Why I think Martelly could have done way better


After talking to some friends and reading a recent article posted on this website, I realized that I had a similar stance about the performance of our President on the international scene, “The journalists were arrogant”. When I watch the interview the first time, I thought: “At least homeboy answered all of the questions!”. Running away from actual answers was not a problem, after all isn’t answering evasively an art that all self-respected politician needs to master and apply with the outmost elegance? Unfortunately back home we’re so accustomed to mediocrity that as long as someone does not do as bad as we expect them to, we convene that they actually excelled.

Keep in mind “Homeboy answered…”. However after reviewing the interview I started questioning myself about the half-satisfied position I had. As the doubt grew, I called a mentor and told him how arrogant those French journalists were. I was chasing reassurance from someone I thought would back me up, but without an ounce of hesitation he told me: “Do you think those journalists would have addressed the late Leslie Manigat in such ways?” I had no choice but to embrace the fact that I was wrong in haitianish analysis. In fact our President did poorly on that interview. As Haitians we need to stop lowering our standards to satisfy our ego. President Martelly did poorly because the few questions he answered directly were complete fails.

During this interview the President pointed out some of the worst flaws of the Haitian people. As the First Citizen of our nation your job is to always show the best image of your country. You cannot be promoting our country as a nation that is open for business and foreign investment and at the same time criticizing how bad its citizen are. After all Haiti is first and foremost a group of people who share a culture, a language, philosophy, etc. It is very absurd to sell a product (Haiti) and point out that its main component (the Haitian people) is defectious .

I hesitated a lot before expressing my discomfort with my own acceptance of mediocrity as long as it is in a Haitian context. Therefore ignoring the ill and possibly suicidal generational philosophy of “pito’n led nou la” and not pointing out the inadmissible mistakes of our President in that interview would be irresponsible. As I will show out actual gaffes, please realize that the content mattered more to me than the style…

When asked if Haiti had enough money to meet its needs, the President answered that ideas are worth more than money. I could go on a rant saying how empty that answer is, but I’ll just say that in such interviews we do not have the luxury of abstraction. Ideas will not fund the school reform projects. They will not magically generate electricity. To me a real attempt to answer that question would border on “yes we need money, however we are here to tell you that with a slight help from our international partners we can generate the funds ourselves and be less dependent of you, here is how…”

When Sophie Malibeaux suggested that maybe the State did not have the adequate infrastructures in place to receive the funds promised by the International community after the earthquake, the President who reasonably did not want to admit such facts on international platform set up his own trap saying: « The Haitian man needs to change, the Haitian man needs to be rebuilt ». The truth is; yes WE need to change OUR mentality, WE need to stop killing effective programs of a government every time a new one ascends to power. Such confessions can be made in one’s living room, but it is inappropriate for our President to make these statements on an international platform. I am not questioning the veracity of the President’s words on our mentality; however I condemn him for telling our family’s dirty secrets to our neighbors.

When Sophie Malibeaux pressed the President about the candor of the consultations with the opposing party, the former singer argued that he took those consultations so seriously that he asked for some ministers to resign just to appoint new ones belonging to the opposition. It seems like the President forgot that the Constitution does not grant him such power. Only the Prime Minister has the authority to fire and appoint ministers.

Philippe Dessaint asked the President if we had a broken democracy in Haiti. Mr. Martelly fell in his own trap again and made two mistakes at once. His Excellency Mr. Martelly answered: “The Haitian people mistakes anarchy for democracy”. The president professed to the international community that we are not sophisticated enough to understand what democracy is. As the President made those statements he also brought the term “Etat de droit” in the discussion. Shouldn’t we worry that what he really meant was that he will be “disciplining us with kokomakaks”? Bringing back dictatorship since we aren’t ready for democracy? Maybe not.

Paulo Paranagua asked the president if it made sense for him to be away while Thomas Shannon was in Haiti meeting with different sectors involved in the election process. The President answered saying that the Haitian people, but not himself, was responsible if someone else was visiting the country trying to find a solution for us. Couldn’t the President have formulated an answer without distancing himself from his people on the international media?

When Philippe Dessaint asked our President about his economic philosophy, if he considered himself a liberal, I thought that he started (somewhat) on the right path saying that etiquettes didn’t matter to him, and that he is just looking for the right formula to guide the people to prosperity. In the middle of such development it must have felt as if he did not point his finger enough, because again he went in a tirade explaining how uneducated our people is. Declaring that most people in Haiti wouldn’t even know what the word “quarantine” meant only to promote the school reform that he claims he’s doing.

Concerning the PSUGO issue, where the President claims to be the first one ever to start a program where kids can go to school for free, most of us accept his declaration as a fact. To those who firmly believe that it is true, allow me to ask you: when our parents didn’t go to Saint-Louis de Gonzague, le petit Séminaire Collège Saint-Martial, Collège St Pierre, Centre d’études secondaires, Sainte Rose de Lima etc, what school do you think they went to? They went to public schools which were free!

I respect Toussaint Louverture, he is my personal hero and I wrote my motivation letter to get into UMass on how he inspired me as leader. However he did not defeat the Napoleonean army, Dessalines did. President Martelly must have been very stressed and tired by the end of the interview and did not anticipate such a historical question during a conversation regarding current events. So I give him the benefit of the doubt on this and I assume that he knew the actual answer to that simple question since it is basic Haitian history after all.

I believe that the examples that are mentioned above show the major errors that a chief of state should keep himself from making on the international scene. President Martelly might have done ok on the style, but on the content he made some outrageous mistakes.

Daniel Jean-Philippe


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