It must seem an attractive proposition, especially for a country as poor as Haiti. Already participating in Petro-Caribe -- a Venezuelan energy plan that provides preferential rates on oil -- Haiti now has its eyes set on full membership in the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA). This last Wednesday, in an interview with TeleSUR, the ALBA's Venezuelan government-run television channel, Haitian President Martelly said, "We plan to strengthen our position at the level of ALBA [...] now we have an observer position we want to strengthen it." Haiti shares observer status in the ALBA with the governments of Iran and Syria.
The motivation for President Martelly is clear. Haiti is a desperately poor country, still suffering two years after a devastating earthquake which destroyed Port-au-Prince and killed more than 200,000 people. Watching Hugo Chavez give $500,000,000 per year of "free" money to Daniel Ortega; or almost $200,000,000 given to Manuel "Mel" Zelaya's government in Honduras to help with his illegal attempt at re-election, it's only natural that President Martelly be attracted by the possibility of more resources for his hurting people. Couple this with the fact that ALBA membership is not perceived to have any negative repercussions vis-a-vis Haiti's most important partner -- the United States -- full membership must seem to Martelly an easy choice.
I would argue against this, and caution President Martelly and his team of the perils of adopting too close a relationship with Hugo Chavez and his band of ALBA rogues. The ALBA is not a trade agreement -- and it is not a mechanism for cooperation (like the World Bank, European Commission Humanitarian Organization, or the United States Agency for International Development). The ALBA is instead a subversive plan to create a "New World Order." In partnership with the Iranians and their many Non-State Actors, it seeks to dismantle representative democracy and the institutions of representative government in order to replace them with a different model. This model, called "Socialism of the 21st Century", attempts to use a chaotic "participatory democracy" to return the region to a darker time -- when caudillos ruled unopposed and -- as in pre-Magna Carta Britain, their power is not only total, but also arbitrary.
These caudillos use their power to create blackout zones for criminal organizations to work with terrorist groups to launder money and conspire; and they seek to frustrate the attempts of the west to address critical issues of the day such as Iran's illegal nuclear program and Syria's brutal repression of their own citizens.
Haiti has seen its fair share of political instability, and can ill afford another misadventure. President Martelly should recognize that while the siren's call of easy money may seem a panacea for the bureaucracy of the World Bank or USAID, membership in the ALBA will bring it into common cause with the world's most destabilizing countries. While the current administration in the White House may be seeking to downplay the dangers, President Ahmadinejad's recent trip to four ALBA countries -- while threatening to execute an American citizen and close the Strait of Hormuz -- only highlights the danger.
President Martelly must recognize that the future prosperity of the Haitian people will not come from an association with the world's despots but with the hard work of fighting corruption, creating opportunities and educating his people. Only thus will Haiti emerge from its dire poverty.
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