Miami, Florida – The more things change, the more they stay the same. The minister of foreign affairs in Haiti announced the new Haiti consul general to Miami. The announcement is a cruel and a bad joke. The person named consul general is none other than Stephane Gilles, keyboard-player to former president Martelly aka “Sweet Micky.” It is doubtful whether Mr. Gilles has the experience and educational background to serve as Haiti’s consul general in Miami. The news in Washington, DC has been one of derision. Mr. Gilles is known only among the followers of the Sweet-Micky band whose singer is famous for his ability to launch verbal assaults on competitors and baring his backside on stage.
Haiti’s history of corruption and nepotism makes the Hungarian government of Viktor Hoban looks pale in comparison. Corruption has a way of supporting nepotism, and one feeds on each other. An unqualified person like Mr. Gilles who accepts a job he is ill-prepared for by education or experience to handle can only be there for one reason only – corruption. A person who knows he is not qualified for a position is more amenable to being manipulated, and to engage in corruption often sanctioned by higher-ups.
Haitian consulates in the United States, especially the Miami office is experiencing serious internal problems that require a consummate bureaucrat with relevant experience to solve, not a keyboardist who has barely served in the foreign service before taking the position. Currently, the consul general’s office in Miami has not been able to meet payroll on time. Employees other than the consul general himself have not been paid their salaries on time. The minister of foreign affairs in Haiti has not explained as to why consulate employees have not been paid on time.
Several months ago, employees from the Miami office had to take loans from friends and family to survive because they had not received their paychecks. Some of them were evicted from their apartments and had to live in their cars. After an article was published by this newspaper, the minister of foreign affairs contacted Omega to report all arrears had been paid. However, a few months later, the employees were back to the same shenanigans – no paychecks. Meanwhile, the money collected from the many customer services provided by the consulate had been stashed away for personal use by the minister of foreign affairs and his underlings.
That kind of corruption will continue until a qualified person who is serious about curbing corruption is appointed. But given the situation in Haiti, and the support for mediocrity, it is hard to recruit someone with the right experience, education, and moral standards to serve the Haitian people. The Haitian government has always operated as a private enterprise of the president where all positions are occupied by friends, family members, and others with the right contact. No one is appointed, hired or retained based on experience, education, and reputation.
Mr. Stephane Gilles is unquestionably the wrong person for this sensitive position. The consul general has a sacred duty to represent Haiti, and to protect its reputation whatever that reputation may be. Hiring someone to bolster the perpetuation of corruption, and nepotism is hardly progressive.
A few days ago, President Jovenel Moise gave a press conference in Haiti, in which he declared that “Mr. 15% is no longer in the government” referring to the exorbitant price for one kilometer of road construction in Haiti that reached a million dollars under the Martelly administration. But, President Moise has yet to take concrete actions to curb nepotism and corruption. The more things change, the more they stay the same.