PLUCK THE CHICKEN BUT MAKE SURE IT DOESN’T SQUAWK

Posted: November 5, 2009 in Uncategorized
Haiti is arguably the most corrupt nation in the world.  I can tell you without hesitation that we deal with corruption on every level as we endeavor to enable children to travel to their adoptive homes.

I encourage you to read this interesting article by Michael Dilbert.  It, I believe, will give you some insight into life in Haiti.

John McHoul

PS: Don’t forget to click here to check out how the Heartline Runners are doing.

Haiti : A few notes on the dismissal of Prime Minister Michèle Pierre-Louis


Tuesday 3 November 2009


Debate

By Michael Deibert *

Submitted to AlterPresse on November 3, 2009

It was said that during the reign of Jean-Jacques Dessalines –
liberation icon, military dictator and “emperor” who ruled Haiti from
1804 until 1806 – a certain level of corruption was tolerated and
dismissed with the phrase plumez la poule, mais ne la faites pas crier.
Pluck the chicken, but make sure it doesn’t squawk. That tradition of
corruption has been a woeful constant in Haiti’s political life since
Dessalines was assassinated over 200 years ago.

Another chapter in the disregard for honesty and transparency that
infuses the marrow of Haiti’s political class was written last week
with the ouster of Haitian Prime Minister Michèle Pierre-Louis by a
parliament dominated by the allies of Haitian President René Préval,
who appointed Pierre-Louis to the position a little over one year ago.

Since she assumed office in September 2008, Pierre-Louis was
probably more responsible than any other single individual in beginning
to restore some level of confidence in Haiti’s government and in
encouraging the stirrings of international investment in a nation of
industrious but desperately poor people all-too-often written off as an
economic basket case. During her tenure, the World Bank, the
International Monetary Fund and the the Inter-American Development Bank
collectively canceled $1.2 billion of Haiti’s debt, while the latter
institution approved an additional $120 million in grants to aid Haiti
to improve such sectors as infrastructure, basic services and disaster
prevention.

Having previously led FOKAL, a civil society group supported by
businessman and philanthropist George Soros’ Open Society Institute,
Pierre-Louis was well-regarded both at home and abroad for her personal
incorruptibility, and displayed a surprisingly adroit political touch
on the international diplomatic stage.

That being the case, one might then ask why Haiti’s senate, dominated by partisans of Préval’s LESPWA
political current, chose this moment to oust Pierre-Louis under the
almost-laughable rationale that, in her year in office, she had not
solved the problems caused by two centuries of what Haitian writer
Frédéric Marcelin in 1904 called “civil strife, fratricidal slaughters,
social miseries, economic ignorance and idolatrous militarism.”

With the ouster of Pierre-Louis spearheaded by such LESPWA
stalwarts as Senators Joseph Lambert and Jean Hector Anacasis, and with
René Préval himself remaining publicly silent as the plot to remove his
Prime Minister came to its inevitable and absurd conclusion, there
appears to be an explanation as simple as it is depressing for removing
Pierre-Louis at a moment when Haiti finally appeared to be gaining some
international credibility: The Prime Minister was standing in the way
of some powerful people making quite a lot of money.

Government insiders speak darkly about millions of dollars in aid money being siphoned off via the Centre National des Equipements,
a body established by the Préval government to aid in Haiti’s efforts
at reconstruction after a trio of hurricanes killed at least 600 people
last year and further devastated the country’s already fragile
infrastructure. The machinations of the Groupe de Bourdon, a
cabal of allegedly corrupt businessmen with firm roots in Haiti’s elite
who have the president’s ear, are also mentioned as culprits. Many of
the leaders of the drive to oust Pierre-Louis in Haiti’s senate are
also individuals around whom allegations of corruption – and worse –
have swirled for many years.

Pierre-Louis’ assertion to me when I interviewed her in Haiti this
past summer that “chaos is good for a few sectors” and that Haiti’s
political system would reject anyone who would not allow themselves to
be corrupted now appears to have been prophetic [1].

After his return to office in 2006, René Préval succeeded, against
all the odds, in bringing relative peace to Haiti after years of
bloodshed, something for which he should be lauded in no uncertain
terms. However, the weight of corruption, along with a tradition of
impunity, is continuing to strangle Haiti under his watch, and the
ouster of Michèle Pierre-Louis is a worrying sign for Haitians who have
long sought in vain for decent leaders who would build a government
responsive to the nation’s poor majority.

The fact that Pierre-Louis’ replacement, Jean Max Bellerive, served
in the personal cabinets of both Jean-Marie Chérestal and Yvon Neptune,
Prime Ministers during the 2001-2004 tenure of Jean-Bertrand Aristide,
an era that was marked by both widespread corruption and political
violence, is cause for further concern. Bellerive has more than once
been described to me with the rather nasty Kreyol phrase se yon ti poul
ki mare nan pye tab yo, an allusion to someone who essentially does
whatever they are told.

So the forces of disorder have won this latest round in Haiti. No
doubt Haiti’s parliamentarians and perhaps even Préval himself are
congratulating themselves at their cleverness, with the country’s
corrupt bourgeois no doubt equally thrilled to now have a government
with a popular base that will more or less allow them to continue
unmolested with their nefarious activities.

But, as Haiti’s politicians strut around in expensive suits and
travel over decaying roads in SUVs with impressive armed escorts, they
seem not to realize that they should take no pride to occupy the
position that they occupy with their country in such a state, a fact
that remains equally true for many of Haiti’s economic elites.

Since the deployment of an international peacekeeping mission in
Haiti in February 2004, almost 50 members of the United Nations mission
in the country and thousands of Haitian civilians have lost their lives
to political violence, criminal banditry and environmental catastrophes
whose severity is directly linked to the inability of the country’s
political class to create some semblance of a state to serve its
people. This despite the presence of 7 UN missions to Haiti over the
last two decades. Haiti’s long-suffering people deserve better than the
country successive generations of leaders have bequeathed to them.

In his finest novel, 1955’s Compere General Soleil, Haiti
greatest novelist, Jacques Stephen Alexis (who would be slain by agents
of dictator François Duvalier in 1961), wrote of the journey of a pair
of Haitians home from near-slavery in the neighboring Dominican
Republic that “the closer they came to the promised land, the more they
felt the net tightening around them.”

The net of corruption has been tightening around Haiti for far too
long, and one hopes that those remaining honest people in Haiti’s
political and business sectors, and Haiti’s genuine friends abroad, may
find the tools to cut free that confining web that has succeeded in
almost choking the life of the country that once taught the world so
much about freedom.

………………….

* Michael Deibert is the author of Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti. His blog can be read at www.michaeldeibert.blogspot.com

[1] "The
Elites Are Like a Huge Elephant Sitting on Haiti," Michael Deibert
interviews Haitian Prime Minister Michèle Pierre-Louis, 3 July 2009,
Inter Press Service

 

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