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#3810: GU's Creative Survivalism - Antoine responds to Mark Gill (fwd)

From: Guy Antoine <GuyAntoine@windowsonhaiti.com>

> i think Poincy is using reason in his post

I think that what Poincy used is, as always, political armchair
quarterbacking of which he has made a supreme virtue... It is
extremely easy to criticize a team that is not winning, but the
solution that Poincy proposes, a dictatorial, pardon me, an
autocratic, pardon me, an authoritarian government, with
an explicitly professed disdain for the judgement of the people
(from which it is supposed to derive its leadership) it will be
entrusted to govern.

But, as far as I can recall, Mark, every time you have asked
for an example of a benevolent oligarchy anywhere and at any
time in the world, Poincy has failed to advance one - except
perhaps for his oft cited example of François Duvalier who, in
his dictatorial ways and exercise of absolute power, failed to
lead the country to economic well-being and left us a political
legacy which we are still struggling to overcome.  But indeed,
we have distanced ourselves from such debilitating political
legacy. We are in the midst of a profound reform of our politics,
in spite of well-known setbacks.  What we need is A STRONG
DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT, not the "authoritarian
non-participatory" kind that Poincy advocates. But the Haitian
people will see to that.  They decided to go that route in 1990,
and they were dealt a severe setback.

When a baby begins to walk, you can expect some nasty falls,
especially if she should have siblings pushing her from the back.
But, rise up again, she will, this time hopefully stronger and wiser
 as to whom her friends really are.

> in fact, for Haiti to function at all, some change from present
> conditions is imperative, for the current malaise will have to
> break, one way or another.....

Of course, CHANGE IS NEEDED.  But does it follow that
we need to defer our democratic aspirations? Those aspirations
are all about CHANGE. The key is to think of who is threatened
by this change, and how to counteract their inevitable reaction.

> I think Poincy feels, and he can correct me if i am wrong, that
> only some form of authoritarianism is capable of ending the current
> chaos......and, he is probably right....

Now I would need to question your own idea of authoritarianism.
If you are talking about a strong government that is willing to
enforce the laws of the country, a government that has the political
will to strengthen our moribund justice system, a government that
is willing to collect taxes from every person and every business in
a fair manner, according to a pre-defined set of rules handed
down by our legislature, a government that will resolutely combat
corruption within itself, corruption in the public administration, and
corruption in private business practices, a government which can
say NO to monied interests when they do not align with the public
interests, a government that can say NO to Uncle Sam when that
is again in the interest of the Nation, a government that is willing
to risk anti-popular sentiment when it comes to the adoption of
programs that require sacrifices from the citizenry, but is engaged
in educating it about the necessity of changing some traditional
ways of doing business... if this is what you are advocating, I am
with you, and I suspect, so are most of us.

> since there is no institutional respect for law and order, and no
> internal force capable of maintaining such, then the bottom
> line question is and has been:......how will basic social order be
> maintained?

ALL OF US.  And you are right for asking it again and again,
but don't be in a hurry to accept the answer that only an
authoritarian government can save Haiti, because we all know
what this will truly translate itself IN PRACTICE (not in the cozy
confines of Corbettland), don't we? : another murderous dictatorship,
perhaps worse than that previously exercised by François Duvalier.
Why should we flirt again with such outmoded ideas that have failed
us during our 200-year history when we have hardly given democracy
a chance???  Are you willing to take away from the Haitian people
the right to vote and choose their leaders, on the pretext that they
are too hungry to be able to make a wise choice, on the pretext
that Haitians are too emotional?  And which members of the
intellectual / political / economic elites in Haiti should one TRUST
to do the right thing by the Haitian people until they reach maturity?
Which?  Please tell me which?  How will they be chosen or rather
how will they come to impose themselves on the rest of the country?
Militarily?  Paramilitarily? Hypnotically?  By divine intervention?
Or what??  We need to hear some specifics  here...  Poincy leaves
us in the dark as to how this benevolent oligarchy will come to pass.
He calls me myopic, that's just fine because I do not care what he
calls me, but I am not at all convinced that he has even begun to
understand the political reality of Haiti today, and the political
education Haitians have absorbed in the last twenty years of
ultra-militarism and the birth of the democratic movement.

This, of course, does not answer your basic questions.  Is our
police force strong and professional enough to insure the ability
of a strong democratic government to survive and to counteract
the threats from entranched privileged sectors in Haiti?  Are our
other institutions strong enough to share constitutional power,
and NOT exercise it in a way to simply play a game of  " I
oppose you BECAUSE I CAN " ?  If not, will a popularly
elected government be forced to make one compromise after
another until it completely loses its soul and the confidence of
the people who elected it?

Mark, let me be frank with you, I DO NOT have the answers,
but I am willing to participate in the formulation of such answers.
I believe in the Haitian people's democratic ideals.  I believe in
the capacity of their imagination to create non-textbook answers
to the problems that we face.  What we need to do is participate,
not pontificate.

Almost ten years ago, the Haitian people, broom in hand, were
cleaning up the country, they were painting their houses, they
were dancing in the streets, they were singing their hopes to a
mesmerized world which did not seem to have experienced
anything like it before... and then their hopes were snatched
away.  Regardless of the support that they LIKELY received
from business interests in Port-au-Prince, from the Catholic
clergy, from the American Embassy, from the CIA, from right
wing elements in Congress or the State Department, the
Haitian military staged the coup against their own people.
This should NEVER be forgiven.  But how can a small police
force insure: political stability; civic and lawful behavior,
spelling an end to the rash of thefts and murders motivated
by greed; and counter the rising criminality occasioned by
the highly profitable drug trade?  Those are relevant questions
that we need to discuss and we must seek practical answers
from those who want to reprensent us in government positions.

I repeat: I do not have the answers, but I am willing to participate
in the debate for constructive ideas that will bring about the
polical stability and reduction in the level of social crime that will
in turn encourage Haitians to begin investing again in the future
of the country.  Continuing to wish for a non-democratic form
of government will not help, and it is not imaginative enough, as
it only betrays impatience with the pace of progress and a
fundamental lack of faith in the capacity of the Haitian people.
If you believe that this lack of faith is justified, I would then ask
you WHY I should have any greater faith in you.

> Haiti does not have the resources or the political will to insure
> neutrality for this armed force......for this to happen, one would
> have to believe in miracles.......

Mark, I can never remember you once making an optimistic
statement about Haiti.  YES, I CHOOSE TO BELIEVE IN
MIRACLES.  What is the alternative?

> may i suggest that if Aristide wins, he will move, albeit carefully,
> toward far more authoritarian control than his supporters would
> like... and, i think he will do it precisely for the reasons i have
> stated above... maintenance of social order, reduction of crime,
> violence, etc......and, his rational will be, and correctly so, that
> order must be restored...

Mark, don't pour gasoline over raging fires.  Aristide will win,
because the Haitian people are behind him, and because his
opponents have long ago applied for bankruptcy of ideas.  All
along it's been "I oppose because I can" or "I oppose because
I am the opposition" or "I oppose because I should be in power".
So it's a GIVEN that Aristide or anyone who wins the election
will need to be extremely strong.  But don't you believe that it
is possible to have a strong president in a democratic form of
government? Why do you continue to talk about authoritarianism?
This is like asking parents to spank a child in advance for stealing
cookies from the cookie jar when they will arrive from school.
You certainly have a right to ask questions from Aristide or any
other presidential candidaites.  But why that presumption of

Why must you ALWAYS sound pessimistic with respect to Haiti?
Why don't you think about the possibility of an optimistic solution?
>From reading your notes, I always emerge with the feeling that you
have no hope for Haiti whatsoever, because our problems are way
 too big for us... because Haiti will not have access to the funds...
because nobody will invest due to the current political instability...
because we cannot escape globalization policies...
because development organizations will leave Haiti in a hurry to go
to Cuba as soon as the leader maximo renders his last breath...
because you do not believe that Haiti has the resources nor the
political will to insure the neutrality of its police force...
because... and we could go on and on.  Mark, if you come and
visit me in the hospital when for some reason I would be going to
the operating room, please but please do not talk to the surgeons.

> he will have to get control of the Police and then use this force to
> maintain order......


> when i have posted about how order will be maintained, i have
> noticed very little response......however, it is looming as the key
> variable for the future.......and, some solution is an absolute

And I absolutely agree with you.  Let's talk about solutions that
make sense for the people of Haiti in their quest for freedom,
democracy, JUSTICE, and economic survival.

Thank you for raising the questions.  Let us construct the answers,
without pontification from the know-it-alls.

Guy S. Antoine
Look and Imagine