By Max A. Joseph Jr.
Judging by what has been going on in Haiti over the last 100 years, it is fair to assume that the political class thrives on organized chaos, which naturally affects the way the country is administered and the kind of leaders it produces. Though this rather bizarre system suits the beneficiaries (corrupt and inept politicians and their foreign handlers), it inadvertently creates a situation in which the illogical seems normal. The tentative accord between President Michel Martelly, the leaders of both chambers of the legislature and the president of the country’s Supreme Court, which would extend the terms of the deputies and remaining sitting senators past the constitutionally-mandated Jan. 12 deadline must be seen in that context.
Illegal political maneuverings, no matter their purpose, are not viable alternatives to the Constitution from which the politicians and the state derive their legitimacy. We have travelled down this treacherous path on numerous occasions and the results were resoundingly and unsurprisingly disappointing. The Gerard Latortue regime (2004-06) and the unlawful resolution of the 2011 disputed elections, which resulted in the selection of Martelly as president, were notable cases that originated with the nation-builders/saviors of Haiti. Presumably, extending the term of the legislature must have come from those same entities not the current crop of politicians who couldn’t be counted on to formulate a low-level thinking idea, let alone a controversy of this magnitude.
The as-yet-to-be-finalized deal is consistent with the lack of parameters (respect for the constitution and the institutions of the Haitian state) that has allowed the country’s politicians and their handlers to operate as they please. This state of organized chaos is aggressively supported by the international community, which incidentally has been, since Feb. 29, 2004, the benevolent “promoter and guarantor” of the rule of law in Haiti. Such is the level of dysfunction that the intellectual elite has relinquished its role of guardian of the country’s traditions and positioned itself as an implacable antagonist of any changes that appeal to the masses.
Haitians advocating for a modicum of respect for the country’s institutions are vilified by a system that rewards collaborators and severely punishes dissenters. Hence from the political class on down, they are finding refuge in self-preservation since it is actually next to impossible to ascertain which group is doing the masters’ bidding or genuinely interested in ushering the changes Haiti so desperately need.
This sorry state-of-affairs in Haiti also leads to the nomination of Evans Paul, as prime minister by Martelly, a man whom historians would record as the most improbable man to have reached the country’s presidency. It appears that continuity is the order of the day, given that the nominee is the epitome of what is wrong with the system. It is heartbreaking to think that at this critical juncture in Haiti’s history, Paul is considered the best personality on the political scene to head a government of national unity. Because of the time constraint, this rather bizarre nomination should be promptly acted upon and rejected without merits.
Who is Evans Paul, aka K-Plim? Although he has been a constant in the political arena for three decades, his résumé, except for a brief and unremarkable stint as mayor of the capital-city Port-au-Prince in the early 1990s, contradicts his ascent as an authentic statesman capable of guiding Haiti in this hour of need.
The man is a pathetic political agitator and operator without any real philosophy except, may be, a narcissistic belief in his ability to become president in this free-for-the-chosen and no-rules-apply situation that has been the hallmark of Haiti politics since the first U.S occupation (1915-34) onward.
If successful, Paul’s appointment might go down in history as the ultimate insult on a persecuted nation that has been yearning for meaningful changes that could help it plan a new beginning and make a complete break with its troubled past. The man’s most noteworthy achievement was his prominence in the 2004 foreign-influenced revolt against Haiti’s democratically-elected government, which led to the Feb. 29, 2004 invasion and occupation of the country. We must assume that the class of 2011, made up generally of incidental politicians, might be honoring promissory notes that have reached maturity.
If Haiti’s Constitution can be so nonchalantly discarded to lengthen the expiring terms of lawmakers, what could prevent the president and the rump legislature from further harming the document? If a man that actively sabotaged the commemoration of his country’s bi-centennial can be rewarded with the position of prime minister, shouldn’t we assume that the worst has yet to come? Evidently nothing good can possibly come out of these illegal decisions, which ought to be reconsidered without delay and discarded.
As for Martelly, he will either be remembered as the Grinch that spoiled Christmas 2014 for millions of Haitians or a shrewd politician that masterfully tried to discredit and punish the mischievous opposition by appointing the most damaged and unsuitable politician in their rank as prime minister in a government of national unity. Whatever the case may be, the real loser will be the long-suffering Haitian people whose patience is being outstretched to beyond what is humanely tolerable. With these baffling announcements, the notion of Santa punishing naughtiness and rewarding obedience at Christmastime has just taken a whole new meaning. Thanks, Mr. Martelly, for nothing.