by Max Joseph
Unless the international community reverses course and abandons the notion of imposing the now discredited neo-liberalism economic system in Haiti, the continued existence of the nation as a viable entity is becoming dimmer by the hour.
So obvious is the destructive aspect of the policy that one could rightly interpret it as racism-induced malfeasance. It not only wrought the destruction of the peasantry and creation of an army of hopeless urban dwellers but also a dysfunctional and impoverished society that is totally dependent upon the generosity of capricious donors. Decades into the experiment, the consequences still reverberate while the advertised benefits have yet to materialize.
Dubbed by critics “the republic of NGOs” (the non-governmental organizations that run the country on behalf of the architects of the occupation), Haiti has become the destination of choice for crackpots that want to polish their résumé as humanitarians, academics, nation-builders or social engineers. Masquerading as righteous defenders of human rights or promoters of democracy and economic development, they conveniently forget that the Haitian people (the subject matter) are not laboratory rats but humans that cannot be discarded upon the completion of a failed experiment. Yet, they seem resolute in completing their impractical mission despite the high cost in human lives and a litany of social failures.
“Working the System”
As has always been the case wherever the international community is involved in a so-called “mission of mercy”, these saviors/nation-builders are “working the system.” They provide the policymakers with spurious information that fit their narrow interests instead of an honest assessment of the situation. This helps explain why many initiatives undertaken under these circumstances are ill-tailored, predestined to fail or invariably fraught with harmful consequences for both sides.
Evidently the lip service given to building credible state institutions such as the Judiciary and the CEP (French acronym for Permanent Electoral Council) is deliberate as it provides the rationale for the continued presence of the NGOs in their role as a rampart against “anarchy.” Without a doubt, these individuals constitute the most lethal component of the “mission of mercy” and pose a real threat to international peace and security and by extension to humanity as whole.
Where it all started…
It all started under the military regimes (1986-91, 91-94) which ruled Haiti upon the removal of Jean Claude Duvalier on February 7, 1986 and completed in January 30, 1996. Whereupon the country, lacking the framework of a modern economy and basic structures of a functional state, was entrusted to the care of World Trade Organization (WTO) for integration (lock, stock and barrel) into the global economic system. Naturally the resultant economic and social disturbance was no contest for the country’s immature political system and that led to a near-state of anarchy, which facilitated the execution of a plan that has been under consideration in many capitals of the self-described “Friends of Haiti” for decades.
Using the bizarre logic of Haiti being “a failed state”, the international community swiftly occupied the country on February 29, 2004 under a not so clear cut UN Doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect” the citizens of a member-state from harmful policies of their leaders. Relying on pre-conceived notions, misconceptions, barefaced propagandas, half-truths and other imperial nonsense, the narrators and the overseers of the enterprise have been continuously portraying Haiti as a country that needs to be saved from itself. To that end, systemic incompetence, a dysfunctional political system, abject poverty, rampant crime, and endemic corruption have become the words by which Haiti is invariably defined by others. As per the facts on the ground, the self-appointed mission, which has been contemptuously branded “The Haitian Question” by the Security Council, has yet to produce any tangible benefits to the population.
Victimized by ignoring the past..
Ten years into the occupation (2004-?) and almost twenty years into its admission in the WTO, Haiti still ranks as the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Farming (once the backbone of its economy) has been decimated by import monopolies, illegal expropriations of lands by the well-connected, and lack of subsidies from the state, the latter being a stringent stipulation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that cannot be avoided under any circumstances. Aptly millions of otherwise hardworking and proud Haitians suddenly find themselves unable to earn a living while many others are resorting to eating dirt cakes to survive. Oddly enough, the IMF continues to paint a rosy picture of robust economic growth that stand unrivaled in the region, which logically opens the possibility of Haiti becoming a middle-income country within the next two decades.
Even the introduction of cholera in Haiti by a Nepalese contingent attached to the Minustah, which by the way was conclusively proven by the scientific community, has been attributed to poor sanitation and other local deficiencies. Never mind the same conditions existed prior to the occupation and that there were no documented outbreaks of cholera in the country for over a hundred years. Such mockery of the reality by the IMF, coupled with a startling indifference on the part of the country’s intellectual and political elites, is condemning the Haitian people to an uncertain future and possible extinction.
As the late poet-philosopher George Santayana correctly said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We (Haitians) are dealing with entities with history of mass killings on an industrial scale. In regard to Haiti, Santayana would probably have said: This nation is condemned to be victimized by ignoring the past.