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Open Letter

Political Stability Breeds Economic Prosperity

By Dr Lesly Kernisant

 

January 29, 2016

Hotel Cap-Lamandou, Jacmel

I applaud all the business leaders of the Diaspora for their steadfast determination to transform the homeland into a more prosperous country. However, most well-planned projects by Haiti-directed investment groups such as the Haitian International Group, Simact, Inc., Dr Pean's Coordination group and countless of other great for-profit groups of the Haitian Diaspora at large, have either stalled at the conceptual stage or barely survived at a growth rate stunted by the disruptive effects of the constant fight for power in Haiti. In other words, we need to fix our electoral process not by the widespread violence sparked by the continuous street demonstrations  or inflammatory rethorics constantly being broadcasted, but by changing our governance structure to a more inclusive, less divisive and less centralized a process.

 

The current "selection" process , by its very nature, requires maneuvers that are necessarily opaque to achieve the desired results. As such, substantial political and economic gains from the "citadel" of power in Haiti can only be retained by handpicking one's successor. This has been a recurring theme of our style of democracy still stuck in its immature stage.  The Aristide-Preval's  20-year reign as supreme rulers  is the perfect template that is being attempted by our outgoing President. All of us, responsible leaders, we need to use the mistakes of the past to reflect on a more efficient approach at electing Haiti's Chief representative on the world stage.

 

As the country is now bracing for yet another period of paralysis, there is already a long list of preachers, prophets and opportunists ready to take advantage of the post-Martelly void to misuse the power of the constitution for a "quick fix".  A new army of power-hungry individuals will soon use the constitutional deadline to grab power at any cost . They will use the pulpit of righteousness to hit the right nerves, ignite the right impulses and win the hearts and souls of our largely gullible electorate. That, in itself, does not translate into capable leadership, but the sheer determination of so many of our political candidates (54) to help mend the broken pieces of our ancestral heritage is something to be acknowledged and even cherished.  Paradoxically, this powerful force of usable human energy should not be dismissed and should instead be redirected as a positive and meaningful contribution to the national development.

 

Sadly, this vicious circle of political merry-go-round every 5 years is the main reason why Haiti continues to be most retrograde among the Caribbean nations. Succession planning is the hallmark of responsible leadership. In most industrialized countries, long term strategy to sustain social stability is fundamental to  ultimate economic prosperity. Education, employment and social mobility should essentially be the core priorities of all prospective candidates for national office. For the past 32 years, Haiti‘s economic engine has stalled despite a fairly constant source of cash from the Diaspora to the tune of $2.5 billion a year. In fact, the living conditions of the average Haitian have worsened and the most prized workforce of any country, made up of laborers, teachers, clerical and government workers are now being submerged in an economic abyss that threatens their very survival as the backbone of the Haitian society.

 

We need to consider a drastic departure from our current governance model by allowing all those who want to serve in a leadership role the opportunity to do so. In a country with such a complex and intricate web of social, political and environmental problems, the current centralized approach at governing may have to be re-assessed. Being the third largest country in the Caribbean with 10 geographic departments, there are enough qualified individuals capable of putting their managerial skills to the service of their country. These regions could each benefit from a well-structured management system with limited autonomy and an operating budget to implement a developmental plan aligned with the specific needs of the local population.  Just like Governors of the many parishes in Jamaica, Barbados and other small Caribbean islands, the idea of 10 Governors, one for each department would partially relieve some of the tensions around the tumultuous presidential campaign launched every 5 years by 50 or more candidates, mostly talented individuals admixed with a few inexperienced ones joining the crowd only to test their childhood fantasy of "Superman" . Creating this regionalized system of operational leadership would certainly create a new dynamic for real "Decentralization". Port-au-Prince would certainly stop being the "Republic of Haiti". While such a new governance structure will require a constitutional amendment, it can be the new subject of discussion among us,  a potential solution to stop this electoral quagmire every 5 years.

 

Lesly Kernisant MD, FACOG

Executive Director of Clinical Practices

AdvantageCare Physicians

718-422-8030 - Office

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