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#4568: PINA sends correct version of last offering (fwd)

From: kevin pina <cariborganics@hotmail.com>

My aim is to expand the dialogue about democracy in Haiti from an 
alternative perspective that I believe is rarely heard in the mainstream 
press.  If US citizens are to call themselves a democracy than an informed 
constituency is the best guarantee of a foreign policy that represents the 
interests of the American people. An overall perspective and balance 
necessarily means Americans must also hear the voices of the popular 
organizations in the streets of Port-au-Prince and the peasants in the 
countryside of Haiti.  I encourage journalists of all stripes to consider 
this when writing your next story about the current situation in Haiti.

I would also like to take the opportunity to applaud the Haitian Times for 
there last edition. It objectively presented both sides in the debate over 
the credibility of the tabulations of the May 21st parliamentary elections.  
I look forward to reading the next issue.

Moving the Goal Posts in Haiti?s Democratic Game

By Kevin Pina
July 5, 2000

Port-au-Prince, Haiti - On May 21, 2000, the Haitian people once again 
played by the rules of the democratic game, as directed and tutored by 
Washington and the international community, only to see their hope for 
social change tainted by yet another endless series of technicalities and 
accusations.  The current political crisis in Haiti should come as no 
surprise if seen within the context of earlier efforts at democratic change 
that resulted in the bloody coup of 1991 and annulled elections in 1997.  
Popular sentiment among Haiti?s grassroots organizations is that each time 
they manage to score a goal in the democratic game the United States and the 
international community change the rules and move the goal posts farther out 
of reach.

Prior to the May 21st elections in Haiti, tremendous pressure was placed on 
the Preval government to set a date for elections despite its official 
objections that an evaluation of the process was necessary before proceeding 
with the ballot.   The US anointed "political opposition" in Haiti cried 
foul showing once again exposing how their greatest constituency resides not 
in Haiti but abroad.  They proclaimed loudly that Preval and Aristide were 
attempting to delay the process so that parliamentary elections could 
coincide with presidential elections in a plot to sweep Lavalas to victory 
on Aristide?s "coattails."  The Preval government ultimately relented and 
elections were held on May 21st in what have been called "the most promising 
elections in Haiti to date."  The international community initially embraced 
the May 21st elections until it became clear that Aristide?s coattails are 
so wide that they must precede him as well as follow him.  Given the 
international community?s insistence on an accelerated timetable for the 
ballot, it made it difficult for them to back down from initially endorsing 
the validity of these elections.  This set the stage for the timely 
political debacle that has ensued and what many in Haiti view as 
disingenuous performances by Orlande Marville of the Organization of 
American States and Leon Manus the president of the Provisional Election 
Council or CEP.

Given the tremendous investment involved, one cannot help but wonder at what 
moment Mr. Marville was inspired to conclude that the calculations of the 
ballots was based solely upon the top four vote getters and not the total 
percentage of votes cast in the elections. It is difficult to believe that 
the international community, and the OAS in particular, were not present to 
observe the entire process of balloting, and the calculations of the ballot 
count, prior to the CEP releasing the initial results of the election.  
Rather than quietly communicating this discrepancy to the CEP and requesting 
a change in the calculations prior to the release of results, the OAS chose 
to wait until the CEP had committed itself to the purported incorrect 
calculations and timed its "electoral revelations" in a manner that has 
obviously caused great damage to the political process in Haiti.

And what of Leon Manus, president of the CEP, who has fled to a self-imposed 
exile in the US claiming that his life had been threatened by the Haitian 
government if he did not sign off on the "bad calculations?"  Immediately 
following Mr. Marville?s revelations, Mr. Manus was quoted on Radio 
Metropole in Haiti stating that the results had been calculated in the same 
manner as previous elections. If we are to believe Mr. Manus?s first 
position then the last example we have to look to are the annulled 
parliamentary elections of 1997.  The results of that election, which 
appeared to give Lavalas a parliamentary majority, were discounted amid 
charges of electoral fraud led by the International Republican Institute, 
the Carter Center for Democracy and the National Democratic Institute, each 
closely associated with the Republican and Democratic parties in the US 
respectively.  An analysis of press reports from that period clearly show 
that the procedure for calculating the percentages of ballots was never once 
brought into question with respect to the 1997 parliamentary elections.  
Instead, charges focused on "voting irregularities" amidst a ramped up 
campaign to link Aristide and Lavalas to violence and political 
assassinations in Haiti.

Presently, Mr. Manus has fled Haiti embracing the position of the OAS in a 
complete reversal of his initial statement. He now inspires images of an 
embattled "election official" finally seeing the light and forced to flee 
his country because the Haitian government threatened his life if he did not 
sign-off on the tainted election results.  Mr. Manus?s claim, whether 
coincidentally or by design, is yet one more note in a well documented 
campaign to link Preval, Aristide and Lavalas to violence.  It also serves 
to overshadow the obvious error made by the "coattail" theorists and 
ultimately lends support to the claim that Aristide and Lavalas rigged the 
vote count in an effort to establish what some in the opposition have called 
"a single-party dictatorship in Haiti."

Haiti?s poor majority has fought tirelessly since the coup of 1991 to 
restore their original mandate of 1990 to transform a system of endemic, 
institutionalized, and predatory corruption into a modern democracy 
fulfilling the aspirations of its citizenry.  A prevalent view among many 
Lavalas supporters is that every imaginable obstacle has been placed before 
them to preclude this restoration including charges of fraud, charges of 
political violence, charges of drug running by Lavalas officials, and 
finally, bad mathematics. In this context one might understand why Lavalas 
supporters took to the streets in force to denounce what they view as 
another attempt to overturn the results of yet another election in which 
they believe to have reclaimed their original mandate for change in Haiti.

In the words of a young militant, belonging to one of the Popular 
Organizations (OP) behind the recent show of Lavalas strength in the streets 
of Port of Prince, "Haitian history will not move forward without a return 
of Lavalas and Aristide to the presidency."  His words reveal the sentiment 
of a segment of Lavalas who are convinced that the OAS and the international 
community are conspiring to discredit the May 21st elections and throw them 
into disarray in an attempt to forestall the coming presidential elections 
in which Aristide would be the hands down winner.  Others believe that this 
recent political battle over the credibility of the May 21st elections is 
intended to discredit the majority?s popular mandate and further isolate a 
Lavalas-ruled Haiti from the community of nations.  Let us hope for the sake 
of the Haitian people and the integrity of US foreign policy that they are 
not right.

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