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28213: Nlbo (news) Some Advice to President Preval (fwd)
A version of the following appeared in the March 2006 issue of the Boston
Haitian Reporter under the title:
Local Reaction Largely Hopeful
Preval must face same challenges as a decade ago
One more time, Haitian people dispelled the westâs perception as the world
watched last month a dignified people quietly casted their ballots in an orderly
Needless to say, the immediate priority in Haiti is making basic
infrastructures like roads, water, electricity, telephone functionable as well as
assuring physical safety and order in the country. However, I would like to use this
monthâs column to summarize the content of a half decade of letter writing.
Except that 4 pages of my writing on privatization were published in Haiti
based Bon Nouvelâs March 1996 issue, no media, local, or government officials
responded to any of my registered or regular snail mail.
The first mail I wrote in March 1991 was an attempt to ask the Minister of
then Foreign Affairs to solve the very tensed even violent conflicts regarding
the selection of then prospective consulate. I recommended having a qualified
consulate in Boston, someone though he/she would be a diplomat, could be a
conflict mediator, an engaged person who could put the divisive community
together. For instance, the Cape Verdean, Brazilian, Japanese, Italian consulates
are very involved in their respective local communities. Many local and non
local Haitians had occupied the consulate post in the past 15 years. However I
am still seeing a community more fragmented than ever.
The content of the 16 page letter I wrote in March 1996 still resonates
today. I began by suggesting to the Preval -Smarth government to improve Haitiâs
postal system and develop a more effective method of responding to written
communication. I used articles published in Haiti en Marche and other Haitian
papers to exemplify that lawyers pleading the refugee causes in Martinique could
not follow through because important papers that were faxed, delivered or
mailed to Haitian officials were ignored. I gave the example of using a general
format like post cards similar to those that legislators in the States use to
respond to those who write them.
I continued by referring to l994 Boston Globe and New York Times articles to
express my disappointment on the corruption that occurred during his
predecessorâs reign and he should make certain that funds that belong to the people of
Haiti are properly utilized.
In that extensive missive, I also proposed to fund a physical âface liftingâ
project in the country. Haitiâs beautiful gingerbread and old colonial
houses and the unique architectures found in the provinces could create a
magnificent panorama and attract tourists. I also suggested that there is a law
stipulating and enforcing that homes and stores in commercial areas be painted
every five years. I wrote as someone who had traveled the world, Haiti has
more to offer than other Caribbean countries I visited and/or the regionâs
islands which photographs or videos I have seen. Despite, the impact of erosion,
Haiti has a natural physical beauty and architecture that the west doesnât
always project. In sum, Prevalâs government will need to invest one yearâs
customs and airport tax revenues in Haitiâs physical appearance, starting with
In my decade old open letter, I expressed concerns on the number of
government ministers. In l996, there were somewhat 17 ministers and seven secretaries
of State. Offices can be combined. For instance, The Secretary of State for
Literacy can function with the Department of Education. What is the role of a
Minister of Defense? A strong police force can protect Haitiâs citizens. I
donât see the need for a Minister of Planning either. Each Ministerial
Department could develop their individual plan.
I also wrote in my March 1996 letter that legislators need to study law and
constitution. Being an activist doesnât make one a lawmaker. There were
legislators with an 8th grade education prior to making completing retho a
requirement for senators and deputies. Many students who allegedly complete rethorique
(6th year of the secondary cycle, the seventh is philo) can not write a
cohesive paragraph with proper grammar and spelling in either French or Creole
assessments when entering public schools in the United States. I proposed then
that the Haitian Bar Association prepare an exam on Haitiâs law and
constitution which anyone wishing to run for a legislative seat in Haiti would pass
before campaigning. In other words, the bar should be raised in Haitiâs
I had several paragraphs on investing in young people and Education. Youth
and Education are basic foundation to envision a healthy society. I read last
year that at one point, Ireland was considered the Haiti of Europe. By
focusing 40 years in the education of their youth, Ireland is now a rising country
in Europe. Preval can anticipate to use the help of the âbrains drainedâ to
ârise upâ Haiti. Haiti needs a 21rst century educational agenda that will
change hearts and minds. A structured system could also be established so
Haitians who were raised and/ or educated in the United States can facilitate
Haitiâs growth and development by providing their knowledge and skills during summer
vacations or semester breaks. Material objects that are being shipped by the
cargo services and the billion dollars of remittances that the diaspora sends
only provide short term sustenance. Education and the âknow-howâ will
provide long term improvement. This generation born and educated in the United
States is the Hope that will bring the knowledge that Haitians in the diaspora
and in Haiti need to get out of the mess we are in.
The 15th point of my open letter to Preval was to take care of his physical
and emotional health. One has to be emotionally and physically healthy to run
a country. Preval should take vacations during his presidency.
A democratically elected president shouldnât be forced out of his country.
However, based on my observation after several trips to Haiti between l994 and
1996 as well reading and following the new world order, I warned in l996 in
my limits that Haitian political stakeholders should create some resemblance of
order, otherwise the next intervention would be a foreign occupation.
Finally, in my March l996 open letter, I begged every sector of the Haitian
society to strive for peace and tranquility in Haiti. I am reiterating ten
years later to please give Preval an opportunity to develop his leadership
style and begin setting a foundation and prove to the world that Haitians are
really free, independent and sovereign people. We can gain back Haitiâs title in
my childhood era âThe Pearl of the Antilles,â or her 19th century place
among the richest colonies in the west. Prevalâs failure is the failure of 8
million people. Beware, the world is watching us.
Good Luck President Rene Preval.
Nekita Lamour, a regular contributor to the Reporter is a prolific essayist
and a veteran educator.