Haiti and Puerto Rico are dancing to the same tune, “Governor Ricardo Rosselló must go, Jovenel Moise must resign”. San Juan has been rising for a week and Haiti has been in turmoil for a year, both nations for the same reason – the arrogant, corrupt and “let them eat cake” attitude of their leaders.
Haiti and Puerto Rico demand today a systemic change in the way public policy is displayed in their country. Their rapacious leaders have gobbled everything for themselves and their clans leaving almost nothing for their populace; Puerto Rico to the tune of 70 billion in bonds money and 11 billion for Hurricane Maria devastation recovery and Haiti to the tune of 3.5 billion dollars for the Petro Caribe fund that was dispersed with no tangible result for that money.
Rosselló and Moise are governing their state in which their moral authority has been stripped to the bone. The leaks in the conversation of the governor with his associates mocking women and disrespecting the dead persons from Hurricane Maria have been the surplus that causes the glass to diverse its water. It has been the same situation in Haiti; the report of the superior court of public accounting exposing the collusion and the embezzlement of public funds by public officials have mobilized all the sectors for the removal of the president.
President Donald Trump, who for years has been denouncing the corruption and the inefficiency of the governance in Puerto Rico, in particular, the leadership of the Mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruiz, has brought the roosters back home in their backyard: “I know the people of Puerto Rico well, they are great but their leadership is corrupt.”
He could have said and should have said the same about Haiti: I know the misery the Haitian people have been going into, they have suffered for a long time and I have promised to be their champion against their corrupt leaders. I have not delivered as yet!
There are two personal anecdotes that make me feel there was something wrong in Puerto Rico. Decades ago, while as a young professional social worker freshly graduated from Columbia University, assigned to the psychiatric ward at Kings County Hospital, I made the relevant observation that most of the young teenagers arrested and brought to the hospital for psychiatric observation were of Puerto Rican descent.
Upon my examination, I found out that their parents have flown back and forth to Puerto Rico, leaving them to fend for themselves in New York City. Trouble and mischief soon followed.
My second observation was when the University of Oklahoma wanted to establish a program of technology transfer in the domain of fish production for some Caribbean islands. The University of Puerto Rico was chosen to become a hub for such transfer, but that institution would shun the proposal, letting the other islands suffer in their hope and in need for such technology.
Puerto Rico was designed by their leaders to be just a temporary hub for travelers from Europe, Canada and the United States to transfer from a big jet to a smaller one en route to Dominica or Barbados. They would have nothing to do with development in their own land and serving as big brother to the less fortunate sister islands in the region.
Like Haiti today, Puerto Rico is in the mood for a revolution from the corrupted practice of rulers who kept the population in perpetual misery and dependence. Would those two islands hold hands and say “Basta” to the corrupt legislators and governor together?
For long, Caribbean News Now has focused on the corruption in Puerto Rico in the writing of Richard Lawless, a columnist who keeps pointing at the collusion between Wall Street and some politicians who sold 70 billion dollar bonds and debts of the Commonwealth at a value not profitable to the citizens. President Donald Trump was adamant in demanding to account for the 11 billion sent to Puerto Rico for disaster relief without much improvement to see for that money. He was labeled a racist and minority warmonger yet he was right there to see something was fishy in Puerto Rico.
In the fight for systemic change, Puerto Rico has an advantage that Haiti has not utilized yet; the branding power of its stars and its artists. Ricky Martin (as well as Bad Bunny) was there to beat the drum for the protestations. The Haitian musicians who are losing precious booking time during the Summer Pilgrim Fiesta (Fêtes Champètres) should put their weight in the balance to finish up with the national order of compliance with corruption and injustice which has been the hallmark of public policy in Haiti for decades if not for centuries.
The chant has been the same in both countries: “Ricky you must resign and take the board with you; Jovenel must go and take the senators and the legislators with you.” Arrogance and lack of experience permeate the practice of both Rosselló and Moise. Rosselló, a biochemist with a Ph.D., and Moise a businessman without a Ph.D., have been running the state of the public affairs of their country as their personal business with corruption as the lifeline.
In the heat of the desolation, with police and teachers not receiving their monthly salary, Moise government has just hired a new lobbyist firm in Washington for millions of dollars to try to shore up his reputation, so that Uncle Sam will remain on his side in spite of the anger and the desperation of its population.
I am weighing in the balance for both Puerto Rico and for Haiti for the ultimate reason that the governments in both states have a way to clown themselves at each election, for the more things change, the more they will remain the same, perpetuating forever the misery of their people. For a systemic change to occur they must be removed now; otherwise, neither Haiti nor Puerto Rico would reach their Canaan from their bondage in Egypt.
Late Wednesday, after resigning from the position of party boss, finally the governor of Puerto Rico submitted his resignation effective August 2nd. Que Viva Puerto Rico, the dawn of a new era, is on the horizon. The Haitian people certainly need some Puerto Rican warriors to hold their hands and urge them to fight to the finish line. Victory is also on the horizon for a brand new Haiti where misery will be substituted by felicity and happiness.
The God that their forefathers, the Tainos, have worshipped and honored is crying for vengeance. Take heed corrupt leaders.
• 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.