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#4133: This Week in Haiti 18:12 6/7/2000 (fwd)

"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
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                           HAITI PROGRES
              "Le journal qui offre une alternative"

                      * THIS WEEK IN HAITI *

                         June 7 - 13, 2000
                          Vol. 18, No. 12


"OAS, OAS, when I am hungry, I don't fool around, and my vote is
not negotiable!" So chanted hundreds of protestors marching
through the streets of Port-au-Prince on Jun. 5, primarily in
front of the headquarters of the Organization of American States
(OAS), the United Nations (UN), the U.S. Consulate, and the
French and U.S. embassies.

They were protesting the May 31st letter of Orlando Marville, the
Barbadian head of the OAS Electoral Mission in Haiti, to the
Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). In the letter, Marville
claimed that, in reviewing the CEP's vote count, his team had
found "a serious error affecting the number of parliamentary
races won in the first round." The electoral-operations office
had "decided to add up only the votes of a small number of
candidates who obtained the most votes" and therefore "got the
wrong percentages," Marville alleged.

Like lemmings, the mainstream press agencies have taken up the
call, asserting, like the AP, that "Haiti counted votes for the
top four contenders and not all votes cast." This is simply
false. But nobody bothered to check the OAS's calculations.

Let's do the math. In the departmental Senate races this year,
for example, voters had to choose two senators on their ballots.
But some voters put an "X" by only one choice. So the CEP adopted
the same method used in all three previous legislative elections
since the 1987 Constitution. Every vote was tallied up. Then the
total was divided by the number of seats up for grabs, in this
case, two. So this year the candidate's percentage was determined
against half of the total. As in previous elections, the field is
narrowed to two top candidates for each seat. This year, that
meant the top four candidates.

For example, in the West Department, there were a total of
1,528,349 votes cast for 25 candidates running for two Senate
seats. In other words, there were statistically 764,164.5 voters.
Dany Toussaint of the Lavalas Family (FL), the party of former
president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, received 536,802 votes
(70.24%), the FL's Yvon Neptune 483,782 votes (63.22%), the
Mirlande Manigat of the Assembly of Progressive National
Democrats (RDNP) 81,381 votes (10.64%) and the Marie-Laurence
Lassegue of the Open the Gate Party (PLB) 64,121 votes (8.4%).
Because both Toussaint and Neptune had an absolute majority (more
than 50%) of the vote, they won in the first round.

"The current CEP did not invent this system of calculating the
percentage for which it is now being reproached," explained CEP
President Léon Manus in a five page official response to
Marville, "it is only following the precedents established since
1990." Never before has the calculation method been questioned,
so it stands to reason, Manus noted, that "the international
community accepted this principle" (emphasis by the CEP).

CEP member Carlo Dupiton reinforced this position saying: "There
was no error at all. This is a formula which has been accepted
since 1990."

Luciano Pharaon, the head of election operations, was equally
unrepentant. "Not only have we done our job correctly, but this
is the same method used in the elections of 1990, 1995, and 1997,
and everyone accepted it," he said. "I don't see what the problem
is this time, unless it is a false problem and they really are
after something else."

Manus also explained in his letter that the results released so
far "are only partial results furnished to calm the nation's
impatience. Other results will continue to arrive... but no final
results have been proclaimed." Clearly, "your analysis is getting
ahead of the process," Manus told Marville.

Most interestingly, Manus went on to say that " I consider the
fact that a foreign observer publishes in the Haitian press a
letter openly criticizing a national institution (in this case
the CEP) as an act of interference. The interference is made even
more serious by the fact that this foreign observer, speaking in
the name of a very respected international organization, through
reckless declarations, on questions of national importance, has
induced the Haitian people into error and sought to discredit, in
the eyes of the nation, the CEP..."

Similar indignation came from other CEP members. "It is a slap
across the face of the country, and we cannot accept something
like this under any circumstances," said CEP spokesman Macajoux
Médard. "We have to rely on foreign aid, but this does not give
anybody the right to tell us what to do when that isn't their
role... Mr. Marville has allowed himself to give the CEP orders,
to tell us that he is waiting for us to correct something. I
think this is very serious."

Popular organizations and progressive parties also responded
bitterly to the OAS letter. Charles Suffrat of the peasant
organization KOZEPEP called the OAS letter "impertinent" while
Poitevien Jean Philippe of Popular Power Youth (JPP) suggested
that "we declare [the OAS] persona non grata."

"Those observers always treat the developing countries as if they
were children," said Ben Dupuy, secretary general of the National
Popular Party (PPN). "When those observers are ready to observe
the elections held in the U.S. and Canada, to discern the
irregularities there, only then should we consider inviting them
to observe our elections."

Meanwhile Yvon Neptune of the FL declared that "the majority of
the people know that there was absolutely no error made in the
quantity of ballots cast for the Lavalas Family" and warned the
Haitian people to "keep their eyes peeled so that no one steals
even one of the people's vote or tries to make 2 plus 2 equal 5."

"Once the Haitian people have decided, can someone just come and
alter that decision?" Neptune asked.

Not surprisingly, Washington supports the OAS critique of the
CEP's calculations, according to a communiqué released by the US
Embassy. The Haitian opposition has also responded with glee,
using the letter as a final excuse to pull out of the second
round of elections, as KONAKOM, MOCHRENA, and MPSN did this week,
joining OPL and RDNP. Most also say that they will not
participate in the Grande Anse elections, now scheduled for June

The opposition's rhetoric has become more strident and violent,
all but calling for the overthrow of the government of René
Préval. As progressive Senator Wesner Emmanuel observed this
week: "I think there are people who want to arrive at option zero
by any means, so they are creating a situation of tension."
"Option Zero," long proposed by Haiti's extreme right, calls for
the removal of the government and the CEP, and then new
presidential elections from which Aristide would be barred.

For example, Gérard Pierre-Charles of the Organization of People
in Struggle (OPL) declared that "President René Préval cannot
remain in power." Despite his party's pathetic performance in the
elections, Pierre-Charles saw no irony in asserting that the
Préval government "has no legitimacy." His sidekick, Sauveur
Pierre Etienne declared the government "a fascist power"
responsible for the "deaths of at least 100,000 people in the

Not to be outdone, the National Democratic Movement (MDN) of the
neo-Duvalierist Hubert Deronceray issued an analysis from his
party's "information service " which began: "The preparations for
civil war are accelerating." With unparalleled irony, this
frontman for putschist death-squads during the 1991-94 coup today
accuses "the Lavalas  barons " of planning a seven-point
"operation to cut off heads and burn down homes." Their plan,
according to Deronceray, is to: "1. Arrest and lynch Ambassador
Orlando Marville...; 2. Demand the immediate expulsion of all
members of the OAS Observer Mission; 3. Burn down the locales of
the UN, USAID and the OAS in Port-au-Prince and Pétion-Ville; 4.
Burn down the U.S. Consulate and Embassy 5. Burn down the locales
of all the opposition parties; 6. Assassinate all the opposition
leaders; 7. Block the departmental roads North and South and the
principal arteries of Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haïtien, Gonaïves,
Jacmel, Petit-Goâve, etc. to facilitate the extermination of
their populations."

To complete the picture, Lionel Chamblain, co-leader with
Emmanuel "Toto" Constant of the death-squad FRAPH, emerged from
the shadows this week to "take the occasion to extend his moral
support and commend the patriotism of all the leaders of the
Haitian opposition." He went on to accuse the Lavalas movement of
drug trafficking, incompetence, and subservience to foreigners.

In this theatre of the absurd, the larger geopolitical
maneuvering of imperialism must not be lost. This past weekend,
during an OAS meeting in Windsor, Ontario, Washington and Ottawa
managed to arrange for Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy
and OAS Secretary General Cesar Gaviria to travel to Peru to
meddle in the elections there, even though the OAS Charter
explicitly forbids the body from involving itself in the internal
affairs of member states.

Of course, the eventual target of such a mission is not Peruvian
President Albert Fujimori, who is a faithful US ally, but a
countries like Venezuela or Haiti, which are not precisely models
of the U.S. plan in Latin America. Venezuela, which is also
holding elections soon, vigorously opposed the OAS meddling in
Peru, arguing that it could set a precedent for the body to
interfere in other elections.

"Venezuela would like to send out a warning about this risk so we
don't open the door for questioning of an election where the OAS
becomes a key player," said Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jose
Vicente Rangel.

In fact, there is a crisis in the current U.S. formula for
controlling Latin America. Two decades ago, the US used dictators
like Duvalier with armies like the Macoutes. Today, Washington
uses "election engineering" - thanks to organizations like the
International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) - to
install civilian facade regimes, supervised by election
observers, guarded by peace-keepers, and run by all shades of
"development workers," who usually work for governments despite
belonging to "non-governmental organizations."

Elections in Haiti, Peru, and Venezuela are not going as
"election engineers" planned, hence the need for more OAS
involvement. But as one demonstrator protesting the OAS in Hait
said this week: "This past May 21, the people voted in a Lavalas
sense and we will win the battle in a Lavalas sense. We don't
have potatoes, we don't have plantains, we don't have boats, we
don't have planes, but we are not going to be stopped."

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