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8344: We need talk and we need action; Simidor responds to Senou (fwd)
A friend of mine who means well but is rather naive keeps thinking and talking about the perfect investment that will enable him to personally finance a school, a clinic, a vodou temple and a cooperative, in order to keep everybody in his family lakou/village usefully occupied. You mean well, I periodically say to him. We owe Haiti this much, and much much more. But we must distinguish between what one person can do, what a collective can do, and what is the responsibility of the state. What's more, the diaspora must help the people at home to empower themselves, and that means doing away with the Savior or Big Brother complex -- whether big brother is nèg or blan. Ultimately, only the people can save themselves.
Please don't get me wrong: micro-projects are desperately needed to improve people's lives on a local basis. But micro-projects can only change things on a small scale. If small incremental changes could save Haiti, the last 20 years of foreign "aid," religious charity, ONG intitiatives, diaspora-assisted projects and presidential micro-projects would have made the difference. Sadly, with all that help, things have gotten worse, not better. We need a people-driven national action plan to change things on a macro level.
No Miami-based Haitian organization can create the miracle of a green Haiti by providing needy people with gas stoves. The diaspora cannot subsidize Haitian agriculture, nor can it bring the miracle of technology to the countryside in less than two years. Distributing free gas stoves may be feasible, but only the state can subsidize natural gas below market prices. The state, and only the state, can develop a national road or rail construction program. The same is true for for developing nationwide communication systems. And frankly, Senou, Haiti has no need for a "High Speed Train." Your fourth basic demand should be about education, not roads.
By all means, let's get real. But let's keep in mind the saying about good intentions and the road to hell. We don't need to compare Haiti with Cuba; but to stop "talking and analyzing" at this stage in the game would be very foolish if not suicidal. I suggest a national talk-fest as a first step in digging Haiti out of its current shit hole.
The average Joe like me sends a few dollars home at regular intervals. It's an individual commitment, what is there to talk about? Perhaps my brother Senou has a few more dollars to invest, to help develop small businesses and to create jobs. I wish him luck in his business decisions. If he succeeds, others will emulate him. But please, let's not "forget about the whole country!" If nothing else, the last 20 years should teach us NOT abandon the destiny of the country to the elites, old and new.
It will take the collective wisdom of the entire nation to move Haiti forward. What the people want is no mystery: they want progress (modernity), they want peace, and they want freedom. What the country needs to implement that basic program of action is to develop a culture of democracy and accountability. Which is the last thing our elites, old and new, want to hear. And that's why the average Joe like me is forced to deal with politics. We need people's power to enforce the people's will. Against the damn politicians, old and new, who only want to line up their pockets. (What won't they do, Senou, to unblock the $500 million of promised international "aid?")
To act locally and to think strategically are parts of a dialectic whole. Let's learn to balance personal/micro-level initiatives with concrete participation in the national dialogue over our country's future.
Honor and respect pou tout moun.