By Max A. Joseph Jr.
With 63 Haitian gourdes for one U.S. dollar, 3.6 million Haitians facing famine on an unprecedented scale, a non-performing economy, a restive population and a political crisis, Haiti certainly does not need the added burden of dealing with the imperial attitude of the international community. It is obvious the international community’s aggressive interference in the internal affairs of the impoverished country, through military coups, economic embargoes, a sanctioned armed insurrection, and an invasion and occupation, has caused more problems than it could actually solve. Yet, the international community is resolute in staying the course, no matter the political and human cost.
Not surprisingly the notion that “democracy” should form the cornerstone of the Haitian state and its future is gradually losing its attractiveness among many segments of the population because it failed to meet their basic needs. Most importantly, it is now considered a clever approach by the international community to legitimize its unwanted presence in the country and consolidate the power of a powerful few. Such divergence in aspirations and goals would inevitably collide and destabilize the entire Caribbean region, the very outcome the international community is supposedly trying to prevent, although its heavy-handed approach would ultimately be deemed responsible.
Simply put, the international community’s strategy in Haiti, whether it is intended or blind arrogance, relies on a paternalism that degrades and offends. Oddly enough, the architects of this policy actually believe their imperial approach would ultimately succeed in taming or pacifying the country. For years the international community, being self-congratulatory, has touted the holding of regular elections and a transfer of power from a president to another as proof that democracy is indeed taking hold in Haiti. However, what the international community failed to take into account or mention is that neither these elections (held under its directives and supervision) were credible nor the transfer of power peaceful enough to warrant such unreserved endorsement.
Because political power is a lucrative industry in dysfunctional Haiti, the pursuit of the executive branch has always been a “no holds barred” competition, which usually involves one fraction seeking the help of outsiders against the other(s) and making promises they never intended to or could not keep because of the rancor that fester. The shadier the politician, the more appealing he is to the international community, which later use his disreputable character as an instrument for control or blackmail. Under this arrangement self-respecting and honest Haitians are automatically disqualified from ever reaching the presidency. So corrupted is the present regime, upon which depends the fate of the Haitian people, that almost the entire political class would be disqualified from holding political posts under normal circumstances.
Not surprisingly the so-called “Haiti situation,” as per a label of the United Nations Security Council, has become a lucrative endeavor that encourages phony assessments by obscure academic crackpots seemingly auditioning for or seeking memberships in think tanks. It is a revolving cycle that victimizes the Haitian people and earns Haiti the objectionable designation of “failed state,” which is fueling the blatant paternalism of the international community. Indeed not a week passes without a self-appointed expert in Haitian affairs or a gullible policy maker proposing a foolproof solution to the “situation” which invariably makes the case for an indefinite involvement of the international community in Haiti.
Under the rationale the international community is simply “helping Haitians help themselves,” Haitian leaders, particularly those holding non-conformist tendencies, are vilified in the foreign media, their visas revoked and, in worst case scenarios, exiled or threatened with exile. As the largest “nominally” independent country of the African Diaspora, Haiti predates the UN and the premises of the actual geopolitical order, which for all intents and purposes, stands against the very principles upon which the country was created.
I could be wrong but the actual state of affairs in Haiti indicates that the April 24 second-round presidential election and May 7 transfer of power to an elected president, as per the Feb. 6 accord, will not be forthcoming despite the not so subtle warnings of Kenneth H. Merten, Deputy Assistant-Secretary in the US State Department Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs and Haiti Special Coordinator.
“Their voice (Haitian voters) has already been heard in terms of populating both the upper and lower house, largely, of parliament, and the presidential election process now needs to run its course,”Merten was quoted in many published statements. In layman terms, the international community will not tolerate a redo of the entire electoral process and that Jovenel Moïse and Jude Célestin, officially the two top finishers in the Oct. 25 discredited vote, should be the only candidates in the second round.
Compulsion, regardless of objectives or purposes, violates the UN Charter, thus should not play any part in relations among nations. Unless this institutionalized bullying stops, Haiti should seriously consider leaving both the UN and OAS and opt for bilateral relations with countries that respect its inalienable right to self-determination. Moreover, it is somewhat disingenuous that democracy is being touted as the only solution to the “Haiti situation” when the system was never given a chance to mature, through trials and errors. What kind of democracy does the international community have in store for Haiti? Is it a distinctive brand for an exceptional country with unique deficiencies? Whatever it is will not work. Haitians should have the last word in determining their future.