We are deeply saddened by the recent disingenuous decision of Haitian President Michel Joseph Martelly to organize a national funeral for Jean Claude Duvalier, ex president for life dictator who have ruled Haiti with an iron fist for fifteen years, after his unexpected passing. The cabinet of Michel Martelly argues that as a past head of state, Jean Claude Duvalier, according to Haitian Law, is entitled to a national funeral. First, there is no such law in the Haitian Constitution. You can read and re-read the recently amended Constitution of Haiti, and nowhere does it recommend National Funeral for heads of states, or anyone for that matter. The power to designate funerals deemed National, lays in the executive authority of the President; so Michel Martelly have used his executive powers to glorify one of the most vicious leaders in Haiti's History. One who had dilapidated the treasuries of Haiti; one who resulted to persecutions, and murders to silenced those who opposed him. Through the Tonton Macoutes, his father's Francois Duvalier paramilitary legacy, the Jean Claude Duvalier regime is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands disaffected citizens, including hundreds of peaceful democratic opponents. Thousands of the country educated class flew to the neighboring United States, Canada and as far as in Africa to escape the brutal persecutions of Jean Claude Duvalier. Haiti has never recovered from this brain drain.
Michel Martelly is one of the many Haitians who continues to believe that Haiti was better off under the dictator and that Haiti would have been better had he not been overthrown by the population in 1986. Yes, Haiti was better economically under Jean Claude Duvalier, for example the tourism industry generated millions of dollars every year, but the millions of dollars that the country generated through tourism and other industries, were funding the extravagant lifestyle of Jean Claude Duvalier, his family and their entourage while the population continued to live in abject nothingness. Jean Claude Duvalier had a collection of pricey Harley Davidson motorcycles; the president for life had private yachts and jets; his wife Michelle Bennett was known for her insatiable taste in expensive jewelries, fur-coats and Louis Vuitton hand bags; all at the expense of the Haitian treasuries.
Jean Claude Duvalier after his exile to France, was able to continue living as a wealthy man since he had hundreds of millions of dollars in Swiss banks before they were frozen by the Swiss government, after a demand from the Rene Garcia Preval administration. Jean Claude Duvalier returned to Haiti after the earthquake, not to "help out" as he claimed, but because the Swiss government refused to release funds to him, unless he was cleared by the Haitian Justice system for corruption. With Michel Martelly, an admirer and friend as the President of Haiti, Jean Claude Duvalier knew that he would be immune to the numerous corruption and crimes against humanities charges against him.
President Michel Martelly, who in front of world cameras claims that his administration fights with zeal public corruptions and crimes, now throw a national funeral to commemorate the life of the one who is directly responsible for Haiti's current state. Michel Martelly's decision to hold national funeral for Jean Claude Duvalier perpetuates the idea that in Haiti, when you commit impunity and theft of public funds, National recognition awaits you.
The passing of Jean Claude Duvalier is indeed very sad, like Martelly said, but only because justice did not prevail and the Haitian justice system was not able to send a clear message to current and future public servants of Haiti.
Michel Martelly's decision to hold national funeral for Haiti's last dictator comes at a crucial time that should bring grave concerns about what he might do next. The President has been unable to organize elections for two-thirds of the Senate, the entire lower chamber of 99 deputies, 140 municipal administrators and local councils for the past three years. The terms of 20 senators are due to expire in January 2015 , which would leave the Senate unable to make quorum; this political vacuum will give the President the ability to rule the country by decree. The elections are critical given the current state of the National Assembly and local governments. The 30-seat Senate is functioning without a third of its members, as 10 senatorial seats expired in January 2012. As a result, the upper house has been unable to reach quorum for the past two years. Also in 2012, the terms of about 130 mayors- all the municipal offices in the country expired. To replace these local leaders, Martelly appointed "Municipal Agents" further raising question about the executive branch's power in the absence of elections. Will Michel Martelly rule Haiti like his exemplary model Jean Claude Duvalier, once the parliament is dissolved in January of 2015?
In : Politic