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Under the Radar

Haiti Political Crisis: A Case Study of Dereliction of Duty

Haiti's provisional President Jocelerme Privert (R) with appointed Prime Minister Fritz Jean, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Feb. 26, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Haiti’s provisional President Jocelerme Privert (R) with appointed Prime Minister Fritz Jean, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Feb. 26, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

By Max A. Joseph Jr.

The Feb. 5 agreement, whose ambiguity leaves open the possibility that many newly-elected lawmakers could lose their seats in a formal review of the Aug. 9 first-round legislative election, is a recipe for political gridlock. Must we assume it did not occur to these politicians that a conflict of interest would arise when they signed on to the accord and later decided to appoint Joceleme Privert, the former senate president, instead of an outsider to implement it? Far from being the worst Haitians have experienced at the hands of the country’s notorious political class, this latest episode is nonetheless a case study of dereliction of duty that should serve as a catalyst for constitutional reforms.

The welfare of the Haitian people, in case anyone is wondering, has not made the priority list of Joceleme Privert, the interim president, and his former colleagues of the legislative branch. Likewise, the preceding crisis that helped bring about the Feb. 5 accord was never about electoral fraud, bad governance or the defense of democracy, as some of former President Michel Martelly’s adversaries wanted people to believe. It was consistent with the “my turn” philosophy that has been the trademark of Haiti’s political class since the founding of the republic on Jan. 1, 1804. To that effect, the end always justifies the means, hence the myriad of military coups, armed insurrections, and dalliances with foreign powers that resulted in the invasion and occupation of the country on Feb. 29, 2004 — barely a month into its bicentennial.

The Dominicans, our ostensibly perceptive and judgmental next door neighbors, have a fondness for calling Haitians “malditos”, Spanish for “dammed”, for reasons that without a doubt betray the spirit of good neighborliness or hemispheric solidarity. Like most Haitians, I do consider the label offensive and unwarranted. Nevertheless, I stand ready to acknowledge the validity of this rationale, if only the Dominicans could admit they were referring to Haiti’s political class rather than the nation as a whole. Must we resign ourselves to an undeserving fate at the hands of the politicians/conspirators or work toward building a new Haiti free of this scourge?

Aptly categorized as scoundrels in a 1969 but now declassified U.S National Security directive, Haiti’s political class’ affinity for theatrics and dereliction of duty is unmatched anywhere in the world. No group of politicians has managed to inflict so much pain and suffering to the people they supposedly swore “to serve and protect” than Haiti’s political class. They thrive in toxic environment that preclude consensus. True to form, their antics range from the incredulous to the absurd, leaving the tormented country and its people in a permanent state of despair: socially, politically and economically. The only sensible approach to extricating the country from this disaster would be a complete overhaul of the existing political system, which has been facilitating these politicians’ nonsense.

Democracy, particularly the customized version that emphasizes political freedom over everything else, is not universally cherished as its advocates would want people to believe. It promotes white supremacy and legitimizes the subjugation of weak and unstable nations under the premise that human rights are universally recognized ideals that must be propagated by any means and anywhere in the Third World. Touted as the only pathway to salvation for the Haitian people, it is in actuality an extension of an abhorrent system (slavery) that our brave ancestors unambiguously rejected 212 years ago. Unlike imperialism, which must not be considered a western invention given that non-Caucasian civilizations have also made use of it, democracy is a Trojan horse that carries the seed of a narcissistic race bent on cultural domination of other races.

We must convey to future generations of Haitians that we did embrace democracy, albeit under duress, but ultimately discarded it because of its incompatibility with our creed. We could have as exhibits, the likes of Gérard Gourgues, Gérard Latortue and K-Plim, as evidence that the experiment would have been fatal to our existence as a nation, had we not reversed course. General access to education and health care are human rights that should be at par with the proverbial freedom of expression, which many consider the essence of democracy. Oddly but not surprisingly, the customized version introduced in Haiti does not leave much room for such expansive interpretation of “human rights,” as it is insidious and geared toward protecting the interests of the local economic elite and those of international finance. The apparent loser is the Haitian people who wholeheartedly embraced democracy as a magic wand that would do away with their torments but came away bruised and disappointed.

Haiti can build a political system suited to its economic interests and needs that incorporates the most appealing features of democracy. The only obstacles standing in the way of achieving this goal are the corrupt political class and their inability to circumvent the controlled environment of the present geopolitical order. Haitians cannot afford another 30 years to evaluate the shortcomings of the existing system that has allowed crooked politicians to cherry-pick their priorities. The longer we make use of the moribund 1987 Constitution and postpone reorganizing our unworkable political system, the more complicated and catastrophic the outcome would be.

Apr. 08, 2016

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