CHARLES HENRI BAKER
By Celestin Ngoa Balla, US Africa News. Updated 2015-07-09
During a recent visit to New York and New Jersey, one of the favorites in the next presidential election in Haiti granted us an exclusive interview.
Usafrica News: Tell us why you chose US soil to launch your campaign for the Haitian presidential election, and what weight do Haitians living abroad have on elections at home?
Charles Henri Baker: This was not a question of campaigning, I simply responded to an invitation I consider to be an honor. The Haitians living abroad have an important role in influencing their families in Haiti in their choices during elections.
Usafrica News: If we asked you about the point of this tour, what would you like us to keep in mind?
Charles Henri Baker: The point is that Charles Henri Baker is widely supported. The political party RESPE, to which I belong, thinks first about the country and a development plan, and more importantly, RESPE has the will and the ability to move Haiti and the Haitian people out of the mess was imposed on us by leaders of our successive governments in collusion with the international community.
Usafrica News: Your arrival in the US falls just a few days after the visit of President of the Republic of France in Haiti. Does this mean that you do not welcome the speeches and statements of François Hollande?
Charles Henri Baker: No, it's not that. We appreciate any assistance given by the French people and the French government, also in Haiti we often say it takes two good (bon) sides to make a bonbon. Today it is clear that Haitian government leaders do not have the capacity to manage the country's affairs. And therefore we cannot manage ourselves and benefit from the help of friendly countries. It is time that Haitians have the opportunity to elect the leader they want without interference.
Usafrica News: Is it not curious that the French president has avoided talking about the cholera epidemic, the lack of infrastructure, and advanced levels of poverty that plague Haiti now?
Charles Henri Baker: It would be a political faux pas because France is part of the MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti), accused of causing the outbreak of cholera in Haiti. France also has her own problems to deal with. So it is not for the head of state of France to take stock of our problems. Rather, it is up to the Haitian president to find tangible solutions to help our people out of their difficulties. He can, for example, adopt the HOPE Act [a trade preference program] granted by the USA to the Haitian people, which is of great benefit.
Usafrica News: Are you also among those who accuse the current Haitian president of playing a game with France to recolonize Haiti by favoring the French language at the expense of Creole, which is the most shared language?
Charles Henri Baker: No not at all, I think we can neither deny nor undo our heritage that gave us French and Creole. Creole, as you say, is the best shared language, and should be the basis of education, but should also serve as a springboard for French, which is an international language, so as not to isolate the Haitians in the concert of nations.
Usafrica News: By the way, what is your assessment of the first term of the current President?
Charles Henri Baker: I would say he has continued to invest in road infrastructure and has also invested in Haiti’s tourism image. On the other hand, this government has neglected the agricultural sector; a sector that is vital in the development of our country. Agriculture would allow us to meet one of our basic needs while creating jobs, and would benefit the tourism sector because we import most of our consumables. He has also neglected the textile sector, which could be a carrier of sectors for creating massive employment with the granting of the USA Hope Act, which could make Haiti the most competitive country in our hemisphere. Regarding the struggle to establish a democratic state, the record is one of failure, because the leaders of this government have failed to respect the rules to ensure the proper conduct of elections during the last four years. I happen to think that people need a leader who can lead the country towards an ideal that guarantees security, fair and impartial justice for all. This leader must also have a vision for a better future for generations to come. Haiti needs a leader who will work to give a future to our country.
Usafrica News: What do you propose to the Haitian people?
Charles Henri Baker: The logo of the party and the name of the Party says almost everything (LOD, DISIPLIN, TRAVAY) Order and Discipline in order to Work. RESPE: respect for oneself, for one another, our country, our people, our flag and our Constitution.
We offer three key solutions to move our country quickly.
# 1) The creation of decent and widely available jobs, mainly in agriculture, and then other key sectors. Agriculture is our major advantage through its ability to create the most jobs in the shortest time. In addition to creating jobs, agriculture gives us the ability to feed the Haitian people, to lower the cost of living. With jobs and an affordable cost of living, the crime rate will drop automatically.
# 2) One of the greatest aspirations of Haitians today is the return of a national armed force. We want this army to be modern and in the service of Haitian citizens and the country.
- One of the biggest problems of our country is its inability to be financially independent. Our budget depends 90% on international aid.
- The state revenues are very low due to a lack of control of our borders. These porous borders allow us to reap only 8% of taxes.
Usafrica News: You are white and your name sounds Anglo-Saxon. In your opinion, couldn’t all this work against you in the race for the presidency in Haiti?
Charles Henri Baker: I'm not white but mixed blood; my skin is light, but my ancestors are from England, Spain, France, Ethiopia, the United States and Cuba. The resonance of my name and the color of my skin do not alone determine who I am; my personality, my honesty, my determination, that which I aspire to for my country, IS the equation of my candidacy. The color of my skin could affect my candidacy with some, but I simply ask them to give me the chance to prove to them that my words will result in concrete actions and salvation for Haiti! Let me tell you a little anecdote: in the northwest of the country, more precisely in the locality of Mole Saint Nicolas, when I was speaking to group from the region at a school, a young boy wondered how was it that my skin was so white. I told him when you made a cross between a Black man and a White woman, you came up with "Voilà!" Everyone laughed. The boy tried to ask me another question about my color and he was interrupted by an elderly person who posed the following question: "When you’re on a sinking ship, when the coast guard boat arrives and you hold out your arms to get lifted out of the boat, do you care about the color of the arm that carries you to safety? Young man stop asking silly questions, we, have serious questions to ask."
Usafrica News: Some say that the ever-growing influence of the US on Haiti is what has brought France back at a gallop. Do you believe this?
Charles Henri Baker: If that’s the case, France has been very slow!