Who's Really Responsible for Haiti's Woes?

  • Posted on: 19 May 2008
  • By: Bryan Schaaf
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Pierre Ericq Pierre's nomination as Haiti's next Prime Minister was not approved by Haiti's Deputies last week. See what Mr. Ericq Piere has to say. Statement by Mr. Pierre Ericq Pierre, Ex Designated Prime Minister



I would like to thank President Réné Préval who has on two occasions chosen me to hold the position of Prime Minister of my country. I also thank Senators, Deputies, political parties, civil society organizations who have publicly honored me with their trust. I extend my gratitude to the members of the oral, written and televised press who have accompanied me throughout the process and who have shown a level of objectivity with regard to my person that honors them. I express my gratitude in a very special manner to my collaborators who have volunteered to accompany me and to follow to the letter my instructions. I congratulate the members of the Coalition of Parliamentarians for Progress (CPP) for their victory. I also wish them good luck.


My full name is Pierre Ericq Pierre. It is the name that is in my birth certificate, in my passport and in all my official documents. I am Haitian and I have never relinquished my nationality. Just as I have never obtained or requested residency in any foreign country. If some members of Parliament believe that I am not a Haitian from origin, they are most likely basing their judgment on criteria that only they themselves can define.


I had accepted to be designated for the position of Prime Minister and thus to put my more than 40 years of integrity at the service of my country, because I was persuaded that, beyond experience and competence, our country had an urgent need to put in key positions honest men and women who were capable of looking at things from high grounds in order to work successfully towards the improvement of the livelihood of the Haitian population. I had told myself that to face the multiple challenges which await us, it was necessary to abandon old political tactics, to have faith in the capacity of our countrymen, those on the inside and those in the diaspora. At the level of general governance, I had told myself that the top priority of my government would be to reestablish confidence, to help my countrymen regain confidence in themselves and in a common nation.


However, at the very beginning of the process, I was confronted with the forces of corruption. My refusal to negotiate with them has led to my being today put out of the process by the Chamber of Deputies. The terms nation or national interest were never part of the messages received from the envoys who were pressuring me to negotiate in favor of their patrons : ministerial positions, envelopes of cash or projects which could facilitate their reelections. I have always put forward that I would not accept to be Prime Minister at any cost. Likewise, I could not commit to anything which would engage the funds of the Treasury before I even entered the Prime Minister's office. I also wanted to be crystal clear- refusing to enter the game of those who think that they can hide themselves indefinitely behind a mask of anti-neo-liberalism.



I do not live the decision of the Chamber of Deputies as a personal drama. After my meeting with the members of the Coalition of Parliamentarians for progress (CPP) who had accepted to meet with me upon request of the Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis who himself was honoring a request of the President of the Republic, I was convinced that the CPP would not support me. Unless the President of the Republic was able to convince the members of the LESPWA platform who had joined the CPP to grant me their votes. This has not happened and I do not want to speculate about what has happened.


One of the reasons that have led me to accept the designation is the fact that I lived very painfully the events of the beginning of April : the protests against the high cost of living, the violence, the looting and the absence of public force. I had the impression that I was witnessing the repetition of a tragic theatrical piece. Politics does not have to be a game of mass destruction. I had told myself that this kind of situation had to be avoided at any cost, and that it was necessary to prove wrong all those, Haitian or foreigner who, assert that nothing good, nothing great and nothing pretty can no longer come from Haiti. I, on the other hand, say to anyone in the international community who is willing to listen that the problems of my country are great indeed but that the Haitian people are greater than these problems.



As Head of Government, I would have imposed to myself a discipline of clarity, simplicity as well as a discipline of rigor. I was preparing myself to act fast and realize concrete things. According to me, the policies of any government should be easy to understand : by the parliamentarians who have to approve them and claim ownership over them, by the ministers who have to apply them, by the private sector who has to be a privileged partner, by trade organizations, by popular organizations, by syndicates, by blue collar workers, by students, by farmers, and by the public in general who will benefit from its impact.



I was prepared to explain and explain over and over again. Strict veracity would have been at the core of the communication policy of my government. This would have been translated into the transparency of its agenda. The programs which would have been implemented would be known by all. And, the implementation calendars as well as detailed reports on budget execution would have been published. In case of delays the public opinion would have been informed of the reasons for these delays. In addition to traditional media, new information and communication technologies would have been put to use in order to make this information available rapidly. The government would have regularly taken stock of its accomplishments and would have published progress reports in which delays in implementation would have been recognized as well as potential errors.



The moralization of public life would have been strengthened. The law on the declaration of assets which allows for the verification of transparency in the declaration of assets of those elected, of high level officials, of members of the government and their immediate collaborators and of members of Parliament would have been applied in its entirety. Likewise, abuses linked to political politicking, the use of kickbacks, undue preferences, the traffic of influence, sexual harassment would have all been repressed.



Notwithstanding the limitations of the National Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (NSGPRP), since a consensus has allowed it to be considered the document of reference of the government, we felt that the roadmap of the government team was basically simple. That is why after the examination of the three priority pillars and the numerous fields of intervention within the document, we had pulled the following six key axis of intervention (i) Combating the high cost of living (this component does not really appear in the NSGPRP but we felt that it was essential for the government's credibility ; (ii) Ensuring the boost up of employment and national production of goods and services. (iii) Enhancing agricultural production and environmental protection (iv) Modernizing the State (v) Continuing and amplifying the effort on education and health (vi) Ensuring a well functioning justice system and combating insecurity.


We intended to put everything in action in order to accelerate project execution and to establish performance criteria in order to evaluate the work of ministries and other entities engaged in the implementation of these projects. In fact, I find it abnormal that, as we are requesting daily fresh resources from our international partners, we are unable to use within an acceptable timeframe the resources made available to us while our communities are dying of hunger and unemployment is spreading.



We thought of measures to, among others, effectively coordinate international cooperation, to strengthen and formalize the relationship with the Dominican Republic and to design a roadmap for a better cooperation with MINUSTAH.


Thus, I was ready to make a difference and I was going to ask my colleagues from the government to make sure that their compassion for the poor does not transform itself into an indifference for the less deprived nor a hatred for the rich. However, I must confess that I had underestimated the forces of corruption. Still, I remain convinced that my countrymen and countrywomen, young and less young, from the inside and from the diaspora will not let themselves be perpetually intimidated by these forces.



We have to maintain political stability and strengthen social cohesion. This implies a real engagement from all stakeholders.


Port-au-Prince, May 15, 2008

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