Sunday March 20, 2011 is slated to go down as a turning point in Haitian history when Mrs. Mirlande Manigat, a former first lady and seasoned politician, faces Michel Martelly, a Konpa singer and political neophyte, in the runoff for the presidency of that country. Interestingly enough, the fate of the once proud little nation, beset by an array of
seemingly intractable economic, political and social ills, will be decided by the impoverished majority, the country’s least powerful constituency. Disenfranchised, humiliated and scorned for the last 207 years, the poor, who make up the bulk of the electorate, may well deliver the coup de grâce to the dying country by electing Michel Martelly aka Sweet Micky, the Manchurian candidate of the elite and a sociopath by any definitions. On the other hand, in the event Myrlande Manigat is elected, Haiti’s current situation, the result of unwarranted foreign interferences, noted indifference of the political class and rapacious instinct of the elite, is not expected to change either, hence the dilemma.
Though politicians are known for their ability to inspire their countrymen, few are men and women of unassailable convictions, a paradox that explains the public’s low regard for this elite group. As the needs of society remains in constant evolution, political expediency is a reality that does not necessarily take away a politician’s ability to ascent to greatness. Nevertheless, it provides the public with an invaluable insight into a politician’s character, which remains the primary indicator of his or her political philosophy or acumen. In Haiti, where the philosophical and political divide between those holding the lever of economic powers and the destitute majority is unbridgeable, the country’s politicians inevitably find themselves having to make unpalatable choices. This may be what is happening with Manigat whose latest pronouncement on the occupation force (MINUSTAH) leaves many wondering about her ability to negotiate its departure without embracing the irrational idea of restoring the dreaded Haitian Armed Forces (F.A.d’H).
Making matters worse, Manigat has to contend with the international community, a powerful constituency whose self-appointed role of savior of the nation is backed by 13000 U.N soldiers and the power to frustrate her ability to implement any program that runs contrary to its designs. That said, it did not surprise anyone that Manigat, the underdog in the March 20th presidential runoff in Haiti, is backtracking on her earlier position to bring an end to the military occupation (2004-?). Yet, the relevant question remains: Was her statement a subtle attempt at winning the backing of the international community, which tacitly supports her opponent, or a reaffirmation of the long-established approach by Haitian politicians to disregard the aspirations of the majority? Most importantly, does Manigat also believe, as is the case with her opponent, that the restoration of the F.A.d’H will bring peace and security in Haiti?
Any Haitian with an iota of reasoning, let alone the politically-savvy Manigat, knows full well that this nonsense is being propagated by the international community and the local collaborators. As a former first lady, she had a first hand experience with the predatory instinct of the defunct Haitian military when her husband, Lesly Manigat, was overthrown in a military coup led by Gen. Henri Namphy on June 201988, 4 months into his presidency. It is therefore inconceivable that she would even entertain that thought when the basic structure of the Haitian state has been obliterated by the January 12th, 2010 earthquake and everything needs to be rebuilt, while the country is practically bankrupt. Truth be told, Haiti cannot afford an institution that once consumed 40% of the national budget; acted as an insurance policy for the elite against legitimate popular demands and terrorized the citizenry into submission, while millions were deprived of the basic necessities to survive. Apparently, Manigat is treading a fine line on this politically and emotionally charged issue, as a significant portion of the electorate is sold on the idea of restoring the Haitian army amid the insecurity that has been a reality in Haiti for the last decade.
Neither Manigat nor Martelly has offered a detailed explanation as to how their grandiose programs of providing the population with housing and other social services that have been lacking during the preliminary phase of the reconstruction will be funded. That is understandable given that Haiti is bankrupt and the international community’s promised financial assistance is subject to political blackmail. Ricardo Seitenfus, former special representative of the Secretary General of the OAS (Organization of American States) said it best: “The United Nations mission in Haiti is to freeze the government and to transform Haitians in prisoners of their own island. More than ever, Haiti needs an emancipator and neither candidate fits that profile; thus its liberation from the oppressive clutch of the international community will not be forthcoming this March 20th 2011.
As they await an eventual liberation of their country, the Haitian people must now make do with the lesser of two evils. Though Manigat seems unwilling to address the culture of dependency that has turned Haiti into a Republic of 12000 NGO’s where the constitutional prerogatives of the state exist on paper only, she nonetheless understands the need to reassert the authority of the state, more so than her depraved opponent. While her election will not bring salvation, she remains the logical choice, among the two candidates, to lead the country during this troubled period.

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