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#4495: Fw: Joel Dreyfuss on the elections (fwd)
| It is truly discouraging to see the level of apologia being
| generated on behalf of the debacle of Haiti's last election.
| I've never seen Haiti en Marche go so far in swallowing the
| false nationalism generated in defense of the rigged
| election results. And I speak as one of the many who had
| hopes for the Aristide government-twice.
| No one seems to dispute that the CEP, under great pressure
| from Aristide and Préval, agreed to accept a miscount that
| violates the LETTER of the electoral law. It doesn't matter if
| the wrong process was used earlier. The error--intentional or
| not-- was identified this time and the logical step would have
| been to correct it.
| What so many of the apologists seem to be saying is: so what
| if the results were rigged -- blame the inept opposition, blame
| the arrogant foreign observers, blame the less than | perfect
| U.S. democratic system. They conveniently forget to mention
| the CEP chairman's principled resignation --and flight.
| So many of those who are outraged at foreign interference
| now cheered the U.S. invasion to restore Aristide back then.
| If you're going to oppose foreign intervention -- how about
| climbing up on some principle and staying there? The fact is
| that we needed Uncle Sam to give us a chance at democracy
| -- and we're on the verge of blowing that opportunity because
| of selfish, vindictive politics.
| IT doesn't matter by what margin Aristide's supporters would
| have won. There's no doubt that the sheer scale of his support
| would guarantee his re-election and a healthy majority in
| Parliament. The fact is that the murky results mean that his
| government will lack legitimacy among all Haitians. The results
| will also do nothing to close the gap between the elite class,
| which controls the means of production (and increasingly more
| under privatization) and the masses, who depend on the
| economic engine driven by this elite class. It will do nothing to
| assure the growing and restive urban working class of its right
| to vote, dissent and send representatives to elected office,
| especially in an atmosphere of intimidation that echoes some
| of the regimes of the past.
| No one should be surprised that Aristide wants to consolidate
| power. We surely know now that he is a politician: finely tuning
| his message for his various audiences; playing to the galleries
| at the right moment; keeping his mouth shut when it serves his
| But what he and his followers seem unable to embrace is the
| importance of legitimacy. They can only gain that by fervently
| adopting the principle of transparency -- of making processes
| public and unimpeachable. Instead, winning -- and crushing
| the losers- seems to be the most important goal.
| If Haiti has any hope for revival, there must be some process
| of reconciliation among our mistrustful classes. The elite must
| concede past sins and abuses; the political class must
| confess its shortcomings and corruption, and the poor must be
| led away from a politics of revenge.
| While so much of the discussion here is about political rules,
| we also need an economic system with fair and open processes.
| The seminal work of Peruvian economist Hernando DeSoto has
| shown that economic systems with standard, published rules
| are most likely to grow and those that have vague and secretive
| business procedures are most susceptible to corruption.
| (The package of laws he proposed for Haiti have never been
| voted on).
| Haitians can clamber on another virtual Crete-a-Pierrot now
| and proclaim their disdain for "blan" who want to tell them how
| to run their country. But once we've felt good -- how will we
| feed the children, how will we build an infrastructure for the 21st
| century? Who will invest in an Aristide-led government with a
| dubious right to power? Do we want another five years
| of government run on the cash flow from long-distance
| telephone calls, remittances from weary Dyaspos and the
| growing specter of subsidies from Colombian drug lords as the
| alternative to foreign aid.
| If we think the strings to money from Washingotn are too visible
| wait until those lines extend to Cartagena.