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#4047: "Democracy enhancement" : Chamberlain replies to Pina (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>

Kevin Pina wrote:

> A case can clearly be made that the "Democracy Enhancement" 
project did not have as its objective "strengthening democracy in Haiti"
mutated into a program designed to create an opposition to defeat Lavalas. 
We are seeing the effects of this strategy with the recent joining of 
rightists under the MSN with Espace and the OPL bloc. Some might argue that

this is a natural response to the overwhelming popular support received by 
Lavalas at the polls, but this is not the first time the "Democracy 
Enhancement Project" has tried to pull these forces together.


I wonder how one goes about "democracy enhancement" (done by Haitians or
others) ?

Surely it must by definition involve encouraging the growth of several
parties or differing points of view.  

If people object to this simple right to disagree, then what exactly do
they stand for?  Perhaps just the idea that different views will somehow
get expressed within a sole legal political party, though that hasn't
produced anything very healthy in countries where rulers fearful of
multi-party "democracy" have introduced it.

We know the most of the "opposition" fractions in the Haitian political
class aren't up to much and are quite often one-man-and-his-dog parties. 
The IRI and others discovered this.  As they discovered the refusal of
Lavalas supporters to allow them to hold some meetings about the
technicalities of democratic behaviour (or is someone going to say those
meetings were "really" about how to make bombs?).

But wait a minute.  What right have outside forces to try to encourage
democracy in Haiti anyway?  Surely everyone should be left to their own
devices and the party in power be left, if it so chooses, to give as little
room for dissent as possible, even to snuff it out.  This hasn't happened
yet, but there are some ominous signs that it might, and so add yet another
chapter to the tragic historical record.  But that's the private affair of
the Haitian people.

Yet despite Kathy Grey's gloom and doom on this, some (many?) Haitians do
believe that the present poisonous culture of political intolerance needs
to discouraged, to say the least.  Do they not have the right to seek
assistance to help build the healthy institutions that most politicians
have little interest in?  There are certainly plenty of wise and serious
Haitians who would like to have stronger guarantees of a right to disagree.

The easy (and all too common) response to this is to assimilate a desire
for the right to express another opinion with disloyalty, rebellion,
treason and all the other familiar inventions and fantasies.  That the
serried ranks of the US government and associated "imperialists" are out to
destroy "the people's choice."  This conveniently dodges the whole
question: how to establish and maintain a simple, robust right to dissent,
whether with outside help or not.  It isn't easy and few members of the
political class seem interested in it -- any more than the hated MREs,
Nadals etc. are.

The main party, Fanmi Lavalas, has campaigned for years against real and
imagined "foreign interference," yet is apparently content to quietly allow
thousands of their members to be trained as election observers by an arm of
the US National Democratic Institute, one of the devils constantly
denounced by the foreign agents and supporters of Lavalas.  

And the National Council of Observers, so roundly denounced -- along with
its leader, Léopold Berlanger, another bogey of Lavalas -- as the
centrepiece of a big plot to rig the vote and destroy a Lavalas victory
etc., endorsed the election, along with other observers, as sufficiently
fair to be valid.  This could never happen, according to some.  Yet it did.

Two unexpected developments.  Perhaps this is a sign of hope, of moving
forward towards more tolerance.  What's for sure, though, is that Lavalas
worshippers and diehards, inside or outside Haiti, won't advance democracy
in Haiti any more than the wretched MREs like Olivier Nadal.

Criticism _isn't_ treason.  

        Greg Chamberlain