Haitian Reprieve

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8 années ago
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1 année ago
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Haiti's electoral council announced this week that Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly won the presidential runoff last month with some 67% of the ballots. He'll take office on May 14. Despite Mr. Martelly's lack of political experience, his election is good news if only because he is an outsider to the country's corrupt political system. That said, it's no news that obstacles to success are everywhere. As the U.S. moves to support the new president, it should avoid its many Haitian mistakes of recent years.
The 50-year-old musician, who lived in Florida for a time, has never held public office. But he has showed executive skills by building a successful entertainment business and by running a nonprofit that ships and distributes goods and medical supplies to Haiti during periods of crisis.
His past as a risque stage performer put off some conservative Haitians. But as a candidate willing to challenge the political elite, he caught the imagination of young, urbanized Haitians who can read and write and desperately want to live in a better country. "Things are going to change," he said confidently this week in his first press conference as president-elect.
High energy, well-directed political will and international support will all be needed if the new president is to have a chance of moving Haiti forward. But these are insufficient.
Mr. Martelly inherits a kleptocratic, inefficient bureaucracy. Even if he can assemble an able cabinet within Haiti's parliamentary system, little competence exists to support its good intentions.
The international community can help. But it is worth remembering that development aid often makes the job of building a market economy more difficult, because it so often flows to entrenched interests intent on preserving the status quo.
The neophyte president-elect seems to understand this. He told us during the campaign that he will be looking for foreign investment from the private sector, and that to attract that investment he will make the creation of an independent judiciary a top priority.
Haitians don't need perpetual charity; they've proven that as successful immigrants in the U.S. They need a free market in which rules are enforced. To achieve this, Mr. Martelly will need the support of a U.S. that will help him fight the forces of defeat in Haiti.

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