By Jean H Charles
With the promulgation of the new electoral board this week by the executive, the legislative and the judiciary, after a long and controversial search, Haiti is engaging finally on the road to elections for the next three years: 2013 elections for ten senators and all the mayors and the Casecs or rural executives; 2014 elections for the remaining 20 senators; and the 2015 election for the president.
Jean Hervé Charles LLB, MSW, JD, former Vice-Dean of Students at City College of the City University of New York, is now responsible for policy and public relations for the political platform in power in Haiti, Répons Peyisan. He can be reached at: jeanhcharles@aol
It is rather fit and proper to frame the panoramic picture of the Haitian political canvas as it is exposed today. Since its breakthrough into the democratic process after booting its last dictator Jean Claude Duvalier in 1986, Haiti has been searching for a peaceful road where the transition from one government to another would be made without violence, with diligence, and without controversy. The past 27 years, political transitions in the country have been nothing but peaceful, diligent and without controversy.
Before 1986, the landscape of the political parties in Haiti loomed large with the name of Daniel Fignolé, with his party MOP very popular in the year 1946; PAIN of Louis Dejoie was popular in 1956 and was opposed to the National Unity Party of Francois Duvalier when he took power that he and his son held for twenty nine years.
At the end of 1969 and during the decade of the 1970s, several political parties tried to shake the dictatorial edifice. They included the PCH, the Haitian communist party with its leader Jacques Stephen Alexis, the PCNH with Rene Rameau, the PDCH with Sylvio Claude, to cite only those organizations.
After 1987, with the departure of Jean Claude Duvalier, the proliferation of political parties that exploded like mushrooms after the rain did not facilitate a smooth political transition from one regime to another. Those political parties reflected often the vision of one man that had nothing to do with the big issues facing the country. Those political parties lived and died with their founding member. The crude search for power by one man for one man was the rule of the game.
As such, more than 60 political parties were fighting to gain the seat of power. There was the KONAKOM that changed itself into FNCD, with leaders like Victor Benoit and Evans Paul. There were also the MIDH under the presidency of Marc Bazin. The FNCD provided an umbrella for Jean Bertrand Aristide to gain the chief magistracy of the republic. He ignored the party as soon as he was sworn in. He built his institution -- the Lavalas Family that remains today – as his bullying horse to seek power through a third person.
The fight against the social derivatives of the Lavalas Party that pit one group of the society against another has led to the creation of the Democratic Convergence and the Group 184 led by Charles Henry Baker and Andre Apaid. But the democratic caravan launched by Charles Baker produced only mice out of the mountains.
The sprinting groups of the Lavalas family have created the Lespwa political party, the mounting horse of Rene Preval that helped him to gain two mandates. He was on his way to gaining another mandate through a third party, Jude Celestin, when God himself got into the fray to put an olla to the scheme through the earthquake of January 12, 2010.
The wild cow (wild card) mounted by Michel Martelly on Repons Peyizan facilitated the former singer to gain the most coveted prize of supreme chief of the nation. But as Jean Bertrand Aristide, President Martelly has chosen to ignore the cow and Repons Peyizan to built his own party, Tet Kale Haiti, with the connivance of political animals such as Youri Latortue of Haiti in Action and Joseph Lambert of Combit Sud Est.
Finally today, three tendencies are shaping the political panorama. They can be schematized as the three Cs, they are: The National Council of Haitian political parties, the Consortium of political parties and the Convention of Haitian political parties. These reorganizations do not mean that each political party has given away its own objectives and its way of functioning. They represent only a space where, using the constitutional language of one of the Consortiums:
The objective is to:
• Defend and protect collectively the interests of the nation and those of the political parties with democratic and pacific means in harmonizing the interests of the parties to the democratic interests.
• Effectively normalize Haitian political life, educate, inform and motivate the population about Haitian political life. Educate, inform motivate the community on the importance and the role of the political party in a democratic system and the mission of other political institutions.
• Take the initiative to resolve the conflicts through negotiation.
• Create a space for debate between the political parties on national and international issues favouring a climate of conviviality and mutual respect.
• Organize a structure for the promotion of regroupings, groupings and political parties while making sure that each organization maintains its distinct culture.
The Convention of political parties includes OPL, KID, PNPH, RMDN, PROP, Fusion, MNP28, the Liberal Party, Lavalas; they represent the oldest and the largest political parties in the Haitian landscape. Their leaders with names like Sauveur Pierre Etienne, Evans Paul, Dejean Belizaire, and Turnelp Delpe. Fiercely opposed to the present government of Martelly-Lamothe, they have embarked on a caravan of meetings in different cities of the republic, a demarche that reminds of the group 184 that produces mice from a mountain. There is certainly a fatigue within the Haitian population for the entities deriving from the Convention of political parties that did have the opportunity to rule Haiti better when the opportunity was offered.
The Council of Political parties led by Dr Osner Fevry, who is at the same time general, president, director and speaker of the organization. It includes the following political parties: REPAREN, CONACED, FOURMI, PACAPALAH, RDC and others.
Last but not least, the Consortium of political parties that regroups some 17 political parties including the platform Répons Peyizan, UCCADE, MUR, KLE, MDRH, VWAZINAJ SOLIDARITE, PENH lies in the middle of the road, with leaders as Jeantel Joseph, Fednel Monchery, Paul Arthur Fleurival, Maurice Clerger, Asnel Alexandre, Jean Daniel Petit. They have no visceral opposition to the government yet independent enough of the government to stand on their own in their policy formulation. Is the Consortium the new light that could lead Haiti into the Promised Land, where milk and honey would be in abundance for the majority of the population?
To this picture one must add the wild card political parties that include Tet Kale Haitian political party organized by the members of the President Martelly entourage. It is a newborn party, in the style of former Haitian presidents – Aristide and Preval, who ignored the party that put them into power, to organize their own; it will depend on the performance of the president to gain the confidence of the voters for his performance during the last two years. It will depend also on the opinion of the voters about the concept laid down by Duvalier that being grateful is cowardice.
The Lavalas organization, albeit linked to the Convention of the Political parties in its opposition to the present government, will make its own fray, betting on its alleged popularity amongst the wretched of the society who have not found yet a leader who goes beyond the culture of unkempt promises.
In a previous essay, I have sketched the three grave crisis of the Haitian population: the complete degradation of its environment, the endemic and the intergenerational misery of the majority of its population and last but not least the lack of civism and the sense of appurtenance amongst the different sectors of the population. Which one of the three Cs has even identified and set itself to bring about tangible and incremental solutions to these gangrenes that affect any recovery now or in the future of the republic of Haiti?
The next three years will bring tumultuous waves in the Haitian political panorama depending on whether the leaders of the 3Cs continue to seek their personal interests or the interests of the Haitian population. It has, after two hundred more years, lived in a situation so fragile that the colonial picture of slavery is still vivid, except the Haitian citizen is free to move wherever he wants on the territory of the republic while compromising negatively the environment, because the government has been too callous to study its impact positively.