In listening to and reading reactions about OAS resolution 822, I realized one more time that all understanding agonizes at the point where passion and anger take hold. It is finally as if there were no need to understand what has truly happened. Objectivity in political matters is scarce even in highly trained and experienced minds.
My friends, the Haitian opposition needs to mature to the point where it no longer needs the crumbs of hope from another country or from a regional organization like the OAS. The opposition needs to listen and learn from its mistakes. It must engineer its own hope. It must begin to take the long and treacherous road to building itself into a formidable front and a credible alternative to Mr. Aristide (see my article Proposal for Paradigm Shift). Short of that, the opposition will be at the mercy and outcomes — or lack thereof — of OAS resolutions.
TARGET CONVERGENCE: DESTROYED
A lot of people have warned over and over again that the ?Convergence Démocratique? was compromising itself and alienating other political groups by its opportunistic approach in the OAS-led negotiations. But those warnings fell on deaf ears. Micha Gaillard, Gerard Pierre-Charles, Hubert De Ronceray, and other acolytes — all seemingly from a smarter breed of politicians and each, a messiah of sort — have overestimated their weight in the negotiations.
I wrote once, if you recall, that an opposition that cannot rally a people to its cause needs to regroup to rethink its strategy. But understandably, time was of the essence and regrouping was a farfetched construct of a Georgia engineer that understood nothing about politics and economy of time, let alone negotiation techniques. The Convergence and their submarines cleverly positioned in the darkest corners of the deep ocean of chicaneries thought they were converging to something other than an optical illusion. When the OAS fired, their sonar misrepresented the blue reality; the illusion became palpable. They?ve all got a dose of their own medicine from the OAS that dropped them so unceremoniously off 822 and forever.
(I hope they learn lesson 822 and never forget it. I am sure the Convergence has realized that pretending to know more than everybody else is presumptuous. While many of us were analyzing and doing a fine job at diagnosing the political crisis, others were denigrating us as lesson-givers. I never pretend to give lessons to anybody for I have been wrong most of the time. The rare times I have been right were enough to make a giant difference in my life. As Albert Einstein used to say: ?If you get two great ideas within a lifetime, you have been hugely successful.? Learning the hard way is costly but salutary. Experience is a better teacher anyway, especially when you get it from a foreign master.)
If you limit yourself to a strict interpretation of 822 and discard your fancies and emotions for a moment, you could find plenty of good things in the resolution. The problem is not the resolution but rather the means with which the OAS will attempt to foster change; some means of persuasion being more effective than others.
ONLY CRUMBS FOR PORT-AU-PRINCE
I am certain that Mr. Aristide will receive some crumbs to prevent total collapse beyond recall. But to think that Mr. Aristide and his gang will get the bonanza of $500 million from international institutions, without showing anything for it, is simplistic. To get substantial funds to get Haiti going Mr. Aristide must ensure that the economy can muster and sustain an economic growth permitting service of the debt. The only way Mr. Aristide can do that is by creating a secure environment for investments, which in turn requires law and order. And law and order imply human rights and respect for institutions. And to service the debt, the government must institute fiscal discipline. That?s another way of looking at 822. That?s the way Mr. Aristide needs to understand it.
If you?re still not convinced and believe that substantial money will be given to Haiti, look at it this way: Any institution that lends money to individuals does a credit check to determine your creditworthiness, even your credit union in which you are a shareholder. Why would it be different for a country? A bank is always ultimately accountable to all its shareholders, be it the IADB or the World Bank. They can?t disburse unreasonable funds.
The OAS never had the intention to pressure Mr. Aristide to leave; that?s not its job. It’s not impossible that Mr. Aristide be asked to step down the same way Mr. Duvalier was. But that’s where the headache begins for the powers that would engineer his downfall. In time past, you had the Haitian army to maintain order. Now that there’s no force comparable to the defunct ? and incidentally corrupt — army, no order to maintain as only anarchy reigns, the question is how do you prevent more anarchy in a power vacuum? I may be wrong, but Mr. Aristide isn’t leaving until you see a deployment of a peacekeeping force. And if Mr. Aristide is smart, he will comply with the resolution to some extent, revamp his party, pick a heir next election, and bring Lavalas back to power; an easy feat to defeat an opposition that is waiting for heavens to decide in their favor. Heavens might; dream on!
BEYOND 822, BET ON PRINCIPLES
OAS resolution aside, what are we doing to prevent the mistakes of the past? What are we doing with our obsession to support one man as opposed to principles? I see people sacrificing the most important things and relationships in life for the sake of a knucklehead turned messiah to find themselves in the doldrums in bitter shame when their man falls or gets to power and reneges his principles. That’s what happens when you bet blindly on a man. That’s also what partially explains why Haiti has been constantly repeating the same mistakes over for two hundred years. If you bet on your principles, you can pick the party that lives them internally and publicly; you can also walk away unscathed when the leadership has wavered and compromised the principles you stand for.
(I trust a person of principles, never a person of camp. How can one trust a fanatic? It is time that the majority of us support principles and not a mere mortal. I personally belong to no camp. I am not a man of camp. I have nothing to lose in politics except my principles that I am never going to compromise. I can afford to say that because I am never going to participate in any Haitian government whatsoever.)
822 GOOD FOR HAITI
The OAS resolution is good for the country on paper. I could not find a single article that was not in Haiti?s benefit. The only thing I found wrong was the negative attitude of some so-called leaders, and naturally those of the ?Convergence Démocratique,? toward the resolution. The problem again is not the resolution; it is the negative mentality prevailing in some sectors in Haiti and also the means that the OAS will bring to bear on the process of change.
If eventually Haitians and the OAS negotiate a successful implementation of the resolution, it ultimately belongs to Haitians to maintain the transformation over the long term. It will be necessary to build a public opinion capable of playing deterrent to any future assault of vicious politicians on the institutions of a modern Haiti.
That was Political Science 822, good-bye.