At this juncture, every Haitian, even those responsible for the present order, want the new president, Michel J. Martelly, to succeed because a further deterioration of the situation would engulf everyone. Haiti can no longer afford to be stalling nor moving backward, and Martelly, in spite of his right wing political philosophy, should keep that in mind. While much have been made of Michel Martelly’s hard to believe victory in the March 20th presidential run-off, the fact that 77.5% of the electorate did not participate in the phony contest seems to escape the attention of the major players, particularly the international community. As the keeper of the present order, the international community can certainly help by stepping aside and giving the new government a chance to set the course. The repatriation of the Nepalese suspected of bringing the South Asian strain of cholera to Haiti would be a first step in that direction, but that is not going to happen because of the UN’s utter disregard for Haitian lives. With the rainy season likely to bring more cases of cholera and the recently released sanitized report by the Ban Ki-Moon-appointed panel that nonetheless confirmed the culpability of the Nepalese, the matter could be a major distraction for the new president.
Haiti’s situation is certainly a complicated one that requires adroit political skills and Martelly cannot claim to have those necessary to navigate his way through the arcane corridors of Haitian politics. This lack of political skills, however, could be his greatest asset since the discredited political establishment would be hard pressed to resist any reforms in the face of its embarrassing rejection by an angry electorate yearning for concrete changes. Though many of the new president’s campaign promises were blatantly unrealistic, a fact he subtlety alluded to in an interview with the Miami Herald in the aftermath of his victory over Myrlande Manigat, he should be given the benefit of the doubt nevertheless. “Hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, we’re going to change Haiti,” said Michel Martelly during his inauguration. But as Haitians love to say “Tande ak wè se de” (listening and seeing are two different takes).
The new president’s greatest challenge will be Haiti’s rapacious economic elite; the main beneficiary of the present order, the international community, the implacable foe of anything remotely resembling populism, and the thousands of Haitians who rent to or work for the MINUSTAH. Substance must take precedence over empty promises; besides instituting the rule of law, Martelly’s agenda must include a pledge to reduce Haiti’s dependency on foreign aid that causes it to lose its sovereignty to predators of all stripes. The legal structure of the MINUSTAH mandate looks as if the Security Council stumbles upon a primitive tribe right in the middle of the Caribbean Sea and sets out to bring it to the norms of civilization. This paternalism has got to change, if Haiti were to extricate itself from this seemingly intractable situation, because this cycle of foreign interventions and punishments that characterized Haitian history (1804-?) creates the main impediment to the country’s development.
History commands it. If a person looks at an historical issue from the wrong perspective, he or she will end up with the wrong conclusion. While it is easy to associate Haiti’s troubles with its idiosyncrasies (personality cult, class consciousness, etc), it would be wrong to ignore the role played by the international community in instigating division within Haitian society and promoting insecurity and other nefarious projects.
Have the international community’s compulsory policies of lowering tariffs on imports and banning government subsidies to local producers, which have been the mainstay of its efforts in Haiti in the last 25 years, brought any improvement in the lives of Haitians? The IMF’s laissez-faire economic program in Haiti has practically destroyed the Haitian peasantry, the backbone of the country’s economic life; more than 800.000 farmers lost their livelihood and Haiti now imports 80% of its food needs. What about the arming of mercenaries (Guy Philippe and his associates) to bring down a democratically elected government that strayed from the script? Because the Organization of the American States (OAS) and the UN never objected to the use of the territory of the Dominican Republic as a base for the destabilization of Haiti, they have forfeited their moral obligations toward the Haitian people, hence deceitful in their intentions under the present order. Was Gérard Latortue’s reign of terror (2004-06), during which thousands of Haitians lost their lives, necessary to bring stability in Haiti? As per the international community’s emphasis on human rights, any Third World head of government with Gérard Latortue’s genocidal record would be indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), tried and imprisoned. Unfortunately for the thousands of Haitians who lost their lives under his rule, the man was doing the bidding of the power behind the edict, thus immune to prosecutions.
No one expects Haiti, in the next 5 years, to free itself from this paternalism and the culture of dependency in light of the magnitude of what needs to be accomplished; however, the right approach may set it on course to disentangle itself from that curse and recover its independence. Having earned himself a place in Haitian history by virtue of his electoral victory on March 20th, 2011, Michel Martelly must now show his fellow countrymen that he truly deserves it.

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