I agree with many of the tenets set forth in Mr. Simeus' well articulated proposal, such as running Haiti like a business with funds set up to provide financing to Haitian entrepreneurs. The empowerment of the Haitian entrepreneur is critical to rebuilding the country. I also strongly agree with his fundamental premise that the Haitian leadership -- for the past 20 or so years -- has driven Haiti into the ground. Haiti's current Administration under President Rene Preval has been exposed on the world stage as being incompetent and corrupt.
Rather than throwing out Haiti's entire system of government, we should apply the Occam's Razor principle: the simplest strategy is the best. The simplest and most straightforward strategy is to engage the untapped -- and largely alienated -- resources of the Diaspora community. Business leaders such as Mr. Simeus and qualified Haitians in-country can band together to rebuild Haiti with the support of the international community. Rather than an international takeover, I would propose -- as many others have in recent op-eds -- the formation of a Haiti Reconstruction Authority that could function as a public-private partnership comprised of qualified and competent Haitian Reformers and Diaspora, representatives of the private sector, qualified people from the current Haitian Government (particularly the current Prime Minister), and international advisors. The Authority would develop a master plan for the recovery, reconstruction and revitalization of Haiti and workwith(notfor) the international community to implement that plan.
As with Mr. Simeus' proposal, I believe that the centerpiece of the reconstruction plan should be building capacity in-country and nurturing the business community through the strategic and transparent deployment of investment and venture capital funds. Under Haiti's current conditions, a system of micro loans should play a central role in this financial construct. The process of the deployment of funds should be given serious attention. There should be an open, fair and transparent system put in place, such as competitive and open bidding for major rebuilding projects through RFPs. Instituting a strong process will cut the legs out from under the current core of corrupt business leaders in Haiti, known as the Groupe de Bourdon. This group that controls 80% of Haiti's economy will not be able to continue to monopolize the meager resources of the country anymore and will be forced to compete on a level playing field without political favor.
Transparency backed up by accountability is the most effective way to neutralize corruption.
I am not convinced that the international community could do better than Haitians could do at this juncture. The international community, including President Clinton in 1994, has tried to build and develop our country and has failed -- that is clear given the current state of Haiti. The international community has donated more than $13 billion in foreign aid to Haiti over the past 20 years with little or nothing to show for it. For more click here:http://solutionshaiti.blogspot.com/2007/01/international-aid-debacle-how-to-get.html
There has never been an effective system in place to ensure that funds were not pilfered from the public coffers or wasted. President Duvalier left with $800 million of Haiti's funds, and Mr. Aristide left with another $350 million. Neither have been brought to justice and none of those funds have been recovered. Since its inclusion in the study, Haiti has ranked among the top 3 most corrupt countries in the world by Transparency International. There is no track record or historical precedent to show us that an international coalition would turn our country around. And while the UN does much good work around the world and is a vital institution, it has no track record of successfully turning around or managing a country.
And unfortunately, many foreigners have profited greatly from Haiti's corrupt environment. You only need to look at the recent US Department of Justice rulings on violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the Haitian telecom scandal from the mid-1990s to see that some foreign elements have been complicit in the corruption. Another bit of "food for thought" are the recent reports that the earthquake may have opened up some new viable sources of oil and gas drilling off Haiti's shores. This is a serious temptation for many foreign powers.
As for the Preval Government, I would not advocate for their ouster by international powers. They surely know their inadequacy will not be tolerated, and they are finished. Of course, I believe that Preval should demonstrate dignity and respect for the Haitian people and resign immediately, but I'm not willing to call for the forceful removal of a seated President. Calls for such drastic actions are tantamount to calls for political instability, and Haiti does not need to add such a volatile dynamic to its current situation.
Preval has said he will not run again for reelection -- despite his best efforts prior to the earthquake to amend illegally the constitution to allow a third term. We all know his word is no guarantee that he will cease his manipulation of the Haitian system. Therefore, I believe that it is conceivable that the Senate could call for a major reshuffling of Preval's cabinet. The Senate has the mandate to challenge the job performance of those unqualified ministers and remove them from their positions. Currently, only the Prime Minister and three of the 18 ministers are qualified for their positions.
When Preval's term is over, in seven months, the Constitution says that a Supreme Court judge can take over the administration of the government until such time as a new authority can be elected. However imperfect, the constitution is still valid and should be respected.
The calls for the elimination of elections are completely absurd. While our democracy is broken, we should not throw overboard our belief in democracy or the nascent democratic systems in place. Democracy has produced a wave of undesirable leaders around the world, such as Chavez, Hamas, Ahmadinejad and others. Haiti is not unique in this regard. But, we should not abort democracy because it produces bad leaders. As Winston Churchill said, "Democracy is the worst form of governance, except for all the others that have been tried."
In sum, I'm disturbed and very saddened by my colleague's calls to give up our country for the next 20 years. There are a lot of smart and successful Haitians throughout the world, such as yourself Mr. Simeus. Many are willing to return and rebuild Haiti. Let's not sell ourselves short. Tragic events often bring out the best in people. They band together with a seriousness of purpose to work for a better future with renewed purpose. Most importantly, Haitians are visionaries. We bought our freedom from slavery in 1804 -- almost 40 years before it was abolished in the US. Let us not undo what our ancestors fought for and give away our freedom because we are faced with adversity. Let's rise to this challenge and show the world who we are.
DUMAS M. SIMEUS LETTER
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A NEW "GOVERNANCE" STRUCTURE TO REBUILD HAITI
February 9, 2010
Mr. BAN KI"MOON
New York, NY 10017
RE:RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A NEW "GOVERNANCE" STRUCTURE TO REBUILD HAITI
Dear Mr. Ki"Moon:
As a Haitian American and former Presidential candidate in Haiti in 2005, I am writing as a private citizen to express my views on the more active role the UN should take in building a new Haiti (please see two page attachment). First, let me extend my heartfelt gratitude to you, the United Nations, and various member nations of this prestigious body for having intervened expeditiously to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti.
Despite the current adversity, I strongly believe that Haiti has a unique opportunity to redefine itself and create a modern, prosperous, 21st century country. Since the current system of government has been ineffective in serving the people for the past 200 years, it should step aside immediately. We all must facethe harsh reality that the previous governments and their policies have left us the legacy of a failed state.Therefore, bold and innovative action is needed now.
I am recommending that the United Nations, in cooperation with the international community, the Haitian Reformists and the Haitian Diaspora, urgently expand its role and take over the day to day and long term management of the country. Everyday under the status quo is a day of lost opportunity to move the country forward.
As a first step, the current system of government need to be replaced immediately with an international system of governance, be it a coalition, a protectorate or a consortium under the leadership of the UnitedNations. To quote Jeffrey Sachs, "Haiti's rebuilding should be orchestrated by a single powerful entity."Itotally support Sachs' approach.
Please find attached my recommendations both for a change in the status quo and a new system of governance to move the country forward. It is imperative that Haitian Reformists and the Haitians from the Diaspora be consulted and included in any new governance structure set up to manage the affairs of thecountry for at least the next twenty years.
Please let me know when you are available to meet and discuss these recommendations.In addition to Mr.Clinton, listed below, other interested parties will receive copies of these recommendations.
Dumas M. SimÃ©us
cc:The Honorable William J. Clinton
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A NEW "GOVERNANCE"
STRUCTURE TO REBUILD HAITI
(not just Port"au"Prince)
By Dumas M. SimÃ©us
FIRST, TEAR DOWN THE BARRIERS
The old formulas have never worked.They have only produced bad results.Therefore, it is indisputable that the statusquo must go.The three main barriers (of course, there are many more) to socio"economic development and jobcreation must be eliminated immediately.
TEAR DOWN BARRIER #1 " ELECTIONS
Haiti needs no more presidential or parliamentary elections at least for the next twenty years.Municipal elections could be considered.Myriad elections in the past 200 years have produced no realleadership or worthwhile sustainable results on behalf of the Haitian people.The Haitian people arearguably not better off now than they were 200 years ago.The Haitian people have suffered too long.There are those who will argue that this recommendation undermines the sovereignty of Haiti.But, inreality, there is nothing left to undermine.Haiti can fully regain its sovereignty after a 20"year period oftransformation and transition to democracy.
TEAR DOWN BARRIER #2 THE CONSTITUTION
The Constitution has been violated and abused so many times and continues to be violated thatitcan no longer serve as the moral compass and the mother law of the country.It should be set asideimmediately until a new, modern constitution is written and ratified by the people.
TEAR DOWN BARRIER #3 INTERNATIONAL HANDOUTS AND DONATIONS
Haiti should be very grateful to the international community for their support over the years.But, nocountry can create wealth and jobs from constant donations and handouts.Haiti must work diligently tostop relying upon handouts and donations.With the right management, Haiti can become a sustainable,self"sufficient country and an important competitive trading partner in the global market.Transferpayments from the Diaspora, while invaluable, cannot and will not contribute to prosperity, economicdevelopment or job creation.
SECOND, CREATE A NEW TYPE OF GOVERNANCE
To create a new Haiti, we need to run Haiti like a business, with a management team empowered by the people. Inorder to accomplish this most urgent objective:
a. Haiti needs a new form of representation of the people, by the people, and for the people.
b. Haiti needs an International Council of Governance (ICG) not an elected government similar to acorporate board of directors.
c. Such Council would be approved by the people through a referendum.
d. This ICG would be composed of 9-12 members. Membership would be made up of representatives from
the United Nations and at least the following countries: Haiti, including the Haitian Diaspora, Canada,Brazil, France and the United States.
e. The ICG would appoint a Governor or an Administrator to oversee the day to day management andlong term reconstruction of Haiti.The Governor/Administrator would report directly to the ICG. Given the challenges and the high energy level required in this position, the Governor/Administrator should be relatively young but, a seasoned executive with tested leadership and managerial skills, someone who has delivered solid results, preferably in a complex for profit organization.
f. At least once every trimester, the ICG would report to its constituents the Haitian people throughopen town hall meetings on its progress of rebuilding the country and creating jobs.There would be fulltransparency with the media and other interested parties present.
g. The ICG would be empowered by the people to redefine, create and manage a new Haiti for at least thenext generation (20 years or more).
The Haiti Marshall Plan, as described below, should not be considered until the ICG is voted in by the people.
THIRD, HAITI NEEDS A MARSHALL PLAN.
a. The ICG would be responsible for developing a 20 year Marshall Plan and a timetable with milestones.
b. The ICG would assign responsibilities and monitor actual progress against budgeted dollars under theBest Practices in Management Systems, i.e., What/Who/When. In other words, What must be done? Who will do it? When will it be done?
c. In inflated today's dollars, the European Marshall Plan cost $120 billion.We estimate that the Haiti Marshall Plan will cost at least $66 billion over 20 years.
d. The Marshall Plan will deal with social and infrastructure issues such as water, schools, feeding the school children, hospitals, airports, relocation of the capital city, decentralization of overpopulatedcities, job creation, road construction, industrial development (agriculture, tourism, fishing, garment,etc.), irrigation projects, dams, buildings, hydro-electric plants, roads, etc.
e. The Plan would promote wealth creation by establishing at least four specialized financial institutions:two Venture Capital firms (VCs) and two Private Equity firms (PEs), capitalized at $25 million each for atotal of $100 million.Funding would come from selected Limited Partners (LPs) such as IDB, the WorldBank, USAID, the European Union, France, etc.The primary mission of these four institutions would beto give access to capital practically nonexistent today to the average Haitian entrepreneur.In addition to providing senior financing, mezzanine financing and equity financing to the entrepreneurs,these VCs and PEs would also provide regular incubator services, especially to start up companies.Companies such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Intel, Apple and FedEx, would not exist today withoutaccess to capital from VCs and PEs.
f. Under the Marshall plan, all infrastructure projects would be constructed under 21st Century modernbuilding codes and urban planning methods.