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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Haiti’s political crisis deepens with no end in sight

lamotheaBy Ardain Isma

CSMS Magazine

Demonstrators swelled the streets of Port-au-Prince once more on Wednesday. Their demands were clear and unequivocal: Michel Martelly must go! New parliamentary elections must be held! These latest cries came amid resignation of Laurent Lamothe, the country’s former Prime Minister who went on a litany of self-praises as he spoke to the nation Saturday night in a televised speech broadcasted during the wee hours in the morning.

Lamothe claimed that his government has substantially shrunk the poverty rate, citing a World Bank report which stated a decrease in poverty in Haiti between 2000 and 2012. Lamothe’s claims of success, however, have been called into question once we know that he took office in May of 2012. The departing PM went on to say that “we are happy……when we see the number of people in extreme poverty has dropped from 31 percent to 24 percent in 2014 thanks to [our] work.” We’re not sure where Lamothe has gotten these numbers. He did not speculate. Nor did he make references to his shadowy team of fuzzy technocrats and his social media apparatus—notoriously famous for their relentless barrages of e-messages that spread lies, misinformation on behalf of a politically bankrupt and morally corrupt government.

An emboldened population now wants Martelly’s head. This was a man who was ushered to the presidency following countless of tergiversations and an ultimatum from Hillary Clinton—then US Secretary of State. At that time, René Préval was an overlooked president at the twilight of his political career. His awkward passiveness in the face of millions crying for help paved the way for the enemies of Haiti to step in to fill the vacuum. The move to install Michel Martelly carried dubious meanings. First, it was designed to further humiliate Haiti and its people (because of Martelly Sweet Micky’s vulgar past as a musician) and to ensure the country’s “basket case” status would never be assuaged.

In the absence of a popular, united opposition, it was easy to engineer this latest coup against a psychologically bruised population barely trying to survive in the wake of the most catastrophic disaster to hit Haiti during its 200 years of existence as an independent country, leaving 300,000 dead and close to 2 million people internally displaced.

Although it was already a decided factor between those in charge to oversee/manage the country’s political life—the big business establishment, foreign interests, and others—a masquerade or a comedy politique had to be created to give the show some semblance of seriousness.

A charade, it truly was; for, according to the United Nations, only 23 % of eligible voters went to the polls on Election Day. Speaking of numbers, it was said that Sweet Micky earned 67% of the vote, but it was 67% of the 23% of voters who participated in the election. This means even if everyone who voted that day cast their ballots for Sweet Micky, it would have still been far from securing a popular mandate. To camouflage the truth, they focused on the 67% to justify their ploy and empower Michel Martelly.

Michel Martelly offered nothing concrete to the Haitian people. In fact, he has been virtually aloof, leaving his prime minister to pick up the slack. As he blundered around, admitting his intellectual deficiency, his ignorance in public affairs as it was the case on French Television France 2 few weeks ago, PM Laurent Lamothe and his kleptocratic clique went on to distant themselves from Martelly they perceived to be an embarrassment, a liability to their petty bourgeois aspirations. They bet on their “intellectual finesse” to sidestep Martelly.

Although they knew they needed Martelly—and they were well aware of the latter’s impulsiveness—they couldn’t help themselves shunning their president in all international forums. These forums have long become the sweetest excuses to get away from the Port-au-Prince “madness.” Every two to three weeks, they could be seeing tiptoeing down the city’s international airport, all in a single file, as they board their plan for yet another week in luxury, in paradise, in some sophisticated resort somewhere in the planet—all paid for by the State. That’s not all, their parasitic greed has completely fogged their sense of human decency, let alone their patriotic duty as leaders of a country ranked last in the western hemisphere. Shame on them!

To polish their image abroad, they hired conglomerates in Washington as well as in Miami to give weight to their lies and shallow bluffs, claiming to be embarking upon a major national reconstruction. They have nothing to show for, other than few hotels and promises to turn the islands of La Tortue, L ‘Ile à Vache and some other places as oases. Meanwhile, Haitians continue to bear their daily hellish life.

The crisis will exacerbate

Many observers have already conceded that what we are now witnessing is nothing but a furtherance of buffoonish politics where the actors—from both sides of the isle—are mainly interested in filling their own personal lots instead of working to create a national salvation government with a mandate to rebuild a chattered country which, once upon a time, held the geostrategic advantage of the Caribbean.

We have learned that Michel Martelly met Wednesday with opposition leaders in a bid to stabilize the country as pressure mounted on him to appoint an interim prime minister. This was one of Martelly’s latest response to the recommendations of an independent commission he himself established to end a stalemate over delayed legislative elections. Among the recommendations was that former prime minister Laurent Lamothe should resign, which he did early Sunday following days of violent protests in which at least one person was killed.

“All I have to say is that the meeting went well,” Martelly told reporters briefly at a Port-au-Prince hotel where the meeting was held. “We agreed to continue the discussion.” Opposition leaders said they discussed how Martelly could implement the recommendations, which include renewing the membership of the electoral council, and freeing several people the opposition considers political prisoners.

Knowing Martelly’s out-of-the-norm nature of doing things and his impulsive character, it would be very difficult for him choose a PM to his liking, and if the January legislative elections are not held, he faces the prospect of ruling by decree because the Haitian Parliament will be dissolved. The days ahead offer nothing but incertitude.

What Haiti truly needs is a complete break from the past, the extirpation of its state bureaucracy and the rebuilding of a new one where honesty in public affairs will be norm, not an exception. Most importantly, what the Haitian masses truly need at this time is their representatives through a united front with a clear goal and objectives to achieve this desired end. There is no naivety in this frame of thought, and bringing Haiti back from the brink cannot be achieved overnight. With all intellectual probity, this is rather political pragmatism. It is time to start thinking “COUNTRY.” Doing otherwise will certainly strengthen the hands of political cronies, working on behalf of a recalcitrant bourgeoisie and foreign interests.

Note: Ardain Isma is Editor-in-Chief of CSMS Magazine. He may be reached at publisher@csmsmagazine.org       

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