With the introduction of Democracy in Haiti in 1991, the Haitian people were duped into believing that two centuries of repression at the hands of unsavory strongmen would be a thing of the past, a fallacy that turned out to be a recurring nightmare for which there seems to be no cure. Even the people’s right to elect leaders of their own choosing is not protected under the present conditions. Under the widely publicized and accepted version of the ills afflicting Haiti, one man, Jean Bertrand Aristide, twice elected by the people and twice evicted from power by the now-defunct Haitian military (1991) and a US-French invasion (2004) has been personally held responsible for the current state of affairs. Naturally this orchestrated propaganda campaign, meant to obscure the true role of economic liberalism, which accelerated the country’s descent into wretched poverty and despair beginning in the mid-1980’s, had had the desired effect.

Although kidnappings, gross human rights violations, political violence, systemic corruption, drug trafficking and armed gangs were a fact of life for millions of Haitians during the military dictatorships that ruled the country from 1986 through 1994, Aristide is invariably blamed for their introduction in Haiti. For two centuries, the impoverished masses’ dream of participating in the political and economic life of the country was an integral part of their existence, yet the man is somewhat blamed for having encouraged the pursuit of this inalienable right. Though the man was simply trying to hold the line against the forced induction of a not-yet-ready Haiti into the unforgiving enceinte of economic liberalism, he is accused of having unnecessarily provoked the wrath of the international community through his supposedly narrow-minded political skills and vision.

These help explain the exclusion of his political party in the last two elections and the concerted resolve of the ruling elite and the international community to keep the man from returning to his native soil before the March 20th run-off, although his presence will not change the dynamic of the present order. Some cynics even attributed the calamities that befell Haiti since Aristide’s forced exile in 2004 (hurricanes, earthquakes and the cholera epidemic) to his supposedly demonic powers, an illogical assertion that has become a credo among Aristide’s legions of enemies. Meanwhile, the saga of a cornered, impoverished and humiliated nation continues while those in charge are either oblivious of the reality or unwilling to change course.

On March 20th, in the most delicate moment in the history of their nation, millions of Haitians go to the polls to elect a successor to René Préval, a man whose tenure at the helm of the impoverished nation will be summarized by future historians as the apex of incompetence and indifference. Unfortunately, the electorate’ desire to move away from the status quo may not be forthcoming in that election because of the vile actions of the current regime, whose attempt at prolonging its rule by proxy resulted in the improper and heavy handed meddling of the international community. Rather than vote for a leader of their own choosing, the Haitian people will therefore be dealing with the ghost of their storied and turbulent past in the upcoming run-off pitting Michel Martelly, a sociopath and Kompa singer, and Myrlande Manigat, a tantrums-prone Grande Dame of Haitian politics.

With so much at stake, even the often-used terminology “none of the above” does not come close to describing the stark choices facing the electorate on March 20th. The cynicism warped into populism of Michel Martelly and the unreconstructed elitism of Myrlande Manigat no doubt do not coalesce with the aspirations of the electorate that is being pushed into a corner. Basically, the Haitian people are called upon to participate in a masquerade whose only claim to legitimacy and fairness remains its approval by the international community. The consolation prize would neither be economic development nor stability, but an implied understanding that whomever they choose on that fateful day will not be spirited out of the country for insubordination to the power of the status quo before the end of his or her term. Accordingly, it will be politic as usual and the despair that characterizes their existence over the last 25 years will continue to endure under the watchful presence of thousands of UN soldiers of the MINUSTAH.

This inflexible stance of the elite, the arrogance of the international community, the myopic attitude of the political class, the apathy of the middle-class and resilience of the poor are contributing factors that allow the repugnant system to endure. Arrogance, the most conspicuous symbol of power, makes these people oblivious of the danger looming on the horizon. Inevitably, the wind of change presently blowing against organized repression and entrenched dictatorships, so prevalent in many areas of the world, will reach the shores of Haiti and jolt its people out of their stupor. Indeed, it is inconceivable that the destiny of a country which, 207 years ago, said “no to organized repression and arrogance” could be so cavalierly handled by an ever expanding group of native sons and daughters doing the bidding of sworn enemies of the nation either willfully or unknowingly.

The election of Michel Martelly which, thus far, seems a probability rather than a possibility due to the dullness and elitist posture of Myrlande Manigat, his opponent, will bring ridicule to the a nation already burdened by a long list of idiosyncrasies. In this hour of desperation, may God save the nation.
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