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Commentary: Haiti, a national dialogue that pleases many but disturbs some
Published on March 29, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Jean H Charles

On Friday March 14, 2014, an historic step that will lead to peace and harmony amongst the Haitian people took place in Petionville, Haiti. The instrument that was labored over for weeks amongst the executive, the legislative and the political parties, under the observation of the judiciary and civil society, was signed by the parties.

Jean H Charles LLB, MSW, JD is a syndicated columnist with Caribbean News Now. He can be reached at: and followed for past essays at Caribbeannewsnow/Haiti
The Catholic Church, under the leadership of his newly appointed Chybly Cardinal Langlois, served as the mediator, cajoling the parties to sit down, discuss amongst themselves without foreign intervention their concerns and arrive at a consensus on critical issues such as governance, election and constitution.

These issues were only the beginning steps to a larger dialogue that will go later into the structural underpinning that impedes the development of Haiti from a failed state to an emerging one. While the dialogue was applauded by the majority of the population and by the international community, a group of senators, as well as members of the opposition bloc bent on derailing the present government, has threatened to rock the boat and plunge the country into total chaos.

The Catholic Church, deriving from a call from God to Abraham to quit Mesopotamia (Iraq) and to go to Palestine, where 2,000 years later, the Son of God would freely give himself in immolation to replace the blood of the animals offered in sacrifice in expiation for the original sin, is pursuing its role of making this earth better for each man and for each woman.

The new world order of charity, love, fraternity and hospitality offered by Jesus the Christ was spread towards the world on the back of the Roman Empire. The Catholic Church, an institution created by God but led by men, is filled with false starts and with major failures. I have in this column not minced words to make the observation that the Catholic Church is an excellent incubator of a mafia culture that infects the social, economic and political spirit of the countries where the Catholic faith is the strongest.

Yet the Catholic Church is one of the best vehicles for civilization and for progress throughout the world. The republic of Haiti, ostracized by the entire planet after its independence from France, received the accolade only from the Vatican in its universal quest to find teachers and preachers to render the former slaves fully equipped to lead a life of self-actualization.

From clergy from Brittany, France, Francois Duvalier, the dictator, transformed the clergy into a national one. At the departure of his son into exile, following a transitory period, a defrocked priest Jean Bertrand Aristide took the reins of power. It was neither for the good of the church nor for the country. Haiti knew a difficult time of dissension and disorder that pierced its ethos to the bone and almost brought the nation to the brink of RDC (the Republic Democratic of Congo) in the Western Hemisphere.

The hierarchy of the Catholic Church wanted to make amends and help the nation of Haiti to reconcile with itself. Its role as mediator between the parties is subscribed to that effect.

The ink placed on the document by all the participants was not yet dry when the group of six senators and the opposition bloc that refused to take part in the dialogue started the process of dismantling the result and placing stumbling blocks to its implementation.

Their best target was the paragraph 12 of the agreement that calls for setting aside the articles of the electoral law that have not been amended on time through dilettantism or obstruction by the opposing bloc in parliament. Considering that the election must take place by the end of the month of October to fulfill the requirements of amending the Constitution, the framers of the conciliation process have agreed to take steps to prevent the delaying tactics that could derail the election.

Amending the Haitian Constitution to align all the elections for a five year period is a crucial step in avoiding repeated balloting and saving time and money for the country.

The opposing parties that refused to sit down at the negotiation process are combing the fine lines of the agreement to find commas and other punctuations that would annul the terms of the conciliation.

Haiti fits squarely the parody of the recent observation of Roger Cohen about Argentina. It is a poster child among nations that never grew up, blaming everybody and his father for the ills that are internal in the first place.

It refuses to accept that a former dictator called Duvalier and a former president called Aristide have shaped an ethos of delusional power that refuses to face the reality of nation building that called for the rich and for the poor to hold hands together to continue the renovation of the legacy bequeathed by the founding father Jean Jacques Dessalines.

The mediator through its principal, Chibly Cardinal Langlois, is offering the practice of full disclosure to the method of marooning practiced by the opposition forces. The Catholic Church in Haiti is pursuing maybe for the first time since Constantine the Roman Emperor in 313, a politics of state marrying with the faith to make a nation hospitable to its people.

Will the gang of six and the opposition succeed in putting enough stumbling blocks on the way to hospitality for all? These are the difficult questions that the nation of Haiti will pursue. I am observing a country filled with young ladies and young men eager to educate themselves but with no prospect of employment and job creation at the end of the pipeline. I am observing also a critical mass of the population living in abject poverty but preserving their dignity while praying for an end to their misery.

Would they stand in line to immigrate to Brazil, cross the border and face the humiliation in the Dominican Republic or accept the luring of Canada for the best and the brightest, perpetuating the brain drain that hemorrhages from the country?

Chibly Cardinal Langlois has told all parties that frank negotiation is the only way to salvation for Haiti. Will the country remain in the barbarity of the age before Abraham or will it come into the age after Christ where solidarity, charity and love must be the lot of each and for each. Stay tuned!
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