Spread the word because they don’t always tell us to our face: Haiti is not the center of the world. Barack Obama, the American president, does not wake up every morning asking what his annoying neighbors are up to. Yes, Haiti is more of an annoyance than anything else. Out of politeness, the Americans do not always make their exasperation clear to the Haitian leaders.
But putting aside the fact that businessmen want to glean millions of dollars here and there, American policy has long had three objectives. Or rather, several decades after the collapse of the Eastern bloc and the redefinition of certain geopolitical and strategic relationships, they want to avoid three things.
First, they do not want to see any more unpredictable boat people running up the beaches or on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami. The coastguards have deployed considerable resources, and it is no accident if the frail skiffs crammed with desperate souls from the Haitian hell smash, sink and perish most often off the coast of the Bahamas. Due to technological advances in the use of state-of-the-art thermal detectors, Hamilton (the name given by the boat people to all coastguard vessels) has sharp ears and big eyes.
Second, the shield strategy ensures that every effort is made to minimize and shut down the activities of drug traffickers. The days are long gone when ships occasionally carrying drugs hidden at the bottom of the hold among the supplies arrived from Port-de-Paix. Since [the Department of] Homeland Security keeps watch, and the intelligence community evaluates potential threats, they will never say that the terrorist threat from Haiti is nil. For the Americans, a failed state is always a failed state.
Third, they do not want Haiti, a country that millions of Americans visit, to be an incubator for disease. Ninety minutes from the coast of Florida, it is a risk that they will not take. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is keeping watch, and it is no accident that there is so much American medical aid to Haiti — the country that receives the second largest amount from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
At this election time, even if there is no reason to see hope on the horizon, it is worth taking the bull by the horns and saying plainly that we hope that Haiti will make real progress toward coming off the list of failed states. We hope also for progress in redefining its relationship with the United States and addressing the failure of this paradoxically indispensable collaboration in certain sectors, such as health and security.
There are other concerns. There is a fear of a greatly increased potential for violence during the coming elections. We know that here differences are no longer resolved with pikes, pitchforks or machetes, but with the T-65s of Gang Galil.
In the midst of all of this, President Michel Martelly, who has proved incapable of organizing a single election during the past four years and, despite his unseemly call for the continued presence of United Nations forces in the run up to the elections, finds charitable souls who will “help” to defend him. Due to the risk of instability, he may end up getting what he is asking for. Without burying our heads in the sand, it would be so much better to have the U.N. peacekeepers in place of what is going on now. More than a decade after 2004, and despite the enormous progress made by the Haitian police, Haiti has still not turned the page, nor put a full stop to the history of chaos.
At the moment, no one has guaranteed, or can guarantee, a break with the past. Although it is vital, urgent and inevitable, the elite do not currently discuss the deal that is needed for democracy, stability and progress. There are no political think tanks, no firm of experts to reflect on and propose ideas, or to feed and equip those who seek power in parliament and the executive branch. Very often, members of parliament bring nothing. There are no lobbies here, either.
Driven by partisan impulses, one clan or another will take power — with the blessing of the United States of America, most likely. And as usual, the country will set off for five new and long years of improvisation without a collective plan for growth — growth that needs to be around 6, 7 or 8 percent a year for 15 years, rather than the meager 2.7 percent of 2014 — in order to bring 6 million Haitians out of poverty.
Amid this great deprivation, the dream of having a high level of trade with the Americans will remain but a pipe dream. So there it is. Although sometimes it is worth carrying on saying what no one tells us in the hope that it will bring about justified anger — a useful emotion necessary to bring about an uprising that will enable us to escape from the situation. Then, we can stop being nihilists.