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#4092: Durban to Chamberlain/Dorce on Democracy (fwd)

From: Lance Durban <lpdurban@yahoo.com>

In replying to Dorce, Chamberlain comments:

  I think you've fallen into the old trap (with the
  best of intentions) of simply not trusting people
  to be generally level-headed,  serious and mature
  in their daily lives...

I would like to add a response to that frequently heard
comment that Haiti is just not ready for democracy (the
Poinciest viewpoint).  It seems to me that democracy really
is a VERY simple concept, and one that 95% of the Haitian
people can understand with no further educational
background whatsoever.... You vote for who you feel the
best person is, and then hope he doesn't let you down. 
Seriously now, what could be simpler?

Where Haiti has a 'democracy problem' is unfortunately with
that last 5% of the population.  This includes most of the
political leaders in Haiti and a significant number of
uneducated fanatics (ie. the tire burners).  These two
groups use each other to thwart the democratic process for
the remaining 95%.

Sorry to say, most of my criticism is reserved for the
politicians of all political stripes, who frankly should
know better.   Aristide's apparent inability to come out
loud and clear with a firm denounciation of the violence
perpetrated by people 'claiming' to be his supporters... 
The opposition's recent bleating about election
irregularities, when, in fact, virtually no candidate put
together any kind of serious platform showing why people
should vote for them in the first place.

To the extent that use of the 'fanatic fringe' (political
assassins, intimidators, tire burners) made campaigning
difficult and dangerous, I would concede that that was most

SIDE:  (I vividly recall a conversation of 20 years ago
with Guy Mallory during one of those USAID receptions in
which an American colleague and I were slapping him with
the Kathy Dorce point of view on how the rich elites were
the cause of all of Haiti's problems, etc. etc. etc.  Guy
didn't deny it, but pointed out to us naive newcomers that
to vocally oppose Duvalier fils was only slightly less
dangerous than opposing Duvalier pere.  We now know that
Guy Mallory was no Graham Greene 'Comedian', and it cost
him his life.)

During the recent election, we suggested to one Senate 
candidate that she could easily pick up 400 votes through
the simple expedient of visiting our factory, unannounced,
during the lunch hour and going around table to table
introducing herself and ASKING for votes.  I have no idea
of her political position on anything, but as the
'incidents' of political violence hit the headlines, my
colleagues were silently thankful that she never showed up!
 Hard to run a democracy if the candidates are too afraid
to campaign, but that doesn't mean that the 400 workers in
our factory aren't perfectly ready to listen to the
candidates, vote their choice, and LIVE WITH THE ELECTORAL

Enough to make one wish that there was some way of
obtaining U.S. visas for that troublesome 5% which makes
democracy so impossible for everyone else.  Maybe USAID's
Democracy Enhancement project should re-direct their

Lance P. Durban

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