By Concerned Haitians Living Abroad (CHLA)
Editor’s note: This op-ed was sent as a public letter to members of the Haitian government and was signed by Frantz Bourget, Frantz H. Joseph, Eveline Saillant, Guy Evens Jean, Marthe Sabine Cadet, Jean Yves Auguste, and Moise Garcon. Click here for French version.
Concerned Haitians Living Abroad (CHLA) has followed the political situation in Haiti tentatively since 2010-11. Post that historical election, most of us understood the tremendous challenges that were in front of our government given the magnitude of the January 12, 2010 massive earthquake that changed Haiti forever. Thus, rebuilding the country with a weak political infrastructure was no easy task.
By comparison, President Barack Obama and congress faced similar challenges after the 2008 historical election. Collectively, they faced the deepest recession since the Great Depression of the 1920’s, two wars, and an upward unemployment rate with no end in sight. Even more challenging was the great political divide. Simply put, Washington was and still is dysfunctional.
However, for all the dysfunctions, one aspect of the political spectrum that was never in doubt was whether fair and free elections were going to take place in 2010 (Midterm) and subsequently in 2012 (General). The first Tuesday of November of every single year is in fact Election Day for the U.S. And that day is the essence of a functioning democracy for the American people.
In the final analysis, the date and time for elections should never be in doubt, especially in Haiti. Potential investors and tourists abhor political instability. When this particular aspect of our politics hangs in the balance, it’s a failure at all levels. How are we to be respected as a serious player on the world stage if we cannot hold timely, free, and open elections? What is the root of this problem? Is it inadequate funding? Absence of consensus and institutionalized leadership?
Or are our laws and electoral process simply outdated? Regardless of the answers to these questions, some basic democratic principles should be the cornerstone of any and all elections. With a unified voice, members of CHLA passionately support the following steps in helping to break the political gridlock and to ensure fair and free elections moving forward:
- WE (CHLA) support continuous dialogue and negotiations between the Executive and Legislative branches of the government.
- WE (CHLA) believe that a symbolic and patriotic political compromise is highly necessary before January 12 in order to hold at least one (1) general election in 2015 and avoid further chaos.
- WE (CHLA) support a fully functioning government that focuses in improving the lives of our brothers and sisters. Thus, ruling by decree or executive actions only is not our idea of a democratic government.
- WE (CHLA) support the one person one vote concept. All Haitian citizens who are registered to vote should not be deterred in any shape or form in expressing their constitutional right.
- WE (CHLA) support the monitoring of all elections to ensure the integrity of all ballot boxes or voting booths.
- WE (CHLA) support all political parties’ right to participate in upcoming elections.
Lastly, the idea of the international community funding Haitian elections is completely antithetical to our history. In our opinion, this is indecent for an independent country. The blood of our ancestors will forever flow through ALL our veins. We should not be at the mercy of other countries to fund our own elections. To that end, we are proposing the following:
- The establishment of an election fund for future elections.
- Portion of revenues or profit from these initiatives to be allocated to the Haitian government for specific tasks including, but not limited to, E-Government and National Department of Motor Vehicles that will serve as a platform for voter registration.
- Given the significant socio-economic impact on the country, The Concerned Haitians Living Abroad (CHLA) fully supports the idea of having full representations at all levels in the Haitian government (senate, house, etc.)
Additionally, the Concerned Haitians Living Abroad (CHLA) has identified key game-changing initiatives that will bring significant employment and tax revenues to Haiti. Further details will be furnished at a later date.
Concerned Haitians Living Abroad (CHLA) is ready and willing to work with the Haitian government and the unabridged Haitian community in assisting in helping our beloved country move beyond the current political impasse and more importantly, put long-term solutions in place that would hopefully prevent this type of socio-political gridlock from recurring in the future.