By Jean Hervé Charles
Haiti this year on September 22, 2017, will register 60 years of descent into an abyss without so far, reaching a plateau. It has a population at 60 percent under the age of 25 years old facing the prospect of inadequate education and formation that will lead inevitably into further misery in the future. And 60 percent of its total population lives in the rural counties where there are no state institutions and a medieval infrastructure, forcing that sector constantly to migrate into the ghettos of the cities or illegally venturing into foreign lands, the Dominican Republic, The Bahamas or making the long trek to Brazil, Chili and Mexico towards California.
Jean H Charles LLB, MSW, JD, is a regular contributor to the opinion section of Caribbean News Now. He can be reached at email@example.com
I was 11 years old, when Francois Duvalier, in an election rigged by the military under the direction of General Antonio Kebreau, imposed a government that would force 33 years of rigid dictatorial rule upon its population. Between himself and his son Jean Claude Duvalier they may have led thousands to death and millions more into exile.
Yet these three decades are looked upon with nostalgia by those who revere the rule of law, because the following three decades have been continuous decadence with the veneer of democracy without the rule of law, causing the constant exodus of the Haitian population, the educated as well as the less educated ones.
Here we are at the eve of February 7, 2017, 60 years later, with a president in the persona of Jovenel Moise, elected after turbulent election cycle, postponed twice because of voting irregularities and an act of God. Will he be able to deliver a minimum of stability, rule of law and economic stimulus to satisfy the 60 percent youth population and 60 percent rural world so as to stop the 60 years of Haiti’s descent into hell?
I have often described in this column how Haiti, soon after its glorious opus of 1804, has been a pariah nation insouciant of the welfare of its population. But in this modern era, Haiti is unique in the Caribbean if not in the Western Hemisphere in leading such a predatory policy on its own citizens.
I was surprised, nay in stupefaction that the last government of Jocelerme Privert/Enex Jean Charles has not brought one iota of change for the benefit of the population. It congratulates itself for running a fair and clean election and not leaving debts for the new government; yet hurricane Matthew did not distinguish whether the Haitian government was a provisional or permanent one in striking the country with the same intensity.
They are two seasoned civil employees who could have turned around the Haitian political canvas from a predatory state to a hospitable one. It has, however, been business as usual, with detritus filling the streets of the big cities, a population in disarray not knowing which saint to pray to for relief.
The next government will have bread on the table to transform Haiti’s picture from a continuous failed state to a vibrant one. The nation is fortunate enough to be enriched with a youthful population while the industrialized nations are plagued with a declining one, compromising their retirement funds.
The Haitian youths, those with an education and those without, are facing a bleak future from a government that does not know it is its obligation to create an environment where dreams are accomplished and young minds polished to unleash their potential. Luckily the good Catholics nuns of Haiti in good and bad time did not falter from their mission of grooming the young ladies. I foresee Haiti will become a matriarchal society 30 years from now because its women have benefited of an opportunity denied to the young men.
Haiti urgently needs a solid primary and secondary school system that takes account of its entire youth population from kindergarten to high school, liberating the parents from the high cost of tuition for their children in private schools of dubious standards.
It needs further a solid university state university system and industrial schools to prepare its youths that are now engaged in selling bottled water, used clothing and used industrial gadgets as well as serving as moto-taxi drivers as occupational endeavors.
Haiti’s countryside is in the same state of dilapidation after it has burned the colonial plantations to earn its independence, two centuries ago. Treated as an international pariah by the West because of its daring might of disturbing the world order of slavery, its development was compromised by France exacting a massive indemnity to recognize its independence.
It is further undermined by internal political rivalries fueled by international market predators that seek to exploit the country’s resources under another form of slavery without the name and the concept. Its rural population, rich in survival skills as well as in cultural traits, constitutes a human reservoir if given a minimum of incubation will render the country immensely wealthy and worth visiting.
Haiti’s rural market days, as well as the saints’ fiestas of the villages, are experiences that are soothing for the modern man stressed by the ascetic order of the western cities.
Will this February change the fate of 60 years of Haiti decline into hell? Will the 60 percent of the population that represent the youths of Haiti see hope and happiness in their prospect? Will the 60 percent population of Haiti that represents its rural world receive at last the institutions and the infrastructure that will root them in their idyllic settings?
I will be there to inform and to work to make it happen!