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Commentary: Matthew: 10: 4-16
Published on October 8, 2016 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Jean H Charles

“Jesus sent out the twelve and commanded them: Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, preach, saying the kingdom of heaven is at end. Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

On October 4 in the year 2016 AD, a powerful hurricane named Matthew fell hard upon the Caribbean island of Haiti leaving Jamaica almost intact on its way to hit Cuba, The Bahamas and Florida. The republic of Haiti has been one more time on the front page of the news after its media blitz due to the earthquake of January 12, 2010. It seems the entire world was on its knees praying God to save Haiti for the impending disaster.

Jean H Charles LLB, MSW, JD is a regular contributor to the Caribbean News Now opinion pages.  He can be reached and followed at Caribbean News Now/Haiti
I was live on public radio in Jamaica holding hands with the news correspondent and consoling each other that Matthew would set its course to the sea, as in Jamaica.

Indeed it could have been worse, with winds of 210kms per hour, the whole country could have been decimated.

It hit hard mostly the southern part of the country, with major destruction in Jeremie, the capital of the Grande Anse region, Les Cayes the capital of the South region, Ile a Vache where a major touristic development was taking place, the cities of Camp Perrin and Aquin in the south, the Nippes region, the southeast region as well as the island of la Gonave in the west and leaving crop disaster in the northwest region. There are some 500 deaths unofficially attributed to Matthew and property destruction in the order of several hundred million dollars.

Haiti was already on its knees after the incompetent taking in charge by the international help as well as the national collaboration due to the outpouring of support after the earthquake. It is also in the brouhaha of an election that failed to take place last October, with new polls that were set for this October 9, 2016.

Thank God, it has been postponed. I have advocated that Haiti, whether under a provisional government (Brave Haiti) or an elected one, needs caring governance that understands that the welfare of its people must have primacy. I was 11 years old, when I felt I was living in a nation where there is a caring government. That sentiment has been overshadowed since 1956 after the departure of Paul Eugene Magloire as president.

I am the product of a middle class family; I have enjoyed the privilege of a solid education in Haiti and abroad; I have had the pleasure of a labor of love for almost half a century. In retreat now, I am giving back to Haiti what I have received at home and abroad, but it seems I am like Sisyphus, not advancing one iota.

Imagine, Haiti has a population of 11 million people; of that number some two million are pupils or students in college education, some two million are senior citizens not fully able to work, one million with middle class status and six million in desperate poverty. If we qualify that the four million adult senior citizens and the students are also almost poor ones, we have a situation of a nation languishing under extreme poverty for ten million of its 11 million populations. That may explain why it is the poorest nation not only in the Western Hemisphere but in the world.

Haiti was set to be the light on the hill, showing other nations that slavery and ill treatment of one’s fellow citizen is not in the divine plan for humanity. Instead, Haiti has had a long descent into hell that is still in progress.

It has been a long descent that started in the 50s with the precipitous departure into exile of President Paul Magloire on December 5, 1956. He did not prepare carefully the plan for his successor or rather he reneged on his preferred choice, Clement Jumelle, his minister of finance who was the designated successor.

President Magloire on his return from the United States where he had been received by the people and the government of the United States as a king (he was given the podium of the Congress in Washington DC to address both houses and had a confetti parade in New York), changed his mind. He thought he could manipulate the constitution to remain for another term and yank his dauphin.

Others rivals such as Francois Duvalier, Louis Déjoie and Daniel Fignolé were lurking around to introduce their own agenda. They set up enough obstacles in his way and he had to leave in haste to avoid complete chaos. Haiti has been descending into hell since that fateful day of December 5, 1956, which is also the anniversary of the day that Christopher Columbus set foot in Haiti some five centuries ago. It will be soon 60 years since.

From his hideout, Francois Duvalier was able to get rid of Louis Déjoie, a progressive industrial gentleman from the south, whose sin was he was only of light skin, a mulatto. The revolution of 1946 brought the noirist concept, a kind of Black Lives Matter. It was time for black skinned politicians to skim the spoils of the state’s national endowment with the same rigor as the light skinned ones did previously. Louis Déjoie in spite of his progressive agro-industry vision for Haiti had no chance to survive.

It was the turn of Duvalier to get rid of Daniel Fignolé, a populist in the genre of Jean Bertrand Aristide. He could not sustain the fire of the cool pragmatist doctor who arranged to have Fignolé offered a pro-tempore presidency. For his demise, he accepted, he did not last 15 days when a young lieutenant tapped on his shoulder and laconically told him his time was over.

Duvalier has only Clement Jumelle in his way to the presidency. He aligned himself with the military who delivered the crown to him with the belief they will run the country over this genteel doctor who barely spoke up.

The general in chief of the army, Antonio Kebreau, was soon sent abroad as ambassador to rot there and Clement Jumelle was killed in full sight in the capital in an ambush under some trumped-up charges. Duvalier was in full control to run the country with an iron hand for 33 years, 11 before his death and 17 through his son Jean Claude Duvalier.

Progress and civilization passed by Haiti during these three decades, millions left for exile to Canada, the United States, Europe, The Bahamas and the Dominican Republic. Another two million left rural Haiti to concentrate in ghettos set up in the capital and the major cities of the republic.

The country took its courage and its determination to boot out the dictator on February 7, 1986 (which is now the constitutional day for the swearing in of any new president) when Haiti opened up a new era of democracy.

It has been anything but a democracy. Under military and later civilian government, Haiti sank into a state, which was called democratic bacchanal. It has now entered into the state of chaotic bacchanal. The dictatorial stage lasted 30 years followed by the faux democracy one that lasted another 30 years.

At this point, after this disaster, around this election in the year of the Lord 2016, Haiti must take the determination to get out of the chaotic cloud of governance to usher in true democracy. It does not demonstrate to me the sentiment that it is ready to take that step. The reason is simple: Haiti is too willing to sleep with its demons. The major candidates in the front line are the subjects of government that have done much harm to Haiti.

The Lavalas branch that includes the true dauphin, Maryse Narcisse, enjoys the support of Jean Bertrand Aristide. The other branches are renegade ones such as Moise Jean Charles and Jean Henri Ceant competing for the mass of downtrodden. The Lavalas culture has destroyed even the concept of noblesse oblige, which was the last line of solidarity in Haiti. The rich and the powerful ones have increased the perimeter of their fence to indicate no more contacts with the downtrodden.

On the other side, enjoying much popular support is also the TET Kale branch led by Jovenel Moise, handpicked by Michel Martelly, the former president. The latter, whose iconoclast style was supposed to turn the tables in favour of the poor ten million, had instead enriched his best friends as well as further the one million well off. On his departure he may have directed his ministers to finish up with Haiti’s treasure.

Remaining on the list, Jude Celestin may bring less disagreeable baggage to the table; Haiti needs above all peace to run its business of nation building. Its people are creative and resilient. With peace, it will have prosperity and political as well as economic auto-determination as icing on the cake.

Hoping the Haitian people will start the rebuilding, of course with international assistance. In the forthcoming election, it will heed God’s advice as said by Matthew in 10:4.16: “be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

And above all, stop being so cozy with your demons leave them in their own beds!
Reads: 4228

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Jean Mathad:

You know so much and you are so intelligent why don't you get there and solve the problem

jean h charles:

Jean H Charles responds:

Solving the problem of the world’s poor and by ricochet the problem of Haiti will be an eternal issue, quoting Jesus: “the poor will always be with us “. But at least I am there on the ground, like Jean the Baptiste preaching maybe in the desert but tackling the real issues of nation building. There will always be those like you telling Jesus since you are so great why don’t you throw yourself down the cliff the angels will take care of you?

But this humanity created by God is advancing surely towards civilization. Four thousand years ago, since the era of Abraham, there have been prophets haranguing the masses there is a better way than the dog eats dog lifestyle. Later two thousand years in our own era after Christ ‘birth we are still advancing towards the humanity of brother’s keeper.

In the course of history there will be those like forgotten Senator Stephen Douglas defending slavery and those like Abraham Lincoln fighting slavery, adulated for eternity by mankind.


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