In light of the unlawful detention of Arnel Belizaire, a Haitian lawmaker, who is accused of being a prison escapee by the Haitian authorities, it is expected that tyranny, arbitrariness and unaccountability will not disappear under the current government, which has vowed to establish the “rule of law” in the perennially troubled country. Though the lawmaker has since been released, the ramifications of this politically absurd affair will be felt long after the story fades away from the public consciousness. Reacting to the slight, the Haitian Parliament is demanding the resignation of four government officials, including three cabinet members that it holds responsible for the aberration. The Haitian president, Michel Martelly, must act swiftly to defuse the situation by firing anyone involved in what was a grave violation of the constitutional order, even though he was, as most observers believe, the instigator.
Like the February 2001 farcical attempt by Gérard Gourgue to install himself as Haiti’s legitimate president following an election he which he did not bother to participate, this episode is irrefutable proof of the arrogance of a particular sector of Haitian society that considers itself the only rightful representative of the Haitian people. This group feels entitled to act unilaterally on behalf of Haiti and its people, regardless of the illegality or negative consequences of its actions. As you would expect, this narcissistic sense of righteousness and entitlement supersedes any logic that challenges the group’s confidence in its infallibility. Hence, despite the almost universal condemnation of the politically motivated and illegal detention of Arnel Belizaire, who is immune from prosecution while holding office as per the 1987 Constitution, one can expect more flagrant violations of the Constitution under this government.
This is the group that sees nothing wrong with facilitating the occupation of Haiti in the year of its bi-centennial (2004) instead of working with Jean Bertrand Aristide, a popularly elected president it despises and considers an existential threat to Haiti’s economic, political and social structure. This is the group that sees the genocidal rampage of the Boniface-Latortue regime (2004-06) as part of a process of purification of Haitian society that was necessary in the wake of the “diabolical and disorderly rule” of Jean Bertrand Aristide. It is also the same group that condones the unpleasant human rights violations by the MINUTAH-attached troops while decrying the primitiveness and brutish tendencies of the country’s majority which, according to its logic, makes the occupation of Haiti (2004-?) an absolute necessity. Lastly, this is a group whose political philosophy is to frustrate and sabotage the legitimate aspirations of the majority (political inclusion and economic participation) rather than working toward the common good.
When Martelly publicly said during the presidential campaign “ I don’t even want to be president”; the statement was appropriate and ominous. The reason: he did not have a concrete agenda to deal with the complex social, political and economic issues facing Haiti, except trying to prevent the election of an “anarcho-populist” (a pejorative term describing anyone advocating or fighting for correctives measures in Haiti). In a twist that validates the often-suspected lack of common sense of the proletariat, the very people, he (Martelly) despises and calls “dirty and ugly”, elected him as their president. Thus, it must be said that unlike the murderous military regimes of the 1980s and 90s and the foreign-imposed Boniface-Latortue regime (2004-06), Martelly is legally vested with the authority to torment these people.
With this group in power, the international community, its mentor, ally and protector, is expected to be less intrusive in its supervision of Haiti and less critical of the way the country is governed. Hence, unless the opposition-controlled Parliament takes concrete steps to counteract Michel Martelly’s naked attempt at subverting the democratic process, the legislative branch will be marginalized or unceremoniously swept away in the next legislative elections. Indeed, this Parliament, which failed to react to Martelly’s imperious attitude in regard to remobilizing the decommissioned Haitian Army, had it coming. Moreover the man has such a low regard for the legislative branch that most lawmakers learned of his project to reconstitute the Haitian Army by way of a dispatch of the Associated Press, although he eagerly consulted with Canadians, French and US diplomats on the matter.
When it comes to dirty politics, as the trade is practiced in Haiti, nothing shocks anyone anymore. By now Haitians are accustomed to seeing the worst their politicians have to offer; the “Belizaire Affair” is business as usual under the best definition of Haitian politics. Strangely enough, people continue to see politicians as paragon of virtues who are expected to be morally infallible, even though the world of politics is replete with incidences that should have put this misconception to rest. Are these politicians, skillful in the art of deceit, to blame or should the ever demanding but often disappointed electorate come to terms with its own gullibility?
We hold our leaders to a standard higher than what would be acceptable to God himself. And, had the Creator taken the time to consult with humans on criteria for leadership, He would have chosen someone other than Moses (an admitted murderer) to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and communicate His Commandments. Martelly’s antics (he allegedly cursed and threatened a group of lawmakers at a meeting at the National Palace) were expected. Is he to blame or the 15.2% of the electorate that voted for him.
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