Commentary: What is going on in Haiti? – By Jean H Charles

Haiti is going these days into its Fourth Revolution; the rest of the world barely takes notice. Indeed after its Revolution in 1800 culminating in becoming the first black independent nation uprooting slavery for itself and for the rest of the world, on January 1, 1804, it caused another Revolution around 1920 fighting the American occupation that lasted from 1915 to 1934.

Thirty years of cruel dictatorship of the Duvaliers from 1956 to 1986 occasioned the Third Revolution culminating in the fateful day of February 7 when the people finally booted out the dictator and his wife to install democracy.

But it was democracy only in name not in fact, for the next 30 years from 1989 to 2019 the nation has endured a faux democracy model where all the decks of the cards have been manipulated to keep the masses of Haitians in complete desuetude.      

There is now a movement to get rid of this canvas of faux democracy so at least and at last the large majority of the population would enjoy tranquility, welfare and peace at home. It is a difficult proposition because the forces nationally and internationally are opposed to this transition.

It is the story of the fight for freedom from slavery revisited not only in Haiti but all over the world. Will the masters of this universe let a dozen freedmen enter into the beatitude of middle class status at a time or will they open the door large enough to let a million enter at a time.

The gilets jaunes/ yellows vests in France are on the street every weekend to demand more access to education, elevation and self-realization from the government, a movement that has taken the Emmanuel Macron government by surprise that such a large mass of people refuses to accept the status quo from year one of the regime to year five, at its end.

In the United States, there is a fight of ideology between the Democrats and the Republicans and now with the Independents (Howard Schultz of Starbucks) joining into the midst as to which party and its leader will satisfy the thirst of the masses for relief against lack of jobs, indecent housing facility, grieving student loans, health care and the rest.

We will stick to the subject of Haiti for this essay with the reminder that these three countries, the United States in 1776, France in 1789 and Haiti in 1804 have jointly established for the entire world, the rule of law that each man and each woman is a human being endowed by God to enjoy beatitude on this earth with his diligence coupled with the support of its government.

Haiti is undertaken it’s Fourth Revolution that would maybe teach the rest of the world that democracy on paper is a sham; it is not the same as democracy in action.

I am familiar with the characterization of faux democracy because, I was a presidential candidate in the last election in Haiti. My party not only stole all the funds attributed to my campaign by the government but muted into a satellite of the party in power before the canvassing with the caveat it can act as a legal bandit at please for the simple reason, it has the backing of the government in power.

The past election in Haiti was a sham, with candidates, in particular the candidates of the party in power openly buying each vote for the modicum price of 1,000 gourds or 12 dollars by elector. It has taken power with some 700,000 votes from an electorate of six million people.

The poor economic performance, the endemic administrative corruption and the sheer disregard for the rule of law, have brought the people to the edge on three occasions, on July 6 and 7, on November 18, 2018, and now on February 7, 2019. The people and the leaders of the Movement have vowed not to leave the streets until the president and its government has tendered its demission for a regime change.

The Core group (United States, France, Spain, and Canada) that supports a similar situation in Latin America with the people of Venezuela fighting the Sandinista government of Nicolas Maduro for the imposition of Juan Guaidó as the now legitimate ruler is discounting the same situation in Haiti. It is demanding that in Haiti regime change should apply only through election.

Yet taken together in the capital city of Port au Prince and in the different cities of the republic, more than six million people are on the street demanding the end of the regime of Jovenel Moise. It has been a week now since Operation Lock has indeed stopped all usual business in Haiti. No school, no commerce, the administration is closed as well as regular informal market.

Violence on both sides from the opposition parties and the police force has already occasioned some 75 deaths, 250 injured and 600 arrests, score of business burned or looted and 78 prisoners have escaped their jail in the provincial town of Aquin. The hospitals are crying for help because of the sheer number of injured parties and the lack of essential medical supply.

The movement has started with the rendition of accountability in the dilapidation of some $4 billion on loan to the Haitian government by the Venezuelan regime through the scheme known as the PetroCaribe Fund. Venezuela has offered to Haiti and to most of the Caribbean countries the possibility of receiving gasoline products with deferred payments of the tally up to 60% for 25 years with one percent interest rate.

Some countries, like the Dominican Republic has made good use of that opportunity, it is just inaugurating a new line of subway in the capital with PetroCaribe fund as an example.

Haiti like the cicada or the prodigious son has wasted the funds in personal acquisitions for the government officials and their acquaintances; two investigations by the Parliament and by the Court of Claims have concurred there was indeed misdeed by the past governments as well as this one.

The people of Haiti have taken the position that this government is ill suited to lead a just and proper trial. It should not only be replaced but Haiti should profit of this opportunity to come clean by creating a nation hospitable to all its citizens. The vista of young men taking a leaking boat for Florida through The Bahamas or those with diploma on hand selling all their belongings for a plane ticket to Brazil and Chile where they are sent back anyway should come to an end.

There is a true sentiment that this time, like in 1803 the ragtag army of Jean Jacques Dessalines that destroyed the mighty force of Napoleon Bonaparte because the cause was just, Haiti has the same ragtag mass that demand a better condition of life. The people of Haiti are tired of living in that “shitty land,” an oddity as the poorest in this Western Hemisphere with no running water, no electricity, no jobs, no decent school for their children, no hospitals for their health care with a government and its cronies enjoying all the perks like in the ancient Soviet Communist system but in an ultra capitalist nation.

The Core group will have a better chance of winning its deck of cards if it switches its allegiance on the side of the people of Haiti. They are determined not only to bring about a regime change but operate a systemic change from a faux democracy to a real democracy with the sentiment of appurtenance amongst all the citizens, with decent institutions and excellent infrastructure that will root the citizens in their catchment areas, with affirmative action towards the women and the rural world and last but not least with Haiti holding firm its divine mission of emancipation for itself and for the rest of the world!

  • Jean H Charles LLB, MSW, JD, is a regular contributor to the opinion section of Caribbean News Now. He can be reached at
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  • carament  On 02/19/2019 at 2:55 am

    I really do marvel at the thought of 6 million people in the street. I hear your cry for a change in regime, but what might actually obtain is merely a change in personnel who will become the new captors of the state. Politics is not a perfect institution and Haiti, with its lack of political maturity, a situation not of its own doing and perpetuated by external factors and stakeholders, is almost bound to see one government after the other accused of corruption. Its democratic and political institutions are either weak or non-existent and the next-in-line clamouring to be president has a good idea of what awaits in office: Yet, he/she wants that piece of pie…POWER. When you don’t have it, it easy to accuse the one who has it of abuse and corruption….When you get it, it’s hard to accept being accused of abuse and corruption. It has been so, even since the departure of the Duvaliers.

    Haiti remains symbolic of the noble and successful struggle for freedom and independence from the powerful western colonizer, France: The other europe and america will continue to give lip service to Haiti’s development and institutional growth but it will only move at a pace determined by those powers. So, my friends, be ready for the slow trudge and long haul, if any progress is made at all.

    By the way, should you one day become President of Haiti, please don’t go asking France itself or the World Court to return the monies Haiti paid to the vanquished in order to gain recognition as an independent state: That would be rather Aristedesque and would result in the same treatment of removal he suffered.

    On the other hand, I do not agree with the counted 6 million in the street bringing the country to a halt: That will not help build democratic institutions in Haiti. Let’s be realistic here, those masses in the street, collectively, know little, if anything, about the PetroCaribe program and its supposed operation. They are being fed skeletal information by those who seek power or those who seek to once more interrupt the country’s progress. The burning, looting, killing and bringing the country to a halt is right now serving the purposes of the political opposition elite and THEIR masters. After the recent earthquakes and devastation and amidst efforts to rebuild and stabilize, what sense does it make to institute violence and destruction for political gain? If the government says it’s willing to talk then talk it out. Don’t keep sending folks into the street to burn tires and engage in acts of violence and get themselves arrested. The makers of the revolution are safe…its those who are sent to fight are actually dying, getting arrested and killing the country.

    The time must come when we can do better for political gain. I’m sure you are aware that Americans know they must wait 4 years before they can really take another shot at Trump to ensure he does not return to office. Haiti and Haitians must learn the same or they might never achieve political or democratic maturity. The beautiful little country has seen much more than its fair share of violence and disruption. Haiti Cherie! Vive l’Haiti.

  • Trevor  On 02/19/2019 at 4:44 pm

    Our brothers in French Guiana are also ready to revolt against France.

    Imagine—France spends billions of dollars for the space program called “Guiana Space Program” but has the audacity to allege that “(French Guyanese) are looking for handouts” and “I’m not Santa Claus” when Macron was asked whether he will improve the standard of living of French Guyanese whom are living in destitution, but have to pay EU prices.

    France is a ruthless coloniser who still holds a grip financially on those they colonised. It is no different from GB, Holland or Spain in that regard; sheer thiefing and oppression.

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