sábado, 16 de enero de 2010

The future of Haiti.

The earthquake that destroyed much of Haiti’s physical infrastructure and cost thousands of lives could represent a “coup de grace” for a nation that has been for many years on the brink of social collapse. A romantic early history has not been enough to cement a sufficient sense of national identity to allow the country to move forward. Even Jean Dessalines, one of the heroes of independence from the French became a despot. His assassination started Haiti on a succession of strongmen, corrupt regimes and foreign interventions that always seemed to leave the country worse than before. The cruel, 30-year regime of the Duvaliers, father and son, accentuated Haiti’s social fragility. The Duvaliers replaced order with terror and governance with rapacity. The presidents who came after them have not done much better. The nation shows a persistent lack of governance, almost no public service capabilities, high levels of corruption and a much-degraded environment. The population of the country, about ten million, lives in poverty while thousands have emigrated to the U.S., Canada or Europe, searching for a way out of their plight.
Some observers, like George Mason University professor Tyler Cowen, are predicting the end of the Haitian nation-state as a result of the accumulation of its afflictions. Intuitively one feels that a major reform of Haiti’s social and political structure has to take place if the country has any hopes of viability. The question is: what can be done? How can it be implemented? How long would it take? What role can the international community play in this reform?
There are some alternatives that could be considered. One has already been presented in a September 2009 study: “Haiti’s Changing Tide”, by Reuben Brigety, II and Natalie Ondiak of the Center for American Progress. In this study the authors propose to meet the six most pressing challenges facing Haiti: Governance, Security, Migration, Crime, Financing and Environment with the help of what they call a Governance Capacity Partnership, a program promoted by the United States and major donor countries, to help Haiti to utilize outside financing effectively and to train a cadre of civil servants that can give the nation the degree of governance that is lacking today. Another alternative could be the creation of a Puerto Rico-like type of Free, Associate State that would make Haiti a political appendix of, say, France or the United States, for an agreed number of years, or until a popular referendum decides differently. Conceivably such an association would provide Haiti with a stable political, social and economic situation that could allow for the creation of a civil service capable of running the country in an acceptable manner.
Of course, Haitians might refuse to consider any alternative that could be perceived as detrimental to their “sovereignty”. They would have to ask themselves if the country today is truly sovereign, beyond the political make believe. Haitians would have to face very hard questions and choices if they want to find their way out of their labyrinth. For potentially helping countries the problem will be further complicated given its sociological implications. In our hyper sensible societies any discussion about failed states that could imply racial or cultural inferiority would be considered “politically incorrect”. This would tend to obscure the real issues that have to be tackled.

4 comentarios:

Roy dijo...

I lived in Haiti for nearly a year about five years ago. All of your comments are correct, in that Haiti is currently incapable of governing itself in a manner consistent with the modern world.

I would support an imposed government under the aegis of the OAS. However, this cannot be a fleeting enterprise. The nations of the OAS must commit to this course for 25 to 40 years.

I am currently developing a detailed proposal for this in which, after the current crisis is past, the Haitians would be presented with this proposal to vote on. Basically, they can accept the governance of a Board of Governors appointed by the OAS and loss of their sovereign nation status or, if they reject this, be subjected to absolute quarantine.

More later...

Gustavo Coronel dijo...

Hello Roy:
The OAS would be the correct organization to take this initiative but remember the OAS is highly inefficient/burocratic. I see problems of implementation with this model. The status of Estado Libre Asociado (Puerto Rico-like) with the U.S., Canada, U.S./Canada, France or France/Canada is also a model that should be considered.

Anónimo dijo...

Haiti should be left alone.

It is the height of arrogance for you to say that the US should take responsibility for that country. Haitians should take responsibility for themselves and solve their own problems. And if they don't - that is their problem and theirs alone. No one else owes them anything or has any reason to take them on as a ward.

Really, it is enough already - when are Latin Americans going to grow up and start taking responsibility for themselves???

Gustavo Coronel dijo...

Dear Sir anonymous:
If you read my article carefully you will notice that I simply offer alternatives that already exist and have been generated in the U.S. , by U.S. thinkers, not by Latin Americans. I also mention Canada and France, no only the U.S. as potenial "tutor' countries
If you talk about the U.S. not getting involved in Haiti you are way behind the times because the U.S. during the last six or seven decades has never really been away from almost continuous involvement in Haiti.
I am NOT saying anywhere in my piece the U.S, SHOULD take responsibiliy for Haiti. The U.S. has been taking responsibility for Haiti for some time now, occupying the country militarily at some point, installing presidents and replacing presidents. I am not being arrogant but simply stating the facts.
You are somewhat rude (I forgive you) in telling me that we, Latin Americans, should grow up or in accusing me of arrogance. If you read English well you will have to admit that there is nothing in my piece that would justify your saying this.
The amount of help flowing from the United States into Haiti, the presence of former presidents Clinton and Bush in the drive to help Haiti, the actions already taken by Obama, are really the best answer to your isolationist and almost xenophobic comments. Call them arrogant!
best rgards,