Parallels of Power in Haiti

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Parallels of Power in Haiti

Post by admin » Thu Mar 31, 2005 1:33 pm

There has been a certain revival on this forum of the surreal notion of a parallel government. Indeed Haiti has seen in its History several parallel (or simultaneous) governments, with a basis in reality, whether it is couched in the letter of the Constitution or not. Let's review a few of them:

1. Currently, we have a constitutional president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide (in exile) and a President de facto, Boniface Alexandre (sitting pretty on "la chaise bourrée" at the "Palais National" in Port-au-Prince). We also have a Prime Minister, Yvon Neptune (in the hospital or in jail) and a Prime Minister de facto, Gérard Latortue, selected by a "Council of Wise Persons", donated as a gift to the Haitian People by the governments of U.S., France, and Canada. Think of those governments as gods, the Council of Wise Persons as demigods, and Gérard Latortue as a gift from the demigods, who are
themselves presents from the gods. All of these gift exchanges, approved of course by the "international community" (that is, the Trinity of the Gods).

2. Another instance of parallel government: When Jean-Bertrand Aristide was deposed the first time, going to exile first in Venezuela, then to Washington D.C. There he maintained a government in exile, while in Haiti we saw brute military power exercised by Raoul Cédras and co. (Biamby, Francois, etc) along with provisional (not to say photogenic) presidents Joseph Nérette and Émile Jonassaint, and acting Prime Ministers Marc Bazin and Robert Malval).

3. Of course, going back to the origins of Haiti's tantalizing history of parallelism in governments, you will find " the Haitian Nation " divided sometimes in two or more distinct political territories, with different chiefs (Christophe, Pétion, Rigaud, etc). Sorry for the quick simplification, but the point is that parallelism abounds in our political history.

4. Finally, the most profound and the most " real " in terms of the multipolarity in Haiti's government is the dichotomy that is symbolized in a very powerful way by two imposing structures: the Haitian National Palace or "Palais National" and the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, where succeeding U.S. ambassadors have not been reluctant in the least to exercise the role of proconsul that they have been assigned by their governement. This parallel government casually asserts its authority over all other forms of government.

5. Well, I confess I was going to forget to list the most comical example of parallelism in government, the role accepted by Gérard Gourgue on February 7, 2001 while Jean-Bertrand Aristide was being re-installed as the constitutional president of Haiti. I was going to forget, because this had more to do with fantasy than reality, because as far as I know, there was never a governmental structure placed around the virtual president. Hey, I coud have proclaimed myself King of My
Backyard, also!

I want to recall here an editorial I wrote on Febrary 7, 2001 -- on the same day that Jean-Bertrand Aristide was being installed as President and simultaneously, the "Convergence" was making speeches of its own, with the make-believe installation of an imitation president.

[quote]Haiti / U.S. and other Parallels

Guy S. Antoine
February 7, 2001At best, the notion of a parallel government seems like an absurdity. At worst, it is a dangerous distraction that may lead the legitimate government of Haiti to default on its obligations to the people of Haiti.

What do Jean-Jacques Dessalines, René Préval, and every Haitian head of state in between have in common? They all spent a lot of energy and scarce resources defending the legitimacy of their government. By comparison, President Bush of the United States can take such legitimacy for granted, in spite of the fact that voter
s cast several thousand more votes for Al Gore, the former Vice President. Bush lost the popular vote, yet today everyone in the world recognizes this fact of life: George W. "IS" (like it or not) the U.S. President. His opponent, now a mere professor. And life goes on... because, for Republicans and Democrats alike, the economic and institutional stability of their country take precedence over all political considerations.

The Democrats did not proceed to establish a parallel government. In the United States. that would be simply unthinkable. The Supreme Court reached a decision, which may have seemed the right or wrong one, depending on your point of view, your party affiliation, or your ideology. The wisdom of that decision may be forever debatable. However, there is absolutely no doubt on anyone's mind that for the next four years, for better or worse, one will have to deal with "W' should one need to address the President of the United States.

Power in the United States is institutional
ized (leave it now to President Bush to deal with tax cuts for his constituency).

In Haiti, on the other hand, there is always the looming threat of a coup d'etat, abetted at times by the Government of the United States, which itself never has to worry about such threat. There is no tolerance in the U.S. for even the thought of it. Ask any of the renegade militiae who at times fancy they can bring down the Federal Government.

So much thought is given by Haitian presidents to consolidate their hold on power, that most of them got consumed by that task. That is cited as one possible explanation for the abject failure of the presidency of Dr. François Duvalier, among many other rationalizations. From the day he assumed power in 1957 to the day he died in 1971, not a day went by without his thinking about how to eliminate the opposition to his regime. In the process, Duvalier forgot he had a whole country to govern. Let us hope we never see this process repeat itself, though some of Jean-Bertrand
Aristide's opponents are banking on it.

The highly intellectual (and supposedly righteous) opposition cannot wish away the hard facts about Jean-Bertrand Aristide's popularity among his countrymen, so they have opted to beg for favors from Uncle Sam and, even the ruling political party in the Dominican Republic. This is troubling. Would they not have instead advocated for the Haitian migrants whose rights have been routinely violated by the Dominican Army, with the approval of the party from which they sought logistical support. The thought of those 11 documented murders of Haitian citizens perpetrated last year by the Dominican forces apparently did not cross their minds.

If others can rationalize their way around another coup d'etat, they indeed live in a parallel universe, one for which I have absolutely no use, thank you very much.

How long into the new millennium will the opposition dedicate all of its efforts to an obstruction and destabilization agenda before addressing the
real purpose of any opposition party: to offer an earth-bound alternative and a smarter solution to the country's harsh realities. Nothing is to be gained from the continued belittling of the intelligence of a majority of the Haitian people. Whether they were right or wrong, it's their choice, their reality to coach through their own determination, without undue interference from outsiders.

As for those in Haiti who think ill of Haiti's President, this is just fine. It is their democratic right to oppose him. But beware: their common anti-aristidism cannot by itself constitute a political movement. They must clearly define an alternative program so people will finally know just what they stand for. Before the majority jumps on their bandwagon, they must first construct the bandwagon.

And until they do... we opt for the prescriptions of the Constitution of Haiti and for a State of Law. We will support the dominant political force in Haiti and hold it accountable to its constitutional obligat
ions and our ideals of governance and social development. If the ruling party performs positively with tangible results, then it will deserve re-election in 2005. If it does not, it will likely get kicked back to the farm. That's the way it's supposed to work in a democracy... and credibly, for Haiti too!

Am I dreaming? In the other universe, we have a parallel government! Did they hold parallel elections? Will they have a parallel public administration? Will they have a parallel Treasury? Will they have a parallel security force? Will they have parallel responsibilities? Will they have parallel accountability? Will they send parallel representatives to the United Nations, the Organization of the American States, the U.S. and the Dominican Republic? Shall the parallel governments ever meet? If they do (certainly, a new notion of parallelism), will it be like colliding matter and anti-matter? And would this collision be good for Haiti somehow?

Why not turn the table and restart from scratch?
God, isn't that what we have been doing, like forever?

I believe that Jean-Bertrand Aristide will not fall into that trap. I hope that he will have the wisdom to spend his time devising ways to deliver on his electoral promise of food for the hungry and peace of mind for everyone. May God deliver him from the temptation of thinking too much about his enemies![/quote]


Re: Parallels of Power in Haiti

Post by Gelin_ » Thu Mar 31, 2005 3:25 pm

[quote]There has been a certain revival on this forum of the surreal notion of a parallel government. Indeed Haiti has seen in its History several parallel (or simultaneous) governments, with a basis in reality, whether it is couched in the letter of the Constitution or not.[/quote]
Thanks Guy for bringing up some hard historical facts with this new thread. Now, you'll agree with me - perhaps - that they knew what they were doing with Me Gourgue. They were attempting to follow or resurrect a long destructive historical tradition, thereby undermining the efforts of the nation to take the road to democracy, something that has not existed in Haiti. Me Gourgue could not have been playing as some want to think. The man was dead serious, maybe as a visionary....who knows?


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Post by admin » Fri Apr 01, 2005 10:05 am

Gelin, Convergence missed their mark... wildly, by peeing in a bidet instead of around a territory. They should have studied the big cats (mark your territory, they will all tell you). Which is exactly what the Chamblains, the Philippes, the Métayers, the Tatounes, the Etiennes, the Ravixes, ... ... ..., did. Leave your scent somewhere (not in the rhetorical footnotes of History). When did those guys, of which you speak, ever make an effort to establish a popular base, no matter how limited in its geography?

The millions they got from Washington, did they ever trickle down to the poor people in the neighborhoods in which they lived?

For all the speeches they gave and all the books they wrote and all the summits they attended, did they even start one literacy center?

Did they even speak the language of the people?

No, their constituency was elsewhere. They understood interests, but they did not understand self-intere
st (they only thought they did).

Gelin, did you know that there was a movement (perhaps still is) for La Gonave to secede from Haiti? Sounds crazy, doesn't it? I'll tell you what, a Constitution for La Gonave has even been prepared and was published on the Internet. Google it! Almost nobody knows about this. But I'll tell you what: this type of opposition is scarier than all the Pierre-Charles and Gourgues put together. I am not sure who was promoting it, but I was afraid that some traditional opposition group was going to exploit it...Make some real deals with those "Constitutionalists", mark their remote territory with economic development projects, while keeping a grand design on capturing the mainland. Imagine what would happen if a political party became chiefly responsible for providing all basic services (and some niceties as well) to each and every person residing in La Gonave. Imagine what kind of leverage that party would have to claim a much larger national mandate.

Never fe
ar, our francofolic friends were all too busy ridiculing Aristide for his audacity to ask France to give back some of the money she extorted from Haiti at gun point.

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