By Max A. Joseph Jr.
The caliber of a country’s leadership has always been the quintessential indicator of its likely greatness or irrelevance, seeing that a constituent nation is actually a work in progress. The history of Haiti may be fraught with events that were beyond the ability of many of the country’s leaders to control or influence, but internal factors have certainly played a significant role in our abysmal state such of affairs. Petty politics and cult of personality are so entrenched in our national identity that the average Haitian rightly feels that he has no stake in the system. These self-inflicted wounds inevitably made it easier for adversaries and tormentors alike to present themselves as “knights in shining armor” to unsuspecting Haitians.
Haiti is presently where its tormentors wanted it to be: a patchwork of opposing special interests with no credible rationale. The more than 40,000 local and mayoral hopefuls, over 2,300 parliamentary candidates and 70 presidential aspirants representing 192 parties are testament of a system built to foster instability and institutionalize foreign domination. The irrelevance of the natives in shaping their own destiny is such that the World Bank routinely awards development projects contracts to foreign NGOs without the consent or advice of the Haitian government.
Despite the odds, we cannot resign ourselves to this undeserved fate, which many courageous Haitian patriots have valiantly fought against, albeit unsuccessfully. Anténor Firmin (1850-1911) and Rosalvo Bobo (1874-1929) are prime examples of exceptional leaders who spent their entire lives trying to extricate Haiti from this untenable situation but were thwarted in their efforts.
Their “lack of success” however should not be seen as a validation of the futility of fighting a lost cause but as a unique opportunity to devise a winning strategy devoid of the mistakes that may have prolonged Haiti’s agony. We may not need to reinvent the wheel, because the solution is unambiguously clear as a result of our tormentors’ deficient strategy of relying on a permanent state of turmoil, which the “cult of personality” facilitates, to further their aim.
All epic historical events, though prompted by singular catalysts, are usually by-products or continuation of bygone events with no apparent associations to one another until the dots are connected. Who could have anticipated that Haiti would be worse off today than it was on Feb. 7, 1986, when Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier was spirited out to France on a United States Air Force plane? Certainly not the masses that had grown weary of the then-status quo, which has been a fact of life for a generation of Haitians beginning with the ascension of Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier to the presidency on Oct. 22,1957.
In February 1986, while the overwhelming majority of Haitians contemplated a new beginning under which stability and prosperity would be as Haitian as Vodou, a powerful minority and their foreign allies were more interested in implementing a refined version of the status quo. To that effect, any political leader advocating the primacy of Haiti national interests over those of the cosmopolitan mulatto elite and the international community is ostracized and targeted for elimination, physical or otherwise. Moreover, the New Order not only prohibits a home-grown resolution to Haiti’s problems but also succeeds in propagandizing a self-serving narrative that demonize the natives as corrupt, scoundrels, incompetent, and tyrannical.
In addition to the 1987 document written by idiots, for idiots with the purpose of promoting idiocy, the rebuilding or reinforcing the institutions that could withstand the machinations of our tormentors was deliberately sabotaged by a string of coup d’états and two military invasions within the last 29 years. On Feb. 29, 2004, all pretenses were shelved with U.S.-French invasion. A United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution that swiftly ratified this gross violation of the UN Charter also mandated an open-ended occupation of Haiti under the insulting premise it represented “a threat to international peace and security Eleven years and counting, more Haitians have met their untimely demise within that period than during the entire 29 years of the Duvaliers’ rule, which ironically the international community-inspired narrative consistently maintains was an affront to human decency.
Oddly enough the occupation is portrayed in the international media as a compassionate act by concerned powers to save the country from itself, even though the reality contradicts the narrative. In today UN-occupied Haiti, penury; diseases, extrajudicial killings, rapes and torture of Haitian citizens by UN troops (MINUSTAH) and unsolved disappearances have created a feeling of hopelessness and apprehension that transcends all levels of society, which naturally include the beneficiaries of the status quo.
“Papa Doc” would be insanely jealous of the immense power that Michel Martelly presently possesses. Yet, the controversial Haitian president is lauded in the international media as an enlightened and democratic leader, in other words, the slayer of two centuries of primal behavior and dictatorial rule by his predecessors. The international community, as expected, remains the only relevant sector that unwisely refuses to question the viability and wisdom of the status quo that serves it so well.
Once upon a time, a political system created to last a millennium collapsed in a mere 12 years (1933-45). The foreign domination of Haiti, it seems, is being planned to last forever. This absurdity, like the Nazi fallacy, will have an ignominious end befitting its premise, as oppression does have a lifespan. All that’s missing is a catalyst, which the oppressors themselves will provide.