people were already out, chanting, dancing and waving pink flags, the official color of Martelly’s campaign, claiming that they have won. In the midst of all the festivities, I gathered myself and asked, were we, the people, really victorious?
History will be the judge. Obviously, it seems that the people already forgot how high their hopes were in 1990 after elected Jean Bertrand Aristide. At that time, I was a young boy, and back then, I too believed, we the people have won, only to have that hope uprooted a short seven months later. Jean Bertrand Aristide, the populist, as he later became known, never stood a chance to get anything done for the very people that Martelly now promised to save and deliver from centuries of misery and agony.
The faces might have changed, but the teams are the same, and the game plan has not altered. The Haitian people are expecting a spontaneous change to occur without them having to do any of the heavy lifting. We buy into electing people who can make grandiose promises, by using other people’s money. Since 1990, we, the people seem to have gotten our presidential preferences each time we went out and voted—and yet for more than 20 years Haiti has seen a regression like never before. Isn’t it time we asked ourselves, what are we buying? Are we really electing people who can get our job done, or are we simply playing a character in a scripted movie?
The scam is well-coordinated. The process in Haiti can be likened to a thrown basketball game, where throughout the game fans of both teams have their moments to cheer, only they are not aware that the players have already agreed to throw the game. The winner was already chosen, even before the game started, but the fans not knowing are emotionally involved in every second of the game. This is what has been happening in Haiti, at least since 1915. We get excited after each election, only to later realize we have been scammed. Francois Duvalier was the result of an election, so was Jean Bertrand Aristide, and Rene Preval. Each of these men has a lot to do with the deterioration of the nation over the last fifty years.
It was never about coup d’etat, dictators, leftists, puschists, populists or even the Haitian people, the name of the game has always been how best to keep this nation under tight grip, while not allowing its people to again rebel against its oppressors or taste the fruit of knowledge, for the day they taste it, their eyes will open and realize with their potential they can be self-sustained and build a society according to their norm. That might even challenge the theory of natural selection, made famous by Charles Darwin.
Antenor Firmin might have argued against the theory of an inferior race, but the events leading to 1804 have remained a mystery in the annals of those who still believe in the superiority of a race, nation, or people, for that Haiti and its people has remained part of an experiment to find the clues to the hypothesis of the superiority of a few over the many. As Malcolm X would say, by any means necessary; those who want to prove the inferiority of a people, a race, and even a tiny island will continue to do whatever it takes to sell this pseudo-democracy by creating the illusion of being a savior and good neighbor to an orphan child.
As a citizen of that nation, I am betting on hope that change is indeed in the air; that this time we might find the strength within us to not simply overcome a staged result, but to transform the way the game is played. We did it once before, so it’s more than possible that we could do it again. Democracy is indeed the best form of government, but we will get there on our term, by our rules. The way forward and for change to flourish is not to always rely on some foreign financiers to come and bail us out, but instead for us to participate together and form a cohesive bond that nothing can break.
Scamming us through a pseudo-democracy can only bring an ephemeral change; sustainable change will come when the people’s eyes are focus, not on false promises, but on a cohesive belief that the sum is always greater than the unit.