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by Emmanuel W. VEDRINE,
University of Rhode Island
Today, political parties in Haiti are numerous; they sprout up like mushroom after a bad storm. It’s a form of NGOs: after money and support from abroad. The people who run them only see their pockets with the main objectives to ascend to power with a Machiavellian philosophy, “ascending to power any possible way” to go and pillage the state’s treasury, and then proceed to talk a lot about a political crisis that they’ve been talking about for so many years. If they really care about Haiti’s development, they would try to converge into three strong political parties and then try to organize primary elections the way it’s done in some great civilized countries (to have the qualifying rounds where 2 parties go to the general elections).
Haitian politicians are not blind to what’s being done in the Dominican Republic, a neighboring country that has decided to walk in the development path. This year they have inaugurated the first metro line in the Caribbean while Haiti does not yet have a bus line in Port-au-Prince! How many political parties are there in the Dominican Republic? The Haitian people today are tired with bluff, with long speeches in French, with beautiful promises and crazy talk that flip flops only to try to make them look like fools while they are trying to fool the people.
The Haitian people are dying from hunger. We’ve just seen it recently where grafters have also taken advantage to enter the informal musical group parading, acting in whatever way; things are still the same – a ‘dechoukay’1 or uprooting without end to continue destabilizing Haiti. The people cry “down with ‘lavichè”2! The people cry “down with liars taking a free ride on the people’s back!”. But what makes the ‘lavichè’?
First, the problems that we are observing today are the results of what government did not do in Haiti’s past and this has been going on for a long time; it’s a cancer that spreads out. Governments ascend to power and descend from power but Haiti always remains with buckteeth. Even before and after the Second World War, things were not too good in Haiti. If they were better, why were Haitians going to Cuba to cut down sugar cane, going there to do all sort of bad jobs? Why did Baptista arrest many thousands and send them back to Haiti in the late 50s? Why did he seize their wealth and repatriate them to Haiti empty-handed? Why did many try to go illegally to the Dominican Republic to cut down sugar cane, doing all the bad jobs that the Dominicans would not do? Why did Trujillo [Rafael Leonidas Molina Trujillo] find an opening for the 1937 genocide?
So, when putting all these questions together, we conclude that things were always not good for most Haitians and many Haitian politicians were always not ashamed when, since a long time, they’ve been mistreating Haitians like dogs in other parts of the Caribbean; they were deporting them to Haiti. Aren’t these same stories being repeated today? What does the government in power say about Haitians Who are being mistreated like dogs everywhere in the Caribbean today? Have they ever talked about it? Do they have a plan to make them go back to Haiti, to help them, to create jobs and activities for them? There is a reason why many of them have left Haiti illegally.
Most young Haitians (be they in Haiti or in the Diaspora) are not proud of themselves today and we can’t say they are wrong. Yes, they are right when seeing the older generation is not doing anything serious, does not leave any positive models for them to follow.
A great man from Martinique is gone in the month of April: Aimé Césaire. A great poet, he was also a great politician who fought for over 50 years for the development of Martinique and its culture. But this is a positive model for all people of Martinique, and we can say even us Haitians because Césaire, himself being one of the great writers, the last center pole of the Negritude Movement, and black politician from the Caribbean also did not forget to talk about Haiti’s history; so we can say that Haiti was a source of inspiration for him. But today, who as Haitian politician in Haiti can we compare with Césaire, in terms of patriotic love? So, we need positive models for Haiti in every domain. The recent cry of the Haitian people has to do with hunger, ‘lavichè’, and insecurity also. But what has Haiti produced? Many of us, since very young, have been repeating from some books that “Haiti is an agricultural country”. Big words! And everywhere we go in Haiti, we see water is being wasted by running down and flowing to the sea; poor peasants are praying to God for rainfall so that they can plant. Where are the agronomists, who have spent time, studying at Haiti’s universities and at universities abroad? What’s in their head, pulp of calabash or gourd? What have they proposed on paper to help with agriculture?
Where are the engineers who have studies at Haiti’s universities and at universities abroad? Can they draw roads? Bridges? Canals? What have they proposed on paper? Where are the elected politicians, those who are in power, those who out of power? Do they know that there is water being wasted almost everywhere in Haiti? What system can they adopt to collect these waters to help peasants irrigate lands without spending so much money? Many of us are tired of hearing things like: foreign countries refuse Haiti to develop; foreign countries will always cause problems for Haiti not to develop. All of this is nonsense!
If there exist some Machiavellian contracts that are secretly signed, it’s always our Haitian brothers who signed them; so the source of the problem always comes from Haitians. Yes, they truly came from Haitians (black skin, light skin, red skin, and those with small ears) who stand across Haiti’s road of development. When Haitians refuse to talk about Haiti’s reality or make decisions to do positive things, they always look for pretexts to blame ‘blan’ (foreigners) all the time for Haiti’s fate. Since 1804, we have not seen a white man with blue yes and curly hair ascending to power; so it’s always Haitians governing; Haitians are always captains of the boat (even if they’ve had decided to take orders secretly from some foreign swindlers to hold on to power for life, to sell Dessalines’ land – this always remains an individual choice). If everyone in an area in Haiti had decided to do something positive for that area, I don’t believe any hurricane would destroy their solidarity to attain their objective. Well if all Haitian politicians (those in power, those out of power, those who are thirsty for power) would agree to work together on Haiti’s development, we don’t believe that any foreign country on earth could stop them, whatever the hatred they would have in their heart for Haiti.
In short, we could go on and continue to elaborate on our main subject, “political parties vs. Haiti’s development”, a subject with which we could write a book on. The same problems, the same stories are being repeated in the twenty first century where Haitian politicians, particularly those in power try to ignore their problem and don’t try to do anything in their power, not only to help them go back to Haiti to help but also, they don’t try to do anything in Haiti avoid the illegal flow of Haitians going to the neighboring Dominican Republic and to other parts of the Caribbean in search of a better life, a dream nevertheless that has never come true for most of them.