Sunday, January 22, 2023

Living up to the legacy bequeathed to us: A Diaspora call to action



“Trust is not a gasoline-soaked blanket that succumbs to the matches of betrayal, never able to be used for its warmth again; it’s a tapestry that wears thin in places, but can be patched over if you have the right materials, circumstances, and patience to repair it. If you don’t, you’re always the one who feels the coldest when winter comes.” ― A.J. Darkholme, Rise of the Morningstar

Haiti is burning while its citizens are squabbling 

Haiti is in a state of siege and sinking deeper into the abyss of despair. Gangs have taken control of large portions of its capital, Port-au-Prince. They continue to expand their capacity to other cities. And, like a boa constrictor, they are tightening and squeezing their prey's life. The population is running out of water, food, fuel, and medicine. The schools have not been able to open and businesses are closing their doors.

Despite this dire situation, Haitians seem to be unable to agree on much of anything about what to do. Haitians living abroad, the diaspora, are just as confused, lost, and divided.

On October 7, 2022, Haiti’s de facto regime wrote to the UN Secretary-General asking for help to stem the gang violence. As a result, this created another chasm as Haitians debate the potential for international intervention.

Those who support an intervention argue that the Haitian National Police (PNH) and The Armed Forces of Haiti (FADH) are incapable of securing and protecting the nation. They also recognize that Haiti's political leaders have essentially resigned from their posts and absconded their responsibilities.

Those who oppose an intervention also recognize the incapacity of Haiti’s armed forces. However, they argue that past interventions have failed. Worst, they maintain that said interventions are, in fact, at the roots of the current crisis. They claim that Haiti’s destruction was always the international community’s (IC) goal. The purpose, they explain, is to (1) punish Haiti for the temerity of the 1804 revolution, and (2) to take control of Haiti’s resources.

There is broad agreement that the PNH and FADH cannot protect the nation and its citizens.
Nonetheless, even those who opposed international intervention agree that the IC should and must act. 

On October 19, 2022, HDPAC, an organization in the US diaspora, released a statement about the crisis. They claim to be “emphatically and unequivocally against any foreign armed intervention in Haiti under the command of the United Nations.” The organization went on to ask the “G7 Countries to provide a contingent of police experts, a force of between 800 - 1,200 who will provide reinforcement, equipment, training, and logistical support.” 

The August 30, 2021 accord known as the Montana Accord also supports the provision of “technical and logistical assistance to the Haitian State for the strengthening of the forces of the National Police.” However, they are against “a new military and police intervention in Haiti!” For the Transitional National Council (KNT), the IC can help by “blocking the arms trade, arresting businessmen who provide money and weapons to terrorize the population, to prevent it from demonstrating peacefully to claim the right to live as people.” 

As local and diaspora organizations call for the PNH’s reinforcement, a report by the human right organization, Sant Karl Lévêque (SKL), claims that “between 40 to 60% of police officers have links with armed groups.” In essence, they are asserting that the very PNH, for which everyone is asking technical support, is in cahoots with the gangs. Nonetheless, SKL also “opposes the intervention of a foreign armed force in the country.”

Since the de facto regime's request to the United Nations, many voices within Haiti's civil society have been in synch in their steadfast opposition. As the UN security debated the request, those voices were unequivocal that they oppose such a request because it was unconstitutional. More importantly, they oppose it because the request came from a regime that they deem illegal and illegitimate. They argue that only an eventual transitional government could have sufficient legitimacy to make such a request on Haiti's behalf.

On October 21, 2022, the UN passed a unanimous resolution (2653) to sanction individuals and entities that will be designated by a yet-to-be-established Committee. The sanctions will apply to those people who are found to be “responsible for or complicit in, or having engaged in, directly or indirectly, actions that threaten the peace, security or stability of Haiti.” The resolution imposes a “travel ban” and “asset freeze.” Lastly, in its annex, the resolution specifically named one person: “Jimmy Cherizier (AKA “Barbeque”). It notes that Mr. Cherizier has “engaged in acts that threaten the peace, security, and stability of Haiti and has planned, directed, or committed acts that constitute serious human rights abuses.”

Given the opposition against any intervention by the UN, this resolution should have been considered an achievement for those who had opposed it. Yet, those same voices were disappointed by the resolution's limited nature. They argue that it should have gone further and identified those individuals who are financing Mr. Cherizier. 

Haiti and the International Community are caught in the famous theory of the prisoner’s dilemma (PD). It is a paradox in decision analysis in which two individuals acting in their self-interests do not produce the optimal outcome.

In the Haitian context, we need to reconcile our paradoxes about the international community. We rightly believe in our sovereignty. Those who are opposed to any type of intervention center their arguments on national sovereignty – a powerful concept that infers inalienable rights. Indeed, few could argue against a people’s right to control their fate without subordination to outside authorities.

Yet, despite centering our argument on our sovereignty, we write to ask the international community to support the most mundane tasks that are the responsibility of a functioning state. We expect the IC to protect our coastlines, fight against gangs, arrest those who commit crimes on our territory, arm and train our police, pay for our roads, and fund social projects. Asking for help does not have to be in contradiction with our sovereignty. We must, however, come to terms with these two concepts and approach them from a place of agency and urgency.

In contrast, if Haitians believe that the US is Haiti's archenemy, then we must be willing to make the sacrifices required to gain our freedom and protect our sovereignty. To quote one of the greatest black labor leaders, Philip Randolph: Freedom is never granted: It is won. Justice is never given: It is exacted.

We are not living up to the legacy bequeathed to us

Most Haitians are quick to talk about our ancestors’ achievements in the early 19th century. Our enslaved ancestors' ability to reclaim their humanity against all odds was indeed historical. This act deserves its place in the history books as one of the most transformative events in the world since the Israelites were delivered from Egyptian bondage nearly 3,500 years ago.

As Haitians, we are proud of our ancestors' achievements. Yet, our unwillingness to sacrifice for the public good is disheartening.

In a recent interview on Radio/Tele Metropole, Dr. Jean Fils-Aimé, a well-known personality in the Canadian diaspora, made a compelling and forceful argument in support of the lockdown and protests as one method of legitimate defense. He was asked about former presidential candidate Moise Jean Charles' incitement to burn down the banks. In response, Mr. Fils-Aimé expounded on the violence the banks and oligarchy have exacted on the population. Under these circumstances, he said, the people have the right to defend themselves by any means necessary. Mr. Fils-Aimé made the same case against the International Community and the US. Given the asymmetry of forces, it is logical to conclude from Mr. Fils-Aimé's comments that Haitians should consider themselves at war. He certainly made the case for a just war (Jus ad Bellum).

Dr. Fils-Aimé’s comments stoked the pride of many Haitians who feel the fire of nationalism burn with the heat of a thousand suns. Yet, as the gangs' stranglehold over the country tightens, those proud Haitians twist themselves into knots to avoid any responsibility. We are suddenly stricken by the Haitian illness of "se pa fòt mwen" (it's not my fault). Worst, even as the nationalists argue for war, few are willing to make any sacrifice  – however, small – for the public good.

Over the past two centuries, our history is littered with leaders who have used their power to rob the country of its wealth. The Petrocaribe fund is a prime contemporary example. When Haitian leaders are not appropriating the national resources for themselves in their families and friends, they are willingly giving those resources to our adversaries. Most of us either don’t know or selectively erase the memory of the Haitians who were “contracted” (sold) by our government to cut sugar cane in the Dominican Republic.

1804 was historic but we are unable to agree on anything today because we have never agreed on anything since that time. We killed Dessalines, the nation’s founder. Still, 218 years later, not one government nor civil society group, has chosen to give him the proper resting place and respect he deserved. We laud him while (literally) pissing on his grave. The people see these acts as signals of how we treat those we call heroes. While our motto says “l'union fait la force” (there is strength in unity). In reality, we live by another proverb: “chak koukouy klere pou je yo” (each person looks out for his interest). As citizens, we protect our small privileges at all costs and are blind to the suffering around us. The internalization and normalization of this concept in Haitian culture are central and make the current challenges difficult to resolve. 

If the International Community and the US have always been Haiti's enemies then 218 years later it is time to take responsibility for our destiny.
This fact does not absolve the international community's role and responsibilities. Their overt and covert influence over Haitian affairs since its founding is well-documented and beyond any doubt. If we know this as fact and accept the argument that the IC and particularly the US have always been Haiti's enemies, then 218 years later it can no longer be discussed as if it is news. We can no longer be surprised that said IC supports Haitian leaders who are self-interested and willing to sell out the nation they are charged to protect. 218 years later, we should no longer be asking that same IC for help. 218 years later, we should know better! Therefore, the only questions that remain in the struggle are the following: do we believe we have any agency over our destiny, and can we act to take our fate into our own hands?

The diaspora must find common ground and collaborate

As I wrote in 2021, Diaspora Unity is the only way - Pa gen Wout pa Bwa. Still, the diaspora faces the same dilemma as Haitians in the country. There are dozens of organizations in the US diaspora as there are hundreds of groups and political parties in Haiti. Each has the plan to save Haiti but none of them are willing to sit together to put up a common front. In sum, the diaspora suffers from the same social, political, and economic divisions that ail Haitians back home.
The trust gap that is at the root of our divisions was carried over to our adopted countries.  Like those back home, the diaspora is unable to define a shared vision for itself. We do not know what role we could or should play to support our motherland.  

I believe that achieving unity is the singular most vital goal for my generation.
Haitians living abroad  – and those in the country –will comment online and have radical opinions about what should be done. Yet, few are willing to sacrifice even one iota of their privileges. They won't help finance the revolution they seek. They will not march in protest of the policies they opposed nor in solidarity with the people they claim to support.

At some point, we must decide to take our destiny into our own hands and be willing to sacrifice for the realization of a united community. One of those sacrifices will be to come to terms with reality. Haiti is a small country in the shadows of a superpower in a unipolar world. Whether we like it or not, the United States will play a role in resolving the crisis. If Haiti is to come out of this crisis, Haitians must learn the lessons of the past. The most important lesson is that it is not up to the international community to build Haiti – it never was and never will be. But for Haiti to survive, its leaders must learn to suss out the interests of the United States and navigate the rough geopolitical waters.

Our beautiful national tapestry which was always frayed is now torn to pieces. Haiti needs its diaspora. But our work is not to save Haiti – a task for which we are unqualified. Our work is to bring new threads to help weave a new tapestry. It is to show that it is possible to bridge our long-standing social and economic divides. Our work is to show up because it is imperative to do so now. Unfortunately, we have been failing at this task but we can change course, and present a new leadership based on humility and with a sense of urgency. Indeed, we must change course for otherwise, history will judge us harshly. 

It is in the spirit that indeed "all things are possible to him who believes" that I call for the diaspora to come together in solidarity. I am once again asking the Haitian-American leaders need to step up but also step in. 

Democracy can never be imposed


The historical record is clear

The word democracy finds its roots in Ancient Greek, which starts with dēmos 'people' and Kratos 'rule.' Some of democracy's prerequisites include the guarantees of the rule of law, social justice, and free and fair elections. For democracy to take hold, the people must see its value and be willing to fight and die for it – in theory, and practice. The fight for democracy is a waste of time and resources if those prerequisites are absent.

In 2001, the United States of America – the world’s sole superpower – invaded Afghanistan. With the support of NATO and over 40 countries, what initially started as the War on Terror expanded to an obligation to bring freedom and democracy to the Afghan people.

According to the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs Costs of War Project, "since invading Afghanistan in 2001, the United States has spent $2.3 trillion on the war. This total does not include the United States government's obligation to lifetime care for American veterans. It also does not include future interest payments on money borrowed to fund the war."

After a 20-year engagement in Afghanistan, President Biden finally set August 31, 2021 as the deadline for ending the US combat role. The war in Afghanistan was the longest in U.S. history. Its costs in treasures and lives were devastating. The Associated Press provided a summary of the war’s human costs:
  • American service members killed in Afghanistan through April: 2,448
  • U.S. contractors: 3,846
  • Afghan national military and police: 66,000
  • Other allied service members, including from other NATO member states: 1,144
  • Afghan civilians: 47,245
  • Taliban and other opposition fighters: 51,191
  • Aid workers: 444
  • Journalists: 72
The Costs of War Project reported that more than 243,000 Afghans died as a direct result of the war.
One lesson is clear: despite the world's major powers' economic and military might, they could not impose democracy on the Afghans. Their attempts in Iraq and other countries from the middle east to Latin America failed consistently and often disastrously. Today, as the US contemplates participating in yet another intervention, this time in Haiti, one need not be Galileo to predict its failure. But as was the case with the Afghans, the Haitian people will bear the human costs. Moreover, the country will continue its backslide toward an authoritarian state.

Haiti has been there before

Haiti experienced a direct occupation by the U.S. between 1915 and 1934. Over the past 30 years, it has been an indirect one. The indirect occupation started with the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH) which lasted 13 years. This mission was rebranded to the Mission des Nation Unies pour la Stabilisation (MINUSTAH). The next one was the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) in 2018. The latest mission is the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH).

On Sep 28, 2022, during a Security Council meeting, Haiti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs claimed that the situation in Haiti was "generally under control." Less than two weeks later, on October 7, 2022, the de facto regime sent a resolution signed by 18 members of the government, to request the immediate deployment of a specialized armed force, "in sufficient quantity," to stop the crisis across the country caused partly by the "criminal actions of armed gangs."

The same day, State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters that the administration had received a request from the U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Office in Haiti “for a humanitarian corridor to restore the distribution of fuel throughout Haiti.”

For many Haitians, this upcoming intervention is the outcome of a US strategy to control Haiti and its resources. This conclusion seems rational on its face. However, those who advance it must explain why the U.S. would take a hard path when an easy one is available. The hard path is to destabilize Haiti, which brings with it regional destabilization and internal political risks. One of those risks is the political challenge resulting from thousands of Haitians fleeing insecurity and making landfall on the Florida shores or crossing the US-Mexican border.

On the other hand, most Haitians believe that Haitian leaders are at best indebted to the U.S. and at worst controlled by it. Indeed, the WikiLeaks papers have shown the Core Group’s ability to pick winners and losers in Haiti. In 2010, with the help of the Organization of American States (OAS) experts, they changed the election results. They selected Mr. Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly to compete in the runoff against Mrs. Manigat instead of Jude Célestin.

Given this context, the easiest path for the U.S. would be to demand and get the right to exploit Haitian resources – oil, iridium, and gold.

The US appears poised to come to the rescue of a murderous regime with a horrific record on human rights.
In February 2021, the US and its partners in the Core Group, which comprises ambassadors to Haiti from Canada, Germany, Brazil, Spain, the United States, France, and the European Union, as well as representatives from the United Nations and the Organization of American States, once again use their political influence to push out Prime Minister Claude Joseph for Ariel Henry.

Since that statement in July 2021, the Core Group has steadfastly stood by the de facto regime. They continue to support the Henry regime despite its incapacity to govern. Indeed, the de facto regime has not only shown its disdain for the population but its willingness to be as oppressive as previous regimes Haitians have known in the past. The US has documented links between high-level officials within the regimes in the gangs who have committed several massacres in the poorest neighborhoods. Yet, the US appears poised to come to the rescue of a murderous regime with a horrific record on human rights.

Haitians are divided on yet another Issue

Despite the misapprehensions, Haitian opinions of another invasion remain divided. Some maintain that Haitians can solve their problems – a claim that runs counter to the country’s current situation. The other camp believes that Haiti is already a failed state. The police force and the army are unable to take on the gangs that have divided the country in two and blocked access to its only fuel terminal. This camp believes only an international force can restore security.

A critical examination of the anti-invasion argument reveals a gap in their argument. This gap is an inability to bring coherence in their proposal to convince a majority of the population to stand with them. This is despite the commendable attempt by groups like the Montana Accord. A recent tweet by James Beltis, president of the “konsèy nasyonal de tranzisyon - KNT (national transition council), noted that the accord brought together “80 political parties, 500 civil society organizations, 200 popular organizations, 300 personalities.” The KNT held an election to the second degree (aka an indirect election). These resulted in the election of Mr. Fritz Jean as President and former Senator Steven Benoit as Prime Minister of a transitional government. To date, those two elected “representatives'' have also not shown the capacity to bring a coherent plan around which the citizens could coalesce. More recently, Mr. Jean astutely recognized the necessity to negotiate with the forces that control the levers of power. Unfortunately, he did so without consulting his base within the Montana Accord. As a result, he had to disavow those talks.

The pro-invasion's camp weakness is its narrow focus on the crisis, which is limited to gang criminality. They do so at the expense of other types of insecurities. These include food, shelter, education, and healthcare which are at the roots of the public safety crisis. Unfortunately, like a fever, the focus on public safety as the only crisis is akin to one's focus on a fever – the symptom – rather than the illness. The exclusion of the majority of Haitians from the promises of democracy is the principal cause of the country's interdependent crises.

What about the United States?

Haitians believe that racism is ingrained in US policies toward Haiti. Indeed, white supremacy is a central organizing feature of world politics. In their article "Why Race Matters in International Relations," Professors Kelebogile Zvobgo and Meredith Loken argue that the “big three” IR paradigms: realism, liberalism, and constructivism are dominant frames for understanding global politics. They further argue that these "frames are built on racist intellectual foundations, and rooted in discourses that center and favor Europe and the West."

These discourses are the default settings of Washington policymakers. To understand the policies coming out of Washington one must understand the state department and its cadre of civil servants. They have a normative approach in the way in which they engage other states. A deeper look at US engagement around the world shows a project that has the sole objective of expanding American political, economic, cultural, and media influence. In sum, the policymakers' biases are default features rather than specific hatred of Haiti.
States are self-interested and realistic. Unfortunately, this realism escapes most Haitians’ analysis of US-Haiti relations.
Nonetheless, realism and pragmatism undergird the American project. To the layperson who is not steeped in international relations, this simply translates to American hypocrisy. To illustrate, analysts point to the U.S. policymakers' position on Venezuela.

In a January 4 press release, the U.S. State Department reaffirmed that it continued “to recognize the authority of the democratically elected 2015 National Assembly as the last remaining democratic institution and Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president. We welcome the agreement reached to extend the authority of the National Assembly elected in 2015 and of interim President Guaidó as its president.”

Fast forward a few months later, as the Russian attack on Ukraine started to affect the price of oil on the market, the Washington Post reported that a “group of senior U.S. officials flew to Venezuela on Saturday for a meeting with President Nicolás Maduro’s government to discuss the possibility of easing sanctions on Venezuelan oil exports as the Biden administration weighs a ban on imports of Russian oil and gas, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Although this reversal is seen as an example of U.S. hypocrisy, many of the same critics want President Biden's head because the price of a gallon of gasoline rose to $4.01. Another example is the US back-channel negotiations with Russia. Even as the U.S. is engaged in a bloody and expensive proxy war with Russia, it has engaged in back-channel negotiations with them to trade Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout for the release of basketball star, Brittney Griner. It is normal and expected for an elected government that is attuned to the needs of its citizens to adapt its policies. Its foreign policies reflect its ideology but are pragmatic in the short term.

What is next?

Many Haitians are furious about a de facto and illegitimate regime requesting the intervention of international force on Haitian soil. This anger is, of course, warranted as a matter of national pride and respect for the Haitian constitution. The reality on the ground in Haiti is a different matter that requires pragmatism. The Haitian army has 500 unprepared and untested soldiers. Barely a third of its police are active. Both forces lack the capacity and capability to challenge the gangs. On the policy-making end, the de facto regime is unwilling to prioritize security and make the necessary investments in public safety. The opposition leaders and other coalitions, like the Montana Accord, are unable to make a political offer that can rally and mobilize the population. As a result, they have been reduced to observer status and do not have any ability to affect the status quo. In this context, the realistic conclusion is that given the risks Haiti posed to other countries in the region, including the U.S., an intervention is inevitable.

Unfortunately, this intervention will be palliative. Like the nine other interventions before BINUH, it will not focus on the core issue of inequality. Like the ones before, the mission of the new force will be to break the gang’s stranglehold on the country. They may achieve some short-term successes. However, Haiti’s long-term problems will remain the same. The only strategy to tackle these challenges remains a Haitian-led solution.

There are many possible outcomes of international intervention in Haiti. Below are five that are the likeliest scenarios:

First is the hard occupation. The international community invades, imposes a solution, and maintains it by force.

Second is the soft occupation. The international community invades, imposes a solution on the political actors, and manages it via a shadow government.

The third is a full-fledged civil war among Haitians from which a strong leader emerges with a well-defined ideology. This could take the form of Otto von Bismarck’s top-down approach which led to Germany’s unification.

The fourth is Haiti’s somalization. This is a disaggregation of the Haitian states into three units: north, center, and south. This split would be similar to the post-Dessalines era when Haiti was split into two, with Pétion ruling in the south and Christophe ruling in the north.

The fifth is a Haitian consensus. This is a negotiated agreement through peace dialogues that bring together a plurality of “somewhat legitimate” political actors and political parties under the auspices of a trusted arbiter. This last option is aligned with the vision, Montana's President, Mr. Jean, is promoting. This option requires Haitian leaders to make short-term sacrifices which are necessary to overcome the distrust that has taken place among the political actors and the deep cynicism that has settled in the population.

The Haitian people adopted democracy as their model of governance. However, their leaders have so far been unable and, more often, unwilling to respect democratic principles. With rampant corruption and impunity, the population has but one choice. It is forced to turn to rebellion as the last method so it can be heard. As Haiti's story is written, the next chapter can be an invasion to bring public safety, a long-term occupation, a civil war that leads to its somalization, a dialogue that leads to peace, or a combination of these options. The expected invasion does not have to be the end of Haiti’s extraordinary story. Haitians deserve to experience a different narrative and enjoy the promises of democratic governance. This story can only be written if Haitians are willing to imagine it, believe it and take the pen to write it.
One virtue of democracy is that it reflects local history and traditions. Yet there are fundamental elements that all democracies share — freedom of speech, religion, press, and assembly; rule of law enforced by independent courts; private property rights; and political parties that compete in free and fair elections. These rights and institutions are the foundation of human dignity, and as countries find their own path to freedom, they must find a loyal partner in the United States of America.
President George W. Bush, 2007 address to an International Conference on Democracy and Security in Prague

Haiti's War Against Inequality, Injustice, and Insecurity


“The outraged have a right to cry and even scream their wrongs into the ears of their fellow men whenever and wherever there is a chance of awakening the conscience or the self-respect of the wrongdoer.”
Frederick Douglas


As Haiti experiences another political convulsion, the country continues to fall further backward. Amid the political crisis, businesses are shutting down or barely functioning. Schools are unable to open their doors and hospitals cannot function as their fuel supplies get exhausted. For Haitians, their dreams and aspirations are being snuffed out. Those with the financial means are leaving the country in droves.
The question for Haitians inside and outside of Haiti is, what do we do?
First, Haitians must acknowledge that Haiti’s problems are for Haitians to solve. The people have shown strength, resolve, and dignity but they cannot take on this fight alone. One of the primary challenges is the deep division that exists in Haitian society. There can be no sustainable solution unless Haiti tackles its deep social inequalities. As Pope Francis recently tweeted, “inequality is at the root of social evil.” The recurring violent uprisings only reflect a rejection of this system of exclusion. The risks associated with the post-colonial system of exclusions are three-fold. One, the country's somalization will continue unabated. Second, as Haitians flee to safety, this will fuel the rise of anti-Haitian sentiments. Third, neighboring countries will view Haiti as a risk to regional stability. This may result in another foreign occupation.

To answer the question of what to do, one should consider the Haitian proverb that says "Lè labouyi cho, ou manje-l a rebò.” When the porridge is hot, one eats it on the side. In management terms, this means when faced with a complex problem, the best approach is to break it down into smaller pieces. In Haiti's complex puzzle, the smallest piece is to focus on its insecurity.

Haiti needs a reset and it starts with security and justice. Haiti is at war with itself! It is a war against inequality, injustice, and insecurity.
As the familiar Spanish proverb tells us “great ills require great remedies.” Haiti is besieged and the appropriate response for a country at war is to mobilize its assets and move to a war footing. This war aims to resolve the insecurity crisis and lay the foundation for a more fair society. It will include three phases. The first phase is to mobilize the country’s human and financial human resources. The second is to strengthen the public finances and other key institutions such as the judicial branch and the electoral council. The third is to consolidate its gains to move toward a national dialogue and elections.

Contemporary challenges

Haiti is once again in the headlines. Its citizens are experiencing another wave of violence. The country is living another “peyi lòk” (country lockdown). This new crisis is the result of de facto Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s decision to increase fuel prices. This is the second such increase in less than one year. The regime instituted the first one in December 2021 and people saw prices rise from 201 to 250 Gourdes or 24.4%. The second, nine months later, saw prices increase from 250 to 570 Gourdes or 128%. These increases took effect as over 4.5 million Haitians do not have enough to eat and 1.3 million are food insecure. Meanwhile, inflation is at a historic high of 30% and Haiti's currency lost 28.6% of its value over the past year.

The de facto regime has been in power for over 14 months with the support of the international community. Meanwhile, Haitians are living in fear. Their businesses are being ruined and their dreams and aspirations are going up in smoke.

The world knows this. In its April 2022 Country Report on Human Rights Practices, the US State Department’s noted the following: “Significant human rights issues included credible reports of unlawful and arbitrary killings by gangs allegedly supported by government officials and private-sector actors; torture or cruel and degrading treatment by government agents.”

Other reports from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and human rights organizations have documented mass killings and rapes by gangs. The gang wars have created thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs), and the destruction of hundreds of schools, medical centers, and markets.
The de facto regime has shown not only its disinterest in the people but also its incapacity to govern.
The country’s economy has ground to a halt as the gangs have blocked access to its single fuel terminal. As a result, businesses and hospitals have stopped operating. The first duty of a government is to protect its citizens. But the de facto regime has shown not only its disinterest in the people but also its incapacity to govern. At the United Nations General Assembly last week, Haiti's Minister for Foreign Affairs claimed that "everything was under control." This statement displayed the regime’s callousness and disdain for its citizens who are unable to travel within the country, find food to eat, or clean water to drink.

The Haitian crisis rests on three overlapping issues: extreme inequality, unbridled public corruption, and deeply rooted impunity.

For the better part of Haiti's 218 years of history, most Haitians were pushed to the periphery of the state. They don't have access to basic services including water, education, or security. The contemporary “peyi lòk” is a modern version of a reality that too many citizens have experienced for far too long. As anthropologist Gérard Barthélemy explained in his book “Le Pays en Dehors” roughly translated as “The Country Outside.” He depicted a society that developed based upon the exclusion and exploitation of the country's rural majority.

The current convulsions reflect the demand for a deep transformation.

Living in the shadow of the world's superpower

Haiti must gain and protect its sovereignty at all costs. Yet, despite its history with the Western powers, it cannot insulate itself from globalization.

The Core Group (CG) – a conglomeration of the Ambassadors of Germany, Brazil, Canada, Spain, the United States of America, France, the European Union, the Special Representative of the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations – is partly responsible for Haiti's governance crisis. But, too many Haitians have fallen into the trap of the “single story.” They believe the West hates Haiti because it dared gain its independence in 1804. However, a review of the previous chapters in the history books shows another side. It is that the superpowers have applied the same policy prescriptions toward other European countries then as they do toward Haiti now.

The root of the West’s economic policy tools came into being with King Henry VII of England (1485).
A review of Economist Erik Reinert's book “How Rich Countries Got Rich… and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor” makes a key historical observation. The root of the West’s economic policy tools came into being with King Henry VII of England (1485). Back then, England applied those economic policies against Spain, Italy, and Holland. Reinert documented that “the same toolbox was employed by virtually all continental European countries in the nineteenth century.” This does mean that race is not a factor today but it cannot be the primary lens of analysis.

In dealing with the CG, Haiti faces one challenge. It is to find a balance between engaging this influential body and maintaining its sovereignty.

On the other hand, the US – the primary actor in the CG – has declared its support for a Haitian solution. US policymakers claim to not want to put their thumb on Haiti's political scale. First, it is important to note that it was never up to the US to decide whether Haiti finds a Haitian solution. Second, they should never have had their thumb on the scale. Indeed, these statements demonstrate the US infantilizing and contemptuous policy approach to Haiti.

Despite the claims, in practice, the US provides the de facto regime with implicit political support. Additionally, they're attempting to delegitimize Haitians' demand for a government that works for its people.

The US provides the regime with implicit political support.
During a recent discussion on U.S. policy in the Western Hemisphere, National Security Council Senior Director, Juan Gonzalez stated that if one were to “look at the protests that are taking place as a result of the end of fuel subsidies, they are financed by economic actors who stand to lose money from the reduction in subsidies.”

This comment - filled with contradiction - was echoed by Haitian Americans and the Henry regime. A quick review shows Mr. Gonzales claiming one thing and its opposite. He stated that “the protests were caused by the end of fuel subsidies.” Then he pivoted to say that the protests were “financed by economic actors who stand to lose money from the reduction in subsidies.” Neither Mr. Gonzalez nor those who support the fuel increase have explained how the oil companies’ economic interests are impacted. Even less, why would that lead them to finance the protests against the regime? As it stands, the oil companies are paid in full no matter what happens. Nothing changes whether the government subsidizes the fuel or the consumers pay the full price at the pump.

One thing has been true over the years, those who control Haiti’s economy and benefit from a weak or corrupt state use their money to maintain the status quo. More importantly, the US and Canada know better than most of the economic and political forces that are destabilizing Haiti. They also know of their affiliation with the gangs. Even worse, the ill-gotten wealth of these powerful economic and political actors is in American and Canadian banks.

First thing first

There is a Haitian proverb that says one should start eating hot porridge from the side. It means when faced with a complex problem, the best approach is to break it down into smaller pieces. The smallest piece of Haiti’s complex crisis is insecurity.

If the first issue to tackle in Haiti is insecurity then the appropriate response is to put Haiti on a war footing. This translates into three policy actions:

1. allocate at least half the national treasury to fighting the war on terror. Haiti must use its budget to fund and equip its army and police.
2. declare a state of emergency which will allow the state to:
  • call up all able-bodied former members of the Haitian armed forces to back up the Haitian National Police
  • recruit young men of age to integrate into the armed forces. One idea is to recruit at least 1,000 new members per department including the diaspora for a total of 11,000 members. These members should come through a community-based vetting process
  • recruit at least 500 former police officers and soldiers from the US
  • suspend all private port ownership due to national security interests
  • contract with a reputable international firm to manage the border and all Haitian ports
3. launch a program to get at least 100,000 members of the diaspora to donate an average of $100 per month for 12 months.
  • create a board with respected members of the diaspora and the Ministry of finance to manage the funds

International Partnership

A good partnership depends on trust. After years of negative experiences, Haitians do not trust the members of the Core Group. Indeed, the Core Group's policies have not only failed but are at the roots of the current crisis. For example, Haitians point to the UN’s support for the federation of Haiti’s gangs. In 2020, Le Nouvelliste published an article titled “Selon l’ONU, grâce au G9, moins de morts violentes mais plus d’enlèvements (According to the UN, thanks to the G9, fewer violent deaths but more kidnappings)." The article quoted Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's report to the Security Council on the situation in Haiti in which he credited the “effective control of G9 in certain urban areas appears to have had an impact on broad crime trends during the period under review.”
The Core Group has no credibility in Haiti.
The Core Group has no credibility in Haiti. If it wants to be a partner then it will need to engage other actors. One option is to work more closely with CARICOM, especially with Jamaica. The Jamaicans have a long history of dealing with gangs in their own country. They have much to share with the Haitian National Police. As their contribution, the US and Canada could finance a 600-strong specialized unit. Haiti can also partner with other countries such as South Africa and Rwanda. They are experienced in peace-building – an approach that is different from conflict management.

To implement these ideas, Haiti must overcome its most intractable challenge – the mistrust that exists among its citizens. One key response to this challenge is transparency. There must be new rules that apply to the state and those who seek to be part of the political solution. There are many approaches to increasing transparency. Below are a few recommendations :
  • Publish bimonthly reports on the state's finances - newspaper and radio
  • Publish quarterly reports of the salary and assets of the top people involved in managing state resources
  • Obtain signed commitment by those who wish to participate in a transition to forgo all ambitions to hold higher office
  • Put in place a citizen-led watchdog office supported by reputable auditors and human rights organizations
  • Reinforce key institutions such as the Unit for the Fight Against Corruption (ULCC) with the support of a partner like Rwanda


Haiti is experiencing the most challenging time in more than two centuries. The contemporary intermingling crises are rooted in its post-colonial system of social exclusion. This has historically left most Haitians outside of the state. Today, the population finds itself even more isolated as gangs take control of ever-larger swaths of territories. The country is now split into two and all economic activities have come to a grinding halt. Gangs have blocked access to the country's only fuel terminal. 

As a result, hospitals, schools, and businesses are closing. The hunger crisis is growing more severe as farmers are unable to move their perishable produce to market. Even water distribution has halted as companies run out of fuel to operate their generators. For the first time since 2019, the country has documented its first case of cholera.

The current illegitimate regime of de facto prime minister Henry has shown its incapacity and unwillingness to tackle any of the country’s ills. Haiti's inflation reached a historic high of 30%, and its currency lost 28.6% of its value over the past year. More than 4.5 million Haitians do not have enough to eat and 1.3 million are highly food insecure. It is in this context the regime decided to impose two increases on fuel prices, 24.45%, and 128% respectively.

The population took to the streets to protest against these increases but more broadly against the state of terror that has gripped the country.
In response, the US, echoed by the de facto regime and some members of the Haitian diaspora, launched a campaign to vilify the protesters. The core group – led by the United States – is once again attempting to appropriate the Haitian people’s right to self-determination. Despite the broad demands for Henry’s resignation, the Core Group continues to provide the regime with its implicit support. They do so while promoting the idea of a Haitian-led solution to the crisis.
The current crisis may appear intractable but Haitians must be the central actors in solving it. As with any complex problem, the country must focus on the first things first. This requires a coherent agenda and sacrifices from all actors for the good of the collective.

Those who aspire to lead the country through this chapter must commit to giving up all future political ambitions. The state must clean its act, especially as it relates to financial transparency. Haiti must move to a war footing to take on the terrorists who are holding the population, hostage. These terrorists include the gang leaders, the political and economic actors who fund them, and the corrupt officials who facilitate their activities.

The international community can play a role but it has to do so with humility. It has to acknowledge that democracy can never be imposed with the tip of a bayonet.
As Haiti enters a war footing against terrorism, the first step for policymakers is to sensitize the population – including the diaspora. The war must have two objectives. One is to resolve the widespread insecurity and achieve stability. The other is to lay the foundation for a more fair society.
This includes three phases:
  1. a transition phase that mobilizes the country’s human and financial human resources to fight Haiti’s war on terror
  2. a stabilization phase that strengthens the public finances and other institutions such as the judicial branch, the electoral council, revitalized or newly created political parties, a free press, and strong human rights organizations
  3. a consolidation phase that involves a national dialogue and elections.

What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?


War is one of the most brutal acts undertaken by humans and yet even in wars, there are rules. Similarly, society has laws to protect the rights of all citizens – even those who have committed crimes - even heinous ones.  One of the basic concepts that support the rule of law is due process. This concept is not simply to protect the rights of one who breaks the law but more importantly protect the rights of the innocent. In Haiti where over 70% of the people in prison have never been charged with a crime or seen a judge – even though the law sets the limit to 48 hours – the respect for law and due process is all the more important to protect the rights of every Haitian citizen who is assumed to be innocent until proven guilty.

Even for the sake of expediency, we cannot allow our law enforcers to become judges, juries, and executioners.
The situation in Haiti is horrifying. Kidnappings and murders have become part of daily life. There is no quality of life -- in fact, there is no life when one lives in constant fear. It is therefore understandable that the Haitian population is exhausted from the absolute chaos that has resulted from the total breakdown in the rule of law. Gangs have replaced the state and can maim and kill with impunity.  The population needs safety and security. However, even for the sake of expediency, we cannot allow our law enforcers to become judges, juries, and executioners because doing will result in the loss of both security and our rights as citizens.  This would be a huge loss for Haitian society, both in the figurative sense (moral) and also the literal one as we become that which we presumably reject – a lawless country.

The acceptance that a high-level law enforcer can act with impunity like the gangs will mean that we will no longer have any basis to label a gang member a criminal. This is a challenging concept to consider when you are living in constant fear. However, the results of acting like the very criminals we are combatting are as plain as day. 
  • We would have accepted that society is no longer bounded by any basic norms, rules, and laws
  • We would have normalized chaos and accepted our law enforcers to be the same as the criminals.
  • We would have agreed that citizens can no longer hold the state (government officials) accountable because the rule of law would no longer exists.
A loss to the politic of chaos will equate to running recklessly back into the arms of the form of governance that our ancestors fought against –  autocratic and/or dictatorial. 

We are rightfully outraged by the kidnappings and wanton murders committed by criminals of all stripes (white-collar or street gangs) because those acts are immoral and illegal. To allow a government official whose job is to enforce the law to execute an alleged criminal and post it on Facebook is decaying our moral compass and presents a grave danger to our democratic ideals and values. It means that a loss to the politic of chaos will equate to running recklessly back into the arms of the form of governance that our ancestors fought against –  autocratic and/or dictatorial. 

It understandably feels good and righteous that someone is finally standing up to the gangs but if doing so means losing our humanity, then what good would it be indeed to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Reflections on NY Times article: The Root of Haiti's Misery: Reparations to Enslavers.


This morning, the NY Times published a well-researched piece titled "The Root of Haiti's Misery: Reparations to Enslavers." I have to say right from the start that this piece seems to be well-researched and presents a scathing analysis of the central role the consecutive debts, or more appropriately France's extortion played in making Haiti the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere.

The piece is thorough and beautifully weaves historical facts and analysis as storytelling seen through the eyes of a protagonist -- Ms. Present.  It opens with the imagery of Ms. Present's morning routine.

DONDON, Haiti — Adrienne Present steps into the thin forest beside her house and plucks the season’s first coffee cherries, shining like red marbles in her hands.
The harvest has begun.
Each morning, she lights a coal fire on the floor of her home in the dark. Electricity has never come to her patch of northern Haiti.
She sets out a pot of water, fetched from the nearest source — a mountain spring sputtering into a farmer’s field. Then she adds the coffee she has dried, winnowed, roasted and pounded into powder with a large mortar called a pilon, the way she was taught as a child.  

This imagery is palpable and nostalgic of how most Haitians remember Haiti. As I read the first sentence, I was taken back to my time in Haiti's countryside and places like Dondon. I pictured the many beautiful Haitian women, like Ms. Present, who've prepared the amazing Haitian coffee that I still seek every morning when I wake up in New York. I admit that I was immediately flooded with memories and experienced sensory overload in reading the article. All this to say that the NY Times journalists: Catherine Porter, Constant Méheut, Matt Apuzzo and Selam Gebrekidan, had me at "hello."

It was barely 9 am and I had read the article twice and had three quick reflections. First, it saddens me that an American newspaper had to write this important piece of Haitian history. While the article is translated into French and Kreyòl (bravo to NY Times), these important historical events and analyses should be the work of Haitian historians and storytellers. Sadly, the great majority of Haitians -- in Haiti and the diaspora will never read it. The importance of this documented history is that it does away with the narrative of a Haiti that is somehow cursed or solely responsible for its current state. It is a well-documented and unequivocal fact that the country's current challenges are the results of forces (without and within) that conspired to maintain Haitians in misery (mizè). Conversely, I hope that when folks are tempted to start any description of Haiti as "the poorest country in the western hemisphere," they have the decency and intellectual honesty to append that it is because of the greed of the colonial powers.

It is often called the “independence debt.” But that is a misnomer. It was a ransom.
Haiti was known as the pearl of the Antilles and the jewel in France's crown. According to records published at the John Carter Brown Library, Haiti became the "world’s top producer of sugar and coffee and among the global leaders in indigo, cacao and cotton (which was rising rapidly in importance)."  The documentation showed that "the reasons for this extraordinary performance can be explained from a number of factors – qualities of land and climate, government support, and more than anything, the presence of a huge number of enslaved Africans who propelled this extensive economic system with their labor." The price for liberty was paid with sweat of free labor and blood. It is therefore galling to think that despite being shunned by the world's major powers, one needs still to consider that the winner of the war had to pay restitutions to the loser.

The ransom and the loan to pay it — a stunning load that boosted the fledgling Parisian international banking system and helped cement Haiti’s path into poverty and underdevelopment.

Second, while I did not expect much from the French and Americans based on these countries' economic interests, it angers me to read of the role that so-called "Haitian elites and leaders" played in maintaining their people in mizè.  Their nefarious role continues to this day and one would argue that it has worsened. The contemporary enemies of the people and the Haitian state are still within and without. 

Generations after enslaved people rebelled and created the first free Black nation in the Americas, their children were forced to work, sometimes for little or even no pay, for the benefit of others — first the French, then the Americans, then their own dictators. 
Thirdly, I am also concerned that this story might confirm our collective sense of grievance and blinds us to the work at hand. The lessons of the past are useful to the extent they help us understand why our people are in this situation and what the incentives that drive behaviors. More importantly, my hope is that the publication of this history will allow us to learn from our mistakes. 

The fact is this article will be shared by thousands of people in the diaspora and confirm that France is at the roots of all of our ills -- and they are indeed responsible for a lot of it. It will also confirm the role the US played, first, overtly during the occupation and behind the scene to the present day. However, it is exactly because of those facts and the role the international actors play in our demise that we cannot allow ourselves to limit our reflections to the grievances of the past. To be clear, Haiti deserves reparations and that is a worthwhile fight. However, we need to tackle the current socio-political crises. In doing so, we need to set our own paths and find our own solutions. That means the US needs to stop tipping the scale on behalf of the current de facto Prime Minister Ariel and the shadow PHTK government.

In summary, this article laid bare the role of France and the US, and more recently the UN, have played in destabilizing Haiti. If we learn anything from this article and our history, it is that we need to drastically change our relationship with each other. At the center of a new vision for Haiti must be the elimination of exclusion. Our single purpose must be to ensure that everyone can achieve their inalienable and imprescriptible rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

Indeed, we must commit ourselves to eliminate the gulf that exists between us and Ms. Present or the internal divisions will only grow wider and destroy us all. As we reflect on the price Haiti paid for freedom -- not just ours, Jesus' warning to the Pharisees should guide our response “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand."

Haitian-American leaders need to step-up but also step-in


Trust One Another 

In a recent NY Times article about the end of Angela Merkel’ 16 years as chancellor, three words in her final message stood out: Trust one another.  In her speech, Mrs. Merkel emphasized that “Democracy, depends on solidarity and trust, including the trust in facts.” 

Mrs. Merkel's central parting word to her nation was “trust.” Lest we forget, the Federal Republic of Germany is one of the strongest democracies in the world and the most powerful country in Europe, and yet the chancellor found it necessary to remind Germans of this fundamental point. She did so because the concept of trust is central to social cohesion. The work to build and maintain a people's trust muscle is vital for nation building but more importantly for sustaining said nation. 

In a 2020 article “The Elusive Quest for Growth: The Role of Trust” published by the Inter-American Development Bank’s Research Department, the researchers noted that “Trust is a linchpin of any efficient economic system.” They observed that  “Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) confronts one of the most severe economic downturns in its history.” Indeed, the research documented that while “ Interpersonal trust – or trust between citizens – fell on a global level from 39% between 1981-1985 to 23% between 2010 - 2014,” this decline was “especially painful in the Latin American and Caribbean region.”  In a comparative analysis, they reported that while the interpersonal trust in the OECD countries fell from 50% to 35%, it dropped on average from 22% to 10% in Latin America and the Caribbean.

This conclusion has deeply negative incidence on economic growth. To illustrate, between 1960 and 2017, the “typical emerging Asian nation, for example, advanced from a per capita income of 11 percent of that of the United States in 1960 to 58 percent in 2017. While, on average, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean gained only 4 percent in terms of the United States’ per capita income during that time.” 

I believe that the trust gap is at the core of Haiti's challenges. The lack of trust is deeply-rooted in Haiti’s social structures and can even be found in the early revolutionary days, which led to the country’s founding as a republic. Gérard Barthélemy, in his book “le Pays en Dehors (the Country Outside),” illustrated this chasm in the context of the “opposing economic interests of the exploiting part (Creole – mixed children of the French colonizer and slave women) and the exploitable part (Bossale – African born slaves). The "Pays en Dehors" phenomenon remains to this day and can be observed in the permanent riffs between rural vs. urban (nèg andeyò vs nèg lavil), educated vs. uneducated (nèg save vs. nèg sòt), good/straight hair vs. coarse hair (nèg cheve siwo vs. nèg tèt grenn), light skin mulattos vs. dark skin blacks (milat vs. bosal/nèg nwè).

The world has yet to catch up with Dessalines’s vision

Dessalines, Haiti’s founder, understood these issues and expressed a vision of a unified people that went beyond the limited definitions. He boldly claimed that everyone who set foot on Haiti’s soil was free but also a "nèg" which can be closely translated to negro but not in the sense of the offensive noun. Instead, it became a proper noun with no racial connotation and even encompassed gender. I believe Dessalines dreamt of refashioning our identity to capture our full humanity. That is, to be a Haitian is to be a nèg.  To be a nèg is to be a "moun (human)" and " tout moun se moun (all people are humans)."

As Haitians, we often proudly and loudly repeat the powerful national motto of “L'union fait la force, (unity creates strength).” Yet, Haiti remains a paradoxical country in which a very large portion of the population has not only been ostracized but excluded from basic citizenship while foreign nationals are not only accepted but they are revered. The undergoing displacement of the mulattos by the Levantine has only exacerbated the chasm, move the country farther away from the Dessalinian ideals, and serve to magnify the “Pays en Dehors” phenomena. 

Standing with the people as they wrestle the demons

Although in general, it is understood that a crisis brings people together, Haiti’s deepening socio-political crises, which have unleashed incontrollable insecurity dominated by arms/drug trafficking and money laundering, have challenged civil society to find appropriate solutions. For those of us living outside of Haiti – the diaspora– we understand that our contribution is necessary in support of the work being done on the ground.  But this contribution requires a united diaspora. Yet, despite knowing this truth and despite many attempts, we have not yet been able to define and agree on some short-term goals and even less, a common purpose as a people. Indeed, the same social fractions that have bred mistrust in Haitian society are evident in the diaspora. We are the reflection of Haiti’s deep social ills and disunion.  

As Jacob wrestled with himself in Genesis 32:25, we too must wrestle our demons.
The Haitian diaspora needs to play its legitimate role but doing so requires that it faces the structural and social ills that affect Haitian society – within and outside of Haiti. Therefore, one of the most important tasks for diaspora leaders is to unite disparate communities around a common cause. That’s what leaders do.
For those among us who choose to play a leadership role in the Haitian diaspora, we must surely know and accept that leadership is always hard, and at this particular moment with our specific community, it is even harder. But as the Chinese proverb goes “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” To that end, I want to encourage my friends and colleagues, especially in the United States, who are not only passionate but are actively engaged in the fight for the betterment of our people to not only step-up but to also step-in, and serve as the connective tissue that links our many "haitis."  

I am calling in our elected leaders to lead! And in the spirit of love and respect, I am calling in the leaders of specific organizations to step-up and step-in.

One of those organizations is the National Haitian Elected Officials Network (NHAEON). With more than 80 current and former Haitian-American Elected and Appointed Officials, I believe NHAEON can serve as a facilitator and provide the platform for the various organizations to talk to one another. I am calling in my friends in various community organizations to step into the circle. I want to highlight among them the United Front of the Haitian Diaspora, the Haitian-American Foundation for Democracy, the Haitian Diaspora Political Action Committee, the Haitian United Council, the Haitian-American Professional Coalition, the Haitian American Voters Empowerment (HAVE) Coalition, the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti and all the others that involved in advocacy work.

I will close by humbly offering three pieces of advice to my Haitian-American friends and leaders:
  1. Step in and do what you think is right. You will get criticized by somebody somewhere sometime -- it comes with the territory. You must accept the criticisms and use it as an opportunity to share your vision one hundred times over, if needed, to the very same three people.
  2. As my friend Eileen Alma, Director, International Centre for Women’s Leadership at Coady Institute, wisely shared with me recently, we should forget about bringing people to the table.  Instead, she said, we should break the damn table and co-create something new altogether that allows everyone to be in the conversation.
  3. Make a concerted effort to be inclusive. The Haitian community is more than its doctors, lawyers, nurses and other professionals. The great majority of the diaspora is made up of folks working in the service sector, from taxi drivers to home health aides to hotel and restaurant workers. We must find the points that connect and bring them in the circle. After expanding all efforts to that end, try again. But accept that some people will choose to opt out. Respect their choice, keep moving and try again later.  

Haiti is at a crossroad and it is yet another fateful moment in our history. One fundamental question for all of us is whether we are willing to seize the moment.  The other more difficult one to answer is whether our leaders are willing to sacrifice their egos.