As a rule breaker, Albert Einstein did not only question Newton?s equations and reshape our view of the cosmos, but he questioned everything ranging from governance to the social to the political. He did so in such a way that even without E=mc2, we?d still have smart (Einstein) bagels and a lot of clever reflections to ponder. He knew that ?The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.?
In other words, we need a higher level of awareness and skills to apprehend the reality we inflicted upon ourselves. Be it nuclear proliferation, environmental issues, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and drug trafficking. Haitian reality does not escape this fundamental maxim of the greatest mind of all time.
Aboard our flagship vessel, Beyond the Revolution of Ideas, we see stormy weather ahead. Globalization is due at a star near you: Cuba. While we can?t predict exactly when it will commence and gather momentum, we are confident of two things. First, the post-Castro era will likely open Cuba?s shores to massive investments from its well-entrenched Cuban-American Diaspora as well as global conglomerates. Second, the countries comprising the CARICOM and more specifically Haiti will suffer dire consequences if caught unprepared.
Let?s see why, by taking position in the eye of the storm. Our journey begins.
A GLOBAL GAME
Globalization is an economic necessity not a political luxury; it is by no means a result of imperialism ? au contraire. Imperialism is its necessary companion to guarantee markets wherever possible. Globalization is born out of the insatiable drive for fast growth and solid gain for powerful corporations worldwide. A drive fueled by Wall Street, which rewards the future, and not the present.
To meet or exceed the Street?s expectations — solid top-line (revenues) and bottom-line (profits) growth — corporations must grow market share and reduce cost, at all cost. It is therefore immediately apparent that they must seek two things:
Big markets — such as China, India, etc. ? and any market sizeable enough to positively impact growth.
Skilled but relatively cheap foreign labor to lower cost and maximize profit.
As they expand their markets, global enterprises must also protect their home base. That?s where their powerful (Europe/Japan/North America) governments step in with anti-dumping laws, punitive duties, and all kinds of protectionist gimmicks to thwart entry. Products from China, India, Thailand, Brazil, and other developing countries get snapped these tariffs, which sometimes force some of their companies to go out of business. (This explains why Brazil?s maverick leader, Lula, is championing fairer economic trade.)
But, not everything about globalization is unfair. This economic necessity favors the prepared societies, i.e., the countries that have appropriately skilled labor to take jobs away from developed countries of the Western World. China and India are the stalwarts of this beneficial trend. Their highly educated labor force is handling call centers, manufacturing jobs, high technology, and software, etc.
CUBA, THE PROMISE
Now that we?ve taken position in the eye of the storm, we can forecast its positive impact on post-Castro?s Cuba and devastating winds for the Caribbean.
It?s often been said that Castro?s two biggest achievements are education and health care. This is true whether one likes it or not. With a 97% literacy rate, a life expectancy at birth of about 76 years, one doctor and a nurse for every 120 families, 15,000 Cuban doctors spread across continents assisting 64 countries including Haiti, 1.6 million people working in research and development (R&D), heavy involvement in cancer research and applied biotechnology, and computer networking, Cuba is poised to become the shining star of global outsourcing in the Caribbean and in Latin America. California State University reports:
?While trained technicians are in demand everywhere, Cuba is strong compared to many developing nations. Cuba has a long standing social commitment to science and education, and has produced people capable of handling the technical requirements of networks.?
In spite of all these achievements, Cuba?s infrastructure is relatively obsolete.
Together, skilled and cheap labor across the board and the need for modern infrastructure constitute the promise of the after-Castro. Based on the foregoing facts, it is not at all difficult to envision a Cuba taking health care, R&D, medical labs, networking, and software jobs away from the United States, Canada, and even Europe.
HAVOC FOR CARICOM
This Cuban promise has mileage and leverage. With its clout, political power, and deep pockets, the Cuban-American Diaspora in Florida has, as it?s done over the past four decades, all it takes to influence American policy and foreign aid that will be targeted for the island.
By virtue of its immense potential, the country will become a magnet for Diaspora and foreign investments for a very long time to come.
It is a matter of time before the winds of the global storm reach the shores of this Caribbean star. But when they do, they will be so powerful that they could obliterate the unprepared economies of the region and wreak social havoc on their societies. Caveat emptor!
Indeed, even the local bourgeoisies of the Caribbean will find it more appealing to tap the Cuban potential, thus draining capital and jobs away from their economies. (Capitalism has very little to do with nationalism. It knows no boundary, just profits.) Besides, the countries of the Caribbean basin might experience significant trade imbalance with a prosperous capitalist Cuba.
Let?s leave the eye of the storm and discover Haiti?s readiness or lack thereof.
HAITI, THE DEMISE
By contrast, Haiti has been a country ruined by two centuries of abject political infighting, irresponsible governance, lack of vision, drug trafficking, corruption, 95 to 98% combined illiteracy and functional illiteracy, and divisions fueled by skin complexion, etc.
To make matter worse, the Haitian elites have never understood the necessity to educate the masses, seen instead as a threat to their privileged positions, a people different in every way, good only for menial tasks. They?ve never realized in practice that economic development is not possible without development of the people in a country that doesn?t have enough oil and other natural resources to charm the economic powers of the planet. They?ve never understood that sophistication of the people constitutes a prerequisite to creating and expanding wealth in a sustainable fashion.
Aristide is a complex product of the Haitian bourgeoisie?s own making. He exhibits behavior that shows rage, frustrations, and envy locked by two hundred years of dehumanization. His behavior at the presidency was a manifestation of the impersonation of the oppressor by the oppressed. As we said in our French article ?La Cause du Mal,? Aristide is just an instance of a type fabricated by the complex socio-economic factory of the Haitian bourgeoisie. The failure of the economic elite to create opportunities for the people along with the deep social cleavage they?ve put in place over time constitute some of the gears of the machinery of Haiti?s demise.
A moment of reckoning by the elites is in order if true democracy and ultimately sustained development are to ensue. Haitian culture must be altered in a positive way.
Haiti?s problem is primarily one of culture, not structure. The elaboration of structure demands vision and new culture. You have to know why you?re creating this structure and not that structure, where you?re going, your problem domain (Haiti needs strategic thinkers). A structure is first the people supporting it; they must think differently to support a new structure. Decentralization of power is a good concept that can only work with the promotion and establishment of a new culture. Without a new culture, decentralization will only compound corruption and mismanagement. In sum, Haiti?s complex problems cannot be solved at the level of thinking they were created.
How can Haiti weather the global storm soon to hit Cuba?
HAITI, THE PROMISE
Time is fast running out. Prime Minister Gerard Latortue is certainly right when he goes after foreign aid, for he has inherited a bankrupt country. He must decisively deal with the security issues and disarm the so-called freedom fighters as well the Lavalas thugs and the former members of the Haitian army. His mandate is not only limited in time but by the constraints of economic reality.
Latortue cannot attract foreign investments significant enough to decisively boost the country?s economy. Even if he were to secure and stabilize the country completely, he can?t sell a vision of long-term stability for the very reason that no one knows which government will follow in a country known for political infighting and instability. True capitalism abhors chaos and uncertainty.
The Prime Minister can at best create a few jobs. That?s not his fault as we?ve just argued. So, he must do his best while focusing on some key achievements such as:
Transform his government into an enabler of economic growth by partnering with the private sector to carry out some public services under contractual agreement and performance criteria. (A bankrupt government cannot provide public services).
Secure the country by tapping the right means and sources. Strengthen the judicial and the police.
Modernize governance and significantly reduce the size of government by relying — through competitive bidding — on the private sector as the new employer.
Educate the people about the election process, their civil rights and responsibilities, and why they must not root for demagogues of the like of Aristide. (A very difficult thing to do in a country where hunger is a destabilizing force.)
Finally, operate in full transparency and show that he is living new values in stark contrast with past practices. (He must continuously communicate with the people to that effect.)
The mission to profoundly and lastingly change Haiti really belongs to an elected government, providing it has the political will and the vision to quickly chart a new course in radical departure with the past. An elected government must certainly take the steps we?ve outlined, but must, in addition, tap the potential of the Haitian Diaspora and make it compelling and safe for them to invest in the country and create jobs. While foreign aid can provide a much-needed boost to a bankrupt economy, a country must create wealth to service its debt and satisfy the needs of its people. To this end, a clever government must necessarily unleash the potential of the Haitian Diaspora. The Haitian Diaspora has a vested interest to invest in their country. They?ll bring along with their investments, modern vision, new culture, management skills, and technologies that all Haiti will benefit from, the same way the Cuban-American Diaspora will help lift post-Castro?s Cuba, if everything goes well.
Haiti has no better weapon against poverty than its Diaspora.
If Haitian leadership is unable to move fast and cleverly, and educate the masses, Haiti will enter, some time during this decade or the next, the bleakest period of its entire history, when Cuba opens its shores to the world after Castro. Haiti will not globalize and will stay marginalized in the world economy.
Haitian political leadership must coalesce to offer a united front to the Haitian people. Haiti doesn?t need so many political parties, two or three at the most. In their vast majority illiterate, the Haitian people are ill prepared to face this plethora of choices.
Finally, the Haitian bourgeoisie must recognize its failings and invest in the masses for a new society, a new partnership, and a new culture. And we?re not talking about a social contract that doesn?t have any meaning whatsoever. We?re talking about deeds and living the values that make a people, a nation, and a nation, a great country.
We are at the end of our fourth journey; having discovered a major storm ahead and in so doing presented the big picture: Haiti in context. The Beyond the Revolution of Ideas series have been known to cause pain and significantly raise blood pressure in otherwise healthy individuals. However, we always write the series with great joy. And even when we warn of a painful journey, it is really to entertain. Our goal is ultimately to learn, unlearn, and relearn with our audience.
We?re on to our fifth journey in political space-time.