As the 19 presidential candidates crisscrossed through the mountainous Caribbean nation of Haiti, most of them are boasting crowds in the thousands that have turned out to hear them.
The spin from the candidates is that their message resonates with the public and they are the best hope for a brighter Haiti. While the numbers who come out are real, the reason for the large crowd is quite easy one to explain. These days, with unemployment hovering around 80 percent in the country, people don’t have much to do. And so a high profile visitor is likely to draw a curious throng. The same people come out for different candidates.
It is unclear how galvanizing if any of the candidates have been. I haven’t heard all of the candidates messages, lest the few who campaigned in New York City. But I’m sure no one is telling the Haitian people what they need to hear. From Charles Henri Baker, to Michel Martelly to Jacques Edouard Alexis and everyone else, we hear lots of vague and ambitious plans on how they plan to restore Haiti to its grandeur that peaked in 1804 and has seen a steady decline ever since.
So if I were one of the candidates, this is the speech I would give to the 40,000 or so people who come out to hear them.
My fellow Haitians, today I come to you as your presidential candidate. Whether or not you elect me as your president, I want to leave you with some wisdom. First, we need to shed our mendicant mentality. To prove that to you, I will not beg you for an adoken coin for my campaign. I’m calling on all of fellow politicians to stop begging when they go overseas and when we have foreign delegations in Haiti. The world is broke and they don’t have any money to give to us. But if we’re willing to open up the country to real investors, we can get some people in here and create jobs.
Speaking of creating jobs, the first thing we need to do is to build primary schools and universities to educate the million high school graduates that have nothing to do, except to be ‘chimeres’ in training. My opponents have told you that they plan on making agriculture the cornerstone of their plan so that Haiti can be self-sufficient. They are lying to you. We can’t do this alone, we have to get international firms to come in with their technology so our products can be competitive in a world market. A machete these days is not enough to plow the land. You need an educated ‘agricole’ to know exactly what to plant, when to plant and how to defend against the elements.
Another opponent who was here recently swore that with our abundant sunshine and beaches we can lure tourists who are looking another place to visit in the winter months of rich countries. What he didn’t tell you is that first we have to clean up our image and that we have to build our roads and electricity and infrastructure before we can convince any tourist that they will not be eaten by werewolves, will not catch AIDS, cholera and be hacked to death by machete wielding mobs. What he didn’t tell you is that to run a real tourist industry, you need highly educated people who are willing to smile all the time in the face of tourists to make them feel welcome and that the people making money are the hotel owners and not necessarily the hired hands, which need to be trained in all aspects of a service industry. Did he tell you how he plans on getting the money so that tourists can flock to Haiti? I’m sure he didn’t, because most likely there is an international organization with grants for Haiti to create its tourism industry.
Now don’t get me wrong, these are good plans and should help you and your children get jobs, but can you build your house with the third floor. You don’t have to answer that one. You can’t, even if we Haitians have done the impossible in the past. Certain feats cannot be repeated or be counted on.
My fellow Haitians, what I want to offer you is a chance to build 600 public schools and four universities across the country to educate you and restore your dignity. Believe me you cannot work in any capacity if you are unable to read and write. Otherwise, they will have to import workers to do everything and you will not be better off for it.
Now how do we go about creating these schools, the government will invest some of its own money and get other universities across the country to open partnership with universities overseas. Now we will attract some factories and these investors will have to create and maintain a specific amount of schools as part of their tax break they will get to operate in Haiti for 25 years.
The international community likes to brag of our resilience. Yes, we are a resilient people, let’s use that resilience to advance our country. Believe me if you want, NO ONE will “hand” us any money. In the streets of the United States inner cities, there is a saying that goes “thing for thing.” We have to adopt that mindset and if our leaders think they can outsmart the rest of the world, then you’re doomed to remain bare foot, wear second hand clothes and eat expired food. Now when you go to the polls on November 28, you can vote for reality or you can choose false promises being delivered by my opponents. The choice is clear vote for me, None of the Above.