Soon after the earthquake of 12 January 2010, the Jesuits of Haiti, at the express request of thier Superior Provincial, Fr. Daniel Leblond of Canada, mounted an emergency response to aid affected populations. In the effort to combat the effects of this catastrophe and to assist its survivors, they received assistance of civil society groups from the Dominican Republic and from other Jesuit regions: the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America, etc.
Along with field activities providing substantial humanitarian assistance to disaster survivors, a reflection was undertaken on the impact of the material and immaterial consequences of the earthquake on those directly affected and on the country as a whole: the praxis of current international cooperation in emergency aid delivery, issues of national sovereignty, the role of civil society and the Haitian government, and the reconstruction process.
• The "Unit of Reflection and Action" composed of Jesuits and members of civil society is a product of this confluence linking action with reflection.
• By the creation of the "Unit of Reflection and Action" the Jesuits and civil society members wish to work together on an ongoing basis to accompany the Haitian people, their leaders, and the international community in their efforts to implement short, medium and long term reconstruction effort for Haiti.
• The objective is two-fold:
- To accompany Haitian civil society and to convince political decision makers and responsible international bodies to act in the real interest of the Haitian population during the reconstruction process.
- To offer to the people and to civil society an inclusive space, open and non-partisan, for meeting, exchange and reflection, so that they may participate effectively in the reconstruction of the country through the development and implementation of a new social direction for Haiti.
The text that the Unit places before you today is not a technical document on reconstruction, rather it is a proposal of strategic considerations, and an attempt to make a contribution to the national effort to think about a transformation of our country. This contribution is in accordance with the oft-repeated principle that the new social direction for Haiti should be developed by and for Haitians, in response to the real needs of our country.
It is obvious that this direction cannot be imposed from outside, not "parachuted in" by multilateral organizations or foreign governments; on the contrary, it must spring from the genius of our people, our rich historical heritage, and the social and cultural development that are the source of our many forms of reseliency.
1.1. Haiti before 12 January 2010
In discussing Haiti before 12 January 2010, it is necessary to refer to 7 February 1986 when the Haitian people, in a change in direction without precedent in our history opted for participatory democracy, and a social structure embodied in a national constitution based on the devision of powers and decentralization: the Constitution of 1987.
An analysis of the experience of the ensuing years clearly reveals that Haitian democracy remains but a promise and an institution yet to be constructed. Indeed, despite constitutional provisions calling for the establishment and strengthening of local authorities that would extend basic services to a larger percentage of the population, these laws have been slow to be implemented, and have been regulated to secondary priority by politicians obsessed with maintaining the permanent power of their adherents. Moreover, attempts to point out these problems have led to the accentuation of divisions, the proliferation of tiny political parties, and strong opposition from entrenched political and economic institutions. The leaders, groups, and alliances at the helm of Haitian government affairs have not understood or been able to deal with a 200 year crisis, nor have they known how to make Haitian society productive.
There exists as a result a situation of extreme poverty with a median income of US $1.00 per person per day. Haiti figures among the poorest nations of the Western Hemisphere, according to the UN development index. It is also the least egalitarian country in terms of the distribution of income; according to the most recent studies, the most wealthy ten percent of the population receive fifty percent of national income. Practices of marked social exclusion deprive the majority of the population of opportunities for employment, and access to social services, health, education and welfare.
This un-egalitarian situation is accentuated further by the geographic distribution of the services provided. The concentration in Port au Prince of most administrative economic and social infrastructure has created a megalopolis unable to provide basic services such as electricity, potable water, and refuse collection. The rural exodus is becoming uncontrollable; the towns that might have served as alternatives for migration to Port au Prince are not able to play that role due to a lack of infrastructure.
Global targets set by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established in a paper (the PRSP) prepared for the government with the technical and financial assistance of UNDP and the World Bank. However the actual funding received towards reaching these goals has been well below the international pledges originally made with so much international media attention. It follows that as of January 2010, most programs of the PRSP have been slow to materialize. It should also be mentioned that another cause, if not the main one, is the effect of the three devastating hurricanes of 2008, which led the responsible authorities to postpone temporarily some of the priorities identified in the plan.
It is also important to point out the creation by the Presidency of a commission with the mandate to convene consultations on the possibility of a constitutional amendment; also, it will now be impossible to hold timely legislative elections to re-elect the Chamber of Deputies and one-third of the Senate. The constitutional process begun before the earthquake is now blocked. In addition, as of 10 May 2010 the Senate will be rendered inoperable by the fact of the non-existence of the Chamber of Deputies. In order to enact legislation, there must be two chambers!
1.2 – Haiti After 12 January 2010
1.2.1 – Damage Assessment
• Hundreds of thousands of dead and homeless
• The destruction of Leogane, Gressier, Port au Prince, the Palais National, and the government center, the severe damage to Jacmel and Grand Goave
• The destruction of the principle political, social and spiritual symbols of the country: the Palais National, the Palais de Justice, the Palais Lesislatif, the ministries, the Administration Genereal des Contributions, the cathedrals, churches and schools
• The total disruption of the principle institutions of the country
• The near total collapse of the authority of the State
• The large waves of migration from the capital to the countryside and to provincial towns that already face grave social and economic problems
• The aggravation of the alarming situation described above of a country on the brink of humanitarian disaster and an unprecedented sociopolitical crisis.
1.2.2.- The Influx of Humanitarian Aid
• The lack of coordination of international aid and the dissatisfaction of the population
• The perception that the international community is working without definition and in utter cacophony
• Interventions carried out in accordance with the strategic interests of each actor without taking into account the needs and priorities of the natural representatives of the Haitian people and of the survivors.
• International forums taking place outside the country under the leadership of Western governments and multilateral agencies without the effective particpation of the principle actors in Haitian society.
A new social direction for Haiti must be articulated along axes that take into account the new vision desired by all parts of Haitian society (major institutions, state structures, civil society, organized communities, and the social, economic and religious sectors), and the requirements of development, of preservation of the national heritage: environment, economy, justice, culture, etc.
This vision must take into account
1. The defense of territorial integrity, of the lives of all citizens and of the people who live on the land
2. The protection and respect for the environment
3. The participation of all social strata in political and
economic life under conditions of the equality of people and
justice for all
3. A society characterized by equity with the consent of the citizenship, respect for the weak, for children's education, and the involvement of all citizens in productive efforts contributing to national development
4. A strongly democratic society, achieved though the separation of powers, political change, and respect for political rights and duties.
III- Strategic Directions
Complimenting this vision, strategic directions form a framework of actions to be taken to overhaul the nation and to guide the country's reconstruction. These are economic, institutional political and cultural
3.1 Economic Aspects
- A policy of production oriented toward the improvement of living conditions, food security, and exports.
- A policy of full employment (intensive hand labor in the environmental sector, including watershed management, reforestation, dredging canals, sanitation, etc.) and in agriculture and livestock
- Agriculture and agro-industries: to profit from the comparative advantage of Haiti with its variety of climates, and the availability of labor throughout the country.
- The management of internatioanal assistance and contributions from Haitians abroad.
- Credit policies
3.2 Institutional Aspects
- Justice and public order (public security in the modern sense)
- Public health: to put health care within the reach of all citizens
- Education: the promotion of universal education and free basic education
- Decentralization, or federalism
- Reinforcement of the infrastructure that is the basis of development and social integration
- Development of good citizenship and a culture of tolérance.
3.3 Political Aspects
- Constitution of the political system. To convene a national
debate and to answer the big questions: for exemple, what
political system for Haiti? President and Prime Minister? A
bicameral or unicameral legislature? Etc.
- The rule of law and democracy (creating the conditions for
holding good elections)
- The control and monitoring of state actions and decisions
- Continuity in the management of state affairs.
3.4 Cultural Aspects
- The promotion and advancement of Haitian culture within and
beyond the country
4.1 In the very short term:
- to call on all the skills of Haitians available in Haiti and abroad, for those abroad will do their part in the struggle and for the survival of their country
- To coordinate, harmonize and direct strategic actions aimed at attacking the crisis across the entire country
- To solve the problem of temporary housing, through coordination of international humanitarian relief, the use of lodging with families, and the provision of health care
- To contribute the skills of Haitian management and technical professional to the task of rebuilding shelters and habitations
- To launch a comprehensive plan to build housing for the purpose of relocating people from the slums of Port au Prince and devastated towns.
- To organize civil society to join in efforts to give impetus to a broad national movement of citizens to continue the struggle against adversity, and to reflect and make proposals as to the new social needs of Haiti
- To bring the international community to recognize and respect the efforts of Haitian organizations to reflect on options for the rehabilitation of the nation instead of trying to replace them
- To create agencies to meet the needs of the most vulnerable, equiped to provide emergency assistance in case of disaster
- To create community units to respond to hazards and disasters, through the organisation of rescue brigades equiped for rapid response.
- To develop and implement a national information campaign on how to behave during hurricanes and earthquakes
- To launch a program of rebuilding of the educational infrastructure. To provide support to major private educational institutions
- To re-open classes in the most affected areas
- To provide immediate support to the Haitian school: support to professors, scholarships for students for the remainder of the year, staffing of mobile schools (schools classified as 'green" by the experts are not immediately available. Parents and students hate concrete!)
- Initiate a process aimed at organizing an inclusive debate, the only appropriate option being to ensure the participation of Haitians abroad, rural people, marginalized populations, in national issues
- Put in place an association of survivors to enable, above all, those who have lost so much to restart their economic lives
4.2 Actions in the Short Term
- To create the methodology for an inclusive debate for the purpose of giving the country a new social direction developed in consultation, with the understanding of the citizens. and the participation of all strata of Haitian society
- An accord with this inclusive debate, to establish decentralized administrative infrastructure, including the National Archives, immigration offices, and the national office of identification, and strengthening decentralized sectoral structures.
- To update the system for Territorial Planning and its regional powers
- To subdivide the country into regions according to affinities and development needs
- To put the principle symbols of state authority back on their feet: the Palais National, the Palais de Justice, courts, national police facilities, DGI, etc. in support of a new initiative for the re-foundation of the country
- To pubish a charter of local territorial collectives with the laws applying to the functioning of these collectives of community sectors, of communes and of county councils.
- Bring the agricultural sector back into production, in full knowledge of the fact that aid is only temporary. A central role must be given to the farmers and their organizations.
- Promote leadership concerned with reform of the state, in such a way as to brings together the strength of the nation and people who can serve as interlocators to international actors, especially through the inclusion of survivors or their representatives into those clusters and forums that are considering next steps and planning the future of the country.
- Re-open the ports of Cap Haitien, Port de Paix, Port Freedom of Gonaives, St. Marc, Petit Goave, Miragoane, Jeremie, Les Cayes and Jacmel.
- Launch a comprehensive program of job creation based on intensive hand labor in the disaster affected areas and elsewhere throughout the country
- Continue to improve infrastructure in the major sectors, namely roads, telecommunicatons, electricity, ports and airports
- Create an independent structure for planning and managing the reconstruction of the country.
4.3 The Medium and Long Term
- Develop through action-based research, participation plans and
regional and county programs that are tailored to the needs of
each region and county and the new development strategies of
the country as a whole
- Create in the regions and counties university campuses offering
students a variety of career choices, responding to regional
potentials and to world standards of higher education
- Create industrial parks beyond Port au Prince
- Open the country to private investment by providing more
opportunities for domestic and foreign investors wishing to
locate outside Port au Prince
Support the reorganization of local governments in order that they may be enabled to provide the services to their communities for which they are responsible, but that cannot now be supported solely through local resources.
Adapt the Haitian fiscal system to reflect the new realities of a decentralized administrative system.
V Additional Urgent Matters that Must Be Addressed to Make
5.1 To manage reform of the country, it is necessarily immediately to create an independent national commission for reconstruction, formed of credible representatives of the state and Haitian civil society and supported in great part by high level Haitian experts from within the country and the diaspora.
5.2 In order to achieve the political stabiliy needed for reconstruction, put in place a process of action and mobilization for the conduit of credible elections.
5.3 To establish the reform of the nation that implementation of a new plan of action will be able to bring about, it is necessary to forge new paradigms based on : Participation , competence, development of local resources, intelligent use of financial cooperation and international technology, and a new mystique nourished by values inherent in our identity as a people and our cultural and historical patrimony.
5.4 It is important to make again the pilgrimage of L'arcahaie of 18 Mai 1803 to gather the Haitian people around a common ideal, one of solidarity, by contributing to the improvement of the living conditions of the Haitian people in all its components. The recovery of these lost values requires a long term effort that must begin in the schools, in the restoration of the school curriculum, in teaching civic education to rekindle a sense of belonging to the Haitian nation deriving from our high struggle of 1804
5.5 It is urgent to create in Haitian children the culture of risk preparedness which provides appropriate responses in the case of the natural disasters likely to strike Haiti.
5.6. Given the importance of religion in Haitian society, certain religious values should play an important part in the process of reforming the nation. Solidarity and sharing, respect for the common good, and especially the environment, respect for life and for the human person, subsidiarity, the "destination universelle des biens" etc.
For the unit for Reflection and Action
RP Kawas Francois SJ