By Castro Desroches
During the wee hours of a new political crisis in Haiti, former mayor and perennial contender Evans Paul was picked unilaterally on December 25, 2014 by the president to become prime minister, in an unconstitutional move that has become known as a choice by Santa Claus. In the unlikely event that Mr. Paul turns out to be acceptable to the parliament, will he be an independent thinker, a game changer, or a “yes man” in the no-man’s land that Haiti has become? Evans Paul, who has no known profession, has been accused of being on the payroll list of Martelly’s secret advisers. In this troubled political scene, it remains to be seen whether Mr. Paul can secure a deal with the soft side of the opposition to emerge as prime minister. There is a concern that Evans Paul, who is perceived to be an astute politician and chameleon, might turn pink: the official color of the regime. Whether he does or not, can a climate of confidence that is conductive to free and fair elections be created under the tenure of a president who is perceived to be a drug addict and corrupt despot?
The safest scenario remains the departure of Michel Martelly to allow free and fair general elections in Haiti.
In February 2015, the musician-president would reach his seventh carnival. At the same time, the number of elections during his tenure will be a fat zero. Instead of holding elections, Martelly was more than happy to replace the elected mayors and local officials with his handpicked cronies. In the process, the senate lost 10 of its members in 2012. It will lose 10 more on January 12, 2015 if an agreement is not reached and become dysfunctional with the remaining 10. Simultaneously, the House of Representatives would lose its entire crew of 99 MPs (Deputés).
When Martelly was (s)elected by our “Supreme Benefactor” Bill Clinton in May 2011, Haiti had about 1,500 elected officials. On the fateful day of January 12, 2015, i.e. the fifth anniversary of the earthquake, only 11 elected officials will remain if Martelly is allowed to fulfill his wish to govern by decree. Without the frequent protests in the streets, Martelly would be getting ready to come out of the closet as a pink-clad carnival version of Baby Doc.
In all fairness, one cannot criticize Martelly too much. He did, or attempted to do, exactly what he said he would. The warning signs were on the walls in shades of rose.
In a television interview given to Carl Fombrun on December 27, 2005, Martelly said: “The goal of my life: to become filthy rich.” In the past three and a half years, he was able to reach his goal in Haiti, the land of opportunity par excellence. According to The Independent, “Martelly… defaulted on more than $1m ($600,000) worth of loans and has owned at least three properties that entered foreclosure during his time as a resident of Florida, legal documents show.” So, after three alleged foreclosures in Florida in 2010, Martelly’s return to solvency and newfound wealth have been quite meteoric. Compliments, Mr. President!
A thorough audit and investigation will soon be necessary to evaluate the damage to the national coffer. Martelly’s future as a free man will depend on his ability to install a puppet successor, through fraudulent elections, to avoid prosecution. Free and fair elections in Haiti in 2015 would be a nightmare for him. In the past few years, a dynamic duo of young and strong lawyers, André Michel and Newton St Juste, have worked diligently to secure a room for Martelly, his wife Sophia, and their eldest son Olivier in the National Penitentiary. The family that preys together, stays together…
In another interview in Miami NewTimes, titled “His music rules in Haiti”, 1997, Michel Martelly said “First thing, after I establish my power, which would be very strong and necessary, I would close that congress thing. La chambre des deputés. Le sénat…Out of my way.” The fact that Martelly refused to hold elections was not accidental. It was a political decision carefully crafted on his quest to become what political analyst Neil Burron calls “Haiti’s new Caesar.”
Contrary to popular belief, the emergence of Martelly as a presidential candidate in 2010 was not a last-minute decision. In his autobiography — à la Sarah Palin — he “wrote” that he was contemplating his candidacy since the presidential elections of 2000. Back then he was advised not to run. In 2010, when he collapsed financially in Florida, he had to find a way out of the hole. Dominican journalist Nuria Piera alleges that Martelly received, right before and after his election, $2.59 million in kickbacks from companies owned by Dominican Senator Felix Bautista. If so, then for Martelly, winning the presidency in Haiti was like hitting the lotto… and then some.
At the start of 2015, a year that marks the centennial of the first U.S. occupation, the crisis in Haiti is reaching high gear on course to a political collision. More than ever, elections in the Caribbean island have become an international competition in which foreign power brokers are able to wager on the presidential candidate who will allow them to satisfy their nefarious and greedy agenda. Through a series of street protests, the radical sector of the opposition was able to obtain the resignation of Laurent Lamothe from the prime ministerial position and liberation of the political prisoners. Very strangely, those who opposed the streets protests are the ones who are lining up to gather the rewards of political posts in a new government in gestation. The true opposition is determined to continue with the street protests to put an end to Michel Martelly’s corrupt and reactionary regime. On the ground, however, too many candidates are hurting the national struggle for democracy and freedom by their urgency to become the one: the new savior of this beautiful but unfortunate country that has been used and abused for much too long.
Sources: Castro Desroches has published many political and humoristic articles at Haiti Liberté, Alterpresse, ToutHaiti, etc. He is about to release a historical novel titled: Les Enfants Malades de Papa Doc. He was born in Haiti during a night of curfew under the totalitarian regime of François Duvalier. He taught social studies for several years in his country before relocating to the U.S. He studied French at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, and he has taught at the State University of New York for the past 10 years. | Photographs one from U.S. Department of State archive; two, three, four and five by Kim Ives.