The case for PetroCaribe: Why the focus should be on Haitian lawmakers, not just the President

By: Wadner Pierre – HaitiAnalysis

Haiti, we have seen this before, and the winners have not been the people on the streets, but the business elites. The Parliament is the only branch in our government that has oversight power. It is time to call those incompetent and money-driven lawmakers out to do their job.

I am old enough to remember the propaganda campaign led by many in the Haitian business sector to violently and undemocratically oust former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide 2004. Keep in mind these were the same people who plotted the bloody 1991 coup against President Aristide, less than a year after swearing him in as Haiti’s democratically elected president. The army did not kill and murder by thousands the richest, but Haitians in slums like Cite Soleil and Raboteau. We now see these kinds of attacks happening again in La Saline.

The Haitian people have not expected President Jovenel Moïse, who was elected president in Haiti’s lowest turnout for a presidential election (with around 21% of eligible voters casting their ballots) to apparently transform the country into a paradise. With that said, Haitian people expect him to govern and lead the country in accordance with the country’s Constitution. One of Moïse’s main constitutional duties is to ensure good governance, that means battling corruption, working with members of both chambers of Haiti’s Parliament to pass comprehensive legislations aiming at alleviating the chronic misery of the Haitian people.

The name of the president was cited in many reports on corruption (and one of them was before he got elected president) that have alleged that he had involvement in money laundering or corruption. Yet, he has not been indicted. The question we need to ask ourselves, who can indict a sitting Haitian president? Similar to that of  the United States, the Parliament is the branch that can press charges and automatically impeach the president (Articles 185-186). There is a process—we cannot only evoke the constitution when it works in our favor. Instead, we need to apply it in time of uncertainty. This is the best time in our history where, lawmakers, can remove a president if found guilty of a crime such as massive corruption.

Haitian people, my brothers and sisters, it’s time to focus on the bigger picture. What people like Dr. Reginald Boulos…are asking us to do now, is not the right thing. Ask them where do they send their kids to school or universities? Ask them to come together to work on a 50-year project for Haiti by focusing on: Agriculture, Education, Health, Technology, Climate Change. Who benefited the most out of the 2004 coup? Who were recipients of duty-free, for years, after this unfortunate political and social event? What was the result of this coup? The answer was: the United Nations forcefully occupied the country for 13 years; introduced a deadly but preventable cholera disease that killed over 10,000 Haitians (conservative estimate) and infected over one million more (conservative estimate)? It is better for Haitians to deal with the problems inside our country.

Most of the people who are involved and managed the over $4-billion PetroCaribe are still alive, and copies of those contracts can be found at the respective state agencies or public archives. We need to set a special court to have these people come to testify or answer questions of the alleged charges against them. They are all innocents until proven guilty. That’s the law. As one of the Organization of America States (OAS) official pointed out,“There can’ t be impunity. Whoever stole money needs to be held accountable.” [Though it should be noted that the OAS itself has recently made a mockery of its own charter, with its blatant support for the hybrid war on Venezuela.]

While haitians need to take the lead in creating a judicial framework for uncovering those accused of stealing or laundering money with accounts in U.S. banks, we can also work with agencies and groups in the Dominican Republic, Canada, France, the U.S., and Venezuela to assist us with this important investigation. I am sure they will.  If we are really serious about recovering, at least a portion of these funds, we need to ask all in the international community for their cooperation.

Let me conclude by saying this, I want to have faith in the judges and the  people of the Cour Supérieure des Comptes et du Contentieux administrative(CSCCA). I also want to say that they do appear to have some of the means needed to conduct this investigation, and it appears that significant pressure has been brought upon the Moïse administration where it could allow such a rigorous investigation to go forward. The pressure will need to be continued. As most of you may know, I do not share the president’s political belief and I denounced the 2015 presidential elections. But, it bringing about political change we cannot side with people that only think about their pockets in the short term, rather than the subalterns of Haiti. The international community, including the international financial institutions won’t respect us nor will they trust us with their dollars if we continue to oust presidents through violent protests or undemocratic process in the constant back and forth struggles. It’s time we have judicial processes to hold the criminal accountable. If it is not possible under Moïse then we need to form a government where it will be possible to hold accountable the country’s most powerful criminals.