Trusting a business in Haiti?

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Leonel JB

Trusting a business in Haiti?

Post by Leonel JB » Tue Sep 14, 2004 4:26 am

Yesterday, I've received an email from a Haitian bank. Even though I see all the possibilities to investing in that bank, fear played a major factor... Then I am asking myself why is it that a lot of Haitians do not trust and cannot trust their Haitian brothers? I don't want to go back in history. But why not now?

When I look at other people, the Jewish population for instance, I bet that they have crooks like any other communities. But they still consume Jewish goods and services.

We (Haitian) all know that we need to support our businesses... We need to invest in our own market like other countries. But we still are not doing it. Is it self-hatred or is it lack of respect from businesses or consumers? Or anything else?

Please, let's discuss that topic. I think it is very important. Come with some suggestions: Guy, Marilyn, Jaf, Serge, Nekita etc. Everyone, I need help on that matter, cause I
am scared to invest in my native country.


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Post by admin » Wed Sep 15, 2004 7:47 pm

Leonel, you have made some great general observations. Haiti (that is ALL OF HAITI, not just Port-au-Prince) needs our investments greatly, but there is no getting around the MISTRUST factor... or is there?

Coup d'etat after coup d'etat certainly does not help.

Criminal impunity certainly does not help.

Extraordinary greed and corruption certainly do not help.

Coexisting misery and opulence, along with a rampant I-don't-give-a-damn-as-long-as-I-make-money attitude certainly do not help.

The question I have is this: Are there vehicles for social investing in Haiti? That is, can anyone invest his/her hard earned dollars for profit, yet not assume excessive risk and with the confidence that such investments will contribute to the betterment of society and not to the aggravation of the social disparity?

What is a conscientious and socially-aware moneyed citizen to do?

Let's see if someone will come up with some good answers. I don't have the money nor the experience to provide such answers myself, but I offer to you a forum for just such purposes.


Post by HenriD » Sun Sep 19, 2004 1:16 pm

Dear Leonel,

While your question is highly pertinent, we may want to reflect on a deeper level as this issue is one subgroup of a more fundamental issue of mistrust in all things Haitian.

The lamentable fact is that we Haitians are mistrustful of everything: ourselves, our businesses, our institutions, our politicians, our governments.

We seem to be unable to distinguish what is valid and valuable and discount every person, group and effort as one more suspicious thing we need to sniff at and sniff out till we discover the hidden flaw. We are generally pessimistic rather than optimistic or idealistic. Our idealism is generally virtual leading to little action as we think ourselves doomed to failure at each and every attempt. It is a well known social fact that we produce what we expect.

This vicious cycle leads to what is called in personal and group psychology as "learned hopelessness".

This is a well known and documented concept discovered by the eminent social researcher Martin Seligman.

You can learn a great deal about this phenomenon by going to and typing in the four words: martin seligman learned helplessness. You will recognize much of what is in play in our individual and collective mental culture.

One of the chatracteristics of this phenomena is well explained by the following excerpt


Under the influence of this negative thinking, our logic fails us. For example, we jump to conclusions, look at only one detail and disregard the big picture, overgeneralize from one experience, magnify our faults and minimize our achievements, and take the blame. All of this adds a very dark and gloomy shadow over our mental life.


There are good reasons grounded in historical fact why as Haitians we react in these manners.

There is the equally indisputable fact that "we produce what we expect".

Perhaps one day we will expect to be winners rather than losers, successes rather than victims, trustworthy rather than suspicion worthy.

As in all things analytical it is about education, maturity, logic and getting beyond the myths and learned hopelessness of our current culture to look at the facts and evidence.

While facts and evidence can be twisted to resemble something they are not, most of the time if you do the research and have a reasonably logical and open mind you see exactly what is what.

As CEO of the Bank in question above I know two things:
1) The mailing sent included a link which leads to the page where the shareholders names are listed
2) That the vast majority of people on that list have demonstrated over time and again and again over the years in public and private spaces their trustworthiness.

Trust is built by trusting and receiving in return the evidence that the person or thing trusted deserves our trust. We do not need anyone to trust us, what we would hope is that people see us as we really are versus how they would like us to seem for their own mental needs.

Knowledge is built by getting to the bottom of matters rather than skimming across the surface and jumping to the conclusions we want because of our need to reinforce a self-fulfilling mental concept.

In this case our need to see the bogeyman once again so we can say "see, I told you so, this is another one of those scams" may outweigh our ability to trust. Quite understandable but useless. What is useful is exploring, learning, seeing the facts, putting the facts to use constructively.

Well as strange as it may seem, some people in Haiti and elsewhere do actually put their idealism to work on practical things in practical ways.

Whether they succeed or not is a matter no one can predict. What we can predict is that if we expect to fail we will.

In our small corner of the part of the world we call Home, we hope to succeed.

Is that important?

How many times must we lose to prove the hypothesis of "learned hopelessness", before we decide the time to fail has passed, the time to be victims has passed, the time to lament individually and collectively has passed, and been replaced by the time to win, the time to overcome and the time to praise.

That is an individual and collective decision.

I for one am hopeful we will get beyond ourselves as individuals and as a collective and start to build the future rather than on one hand glorify and on the other lament our past.

No one cares.

What is expected of authentic mature autonomous adults in this world is solutions, the problems are there for all to see. We may want to be looking for solutions and PromoCapital is no doubt more a solution than a problem.

No need to panic. Use your eyes, ears and intelligence. Do your research and come to a logical conclusion. Then you will see who and what we are and what we hope to accomplish.

Of course the choice to discover what each and every person has done wrong
is an inalienable right, sometimes the right way to approach a matter is to see what each and every person has done right. Everything is about averages because you, me and everyone in this world I have met has both done wrong and right things.

We are better served by focusing on the value of people to accomplish, rather than on their capacity to fail. That is a choice, both approaches produce the results expected, the fundamental question is: what do we prefer, the choice is ours.

As a born and bred bourgeois "white slave master exploiter of the people" I always find amazing the myth when compared to the realities. It really does remind me of the myths of ogres and monsters I used to read to my children at bedtime. As they matured they learn to read and understand more complex issues in a deeper way. People and groups are rich, diverse and complex. Labels are simple and often useless. They are a shortcuts to avoid arduous and serious thinking. We can continue to brandy our myths or become more m
ature and realize that in this world, people are people and their motivations a mix of the selfish versus the altruistic, giving versus taking. Anytime you define a group by one concept you are innately wrong because life is about so much more than one thing.

I see in another posting that we are "putschist". To demonstrate let us review but one myth and lay it to rest. I personally was detained at Port-au-Prince Airport and my passport confiscated on my way to Europe because I was against the coup d'etat and on an "interdiction de depart" list in retribution after the US Government had revoked visas of the haitian military. Not that I had any great love for Aristide, but I did believe he deserved the benefit of the doubt. I do not see why this would confer to me any righteous and noble label because simply stated: perhaps I was right perhaps I was wrong. To this day I do not know and to pretend I did would be the epitome of righteous arrogance based on my needs rather than the facts. What I do know is
what I believe in and what those beliefs convert to in terms of actions on a case by case basis. In fact most of the shareholders of PromoCapital worked intensively to secure Aristide's return after the coup d'etat. I am sure they do not know today any better than I if they were right or wrong. They simply did what they believed to be right.

If we are to define our futures on simple concepts and single issues then we are doomed to fail at the start because in the world I know: very few things are black or white, very few people are good or bad, very few groups worthy of blind trust and none of blind suspicion.

In reading this any person here has a choice: stick a label and beat the label with a stick or do some hard thinking. Some will perhaps attempt to demonstrate their hard thinking by becoming social detectives and finding every flaw, when in fact they are only looking for the evidence to justify their preconceived myth. Many prefer to see things as they wish them to be rather than how they are. Present company not excluded. That is always a function of our capacity for rational thought so I fully expect both approaches in my own posting and in the postings to follow. That's life, what can I tell you.

Best Regards,

Henri Deschamps

Leonel JB

Post by Leonel JB » Mon Sep 20, 2004 5:51 am


Isn't dialogue a great step forward?

First, I have to say that I applaud HenriD for participating in a positive way.

I am learning everyday here at WOH. I would like to see more people taking part on that subject. I agree with all of you, Jaf, Guy, Serge, HenriD etc...

We all have a lot of things in common and most of all, we all love Haiti.

Although I know that investing in any business is a RISK, I've wanted us to emphasize more on the mistrusting among Haitians...

For instance, what Serge described earlier, I've known people investing in Real Estate in Haiti which resulted at their death. Personally, I know at least three people.

I've heard about COOPERATIVE which I have no idea what was it about. But a lot of people lost money. And so on and so forth.

I believe that we all have some freightening stories about investing or buying in our homeland. My question again, can that alone
stop us?

We have a country which is travelling five hundred miles per hour towards "Sous-developpement". And, as Jaf stated, We are in the same boat (elite, working class and masses). We all can perish together. We are not immuned against environmental disasters or DISEASES etc...

Therefore, working together and trusting one another would be the ideal remedy for our Haiti. How can we start trusting then?
Remember, it's impossible to live in the past. This can keep us down.

We must start investing in our Communities, and Serge, Patience is a wise word. But,can we really afford to wait while it's Late moins le quart?

And HenriD, I agree with you that we should not base our judgement without evidence. But, when "Chat pran nan dlo cho, li pE menm dlo frEt".

For all of you, it is very positive, every sector or spectrum can be represented, and present his views. For the sake of Haiti, We all need that.

L'union Fait la Force
Leonel Jean-Baptiste



Post by HenriD » Tue Sep 21, 2004 9:10 pm

Hi Padel,

I understand the problem and it is real and legitimate. I simply prefer looking for solutions.

I do not have any brilliant insights into what those solutions are other than in business which is the field in which I work and where I can always try to claim some expertise. I just know it is a better choice to look at how something can be done, which supposes you take into consideration all the needs, including the mistrust needs, vs reapeating the well known litany and lamentations about what is wrong and always has been. Do we honestly think everyone does not yet know what our problems are? Do we really need to define them in terms of what some subgroup of each of us has done wrong? What is the value of blame in today's fast moving world. I have the feeling by the time we find out who is to blame and denounce them, there is a whole new set of persons to blame. I guess by creating labels we create shortcuts. If I defin
e a whole class by a derogatory label, then I don't have to do the homework, all new members that fit my definition of the label are the same garbage. It's very french-like, this great need to lay blame. While the french culture has much to be proud of that is one they can lose in their toolbox. As can we. I also understand that people have a legitimate need to lament. I think we are too much like that. In my experience the wailing wall is not in Israel, it is in Haiti. How much can be built through wailing? I am not so sure it works.

Not that I don't understand or feel that pain, I think we need to take our courage and "ramase karaktè n" to see how to get beyond those things. Why? Because it is essential. There are a great many books written about trust and its key place in all things human, including business.

The way trust is created is by people receiving the results they are promised and expect. That sounds simple but means a lot of things. In the big things it means human rights, it mea
ns a personal and collective culture where contracts of all types are respected, in the small things it means when you turn on the light switch the light goes on, when you get to the corner the traffic light works.

There is an excellent book on the subject written by Francis Fukuyama who wrote "The End of History". That book is called "Trust: The Social Virtues and The Creation of Prosperity". It analyzes high versus low trust societies and explains why they exist, what they create and what can be done. Basically he says what we all know intuitively: that trust permits everyone to function with everyone else, the more trust the less friction and the higher the speed. In other words, If you are on a highway and everybody is weaving in and out of lanes you have to slow down or face the consequences. If you are on a road where everybody has agreed to the rules and respects them we all move faster with less mayhem. If you have planes landing and taking off on that highway your problem is increased exponent


Challenging orthodoxies of both the left and right, Fukuyama examines a wide range of national cultures in order to divine the underlying principles that foster social and economic prosperity. Insisting that we cannot divorce economic life from cultural life, he contends that in an era when social capital may be as important as physical capital, only those societies with a high degree of social trust will be able to create the flexible, large-scale business organizations that are needed to compete in the new global economy.

A brilliant study of the interconnectedness of economic life with cultural life, Trust is also an essential antidote to the increasing drift of American culture into extreme forms of individualism, which, if unchecked, will have dire consequences for the nation's economic health.


At the risk of sounding like a bullshitter, let me just say it is something I personally believe in relatively strongly. Not because I am
some great moralist but because I believe in practical things. Trust makes the world go round and the absence of trust brings things to a standstill. Trust is better for people when it can be created and maintained. And to the extent anyone manages to live up to their standards we certainly try our best. I have noticed in business trust is the most important asset. As a person I think it is important as well because it seems fairer. We should have have our rights, persons and spaces respected.

Where does trust come from, from trusting and having our trust respected. That does not mean anyone should leap into anything, much less investments without both eyes wide open. Not because everyone is a crook, but because even honest people blow it very regularly.

As a matter of fact when we were designing and building PromoCapital that was a major consideration. My feeling is that the truth is better than fiction and we attempt to describe the truth to our investors. We are not looking for investors in t
he general public so please keep in mind I have no need to sell you or anyone anything.

Among things that create trust in the financial world are being an open book, revealing through disclosures the risks, assuring the proper governance structures, doing the audits, and very often looking at people's past performance.

I think that is why I dislike character assasination so much. It reduces someone's whole life with all its struggles to a few simple phrases like "Tilolit", MRE, Blanc, Nigger. How can an acronym replace a person or a whole group of persons. Are we not all individual people each with our qualities and weaknesses. Acronyms while sometimes a useful starting place are always wrong in fact because people and things are generally so much more complex.

In any case, anyone investing in anything has to do a lot of homework unless they are willing to part with their hard earned money, be it to fools, crooks or honest people who have blown it.

The world is full of risks and
nothing beats education, knowledge, experience, research, serious thinking. In my opinion, when you add ethics into the mix, you more often win than lose. And if you lose you at least fought the right battle.

Take care,



Post by HenriD » Fri Oct 01, 2004 11:02 pm

Dear Ms. Sobhan,

We are very familiar with your organization and laud its valuable contribution to the Haitian economic infrastructure. As a matter of fact we have been intending to contact you via Jean-Edner Nelson, who is quite familiar with PromoCapital, its genesis and orientations.

I was very pleasently surprised to see your posting here and we do indeed have funds we would like to invest in Fonkoze to be used in your micro-finance operation.

Please get in touch with me by e-mail at or by phone at (509) 401-2016.

Best Regards,

Henri Deschamps

Kathleen Burke

Trusting business/banks in Haiti

Post by Kathleen Burke » Thu Oct 14, 2004 9:17 am

Dear Leonel Jean-Baptiste:
You do not have to be Haitian to lose investment money in Haiti. In June 2000 I joined my Haitian friends (some with your last name) to invest in banque haitienne de developpment (BHD) in bois verna with a cd from a settlement from a u.s. insurance company. We traveled all over Haiti, opening branches of Koperan, associated with the bank. young people had jobs; there was hope. On the last days of january 2002, Aristide sent his CIMO to close down the bank (the only bank closed in Haiti). Coincidentally, several members of Lavalas opposition were shareholders and had accounts in the bank. The then head of the Central Banque (since indicted for fraud, due to records trail of $645,000 check to Aristide govt., and more) went on the air to say that this was to "protect the depositors" and that within three months he would have a solution that would "please even Chavannes (Jean-Baptist
e, head of MPP, 33 year old peasants' rights organization)" Despite my appeals to just about everywhere, I am still out my $25,000. Without a truthful Central Bank, you don't have a country. kathleen burke, usa

Leonel JB

Post by Leonel JB » Fri Oct 15, 2004 8:09 am

Kathleen, I am very sorry for the loss. But I want to emphasize that investing in any country is a risk, not only in Haiti. I know Haiti presents a greater risk for its political instability. But, I still hope things will get better. As an Haitian living overseas, I would like to see more trust among us. I'd love to see more forgiveness for past behaviour. Nothing is really perfect in life, but we can still drive towards excellence.

Every one of us invests in anything to make a profit. It hurts when one loses in any particular business. But, it's life. I would like to see more people willing to invest in Haiti without fears and stereotypes.

Haiti is a country with a lot of hope and opportunity. We are going through some obstacles or dark moments. But, "We shall Overcome".

We have a lot of very competent people overseas and at home. We just need to forgive each other (not forgetting the past).

Kathleen, you will be welcome to invest in the new Haiti without fear. Not now, but eventually post this dark period that we are having politically.

Think positively. The past few days, I've been discouraged myself with the situation back home which made it very difficult for me to even think straight. But, mark my word, we(Haitians) will get there. We will be better.

I wish I could tell you more for that amount of money lost?

Stay strong!

**By the way, perhaps Chavannes is related to me (Hinche area), my dad was from Hinche also.



Post by T-dodo » Wed Oct 20, 2004 9:41 pm

Sorry to join in late in this discussion! New member!

Perhaps someone has already made that point in kreyol. I would not know, my kreyol reading stinks. My writing is worse. But, take comfort, I speak it perfectly. It is my best form of expression. Anyway, back to the point.

For commerce to prosper, property rights must be enforceable. The absence of enforcement causes the buyer not to be able to get value for its money, in case of incompetent supplier or fraud. The seller, without possibility of enforcement, well, may sell for free.

The issue of trust, in Haiti and in my humble opinion, is not the lack of trust in the Haitian doing the business but rather in the Haitian system that does not enforce property rights. I was reminded about it in reading something about that in another post on this site. For, in business dealings, you use enforceable tools, such as: promissory note, receipt, letters of credit, contract, etc., not
trust. If you don't beleive me, remember the last time or an occasion when you lent money to a cousin, relative, friend or even a brother or sister! The trust you talking about is not in the Haitian people but in the Haitian system. I suppose that the day you can enforce your rights in court in Haiti, you would have no problems dealing with Haitians. All you would have to do is making sure that your property rights are enforceable.


Post by HenriD » Thu Oct 21, 2004 7:45 am

Dear Mr. Florestal,

You have hit the nail on the head. That is an extremely astute observation and absolutely correct.

In business, as in other societal matters, it is less a matter of trust than a matter of mutual respect of contracts and covenants enforced by:

a) cultural norms, the unwritten contract
b) the written contract and a judicial system that is unbiased, technically proficient and has the capacity to enforce its judgements.

Trust exists between people because of a preexisting relationship in which trust is mutually and consistently reinforced.

Trust exist in investment, trade and commerce because the laws enforce the contracts.

Both are important but lacking the first, laws are there to assure the second.

Therein indeed lies a big part, possibly one of the prime roots of our developmental problem.

Unless we abolish private property then the only viable alternative is to enforc
e property rights.

In Haiti, as a rule, we do not respect others' rights and others' property, we do not have laws which enforce property rights. We do not have a transparent judiciary.

When one speaks of property rights, it is not only about land and buildings, the rights one has in a contract is a property, a trademark is a property, a painting, a song, a copyright is a property. Our character and reputations are a property.

Many of our proverbs eloquently express our attitudes about property rights:

"volè piti pa volè"
"volè volè pa volè"

Many problems exist because the society has decided that if you are poor you can do what you want. You can privatize private and public lands for your individual use, you can privatize the streets and sidewalks, you can privatize the government. Poverty needs our understanding and our actions to eradicate it. When it translates instead to a license to cheat and steal, Houston we have a problem.

That mindset translated into i
ndividual and societal behaviors leads to the criminality and corruption we see, the suspicion and justified paranoia we have about our place in this place, limits what we can build, hold and defend. When you see that you cannot defend what you intend to build, you stop building.

Societies are built using its individual components. A country is built of its people and its laws a codification of their culture.

There is little to be proud of as pertains to the respect of contracts.

An understandable mindset inherited from slavery which says that what is yours is mine is still playing itself out as we speak in government offices, trade and commerce. While we can understand its roots, we also need to condemn it. When we take freedom, we also inherit responsability.

The real question is:
How long will it take us as a group to understand those things, modify our behaviors, create the structures which defend a new culture as relates to this problem.

We might do well to remember
that one of the most basic and fundemental individual rights is the right to respect. Our good name and reputation is our property. When I see what satisfaction, pleasure and glee we often take in demolishing people's characters, names and reputations I have to assume we ain't there yet.

Our prime property in life is ourselves. Respecting oursleves and others, is a good place to start.

What we see in action in Haiti is a culture with a very strong tendency to Nihilism, and recently political systems based on a doctrine of nihilism.

What is Nihilism:
a) Meaning "nothingism" from Latin term nihil "nothing". A true Nihilistic denies or rejects all values and meanings. This would be the ultimate skeptic.

b) A doctrine which holds that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and without truth. Nihilists usually deny that there is any intrinsic value or meaning in human life, and many believe that the prevailing values of their society are so bad that it would be best to destr
oy them.

c) The view that there are no moral or ethical values. Nothing is right or wrong, forbidden or required, good or bad.

d) A denial of any ground for objective or moral truth.

e) A revolutionary doctrine that advocates destruction of the social system for its own sake, complete denial of all established authority and institutions.

Does the description of Nihilism sound familiar? For those living here it is not only familiar, but like the fish living in toxic water, it is the cultural water we live and breathe in.

Not an easy thing to fix.

Where does it start, it starts with individuals who have learned better and do better. With people who add clean water rather than continue to foul the water. As in all things human it is above all about example. We all learn by observing and doing.

We tend to think someone has to fix it for us. "Ici bas", we have to fix it ourselves. And the logical conslusion is that we fix it by doing and by our example while doing.

No magic formulas, just hard work, every second of every day.

I was so pleased to see your post I wanted to thank you for what I consider your very brilliant insight.

Best Regards,

Henri Deschamps


Post by T-dodo » Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:46 am

Well said, Marilyn. I am sure Henri means the same thing on both sides of the society ladder. While Henri is right that the poor, or some poor, get involved in abuses, the reason it happens is because of lack of law enforcement. It turns out that the rich, or some rich, take also advantage of the absence of law enforcement in the country to get richer.

We all know now that the absence of law enforcement, like under the previous administration that we will call democracy, or the selective enforcement of it under a few administrations earlier, that we will call dictatorship, does not benefit the country in the long run. For the poor, it allows them to vent their frustration but in the process destroys the economic infrastructure of the country. For the rich, it allows them to circumvent competitive forces to increase their wealth. In so doing, monopolies are preserved, markets do not grow, and the economy atrophies. Personally, I think tha
t practice is self-defeating for a business person, an elite group or the business community. The reason is that it eliminates sets of rules that all can follow and depend on, and works against the interest of all property owners, even though today one owner may benefit from it. Tomorrow, the beneficiary will be the victim and it is unpredicatable in terms of magnitude of the negative effect on wealth.

The question is why do we, Haitians, like that state of affairs so much to the point that it has been surviving in our country since our independence, most of the times? The truth is for a system to survive that long, it must benefit a group that has the ability to maintain it in place. While one can point out to the dominating class in Haiti, it is difficult to argue that they have benefitted from anything in Haiti in recent past. The country's economy has stopped creating wealth since a long time now and it is hard to see anyone involved in a legitimate business in Haiti who has consistently grown its
business, market, or wealth. I know there will be arguments about how we measure these criteria, my conclusion is that as long that country as a whole is not improving, that should be the barometer for the commercial class. This raises another question. Has the leading class in Haiti involved in a self-defeating startegy throughout history that is constantly eroding its wealth? Perhaps some of you have answers to this!

Leonel JB

Post by Leonel JB » Fri Oct 22, 2004 4:55 am

Great points, guys.

JM, I would like to follow up on your conclusive question and use the US as a parameter, or analogy.

There is an elite which is about one percent of the US population. This elite is getting richer everyday while the masses are getting poorer...Why is it so different between those two societies (Haiti, USA)? Is it again, because the US has what they call the "Rule of law", or something else?

Remember the American Bourgeoisie is outsourcing for better profits which should have been chaotic to the US economy. But yet, the US still is one the strongest economical superpowers...

Perhaps, if Haiti were a country of consumers like the USA, that would have made a difference? If the masses could afford the basic needs, had buying power?

As you can see, I only have more questions than solutions.
Maybe law enforcement with my favorite motto "TET ANSANM" can be a positive tool...

Personnally, I
think the Haitian Elite has money, but not Rich. I may be wrong. Because, when I look at our GNP, we're importing more than exporting. Our masses can only consume on a short term basis. Therefore, as a business owner, one should only rely on very durable goods which tend to be more expensive and unaffordable.

Sur ce, I think this system does not benefit anyone. The elite would or some would want a developping country with buying power for the people (jobs).

Today's situation only benefits thugs who would make a fortune from this crumbled economy or situation. They were and are politically the force behind our self defeating...These are the bad apples who are anti progress, anti law, anti Haiti, anti security. They are from every social group, not one in particular. And they need to be taken care of, before it's too late.

Personal observation:
As Haitians (including me), we have a tendency to approve fiction without any proven fact, we love fairy tales...

Someone has this gr
eat quote:
"It's hard to find Happiness, since Poverty and Wealth failed".

L'union fait la force...


Post by T-dodo » Fri Oct 22, 2004 12:35 pm


In general, I agree with all your statements. However, for purposes of accuracy, some of them require further narrowing of their definition. It will be important as we draw conclusions from them in the future.

First, a general response to your post before taking the pieces one by one. Laws are established to benefit the society, or a people such as a country, as a group. When there is a state of lawlessness, society loses. In our case, Haiti has everything to lose by the current and past history of lawlessness, and has lost a lot. In the long run, everybody loses. The thugs, or the outlaws, benefit in the short run. But in the long run, they will also lose. They will either end up in jail or forced out in exile where they will not be able to replicate the actions that benefited them in the past, and be very unhappy.

Now, you wrote about the USA elite: "This elite is getting richer everyday while the masses are getti
ng poorer..." While I read or heard more than one report from the U.S. press stating the same, the criteria for support of the statement were never the same used by the different press people. In addition, this situation may be true for a certain period and reverse in another, such as different administrations. The reality is over time in the USA the middle class is growing from people moving up from the masses or poor, and people from the elite moving down as their fortunes change.

You wrote following the previous statements, referring to the US elite:"Why is it (the elite) so different between those two societies (Haiti, USA)? Is it again, because the US has what they call the "Rule of law", or something else?" This is another great topic. In a country, the elite supposes to lead, control the economy. In Haiti, the elite does not. Because, if it did why is it acting against its own interests? What I mean is: rather than negotiating with the masses to protect its interest, historically it has driven t
he masses to the point that at every opportunity they find, the masses "coupe tet, boule kay" that belongs to the elite. The question of WHY THE TWO ELITES ARE SO DIFFERENT is too complex for this post.

You also wrote about the USA: "Remember the American Bourgeoisie is outsourcing for better profits, which should have been chaotic to the US economy. But yet, the US still is one the strongest economical superpowers..." The US still is one the strongest economical superpowers not because it is outsourcing, but because it is so far more advanced than the others that it can afford setbacks and still stay upfront. Also, the US economy is cyclical. Historically, it has gone up and down at least once in every decade. There are also other issues as to relationship between the health of the economy and the status of the poor. These are too complicated and besides our point to be discussed in this forum.

You wrote: "Maybe law enforcement with my favorite motto "TET ANSANM" can be a positive tool..
." Here I am not advocating a totalitarian type of government. What I said was "enforcing property rights." By that, I mean if you own something and somebody steal it, that you can go to court and get the thief to return it or get compensated. We have law enforcement as an ideal in Haiti, except that it does not work. It has been selective historically, meaning that if you have power you can enforce your rights, but if you don't you can't enforce it.

You wrote:" Personnally, I think the Haitian Elite has money, but not Rich. I may be wrong. Because, when I look at our GNP, we're importing more than exporting. Our masses can only consume on a short term basis. Therefore, as a business owner, one should only rely on very durable goods which tend to be more expensive and unaffordable." I agree in principle with you on this.

You wrote:"As Haitians (including me), we have a tendency to approve fiction without any proven fact, we love fairy tales... " Perhaps, you are right to a certain extent. B
ut the real problem with truth in Haiti is that you don't have a press that is ready to challenge a public figure's factual mistatements. Thus, the masses have no choice but believing because they don't have a way of verifying the statements. By the time they have proof the public figure was lying, it is too late. In the US for example, when a public figure makes a promise, the press asks him to prove it or how he is going to pay for it. If he can't they ridicule him. I think if I become a public figure in Haiti today, I can probably get away with promising that I will build new roads and repair all existing roads in 2 years. I bet you I will not be challenged to prove where I will find the money to do it and where I will find the resources to accomplish that in such a short period of time.

So, to conclude, all the developed countries have property rights enforcement mechanism. Without it, there is no reason to own property. That's why historically, once someone becomes rich in Haiti they sen
d the money to be saved or stored in a country where they can enforce their property rights!


Leonel JB

Post by Leonel JB » Mon Nov 15, 2004 7:30 am

People, people, people:

Everyone seems very discouraged following the elections... We have to stay focused, I don't want to give up this very important topic: "Investing in Haiti"?

There is a lot to cover. I wanted to touch also on the fact that We Haitians would trust any foreigner instead of our own people. I remember a couple of years, when I started my little cosmetic company. To study my potential market, I went to this famous cosmetic place in Queens. When I asked the owner about coming out with a body lotion, perfume etc, the answer was a big: "No way, I won't buy anything from Haitians, I only buy French products (Nivea etc)". When I asked him why, he answered: "The French products are simply good, they are the best".

Remember, this is a Haitian-owned business... What goes in mind is, as a Haitian myself, we have a tendency to think "Blan se Bondye". They can't be wrong.

I know a lot of us have these stereo
types towards our brothers, "they don't know what they're doing".

I have this joke from long time ago:
*Machin frape on neg nan ri dE Mirak. LE misye rive lopital jeneral, te gen doktE blan ki tap trete l. Blan yo deklare misye mouri. LE yap pote misye nan mog la, misye di moun yo: "Mesye, mwen pa mouri non". Neg yo gade misye, yo di: "Blan an di w mouri epi w di ou pa mouri, se Blan w ye?*

Anyway, guys, I know that we have more instances where our own people do not believe in our abilities. How can we start trusting each other from Haiti to anywhere else in the world???

L'union fait la Force


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