The outpouring of support bestowed on Haiti by the international community is as comforting in its compassion as the Earthquake was unforgiving in its destructive rage. This disaster has created such an awareness of Haiti’s subhuman misery, that some foreign journalists have reached unprecedented levels of compassionate reporting, while private citizens from all over the world are setting records in donations, at a time of global economic uncertainty, to say the least.
It is, however, important we all realize that what happened in Haiti on January 12th was not just an earthquake, but rather the foretold encounter between a natural disaster and decades of poor human decisions. Therefore, if the international aid is not matched by a drastic paradigm shift from us Haitians in all aspects pertaining to our social contract, there is no rationale behind rebuilding Port-au-Prince, Jacmel, Leogane and Les Cayes. Unfortunately, we have done nothing so far to distill the part of human causation in the catastrophe, thus creating the conditions for similar tragedies to be recurrent. A comparative analysis with the situation in Chile — hit a few days later by an earthquake 500 times stronger than the one that destroyed Port-au-Prince— should be edifying enough in determining the role played by human decisions, or lack thereof, in maximizing the impact of the disaster in Haiti.
The earthquake took all us Haitians by surprise, from our president whose deficit of common sense—among other critical shortages—was displayed on global TV, to our failed elites who had to wake up and smell the coffee for a change, to the masses that have been freely and enthusiastically making poor choices at the ballot for the last two decades, to the diaspora that is unable to find a way back toward total integration in its own country without violating the law of the land, despite being the main source of revenue to the impoverished nation.
Today, Haiti is at a crossroads where we have to make some drastic decisions as to what—from a very heteroclite historical baggage—to jettison and what to bring along with us in the new post January 12th era. While the entire world has been mesmerized by our resilience, we must realize that if this energy is not properly channeled toward a redefinition of the rules of the game, the predicament at hand will get the best of us. The greatness of a nation has more to do with recognizing the defining moments and rising up to them, than with constantly referring to a glorious past when the expectations of the present are not met.
Today, we have to make a decisive choice between a government with not even an evacuation plan for the president, and one that can lead us with confidence through an era of development and prosperity, between a backward-looking mentality and a forward-looking mindset, between individual survival and a collective vista on the future, between corruption and accountability, between self-serving leaders and true public servants, between dependency and self-sustainability.
Neither a well-written plan, nor all the money in the world can solve Haiti’s problems. For a country to achieve sustained development and irreversible democracy, its institutions must rely on a strong conceptual framework, defined by the social contract. The United-States with the “Federalist Papers’, France with the “5th Republic”, Canada with the “Quiet Revolution”, the first quite early, and the two others rather late in their History, have taken the time to shape their institutions in accordance with their values and aspirations. As for us Haitians, soon after our independence, we woke up with a de facto social contract consecrating the survival of the fittest, and a broken social ladder; throughout our History, public corruption, tax evasion, illicit enrichment and drug trafficking have been the factors through which upward mobility is achieved. It is essential that we fix the social ladder by democratizing and improving our educational system, and by starting to enforce our laws. A better educated people will shift from the cult of personality to the valorization of ideas in its political choices.
As Port-au-Prince has been turned into Ground Zero, the government would be well-inspired to show some humility and belated leadership by calling for a political truce, and devoting the remainder of the president’s term to the organization of a National Conference. This event would gather representatives from all sectors and regions of the country along with the diaspora, in an effort to:
– Define a consensual vision for the next 50 years.
– Revise the constitution.
– Perform our autocriticism and identify the cultural and institutional barriers that prevent Haitian citizens from succeeding at home, while they thrive abroad.
– Fix the social ladder that has been broken for some 200 years.
The National Conference would have to produce clear answers to three fundamental questions:
1- How to contain the natural penchant of all governments to strip the citizenry of the exercise of national sovereignty. Addressing this question will allow us to redesign our institutions in a way that prevents authoritative deviances, by establishing an effective system of checks and balances.
2- How, through the definition of a consensual vision, to integrate the interests of all in the determination of the collective interest. It is time that everyone be invited to the table for the long overdue upfront sharing of the national little pie. Once the national vision defined, everyone will be able to envision their own upward mobility and that of their progeny over time, within the bigger picture of a vibrant and developing country.
3- How to instill in each Haitian the sense of belonging without which there is no social link. Once it is determined that everyone had been given a level playing field, all of us will be eager to build the new Haiti, knowing that the fruits of the prosperity to come will be distributed according to the principles of justice and equity.
The National Conference will also provide us with an opportunity to perform the psychoanalysis of ourselves. Our current mentality eloquently expressed through our “popular wisdom” is incompatible with progress and development. Sayings like “pito nou led nou la” (we’d better be ugly than dead) “lower our expectations, whereas those like “depi nan ginen ne gap trayi neg” (Since Africa Negroes have been betraying Negroes) are divisive. We need to boost our national self-esteem and start believing in the likelihood of the Haitian dream. Until we reach this level of collective consciousness, we will not be able to achieve prosperity, irrespective of the amount of money the International Community injects into our economy.
At this defining moment of Haiti’s tumultuous History, those who have experienced the earthquake firsthand are rightly afraid of what the future has in store for the country. By striking us blindly and indistinctly, the earthquake has reminded us that we are sharing the same boat, and that none of us can make it to shore while others are sinking. If we can outgrow our differences and commit to creating a normal country with only normal problems, we can turn January 12th into the long overdue wake up call. If not, the next tragedy will surprise us in our sleep.
Frandley Denis Julien
January 15th, 2010
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Christopher Columbus Praising Haiti’s Riches, the good nature of its inhabitants in this letter to Lord Sanchez!!!
Letter to Lord Raphael Sanchez
14 March 1493
Letter addressed to the noble Lord Raphael Sanchez, Treasurer to their most invincible Majesties, Ferdinand and Isabella, King and Queen of Spain, by Christopher Columbus, to whom our age is greatly indebted, treating of the islands of India secently discovered beyond the Ganges, to explore which he had been sent eight months before under the auspices and at the expense of their said Majesties.
KNOWING that it will afford you pleasure to learn that I have brought my undertaking to a successful termination, I have decided upon writing you this letter to acquaint you with all the events which have occurred in my voyage, and the discoveries which have resulted from it.
Thirty-three days after my departure from Cadiz I reached the Indian sea, where I discovered many islands, thickly peopled, of which I took possession without resistance in the name of our most illustrious Monarch, by public proclamation and with unfurled banners. To the first of these islands, which is called by the Indians Guanahani, I gave the name of the blessed Saviour (San Salvador), relying upon whose protection I had reached this as well as the other islands; to each of these I also gave a name, ordering that one should be called Santa Maria de la Concepcion, another Fernandina, the third Isabella, the fourth Juana, and so with all the rest respectively.
As soon as we arrived at that, which as I have said was named Juana, I proceeded along its coast a short distance westward, and found it to be so large and apparently without termination, that I could not suppose it to be an island, but the continental province of Cathay. Seeing, however, no towns or populous places on the sea coast, but only a few detached houses and cottages, with whose inhabitants I was unable to communicate, because they fled as soon as they saw us, I went further on, thinking that in my progress I should certainly find some city or village. At length, after proceeding a great way and finding that nothing new presented itself, and that the line of coast was leading us northwards (which I wished to avoid, because it was winter, and it was my intention to move southwards; and because moreover the winds were contrary), I resolved not to attempt any further progress, but rather to turn back and retrace my course to a certain bay that I had observed, and from which I afterwards dispatched two of our men to ascertain whether there were a king or any cities in that province. These men reconnoitered the country for three days, and found a most numerous population, and great numbers of houses, though small, and built without any regard to order: with which information they returned to us.
In the mean time I had learned from some Indians whom I had seized, that that country was certainly an island: and therefore I sailed towards the east, coasting to the distance of three hundred and twenty- two miles, which brought us to the extremity of it; from this point I saw lying eastwards another island, fifty-four miles distant from Juana, to which I gave the name of Espanola: I went thither, and steered my course eastward as I had done at Juana, even to the distance of five hundred and sixty-four miles along the north coast.
This said island of Juana is exceedingly fertile, as indeed are all the others; it is surrounded with many bays, spacious, very secure, and surpassing any that I have ever seen; numerous large and healthful rivers intersect it, and it also contains many very lofty mountains. All these islands are very beautiful, and distinguished by a diversity of scenery; they are filled with a great variety of trees of immense height, and which I believe to retain their foliage in all seasons; for when I saw them they were as verdant and luxuriant as they usually are in Spain in the month of May,–some of them were blossoming, some bearing fruit, and all flourishing in the greatest perfection, according to their respective stages of growth, and the nature and quality of each: yet the islands are not so thickly wooded as to be impassable. The nightingale and various birds were singing in countless numbers, and that in November, the month in which I arrived there. There are besides in the same island of Juana seven or eight kinds of palm trees, which, like all the other trees, herbs, and fruits, considerably surpass ours in height and beauty. The pines also are very handsome, and there are very extensive fields and meadows, a variety of birds, different kinds of honey, and many sorts of metals, but no iron.
In that island also which I have before said we named Espanola, there are mountains of very great size and beauty, vast plains, groves, and very fruitful fields, admirably adapted for tillage, pasture, and habitation. The convenience and excellence of the harbours in this island, and the abundance of the rivers, so indispensable to the health of man, surpass anything that would be believed by one who had not seen it. The trees, herbage, and fruits of Espanola are very different from those of Juana, and moreover it abounds in various kinds of spices, gold, and other metals.
The inhabitants of both sexes in this island, and in all the others which I have seen, or of which I have received information, go always naked as they were born, with the exception of some of the women, who use the covering of a leaf, or small bough, or an apron of cotton which they prepare for that purpose. None of them, as I have already said, are possessed of any iron, neither have they weapons, being unacquainted with, and indeed incompetent to use them, not from any deformity of body (for they are well-formed), but because they are timid and full of fear. They carry however in lieu of arms, canes dried in the sun, on the ends of which they fix heads of dried wood sharpened to a point, and even these they dare not use habitually; for it has often occurred when I have sent two or three of my men to any of the villages to speak with the natives, that they have come out in a disorderly troop, and have fled in such haste at the approach of our men, that the fathers forsook their children and the children their fathers. This timidity did not arise from any loss or injury that they had received from us; for, on the contrary, I gave to all I approached whatever articles I had about me, such as cloth and many other things, taking nothing of theirs in return: but they are naturally timid and fearful. As soon however as they see that they are safe, and have laid aside all fear, they are very simple and honest, and exceedingly liberal with all they have; none of them refusing any thing he may possess when he is asked for it, but on the contrary inviting us to ask them. They exhibit great love towards all others in preference to themselves: they also give objects of great value for trifles, and content themselves with very little or nothing in return. I however forbad that these trifles and articles of no value (such as pieces of dishes, plates, and glass, keys, and leather straps) should be given to them, although if they could obtain them, they imagined themselves to be possessed of the most beautiful trinkets in the world.
It even happened that a sailor received for a leather strap as much gold as was worth three golden nobles, and for things of more trifling value offered by our men, especially newly coined blancas, or any gold coins, the Indians would give whatever the seller required; as, for instance, an ounce and a half or two ounces of gold, or thirty or forty pounds of cotton, with which commodity they were already acquainted. Thus they bartered, like idiots,cotton and gold for fragments of bows, glasses, bottles, and jars; which I forbad as being unjust, and myself gave them many beautiful and acceptable articles which I had brought with me, taking nothing from them in return; I did this in order that I might the more easily conciliate them, that they might be led to become Christians, and be inclined to entertain a regard for the King and Queen, our Princes and all Spaniards, and that I might induce them to take an interest in seeking out, and collecting, and delivering to us such things as they possessed in abundance, but which we greatly needed.
They practice no kind of idolatry, but have a firm belief that all strength and power, and indeed all good things, are in heaven, and that I had descended from thence with these ships and sailors, and under this impression was I received after they had thrown aside their fears. Nor are they slow or stupid, but of very clear understanding; and those men who have crossed to the neighbouring islands give an admirable description of everything they observed; but they never saw any people clothed, nor any ships like ours.
On my arrival at that sea, I had taken some Indians by force from the first island that I came to, in order that they might learn our language, and communicate to us what they knew respecting the country; which plan succeeded excellently, and was a great advantage to us, for in a short time, either by gestures and signs, or by words, we were enabled to understand each other. These men are still travelling with me, and although they have been with us now a long time, they continue to entertain the idea that I have descended from heaven; and on our arrival at any new place they published this, crying out immediately with a loud voice to the other Indians, “Come, come and look upon beings of a celestial race”: upon which both women and men, children and adults, young men and old, when they got rid of the fear they at first entertained, would come out in throngs, crowding the roads to see us, some bringing food, others drink, with astonishing affection and kindness.
Each of these islands has a great number of canoes, built of solid wood, narrow and not unlike our double- banked boats in length and shape, but swifter in their motion: they steer them only by the oar. These canoes are of various sizes, but the greater number are constructed with eighteen banks of oars, and with these they cross to the other islands, which are of countless number, to carry on traffic with the people. I saw some of these canoes that held as many as seventy-eight rowers.
In all these islands there is no difference of physiognomy, of manners, or of language, but they all clearly understand each other, a circumstance very propitious for the realization of what I conceive to be the principal wish of our most serene King, namely, the conversion of these people to the holy faith of Christ, to which indeed, as far as I can judge, they are very favourable and well-disposed.
I said before, that I went three hundred and twenty-two miles in a direct line from west to east, along the coast of the island of Juana; Judging by which voyage, and the length of the passage, I can assert that it is larger than England and Scotland united; for independent of the said three hundred and twenty-two miles, there are in the western part of the island two provinces which I did not visit; one of these is called by the Indiane Anam, and its inhabitants are born with tails.
These provinces extend to a hundred and fifty-three miles in length, as I have learnt from the Indians whom I have brought with me, and who are well acquainted with the country. But the extent of Espanola is greater than all Spain from Catalonia to Fontarabia, which is easily proved, because one of its four sides which I myself coasted in a direct line, from west to east, measures five hundred and forty miles. This island is to be regarded with especial interest, and not to be slighted; for although as I have said I took possession of all these islands in the name of our invincible King, and the government of them is unreservedly committed to his said Majesty, yet there was one large town in Espanola of which especially I took possession, situated in a remarkably favourable spot, and in every way convenient for the purposes of gain and commerce.
To this town I gave the name of Navidad del Senor, and ordered a fortress to be built there, which must by this time be completed, in which I left as many men as I thought necessary, with all sorts of arms, and enough provisions for more than a year. I also left them one caravel, and skilful workmen both in ship-building and other arts, and engaged the favor and friendship of the King of the island in their behalf, to a degree that would not be believed, for these people are so amiable and friendly that even the King took a pride in calling me his brother. But supposing their feelings should become changed, and they should wish to injure those who have remained in the fortress, they could not do so, for they have no arms, they go naked, and are moreover too cowardly; ao that those who hold the said fortress, can easily keep the whole island in check, without any pressing danger to themaelves, provided they do not transgress the directions and regulations which I have given them.
As far as I have learned, every man throughout these islands is united to but one wife, with the exception of the kings and princes, who are allowed to have twenty: the women seem to work more than the men. I could not clearly understand whether the people possess any private property, for I observed that one man had the charge of distributing various things to the rest, but especially meat and provisions and the like. I did not find, as some of us had expected, any cannibals amongst them, but on the contrary men of great deference and kindness. Neither are they black, like the Ethiopians: their hair is smooth and straight: for they do not dwell where the rays of the sun strike most vividly,–and the sun has intense power there, the distance from the equinoctial line being, it appears, but six-and-twenty degrees. On the tops of the mountains the cold is very great, but the effect of this upon the Indians is lessened by their being accustomed to the climate, and by their frequently indulging in the use of very hot meats and drinks. Thus, as I have already said, I saw no cannibals, nor did I hear of any, except in a certain island called Charis, which is the second from Espanola on the side towards India, where dwell a people who are considered by the neighbouring islanders as most ferocious: and these feed upon human flesh. The same people have many kinds of canoes, in which they cross to all the surrounding islands and rob and plunder wherever they can; they are not different from the other islanders, except that they wear their hair long, like women, and make use of the bows and javelins of cane, with sharpened spear-points fixed on the thickest end, which I have before described, and therefore they are looked upon as ferocious, and regarded by the other Indians with unbounded fear; but I think no more of them than of the rest. These are the men who form unions with certain women, who dwell alone in the island Matenin, which lies next to Espanola on the side towards India; these latter employ themselves in no labour suitable to their own sex, for they use bows and javelins as I have already described their paramours as doing, and for defensive armour have plates of brass, of which metal they possess great abundance. They assure me that there is another island larger than Espanola, whose inhabitants have no hair, and which abounds in gold more than any of the rest. I bring with me individuals of this island and of the others that I have seen, who are proofs of the facts which I state.
Finally, to compress into few words the entire summary of my voyage and speedy return, and of the advantages derivable therefrom, I promise, that with a little assistance afforded me by our most invincible sovereigns, I will procure them as much gold as they need, as great a quantity of spices, of cotton, and of mastic (which is only found in Chios), and as many men for the service of the navy as their Majesties may require. I promise also rhubarb and other sorts of drugs, which I am persuaded the men whom I have left in the aforesaid fortress have found already and will continue to find; for I myself have tarried no where longer than I was compelled to do by the winds, except in the city of Navidad, while I provided for the building of the fortress, and took the necessary precautions for the perfect security of the men I left there. Although all I have related may appear to be wonderful and unheard of, yet the results of my voyage would have been more astonishing if I had had at my disposal such ships as I required. But these great and marvellous results are not to be attributed to any merit of mine, but to the holy Christian faith, and to the piety and religion of our Sovereigns; for that which the unaided intellect of man could not compass, the spirit of God has granted to human exertions, for God is wont to hear the prayers of his servants who love his precepts even to the performance of apparent impossibilities. Thus it has happened to me in the present instance, who have accomplished a task to which the powers of mortal men had never hitherto attained; for if there have been those who have anywhere written or spoken of these islands, they have done so with doubts and conjectures, and no one has ever asserted that he has seen them, on which account their writings have been looked upon as little else than fables. Therefore let the king and queen, our princes and their most happy kingdoms, and all the other provinces of Christendom, render thanks to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who has granted us so great a victory and such prosperity. Let processions be made, and sacred feasts be held, and the temples be adorned with festive boughs. Let Christ rejoice on earth, as he rejoices in heaven in the prospect of the salvation of the souls of so many nations hitherto lost. Let us also rejoice, as well on account of the exaltation of our faith, as on account of the increase of our temporal prosperity, of which not only Spain, but all Christendom will be partakers.
Such are the events which I have briefly described.
Lisbon, the 14th of March.
Admiral of the Fleet of the Ocean.
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(Paru dans Le Nouvelliste en Janvieer 2004)
Par Frandley Denis Julien
Depuis l’apparition sur la scène politique du Groupe des 184, le binôme Contrat Social est sur toutes les lèvres, dans toutes les conversations. Certains l’emploient parce que c’est joli, d’autres pour être conformes à l’air du temps, d’autres le critiquent sans rien y comprendre, beaucoup, de plus en plus nombreux, s’intéressent très sérieusement à la question et ap mande kisa bagay sa ye ?
La plupart des acteurs sur le terrain réduisent le contrat social à un simple consensus social ; c’est là une négation de l’un des aspects les plus fondamentaux du contrat qui est la détermination des rapports qu’échangent les citoyens avec l’Etat pris au sens de gouvernement, et vice versa ; en d’autres termes, pour que le Contrat Social puisse être effectif, le gouvernement doit y adhérer, ce qui nous donne une raison de plus, s’il en était besoin, de débarrasser le pays au plus vite du régime Lavalas. Et les gouvernements à venir doivent être l’expression de ce pacte.
Le contrat social une fois conclu, doit garantir la démocratie et les libertés fondamentales, le progrès économique et social, ainsi qu’une citoyenneté forte qui entretiendra des rapports d’interdépendance avec les éléments précités, à travers un cercle vertueux dans lequel nous n’avons que trop tardé à entrer.
Quelles sont les trois questions fondamentales auxquelles doit répondre le Contrat Social ?
I- Comment prévenir le penchant de tout gouvernement à déposséder les citoyens de l’exercice de la souveraineté ?
L’article 58 de la Constitution de 1987 est on ne peut plus clair :
La souveraineté nationale réside dans l’universalité des citoyens. Les citoyens exercent directement les prérogatives de la souveraineté par :
a) L’élection du président de la République ;
b) L’élection des membres du pouvoir législatif ;
c) L’élection des membres de tous les autres corps ou de toutes les assemblées prévues par la constitution et par la loi.
article 59 : Les citoyens délèguent l’exercice de la souveraineté nationale à trois pouvoirs :
a) Le pouvoir législatif
b) Le pouvoir exécutif
c) Le pouvoir judiciaire
Mais que vivons-nous dans la réalité ? Nous avons été dépossédés, mais complètement dépossédés de l’exercice de la souveraineté qui est aujourd’hui l’apanage d’un seul homme qui ne se gêne pas pour offrir à ses amis, compagnons, courtisans , complices et à lui-même, des mandats à tous les niveaux de l’administration publique. D’autre part, M. Aristide contrôle complètement la Police, la Justice, la Cour des Comptes, les Conseils Électoraux successifs qu’il a vassalisés, etc.… Or, la fraude électorale, au-delà de la victoire ou de la défaite des candidats, affaiblit considérablement la Nation, puisqu’elle infirme la notion d’égalité formelle des citoyens exprimée par la fameuse formule Un Homme, Une Voix. C’est un crime de lèse-citoyenneté. C’est ainsi que, contrairement au 21 mai, les bureaux de vote étaient scandaleusement clairsemés le 26 novembre en dépit de l’entrée en scène d’Aristide – alors supposé être l’Homme le plus populaire d’Haïti – car les citoyens savaient que leurs votes n’allaient pas être comptés, parce que le régime avait décidé de faire de ses opposants des non-citoyens. La question à se poser maintenant est la suivante : comment en sommes-nous arrivés là, alors que hier encore, en 1986, cette société avait affiché son refus non équivoque de la dictature ? La réponse est simple : nous ne sommes pas encore arrivés à cristalliser nos aspirations de démocratie et de progrès économique à travers des institutions assez fortes pour transcender les hommes, quels qu’ils soient, et quels que soient leurs projets.
L’un des aspects fondamentaux du contrat social consiste à définir le rapport des citoyens à l’Etat, et vice versa ; la citoyenneté doit clairement signifier à l’Etat ce qu’elle attend de lui, ce qu’elle ne lui permettra pas, et comment elle entend collaborer à la réussite des projets de l’Etat, dans la mesure où celui-ci respecte les règles du jeu. Mais les citoyens ne peuvent pas se jeter dans cet exercice les yeux bandés ; ils doivent pouvoir compter sur des institutions fortes qui pourront servir de soupape de sûreté.
II- Comment, à travers une vision consensuelle de l’avenir, intégrer les intérêts de tous dans la détermination de l’intérêt commun ?
Nous sommes à un carrefour où nous nous rendons compte combien, quelles que soient nos différences de situations, nous sommes solidairement menacés par la dictature, la dégradation de l’environnement, la déshumanisation, l’insécurité, l’appauvrissement, le sida, la pauvreté humaine et mentale etc.…
Il est évident que tout projet de développement doit partir d’un consensus de tous les secteurs autour d’une vision consensuelle de l’avenir. Notre pays est fortement caractérisé par le fossé qui sépare les plus riches des plus pauvres. Nous avons réalisé que ce fossé ne fait l’affaire de personne car les exclus de la société constituent une charge si lourde pour l’Etat et les nantis qu’ils rendent utopiques – ou plutôt chimériques – le progrès, la démocratie et la paix sociale.
La déception engendrée par la trahison d’Aristide a sonné le glas du leadership sentimental en Haïti ; maintenant, il faut absolument que les pratiques politiques changent ; la population doit apprendre à évaluer les candidats à l’aune de leurs projets, de leurs plates-formes. Mais c’est une culture qui doit s’établir progressivement. Au prime abord, tous les secteurs de la vie nationale doivent se mettre ensemble pour donner le ton en arrêtant, à travers un événement dont il reste à déterminer la nature, les grandes lignes d’une vision nationale portant sur plusieurs décennies, vision qui devra inspirer les projets particuliers des partis politiques.
Le plus important dans cet exercice, c’est qu’il doit arriver à faire comprendre à tous les citoyens que sans la participation et l’engagement de tous, la vision ne pourra pas se concrétiser. Nos compatriotes doivent admettre que c’est à l’universalité des citoyens qu’il revient de construire la prospérité, et ce faisant, de mettre en place des structures telles que les richesses nouvellement générées soient réparties de manière équitable, et contribuent à créer une société d’opportunités, et à rendre la société plus juste et moins asymétrique. Il faut que d’ici, chaque citoyen puisse faire des projections sur sa mobilité sociale, ainsi que celle de sa progéniture dans le temps. Le pays doit pouvoir permettre à tout un chacun de planifier sa petite vie sur le long terme, à travers la grande planification nationale. Ce n’est qu’à ce prix que nous obtiendrons l’engagement de tous dans l’œuvre de reconstruction nationale, étant entendu que les individus n’acceptent généralement de se sacrifier pendant une longue période de temps que sur la base de leurs intérêts personnels. C’est aussi ce consensus qui nous permettra de désarmer les démagogues qui ne peuvent réussir qu’en dressant les secteurs de la vie nationale les uns contre les autres.
III- Comment former en chaque citoyen ce sentiment d’obligation sans lequel le lien social se défait ?
A l’avènement d’Aristide au pouvoir en 1990, tout le monde était étonné de voir comment les Haïtiens étaient disposés à travailler au développement du pays ; beaucoup de pays ont mis à contribution ces moments au cours desquels un leader charismatique jouit d’un pouvoir quasi-religieux sur la majorité de la population pour canaliser les énergies de celle-ci vers le développement économique et social. Malheureusement, Aristide a profité de son incroyable ascendance sur le Peuple haïtien pour exacerber les tensions sociales, s’enrichir à outrance, détruire les institutions et progressivement tuer cet espoir de renaissance que cultivaient tous les secteurs de la vie nationale.
Aujourd’hui, la majorité de nos compatriotes tardent à revenir de leurs désillusions. Ils ne croient plus au changement. Par le Contrat Social, nous devons arriver à faire réaliser à tous les citoyens de ce pays qu’ils ne peuvent absolument se dérober à leurs devoirs civiques, comme personne ne peut leur renier leurs droits fondamentaux. Le citoyen doit comprendre que la Nation attend de lui qu’il contribue à sa consolidation, et qu’il respecte le droit à la différence dans l’égalité qui caractérise cet espace créateur de droits et de devoirs qu’est la citoyenneté.
Au-delà des solidarités particulières, le citoyen doit faire sien le Vouloir Vivre Ensemble sans le respect duquel la Nation ne sera qu’un ramassis de groupuscules mutuellement exclusifs.
Somme toute, dans la mesure où le Contrat Social arrive à fournir les réponses à ces trois questions fondamentales, la postérité nous retiendra comme la génération du renouveau et du rattrapage.
Frandley Denis Julien
Cap-Haïtien, le 26 janvier 2004
1/ Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, Le Contrat Social, Flammarion, Paris, 2001.
2/Medina, Vicente, Social Contract theories : Critics and Defenders, Rowman and Littlefield, June 1990.
3/ Lessnoff, Michael, Social Contract Theory (Readingsin Social and Political Theory ),New-YorkUniversityPress, February 1991.
4/ Constitution de la République d’Haïti, 1987
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Par Frandley Denis Julien
C’est parce que j’ai vécu l’époque où le fait d’être anti-Aristide pouvait conduire à l’échafaud, qu’aujourd’hui je n’ai pas peur d’affronter la pensée unique en ce qui a trait aux forces devant assurer la sécurité nationale. Si les journées de terreur que connaît Port-au-Prince depuis un certain temps sont en train de mettre à nu les faiblesses de la Police Nationale, tout en constituant un éloquent plaidoyer pour les Forces Armées d’Haïti, il n’en demeure pas moins vrai que des secteurs vitaux de la vie nationale sont viscéralement opposés au rétablissement de fait de l’institution militaire qui existe encore de droit. Dans certains milieux, la lutte contre l’Armée prend des proportions inimaginables.
I- Brève typologie du mouvement anti-militariste
Il faut dire d’entrée de jeu que cette mouvance tend à s’assouplir face à la menace terroriste qui se précise à partir du Bel-Air. Cependant, à la moindre accalmie, elle reprendra ses vieilles rengaines. Le mouvement anti-militariste recrute ses ténors dans différents secteurs, et pour des raisons diverses. Il y a :
a) Ceux qui ont été victimes des abus de l’Armée, et ceux qui, en bon citoyens, sont révoltés par les torts causés par l’institution militaire au pays.
b) Les groupes qui, par conviction idéologique, affiliation internationale, doivent être anti-militaristes, et ceux qui, parce qu’ils avaient cautionné la décision inconstitutionnelle d’Aristide, n’ont pas le courage et l’honnêteté intellectuelle de faire leur mea culpa.
c) Les bandits et délinquants en col blanc qui voient l’Armée comme un obstacle au fonctionnement de leurs propres cellules mafieuses.
d) Ceux, enfin ― les opportunistes ― qui pensent qu’il est aujourd’hui politiquement suicidaire de ne pas être anti-militariste.
II- Les arguments de la mouvance anti-militariste
Le front du refus de l’Armée est desservi par un argumentaire souvent spécieux, qu’il ne peut exposer sans remettre en question notre capacité en tant que Peuple de nous organiser tout court.
L’argument supposé massue est que l’Armée a fait trop de torts au pays. Mais il se trouve que la Présidence aussi a fait beaucoup de mal à ce pays ; faut-il abolir cette institution pour autant ? Peut-on le faire sans nous remettre en question de manière globale, ou ne devrions-nous pas plutôt prendre le temps de mieux concevoir nos institutions ? La Police Nationale a beaucoup dérivé elle aussi, pendant qu’on y est. On n’a qu’à lire les derniers rapports la concernant, de la NCHR. Faut-il l’abolir pour autant ? Faut-il abolir le Conseil Electoral parce que les conseillers actuels se coupent l’herbe sous le pied comme s’ils allaient eux-mêmes aux élections l’un en face de l’autre, et que leurs prédécesseurs depuis 1995 nous ont roulés dans la farine ? Ces errements institutionnels sont symptomatiques de nos improvisations et de notre amour du confort intellectuel. Nous devons concéder à solliciter plus souvent nos neurones, lorsqu’il s’agit de mettre en place nos institutions.
Le deuxième argument utilisé par nos amis les anti-militaristes est que face à l’armée Dominicaine, nos 7000 hommes ne représentaient rien. Cela est une négation de beaucoup de paramètres importants, dont :
a) Le rôle social de l’armée
b) Le caractère dissuasif de l’existence de l’institution militaire, indépendamment de son effectif.
c) Les avantages comparatifs liés à la connaissance du terrain en cas d’invasion.
Si cet argument tenait, le Mexique aurait déjà aboli son armée qui ne pourra jamais, en termes d’effectif, tenir la comparaison avec les forces armées américaines.
Le troisième argument est que l’Armée est budgetivore. Si l’on tient compte du rôle de la sécurité dans le développement aujourd’hui, on conviendra que l’absence d’une force adéquate de sécurité coûte plus cher encore à l’Etat. Lorsque le moment viendra de lancer pour de bon ce pays sur la voie du développement, les investissements seront tellement importants rien qu’en matière d’énergie, qu’on ne pourra ne pas pouvoir compter sur une force sure pour les sécuriser. En dépit de leur présence en Irak, les Américains ont dû avoir recours à des compagnies privées de sécurité pour protéger certains sites stratégiques.
III- Scénarios de crise
Aujourd’hui, les Chimè du Bel-Air sont en train de défier la Police Nationale et la Nation entière. Mais, d’autres situations encore plus graves peuvent surgir à tout moment, surtout après le départ de la Minustha. Voyons-en deux :
a) Sous le gouvernement d’Aristide, Guy Philippe et ses hommes ont pu, en dépit de l’existence de la Police Nationale, traverser la frontière comme on entre dans un moulin, importer des armes de guerre, et occuper le plus clair du territoire national, jusqu’au départ du tyran. Ils l’ont heureusement fait pour la bonne cause. Mais quelle force, à l’avenir, pourra dissuader n’importe quel groupe de bandits d’en faire autant contre un bon gouvernement ?
b) Dans le contexte mondial actuel, une guerre ouverte avec la République Dominicaine demeure très improbable. Cependant, ce même contexte rend imprévisibles les actes que peuvent poser les Etats et les grands groupes économiques dans le cadre de la concurrence commerciale. Quelle force pourra empêcher que les Dominicains ( Etat ou groupes économiques ), commanditent des opérations de bousillage contre des objectifs stratégiques ( énergie, communication, installations commerciales et industrielles), via des mercenaires locaux ? Surement pas la PNH.
L’Armée d’Haïti telle qu’elle était à sa dissolution en 1994, ne répondait pas aux exigences d’un Etat désireux de connaitre la démocratie et le progrès véritables. La plupart de ses soldats sont incapables d’intégrer une force véritablement disciplinée, hiérarchisée, respectueuse de la loi et prête à se soumettre au leadership du pouvoir civil. Je ne prône aucunement le rétablissement des Forces Armées telles qu’elles étaient, avec les mêmes hommes. Cependant, nous devons nous rendre à l’évidence qu’aujourd’hui, il nous faut, en dehors de la Police, instituer une autre force armée qui puisse défendre l’intégrité du territoire, faire régner l’ordre et la stabilité, protéger la production nationale. Qu’elle soit une Garde Nationale ou un Armée, cela importe peu, pourvu qu’elle réponde aux besoins de la Nation en matière de sécurité et de stabilité.
Il y a une tendance de plus en plus forte allant dans ce sens depuis le début des événements du Bel-Air. Malheureusement, certains groupes et personnalités très écoutés, de peur de ne pas s’attirer les foudres des tenants de la pensée unique, utilisent des périphrases embarrassées ou des formules allusives pour parler du rétablissement de l’institution militaire. En en parlant à demi-mot, nous risquons de n’avoir que des solutions au rabais. Le destin d’une Nation se joue parfois à travers les prises de position d’hommes et de femmes qui décident d’aller à l’encontre de la pensée dominante du moment, assument leurs opinions, et s’en remettent au jugement de l’Histoire.
Frandley Denis Julien
Cap-Haïtien, le 22 octobre 2004
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By Frandley Denis Julien
On June 1st, 2004, The United Nations’ Security Council adopted UN Resolution 1542, instituting the United-Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, Minustah. The resolution itemized the mission’s main objectives as follows: “maintain stability, build capacity to maintain the operations of state institutions, coordinate aid to ensure that it does not exacerbate the unequal distribution of wealth and opportunities that have long fueled instability in the country, promote and protect human rights”, and its expected accomplishment was to “facilitate an all-inclusive dialogue and national reconciliation”.
An objective assessment of the mission’s performance can only be performed by measuring its accomplishments, or lack thereof, against the yardstick of the aforementioned stipulations of its mandate. Seven (7) years after the mission’s deployment, Haiti is as unstable as before, the institutions as weak as ever; the mission spends its budget mostly on its staff, and the political scene is so polarized that more than three months after president Martelly’s election, he had been unable to have his picks for Prime Minister ratified by parliament. A budget of $793.517.100 was approved to cover the Minustah’s operations from July 1st, 2011, to June 30th, 2012.
On the human rights question, not only has the mission failed to fulfill its mandate, but to add insult to injury, its members have come to be known as the most vigilant human rights violators in the country. Throughout Haiti, a plethora of acts of physical and sexual abuse perpetrated against both men and women, young and old, has dotted the mission’s already far from pristine reputation. In August 2010, the lifeless body of Gerald Gilles, a 16-year old civilian employee of the Minustah was found hanging from a tree inside the mission’s base in Cap-Haitien. Members of the Nepalese contingent that occupy that base later claimed that the youngster had hung himself, but ear witnesses from the neighboring Hotel Christophe testified having heard him yell “they are strangling me”. Justice is yet to be served and the investigation has been short-circuited. The same year, these same Nepalese soldiers dumped their contaminated waste waters in the country’s rivers, triggering an outbreak of cholera—certified by several independent scientific teams to be from Nepalese origin—that resulted in the death of several thousand people, and the contamination of even more. Most recently, during the month of August 2011, four Uruguayan troops collectively raped a Haitian minor by the name of Johnny Joseph, capturing their hideous act all along on camera, prompting Uruguay’s president to extend his apologies to his Haitian counterpart.
Moreover, it is obvious that because the Minustah has become such a lucrative venture for both its members on the ground and UN officials, they have no interest in a stable, sovereign and prosperous Haiti. After the January 12th, 2010 earthquake, the UN decided to increase both the Minustah’s budget and size. However, scores of the newly deployed members reside in the neighboring Dominican Republic in order, as the United-Nations organization shamelessly puts it on its own website (in the body of the 2010-20111 budget document), to “reduce the exposure of UN personnel and property to potential disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes, as well as criminality and riots”. In other words, the Minustah cannot stand the heat, while some of his functionaries perceive tax-free salaries of up to $166.475.00, with hazard pay of up to $17.000.00. and generous cost of living allowances.
At this juncture of Haiti’s History, it is important that Haitians assume their civic duty, and reclaim the country’s national sovereignty from the UN mission that is nothing else than a costly distraction; indeed, its presence on the ground contributes to the deterioration of the security, human rights and political situations, and delays the time where Haitians will feel summoned to get together and come up with a national solution to said situations.
It’s time for a gradual withdrawal of the UN’s failed mission in Haiti. Haitians are ready to answer the call of duty.
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America, since its inception, has always aimed at being a beacon for the rest of the world, thanks to the promotion, and sometimes the imposition, of its values— a strong commitment to justice, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—upon the rest of the world. Until a few decades ago, American decision-makers have had a lot of explaining to do when they had to justify their benevolent interventions in other countries in the name of liberty, while their own society was still harboring the evils of slavery and segregation, let alone the original sin of the misappropriation of the Natives’ lands. But the greatness of this country has always been its ability to outgrow its shortcomings, and today, with a Black man in the White House, the current generation of White Americans—who were the very first to carry Obama’s presidential dream when even some notable Black icons deemed it utopian— have redeemed the souls of their ancestors.
Today, wherever people are suffering from oppression and dictatorship, they solicit America’s intervention. Even in Iran, during last year’s uprising, the youth made it clear that America could help them get rid of their anachronistic self-serving leaders. How did America, despite its own historical failings, achieve such a unique status in the world? The answer lies in one of the most overlooked functions of an American president: that of being the wordsmith in chief.
Some moments like the moon landing, 9/11, Pearl Harbor, just to name a few, put all political rivalries to rest for a while, as the country comes together to either celebrate or grieve. In such moments, the citizenry, paralyzed by numbness, looks up to the president for the right words to trigger a communal and symbiotic emotional response by playing on each citizen’s patriotic fibers. And on these occasions, a president who can personally set pen to paper instead of relying on his speechmakers, has a better chance of rising up to the occasion, and deliver the celebratory or soothing speech—depending on the circumstances—that can uplift the most the national spirit and reaffirm America’s values to the rest of the world.
During the last two decades, France and England have participated in almost all the wars America has fought in the name of liberty. Why is it that their names are not associated with America’s in the proportion of their involvement when it comes to reaping the moral dividends of these expeditions? They have fallen short of selling their image as democracy-promoting countries. The United-States, more than anyone else, has been successful in doing that through the adept use of the Bully Pulpit by the US president. The latter has a unique leadership position in the world, and his words are sought after from Brazil’s Favela to Haiti’s slums to Iran’s youth circles. And that is why it is so reassuring to have in the White House a president who masters the use of the written word, and just as much scary that some of those who may replace him cannot even put three ideas together without being the laughing stock in chief.
By Frandley Denis Julien
An Excerpt from the forthcoming book: An Alien’s Perspective of America’s Challenges
Lincoln’s A House Divided speech is as relevant today as it was in 1858, and the threat America is facing nowadays is more subtle, yet just as ominous to the nation’s prosperity and concord as was the cleavage over slavery and the subsequent Civil War. For America is being held hostage by an obsolete and un-American two-party system that hinders progress and subordinates the interests of the nation to those of the Republican and Democratic parties. The fact that most politicians’ favorite line today is that they regularly stand up to their own party is a subtle acknowledgement of the parties’ extremist tendencies.
As disheartening as the recent debt ceiling stalemate may have been, it was nothing more than the tree that hides the forest. Beyond the resolution, in extremis, of that crisis, lies the fact that the two-party system is broken beyond repair. If the two parties could not find a consensus in a timely manner on such an urgent issue, when will they ever find one on the environment, immigration, education, defense, entitlements or fiscal policy?
The tendency of the parties’ bases to be ideologically fundamentalist is preventing the political personnel from approaching the challenges of our time with an open mind, therefore causing an ideological sclerosis. The parties’ ideological stances are set in stone, and any attempt toward innovation is bound to provoke vehement protestations from those with whom said innovation does not register. For them to register, the parties’ aficionados must be able to tie them up to a similar stance having been taken by Reagan, Lincoln, Roosevelt or Kennedy, depending on which party is concerned. Consequently, the two parties are more retrograde than they are forward-looking, and the fact that real innovative decisions that have not been tested by the giants of either party are deemed at least suspicious or adventurous, they have been unable to propose daring solutions to the challenges at hand. And the parties have been recycling old solutions to try to resolve new challenges engendered by a time of radical changes both positive and negative.
The country that has the most promoted the values of competition in all spheres of life cannot continue to maintain an oligarchic political system. There is today a critical mass of Americans who have grown weary of the sterility of the current system to warrant the emergence of a significant third party. America needs a third party that pleads its allegiance to common sense, critical thinking, and that can embody the spirit of compromise that characterizes the silent majority. By silent majority, I mean those who would have welcomed a solution to the debt ceiling crisis that would have included both an increase in revenues and a decrease in entitlements.
It is about time that those of America’s politicians with a bi-partisan mind—and they do exist— get together and launch a centrist party aimed at espousing the aspirations of mainstream America. This party would offer an umbrella to all those Americans who have grown weary of Washington. This third party would make it easier for decent policies to pass Congress, as it would successively lend its support to Democratic and Republican bills alike, irrespective of ideology, as long as they befit America’s common good. The third party would also contribute to dilute the hatred that Republicans and Democrats vow to one another. Indeed, the reason why they hate one another is because they are like two siblings fighting over a limited family legacy. The introduction of a third element to the equation would come as a wakeup call to the parties that would no longer be able to resort to the blame game. They would also become less important, and more prone toward cooperation and coalition-building.
America should consider the current British coalition government as a teaching moment as to the virtue of political pluralism. Indeed, after the May 6th, 2010 general election, England had a hung parliament, which in America would have inaugurated an acute political crisis. But in England, thanks to the plurality of the political parties, it was possible for the Liberal Democrats to form a coalition with the Conservatives, which led to the investiture of David Cameron as Prime-Minister, and the prompt resolution of the crisis.
If the deleterious political system does not go through a major overhaul with the emergence of a weighty third party, I am afraid we will have to sadly recognize another facet of Lincoln’s greatness, namely the prophetic dimension of his elegant prose.
Frandley Julien is a prolific Haitian essayist. His writings on political philosophy, constitutional law and politics are regularly published by the Miami Herald, The Sun Sentinel, and Haiti’s Le Nouvelliste. He also publishes on his blog, www.frandleyjulien.com.
From 2001 to 2004, Mr. Julien published a slew of articles on the notion of social contract in Haiti’s Le Nouvelliste. These pieces were informed by his thesis according to which Haiti’s shortcomings stem from its elites’ inability to reach an arrangement that would benefit all social strata by ensuring equality of opportunity and inclusion. Through these articles, he attempted to provide an answer to three questions: (1) how to contain government’s propensity to dispossess the citizenry of the exercise of sovereignty, (2) how, through a consensual vision of the future, to integrate in the shaping of the collective interest, the interests of the different social strata, and (3) how to instill in the Haitian citizen the sense of allegiance to the nation without which no social cohesion can be reached.
At the same period, Mr. Julien served as the leader of Initiative Citoyenne (Citizens’ Initiative), a civil society organization based in Cap-Haitian, which was promoting values like accountability, human rights, peaceful political alternation and the shift from a cult of personality to a democracy of opinion. In this capacity, Mr. Julien attended two fact-finding missions at the United States Congress, the State Department and the Pentagon. He also made numerous media appearances on programs as diverse as The Tavis Smiley Show and Radio France International’s news bulletin. He also presented two lectures on Haiti in Washington D.C., one on poverty for Inter-American Dialogue, and the other, on the political process, for Haiti Democracy Project. Finally, he was part of a delegation comprised of different Haitian sectors which, two years in a row, travelled to Oslo, Norway and tried to reach a political agreement between former President Aristide and The Convergence Democratique.
Around the same time, Mr. Julien participated in the U.S. State Department’s International Visitors Program.
In 2006, Mr. Julien immigrated to the United States. Shortly thereafter, he started publishing his views on ways the Haitian diaspora can contribute to a better Haiti. His writings, published in American media outlets like The Miami Herald and the Sun Sentinel aim at defining ways in which the diaspora can better contribute to progress and democracy in Haiti by (1) defining a consensual vision amongst its heteroclite members, (2) breaking the culture of dependency and promoting a business mentality, (3) transferring knowledge, know-how and technology to Haiti, (4) finding concrete ways in which it can contribute to Haiti’s development, (5) effecting change in Haiti’s constitution so its members can assume important political roles in the motherland, with an eye on changing a system which is not conducive to productivity and democracy.
Mr. Julien has also written several pieces on the denationalization of 250.000 Dominicans of Haitian descent by the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court. He also volunteers on this issue with Haitian Americans for Progress, a PAC based in Miami, Florida.
Mr. Julien is currently writing a book in which he will convey his vision of Haiti. He Graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in English from Florida International University. He was presented with FIU English Department’s “Outstanding Achievements in English” award. He is currently pursuing a law degree.