“There is great hope among the majority of people”

Entreculturas: Are you confident that the arrival of a new government may "unblock" the current inoperative situation that the country is going through?

W. Lazard:  It is good for Haiti to have a new government since it is part of a democratic process, especially when the majority of the population is unhappy with how the former government is running the country. Before the earthquake of 2010, the country was going through great problems that worsened due to the earthquake. Probably the arrival of a new government will not solve them all, but it can give signals that something is already being done, since the former one showed its increasing incapacity to answer the complex needs of the population.

President elect Michel Martelly, named  “Tèt Kale” (“the bald”) showed his interest in tackling the country´s problems promising the construction of houses for the thousands who still live in tents, defending free education for all and showing his will to fight against corruption and exclusion. But one thing is the election speech to attain power and the other is to comply with the promises when in power; therefore we have to wait.

However, and without being pessimistic, but taking into account that Michel Martelly is a singer that became famous for his excess of words and behaviour in high strung musical moments, knowing that he has no political experience nor directed and institution or business except for his musical group, we are rather skeptical of his capacity to lead a country with such complex problems. He presented himself in the campaign as a person who is a symbol of system changes: something that the majority of the population wants. But seeing he has no ideology and no strong political party behind him, he only has 3 deputies, I don´t know how he is going to change the system. We have to wait and see what he means by changing the system.

EC: How do you see the morale of the communities you work with regarding the election process? Do the people see these changes with hope, as a new starting point or are they mistrusting?

WL: I have to explain that the second round  had two very different candidates.  One was Mrs. Sra. Manigat, a 70 year old woman, intellectual and with no real contact with the people. She does not even speak well the creole language, spoken by the majority of Haitians. However, 50 year old Michel Martelly, although with no university degree, positioned himself closer to people´s aspirations during his campaign. He is fluent in the majority´s language, he allied himself immediately with the  party  “Repons Paysan” (“Peasant Reply" ) he opposed the system identified by his  Mrs.  Manigat  and he touched the major problems of the country. Therefore, the youth, who are the majority, and also the poorer ones voted for him although aware of his limitations.

In the camps for the displaced where we work, the majority voted for him. Certain landowners where the displaced built the camps suggested they vote for Mrs. Manigat; however on the eve of the election, the young men of the camps shaved their heads to show that their candidate was not Mrs.  Manigat, but “Tèt Kale” (“The bald”)who promises they can leave the tents and inhuman conditions of the camps. This is why the majority have great hopes. They see  “Tèt Kale” as a symbol of their hope and are ready to gout and defend him.


EC: Is the JRS work being planned facing a new government in Haiti?

WL:  After the earthquake we immediately set to work in seven camps near Puerto Príncipe, where thousands of people live. Therefore, we are waiting to see what will be the policy and action of the new government to take out the people from the inhuman conditions of the camps. To take the people out of the camps has been a key issue in  Martelly´s campaign and we will  hope he fulfills his promise.

Secondly, together with the JRS of other Latin American countries, we are very worried both by the growth of Haitian migration to other  countries as by the growth of drug traffic nets that work from Haiti towards South America. They make false promises continually, promising the youth university scholarships . Before the earthquake there was of lack of space in the universities, but afterwards many were destroyed or affected by the tragedy. Many cannot continue going to university, either because of financial problems or because their university was affected.

Some who believed in the scholarship promises of the mafia, were locked up in private homes when they arrived in Ecuador and have not been able to renew their passport because there are no Haitian diplomatic services in the country.

We are waiting for the new government to ask for its cooperation, mainly to begin a new and clear migration policy in order to defend the victims and also so that many of the neighboring countries take into consideration the situation of young migrants, who looking for education were cheated by the mafias. Many times, the countries where the young migrants arrive, treat them as thieves, which makes them doubly victims.

We are ready to work with the new government or to do political advocacy to change the situation of the country´s displaced people, to improve conditions for Haitian migrants, giving them identity cards, fighting against traffic nets and open a dialogue with other countries so that they may treat the migrants with dignity.