If we don?t change, we stand to be assimilated by the forces we pretend to fight.
This article supplements my previous article, ?NO PARADIGM SHIFT, NO CHANGE?. It actually shows through a sketchy proposal how the paradigm shift in political behavior could succeed. Although a shift in behavioral pattern is necessary across the nation, it must start somewhere before it can spread. The Haitian opposition is where it must all begin.
It is crystal clear at this juncture that the current negotiations with Lavalas will yield nothing substantial. And even if they do, the outcome would still favor the current misadministration that would be well on their way of getting the $500 million in international funds without meeting the requirements of Resolution 806 of the Organization of American States (OAS). The Convergence is caught in a cynical political game in which Mr. Aristide holds a significant advantage; in fact, he controls most of the moves and stands to gain regardless of the outcome. Now what?
A TIME FOR VALUES
As I wrote many times in the past, the time has come to put the negotiations on the back burner and make history by launching a movement for change based on democratic values. The time has come for Haitians of the opposition to focus their efforts and message squarely on rebuilding Haiti. The time has come to show resolve.
Some people think that such things as moral values and ethics do not apply in the Haitian political context. Wrong! Those same people build organizations the same way Haitian heads of state have always conducted business and the same way Mr. Aristide governs by instinct and the law of the jungle. The founding fathers and mothers of a new Haiti will need to have high moral standards and values to build lasting institutions. They cannot be lesser men and women. They cannot be men and women of shallow faith. They need to be able to see the big picture as opposed to being obsessed with the depth of their pockets. We can?t build if we don?t respect what we attempt to build. If we don?t rebuild Haiti, nobody else will.
The opposition can only make a leap in stature if and only if it spearheads a movement rooted in values in a radical departure from traditional politics. The opposition can?t fight Lavalas if it doesn?t cannibalize itself for a remake. Cannibalizing the political landscape is a very difficult to do, but it is the necessary first step if the paradigm shift is to succeed. The opposition must champion a paradigm shift in political approach and enroll the nation as early as possible in that massive rethinking and reeducation effort.
THE GUIDING STAR
After all, if a journalist like Jean Dominique was so venerated and so popular, it is precisely because his radio station became a moral voice and a watchdog for a nation in despair. If he was killed, it is because he was feared. And if he was feared, it is because he was seen earning the national spotlight that traitors to the nation have temporarily hijacked.
This time around, it belongs to the opposition as opposed to a single man to earn the national spotlight. And there?s no other way to go about it than to engage all resources and forces of goodwill, the greatest minds, the masses, the business community, and the youth in a moral cause for the new liberation from the yoke of neo-slavery.
If the ?Convergence Démocratique? has failed, it is because it pursued only short-term objectives with the backdrop of problems I outlined in ?NO PARADIGM SHIFT, NO CHANGE?. However, the initiative of forming a camp against obscurantism is the right way to go. In the same line of thoughts, Gérard Tassy?s proposal for the creation of a ?Camp de Salut Public? seems to indicate that many of us see the need for a single front. I am reiterating the same concept here by providing specific guidelines as to how such camp can effectively take hold and succeed. (I don?t pretend to teach, I am just sharing my thoughts with the political parties and the literate public at large.) Here?s the proposal, I invite people to make it better:
- All political parties and support groups of the opposition separately take a closer look at their vision and values in light of the immediate needs of the nation.
- All political parties that favor the establishment of a state of law meet to become a national front.
- The front convenes in general assembly to elect a leader amenable to all parties for a term to be determined.
- An executive board composed of all the leaders of the different participating parties and some politically neutral members ? for balance — is created.
- The charter of the executive board will be to:
- Define vision (state of law, stability, security, good governance, etc.)
- Define values (tolerance, respect, integrity, etc.)
- Define strategy
- Define mission
- Actively recruit members
- Develop means of communications (Television, Radio, newspaper, Internet list etc.)
- Plan the education of the membership
- EDUCATE THE HAITIAN PEOPLE FOR CHANGE
- Launch mobilization campaign to engage the nation
- Launch mobilization campaign to engage the Diaspora (Unleash the potential of the Diaspora!)
- Develop means to effectively reach the masses (The written word won?t do. For instance, we may write with the masses mind, but we never write for them.)
- Use all communications means to reach the elites and make them understand their role in a nation.
- Clearly communicate the vision and the values of the front (Make people feel the future before it actually happens.)
- Develop ties with foreign governments to counterbalance Lavalas presence abroad (We cannot dismiss foreign governments while Lavalas is mastering the art of tapping their support; that is simply not a clever thing to do.)
- Establish technical groups of advisors in areas of governance, business, ecology, agriculture etc. (Haiti possesses a legion of outstanding professionals abroad. Give them reason to serve and they will.)
- Launch initiatives to become a trusted partner in channeling humanitarian aid to the masses.
- Launch initiatives to involve the membership in projects such as construction and administration of hospitals, clinics, schools etc. (tangible things that the masses can relate to and associate with the Front).
- Engage the masses in worthy projects in which they have a direct stake.
- Organize manifestations of support — in cities around the world where Haitians hold a significant presence — for the establishment of democracy in Haiti.
- Reward members that go above and beyond the call of duty in areas deemed strategic to the front.
- Develop a culture that values people.
- MORE IMPORTANTLY, LIVE THE VALUES: Live what you preach, leaders!
- SHOW WHAT YOU?VE GOT! (The front should advertise what?s happening within itself, its programs, its values etc.)
- Prepare the next elections.
- Don?t destroy to look better, instead build on ideas from others. Don?t reinvent the wheel.
- Define vision (state of law, stability, security, good governance, etc.)
- Each member of the board must be given a major task or area to develop.
By engaging in an all-out makeover of itself, the Haitian opposition can seize the political agenda and enlist the nation on its side. By remaking itself into a political apparatus involved in the daily life of the nation, the opposition will toll the bell of the Lavalas anachronism and set Haiti?s clock on modern times. By practicing democracy and transparency within its ranks, the opposition will have already convinced that it can uphold and further democracy when it assumes the reigns of power. By building a coherent front to overcome the Lavalas in a non-violent fashion, the opposition will have proven to the country that it can build effective institutions. In fact indeed, the front would have become the most serious institution ever built on Haitian soil.
By virtue of being a successful coalition, the front will have convinced that it can bring the people together and heal a nation that has dwelled more on its differences rather than its strengths for too long.
There will be pain, but no sacrifice is too much when it comes to regaining the dignity that eluded us for so long after 1804. Putting together such a front is going to require personal sacrifices far greater in magnitude than those that gave birth to the movement that brought Mr. Aristide to power in 1991.
Those who will put an end to two hundred years of tragicomedy will enter history as the founding fathers and mothers of the new liberated Haiti. We need to answer the call of the hour by coming together as one people and one solid collective mind ready and determined to defeat the forces of Hell. The opposition has some great minds, it can do it; it must do it for the country and for our dignity and respect.