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#2444: On Dr. Francois Duvalier Part IV (fwd)

From: Jean Poincy <caineve@idt.net>

Part V: On Turning a Good Leader to a Bad one: a look at the Present.

Judejb said:

"Just a small thought; if what Mozeb says is true are we not witnessing
history repeating itself?"

To that I say: "small is great". Judejb, what you think is a small
thought is in fact the web of my whole argument. You have been thinking
and I praise you for that. Hadn't some of us bogged down to the wrongs
that Dr. Francois Duvalier did, much light would have been shed on the
current political situation. They are seeking the truth for which every
one of us holds a different view. In this light, seeking the truth
deviates them from a scientific inquiry, which concerns itself solely
with the understanding of a reality. There is no truth to be found in
the behavior of Dr. Francois Duvalier, but the understanding of the
reasons underlining his behaviors.  That would help us see clearer in
the intricate political reality of Ayiti today and stop accusing one
leader or another left and right. Judejb, as far as I am concerned,
wherever you stand on the issue does not matter, your inference to
today's reality shows you look at things through objective lenses and
did not blind yourself by propaganda regarding the man. Again, I command
you for being a step ahead of me as Part V deals with your thoughtful

If history seems to repeat itself it is due to the authoritarian
mentality that most Ayitians have in dealing with collective matters. I
have pointed out such a mentality before in my arguments for a
benevolent authoritarian needed to save Ayiti from chaos. However,
history will not repeat itself because the democratic political
atmosphere and the awkward involvement of the masses in politics that
prevail today are major impediments for such a rerun. If we are
comfortable with the thought that a Duvalier like era is improbable and
considering the thoughts given to what made Duvalier a ruthless
dictator, we will focus on the pertinent causes that can metamorphose a
good leader into a bad one. Subsequently, we would struggle for finding
appropriate measures to prevent such a recurrence. 

To some degree, I assume, we all agree that the bonding with the masses
is a determinant factor of non-political cooperation among various
factions in the society. One's intense desire to improve the living
conditions of the "century long forgotten lots" creates considerable
frictions between the person in power and the economically and
politically powerful group? So far, we have not seen an inclination of
willingness to cooperate. The masses trapped in the quagmire engage in
self-destructive activities unconsciously. They are left alone without
structural, philosophical, moral and organizational guidance. 

At this point let's take Aristide's case for instance. No matter what
one says about him that is or is not true, there is an undeniable fact
that he shows great concerns and does things, little or demagogical they
might be, that ring true and good to the ears of the deprived masses,
hence his unshakable popularity which freaks out everyone. Put aside his
mistakes in dealing with other groups or whether he had the
administrative and political skills to turn things around, the man had
good intention when he was overwhelmingly chosen to lead the country. He
was a dreamer in the sense that I described in Part I. 

We all know that the powerful groups in the society did not want to work
with him. They did not want to cooperate with him. Yes! He was giving
the cold shoulders to some when he began his presidency; so what! He
would not be able to keep it on for his entire term. At some point, he
would realize he would terribly fail, if he wanted his dream to become
concrete, or himself to become an achiever. They vehemently gave him
hell, not because he was alienating some groups, but specifically
because he was defending the cause of the "century forgotten lots". It
is that simple. It was shown before, during the election process, after
he was elected and before he assumed the presidency. Due to his soft
manner then and his belief in the goodness of democracy, he was
catapulted from the presidency. The trust that the international
community, the Diaspora, and the masses (despite their cowardice then)
placed in the guy, earned him a return in power. He had great credits
for his ideal.

Upon his return from exile, how do we expect him to be the same as he
was before the coup that endangered his life? His tail was burned; he
learned his lesson the hard way. If presently, he is making sure that he
does not repeat his mistake again, he is in his full right to do so.
Yes, the man was poor and that played against him. His lack of resources
had undermined his power base to take effective actions against those
that were determined to outdo him. His lack of resources made him unable
to create his intelligentsia, which if it were existed would have helped
him dodge the coup d'etat. Do we know of a powerful nation that does not
have one? Dr. Francois Duvalier had built his not when he got into
power, but while he was running up and down the rural areas, that's what
made his clean-up so effective in such a short while. 

Today he (Aristide) is under heavy criticism for his wealth. No matter
how he got it, at least it is with him in the country and we can point
out some tangible things that he is doing with it as a private citizen.
Whether it is demagogical or not, the point is, he is making good use of
it in caring for the deprived masses. Rather than making the whole
hoopla and accusing him of this and that, if every single leader were
trying to be demagogical and do the same as he, imagine how different
things would be for the people. Those who used to believe in the guy now
are saying he was in it just for himself, his love for the people was an
upfront and that was calculated long before he became president. To that
I say: so what! They dismiss a critical element: what has made him
become the way he is. They are the same people shooting at Dr. Francois
Duvalier. They dismissed the fact that something had turned him into
what he has become.

They turn their back on Aristide just as they turned their back on Dr.
Francois Duvalier. Most of these groups opted for political desertion
and coup d'etat plots. It was the case for Duvalier as it was for
Aristide. They never wanted to work with both, give him them assistance
they needed to make changes while they had the masses' support. Are you
getting the idea folks? Today, they are still after Aristide to
destabilize his stronghold, strip him of his popularity by doing things
and associating them with him to prevent him from regaining power. They
have been spending so much energy to outdo Aristide while he was in
power and while he is not even in power. It's like they are fighting a
ghost. You guys should thank God for making these days democratic days.
Otherwise, their way of doing things would turn Aristide with the good
intention to alleviate the masses' misery into a ruthless dictator like
they've done to Duvalier. Can't we see that's a pattern? Can't we
understand that's an imperfection to correct in order to make things
work in Ayiti?

They are accusing him of being a dictator and attributing to him all
kind of tags. If it were during the dictatorship days, in being in
power, I think that Aristide would behave like Dr. Francois Duvalier
did. The way he has been treated is just a replica of the way Duvalier
father was being treated. You see how he has changed coming from exile.
He would have to be total wimp to stay like before and not adjusting his
ways to the reality. After all, who wants to be a wimp? Allow ourselves
to see what the man in power is going through and understand; why he is
going through changes. Don't just accuse him of thief and wanting it all
for himself. Let's be objective.

Aristide is being accused of any wrong that popular groups are doing in
the country. Everything that one reads now: Aristide' supporters did
this and did that. How do they really know that's Aristide's supporters?
Don't they think it could be his opponents' supporters disguised or
present themselves as Aristide's supporters just for the purpose to
denigrate him? I don't know, but we could stop and think about that
possibility. As desperate the opposing parties are, they would go to any
length to destabilize Aristide's popularity. Rather than thinking about
what's possible to bring changes, they are all concentrating on
strategies to prevent Aristide from becoming president again. They don't
realize that Aristide continues on courting the deprived masses that are
in majority and have the votes. Why can't they do like Aristide, why
can't they embrace the politics that seems to work for him? Political
myopia is what I call their inability to do so. 

The strategy to provoke disobedience and make it seem that's from
Aristide's camp is a democratic one, but a real dirty one, provided that
is true. At any rate I don't know if it is a skim to denigrate Aristide
or if Aristide's supporters are truly behind all that. Let's suppose
that Aristide's supporters are the authors of all these wrongs, I think
it is a legit democratic way for Aristide to manifest his
authoritarianism. Nothing is wrong with that since most Ayitians are
authoritarians. Leaders of opposing parties would do the same if not
worse. We've seen them in action as they were occupying leadership
positions by taking a ride on Aristide's roller coaster. 

To come back and finish on Dr. Francois Duvalier, his ideal dream to
elevate people from the rural pit holes to the level of decency
sentenced him to death. He knew that he had to fight against a powerful
century current. In all aspects he was going against the tides and to
prevail, he had to be ruthless against those who were ruthless to him
and his family. Had he not done so, he would have not lasted one year or
two through coup d'etat as it was the country's political usage. He knew
that only by holding the grip on power for a while, he could turn things
around. That was the political culture then and it was legit.

It took him time to establish such a grip, time he would probably devote
to other things, if the old same clique was not trying to outdo him from
the start and decided to work with him instead. When they kept failing,
they preferred to leave and made believe that Duvalier force them to
leave. Yes, he would if they were subversive; if they complied things
would work out great. The whole thing was a struggle for power and still
is. Folks, if your claims were regarding goods that he was undoing, I
would shut it up, but that is not the case. Duvalier was shutting the
valves of wrongs. 

How much Duvalier is there in Aristide? I don't know. But if there is
any he is manifesting it through popular groups, provided that they are
really the authors of the disobedience. Groups' manifestation is today's
political culture in Ayiti. If an authoritarian can use it to impose
himself and counter those who are dedicated to outdo him, I'd say more
power to him. Maybe we do need such kind of chaos to show us the paths
of doing good politics. For in chaos was born order. Maybe Aristide will
redirect the popular groups energy, if he returns to power. In case that
he does, I wish that he does not get rid of his authoritarianism and I
am sure he will be able to be the benevolent authoritarian that Ayiti
needs. Maybe he will be the father of order in chaos. Why don't we let
time tell and let things speak for themselves? Let's just wait.

It seems that Aristide understands the necessity to have a strong grip
on power while being in office for a long time. If it is so, he is a
realist and his strategy to make one election so he can have the full
parliament under his umbrella is a clever one. That way the constitution
can be amended not only to extend the term of a president to 7 to 10
years, but also with the possibility to be reelected many times. This
provision can be enacted for a period of two generations the time span
necessary to make Ayiti a decent place. 

Afterwards it can be revised to shorten the term and limit the number of
times one can be reelected. If he is genuine in wanting to improve the
lots of the masses, he will make things happen. If he makes things
happen, he will be reelected over and over until he is tired. That's the
only substitute for a full fledge ruling by force as I advocated
earlier. That would be perfect, as he would have the time to achieve

As a private citizen his actions speak very loud. His foundation,
tutoring centers, academic subsidies to needy students, his loans to
small entrepreneurs etc. outweigh whatever wrongs he is doing now. With
a long-term presidency and with due power, maybe he will do more than
that. The beauty of it is that Ayiti would still be in the realm of


Ayiti has lived, lives and will live