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#256: This Week in Haiti 17:21 8/11/99 (fwd)

"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
newsweekly. To obtain the full paper with other news in French
and Creole, please contact us (tel) 718-434-8100,
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                           HAITI PROGRES
              "Le journal qui offre une alternative"

                      * THIS WEEK IN HAITI *

                       August 11 - 17, 1999
                          Vol. 17, No. 21


One of Haiti's oldest and largest popular organizations has
changed its name, but reaffirmed its democratic nationalist
principles. It is precisely these principles which may force the
group, which recently became a legal political party, to pull out
of elections set for later this year.

The National Popular Assembly (APN) is now the National Popular
Party (PPN), leaders Ben Dupuy and Harry Numa announced in an
Aug. 10 press conference. In a national congress held in Port-au-
Prince last March, the APN regrouped as a political party in
order to have the option of participating in elections. One of
the reasons the organization is now changing its name: so that
its acronym will no longer be confused with the National Port
Authority, also known as APN.

"We are changing our name but our structure will remain exactly
the same," said Dupuy. "We maintain our same principles and
ideological position. And we will continue to have local,
communal, and departmental assemblies," as the organization's
nationwide organizing bases are called.

The PPN, like the APN, reiterated its commitment to fight
alongside the Haitian masses to liberate the country from foreign
domination, which is the primary cause of Haiti's chronic
underdevelopment, according to Dupuy. "The PPN is a progressive
and nationalist party," Dupuy said. 

Thus it comes as no surprise that the PPN is outraged over the
meddling of Washington in Haiti's upcoming elections. While
claiming to grant $3.5 million to the Provisional Electoral
Council (CEP), the U.S. State Department's Agency for
International Development (USAID) has in fact taken it upon
itself to sign a multimillion-dollar contract with a Canadian
firm, Code Canada, for the manufacture of Haitian electoral cards
with photo identification to be used in the elections now
scheduled for Nov. 28.

"We think that it is completely unacceptable," Dupuy said. "It is
not only an intrusion into the internal affairs of the country,
but also a very clear sign of our loss of national sovereignty ."
The PPN has said that it is prepared to walk away from the
elections if the USAID deal stands.

The elections are supposed to be administered solely by the CEP,
an independent Haitian body. Thus, many organizations have
expressed shock that the CEP and the government of President 
Rene Preval seem willing to go along with USAID's usurpation of
control over such a key electoral asset as voter cards. Already a
Haitian firm which thought that it had won the bid for the
contract to make the cards is charging foul play and suing the
CEP in Haitian courts.

 Meanwhile, the PPN and other Haitian popular organizations and
politicians are concerned with the political control that
Washington can exert in bypassing Haitian election officials.
"Nothing says that there will not be problems, not only in the
fabrication of the cards, but also in the manipulation of the
database, especially at the time of compiling election results,"
said former deputy Kelly Bastien. There is also the fear that the
database could be turned over to North American intelligence
agencies like the C.I.A.

"This low-blow will not succeed," promised Patrick Georges of
Popular Youth Power (JPP). "The U.S. Embassy has no right to 
sign a contract for Haiti with a foreign firm."

Other problems plague the projected elections. The majority of
those nominated to head the eleven Departmental Electoral Offices
(BED) have been roundly denounced as partisans of right-wing
parties and "macoutes."

The PPN also denounced the efforts of U.S. and U.N. officials to
misuse the U.N.'s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to
maintain the presence of foreign troops and policemen in Haiti
past the end of the U.N. Security Council mandate on Nov. 30 (see
Haiti Progres, Vol. 17, No. 20, 8/4/99). 


by Tessa Richardson

Occasionally we publish essays contributed by our readers. This
one, by a young woman living in Miami, seems to capture the 
mixed feelings welling up among much of Haiti's young generation 
which has grown up in the States. In this season when many 
Haitians from the "Tenth Department" are visiting home, we offer for
reflection Tessa Richardson's commentary on the state of Haiti


As a child of Haiti, it is sad to see the condition of my
country. It is sad to see my dream and the dream of many people
deteriorating before my eyes. 

The problem with Haiti is not just a political one. The country's
condition is brought about by all the human vices, the number one
being greed.  Furthermore, our politicians have no understanding
of the word "patriotism."

We have been declared a democratic country, but that title is one
of the biggest lies of the century. A democracy occurs when we
can talk to each other without fear of being victimized, when we
can think and grow as a people. A democracy occurs  when we can
look beyond our prejudices, when we no longer judge people by the
color of their skin, when we no longer employ people based on
their family name, and when we stop treating servants as less
than human. Our minds are still enslaved because we do not
respect each other, and respect is the foundation of a democracy.

Our most important resource is being wasted, and that is the
people of Haiti. They have been stripped of a decent life and
their children of a future. The worst robbery is not that of
material goods but that of hope. One day as you are driving in
your air-conditioned car and the light is red just for a moment,
take the time to look into the forgotten children's eyes. In
their eyes you will see the state of our country and, worst of
all, our future.

Some of us leave the country by buying an airline ticket because
we can. Others pay a much higher price for their freedom. We call
them "boat people," and we are ashamed of them because we think
they shame us as a country. The shame should be ours. There is 
no shame in the form of transportation they have chosen because
their journey is a courageous one. Anytime Haitians choose to
fight for their lives against a dark, silent sea and vicious
sharks instead of fighting for their rights in the land of their
forefathers, we should question ourselves and the system of our
country. We upgrade ourselves because of our airline ticket, but,
in the reality of America,  the family name which we so proudly
carried in our country means nothing in this land. We are all
black, regardless of our skin color. We are all Haitians, whether
we came by sea or air. We are one, and it is time to behave as

We are known as the "boat people" and, for a time in my life, I
felt shame and did not want the association. But when I learned
my history, when I saw my beautiful family and the strength of my
people, I knew there should be nothing but pride in my heart.
Today I am proud to call myself a Haitian. I am a daughter of a
great history, a daughter of a people who did not accept slavery
as a way of life. And when people try to take my pride away from
me, I tell them to read my history, our history.

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