Seven and a half years into the UN Security Council-mandated occupation of Haiti that is so far responsible for the deaths of more than 10,000 Haitian citizens, the result of political persecutions and a cholera epidemic brought on by the MINUSTAH-attached Nepalese soldiers, it is obvious the country has moved from being structurally unstable to politically ungovernable. The failure of the opposition-controlled Parliament and the president, Michel Martelly, to find common ground on a suitable candidate for the post of Prime Minister attests to that fact. Is this stalemate, as Elizabeth Rust of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) puts it: “a chronic crisis of leadership” or “the result of Haiti’s history of perpetual foreign intervention and political instability?
Without a doubt, the former complements the latter and vice versa. Nevertheless, Rust’s analysis in which she excoriates Haitian politicians for their role in the stalemate, while ignoring the instigating role of the international community, is consistent with the patronizing views of foreign observers of Haiti. Rust should know that the political impasse is over the suffocating authority of the international community, the self-appointed nation builders, and a group of Haitians attempting to salvage what is left of Haiti’s sovereignty. Bear in mind, as Rust correctly acknowledged, only 23 percent of the electorate participated in the March 20th election that catapulted Martelly to the presidency. Therefore, the president cannot claim to have a mandate from the Haitian people, despite receiving two-third of that number.
It is all the more insulting that the president would want to impose on the nation a Prime Minister dedicated totally to implementing the neo-liberalism policies advocated by the international community that are responsible for the crisis gripping the country. The military coups, the unofficial embargoes, the destruction of Haiti’s peasantry, the subversion of its nascent democracy, the invasion and occupation may have been a means to an end for the architects of the policy, but they certainly did not succeed in subjugating the population. If anything, they help justify why Haiti has teetered on the brink of anarchy since the 1980s, because any system imposed by force of arms is fundamentally deficient.
Meanwhile, the paternalism that prevented the country from forging an identity of its own since the dawn of its existence continues. This coming October, the mandate will be automatically renewed, loaded with the same generic provisos that have now become redundant, paternalistic, insulting, if not laughable, particularly the paragraph reaffirming the UN Security Council’s strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity of Haiti. Indeed, the country is treated as a primeval tribe that needs to be permanently supervised, for its inhabitants cannot be trusted to uphold the basic moral precepts of this civilization, hence the notion of it being “a threat to international peace and security.”
For example, Paragraph 14 of last year’s Resolution 1944 stated: The SC Strongly condemns the grave violations against children affected by armed violence, as well as widespread rape and other sexual abuse of women and girls, and calls upon the Government of Haiti, with the support of MINUSTAH… and, to continue to promote and protect the rights of women and children as set out in Security Council resolutions 1325 (2000), 1612 (2005), 1820 (2008), 1882 (2009), 1888 (2009), and 1889 (2009). Even the most ardent opponents of the occupation would be hard pressed to find fault with this noble statement, except that many soldiers attached to the MINUSTAH are actually committing these crimes themselves.
In 2007, 108 Sri Lankan soldiers were without fanfare repatriated to their home country for having sex with underage Haitian girls, the very constituency they were mandated to protect under these resolutions. Currently, five Uruguayan soldiers are under investigation for raping an 18-year-old Haitian male. As these soldiers are immune from prosecutions, they may not be made to account for their depraved actions. Unprovoked beatings, mistreatments, rapes and harassments of Haitian citizens by the improperly-named “peacekeepers” remain as common as the stream of arbitrary Security Council resolutions authorizing their presence in Haiti. Therefore, any analysis of the Haiti situation that does not bestow a primary responsibility on the international community is inherently flawed.
Having rejected Martelly’s first two choices for the post of prime minister, the Haitian legislators are once again being asked to ratify a third pick, wearing the same cloth, and ostensibly more controversial. The actual nominee, Gary Conille, not only does not meet the residency requirement (he has not lived in Haiti for 5 consecutive years), as mandated by the Constitution, he is also the chief of staff for Bill Clinton in his position as UN special envoy. If approved as Prime Minister, Conille would assume the co-chairmanship of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) with Bill Clinton, the other co-chairman and his former boss. Besides this apparent conflict of interests and the residency rule, which constitutionally disqualifies the prime minister-designate for the post, his nomination is a testament of the arrogance and intransigence of Martelly and the international community.
Conclusively, Martelly hasn’t learned anything from Parliament’s rejection of his two previous choices, or the real powers behind his presidency have decided on an “all or nothing strategy” that requires violating the Constitution. Or, still, the president does not understand what is at stake, given the negative impact on Haiti not having a functioning government and his stated goal to institute the “rule of law” in the dysfunctional country.
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