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Vantage Point
Articles and Essays by Dr. Ron Daniels

This is the final article in a three-part Haiti on Fire series. Read Part I / Read Part II

The blood and ghastly gore of the horrific crisis in Haiti is no longer making headlines on mainstream media outlets. The First Black Republic is out of sight and out of the minds of the masses of people in the U.S. and the world. But Haiti is still on fire with ruthless gangs, some posing as “revolutionaries,” consolidating and intentionally striving to morph into armed paramilitary militias linked to and supplied by drug cartels in Central and South America. Thus, Haiti is not only in danger of becoming a failed state, it is on the verge of becoming a full-blown narco-state where unbridled corruption and terror are the order of the day, the norm.

Haiti’s long suffering neglected and impoverished masses will continue to live in unspeakable, unconscionable and unacceptable poverty, misery and pain. But Haiti’s longstanding, parasitical, callous elite of oligarchs could care less. They have their own hired militia-like henchmen to provide a precarious state of “security.” And, under the new narco-state normalcy, they will likely make-book, enter into a mutually beneficial truce with gangs turned quasi-cartels, and it will be “business as usual.”  The wealthy and the powerful always manage to thrive even in the midst of misery. Indeed, they exploit it and profit from it.  Recall that the elite did extremely well, as in accumulated enormous, largely tax-free wealth under the tyrannical and terroristic regime of Jean Claude Duvalier.

On the political front, despite the depths of the current protracted crisis, the great hope for rescuing   the First Black Republic from the abyss has been the Montana Accord Movement, which in coalition with Fanmi Lavalas, the political party of former President Jean Bertrand Aristide, devised a comprehensive, people-based plan for what Monique Clesca, Member of the Monitoring Bureau of the Movement has called, “re-engineering democracy in Haiti.”  The promise and power of the plan is its broad-based, inclusive character, patiently crafted over months of engagement and consultations with hundreds of civil society organizations, influencers, faith, business and political parties and leaders. As a result, more than one thousand leaders representing these diverse sectors stepped forward as signatories to a Plan that envisions the comprehensive and intentional involvement of the masses of the Haitian people in shaping the policies, structures and institutions for a genuinely people-based democracy in the First Black Republic!

As of this writing an Interim Presidential Council has been installed with the blessing of CARICOM, the U.S. and the CORE Group of nations with a mandate to guide the nation for the next 22 months in preparation for the election of a new president. The Council has nine (9) Members, seven (7) Voting Members and two (2) Observer Members. Herein lies the danger of bad outcomes for a potentially promising Plan and Process. The Montana Accord, the broadest-based movement in the nation, was only afforded one Member on the Council, which means that in combination with Fanmi Lavalas, which has one Member, the most progressive, pro-democratic forces can only reliably count on two out of 7 votes on the Council. Regrettably some of the other Members are likely to take their directions from the elite or are known to represent organizations and leaders that have a history of corruption. The Private Sector Member and its constituency may hold the key to advancing the Plan and Process working collaboratively with the Montana Accord Movement.  Nonetheless, these are challenging circumstances.

However, this does not mean that all is lost. Despite these circumstances, after some tense internal bickering, the Council was able to reach consensus on the appointment of Garry Conille, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean as Haiti’s new Prime Minister. However, the prospect and hope of moving beyond “business as usual” to achieve a people-based democracy as envisioned by the Montana Accord Plan and Process is still daunting. The entrenchment of the paramilitary gangs and potential control of the Presidential Council by corrupt anti-democratic forces are major obstacles which must still be overcome.  But as Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, a longtime supporter and defender of Haiti would say, our challenge, the challenge for those who wish to support the First Black Republic in the quest to build an authentic democracy, our challenge is to “keep hope alive” for the masses of the Haitian people.

In practical terms this means redoubling our solidarity and support for the Montana Accord Plan and Process by pressing the Biden administration to sanction actors who support the gangs, actors who commit or are complicit with acts of terror or engage in corruption. Bad actors, including those who may be represented on the Presidential Council, must know that a return to unsavory business as usual is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.

Second, the U.S.  and the CORE Group must invest substantial resources in various forms of civic engagement as envisioned by the Montana Accord’s Process to build a national consensus on the wishes of the people, the practical and aspirational policy goals for a people-based democracy. This should include resources for town hall meetings, rallies, forums, local and regional agenda conferences and a national people’s conference which may be akin to a constitutional convention. Participation and engagement, I repeat, participation and engagement by and for the people must be the order of the day in an unprecedented commitment to create a new people-based democracy in Haiti.

Third, the U.S. Government must make a “Marshall Plan” level of investment in transforming an impoverished nation of 10-12 million people into a peaceful, prosperous and powerful people-based democracy; an investment that will aid the First Black Republic to fulfill the vision of the Haitian Revolution as a beacon of hope for marginalized and oppressed people everywhere!

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson has long advocated for a Marshall Plan for Haiti correctly contending that the USA owes a massive debt to Haiti. The Louisiana Purchase would have been highly improbable without the stunning victory of the Haitian revolutionaries over the military forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. And even prior to this gift to America, Haitian troops under the command of General Henri Christophe played a major role in defeating British troops in the decisive battle of Savannah in the Revolutionary War, a gift that is memorialized by a monument in Savannah.

I have also been longtime advocate for a massive investment in Haiti that would include public service jobs for hundreds of thousands of young men and women whose human power could productively be utilized in labor intensive projects to improve Haiti’s infrastructure. Such an investment should be coupled with jobs training for career and entrepreneurial development to prepare large numbers of Haitian young people who are now unemployed or underemployed to participate fully in the prosperous economy which will be a hallmark of Haiti’s new people-based democracy.

Fortunately, the iconic Judge Lionel Jean-Baptiste of Evanston, Illinois is of like mind on the matter of the urgency of a Marshall Plan for Haiti.  Working quietly, systematically and patiently with the Coalition of Haitian Americans in the Chicagoland Area, a policy group developed a Marshall Plan for Haiti aptly named the Toussaint Louverture Investment Plan. Judge Jean-Baptiste was able to leverage his influence and relationship with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, who not only embraced the plan, according to the Haitian Times, she joined with Haiti Caucus Co-Chairs Congresswoman Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick from Florida and Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, from New York to introduce the $50 billion Toussaint Louverture Investment Plan May 17th on the eve of Haitian Flag Day.  This is another very positive development.  But its passage will require a major push for bi-partisan support with the best hope being the election of a democratic majority in the House of Representatives in November.

Third, the right conditions must be created for the Plan and Process to establish a people-based democracy to reach fruition. Neither the Plan and Process nor the Toussaint Louverture Investment Initiative which can undergird Haiti’s new democracy are possible under the current conditions. Paramilitary gangs have a vice-like grip on huge swaths of the Capital, the vital nerve center of the nation. Liberating Haiti from the grip of the gangs is imperative, an inescapable precondition for the Plan and the Process to move forward.

To assist with this essential mission, the Presidential Council has agreed to receive the Multinational Security Support Mission (MSS) led by police units from Kenya. The MSS Kenyan contingent will soon be augmented by police units from Caribbean and African nations. The MSS faces major obstacles to fulfill its mission. However, it is to the mutual benefit of all parties concerned, all stakeholders, good, bad and neutral that a climate of peace, security and stability be achieved.  The masses of the people must be liberated from the reign of terror they have been surviving and barely subsisting under for months.

However, a guns blazing approach is not only unacceptable, it will ultimately not achieve the desired objective. The MSS mission must be undertaken with great caution and care, informed by best-practices on conflict de-escalation and conflict resolution. I believe the strategy must include incentives for the gang lords and their followers to lay down their arms and become agents of social change instead of purveyors of violence, chaos, mayhem and death. This is not to say leaders and foot soldiers should not be held accountable for perpetrating horrific crimes. The Montana Accord Plan provides for a Truth and Reconciliation process which might be helpful in this regard and should be utilized.

Finally, employing former gang members in public service jobs where they can also acquire a range of career development skills as part of the program would be a good use of resources provided by the Toussaint Louverture Investment Plan. Everyone, including former gang members should see hope in the potential of a new people-based democracy!

Last, but certainly not least, under the current perilous conditions, the promise of the Montana Accord Plan and Process will only succeed if it is supported by a strong, determined and relentless solidarity movement in the U.S.; a formidable force uniting Haitian Americans, African American and people of African descent to demand that the U.S. government strongly support and be guided by the “Haitian Solution” as outlined above. Haitian American elected officials, the Congressional Black Caucus, African American Civil Rights Legacy and faith leaders and ordinary people by the hundreds of thousands across this country can comprise this solidarity movement inspired by the collective memory of the singular significance of the first Black Republic to all people of African descent and people of goodwill.

Working collaboratively with the Haitian American Foundation for Democracy, the Haiti Support Project is already deeply involved in this process, organizing forums, town hall meetings, community-based rallies, briefings for Members of Congress, faith leaders, policy experts, civil rights, human rights leaders, always focused on the unique promise of the Montana Accord Movement’s Plan and Process. And, always with leaders of the Montana Accord Movement and credible Haitian voices connected with events on the ground at the center of these educational, public awareness, solidarity-building events. And, we have only just begun. We envision organizing forums and rallies in several cities across the country with a priority on locales with substantial Haitian American, Caribbean American, Continental African and African American populations, locales representative of the global Black Diaspora. As the civil rights era freedom song proclaims: “We ain’t going to let nobody turn us around.”

Haiti is on fire. But, out of the ashes of the extinguished flames, forging a new people-based democracy in the First Black Republic is possible. In the spirit of Ujima, Collective Work and Responsibility, the Haiti Support Project is firmly committed to working with our Haitian sisters and brothers to fulfill this magnificent mission. Keep Hope Alive!

Dr. Ron Daniels

Dr. Ron Daniels is President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer Emeritus, York College City University of New York. His articles and essays appear on the IBW website and His weekly radio show, Vantage Point can be heard Mondays 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM on WBAI, 99.5 FM, Pacifica in New York, streaming live via To send a message, arrange media interviews or speaking engagements, Dr. Daniels can be reached via email at