Originally: Themes d’Emission de la Semaine
Q. After you sounded the alarm on hunger and rising prices in June 2007, what were the reactions of Preval and his entourage?
A. To govern is to foresee. They did not foresee despite a multitude of warnings.
As a senator and particularly as one representing the Northeast Department, I always have my ear to the ground. They are my constituents. I witnessed by sight and sound the “Clorox” type of hunger that tears up one’s guts. Other senators such as Senator Mathurin came to me and said, “Boulos, it is past time to ask the Commerce Committee to take this seriously, this hunger that is ravaging Haitian families.” The chairman of this committee didn’t want to hear about it.
So I took the responsibility of taking the first step. I called on the government to do something, to find some solution.
What was the answer? It was, “Why is Boulos trying to get out front? Why does he keep harping on the high cost of living? What does he want? What is he after? Somebody, put a muzzle on him! We have to keep our distance from this senator, we have to put him outside the tent. Who will put him on warning to keep his mouth shut?”
So their answers were nothing more than threats and threats of death. Imagine the cost of the damage caused by the hunger riots we have just gone through, which lasted less than a week. If only the prime minister had listened. If he had invested just a little of the enormous amount that was uselessly wasted in the looting, the arson, the attacks and the murders, neither he nor we would be where we are today! Instead of foreseeing, today we are just reacting to what was predictable and what the prime minister could have easily prevented and contained.
Q. Given the precarious inhuman conditions which the poorest of the Haitian masses endure, what explains the inertia and laxness of the government of Preval/Alexis; is it incomprehension, blindness, or indifference?
A. It is clear irresponsibility. Their attitude to the suffering of the masses is a deliberate political choice. They prefer to wait until the people can bear it no more so as to confront them with their shock troops. With the nuance that they seek to criminalize this reaction of the people, which is just, authentic, and natural for any people in such depths of suffering and grief, so tormented by hunger.
They intentionally sat with arms folded to create the ambiance they wanted–anarchy–and profit therefrom. Under cover of anonymity, they carried out their dirty work against those they targeted. It is a cynical and deliberate political choice to provoke an atmosphere of “Cut off their heads, burn their houses,” to satisfy the predatory interests of those who govern. They prefer to use the energy of the people for destruction. They exploit the misery of the people to make themselves appear as the defenders and spokespeople of the popular protest.
What is the result? To exclude and discourage investors who now won’t come to stimulate the productive capacity of the Haitian people. They make the investors see the Haitian people as a bunch of arsonists and vandals who need to be thrown a few morsels to appease them, instead of working to develop them. As I said, it is a deliberate political choice, and a suicidal strategy. It is as in the cynical proverb: Every man for himself!
Q. Wasn’t the questioning, however maladroit, of Alexis by the Chamber of Deputies on February 28 a clear and unequivocal sign of the rising dissatisfaction and discontent that finally erupted in Les Cayes? Why didn’t Preval and Alexis take note?
A. This was again a deliberate political choice to close their eyes, ears and hearts, and not see, hear or feel the groaning of the masses, whose situation is unconscionable.
They said they could not squeeze blood from stones. But they didn’t hesitate to write checks of up to $5,000 apiece to buy the consciences and votes of the deputies and win a vote of confidence. They prefer to invest in corruption than in the well-being of the poorest.
The hunger riots broke out precisely in reaction to this act of contempt and derision of the masses’ misery. The senate, in reaction to these hunger riots and atrocities reported worldwide, was forced to register the failure of the government=s choices.
Q. The hunger riots which were real and natural reactions of the masses broke out in the wink of an eye in the main cities. Were they inevitable?
A. When you tell people to lie down and starve, what kind of answer do you expect? They will rise even against bullets. When in the Central Plateau you insult them with, “I can’t perform miracles. Go demonstrate and invite me, so I can demonstrate with you.” Even though these are the people who voted for you as the one who would defend their interests. When you can’t hear them, they will come and make you hear. When the people of the Nord-Est sent Senator Boulos to say that they were hungry, you have no response.
But there was an appropriate response:
- Lower the cost of rice
- Get microcredits to the market women
- Subsidize agricultural inputs for the peasants.
That is a political choice, the choice to do nothing. To do nothing in this case is as bad as to do harm.
Q. Certainly, the acts of violence, the looting, arson, attacks and thievery are to be condemned. But why does the government of Preval/Alexis and its supporters try at any cost to minimize the authenticity of the anger of the masses by only emphasizing insinuations of infiltration of the hunger riots by drug dealers and smugglers?
A. Yes, absolutely these acts are to be condemned. The more so since those were professional vandals who began on Tuesday morning in Port-au-Prince, guided by shadowy forces to exploit political opportunity, as we have noted.
Once more proof of irresponsibility! If you say you know which sector is responsible for the vandalism why don’t you stop them? When this sector which you know well was finished destroying the roads, public buildings and devastating the belongings of those who were specifically targeted, you did not apprehend them. It only ended, too late, when the destruction became too scandalous and you indicated it was time to stop the atrocities. And in fact this sector which you know well obeyed your orders instantly. What does this mean? This sector has impunity and protection from you as it carries out your orders.
You have said you won’t compensate anyone for the damage they have suffered. Do you think that any enterpreneurs will take the risk to invest to create new jobs? Who can invest in such a situation? Only the drug dealers, perhaps.
(Partial text. It will be finished tomorrow.)