Showing posts with label Haitian Politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Haitian Politics. Show all posts

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Video Presentation: "Rethinking Haiti and the Haitian People in the Twenty-first Century" by Celucien L. Joseph

Video Presentation: "Rethinking Haiti and the Haitian People in the Twenty-first Century"
by Celucien L. Joseph, PhD 


As I continue to observe the political situation in Haiti, and the current presidential election crisis in the country, and the reaction of the Haitian people and their discontent about their living condition, I am more compelled today as I were decades ago that my old belief and assessment about the Haitian condition are correct. Haitian instability, the inhumane living condition of the Haitian people, and the country’s development crisis are due chiefly to both internal and external forces. In this brief essay, I reflect on both contributing factors of Haiti’s woes, the relationship between the Haitian politician or public servant to the Haitian state. Finally, I propose a way forward to improve both the Haitian political society and civil society, and the living condition of the Haitian people.

To read the entire text, click on this link. 

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Rethinking Haiti and the Haitian People in the Twenty-first Century by Dr. Celucien L. Joseph

Rethinking Haiti and the Haitian People in the Twenty-first Century
by Celucien L. Joseph, PhD
Haiti's flag

As I continue to observe the political situation in Haiti, and the current presidential election crisis in the country, and the reaction of the Haitian people and their discontent about their living condition, I am more compelled today as I were decades ago that my old belief and assessment about the Haitian condition are correct. Haitian instability, the inhumane living condition of the Haitian people, and the country’s development crisis are due chiefly to both internal and external forces. In this brief essay, I reflect on both contributing factors of Haiti's woes, the relationship between the Haitian politician or public servant to the Haitian state. Finally, I propose a way forward to improve both the Haitian political society and civil society, and the living condition of the Haitian people

The Internal Causes

The internal causes are directly linked to the country’s heritage of political maladroit, political charlatans and demons, bad governance, and the people’s untamed anger and disastrous ideologies. You can’t build (Haiti was never built before. So we cannot speak of “Haiti’s reconstruction”) a country when you continue to destroy the little that you already have in place. For example, what would any people in their right mind continue to destroy public schools and other public and private institutions that provide public services to the masses, and which were created to respond to their every day needs. The Haitian people MUST respect people’s businesses or property, and say NO to violence. What would the Haitian people burn someone’s vehicle or home when the owner has no political affiliation or contributes to the deadly living condition of the masses?
As a people and nation, for years, we have cultivated a collective mentality to destroy not to build, to deform not to reform, to regress not to progress. This collective attitude is certainly not the most effective strategy to foster social change and the collective emancipation of the Haitian people. It is certainly not contributing to Haiti’s development nor is it leading to human flourishing and human solidarity in Haiti.

As a people and nation, instead of destroying property, public institutions, people’s homes and eventually people’s lives, we should think about other liberative alternatives and human-flourishing methods that will contribute to the (re-) construction of this country, protect what’s already in place, and preserve life. We should come together and think together so we could find ways to improve Haiti’s’ mass illiteracy, food crisis, security problem, and political and civil societies dilemma.

The External Causes

It is not breaking news in the twenty-first century to affirm that Haiti and the Haitian people have been subject to years of American damaging cultural and political imperialism, and destructive interventions by Western countries. It is certainly not breaking news in the twenty-first century that Haitian politics and the electoral process have always been under the radar of the international community (i.e. United States, Canada, France, Germany, etc.). These countries have no respect for the general will of the Haitian people and are relentlessly demeaning the freedom, sovereignty, and democratic ideals and values of Haiti and the Haitian people. Interestingly, they claim to be the protagonists of these very principles they deny to other countries and peoples.
While the creation of the Haitian nation-state and the independence and freedom of the Haitian people, who were once enslaved by Western powers, the continuous existence of Haiti as a nation is seen by many political allies in the West as a challenge to the unholy trinity of the modern world: slavery, white supremacy, and racism. The country of Haiti is a symbolic reminder to many that it is possible to eradicate these three existential demons in the world today.

How now shall the Haitian people live?

a) To Haitian Politicians and Public Servants

1. Haitian politicians need to cultivate unconditional love for Haiti and unqualified love for the Haitian people. They also need to develop patriotic zeal so that they and the Haitian people would be rightly conceived as the guardian of Haiti’s sovereignty, freedom, and independence in the twenty-first century.
2. The Haitian politician or public officer is first a public servant. Being in politics or occupy a public post in the government is a privilege not a right. It is an opportunity to serve your country and your people.
3. The public office is not the access to abuse or exploit the Haitian people in order to achieve selfish political ambitions.
4. When elected to a public office, the best interest of the people come first, and the people and the people alone should be the sole focus of the politician’s political agenda.
5. The patriotic Haitian politician or public servant should sympathize with the Haitian people in their struggle and walk actively in solidarity with the Haitian masses, the poor, the need, and the oppressed—toward the improvement of their economic condition, and the contribution to their total emancipation in every aspect of life.
6. Haitian politicians need to realize that the love of money and the pursuit of political power to control the country’s resources and to advance one’s dreadful political agendas would ultimately lead to the imprisonment of the people and the regress of Haiti.
7. Haitian politicians or public servants should not be allies of any internal or external power whose decisive aim is to subjugate the Haitian people, and exploit their resources.
8. To the Haitian politicians and public servants: Building a strong and effective economy in Haiti would entail the rejection of the charm and ruse of the global economic capitalism of the West and the East, as well as the refusal of enticing promises of public prominence, wealth, and future opportunities to excel in one’s political career—by the international community.

b) To the Haitian People

1. The Haitian people need to work collaboratively to develop new emancipative narratives for the betterment of Haiti, the enhancement of the Haitian life, and to the value of those who yet to be born.
2. Building a holistic and effective democratic system in Haiti and functioning Haitian civil society is the responsibility of every Haitian citizen.
3. Haitian solidarity means serving one another and the opportunity to uplift your Haitian brother or sister in moments of crisis.
4. Haitian patriotic love means the total rejection of the “Kraze brize” and “koupe tet boule kay” mentality and the total renouncement of the ideology of the destruction of the country’s public institutions, and the private facilities that provide services to the Haitian people. We must say NO to political violence and all kinds of human-orchestrated violence and oppression in the twenty-first century Haitian society.
5. Respect for someone’s property or business is another way to express Haitian patriotic love and human solidarity.
6. The Haitian people must reject the ruse of charlatan politicians whose aim is not the best interest of the Haitian masses but the preservation of their political power and the control of the people.
7. The Haitian people must also reject the ruse and false promises of imperial powers that come only to steal, exploit, and destroy. They are not our friend; they are our enemy.
8. The Haitian people need to support humanitarian causes whose aim is not exploit the Haitian people or their resources but to make constructive contributions to Haiti’s development and enhance the human condition in the country.
9. The Haitian people must say NO to the Haitian bourgeoisie capitalists and the elite-minority, who collaborate with the imperialists and support economic capitalism, who have no interest in improving the living condition of the Haitian people.
10. The Haitian people must work together, support one another, and serve sacrificially, and give unconditionally to improve people’s lives in Haiti.


The Haitian bourgeoisie and elite-minority in Haiti, and those with resources and skills in the Haitian Diaspora must invest in Haiti by working together. They should also work together to create new job opportunities and small businesses, and boost Haiti’s agricultural resources and productions. Secondly, Haitians of all social classes and those with economic resources ought to collaborate and find meaningful ways to effectively use their talents and skills to change Haiti’s education system and improve existing schools and create effective learning centers and universities that will foster hope, social transformation, and engender a new society in the Caribbean nation.

Haiti’s political and civil societies, in their current state, are not contributing to human flourishing and improving lives in Haiti. Thirdly, genuine collaborative partnership between Haitians in the Diaspora and those with financial and intellectual resources in Haiti are desperately needed in the formation of a new class of Haitian entrepreneurs, leaders, professionals, educators in the Haitian society. Such partnership will also help alleviate poverty, prostitution, and reduce child pregnancy in the country. Invest in Haiti’s education is to invest in Haiti’s future and to create a new optimistic life for the younger and future generations of Haitians. Collaboratively, we will improve the overall living and spiritual conditions of the people of Haiti.

Finally, to vote for the best candidate who will work for the people, walk in solidarity with the Haitian passes and the poor, and represent their best interest in the political arena, should not be taken for granted. Haiti as a sovereign and independent nation-state is entitled to have free and democratic elections, and the Haitian people have the right to voice their concerns, and discontent because they know what is best for them and certainly affirm what is best for Haiti. Let the will of the Haitian people triumph!

The future of Haiti is the hands of the Haitian people, and not foreigners or Western imperialists. Our salvation is not coming from an external power; it is coming from us. Our redemption is not coming from above but from below. We have the solution to Haiti’s problems. We are Haiti!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Review of "Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti" by Matthew Davidson

Sprague, Jeb. Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-58367-300-3. 400 pp.

In Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti, Jeb Sprague examines how Haitian and transnational elite groups sponsored paramilitary violence during the late twentieth and early twenty-first century in order to crush the democratic aspirations of Haiti’s popular classes and forestall democratic and redistributive reform. Sprague details the role that paramilitaries played in the overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991 and then again in 2004, as well as the larger context in which they have operated. Locating paramilitarism as being just one coercive strategy of many that upper-class sectors have used to “neutralize” (12) democracy, Sprague argues that elite groups turn to political violence when William Robinson’s concept of polyarchy – democracy in which dominant social groups are able to maintain control - fails to take hold. Sympathetic to Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas and Haiti’s popular movements, albeit not uncritical of them, Sprague argues that "it was the popular classes - and those organizing in their interests - who have been and continue to be the primary targets of political violence" (14).
This important book went to print while Sprague was still a PhD candidate at UC Santa Barbara. As part of his research for the book, Sprague analyzed more than 11,000 documents accessed through Freedom of Information requests. He also conducted more than fifty interviews with various officials, victims, and death squad leaders, sometimes at considerable risk to his own safety as the introduction shows. In doing so, Sprague gives us a thorough account of how paramilitary forces have been developed in Haiti, and the networks that support them.
Sprague identifies four waves of paramilitarism in Haiti. The first was the Tonton Macoutes, a militia established by François Duvalier in 1958. Active through the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the Macoutes served the two Duvalier dictators. When Jean-Claude Duvalier fell in 1986 the Macoutes were officially disbanded, but were actually reorganized as attachés instead. This, Sprague says, began the second wave of paramilitarism. During the regimes of Henry Namphy and Prosper Avril, the attachés continued to work with the military, albeit without the uniforms they previously wore. The second wave subsided in early 1991, but the third began later that year after the military seized power in a coup d’état. The military worked closely with death squads such as the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH), manned by former Macoutes and attachés, to crush resistance and destroy the popular movements. Democracy was ultimately restored in 1994, but despite President Aristide’s efforts to hold the military and paramilitaries to account for their crimes, paramilitarism remained viable, though largely latent. The most recent wave of paramilitarism emerged in 2000 with the organization of the FLRN (Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Haiti / Front for the National Liberation and Reconstruction of Haiti). This group was closely associated with former members of the FAd’H (the Armed forces of Haiti), and often operated under the guise of being the “new army” (16). After the second coup against Aristide in 2004 these paramilitary groups were sidelined, Sprague says, but many of their numbers have been incorporated into the police force or live comfortably without fear of prosecution.
Though primarily concerned with more recent events, the book begins by detailing the history of political violence against the poor in Haiti. Finding the origins of systemic violence in the genocide of the indigenous inhabitants of the island and in the slave-based economy during the colonial period, the chapter illustrates how dominant groups have tended to rely upon naked violence to maintain their power and privilege, especially when challenged by the subaltern. Sprague also highlights how militias, posses, and other proto-paramilitary forces have been utilized by the powerful throughout Haiti’s past, and how – such as during the American occupation – those forces have also been incorporated into the state. It is in this context that Sprague moves into a discussion of the first and second waves of paramilitarism, describing the violence committed by the Tonton Macoutes and the attachés. Throughout, Sprague highlights the extent to which the United States was complicit in the bloodshed, something which he continues to do throughout the rest of the book.
Chapter Two examines the emergence of popular democracy in Haiti, and the many attempts to reverse or restrict it. Describing paramilitary violence as being part of the elite’s response to an election that they could not control, Sprague considers the 1991 coup against President Aristide and the subsequent targeting of the popular movements. Sprague maps out the Haitian, Dominican, and American opposition to Aristide, detailing the ways that democracy threatened their interests, and the nature of their support for the FRAPH death squad. Yet once Aristide was removed from power and the popular movements subdued, Sprague argues, FRAPH posed a problem for the transnational elite. They struggled to present the de-facto regime as legitimate, and Haiti lacked the sense of predictability and long-term stability that transnational corporations required to do business. Aristide’s momentary return to power in 1994 is partially understood as a negotiated response to this dilemma, though Sprague makes it clear that democracy was restored “with clipped wings” (77).
Chapter Three considers the return of political violence in 2000/2001, just as Aristide was campaigning for a return to the presidency. Detailing the plans for a “preventative coup” (102), Sprague again illuminates the many Haitian and Dominican figures behind the intrigue, as well as the involvement of the U.S. Embassy in the plot. Yet for the moment the concern for stability was greater than the threat posed by Aristide, so embassy officials betrayed the putschists. The plotters fled to the Dominican Republic, where they were protected as they continued to conspire against Aristide. As Chapter Four illustrates, it was there that a band of ex-military men regrouped under the banner of the FLRN.
Supported by the so-called democratic opposition, the FLRN waged an armed campaign against Aristide’s presidency, culminating in the coup of 2004. Chapters Four through Six detail the violence, as well as the response of the government, the popular movements, the opposition, and various international actors such as the United States, various non-governmental organizations, and the Organization of American States (OAS). In doing so, Sprague highlights the hypocrisy of the international observers who condemned the Aristide’s government for alleged human rights abuses while staying silent on the threats faced by the government. He also traces the networks that linked these various domestic and international actors. Ultimately, Sprague suggests that after destabilizing the country, “transnationally oriented state elites operating through the U.S. and its allied apparatuses’ used the situation [they had created] to oust Aristide” (234).
Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti concludes by considering the post-coup period, highlighting the continued attacks on the poor by the paramilitaries as well as their incorporation into Haiti’s police force. This is a dynamic which emerges repeatedly in the book, and Sprague is able to reveal how individuals associated with various paramilitaries or FAd’H were able to infiltrate the police force at various moments, ultimately enabling subsequent waves of paramilitary violence. Sprague also discusses how the paramilitaries fit into the efforts of Haiti’s current President, Michel Martelly, to reinstate the army. On October 9, 2015, Martelly decreed that the Armed Forces of Haiti were to be officially remobilized, so it will be interesting to see what role the paramilitaries play in the reinstated force.
While one may disagree with the author’s politics, it is hard to dismiss Sprague’s findings. The book is well researched, and Sprague’s acumen as an investigator is clear. The theory on which the book rests could have been further developed, however. Sprague relies a little too heavily on William Robinson’s conception of polyarchy when trying to make sense of the moments when violence was not the elites’ preferred tactic. Sprague is devastating when he shows how FRAPH and FLRN were supported by specific sections of the elite, but he is unable to demonstrate the elites’ intent to hold popular democracy at bay through other means. While other scholars have certainly explored that very subject, it would be important to understand how the supporters of paramilitarism navigate between tactics.
Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti is an impressively researched book, and one clearly written with conviction. The popular movements of Haiti have a strong ally in Sprague, who insists that their understanding of events be taken seriously. The study certainly illustrates the merit in doing so. It is a book that illuminates the centrality of violence to global capitalism, but also the power of social movements to organize for social justice and democracy. For anyone wishing to understand the nature of political turmoil and inequality in Haiti, it is a must-read.

Matthew Davidson, University of Miami

 *Matthew Davidson is currently a doctoral student at the University of Miami, where he is studying under the direction of Dr. Kate Ramsey. Matthew's research focuses on U.S. empire and public health in the Caribbean during the early twentieth century. Matthew completed his M.A. from Trent University in Peterborough, Canada, where he wrote a thesis on the 1915-1934 American occupation of Haiti. He was subsequently employed as the Coordinator of the Peterborough chapter of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group. Matthew can be reached at

Haiti: Then and Now Welcomes Dr. Boaz Anglade​!

Haiti: Then and Now Welcomes Dr. Boaz Anglade​!
 A native of Haiti, Anglade is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Florida. He received is PhD in Applied Economics from the University of Florida. He has been published in the journal of Haitian Studies and has taught economics and Haitian Creole at the undergraduate level at several institutions. His research interests include international development and resource economics.

Ce que nous pouvons apprendre de Moise Jean Charles par Boaz Anglade

Ce que nous pouvons apprendre de Moise Jean Charles

par Boaz Anglade, PhD 

Ce que nous pouvons apprendre de Moise Jean Charles
Nous sommes maintenant en Janvier 2016 et le processus électoral devrait bientôt toucher à sa fin. Durant le dernier trimestre de 2015, une marée de candidats briguant la présidence, chacun ayant en main son plan pour sortir Haïti de l’abysse, ont défilé devant le peuple. Parmi ces 54 candidats, un a particulièrement retenu notre attention. Il s’agit de l’ex-sénateur du Nord, Moise Jean Charles. Pour certains, Moise n’avait aucune chance de devenir président, pour d’autres il était le seul candidat ayant un message de justice sociale attirant.
            Malgré sa popularité, la candidature de Moise, n’a pas pour autant reçu un accueil chaleureux partout. Les messages de redistribution des richesses, de protection des ressources minières, et de coopération sud-sud prônés pas sa « plateforme » ont mis l’élite économique de notre pays mal à l’aise. Une bonne partie de l'élite intellectuelle en Haïti comme dans la diaspora a tout fait pour le faire passer pour un type mal éduqué qui selon eux conduirait le pays d’avantage dans l’abysse. En effet, pour plus d’un, être à la fois éduqué et un supporteur de Moise paraissait contradictoire. Sur les réseaux sociaux, Moise était la cible de plusieurs parodies dérisoires. Des photos le représentant comme un campagnard démodé étaient souvent partagées dans le but de le faire passer pour moins présidentiel. D’autres images photoshopées qui circulaient sur le web le dépeignaient comme un apprenti dictateur violent et intolérant. Et, qui peut oublier cette fameuse interview accordée à une chaine Brésilienne qui a été éditée, reproduite et partagée en masse comme outil de moquerie à son égard. Après tout, il semble que la plupart de ces soit-disant intellectuels s’inquiétaient plus de l’opinion des citoyens étrangers sur la capacité d’un président haïtien à maitriser une langue qui n’est pas tout à fait la sienne, plutôt que de sa vision et son plan pour combattre la pauvreté.
            Fils de paysans, d’origine très modeste, ce n’est peut-être pas la première fois que Moise a dû confronter des formes de discrimination dans cette société Haïtienne rongée par le classisme. J’imagine que pendant toute sa vie, il y avait des gens qui se tenaient sur place pour lui rappeler ce qu’il pouvait et ne pouvait pas accomplir, les rêves qu’il pouvait et ne pouvait pas concrétiser et les endroits qu’il pouvait et ne pouvait pas fréquenter. Lorsqu’il voulait être maire de Milot, j’imagine que des gens ont essayé de l’en empêcher en lui disant qu’il n’était pas qualifié pour la politique. Quand il voulait être sénateur, j’imagine que d’autres lui on fait comprendre que le sénat n’était pas fait pour lui. Et, quand il a voulu accéder à la magistrature suprême, toute une «machine» lui était opposée soit disant qu’il n’avait pas le profil pour nous représenter. Je ne sais pas dans quelles circonstances le candidat a fait face à ces critiques dévalorisantes mais une chose est sûre, c’est que Moise les a ignoré et continue de les ignorer.
Dans un monde dominé par le racisme, le sexisme et le classisme, voilà donc une leçon à apprendre de ce fils de Dessalines. Peu importe qui nous sommes et d'où nous venons, ne nous laissons pas affecter par l’opinion d’autrui. Il n'y a pas de rêve trop fou pour être réalisé et aucun obstacle trop grand pour être conquis. Le racisme, le sexisme et le classisme  ne sont pas toujours à ciel ouvert, ces idéologies d’oppressions existent aussi de façon indirecte et systémique. N’existe-t-il pas des jeunes filles en Haïti qui continuent de choisir des métiers moins bien rémunérés, non pas parce que les professions plus rentables leur sont interdits, mais en raison des stéréotypes sexistes cultivés par notre société qui limitent leur ambition? Dans ces cas-là, comme dit le proverbe créole, «elles accrochent leurs sacs à une hauteur qu’elles jugent être raisonnable.» N’existe-t-il pas plusieurs jeune noirs et immigrants dans le pays le plus riche du monde qui n’osent même pas rêver grand? Bien que certains systèmes injustes tentent souvent de dicter nos actions et posent une menace sociale en créant en nous des complexes d’infériorité générant une conduite timide et limitant notre potentiel divin, nous possédons tous la capacité de concrétiser nos rêves les plus chers, et ce cadeau qui vient d’en haut, nul homme ne peut l’ôter.  A la manière de nos aïeux, Moise a défié les systèmes d’oppressions en les ignorant. Qui sait si un jour il prêtera serment comme le premier citoyen de la première république nègre du monde? En attendant, en refusant le « non » comme une réponse valide pendant toute sa vie, son nom est a jamais écrit dans l’histoire.

Boaz Anglade, PhD