Yes, everyone knows that the presidential elections are now over and that René Préval is the president-elect. Haitians, most of them, don't see things in the American way - in terms of the elections are over, let's congratulate the winner! Even president George W. Bush picked up his phone calling Preval to congratulate him and wishing him good luck. Have all politicians in Haiti done that so far and publicly?
It is terrible when reading about Manigat's reaction about Preval's winning. Manigat, who came in second position, does not even get 13% of over 90% of the votes counted and he's been complaining about an “electoral coup” against him. He's been patiently waiting for a make-believe runoff. But he would still be the loser when looking at his low scores, making it impossible to catch up Preval who was way ahead. Even if he were to get the scores of votes from the so-called coalition, he would not make it either and the coalition is already splitting by conceding Preval's victory. But Manigat has been even thinking of all possible ways for a legal fight. I don't know how many of us have read one of the funniest fables by La Fontaine, “La grenouille et le boeuf”*. Where's the beef (in the case of Manigat's wanting to burst)?
Senou, in his article suggests that the 'Diaspora or the mainland' must work together. The thing is that we, Haitians in the Diaspora – precisely those who really want to help Haiti, need the proper channels to do so and of course, we focus on any serious government who ascends to power in order to create or open these channels that some of us have been desperately waiting for. In other words, we need structures as models to help us or to follow.
I talk about the importance of human resources in some of my latest articles, and how Haiti can benefit from that. But unfortunately, it is an area that has never been exploited to help Haiti as far as I know. Shouldn't that, genuine idea, be part of the Minister of the Diaspora 's agenda (to create these crucial channels in order to exploit human resources) for the benefit of Haiti's development?
I guess this should be among the most important agendas' of the incoming government. Yes, there are many Haitian Brothers and Sisters in the Diaspora who would love to help Haiti with all their heart! There is also a dynamic population of young college Haitians abroad (particularly living in the United States) who would love to help and to work with Haitian youth back home but, they need proper channels, or institutions in order to do so and something that the following governments can build upon to help the country moving forward.
At the same time, we should encourage groups of people who are trying to do anything to help (without waiting for these proper channels to be created). Among these groups, we can mention the “ regional groups” (e.g., some people who are from certain regions in Haiti decide to get together to do something to help their native provinces such as building a clinic, a school, a hospital, creating a business, an activity for the youth, whatever that would benefit their local regions). This is an excellent idea that is seen as part of “alternative development” because at the same time, the country has too many problems to be solved at once and really, if we are conscious, it would be impossible to wait for any government who ascends to power to solve all of Haiti's problems within five years. But these projects must be encouraged by the Haitian government because, in a way, they will make the burden lighter for the latter by getting together to help themselves. Therefore, they must try to back up these groups. For instance, they can be helped by facilitating them certain authorizations from the government (if needed) in order to proceed with what they are doing; they can be helped if they need certain help to ship some materials to Haiti since we know about the headache they can have through the customs service. Confronting these problems can discourage them from helping their own provinces which are parts of Haiti and in a way, developing some parts of the country because the government can't help doing all this right away.
Blaming each other and taking revenges are among the important points mentioned by Senou in his article. Yes, Haitians are very good at that and I would also add, blaming former colonizers all the time for our fate instead of taking responsibility for our own mess by correcting our mistakes made in the past. It's a whole mentality that needs to be changed here as many critics would agree. In a way, Haitians need to grow up. Though changing that mentality is not something that can be done over night for one that has been colonized for over five hundred years, but preaching constantly about what's good to be done will certainly have, in the long run, a positive effect at least on the younger generation who will be the tomorrow’s leaders.
In Senou's suggestion 'to follow Mandela footsteps' we first see forgiveness here and be able to work with rivals. But can that really happen in Haiti? Shouldn't there be first a justice system (to tell “x” or “y” of their wrong doings before forgiveness can be granted (if we want to follow the Mandela model)? Look how many people who have been thrown in jail since Latortue came to power in March 2004, and these prisoners have never seen a judge. Isn’t that something against the constitution when they must appear before a judge in two days? Many of them don't even know why they are behind bars in the first place.
So, I guess Senou is going to think of that - how to grant forgiveness after justice is done. Yes, we can forgive and not forget. Haitians are not easy to forgive and we know that. Is it really part of the Haitian Culture or part of a Political Culture (back home)? We wonder because it’s something that we’ve been observing for more than two centuries.
In calling to ‘establish a bridge between those ‘who have’ and those ‘who have not’, as Senou mentions, our question is: How solid can that bridge be? Here, he leaves out the word “ to create”. How about that, create also to empower the ‘who have not’, to teach them how to create to possess (not just “give” them)? If you show me how to fish, it would be absolutely better than giving me a fish daily for I can be on my own catching many every day in the nearby water and at any time. In other words, there should be a focus on teaching how to be independent.
NOTES & REFERENCES
* “La grenouille et le boeuf”. One of La Fontaine’s funniest fables in which a frog wanted to be as big as an ox by finally blowing itself up in trying to be big.
SENOU. “A Call for a Coalition and a Unity gove”. (Posted on “ Haiti Mailing List” Forum, Feb. 2006)
VEDRINE, Emmanuel W. Pou yon lòt nivo konvèsasyon nan avantay Ayiti.
VEDRINE, Emmanuel W. What can I do to help Haiti?
Emmanuel W. Védrine
E. W. VEDRINE CREOLE PROJECT, Inc.
Dorchester, MA 02125-5110 (U.S)