It has been 30 years since the people of Haiti on February 7, 1986, booted out the dictatorial regime of the Duvaliers that lasted also 30 years – 33 years to be exact. The era of democracy that followed, on March 29, 1987, with the adoption of the new constitution did not bring significant change in the lives of the Haitian people.
It seems that even the culture of noblesse oblige practiced by the middle class for years upon the poor has also evaporated. And worse: I do not foresee clear signals of change ahead. Those who occupy the political space are feeding the people with the venom of veneer democracy, which is disintegrating the entire Haitian society.
The axiom that democracy is the highest form of government may have some holes. Haiti has proven this concept; standing alone does not work. The bamboche, or the abundance of democracy, has in effect rendered Haiti closer to complete collapse. In a recent report of the committee on risks and disasters management it has been found that 97 percent of the population finds itself at risk in the event of any insignificant natural catastrophe. Haiti has been found in the index of nations to be the most at-risk country in the year 2016
Yet, a colossal sum – around $20 billion – has been spent in the last 30 years to bring about stabilization, better institutions and decent infrastructure in Haiti, with no visible signs of any of those nation-building indicators.
The United Nations with different contingents has absorbed $7 billion in its MINUSTAH program of stabilization in Haiti. It left Haiti last month in a state worse than it found it.
Petro Caribe has invested $2 billion in infrastructure for roads, sewers, electricity and potable water. A report this week by Haiti legislature has found most of the funds have been misused by the executive in connivance with those same legislators. The roads are in a deplorable state. There is no electricity and no potable water for most of the population.
The world community has donated $11 billion to Haiti for reconstruction after the earthquake of 2010; through corruption and cozy relationship, Haiti is not even en chantier.
With only nine months in power it is too early to put a verdict or the blame on the current government of President Jovenel Moise but, during those last 30 years, governments changed with no visible signs of improvement.
The legislature is ransoming the executive for approval of any bill, while this same executive is living large on the backs of the people cornered by a judiciary that lives on exactions to maintain itself. Violence, intimidation and corrupt money are the regular staple of elections, and the vicious circle of predatory government continues unabated.
Yet, on positive note, this November 18, President Jovenel Moise will reconstruct the Haitian army dismantled some 25 years ago by Jean Bertrand Aristide.
It is about time. This event, on the very day that Haiti’s founding fathers defeated the world order of slavery, November 18, 1803, is in defiance of the international community that keeps proclaiming Haiti is too poor to have an army; it must reinforce its police force.
I wrote an essay some five years ago and put forth the proposition that the Haitian police force may never become a functional one unless it is flanked and supported by the Haitian army.
Jean Erich Rene, in a recent essay, makes the case that:
“Since the dismantling of the army of Haiti, the diplomats of the concrete sow terror. Procedural delay, corruption and contempt for the law are displayed in terror with capital letters. Malandrines, or bandits, do not respect anyone. Tout moun pran: the press, the clergy, the diplomatic corps, the medical world, the police etc. are all hit. Even judges are threatened. The Apostolic Nuncio denounced the violence in these terms: ‘Haiti does not need those who use the weapon of violence, no longer those who want to keep everything for themselves’. No country in the world has ever seen such a spectacle, said the Canadian ambassador to Haiti.”
To put things in perspective, the dismantling of the Haitian army is not the root cause of the failure of the era of democracy in Haiti; it is nevertheless an important element.
I have demonstrated in an essay that the three pillars of the Haitian ethos are the Catholic church, voodoo and the Haitian army. Total chaos is being restrained by the remaining two pillars: the Catholic Church (thank God for the good nuns of Haiti).
And voodoo, through the message and the practice of tolerance, the Haitian people, in spite of their utmost misery, do not kill each other without mercy. In fact, it has been proven that Haiti is one of the most secure places in the Caribbean and in Latin America.
Constructing Haiti must rest on its unique cultural and historical structure. I have demonstrated this basic concept often enough in my essays that it should be clear now for everybody. It was built by a ragged army; it must be reconstructed by and with its own indigenous army.
Jean Bertrand Aristide’s ill conceived decision to dismantle the Haitian army in 1994 was made out of spite, the spite that the army as the last national bastion had put a stop to his gangs of children and adults bandits who occupied the streets and the public institutions.
The Haitian army was the image of Haiti, with its baggage of good and bad. The good baggage should be enhanced and the bad reduced or annihilated. President Jovenel Moise has understood this evident truth; he has given a new mission to the new Haitian army: to be a technical force for the reconstruction of the country with its contingent of engineers; to be in the avant-garde for relief in case of disaster.
I would urge him to add two more missions, one is to become the glue that binds citizens together so as to create the sentiment of appurtenance and to fulfill the divine mission of Haiti as an emancipator nation, with a Haitian unit of soldiers lent to the United Nations for peace, prosperity and stability in the world.
My next essay will concentrate on proving that the era of democracy that started in 1946 with the creation of the United Nations by the rest of the world has also failed. May Haiti lead the way in demonstrating that it can build a true democracy. The rest of the world should emulate a true democracy built on the five pillars that I have always instructed in my essays:
1. A democracy built on the sentiment of appurtenance, where all the children of the nation feel they are legitimate children endowed to enjoy the legacy of the founding fathers;
2. A democracy that provides decent institutions and excellent infrastructure everywhere, so the citizens of the country will not become internal and external nomads;
3. A democracy that institutes an affirmative action program on behalf of those left behind;
4. A democracy that fulfills the divine mission set by the founding fathers for the nation;
5. Last, a democracy that sees the nation as a continuous creation, vigilant in always improving itself.
The defeat of the world order of slavery on November 18, 1803, two centuries ago by Haiti would not been in vain! We need a new world order based on true democracy for the people and by the people, not the veneer of democracy as seen today in Haiti as well as in the rest of the world.
• Jean H. Charles LLB, MSW, JD, is a regular contributor to the opinion section of Caribbean News Now. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Published with the permission of Caribbean News Now.