Is Stanley Lucas the Next President of Haiti? by J

Jacques J. Josepj - December 4 2009, 1:38 PM

Is Stanley Lucas the Next President of Haiti?

By Jacques.

J. Joseph
December 4, 2009

At 2am, Stanley Lucas is wrapping up a three hour radio interview fielding calls from his fellow Haitians who are fed up with the endemic corruption and poverty in their country.

Lucas' radio sessions have been growing in popularity over the past three years.

Listeners are drawn to Lucas' common sense breakdown of the issues and practical solutions.

"Stanley has been very good for ratings," laughs the popular Orlando-based radio host Franck Charlot known as Sugar, "My audience has increased ten times what it used to be. And they are fired up."

Lucas is actively sought out for sessions on all the radios stations in the U.S. and in Haiti, including Radio Signal, MBC, Kontak, Metropole, Caraibe, Galaxy, RTMS, Saint Marc, Mag Horizon, among others.

"It's always surprising to me when a really small radio station from the rural areas will track me down and ask me to call into their station.

They probably have to save up just to make the phone call to me," says Lucas, who does all the hours and hours of interviews without compensation.

Recently, loyal listeners, particularly of Sugar's popular Radio Classique Inter and Dieudonne's Kontak in Haiti, have begun to call for Lucas to step up and run for President in the country's November 2010 elections.

"This guy talks about the economy, education, jobs...the people's issues," says one caller, "What does the current leadership talk about?

Constitutional reform?

Please.

I am behind Lucas.

He is qualified, knows the facts, and has solutions.

He has my vote." Another caller asserts that "[Lucas] is the most dangerous person for the forces of chaos and corruption in Haiti.

He is straightforward and that's the kind of leader Haiti needs."

When asked about his political plans, Lucas demurs.

"I am trying to raise awareness of the key issues, provide facts and talk about why Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.

Haitian people are proud and capable.

We were the first independent black republic! Our ancestors had a revolutionary vision and would be disgusted with the corrupt, violent governance of the country over the past 60 years.

We can and will do better."

Lucas became well known in Haiti first as the karate chopping side kick in a popular local crime drama on TV in the 1980s.

He went on to earn the island country a gold medal for karate at the 1982 Pan American Games -- one of only six gold medals earned in international sports competitions.

Lucas, alumni of the international relations school of the State University worked on a team to promote the country's 1987 constitution where his political interest was sparked.

Lucas then dedicated himself to poverty reduction, education and political development issues working with the Research for Democracy and Development in Haiti, and several local universities and high schools.

In 1992, Lucas was chosen to head the International Republican Institute's (IRI) Haiti office.

He dedicated himself to bolstering nascent democratic forces in the country by training the youth, women, union leaders, journalists, political parties, and farmers on how to effectively engage in the political process.

He spent more than 15 years promoting democracy in Haiti, but also throughout Latin America, Africa, and Afghanistan.

His determination to build a true civil society, establish viable political parties, ensure free and fair elections, and hold government officials accountable resonated with the people and threatened the entrenched, corrupt political forces in Haiti.

Then President Jean Bertrand Aristide launched a campaign to intimidate anyone who was listening to Lucas' ideas of democracy.

"Imitate, don't IRI-tate" posters were hung around the city reminding everyone that the status quo was the only course of action that would guarantee personal safety.

Lucas was neither intimidated nor deterred.

"That campaign showed me that I must have been doing something right for them to spend so much effort targeting me," he says.

When Aristide's political campaign failed to deter Lucas or resonate with the population, Aristide and his band of thugs turned to violence.

On the evening of April 8, 1997, they sent a team to Lucas' house to assassinate him. Miraculously, he escaped unharmed.

But the increasing threats on his life, particularly at each democracy training session he organized, forced him to leave the country.

Not content that the threat was completely eradicated, Aristide found a new band of thugs to intimidate Lucas and implemented a new strategy: character assassination.

Aristide proved adept at manipulating the Washington, DC political machine.

He organized and financed a lobbying team to place stories in targeted U.S. media outlets painting Lucas as a right wing operative based on his affiliation with the IRI. "Nothing could be further from the truth," says Lucas.

"Just check out their website.

They are non-profit and non-partisan, and do good work worldwide promoting democracy.

It was ridiculous that Aristide tried to make democracy a partisan issue." For all his efforts, only a few over-the-top stories citing unknown sources appeared in liberal newspapers and online news sites such as Salon.com and Mother Jones.

"At one point, Aristide started to use aliases logging into popular Haitian blogs to attack me. He had nothing left to say, so he started to criticize my moustache," laughed Lucas.

Meanwhile, the Haitian press continued to treat Lucas as a local hero.

Lucas remains undeterred; he has lately expanded the focus of his interviews to tackling corrupt Haitian business leaders.

"When Haiti is continually ranked among the most corrupt countries in the world by watchdog organizations, like Transparency International, you have to take a look at the whole picture," says Lucas.

In particular, Lucas has called out the Groupe de Bourdon, a tiny group of corrupt business leaders close to the government, monopolizing Haiti's private sector.

"They are enriching themselves at the expense of the public.

It is not free market, it is a travesty.

And they are doing it with complete government approval," says Lucas.

This group represents less than 1% of the private sector, yet controls 87% of the country's economic activity and 90% of the wealth.

None of this wealth goes back into the country, however.

In fact, the Groupe accounts for less than 7% of the total income tax revenue of the country.

By comparison, the top 1% in the U.S. pays 65% of the country's income taxes."

"This is just pure greed.

It's stealing from those who have nothing," says Lucas.

"I just cannot let this go." The Groupe de Bourdon has taken a page from Aristide's playbook and has begun making political and economic threats against radio stations that broadcast interviews with Lucas.

They have threatened to pull valuable advertising dollars and promised political retribution.

They have also allied with corrupt business interests in the U.S. looking to make a quick buck in Haiti in order to suppress his political views.

They are throwing significant resources at silencing him and removing him from the political scene.

"Economic development and political development must go hand-in-hand." These business forces are undermining economic development in our country.

To that end, Lucas has put forth numerous proposals on how to attract foreign investment and promote economic development.

He points out that the Diaspora, which represents 84% of the qualified workforce, should have a central role to play in political and economic development in Haiti.

The Dominican Republic engaged their Diaspora community on economic and political issues in 1992 and immediately started to turn around their dire economic situation.

Leonel Fernandez, the current President of the Dominican Republic, was a part of the Diaspora community and brings his years of experience in New York to the building of his country.

The current Administration led by President Rene Preval has been silent on the issues.

Rather, Preval has pursued an agenda that includes constitution reform, in order to retain power longer, election rigging, systematic political violence, and sophisticated embezzlement schemes.

The high profile appointment of President Clinton as special envoy to Haiti has led to little progress as a result of the Preval Administration's stonewalling.

Rather, than identifying productive, meaningful projects for collaboration, Preval is trying to use Clinton to prop up his agenda.

"The status quo prevails," says Lucas.

"After more than 25 years, Haiti's leaders continue to plunder meager resources and violently repress opposition.

Perhaps it is time for a little hope and change in Haiti," Lucas laughs.

The radio listeners at Radio Classique certainly seem to agree.

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Comments

Maryse Lilavois Janvier says...

I’ve listened to Stanley Lucas for years now; he is young, positive and fresh with solutions for Haiti. He spent... more »

Maxime L. Gerard says...

One of the top three most corrupt countries on earth is Haiti. The corruptors in government and the private sector run... more »

Master B Orlando says...

Stanley Lucas is the only guy that when he is talking over the radio, people will put aside soccer to listen to him... more »

Marie Jacqueline Jeremie says...

I would not want to be in Stanley’s shoes. The kidnappers and drug traffickers working for the government want him... more »

Gregoire E. says...

Your article is right. The bandits control Haiti. They have pushed out most of us that are competent. The majority of... more »

Jean Michel Dardon says...

Well, the U.S. always seems to have their favorite candidates. I am in NY and was involved with the last few... more »

Marlene Plaisimond says...

I know that Haiti needs someone with a good education and understanding of how politics works internationally with... more »

Patrice Monfort says...

It is truly pathetic that Stanley had to leave the country or be killed. What a choice. He was doing good work and it... more »

Ketly M says...

This made me laugh! Aristide is so desperate to criticize this guy that he actually talks about his moustache. That is... more »

Dieudonne Chery says...

I listen to Stanley’s radio interviews all the time. He actually talks about the things that are important to the... more »