By Max A. Joseph Jr.
It is understood that only fools would want to rebuild any defective political system from scratch, because history taught us that successful revolutions wouldn’t be as successful had they not made use of some characteristics of the despised old systems that incubated them. Haiti’s situation somewhat invalidates this argument. Building a viable Haitian state necessitates that we Haitians go back to the drawing board and start anew because the present political system is superficial, flawed and, most importantly, not home-grown. Hence, could never work because of persistent external interference.
It is also understood that Haitians no longer want to be inconsequential parts in an all-powerful state. For almost two centuries Haiti has dabbled with totalitarianism, which invariably benefited a few at the expense of the many, but been willing in the last three decades to bet its future on democracy, the supposedly representative political system. The democratic experiment however seems to be trapped in its embryonic stage, because the unrelenting interference of the international community represses local initiatives and rewards inept collaborators. It also thrives on insularity of the economic elite, systemic corruption, abject poverty, and hopelessness among the masses, hence incompatible with our aspirations and survival as a nation.
Known for its volatility and unpleasant outcomes, democracy is definitely not for the fainthearted. Its participatory nature inevitably induces anti-establishment sentiment, particularly in impoverished and controlled environment of the Third World. In reality, no country is immune to the system’s unpredictability. The political rise of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the former parish slum priest, who instilled fear in the rank of the local barons and the international community, validated this premise as do many other instances in the most unlikely countries. Having said that, has Aristide’s removal advanced the cause of democracy in Haiti? The answer is an absolute, no. Were the likes of Guy Philippe, Evans “K-Plim” Paul, Andy Arpaid, and Gérard Gourgues acting at the behest of forces uninterested in the welfare of the Haitian people? The answer is unquestionably, yes.
Considering that under the repressive regime of Gérard Latortue 2004-06 habeas corpus was suspended and thousands of Haitians summarily jailed or executed, it would be disingenuous for anyone to claim that protecting democracy was the primary objective of the armed rebellion that toppled the then-legitimately elected government of Haiti. Their treasonous act, which facilitates the invasion and occupation of the country, is also responsible for thousands additional fatalities resulting from Minustah misdeeds such as the cholera epidemic and the military incursions in poor neighborhoods. Needless to say, the outcome does not justify the means, because Haiti is now a boiling cauldron, despite the occupation.
Oddly, the collaborators, who should have been jailed for their duplicitous deed, have metamorphosed into a cluster of “indispensable individuals,” whose presence in the political arena is somewhat essential to the survival of the Haitian state. It explains why the occupation, which occurs on the bicentennial of Haiti; nullifies our sovereign right as a nation and sullies the spirit of our ancestors’ struggle against colonialism, is not a relevant subject-matter to these people. Schooled in the abhorrent principles of personal gratification and self-preservation, these collaborators not only propelled the country into irrelevancy and ridicule, but also responsible for the inhumane treatments of Haitian migrants in the Bahamas, the D.R and other Caribbean islands.
One of the most disturbing aspects of Haiti’s current political system, actively promoted by the international community, is the primacy of individual rights over those of the state. This modern-day concept is understandably appealing to many, but remains a risky proposition in Third World nations dealing with foreign meddling or domination, poverty, social inequalities and underdevelopment. It creates the perfect environment for malevolence by self-serving foreign entities and encourages despicable actions from impenitent collaborators. In essence this system works for Haiti’s economic and political elites and their foreign backers, but constitutes an impediment to the aspirations of the Haitian people. Must Haitians continue to abide by this make-believe of a participatory system?
One of the least acknowledged aspects of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1803) was the slaves’ masterful use of deceit, which enabled them to neutralize the “invincibility” of their white masters. Be it, the utilization of Catholic rites and saints, which provided a degree of comfort to their masters, as decoys for their true beliefs, or the cannibalization of the French language to create an indigenous idiom that facilitated their endeavor. Over the centuries and because of nefarious actions of particular groups of collaborators, the descendants of these ingenious slaves have not only lost this ability but also become a nation of gullible souls being escorted to the abyss of irrelevancy through disinformation and other underhanded tactics.
In the competitive and unforgiving environment we inhabit, any nation, powerful or insignificant, is slated for irrelevancy without the use of disinformation and dirty tricks as valid mechanisms in international relations and, by the same token, protect itself from these scourges. With an induced inclination to embrace anything emanated from foreign sources, Haitians may be the only people in this planet that remain oblivious of this simple reality. It is a flaw that exposes Haiti to foreign manipulation and domination and the reason for it being the laughingstock of the western hemisphere. We can reverse this inexorable march into irrelevancy by reverting to our ancestors’ creed, because accepting the status quo amounts to rolling the dice with the country’s future.