June 23, 2005
(Radio Vision 2000) The ministerial cabinet was reshuffled yesterday. By the way, how would you describe it?
(Baker) As far as I am concerned, it is a bluff. For, the prime minister cannot tell me that he has spent about a year working with these people and it is only now that he is saying that they were useless. If this is the case, then we will have to wait another six months or another year before we can see positive changes.
I believe that it is a delaying tactic. The prime minister has finally come to the realization that the people have had enough. Besides, you can see what is written on many walls in the capital. The people clearly affirm that they have had enough. It is early now and I do not really feel like talking. But I can tell you that I am tired of the whole situation.
(Radio Vision 2000) Actually, only one member of the government has been changed?the social affairs minister, because the other people were already in the government.
(Baker) Basically, yes.
(Radio Vision 2000) It is a sort of permutation.
(Baker) It is a superficial change that is being made because the prime minister notices that the people are tired of the current situation. So, he is trying to shuffle the cards to take people’s attention away from the real problems.
(Radio Vision 2000) What was your expectation?
(Baker) I have been observing the prime minister for about a year and a half now. I realize that he is not someone who is in the habit of taking responsibility. Actually, he is the prime minister and yet he is talking about the police as if he is not the chief of police. There is a director-general of the police, but the chief of police is in fact the prime minister, who is president of the High Council of the Haitian National Police (CSPNH).
He is the first person that should know how many policemen there are and the type of equipment they have. He is the person responsible for getting everything the police need in order to give security to the people. The Haitian people do not deserve what is going on now. And yet, he is pretending not to be in charge. He is acting like a spectator. So, can we actually stand such a thing? The prime minister, who is the head of government, is pretending to be a spectator.
(Radio Vision 2000) The thing is that, for some time now, it has been the habit of the people in power to complain about situations like any simple citizen.
(Baker) Actually, I would say that they complain more than simple citizens do. For instance, when the private sector goes to hold talks with the prime minister, we feel like handing him a handkerchief for him to cry in. And yet, we are the victims, it is our workers that are being killed, it is the people that are being victimized. But meanwhile, he is moving about in armored vehicles with lots of security.
I am serious about this, when we go to see him, we feel like giving him a handkerchief for him to cry in. So, he is really in a situation of incompetence. About the police, when the private sector asked the prime minister why they do not recruit more policemen and instead of having a class of 100 graduates on a monthly basis they should have instead 1,000 or 1,200 police out of the Police Academy, do you know what he replied?
The prime minister just said that the international community does not want that. When we asked why they cannot find enough arms and ammunition for the police and why they do not provide the police with the same type of weapons that the terrorists use here so that they can oppose them, he said that it is because the international community does not allow that. Now, does he mean that it is the international community that is playing the role of prime minister or is he the prime minister?
(Radio Vision 2000) Maybe the international community is better placed than he is.
(Baker) I agree with you there. But either he lets the international community see that he is the prime minister or he will have the decency to step down and let somebody else govern the country. Because Jean-Bertrand Aristide is able to find weapons and ammunition to send to his terrorists.
Actually, I live in an area not far from Cité Soleil. So, I can tell you what it is like when those people start shooting down there. In order for them to be able to carry out all these shootings, their leader must have provided them with lots of weapons. Meanwhile, the Latortue government is a legitimate government, but it cannot get weapons for the national police.
As a citizen, when I go and see the prime minister about a problem, I expect him to suggest some solutions. Or else, he could tell me that he does not have a solution for now but promise to resolve the situation later. When I go to see him, I do not expect him to ask me if I can help him. This is just unacceptable.
And it is not something that has to do just with the prime minister. It is the same attitude when we go to see the representatives of the international community. We feel like giving these people a handkerchief for them to cry in. They look so helpless.
(Radio Vision 2000) In the speech made at the National Palace yesterday, the prime minister said that he is ready to take responsibility. Maybe we should give him credit.
(Baker) All right, I give him credit for this. But it has been six and a half months and yet he has not shouldered his responsibility. So now, how can I be sure that he is going to do so in the coming six months? The question that all Haitians ought to ask themselves is this: Will the country of Haiti be able to put up with Latortue for another six months? As for me, I can tell you that a lot of factories have already closed their doors because of the insecurity and a lot more will be closed if the situation goes on as it is now.
(Radio Vision 2000) In other words, the situation will become more complicated. Anyway, I think that it is within this context that they have named a Lavalas member at the head of the Social Affairs Ministry. They present him as a moderate Lavalas. Do you know him?
(Baker). No, not at all.
(Radio Vision 2000) What do you think a Lavalas member could offer the current government now?
(Baker) I will tell you what I think a Lavalas member ought to do. He should go on the radio and condemn the situation that is going on in places like Cité Soleil and Bel-Air, because it is members of the Lavalas Family that are causing the insecurity. It is Lavalas partisans that are terrorizing the people. So, anyone who claims to be from the Lavalas party ought to be able to stand against the current terrorism and condemn it. As long as this person cannot do so then I cannot take him seriously. Besides, I think this person is an accomplice of what is going on.
(Radio Vision 2000) Anyway, he was presented by other people as a Lavalas member.
(Baker) I do not know him at all. But I think that if he is indeed a Lavalas partisan then his place is not in this government simply because I have never heard him condemn publicly what is taking place in areas such as Cité Soleil and Bel-Air.
(Radio Vision 2000) Let us review the kidnaping issue before we finish this conversation. You have talked about certain sectors that are involved in kidnaping and that are committing acts of destabilization. Do you know that this is being practiced at all levels?
(Baker) Actually, I was one of the first persons to denounce it in the press. There are people who are kidnaped and the kidnappers only accept 500 gourdes or 1,000 gourdes from them. There are others that pay 50,000 or 60,000 dollars.
(Radio Vision 2000) I mean that there are members of the bourgeoisie that are involved in kidnapping, too.
(Baker) All right, but where are they now?
(Radio Vision 2000) Well, the authorities should assume their responsibility and present them to the press just like they do in the case of the poor kidnappers.
(Baker) There needs to be a certain transparency in the government. The prime minister is the person in charge and he should inform us about certain things.
(Radio Vision 2000) This transparency should be at all levels, even the political parties. For instance, in the Democratic Action to Build Haiti (Adebah), they have dismissed Camille Leblanc (former justice minister under the Préval government) for a period a six months.
He was president of the party. It is possible that they did so because they realize that he violated an article of the party’s internal regulations. So, they are not considering him a member of the party for six months. Anyway, he might use the occasion to create his own party, of course. Anyway, we will just have to wait and see. By the way, have you heard about anybody that was kidnaped today?
(Baker) No, but I know that there is a warehouse that is being looted at this very moment in an area not far from Cité Soleil. Anyway, the police have been informed about that and they are going to intervene.
(Radio Vision 2000) About the kidnaping issue, last month, they kidnaped a person who was working for the Immigration Office and at the time he was in possession of more than a hundred passports that belonged to people who had applied for new passports. The kidnappers asked for a ransom. The ransom was paid and all the passports were recovered.
Let me talk about something that happened yesterday. We heard that somebody was kidnaped. A brother of the victim who went to pay the ransom was also kidnaped after the ransom was paid. The kidnappers released the first victim and ordered him to go and find another sum of money in order to pay a ransom for the second victim.
Meanwhile, a well-to-do man who is described as part of the bourgeoisie actually went to make a purchase in a store in Petion-Ville and he was using a credit card belonging to one of the kidnaping victims. But the people in the store noticed that something was wrong. They alerted the police, who then came and arrested this man. We just hope that the police will present this rich man to the press, too, because most of the time, it is the poor kidnappers that are presented to the press.