Any doubt about Michel Martelly’s pseudo-populism, which propelled the singer-
turned-politician to the status of first citizen of Haiti on March 20th, has been dissipated
by his nomination of Bernard Gousse as his prime minister-designate. Gousse, a former
minister of justice in the Boniface-Latortue regime (2004-06), is the poster child for the
reactionaries (Groupe 184) which facilitated the invasion and occupation of Haiti on
February 29th, 2004. Like his fellow putschists, Gousse really believed he was doing the
Lord’s work and predictably carried out his assignment with religious fervor. As has
always been the case with Haitian politicians, the then-minister of justice and now prime
minister-designate never knew the limits of the authority invested in him. This set the
stage for his demise. His take-no-prisoners approach to solving “the Lavalas problem”
became a public-relations nightmare for his handlers and he was eventually sacked.
If confirmed by the opposition-controlled parliament, Bernard Gousse, who ought
to be nicknamed “former minister of injustice” for his unlawful persecutions of officials
of the deposed Lavalas government in 2004-05, will be presiding over a government of
inclusion (Michel Martelly’s bogus campaign promise). A strange logic that highlights
the president’s duplicitous approach to tackling Haiti’s perennial politic of exclusion
which, for two centuries, has prevented the country from moving forward. To avoid
a protracted battle that would harm Haiti and its people, the prime minister-designate
should thank the president for putting his trust in him and then withdraw his nomination.
Ironically Bernard Gousse is a man who should be prosecuted for the
extrajudicial killings and illegal imprisonments of Haitian citizens that took place during
his tenure as minister of justice (2004-05). I wonder what Navi Pillay, the United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights, who seems obsessed with prosecuting Jean
Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier for alleged crimes over a quarter of century old she claims
have no statute of limitations, thinks of Bernard Gousse. UN Watch, an organization that
monitors the United Nations and promotes Human Rights, was right when it accused Ms.
Pillay of turning a blind eye to most of the world’s worst abusers. It is expected that if
Ms. Pillay gets her way with prosecuting Duvalier, she would skip the crimes of Henry
Namphy, Prosper Avril, Raoul Cédras and Gérard Latortue and move on to Jean Bertrand
Aristide, the bogeyman for everything that is wrong with Haiti today.
This is political cynicism at its worst. Gousse, a legal scholar who could not
possibly give a lecture in jurisprudence to 12th graders because of his narrow-mindedness,
clearly does not have the administrative competency for the challenging post of prime
minister of the country. The Haitian legislators ought to remind the president that he
is not negotiating with concert promoters or nightclub owners but with duly elected
representatives of the people and that the very future of a dying country is at stake.
Considering the extent of the social, political and economic divide in Haiti, a person of
integrity that can assuage the fears of the competing constituencies is needed for the post.
At this juncture, Bernard Gousse is the wrong person for the prime ministership, because
the man only knows what he is against but clueless as to what he wants. If Gousse
were to become prime minister, his first order of business will be the compilation of a
dossier on Aristide, who escaped his dragnet in 2004 (courtesy of the invaders), for an
eventual prosecution on bogus charges like those he leveled at the former president’s top
lieutenants during his stint as minister of justice.
Taking into account the Daniel-Gérard Rouzier’s fiasco, one had expected Michel
Martelly to become politically savvy and avoid unnecessary blunders. Apparently that
assessment was premature because a seasoned politician would not have nominated such
a notorious and blood-soaked individual for the post of prime minister while claiming to
be working toward ending the “politic of exclusion.” Politic is like quantum physics: the
better you know the position of a politican, the less you know the momentum behind it,
and vice versa. While Martelly’s right-wing philosophy is well known to the public (he
was an active supporter of the 1991 military coup against the first democratically elected
president of Haiti and had once lambasted the poor as ugly and dirty), the reason behind
his nomination of the unsuitable Gousse is perplexing. He may be counting on a public
backlash against the opposition-controlled parliament, which would in the end allow him
to get his way, given the urgency for the country to have a functioning government.
The late British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill once said: “Democracy is
the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried.” That may
be true as Democracy remains the only political system with universal appeal. Its price,
however, is too high for any society that neither desires it nor is ready for it, which
happens to be the case with Haiti. Since the day when Democracy’s fruitful principles
benefit all Haitians remains well beyond the horizon, the country must now live with the
unintended and unpleasant consequences. Commenting on the defeat of his nomination in
a letter to the Haitian people, Daniel Gérard Rouzier magnanimously said: “Our Lower
House Representatives were duly elected to the Parliament by the people and, by voting
against my ratification as Prime Minister, they fulfilled the role that their conscience
imposed on them.” Obviously, the man says it all.
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