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Commentary: Haiti 1806, 1986, 2016: Let my people go! Let my people go!
Published on January 9, 2016 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Jean H Charles

Haiti, after its magnificent epic day of January 1, 1804, when it declared for itself and for the rest of the world that slavery is anathema to God’s mission for man on earth, fell from its pedestal of light for the world on October 17, 1806. It conspired to assassinate its founder father Jean Jacques Dessalines because he asked whether some of these 8,000 farm plantations left by the French settlers should not be shared with those African sons and daughters now citizens of Haiti with no lineage from France, who toiled with their sweat and their labour without wages for 300 years?

Jean H Charles LLB, MSW, JD, was a candidate in the last Haitian presidential election. He can be reached at and followed at Caribbean News Now/Haiti 
Albeit there was later the heroic mantra of Henry Christophe who built the Citadel on top of a mountain to prevent the return of the French troops and forged a nation with British help; Haiti descended into hell by capitulating in 1825 to King Charles X of France in paying a mafia deal to have its freedom recognized by the rest of the world, albeit it was earned on the battle field.

It sinks further down with a successive form of governments more interested in keeping power and making deals with foreign powers to keep the population ignorant so its natural resources and its human resources would be used not for the benefit of the citizens of the country but for outside nations.

Of course there were luminaries like Antenor Firmin and Demesvar Delorme, who argued for the equality of human race; there was also Jean Price Mars who instilled the concept that black is beautiful and as such worthy of love, expectation and spiritual as well as material nourishment as a white person. Haiti fell so low that it had to endure the American occupation for 15 years from 1915 to 1934 that brought no solace to its ordeal.

It went through a long period of dictatorship that lasted more than 30 years, with its children exiling themselves all over the world to escape political persecution. Upon ushering in democracy in 1986, Haiti continues its descent into hell, with populist and illiberal governments that care little for its population. The last one, the regime of Michel Joseph Michel Martelly, was supposed to break completely with the past, considering his disgust for the old regimes and the passion of the population to give him the reins of command because of his iconoclast style.

The condition of the people of Haiti has not improved one bit. It continues to suffer humiliation from Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, where the most fragile members from the rural areas have taken refuge in search of a hospitable sky. The life of the internal nomads in the ghettos of the capital and the big cities continue unabated in squalor and in governmental indifference or demagogic caring.

The Martelly government has not been diligent enough to schedule regular elections at the local and legislative levels during his term in office. The presidential election at the end of his mandate is marred with irregularities, plain fraud and arrogant use of public funds and outright interference on behalf of his candidates, in particular the presidential candidate Jovenel Moise.

There has been mass movement to say enough is enough. The international community is standing on the opposite side, as in 1804 when they put an interdiction against the young Haiti to dare break the chain of the world order of slavery; as in 1986 when it supported the Duvalier dictatorship for decades up to the last minute until people power put the presidential couple out of the country.

At the dawn of 2016, the legitimate cry is to shout, “Let my people go!” Let them enjoy the fruits of nation building and the fruits of democracy. Haiti, as usual, is today in the pioneering mode of breaking the mold of faux democracy. This faux democracy has been entertained by the so-called United Nations Stabilization Force and the Core group pretending it is a democracy.

This last election represents a vivid example of the political charade of Madame la Marquise in Haiti. The vignette of democracy in Haiti casts the following picture: a mass that demands to be paid to vote for a candidate at $25 per vote because that’s all the benefits he will receive afterwards from the elected ones.

The candidates that believe they can win only by filling the ballot box. The electoral council (CEP), arrogant and corrupt, sells the certificate of winning to the one who offers most money. The government, arrogant and bold, appropriates state funds for its candidates, and the middle class that finds it abhorrent to stand in line with the masses to accomplish a civic duty.

Using the lowest common denominator of evaluation, the 28 years of Haiti’s apprenticeship to democracy under the aegis of the MINUSTHA stabilization force is an utter failure and a pure charade. It is time for Haiti to start de novo on its own a project of remedial learning to democracy. It cannot be done through the elections. We have made the case that the process is at best flawed; at worst corrupt at all levels.

The best Haitian minds at home and in the Diaspora must be pulled together, starting with all the 54 candidates regrouped into G8 and G30 formation to build a transitional government that will put Haiti in the right orbit before it can fly under a normal electoral process towards democracy. As a student that needs remedial learning to achieve, we cannot pretend that Haiti is pursuing a normal traction towards full democracy.

The Core group (United States, European Union, CARICOM and OAS) must not stand in the way preventing this natural birthing. A caesarian operation will be costly, harmful and detrimental to Haiti, to the region and to the rest of the world, with refugees flooding the region as is now the picture in the Mediterranean towards Europe.

This transition year of 2016 represents a seminal moment to bring about true change for Haiti, change that will instill the sentiment of appurtenance and citizenship within all the sectors, change that will build all over the country: sane institutions and excellent infrastructure to prevent the internal and external nomad process of the population. Change that will promote an affirmative action program on behalf of rural and ghetto Haiti to usher them into the middle class status and change that will propel Haiti to its divine mission of emancipator nation.

It is not normal and not fair that a country so rich in human and natural resources, with such a glorious past and a grand vision, stands so low in human index of development. Of its ten million population, approximately eight million are either unemployed or underemployed (selling water, used clothing and cooked food on the side of the road); one million are of school age; half a million are senior citizens and only half a million (300,000 in the capital Port au Prince and 200,000 in the rest of the country) enjoy the ecstasy of middle class or well off status.

A massive culture of wealth creation must become the fabric of this country. The combined cocktail of failed governments blended with a supportive international core group must yield to an enlighten government incubated by a progressive international community that believes a good nation produces good citizens, leading to peace and prosperity at home and abroad.

Let my people go! Let my people go, away from misery, from squalor and humiliation! Let my people go away from the tribulations of preferring to take a chance amidst the sharks on the sea than staying at home. Their cries have reached the ear of Providence, and the dead spirit of the founding fathers! Holding them further down might bring the seven calamities unto their holder as it has been with the Pharaoh!
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