Originally: Thèmes de l?Emission de la semaine
At the beginning of his second term Préval evinced a total disinterest in power. Why then such a preoccupation with power today? Préval tried to seal the irreversibility of his removal of Senator Boulos from the senate by imprisoning the senator, followed by an induced diabetic coma. By divine intervention, intuition or instinct of self-preservation, Senator Boulos spontaneously felt the need to leave the building where the removal session was taking place on March 18. This decision saved his life.
Embarrassed by the consequences of this crime, faced with diplomats who came to ask about the reasons for such a drastic and spectacular action, Préval put on a show of defiance. To evade the question he cited an interview Senator Boulos gave three days after his political lynching as a clear expression of his will to break off and cut bridges of communication to Préval. Certainly, there are and always will be all sorts of bridges which lead to the dictators and despots of the world. But the question is, how do you cross those bridges? By corruption, prostitution, subordination, and knuckling under. This is what makes those bridges impassible to those who cannot or will not sell their conscience as a citizen for a mess of potage or the enjoyment of ill-gotten power.
What was the goal of the interview that Préval complains about? It was, to the extent that the senator could, to make public all that really underlay this operation of removing him from the senate. In other words, his intention was to let the public know that for one thing the means used to expel Senator Boulos, dual nationality, was a phony pretext, illegal and unconstitutional. And for another, to establish by a recitation of the facts that the real reasons for the removal were purely and strictly political. What the interview was about was the how the disagreement between Préval and Boulos took a qualitative leap to become the conflict between the two. It was then that Préval decided that Senator Boulos had become an obstacle to his strategy of total control of the state apparatus.
Where did the disagreement start? What brought about the change to make it a conflict? Why did the destruction of Senator Boulos become an obsession? In short, as a responsible citizen, after the drama of his expulsion, the senator sounded the alarm to alert you and let you see and understand the strategy of confiscating the state that is underway. To stay silent, do nothing and say nothing is as disastrous as to do evil.
The question of skin color, which is not to be underestimated, in fact is essential and fundamental at a certain political level, certainly played a great role from the beginning, forcing him to be a candidate in three elections before finally being elected senator from the Nord-Est on December 3, 2006. The day after his election as vice-president of the senate this question arose again in an noisy and disorderly way. However, for Préval, whose mother was mulatto, this was basically a demagogic manipulation, using his color.
Elected senator, and beginning his work, Senator Boulos touched the proverbial third rail by raising for the first time in twenty years the possibility of having all the delegate elections for the Territorial Assemblies. He did this in the course of winning the installation of the already-elected ASEC representatives and city delegates. This was an unpardonable act for the Lavalas partisans, because it directly threatened the integrity of the Lavalas power. The Lavalas partisans fear the Territorial Assembly elections and have constantly avoided them ever since taking power in February 1991 to this day. When the senator brought the members of parliament to the meeting at the Kaliko Beach Hotel to discuss pressing for the installation of the ASEC and city delegates, the senator in fact forced the hand of Préval and Alexis in making them not only publish the results of the elections for the ASEC and city delegates in July 2007 but also in making them install these officials immediately in August 2007.
Why do the Lavalas people fear the Territorial Assembly elections so much? Because these assemblies would:
- Organize the decentralization and deconcentration of power centered in the Republic of Port-au-Prince.
- Create the Permanent Electoral Council.
- Authorize the interdepartmental delegates to sit in the council of ministers.
In other words, the Territorial Assembly elections would lead inescapably to the destruction of the traditional Lavalas power by preventing the absolute control of the state apparatus by the executive. For this is exactly what Préval aspires to.
The hellish combination of the high cost of living, the hunger, the unemployment and the decline of agricultural production which is squeezing the guts of Haitian families and particularly the poorest is now called “Clorox” in the vernacular. This crisis remained taboo in government circles until the moment when Senator Boulos, pressured by his constituents, publicly criticized these facts in the media. He was not content to just criticize. He proposed for Préval?s consideration a combination of three solutions for a rapid approach to the crisis:
- Temporary elimination of the tax on food staples, particularly rice
- Increase in microcredits for rapid economic stimulation
- Offer of agricultural inputs for peasants victimized by four natural disasters in twelve months.
Instead of trying to understand, analyze and examine the feasibility of what had been suggested, Préval took offense. Enraged, he went to the Central Plateau to make the declarations we all know: “We would need a miracle to resolve the problem of the high cost of living. If you want to protest against the cost of living, invite me, I will protest with you!”
Did Préval reject these solutions with the back of his hand because they had been proposed by Senator Boulos? Or as a dyed-in-the-wool populist, did he prefer to sound off rather than solve the crisis? Take your pick! However, what are we witnessing this week in Les Cayes, GonaVves, Port-au-Prince, Petit Goâve, and Aquin? Hunger riots! Revolt against the high cost of living! What can one say about the government?s reaction, so late and inadequate? Finally the question everyone is asking under their breath: Is this the beginning of the end?
The judicial system having always been under the thumb of the executive, control over the legislative remained the next step for Préval to get total control of the state. With the dissolution of the chambers being prohibited by Article 111.8 of the Constitution, loss of quorum and deactivation of the legislature were the preferred means to reach his end. The gradual erosion of the senate?s quorum was the opportunity that Préval tried to exploit in refusing to hold the elections to renew a third of the senate. But then, the threat by six senators to boycott the opening session of the National Assembly on January 14, 2008, which would have prevented the assembly from opening to receive the president and the diplomatic corps, kept Préval from sending home the senators elected for two years whose terms were technically up, and forced him to keep them until elections could be held to replace them. This compromise also was attributed to the leadership of Senator Boulos.
Reacting negatively to the remark of Préval that the constitution was a source of instability Senator Boulos publicly expressed his opposition to any attempt to replace the constitution. This formal stance put Senator Boulos squarely athwart of Préval.
Can one really believe after following the evolution of these facts brought out in the interview that there was a bridge between Préval and Boulos that the senator could have crossed without compromising his integrity?
It is absolutely true that in a democracy, to maintain social cohesion and satisfy different interests one strives to find and negotiate the common good to arrive at a consensus. Against this are the efforts Préval is clearly making to confiscate total control of the state apparatus. Against this also is the possibility of the Territorial Assembly elections and the proposal to reduce the cost of living, the hunger and unemployment, by stimulating the economy and agricultural production and temporarily removing the tax. Who in this conflict between Préval and Boulos is truly seeking the common good and trying to satisfy different interests?
As the conflict grew there was an even more serious aspect. This was the violation of the principle of the separation of powers. To begin with, the encroachment of the senate into the judiciary?s realm, which includes the determination of nationality, has been denounced by our most eminent jurists. Violation of Article 112.1 of the constitution which describes the majority required for disciplinary measures and their limits. There is another suspicion of encroachment when one reflects on the origin of the text of the resolution of March 18, a suspicion that can be regarded as all but confirmed.
How does one explain that this resolution whose aim was to chase Senator Rudolph Henry Boulos out of the senate did not include in its list of whereases one citing the most important and dramatic fact of the session, namely the verbal resignation of Sen. Rudolph H. Boulos? The absence among the whereases of the verbal resignation of someone specifically targeted in this resolution reveals that it was not written in the course of the session but was written ahead of time somewhere else. If it had been composed and revised by one or several senators there, it would have had to be changed to include this verbal resignation. The fact is, it was not included. It thus appears that the president of the senate was formally obligated by whoever sent him this resolution to adopt it as is. Who could give this kind of order to the president of the senate? This is the question!