It worries us all. What am I saying? We are obsessed with it. It consumes us. It hunts us down and corners us. It prevents the free circulation of people and goods. It discourages investment and increases country risk. It discredits the authorities and puts the government on the hot seat. It inspires cabinet reshuffling, changes in the police force and in MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti). It is also changing the way of life and customs in Port-au-Prince and, indirectly, throughout Haiti. No one is spared.
Insecurity is currently public enemy number one for Haiti and the Haitian people?ahead of poverty. Not everyone dies of it, but everyone is affected. Some more than others. Yet it is not completely paralyzing. Traffic remains heavy on Port-au-Prince?s main arteries. There is no apparent panic. Not even resignation. But it takes vigilance and plenty of determination to go about one?s business.
A pragmatic man sees that people are murdered or kidnapped at home or at the office, morning, noon and night. In the middle of the road, on foot, or in a car. So, if he has to go out, he does. But he keeps his eyes open and takes some precautions. To the extent possible, he avoids dangerous or dubious areas; yet, they say, more and more areas are randomly becoming dangerous and dubious.
Another person admits that he?s afraid, that he doesn?t want to go out alone, but paradoxically, once out on the street, he no longer thinks of his fear. He left it at home. He knows he?s going out at this own risk. So, whatever happens, it?s beyond his control. No need to panic.
A third person says that it isn?t his safety that concerns him, but rather that of his children and family. So he refuses to think about it. Because by thinking about it, he fears he?ll become afraid. He refuses to think about it consciously, yet thinks about it constantly. And he panics a little: even though he knows his children haven?t gone out, he calls them to make sure they are all right. He is temporarily relieved, but he thinks about tomorrow: on their way to school, or on their way home. So he blocks it from his mind, yet dwells on it constantly. In fact, he doesn?t know what to think.
A two-, three- or multi-pronged dilemma: What can be done about insecurity? How long will it last? Many good questions are asked, but good answers are few and far between. Except to continue to go about one?s business. To be afraid without panicking. To be vigilant without being paranoid. And to remember that fear of harm causes much more harm than the harm itself.
So what to do? Despite the old demons, despite the loss of loved ones, despite the pain and temptations of all kinds, a society in search of democracy and social justice must learn to manage its fringe groups and extremists. Without excess, and with restraint. They may be the products of a single phenomenon, but they are not identical. Fringe groups often appear out in the open. They talk a lot, but they are more about talk than action. On the other hand, extremists do more than they say. Surreptitiously. Insidiously. Statements very often convey the inability to act. It is important to remember all this, especially when angry. Legitimately. So, no Article 291 this time. No forced exclusions or pernicious jurisprudence. No banning either. And then, we must avoid tainting Jacques Roche?s legacy.
Jacques Roche! Everything has been said about him: he was an artist, a poet, a writer, a journalist, a hardworking man. He was certainly all this and then some. But, we mustn?t forget that he was also a patriot, an agent of change, a humanist. In short, a good Haitian! Unfortunately, we give the impression that we have stopped being good Haitians ourselves. It is unclear whether he would have approved the exclusion proposals. So let?s not associate them with his memory. Even from a distance. Although perhaps others?and certainly those close to him?know better than I do.
Insecurity is public enemy number one?let us join forces to confront it. Now is not the time for the petty designs and schemes that we are so fond of. In this struggle, there is no room for questioning everyone?s motives. Let us join forces with our neighbors, with the people in our neighborhoods, with civil society, with professionals and farmers. With the ever growing number of students and the shrinking corps of workers. And with the private sector, which, like everyone else, is sick and tired of insecurity. And with the government too.
Oh! You wouldn?t want to pass for a government supporter? That?s your right. But to support its efforts against insecurity does not mean that you support all its actions. You would like it to go as soon as possible? That is also your right. But if you want it to go next February 7 for real, you would benefit from helping it fight insecurity. The greater your commitment to this cause, the more inevitable the government?s departure. Otherwise, well, anything could happen.
Oh! I almost forgot. Insecurity is also fought inside ourselves. It?s true that it is public enemy number one, but it is also a very personal enemy. Let us try to conquer it in private as well as in public.