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#4521: Papa Doc and Aristide; Goff replies to Simidor

From: Stan Goff <stangoff@all4democracy.org>

> Here Goff stakes a major but unsupported claim, and simplifies history
> a bit.  For one thing the big landowners were not Papa Doc's sole support.

Obviously any summary of any part of Haitian history that fits in an email
will be highly simplified.  My point is that comparing alleged similarities
between Aristide and Duvalier ignores the fact that they represent distinct
class interests.  Are you denying this?

> Granted that, living underground during Magloire's presidency, the Doc was
> not very popular in the capital, where other candidates like Dejoie and
> 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
> evinced from power by a mulatto/military clique led by Magloire.

And Papa Doc's noirisme proved to be demagogic at best, didn't it?

> 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
> the first democratically-elected president in Haitian history.

Surely you are not comparing the situation that prevailed with Duvalier's
"election" to the one that prevails now.  Seems very disingenuous.
> On the other hand, Goff's claim that Aristide is rooted in a peasant base
> 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.
> 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?

Unless urbanization has proceeded at a pace I am unaware of, there is no 67%
majority in Cite Soleil or in the growing but still small urban proletariat.
By definition, given Haiti's current demographics, winning with this
majority indicates a base beyond industrial workers.

MPP and Tet Kole have distanced themselves, but together they have not
organized a terribly large segment of the rural population, so their tepid
or even non-existent support is not entirely relevant.

> 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:
> the Communal Section of Batso (Saint Michel de l'Attalaye, Artibonite) a
> member of the Fanmi Lavalas ASEK, Dilwi Damas, killed Wilno Bonplan,
> of a member of Batay Ouvriye, blatantly and without explanation. On June
> in broad daylight, he shot this young man several times in the back.

I have great admiration for people like Yannique Etienne and others with
Batay.  Their work is crucial.  And while many of us who will vigorously
defend Aristide and Fanmi from imperialist meddling, we are not without
trenchant criticisms of Fanmi's organizational structure or much of its
often opportunistic membership.  I would certainly count myself among those
to Aristide's left, as you probably would.  But I am neither prepared to
generalize from foggy events like those in the Batay communique, especially
given the history of provocateur tactics in Haitian politics, and will
readily concede that some of those who have joined Fanmi--once the
handwriting was on the wall--are macoutes.    That does not automatically
translate into the whole organization being co-opted, or support a false
analogy between Aristide and Duvalier.  It is important when we are
criticizing to be critical in our thought process.  My whole defense of FL
and the electoral result has been from the position that the US needs to
stay out of the process, because we are clear on the foreign policy
objectives of the malevolent northern daddy.