By Max A. Joseph Jr.
January 12, 2015, in a twist of irony, Haiti commemorated the fifth anniversary of the 2010 earthquake that took the lives of more than 300,000 of its citizens, while entering a period of political uncertainty, which many pundits mistakenly believe could have been averted. With the executive branch remaining the only center of power in Haiti following the dissolution of both legislative houses, minus the remaining term of 10 senators who cannot convene in plenary sessions for lack of a quorum, the ending may not necessarily be in the country’s best interests.
Adding insult to injury, one of the main participants in the 2004 foreign-instigated insurgency against the then-legitimately elected Haitian government, Evans Paul, aka K-Plim, is now the de facto prime minister. One of the least competent and equally shady politicians of his generation, he is now entrusted to lead a caretaker government in charge of organizing the overdue elections at the discretion of the now all-powerful president. This unfortunate development is a “coup d’état” fully supported by the “core group,” the only bona fide authority in occupied Haiti, and rejected by the great majority of Haitians.
As expected, recriminations for the political standoff in the weeks leading to this heartbreaking anniversary were plentiful and unforgiving, with the most disingenuous coming from the self-styled “core group.” Consisting of special representatives of the United Nations Secretary-General and the Organization of American States (OAS), as well as the ambassadors of Brazil, Canada, France, Spain, the European Union and the U.S., the group considers itself divinely appointed to bring civilization to Haiti. Like a medieval lord, it perceives any challenge to its diktats, even those promoting the destruction of the Haitian state, as irreverence that must not go unpunished.
The rejection of the 11th hour core group-backed agreement, between the executive and some fringe political parties with no documented standing with the electorate, merits to be put in perspective. It is the clearest indication that all is not lost; that some Haitians are no longer willing to countenance illegal attempts at destroying the foundation of their state. It also implies that despite the relentless machinations intended to disenfranchise the majority and perennial threats (overt or implied), a consensus to challenge the false rationale of the occupation may finally be emerging.
One of the most important features of freedom of expression, which is touted by the “core group” as an indispensable component of democracy, is the right for people to choose their own leaders. As simple as the equation may seem to anyone accustomed to voting, this fundamental right has never been part of the democratic process in Haiti. In the rare instances where the Haitian people were allowed to vote, albeit conditionally, their choice was either annulled or disregarded. Is democracy, as practiced in Haiti, a means to an end for saboteurs or an experiment that is doomed to fail because of the core group’s willful ignorance of Haitian peculiarities?
Obviously, Haitians are living in a controlled experiment because democracy or the process to implementing it in Haiti has never evolved beyond its conceptual stage for reasons known only to the core group/nation-builders. It helps explain the international community’s insistence on staying the course, which promotes the political instability that legitimizes in a rather perverse way its unlawful presence in Haiti. What the experiment does not explain however is the contemptuous attitude of many politicians, chief among them, Michel Martelly, toward the country’s institutions and the welfare of its people.
Isn’t a robust and lawful opposition to a sitting government compatible with the democratic principles that the “core group” maintains is indispensable to the long-term stability of Haiti? Unfortunately, that seems not to be the case presently because stopping Lavalas has evolved into a zero-sum game for the international community, whose ready-made solutions evaporated upon coming into contact with Haitian realities. Unwilling to admit failure, a scapegoat had to be found. Hence, the messianic crusade against Lavalas that oftentimes involves condoning the illegal actions of the Martelly government, which naturally exposes the duplicitous nature of the occupation.
In an interview with National Public Radio (NPR), Thomas Adams, Haiti Special Coordinator for the U.S. State Department, not only offered unconditional support to the Martelly government but also lamented the irresponsible attitude of the opposition. He further concluded that the probability of the opposition losing the elections was behind parliament’s failure to pass the required electoral law. The “special coordinator” is either looking through a crystal ball available only to the “core group” or prepping the public for an outcome that has already been decided.
Indeed, occupied Haiti is back to square one (circa 2004). This crisis could not have been averted because of its underlying causes. To the “core group,” the opposition is made up of unapologetic Lavalas obstructionists with an anti-everything agenda that threatens to nullify the magnificent “achievements” of the occupation, while the Martelly government, mindful of their obsessive predisposition, milks it to the fullest.
Possibly the only country in the world where diplomats routinely defy diplomatic protocols, Haiti is at a crossroads. The fact that an ambassador of a foreign country could show up uninvited in the legislative chamber of a sovereign, albeit occupied state, speaks volumes of the colonial mentality of the “core group.” Undoubtedly, the policies of the group are slowly driving the Haitian people to an emotional state, which might lead to the first case of mass psychosis in the 21st century, as has happened on August 14, 1791.