By Joseph Guyler Delva
Haiti proclaimed in January 1804 its independence from French rule to become the first black independent republic of the world, at the end of a successful slave uprising, but how can we explain that, 210 years later, the Caribbean nation remains the poorest country in the Western hemisphere?
Joseph Guyler Delva is a Haitian journalist who has worked for numerous international news agencies. In his 27-year career, he has worked as a reporter, anchor, talk show host, writer, editor, chief editor and news director for different media outlets.
The answer to this disconcerting question belongs to our incessant political infighting, unpatriotic and selfish actions, treason, and perhaps, and most troublingly, what could be assimilated to some kind of subconscious suicidal syndrome that is fueling a cynical desire on our part to destroy our own present and future.
And all the misfortunes, the misery, the instability, the social injustice and the poverty, to which the Haitian people have been exposed, can be blamed on the category of Haitians who are practicing the evil so-called "politics of the worst", which consists in blocking any efforts toward change and progress if they are not the ones taking credit for the advances.
Of course, many Haitians may claim not to belong to that repulsive category of citizens, but we also need to recognize that we, as a population, too often condone, through our passivity, the unacceptable attitude of those who destructively oppose elected leaders that could positively impact our lives.
It is also true that, many times, our leaders fail to live up to their promises and commitments, but each sector, each group or each individual in society needs to try to find a way to help correct what is being done wrong, instead of trying every time to dismantle what has already been built and to start all over again.
There is no doubt that people should rise up against any leader or government, elected or not, who would be involved in atrocities such as serious human rights abuses, proven cases of State treasury squandering, etc, but constantly trying to destabilize a government because you lost an election or for other partisan political reasons can only be destructive and evil.
And citizens from all social levels should actively denounce such attitude, which is detrimental to efforts aimed at strengthening democracy, establishing the rule of law and achieving progress, growth, prosperity, social justice and development goals.
Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the nation's main founder, who became the country's first emperor, was assassinated in 1806 in a plot orchestrated by rival Haitian ancestors, and in our more than 200 years of history, only a few leaders happened to finish their term in office. Haiti's public governance has been marked by a long series of coups.
The main reason for such an unstable situation is the stupid and counterproductive avidity for power and the evil ploy developed by the adepts of "Politics of the Worst", consisting in "spoiling the food if they can't eat it".
But today what is even more disgusting and contrasting is that the very political sector that was a recent victim of such destabilizing tactics, the Lavalas Family party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, claims the leadership of a movement to overthrow the current elected administration, led by President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.
And paradoxically, many of those who had teamed up, on two occasions, to wage a coup d’état against Aristide, in September 1991 and in February 2004, are today the best allies of Aristide's party in their attempt to topple Martelly's administration, through repeated street demonstrations and other forms of unrest likely to jeopardize the country's stability and positive efforts underway.
Martelly is serving a five-year term, which will end in 2016, with presidential elections due for the end of 2015. Crucial legislative and local elections, to renew two thirds of the 30-member Senate and the entire lower Chamber (Chamber of Deputies), are scheduled to take place by the end of this year.
You cannot develop a country with mad politicians, be they from the right or from the left, seeking to overthrow elected leaders and governments. A country cannot develop when those in power and their opponents fail to prioritize the collective interests over personal, particular and partisan groups' interests.
Haitians should learn to unite to defend the common good and collective wellbeing when the country's interests are at stake.
The slave combatants and leaders, who defeated the powerful Napoleon French Army, could only achieve such a great feat because, at some point, they got together beyond their contrasting views and major differences.
One other very encouraging sign of the re-appropriation of such needed political understanding was the clinching in March of a historic agreement -- signed in good faith by Haitian protagonists, including President Michel Martelly and government opponents -- to ease a political crisis and open the way for the holding of crucial legislative and local elections.
However, a number of hardliners have never ceased trying to undo the agreement that is, in recent memory, the only of its kind concluded in the framework of an inter-Haitian dialogue, under the auspices of a Haitian moderating entity, without the intrusion of foreign or international facilitators.
Haiti being the poorest country in the western hemisphere is not a fatality. It is the result of our irresponsibility, our lack of patriotism and pragmatism, and our failure to work together, to support one another, instead of stagnating in the traditional social and political infightings.
When a government does wrong, everyone should denounce and criticize it, not necessarily to bring down the existing leadership, but to get it to correct blunders and faults, or necessary sanctions, if any, can be applied through relevant institutions.
But many Haitian politicians, even though they hold a public speech to be more or less politically correct, only want in reality that those in power do everything wrong, so that they may find a justification to demand their departure, regardless of the harm that may be caused to the population. All that matters is to find a way to kick governing authorities out.
There is a Haitian Creole proverb that says, "Depi nan Ginen, nèg rayi nèg (Since in Guinea, blacks hated blacks)", referring to the fact that black beneficiaries had betrayed oppressed blacks and helped white Europeans to enforce the slave trade from Africa to the Americas.
We cannot hold that saying as an excuse to justify the reason why we should continue to constantly try to make other fellow Haitians fail when our support could make them succeed.
So we, Haitians, are the main obstacle to the social and economic development of Haiti and nothing will change in the impoverished Caribbean country until Haitians resolve to love Haiti for real and to abnegate and do the necessary sacrifices to contribute, beyond political affiliations, to the wellbeing of all Haitians.
Fortunately, we still can change paradigm. And as the first black US president, Barack Obama, Haitians are so proud of, said, indeed, “Yes, we can!”