Should Haiti's sovereignty be our top priority?

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T-dodo

Should Haiti's sovereignty be our top priority?

Post by T-dodo » Mon Jul 11, 2005 11:15 am

[Editor's Note: The discussion on "Lavalas: Peut Il Encore Battre Les Autres Candidats?" was taking on too many legs, and while it is still open to debate, I must now introduce a new thread for our recent discussion about sovereignty and its place in solving the Haitian crisis (economic maldevelopment, suspension of constitutional order, rampant criminality, political vacuum, pending threats of genocide and a total societal breakdown). It is not my intention to paint a bleak picture, the picture is just that: bleak [according to substantive and substantiated reports coming out of Port-au-Prince and its bidonvilles]. So, how do we challenge such odds? Jean-Marie Florestal takes issue with people who insist that our focus should be Haiti's sovereignty, and thinks that it is also a grave error to call for the return of the deposed President,
while at the same time he deplores the breach in the constitutional order. In other words, what happened politically was wrong, but we must move on and focus now on poor Haitians' primary needs. Some forum participants beg to differ. Jean Saint-Vil, to name just one, thinks that it is highly objectionable to put Haitian sovereignty on the back burner at any time, and in fact considers self-determination a sine qua non condition for solving the Haitian crisis, economically and politically.

Previously, a database error caused me to lose one of Jean-Marie's messages, but I have tried to encapsulate it in the paragraph above. The messages that follow represent the essence of the debate. If I have missed something, however, or if I have misrepresented anyone, feel free to correct or to add in any thought or nuance that was previously expressed.]

T-dodo

Post by T-dodo » Tue Jul 12, 2005 7:32 pm

[quote]I'll have you notice that many of the "technocrats" who are wasting their credit in this puppet regime have made the same analysis as yourself. I.e. to hell with sovereignty, let us focus on "improving life conditions".. And what is the result? Have they improved anything?[/quote]

I wish you could support the statement by providing examples that showed focus on " improving life conditions" in Haiti in recent memory. I don't remember any tangible actions taken, unless you mean the effort towards obtaining international aid. Haiti has a long history of obtaining aid (loans and grants) when the proceeds end up in the pocket of the leaders who obtained them. That was the excuse provided by international lenders to deny President Aristide the privilege of cashing on the promises made to him by international lenders after the Clinton Administration returned him to power.

When you set higher
priorities, it does not mean you ignore or abandon a lower priority. You set higher priority when life is at risk, future is at risk, or a considerable amount of devoted resources are at risk of being wasted. I found it difficult to beleive that the misery prevailing in Haiti today is being ignored by those who want to be the leaders of the country. How can you defend them if you don't feel their pains?

There was never real sovereignty in Haiti. Give me the example in recent memory when we had real sovereignty. The US may claim to have real sovereignty, and it would be hard to argue against that. It is a very relative concept at best. And "sovereignty" does not mean compltete independence from the rest of the world. As I said earlier, "interdependence" is the kind of sovereignty we should aim for. The kind of sovereignty you are advocating is total dependence on the rest of the world, since you cannot feed your people, you hardly produce anything they are buying, and you cannot afford to buy what they
produce to feed your people. To be independent you have to be self-sufficient.

Look how Japan and Germany flourished while they lost their sovereignty! What you call "sovereignty" is the folly of leaders who put their interests ahead of their country's interests. The "affair Killick", the "affair Luders," the 1915 occupation, the return of Aristide, the kidnap of Aristide, and many other examples underscore the fact that you never had sovereignty. Without resources you don't have power. Without power, you don't have sovereignty. Ask again Japan and Germany! At least, be smart about it like they did. Take advantage of the situation like they did!

The only scenario that I envisage in which President Aristide returns to power in Haiti is that the international powers decide that Haiti is a lost case that they don't want to be bothering with. Otherwise, with the power that the international leading countries have, they can block his return as long as they want regardless of how many haitians
lose their lives in the process. And, if they don't want to bother with Haiti and ALLOW President Aristide to return, I can't see how you are going to improve the living conditions in Haiti when President Aristide administration could not do it even with the Clinton's administration and the black caucus supports.

The issue is that Haiti is in a real connendrum: no easily expoitable resources, exploding demographic conditions, endemic leadership failures, a continued brain drain, and no particular importance to the international community. The sad part is that those with power and leadership positions or influence in Haiti have no idea about it!

You and I can stay comfortbly in our homes in North America and discuss that sovereignty is the highest priority for the 8 millions of Haitians. But, I doubt that the majority of Haitians who are hungry every day and never know when the next meal is coming will agree with you. With an empty stomach, diseases with no he
alth care releif, leaky and unprotected homes, no insurance, no civil rights, no hope insight, I can't see how sovereignty can be a priority when a few years ago, when you thought you had it while Aristide, Preval, Duvalier and many others were presidents and your situation was almost no better off than it is today? Let's stop the dreaming and wishful thinking and face reality!

Leonel JB

Post by Leonel JB » Wed Jul 13, 2005 2:06 am

Jean-Marie well put.

There are people who really think that Haiti can stand alone. I can go even further and say: Sak vid pa kanpe. Haiti has so little to offer the world. We can not say that we have Oil there, gold overthere and so on and so forth.

Tourism, yes we have the potential. But, it is just a projection, not affirmation.

We can spend our lifetime talking about the Coup d'etats, who did us wrong. Our ancester fights for Independence etc. But, the truth of the matter or Reality is: We are a very Poor and Weak country. A country where we can not decide our own destiny. I guess someone else has to do it for us?

Definitely, the MRE/MRI won't. Personally, I would like to see improvements in Haiti (First Black Republic). Anything would do, but it has to be concrete, more real. And I think jean-Marie being so pragmatic, is touching it very scientifically. And, as always, I agree with his approaches.-

We can
spend a lot of time talking about who did what and why it happened. But, people are still suffering and Haiti is still a very poor country if we don't do anything about it, we will all lose.

Nou sipoze mache men nan men pou n ka wE on pi bon demen.

Ban m bon plan pou nou demare machinn ki pa kapab mache a. Ki kontibisyon ke nou kab pote pou peyi nou...

Men anpil chay pa lou,
leonel

T-dodo

Post by T-dodo » Wed Jul 13, 2005 6:22 am

[quote]A-The fight that Haitians are facing today is much bigger than the return of JBA. It is a fight for self- determination. At this stage, we need to find COMMON GROUND to move on. That's it. Common ground that we all share to lift the country out of this mess.[/quote]

Padel,

We fought the independence war not because in our minds it was the most important achievment for our happiness, but because colonization was dehumanizing and would have ended destroying who we really are as human beings. The atrocities committed by the french colonial system in the 18th century on the slave population were such that we reached a point where death became more attractive than life. This is the kind of "paradigm shift" that transform people and force them to reprogram themselves, a feat that people being the only animals that can do that.

While President Aristide was in power, it was important to keep h
im there because it would have started an embryo of democracy and continued a non-violent transfer of power which started with him and former President Preval. It would have been only a symbolic gesture that would have reduced the zeal of those in Haiti (and so many are they) who do not beleive that the poor people of Haiti should have a right to be represented among the administrators of the country. The reason of its importance is because it would have brought hope of continued political stability, which is essential for the country to move forward and fight the economic woes and environmental disaster that had plagued it for decades now. With the forced departure of President Aristide, we are back to square one and the symbolic meaning of his finishing his term has no longer any value. Winning the fight for his return, and you are no better off than you were before in ensuring decent living conditions and happiness to our people during the end of his term and the future of Haiti.

Gelin_

Post by Gelin_ » Wed Jul 13, 2005 8:25 am

[quote]...We fought the independence war <U>not because in our minds it was the most important achievment for our happiness</U>, but because colonization was dehumanizing and would have ended destroying who we really are as human beings.[/quote]
Are you re-writing the whole thing?

gelin

Gelin_

Post by Gelin_ » Wed Jul 13, 2005 8:27 am

[quote]...Look how Japan and Germany flourished while they lost their sovereignty![/quote]
Different situations with different sets of rules. They helped rebuild Japan and Germany, to say the least.

gelin

T-dodo

Post by T-dodo » Wed Jul 13, 2005 9:29 am

[quote][quote]
...We fought the independence war not because in our minds it was the most important achievment for our happiness, but because colonization was dehumanizing and would have ended destroying who we really are as human beings.[/quote]

Are you re-writting the whole thing? [/quote]

Gelin,

My ego is not that big! This is my interpretation of the dynamics behind the war of independence. Perhaps I am wrong, and I would be glad someone else showed me otherwise if I am, and we can discuss that in a different thread titled "Analysis of the War of Independence." My interpretation is based on Abraham Maslow's Hierrarchy of Needs theory whereby our physiological needs must be satisfied first before any other need. As a reminder for those who may have forgotten about Maslow's theory, here is the order in which Maslow says we satisfy our needs, with the
first one being our highest priority followed by the next higher priority and so on and so forth:

Need # 1. Physiological Needs
Need # 2. Safety Needs
Need # 3. Belongingness [& Loving] Needs
Need # 4. Self Esteem Needs
Need # 5. Self-Actualization Needs

The cornerstone of Maslow's theory is that observation:" One of the many interesting things Maslow noticed while he worked with monkeys early in his career, was that some needs take precedence over others." Assuming that is true, I ventured to say that sovereignty is probably a lower priority for the masses of haitian poors who are suffering daily from hunger and other lack of necessities, since sovereignty may fall between either need #3 and need #4.

Of course, it is a theory. And like all theories, they can be debated, debunked, refined, affirmed or denied. So far, I have not found another one with more widely application and so easy to understand as a better substitution to explain certain human motivations and the pro
cess used to have them.

My take on the war is that have the French colonizers been less abusive, it would have taken us more time to fight for our independence. That is a specualtion, but one that seems reasonable to me when compared to other countries with slavery problems and their independence struggles, particularly those that used to be colonized by Great Britain.

Jean-Marie

Gelin_

Post by Gelin_ » Wed Jul 13, 2005 10:30 am

[quote]...One of the many interesting things Maslow noticed <U>while he worked with monkeys</U> early in his career, was that some needs take precedence over others." Assuming that is true, I ventured to say that sovereignty is probably a lower priority for <U>the masses of haitian poors</U> who are suffering daily from hunger and other lack of necessities, since sovereignty may fall between either need #3 and need #4.[/quote]
JM, how do we jump from a man's work with monkeys to the needs and struggles of the haitian poors? Can his observation on monkeys be applied to humans just like that? Or are the masses of haitan poors close to the monkeys in their behaviors and the way they identify and express their needs? Is it why we have the law of the jungle operating in the land right now? Someone reported earlier (Hyppolite, if I'm not wrong) that some of the public squares/parcs built or renovated by the prev
ious team have now turned into....something like a monkey field.

While I agree with you that needs must be prioritized, and they have been, sovereinty is the top priority for any nation because without it all you have is a bunch of people living on a land that they have no control over. That's why we talk about the palestinian people and not the palestinian state. Prior to 1948, we had the jewish people scaterred all over the world (even in Haiti) and not the nation of Israel. Maybe that's also why the term 'failed state' has been used by many to describe the current or future (?) situation of Haiti. According to that view, while the haitan people will remain, the haitian nation may disintegrate and disappear altogether.


gelin

T-dodo

Post by T-dodo » Wed Jul 13, 2005 12:32 pm

[quote]JM, how do we jump from a man's work with monkeys to the needs and struggles of the haitian poors? Can his observation on monkeys be applied to humans just like that? Or are the masses of haitan poors close to the monkeys in their behaviors and the way they identify and express their needs?[/quote]

O, Gelin, wap agase mwen!

As far as I know, Maslow's work was primarily used for management of whites. It applies to all humans the same way that medical experiments on monkeys are used for medical benefits of all mankind, rich, middle class, poor, whites, blacks, greens, blues, violets, etc. Woooo! Gelin, ou anmegdan wi!

[quote]While I agree with you that needs must be prioritized, and they have been, sovereinty is the top priority for any nation because without it all you have is a bunch of people living on a land that they have no control over. That's why we talk about t
he palestinian people and not the palestinian state. Prior to 1948, we had the jewish people scaterred all over the world (even in Haiti) and not the nation of Israel. Maybe that's also why the term 'failed state' has been used by many to describe the current or future (?) situation of Haiti. According to that view, while the haitan people will remain, the haitian nation may disintegrate and disappear altogether.[/quote]

Gelin, as far as Haiti is concerned, if you put sovereignty [mind you we defined that word loosely in the context we are discussing] ahead of the priority of alleviating the misery of the Haitian people, what you may get is a bunch of people who want to go voting to choose what they perceived as their savior, but are too sick, or too hungry or too unprepared to take advantage of that so-called sovereignty. Over time, they will turn against that leader because their basic needs cannot be satisfied. Sooner or later, the people will realize that all the leaders wanted was po
wer not their best interest, even though they campaigned in the names of the masses. For, the true leaders who want the best for their people will put their interest before his.

The bigger problem I have with that sovereignty argument is that they are asking the people to sacrifice a lot for nothing in return to them. The smoke screen of sovereignty is being used to convince people to fight for the country when in reality they are fighting for an individual or a group of individuals. Sovereignty is useless if you cannot feed your people. Sooner or later you will have to compromise that sovereignty to feed them, since you will have to beg to feed them. When that happens, you would have no choice but to accept all the conditions offered to you to obtain that "food." Any time you must beg to satisfy your basic needs, you viruallyy lost your sovereignty.

Jean-Marie

T-dodo

Post by T-dodo » Thu Jul 14, 2005 12:14 pm

[quote]Considering the dire situation of Black South-Africans, (I do not have the stats in front of me but they are really scary (poverty, number of people dying of AIDS etc...), would you suggest that they should trade the sovereinty they fought for, in order to find help dealing with these problems?

I have two fundamental problems with your argument:

1) Somehow, I sense this assumption that - by not fighting to regain sovereignty - the solution to poverty and its associates will "appear" in Haiti. You have not told us how or why? Where is the connection? [/quote]

One of the definitions by Webster of "priority" is: "something requiring and meriting attention prior to competing alternatives." It does not mean that you ignore the competing alternative like your statement "by not fighting to regain sovereignty" implies. It does mean you need to address it right away, for if you don't the p
roblem will get worse, making a later solution extremely costly or causing irreparable damages. The irreparable damges are already there, such as: brain drain, mortality infantile, erosion of natural resources, etc." They are getting worse everyday while they threaten to get even more worse.

But problems that complex, like the ones facing the economy and the well being of the haitian population, usually do not solve themselves. They require planning, long term commitments, concentration of resources, and national efforts. In a country like Haiti, where the scarcity of resources is so acute, prioritizing your needs is the only way to go if you really want to succeed in any endeavor. Particularly in your writings, Jaf, what I observed was a focus on returning President Aristide, euphemistically called "sovereignty," while the real needs of the haitian people are not ever mentioned. It is a one way political fight, oblivious of the fight for development, which by any measure is the biggest daily concern
of the haitian people.

The reason the haitian people supported the movement of the Lavalas party is because it gave them hope that it will improve their conditions. The victory of the party failed to improve their conditions and even worsened them. There is no indication that a return of the President Aristide's administration, as legitimate as it is and which is also doubtful due to the fact that the international powers will not allow it, will contribute to improving the conditions of the people and not continuing the worsening of the country.

The Lavalas party is a legitimate movement that reflects the aspirations of the poor people of Haiti. Efforts should be made to ensure its continuity and its success. That means providing for adequate succession and ensuring the recruitment of capable and pragmatic leaders who can continue the important work started by President Aristide but further it so that the objectives not met by the President Aristide administration can be acheived. In my opinio
n, and I don't have any crystal ball nor I am an economist who have studied the situation in Haiti in a scientific manner, their should be a short term and a long term plan. The short-term one will be to provide economic relief to the poor people and restore security and stability. Part of the security and stability may include restoring the democratic process that satisfies both the aspirations of the poor to have adequate representation in governement but also mitigate the fear of the elite or private sector who are scared of the government by the people. It cannot be a radical one side gets it all. The long term plan is stopping the economic decline, repair structural damages to the infrasctructure and the natural resources of the country, and engage in a development program that allows the country to maximize on all its resources - elite, masses, diaspora, local people, and natural resources - and put them to the benefit of all its people and the environment.

Now how do you take my just stated mum
bo jumbo and turn it into a workable program that shows the results? That's for the politicians, the technocrats, the haitian worker who goes to work every day in Haiti. But at least the effort and the sense that we are moving in the right direction would be there. But with the sovereignty only and our problems will be solved by themselves program, we will go nowhere.

Gelin_

Post by Gelin_ » Thu Jul 14, 2005 2:03 pm

[quote]...The reason the haitian people supported the movement of the Lavalas party is because it gave them hope that it will improve their conditions. The victory of the party failed to improve their conditions and even worsened them. [/quote]

Two questions:

1 - why do the poors still support the ideology if their living conditions got worse under it?

2 - knowing that the party failed to improve the conditions of the haitian people, why is it then that the opposition did not simply go to the elections and remove the failing team?

gelin

T-dodo

Post by T-dodo » Thu Jul 14, 2005 3:27 pm

[quote] - why do the poors still support the ideology if their living conditions got worse under it?[/quote]

If you are referring to the Lavalas ideology, it was a great program that even some people in the elite supported. Perhaps, there were those in the elite with a conscious and common sense who understood that the status quo was unacceptable before Lavalas. The problem was in the execution of the Lavalas program. Mind you Lavalas got a lot of "batons mis dans leurs roues" in the process. But they committed errors that left them exposed and vulnerable to their enemies' attacks. The other reason for the poors to support the ideology is that the poors have nowhere else to go and nobody else, besides Lavalas, are advocating their interests. Gelin, I never stated or implied that there was something wrong with the Lavalas ideology. The problem they appear to have right now is with succession, continuity and ad
equate execution.

[quote]2 - knowing that the party failed to improve the conditions of the haitian people, why is it then that the opposition did not simply go to the elections and remove the failing team? [/quote]

The opposition provided no new ideas and no new alternatives. An opposition has an important role to play. But, in Haiti, opposition is saying "the current one is wrong, put me instead." It is supposed to be a competition for better ideas. The opposition did not provide any alternative other than saying that Lavalas was no good. That is why even when Lavalas was not executing well their program, the opposition had difficulty getting majority support.

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