By Jean H Charles
At this time of the year, at the end of a sequence of twelve months that went by, I usually take time to reflect and ponder on the situation in Haiti, to project the future based on past events. A recent poll, cheered by those critical observers who have documented incremental progress in the way business is conducted in Haiti and criticized by those who cherish the concept of chaos as an endemic state of Haiti and its people, has found that President Martelly is the most popular president of the Western Hemisphere.
Rafael Vincente Corea and Joseph Michel Martelly
President Martelly finds himself in good company with the president of Ecuador, (“Naughty Ecuador”) who held this title before being dethroned by President Martelly with an approval rating of 80% percent among the population.
Three months ago in an essay: “Vindicating the naysayers, the path of progress
”, I predicted that time is the best barometer to decant the good guys from the bad ones. President Michel Martelly and his Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe will finally get the upper hand against those who want to rock the boat of democracy and growth in Haiti to return to the chaotic situation of a decade ago, when street gangs could with impunity disturb the normal condition of life in the country.
Exactly a year ago, following an essay “Have no fear Haiti, with St Michael in front and St Laurent on the back you shall continue to find your way on the raging sea
”, my Google search is still filled with the filth of those who did not even care to read behind the allegory of the Catholic-voodoo syncretism of the Haitian mind that rests on St Michael and St Laurent to guide their steps as they wander into the meanders of the obstacles that come to their way in the course of their ordinary life.
The Haitian saga
Last year it was, the government of Turks and Caicos who took steps to pursue the Haitian migrants with dogs if necessary; it was also the American government disinviting their citizens to visit Haiti. It was also the Canadian government warning that it was shutting the doors to aid to Haiti because of poor results. This year it is the saga of the Dominican Republic justice system taking the decision to strip Dominican citizens of Haitian origin of their status of citizenship based on a capricious and biased standard rooted in either or both racism or partisan politics.
Amidst the chorus of voices calling for the boycott of the Dominican Republic, including members of CARICOM and the OAS, the president of Haiti, under the auspices of the president of Venezuela is pursuing a diplomatic dance with the president of the Dominican Republic, where the carrot and the stick is utilized the lead the tango. In the end, an opus will be created where the dancers and the attendees will be satisfied.
An electoral law has been signed by the president leading to an electoral year where the stakes are high for all parties. Haiti is the land where winners take all is the rule. A legacy of colonial France, Haiti is the poster child of most French post colonial African nations, where the political game is also a business venture that will define the winners grabbing all the cards and the losers being sent to hell. The concept of nation has not taken place either in Haiti or in Africa. Will President Martelly set the tune to lead the country into the sense of appurtenance of shared vision of the past and of the future? The answer to this question will determine whether Haiti will sail in peaceful waters or dangerous ones.
The workers in the textile industry took to the streets this month demonstrating against the meager raise in their legal salary of $6.25 a day. My own personal research with the factory workers has revealed that the majority of them would find a comfortable salary in the range of $25 a day or $3.12 per hour, which would give them $500 per month. Reread my essay on the Path of Progress, you will find the textile industry thrives in a country like Haiti where the level of education and sophistication is very low. Consequently there is no happy medium in the saga of workers versus employers in this case.
The Latin American or the South East Asia model
For the past year, Latin American GDP has demonstrated a growth of only 2.75%, the lowest rate in four years, according to an IMF survey. The GDP of South East Asia by contrast has surged by 7.5%. The difference is due to economic policies practiced in the two different regions. The South East Asian growth is due to a policy of wealth creation, while the policy of Latin America, which is also the policy of the Caribbean and, of course, Haiti is based on sustenance, maintaining the vessel afloat so it would not sink. It is sinking anyway under the weight of the social programs that must reach so many people. In fact, most Caribbean countries, including Puerto Rico and Barbados, are now dubbed Greece in the making, meaning in a difficult economic situation.
The way out
I have in several essays urged the Haitian government to displace its policy of “Haiti is open for business” in favour of a policy of “Haiti is seeking business”. The bulk of the Haitian workers would be led into three different vectors: organic and nostalgic agriculture for the Diaspora, caring husbandry for connoisseurs’ cuisine, and creative and functional arts and crafts. The industrial park will be transformed into a packaging warehouse where delicious and fine products will be prepared for shipment abroad. The average Haitian worker, albeit with lack of education, would command easily a minimal income of $1,250 per month, creating immediately a critical mass of middle class families.
I am observing a large number of young graduates, women in particular, frequenting private and public universities, enrolling in courses leading to a degree in finance, business administration and accounting. For this sector of the population, the government should stick to its policy of Haiti is open for business. It must look for companies like Unisys or the major global accounting firms such as: Price Waterhouse, Peat Marwick, Touche Ross, Arthur Young and Co, KPMG, etc., to open shops in Haiti and use the excellent talents of the gallant Haitian women graduates skilled not only in the profession but also in language such as French, English and Spanish.
Haiti, the happiest country of the western hemisphere
Haiti, albeit the poorest country of the western hemisphere, through a rigorous survey should also be found one of the happiest countries of the region; its continuous procession of religious festivals throughout the year produces a chain of festivity for family renewal and spiritual awakening. Its local as well its Diaspora tourist industry, eager to enjoy the fetes champetes, is a source of growth for the economy. It is not yet a critical tool used by the government to inject money that can be redistributed with a margin in the hinterland.
In conclusion, Haiti is expecting this year (2014) to gear towards an emerging country where wealth creation is its lot while being presided over by one of the most popular leaders of the western hemisphere. President Martelly, while being so popular in the home front, will lead the way for Haiti and for the rest of the Latin America and the Caribbean towards a policy of wealth creation.
The Year 2014, contrary to the Year 2013 that was sluggish, will be a booming year that is awaiting the average Haitian who will enjoy the bliss of wealth creation. Caveat emptor to those countries that persecute the Haitian guest workers, it might be soon a privilege and a status symbol to exhibit one’s Haitian passport.