Common sense being uncommon under the best circumstances, Haiti’s political arena is certainly the last place in the universe to find it. Michel Martelly’s proposal to reconstitute the Haitian military, though not unexpected, is one more example of the lack of common sense that permeates this group. Though Haitian history is replete with power hungry military strongmen that took the country from one big hole to a bigger hole, these politicians are essentially taking it back to those eras. This fact notwithstanding, Haiti, at this juncture, simply cannot afford a non-productive institution that is likely to consume a large part of its budget. This political decision taken without any regard for the viability of the state and the welfare of its citizens will further exacerbate the situation. Hence, any Haitian that willfully helps bring this hare-brained scheme to fruition is guilty of “crimes against his people.”
Why in the world Haiti needs an army that will be called to oppress its citizenry and not protecting and defending the integrity of its territory against the foreign invasions that have periodically compromised its sovereignty? The inference could not be clearer, since the 19-page document specifically states that Haiti does not face any threat from other countries and pointedly claims “The fragility of the Haitian state makes it vulnerable to the risk of internal unrest that could plunge the country into anarchy.” Any student of Haitian history would agree that it was the now-defunct Haitian military that periodically plunged the country into anarchy not internal unrest, a historical fact that invalidates the rationale behind the proposal. One can assume that the proposed army will be equipped with cannon-firing pesticides to repel mosquitoes or bees invasions, which may be the only feat it will able to accomplish besides terrorizing the citizenry.
Unless the drafters of the document had gotten an iron-clad commitment from foreign entities that the country will not be invaded in the future, the notion that Haiti does not face any threat from contiguous countries is absentminded, if not bizarre. This is a country that has been ransomed by France under the threat of a military invasion in 1825; invaded and occupied by US forces (1915-34) and again invaded by US and French forces in 2004 and occupied by the UN (2004-?), excluding the periodic threats of military actions of the late 19th century. Moreover, in a world where even formal treaties do not guarantee anything because of unilateral actions by the great powers, the draft statement pertaining to Haiti not facing any threat from other countries is rather naïve or possibly conceived under duress.
Perhaps the document was simply handed over to Martelly for implementation, not debates, as was the case with Gérard Latortue in February of 2006 when he signed over jurisdictional control of the Haitian National Police to the MINUSTAH. The buffoon former prime minister (2004-06) later claimed not having read the contents of the document, because he did not have his spectacles on at the time of the signing. Bear in mind that foreign diplomats have discussed the document while the Haitian legislators, who might be called to vote on the proposal, were not even privy of its existence. More importantly, the man is forging ahead with his project with a cavalier attitude that indicates his intention to put Parliament and the nation before “a fait accompli”, because the affirmative tone of the document clearly portends a remobilization of the army through an executive order.
Apparently the title of one of Martelly’s hit songs “Sak pa kontan, ambaké” (whoever disagrees can take a hike) is a clear indication of his philosophical approach to governing. However, as a native son of Haiti, he is probably familiar with the saying “Lè ou soti pi ro, ou pran pi gro so” whose English translation would be “The higher you climb, the harder the fall.” From his choices of possible prime ministers to his advocacy of a prolonged MINUSTAH presence in Haiti, despite the public anger over the mission’s malevolence, the man probably has a Sword of Damocles hanging over his head. Perhaps he ought to consult with Guy Philippe, the rebel leader of the 2004 armed insurrection against the democratically elected government of Haiti, whose misdeed on behalf of the Haitian elite and the international community did not save him from an eventual indictment for drug smuggling. For the record, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is still investigating a possible connection between the Haitian president and a major contributor to his campaign, ostensibly a drug smuggler.
Someone has said “absolute power corrupts”, and that remains an absolute truth. I, however, take the liberty to add that it may also induce moronic bouts. The claim that re-creating the Haitian army would help create jobs and reduce unemployment among the youths; provide security against lawlessness, combat drug smuggling and terrorism, is one of those instances. Basically, creating specialized units within the Haitian National Police and beefing up its rank will not accomplish the goals enumerated in the document. May be not having an army was why Haiti became “a threat to international peace and security.”
Becoming the supreme commander of an institution he was denied to serve, for being morally unfit, probably means more to Michel Martelly than the presidency itself, or the man is merely a cornered individual doing the biding of powerful interests intend on holding him accountable at the slightest transgression.
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