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28826: Hyppolite Pierre, Re: kidnappings and all else (fwd)

From: Hyppolite Pierre <HPierre@irsp.org>

Exploring the kidnappings issue from all angles is interesting, but not necessarily the most important task. Perhaps the most important aspect of this issue is the now widely accepted point of view that it is an issue that has a political rope that ties it. Nonetheless, not dismissing the significance of this issue, it seems as though resolving it (kidnappings and insecurity), is work that entails many layers but with a very strong, essential, and necessary component: systemic reforms. First and foremost, you cannot build democracy in Haiti on the same crumbling and defective foundations. THAT had been tried for the past 20 years (since 1986), and THAT has not worked. In fact an obvious consequence of the focus on kidnappings is, that the work on vital issues of systemic reforms has been seriously slowed down. So long as the State can be paralyzed, focusing its overall energy first and foremost on resolving this issue, it will continue to benefit those who have always benefited from irrational and corrupt nature of the Haitian State. The ultimate goal (of the brains behind the kidnappings) may be to keep alive and well the defective status quo for the benefit of traditionalists from all sides. In that sense, our discussion/obsession on the list about the kidnappings serves well those who don't want a normal and functioning State. The political implication, of the kidnappings and insecurity strategy, is working. As an example, the post February 2004 leadership at the State institutions [the Directors at the DGI, Douane (Ports), etc] and the ambassadors have all remained in their posts. Meanwhile, although Haiti's hands are temporarily tied when it comes to this issue, the Parliament keeps on debating the validity of MINUSTHA (the UN mission in Haiti) rather than proposing reforms in the way the State conducts the business of the nation. That makes many wonder whether the kidnappings unto themselves, are nothing but a bargaining chip, a branch in the deeply rooted tree of predatory State. So shifting the focus away from vital issues by over-talking "kidnappings", neither the executive branch of government, nor the legislature are discussing vital issues such as: reforming the State institutions for better results through more transparent and technocratic approach; combating corruption; reforming the judicial branch of government so it can positively increase its independence from the other branches, especially the executive; debating the very pressing issue of prisoners (especially common law) so the judicial process can fulfill its role and help increase confidence in society; debating the issue of judges' salary, which seems to explain the willingness of some among them to accept bribes from convicted or accused kidnappers; or even better defining and codifying the powers and limits of the executive branch of government to make it systemically less autocratic. This is all such a waste of political time and breath. After all, Haiti is this one time lucky enough to have by far the most diverse Parliament since at least 1986. Practically all major political groupings are represented there. So it ought to be a great opportunity to finally focus on reforming and structuring the State for a much more citizen-oriented (rather than class-oriented) Haiti. I suspect that Haiti may once more miss a great moment because everyone is more focused on kidnappings than anything else. Granted, the issue of kidnappings is extremely serious. But the better society is organized, the stronger and better structured the State, the easier it will be to resolve the kidnappings issue. The culprits will be easier identified, and their network dismantled. This is not to say that they should not keep on workin towards resolving this issue. However, thus far, all solutions brought along will probably be band-aid, rather than surgical to root out the vermin. Andresol & co. can keep on doing their work while the politicians do theirs. If the system is effectively reformed through transparent, democratic, and workable means, civil society in general and virtually each citizen will have greater confidence in the country. With that confidence will also, not only diminish the fear of kidnappers and their culprits, but also render those tools of kidnappings and insecurity irrelevant. Best to you,