By Garry Pierre-Pierre
Blaming the United States for the ills that have befallen Haiti has become a parlor game at the villas of the country’s political and economic elite. Any conversation regarding the troubled Caribbean nation of 10 million people inevitably circles back to the mighty neighbor to the North.
To some extent, the U.S. has played a detrimental role in Haiti, interfering at will and most of the time with destructive consequences. The U.S. has brought in racist Southern Marines to rule Haiti during the early 1900s. Bill Clinton’s administration reneged on his promised to shore up Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s presidency amid Republican pressure after he sent the deposed president back to Haiti accompanying by 20,000 American soldiers in 1994.
After Haiti won its independence in 1804, the U.S. fearing its own slave revolt from Southern states, did not recognize Haiti as a sovereign nation and convinced European powers to isolate Haiti. It wasn’t until 80 years later that the U.S sent an ambassador to Haiti.
So now that the know-nothing party of Donald Trump will take over the White House and control of the world, I believe that this provides a window of opportunity for Haiti to finally shake off its independence from the U.S and move toward a sustained economic development model.
While Trump used Hillary Clinton’s misadventure in Haiti to his advantage, he doesn’t care about Haiti and that’s a good thing. Leave us alone and we’ll get it done. This is not a sarcastic column. Am serious. Haitians have shown us what they can accomplish once their backs are against the wall.
We only have to go back to the most recent elections as proof. Haiti received more than $70 million from the international community to organize nationwide votes. The first rounds were so bad that the results were annulled and officials ordered a redo. Foreign officials who financed the vote were livid and decided that they will provide precious little money for a revote, if at all.
There were talks that elections would not be held since funds were scarce. But interim president Jocelerme Privert had given his words that organizing the elections were his top priority and mandate. He assured everyone that he wanted to return the country to a constitutional path.
Despite a lack of money, a devastating hurricane and hundreds of candidates for legislative, local and presidential posts, the vote was held. A week later, the provisional electoral college announced that Jovel Moise, a political neophyte had outdistanced his 26 other challengers by more than 50 percent of the vote, eliminating a need for a runoff.
I’m almost certain had the international players coughed up more money for a revote, we would have had a runoff. But with their money on the line, Haitian government officials weren’t going to spend more of it. I know that Aristide’s Lavalas Party has taken to the streets in violent protests. This too shall pass and they will have to accept that Moise will be sworn in as president come Feb. 7.
So that brings me back to the Donald, American president. I hope he remains busy fighting the Chinese, Russians and the various actors in the Middle East. On the home front, he will have his hands full trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the daily emergencies that the U.S president has to deal with.
All I ask for the Donald is to keep or maybe increase slightly the aid to Haiti. With Haitians knowing that the “Dumb Americans” not filling the hat with greenbacks, they will use judiciously whatever they have and will surprise us with what they can accomplish with precious little.
Once they do that they will gain the confidence of other powers who may see Haiti as a place to invest and not to give aid. I know of no country that has developed with aid money, which is essentially foreign welfare.