Haiti’s progress held back by politics of the past.
Over the course of the past three years, I have had the honor of serving as Haiti’s prime minister. During this period, apart from helping President Michel Martelly launch the most ambitious social policy programs in the history of our country, our principal objective has been to move Haiti’s democracy toward firmer footing and away from the instability that has characterized our political system since the mid 1980s.
A stable and democratic Haiti is the only way that our country will be able to achieve the common goals of reducing poverty, reducing inequality and creating employment.
The results of our efforts have received high praise from institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Indeed Haiti has ranked second in the Caribbean in economic growth for two consecutive years while simultaneously maintaining a very stable macroeconomic environment.
While we would like our economic growth to be greater, for the reconstruction to go faster, and for our social programs to cover all Haitians, we are certain that we are doing things correctly. A vast majority of our citizens seems to agree — in several independent public opinion polls, our social policy is well liked and people are generally supportive of our government.
Despite all of these positive signs, our progress is being held hostage by the intransigence of a few politicians who, unfortunately, are tied to the turmoil and chaos of the past and who today are again resorting to anti-democratic actions to block legislative and municipal elections slated for October.
During the past 18 months, our government has worked diligently to make possible the holding of these long-delayed elections. With the mediation of Cardinal Langlois, Haiti’s first cardinal, we entered into a historic round of negotiations with the opposition.
For several weeks, President Martelly himself participated in the negotiations held at El Rancho, one of Port-au-Prince’s newly reconstructed hotels. In the end, all parties signed what has come to be known as the El Rancho Accord that commits us to elections in October.
As part of the pact, our government agreed to most of the opposition’s demands, including reshuffling the cabinet. And, over the course of the past month, we have steadfastly demonstrated our commitment to every facet of the El Rancho Agreement.
Unfortunately, despite the consensus achieved at El Rancho, a faction of the opposition has systematically blocked the implementation of Haiti’s first all-inclusive political agreement. Through their actions — that include everything from not fulfilling the terms of the accord to staging violent demonstrations around the country — these politicians are undermining Haiti’s democracy.
If these politicians get their way, the specter of instability and a return to the era where corrupt practices created opportunities only for politicians, not for the people, is a real possibility. The efforts to delay elections have stalled the legislative branch, which must approve key elements of the El Rancho Accord. Often violent demonstrations staged by these politicians have promoted an unconstitutional and premature end to our government.
So far their actions have served only to project a false image of a chaotic Haiti and to deter much-needed foreign investment and job growth opportunities that our economy depends on.
Our efforts to implement the El Rancho Agreement and to move Haiti toward elections have been endorsed by the Organization of American States (OAS). Other international organizations such as the United Nations and the Club de Madrid are also aware and supportive of our honest efforts to move toward elections.
Our government will continue to be committed to democratic elections, the El Rancho agreement and the vision of a prosperous Haiti. I hope that those few individuals who are holding our country hostage can see the light and allow the terms of the agreement to go forth so that we can finally elect our legislative and municipal authorities.