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Monday, September 25, 2023

Will Haiti Ever Regain Its Sanity?

CSMS Magazine EditorialWith all the seemingly endless problems facing Haiti today, another one was added to the pile two weeks ago when the country’s highest court ruled that presidential candidate Dumarsais Siméus, owner of a food services company in Mansfield, Texas, who holds an American passport, could run for the highest office of the Land. The Court decision, which appeared to have been tempered by outside influences, has triggered a political storm of unforeseen proportions.  The storm was so powerful that its feeder bands could be felt in far-flung places where one could not even dream of Haitians living there. This was the case of a caller in one of the Miami’s Haitian radio talk shows, who took an emphatic stand against the Court decision and who claimed to be from Beaufort, South Carolina, on the southeastern seaboard of the United States. On South Florida’s Haitian radio talk shows, the debate seemed endless.   But what were they debating about? Haiti’s defunct constitution?  Another invasion by a foreign army? Or yet another natural disaster that has just struck the Island? The answer is none of the above. Traditional politicians, petit-bourgeois opportunists and radio talk show hosts could not seem to be able to control their “emotions” as the Mother Land was dealt yet another blow to its chattered prestige. Another blow?  Don’t hold your breath.  The so-called blow was just one of the aftershocks from the last earthquake that firmly placed Haiti under a direct colonialist dictate. However, when the earthquake itself struck, no fury of indignation could be found. It was taken in stride. Those who claim to be so serious about a “pure and honest” electoral process in Haiti are the ones who will be quick to accuse the people as “democracy’s dropouts” if the vote does not go their way.     In CSMS Magazine, we always hold our principles to the highest standard. Opposing anything deemed embarrassing to Haiti is the cornerstone of what we stand for.  However, after years of political and community activism, we can safely say that we have acquired the maturity to think rationally. We know when to unleash our fury of indignation and when to preserve or conserve our energy for more constructive fights.  To us, to be outraged by the Court ruling is to undermine or overlook a quintessential question: Is Haiti an independent country?  It is obvious that the answer is no.  If it isn’t, why are we enraged over a Haitian-American’s desire to be the president of Haiti?    Don’t get us wrong, now. We hold no brief for Mr. Siméus—a staunch reactionary, a member of the nouveaux riches and a man who spent years investing part of his newfound fortune to win recognition in supporting Republican election campaigns all over Texas.  A win for Mr. Siméus in the next election, which by the way could very well be possible, knowing the fact that no legitimate election can take place under foreign occupation, would mean a tacit transformation of the Haitian presidency into a governorship.  He would be nothing but a regional governor, pledging allegiance to a central power, which will be none other than that of Washington through its embassy in Port-au-Prince.    But this issue is just a mere distraction in a whole range of problems that threaten the very existence of the country we claim to love “unconditionally.” These problems are so real that some of us wonder if it is still wise to think of an independently restored Haiti—a country ravaged by poverty, lawlessness, and greed where the state bureaucracy—the prime source of wealth through embezzlement for lumpen petit-bourgeois politicians—is so corrupt that most experts believe that only its removal could set the stage for the reconstruction of our beloved country and the restoration of its shattered image.    Thus comes the vexing question: What can these upcoming elections really do to pull the country back from the brink?  Absolutely nada.  Without real legitimacy, these elections will be merely another exercise of political charades designed to strengthen foreign hands over the country and to make official Haiti’s status as a protectorate of Washington through its proxy, the UN Security Council. Only the masses’ endorsement can bring that legitimacy, something that is highly unlikely by all political analyses.   The vast majority of the population has already shunned this masquerade, freeing the hands ofmagouyè politicians who were never interested in seeking that “dangerous” legitimacy, for it would put them on a direct collusion course with the proconsuls who will effectively decide election outcomes.  By the way, they never had such a vocation. They pledge allegiance only to their own selfish interest, their political patrons and that of their close relatives.   It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why regaining Haitian sanity remains nothing but a distant dream. The people who aspire to become Haiti’s next “Governor” are from a variety of places: There are old guards from the Duvalier era, opportunists from the Aristide era, recalcitrant leftists who have long become “rebels” without a cause, and now a guru from Texas who claims to be a messiah that will bring salvation to the oppressed masses.    If there is a lesson to learn from the Lavalas disaster, it is that legitimacy alone does not suffice to retrieve a country from the grip of its enemies. It will also take the desire for change and the political will to go to war, if necessary, to turn things around. But working within the framework of a state bureaucracy so utterly corrupted, even with the best of intentions, will only reinforce the logic of those who staunchly believe that Haiti is already a doomed state.    Aristide had the legitimacy, but he had no will to confront the diseases at the core of Haiti’s seemingly endless misery.  As a conformist politician who had become one of the prominent members of the nouveaux riches, totally committed to upholding the status quo and entirely beholden to the big business establishment, he could only focus on one thing: staying in power by whatever means needed. This included pillaging the state treasury to finance his lobbyists in Washington, hiring street gangs to terrify the population and making sleazy deals with foreign companies at the country’ s expense.  Now he lives in luxurious exile while the people, who were ready to give up their lives to put him into office, continue to bear the hellish conditions of impoverished day-to-day life in Haiti.   Finally, the duo-nationality question being raised by so many, in Haiti as well as in the Diaspora, is just a political amusement designed to “tame the beast” and to take people’s eyes off the real problem: liberating Haiti from its enemies. Under these circumstances, there can never be free and fair elections—not with something that is entirely funded by foreign governments. Even ink and paper had to be funded by foreign countries, including funds to pay election officials. Knowing these facts, it is hard to imagine that we can still speak of Haiti as an independent country.   Those who maintain the idea that Haitians who hold a foreign passport are no longer authentic Haitians do not believe it one bit.  It is clear that most Haitians who resort to changing their nationality for a foreign passport do it out of pure necessity. They are no less Haitian than those in Haiti who would do the same in a heartbeat if given the opportunity.  Deep down, they remain Haitian from the bottom of the deepest fibers of their soul.  No one can refute this fact. More than a billion dollars a year goes down to Haiti from Haitians who live in foreign countries; it is the lifeline that still keeps the country alive.  So, who is fooling whom? The U.S. is well known for using the visa card to force traditional politicians back into line when they attempt to break away from their leashes.    Haitians who live abroad should not be intimidated by their detractors’ ill-conceived ideas, clotted with their hidden political agendas.  Nor should they be allowed to be reduced like dust in the wind that blows in desert lands with no specific destination.  The problem does not lie with a Haitian-American seeking the corrupt presidency in Haiti; the problem is how to set the country free to pursue its own course as a liberated nation and free from all foreign domination and subjugation. That will take a lot more sacrifice than hiding behind a telephone to call a radio station and express indignation.  In CSMS, we believe one way or the other that Haiti will be free, for it was never destined to perish.   Just as we know that le grand soir de la revolution will not occur without the participation of the oppressed masses, we equally believe that deliverance will not come to bear without wiping out all the corrupt institutions that are currently running the country.  This is where we should concentrate our efforts, not on some crazed man from Texas who is trying to buy his way into an already-discredited presidency.

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