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#4087: Tom Driver comments on recemt Haitian violence: Judson comments


Driver's comments on June 5 were awakening - pardon the pun.  I was back in 
Haiti as a part of a group of volunteer election observers organized by 
Global Villages and The Quixote Center.  Last visit was in Dec. 99 but lived 
in the country for two years from '97 to '99 and have made other short term 
visits since 1968 - yearly since 1984.  It is quite obvious that confusion, 
violence, embargoes, and general decay of infrastructure are harming the 
poor.  Many of the elite are well protected, can go to Miami for shopping, 
have good cars which cushion the terrible roads, and, to top it all, can have 
as much hired help as they wish to do whatever they want because those in the 
streets are happy to earn any small pittance.  Aside from this, however, 
there is a genuinely committed group of middle class and elite Haitians who 
are struggling to create some  political and economic stability.  The 
elections on May 21 demonstrated an extremely strong political will.  The 
people, themselves, cooperated to make the photo ID card issue a success.  
They carried these cards with immense pride to voting stations and made their 
will known even though there was an overhanging cloud of threatened violence. 
 It is a mixed picture and one which can only change with the emergence of a 
strong leader who will unite the people.  The new leader may not be exactly 
what outside governments think best for Haiti but if that person is able to 
coordinate the efforts of ALL Haitians, there is real hope for improvement.  
The presidential elections are only 5 to 6 months away and as of this date, 
there are no visible candidates who have any chance to accomplish these 
things except Mr. Arrested.  Remember, however, that in the elections of 
1990, Aristide, himself was not a very visible candidate until about this 
time of year.  Others may still arise as reasonable candidates for this 
election but the people will decide what they want and we, along with all 
other international governments, will need to support that person.

John Judson