By Ed Gehy
Ever since we can remember, the United States has meddled in the affairs of Haiti. The U.S. meddling in Haitian internal affairs dates as far back as the early part of the 20th century, if not before. The most vivid example is its overt support and installment of Sudre Dartiguenave to the presidency in 1915. This interference and meddling continues unabashedly throughout time decades after decades until today.
Following the decision of the CEP (Provisional Electoral Council) to start anew with the presidential elections process, the U.S. Ambassador stated they would not fund the election. This decision was clearly due to the fact the CEP decision either did not align with their interest or would not be favorable to their supported candidate. As blatantly invasive as the Ambassador’s statement may seem, this is the type of bullying attitude that Haiti has had to put up ever since it became an independent nation.
If Haiti were able to organize its elections with its own resources, without outside arbitrators, that would set a precedent worth being written about in the history books. Haiti has become a country addicted to international aid so much so that it risks losing its own identity as a nation. The country has failed to step up in two distinct and crucial periods in its history — in 1986 after the fall of the Duvalier regime, an era that was supposed to bring about a new beacon of hope for real change to take place, and in 2010 after the tragic earthquake, a time during which the country literally captured the hearts and souls of the entire world affording it a chance to rebuild its infrastructures. The country can no longer afford to follow that path of a downward spiral nor can it continue to miss its rendez-vous with destiny.
The issue is not just about one presidential election. The issue at stake here is much bigger than that. It’s rather about letting a supposedly independent nation govern itself as it sees fit without the patronization of any foreign powers or institutions, whether it be the U.S., France, Canada, or the European Union, etc. It is also about finding ways to end the country’s incessant addiction to foreign aid. As long as that same “politics as usual” continues to be tolerated, Haiti can’t and will not be the prosperous nation it was meant to be. In fact, it is a fallacy to even think of Haiti as an independent and sovereign nation.
How can a country be considered sovereign when it has to rely on outside help for most of its national budget? How can a country be considered sovereign when it is not able to have its own resources at its disposal to take care of its internal needs? How can it be considered a sovereign state if it consistently depends on and subjected to others approval and control?
Haiti will be sovereign when it can fully decide its internal affairs without the involvement of outside arbitrators. It’s hard enough for Haiti to organize credible and fair elections, let alone having outside interference instigating further suspicion about the legitimacy of the polls, hence causing a perpetual instability in the country. While international assistance, to some extent, can be welcomed, there shouldn’t, however, be any contingency attached to it.
A country normally imposes taxes in order to be able to provide goods and services to its citizenry. By that same rationale, as a way to overcome this impasse, the Haitian House of Representatives could allow the current administration, to impose a sales tax, which would make it possible to allocate the funds to organize the elections.
Should the country find it impossible to hold the election on its own, the people as a whole, the financial institutions in the country, the bourgeoisie, should all pitch in to help. This is the litmus test for all parties to prove they are willing to be active participants instead of idle spectators. If this current administration were to succeed in organizing the elections without foreign donors, this surely will be a national victory. And who knows this may set the tone for future Haitian governments and perhaps make a difference in the country’s 212 year history.