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Haiti's politicians paid close to $125,000 to act as guard dogs for the ruling elites' interests

By Ezili Danto  Posted by Ezili Danto (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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Ezili Danto Note
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Haiti's politicians in the lower chamber are paid close to $125,000 to act as guard dogs for the ruling elites' interests


The French original of Franck Seguy's article "Près de cinq millions pour un chien de garde" is translated by Stanley Lathan for HLLN, with the permission of Mr. Seguy. When you read it, you'll understand why Ezili's HLLN considered it important to translate this essay for our English speakers. For the literal meaning, consult the French original.

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Close to $125,000 to act as guard dog for the ruling elites' interest by Franck Seguy

[Près de cinq millions pour un chien de garde by Franck Seguy]

Barely a day goes by with Haiti not being mentioned in the world media. Invariably, especially in the European and North American press, Haiti is branded as "one of the poorest countries in the world" or "the poorest country of this hemisphere."

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And yet! Of the money extracted from the toil of the Haitian laborer, the bourgeois/big-shots are able to pay handsome salaries to the members of the Chamber of Deputies (House of Congress), whose fundamental job is to act as the guard dog of their interests. See the table below:

The cost of one Haitian deputy in Parliament to the Haitian workers
(in US dollars)

First installation stipend - $ 2,750
Car purchase - $15,750
Monthly salary - $2,750
Monthly stipend - $925
Telephone stipend - $250
Car fuel stipend - $250
Allocation for a second residence - $6,250
Office expenses allocation (in province) - $3,750/per year
Personal office expenses allocation - $1,875
Agent of security and driver - $625
Stipend for Departmental celebrations - $875
Fourteenth month - $2,750
Expense allocation for Hurricane season 2008 - $2,250

Not included in this table is the $US200 to 250 thousand dollars (8 to 10 million gourdes) that each member of the Chamber administrates in their respective districts, used mostly as pork barrel to enhance their political fortunes. This, in a country where the industrial salary of the Haitian worker is a mere 70 gourdes (22 cents an hour) or US$1.70 per day.

As can be seen in the table above, it would take a Haitian worker over a century of working 12 hours a day to make as much money as that allocated in one year to just one of these 99 guard dogs (the Haitian legislature comprises 99 deputies and 30 senators). That is the status quo reality being perpetrated on Haiti by the ruling elite.

But recently, a curious event of historical proportion happened: a bourgeois of Petionville, himself a guard dog in that chamber of dogs, realized in 2007 that this salary of 70 gourdes was simply indecent and scandalous. He introduced a bill in which he proposed to his colleagues to raise the minimum salary to 200 gourdes or the equivalent of US $5.00 a day (about .63 cents an hour.)

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It took nearly two years of epic struggle for a bill to finally be voted upon in the Chamber and passed in May of 2009 fixing the minimum salary at 200 gourdes per day. But by the 13th of that same month, one of the powerful associations of the elite, the Association of Haitian Industrialists (ADIH), of whom the Chamber of Guard Dogs is meant to be a wholly owned subsidiary, declared its outrage against this insolent mutiny and warned that it would order its alpha guard dog-in-chief, who resides in the national palace, and is also the resident veterinarian-in-charge of the proper behavior of the lesser 99 guard dogs, to immediately vaccinate them against this rabies-like dangerous disease (otherwise known as decency) that would have them bite the hand that feeds them.

President Rene Preval (guard dog in chief) immediately took it upon himself to cajole and threaten his lesser dogs back into their proper role. That is how on the 4th of August they amended their own bill to readjust the minimum salary at 150 gourdes per day. (*Ezili Dantò's Note - Haiti's Parliament re-adjusted again, in September 2009 and lowered the minimum salary to President Preval's demand of just 125 gourdes per day (or, $3 per day/ .38 cents an hour.)

The lesson to be learned from this masquerade is that the proletariat can never count on the goodwill of any bourgeois institution to satisfy their just expectations for a decent living wage. This is class warfare and is as old as humanity. Unlike regular warfare between two armies where eventual cessation of hostilities and peace can be achieved, the relationship between the proletariat and the capitalist owners will remain strictly antagonistic.

That is why the bourgeoisie mobilizes every means at its disposal to suppress the just aspirations of the working class: the law and its dispensers, all instruments of authority (president, parliament, judges, police, and occupation forces), and most important the institutions in charge of disseminating bourgeois ideology such as schools, universities, churches and, not least, the press. Indoctrination and manipulation of perceptions are an essential component in maintaining repressive control. All this, of course, on top of the inherent oppressive control that its position as employer allows it to maintain and ruthlessly use against the worker.

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Human Rights Lawyer, Ezili Danto is dedicated to correcting the media lies and colonial narratives about Haiti. An award winning playwright, a performance poet, author and lawyer, Ezili Danto is founder of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, (more...)

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