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#4474: Goff on Papa Doc and Aristide; Simidor comments (fwd)


Stan Goff <stangoff@all4democracy.org> responds to Burnham, 6/30/00 5:22:26 

> Papa Doc was not motivated solely by power.  His power was rooted in a 
> base--which were the grandons.  Aristide's is rooted in the peasants.  

Here Goff stakes a major but unsupported claim, and simplifies history quite 
a bit.  For one thing the big landowners were not Papa Doc's sole support.  
Granted that, living underground during Magloire's presidency, the Doc was 
not very popular in the capital, where other candidates like Dejoie and the 
populist Fignole held sway.  But in the rest of the country and in key 
sectors like the middle and lower middle class, the black intelligentsia, 
etc., the "little country doctor" was widely seen as the one who would put 
"the class" back in power, in the tradition of Dumarsais Estime who had been 
evinced from power by a mulatto/military clique led by Magloire.  
Contemporary observers like Roger Dorsinville, but also some Dejoie 
partisans, agree that Duvalier carried the vote of the majority in 1957 -- 
even with the kind of irregularities and intimidations that Fanmiy Lavalas 
defenders find acceptable today.  So much for the "phrase" that Aristide was 
the first democratically-elected president in Haitian history.

On the other hand, Goff's claim that Aristide is rooted in a peasant base is 
less than convincing (I thought Titid's base was closer to la Saline, Cite 
Soleil, and the urban proletariat).  True, the country voted en masse for 
Aristide in 1990, but 10 years later the people's camp is not so united.  The 
main peasant organizations, MPP and Tet Kole in particular, have distanced 
themselves from Fanmiy Lavalas. What historic opportunity does Aristide or 
the Fanmiy Lavalas program offer that would drain peasants away from the 
organizations they helped build 20 and 30 years ago?  

Lastly, how does Goff reconcile his claim that Duvalier's base was all 
grandon whereas Aristide's is the peasantry, with this incident related in 
Charles Arthur's translation of the June 24 Batay Ouvriye press release:  "In 
the Communal Section of Batso (Saint Michel de l'Attalaye, Artibonite) a 
member of the Fanmi Lavalas ASEK, Dilwi Damas, killed Wilno Bonplan, brother 
of a member of Batay Ouvriye, blatantly and without explanation. On June 7th, 
in broad daylight, he shot this young man several times in the back. We 
recall that this same Dilwi Damas has, for several years, persecuted workers 
in this area. In 1997, it was he who tied up, beat, and made them spend 
several days in prison... Today, we are joining with the family of the victim 
to publicise the movement against this assassin, and to try and force all the 
electoral bodies (from the BEC to the CEP) to put a brake on this man's 
political ambitions, especially in the electoral sense, and to stop him from 
appearing on the list of those 'elected' and to prevent him from 'taking the 
oath for the post'.  For us, in this sense, he has had none, and still has 
no, legitimacy."  Is Damas a "grandon" or a peasant?    

Daniel Simidor