December 11, 2002

There?s a lot to commend this proposal, but there?s also a couple of  monkey wrenches thrown in for no apparent reason. Let?s take a look.

In essence, the Haiti Democracy Project seems to be telling the international community to face the Haitian crisis in a responsible manner. There?s no need to continue to waste time and tolerate a tyrant that will not give in to any pressure to reform. The time has come, this proposal’s logic would suggest,  to ask Mr. Aristide to step down for the good of the country, disarm his gangs, establish a transitional government, and keep the restructuring effort under close international supervision.

The Haiti Democracy Project goes on to say that the transitional government should not include any political leader. This is a key provision. And I back it up for the good of the country. It is indeed imperative that a new government does not bear the stamp of any political leadership. There are many reasons for that and chief among them:

  1. Restructuring should be a technical endeavor void of any political maneuvering: Haiti needs true foundation.
  2. To ease tensions among political parties, no single party should have its leader or any representative in the transitional government. Otherwise, conflicts will arise by the mere fact that some will get more important functions than others. We must create a level playing field.
  3. No participant in the transitional government should be eligible to seek the presidency during the next democratic election.
It is time to stop the gimmickry of creating a CEP at all costs. Indeed, according to the Haiti Democracy Project?and must I add all people with a dash of sanity?the CEP will not be able to act freely under Mr. Aristide. The project?s  declaration further proves that the refusal of the Haitian opposition to send representatives to the CEP is the right one. (By standing firm, the opposition has shown leadership. I command both the ?Union Patriotique? and the ?Convergence Démocratique? and the others for not yielding to inconsiderate pressure on the part of people who wanted to show progress when such thing cannot be had in the Lavalas context.)

The Haiti Democracy Project?s  proposal is succinct and yet comprehensive. I disagree with it on two fundamental points that I will cover shortly. But meanwhile, here?s what?s positive:
1. America and the world must be prepared to declare the Aristide regime illegal on the basis of crimes committed against humanity.
2. The Haitian opposition and civil society must form an interim government for twenty-four months at a minimum to rebuild the country and democratic institutions with the assistance of the world community.
3. Educate the Haitian people about its rights and the necessity to have democracy.
4. Once the institutions are solid and operating transparently and independently, then organize new elections.
On item 2 above, I must concede that the Haiti Democracy Project has a better way of keeping political leaders and their representatives out of the transitional government. I enumerated above why they?re right.
However, the Haiti Democracy Project throws a monkey wrench to tarnish?just a tiny bit?its realistic proposal. It opens the door for a possibility to have Mr. Aristide as president while the restructuring is underway.
First, Mr. Aristide has managed to become an illegitimate head of state by way of the very crimes he committed against the Haitian people, and hence against humanity at large. If President George Bush had committed the same atrocities and the lack of transparency exacted by the butcher of Tabarre against his very own people, Mr. Bush would have been impeached and put in jail in no time. The innocent Haitian people deserve the respect of the international community. If all men are created equal, then what?s unacceptable to the American people should not be tolerated in Haiti either.
Second, given the Haiti Democracy Project?s keen appreciation of the Haitian crisis, I believe it must have been joking, for the very premise of its proposal is not to have any political party involved in the transitional government. Lavalas shouldn?t be either. If Mr. Aristide is allowed to be present even in the country during the restructuring effort, he might bring his illicit and immense fortune to bear on the process, thwart and subvert genuine attempts at rebuilding the country.
Mr. Aristide must be tried for his crimes. This is where I disagree vehemently with the Haiti Democracy Project?s otherwise valid proposal.

There is a second flawed area about this proposal: It seeks a solution outside of Haiti.

The Haiti Democracy Project?s fundamental ideology is primarily Democratic, and I mean Democratic not democratic. Second, its ideologues are primarily white. This all means that their discourse and proposals will be skewed to the left and conveyed with white eyes, beliefs, and prejudices. (We all have our prejudices and stereotypes, don?t we? And they?re not necessarily color-tainted either.) That?s the way to look at the HDP.

The Haiti Democracy Project even in their précis strongly seeks a cure to Haiti?s woes in a policy of engagement on the part of Washington. Their new proposal sanctions the failure of the Haitian political leadership, thanks to Mr. Aristide, the leaders of the opposition, and 200 years of nothing to show for. I wish I could defend the opposition, but I honestly can?t. Our attitudes are making it all the more difficult for the world to take us seriously and very easy for an organization like the HDP to dismiss our political will outright.

My friends, it is with pain that I read over and over the proposal of the HDP. I know it is good on paper. I know it is the painful truth. But I also know what those guys are missing and where the proposal will ultimately fail if and when implemented.

The truth sounds always arrogant. I know it as a champion of the painful truth. And that?s why the proposal of the HDP sounds so humiliating for the Haitian opposition; it should be also to Mr. Aristide, but since he has no pride and has sold his soul to the devil, he couldn?t care less.

It is time for the Haitian opposition to unite and show the world that we are capable. The Convergence Démocratique (CD) should join the leadership of the Union Patriotique (UP) in a leap of faith in our collective brainpower. The UP has showed leadership by advocating mobilization against Aristide. The Initiative Citoyenne (IC) has showed the way by ordering the nonviolent march of November 17, 2002, in Cap-Haïtien. My friends, it is imperative to unite and oppose a single front to Mr. Aristide. The opposition must show that it can effectively manage itself and cast aside the silly differences so that the world can take them seriously. Until then, we are seen like a bunch of losers who like Mr. Aristide don?t know when to do away with the politics of doom and for good.

The HDP proposal is only telling the neoconservatives in Washington to be true to themselves and reach out to Haiti. I only wish that it had done the same for president Bill Clinton when the Democrats had plenty of time and power to show Haitians what they?ve got. They wasted everything. They overlooked the irregularities of the Haitian elections of 2000. Democrats always look smarter when they have no power.

Now, let?s look beyond the HDP proposal. The proposal sounds great on paper, but is it feasible? Let?s go to the videotape of history. Hey, stop! It?s 1915: The whites are coming (see ?Les Blancs Débarquent? from the venerable Roger Gaillard).

Well, the American occupation of 1915 bears strong resemblance with the HDP proposal if you discard the Haitian armed resistance and American economic interests. The Americans came and built institutions in the country to further American interests: Bauxite, rubber, and sugar etc. In particular, they left us the Haitian army.

Where are we eighty-seven years later?

The answer is loud and clear: We?ve destroyed all institutions imposed on us. Remember, they were imposed on us against our will. Haiti failed to take advantage of 1915. Nineteen fifteen was bad for the country in many respects, but if it had one good thing, one must find it in the institutions that we inherited. We paid a dear price for them. We should have protected them.

Hence looking beyond the HDP proposal, we uncover one more flaw: Any lasting solution for Haiti must seek political will. That?s 1915 Experience 101 for the Haiti Democracy Project that now needs to go back and rethink its proposal.

I hope that Washington can offer a better approach than what the HDP is proposing. Once again, the HDP proposal is good, but not good enough. I want my opposition and Washington to build on it. (We evolve by way of trial and error.)

I see this juncture as a golden opportunity for the Haitian opposition. My point, my friends, is for you the opposition to offer your alternative to the HDP proposal. Do it with elegance and fairness for all parties of the opposition and for the country. The world  is watching you. It is time to show political will. I enjoin specifically the leadership of the Union Patriotique reinforced by a potential new member, the Convergence Démocratique, to devise a counter-proposal and fix the problems that plague the opposition before it?s too late. You can?t overcome Lavalas if you don?t unite. And if you don?t unite, barbarism will prevail, and the butcher of Tabarre will be king of Hell for a long time to come.