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#5875 Helms article: Chamberlain comments (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>

The bigot and racist Jesse Helms (who we will be relieved of if the
Republicans lose control of the Senate next month) makes some points that
are undeniably true, but his article needs some factual corrections:

> Constitutional order: suspended.

Wrong.  Parliament has been seated, even if part of it -- 10 out of 27
senate seats -- is in dispute.  The Constitution has not been suspended.

> Government institutions: dysfunctional.

But no less functional than they ever were.

> Responsibility for these disastrous results ((Haiti's present plight)
rests squarely with cynical, inept policy-makers in the White House.

Here, Helms is playing the same old game that the foreign far left
(Haiti-Progres etc) and any Haitian government plays:  it's always someone
else's fault.  So simple to say.  Not accurate.  And of course Helms has
one aim -- to bash the White House.  He doesn't give a damn about what's
been done to Haiti by anyone.  Crocodile's tears.  He sees Haiti in terms
of "witchcraft," as he said some months ago when opposing family planning
advocates who work with vaudou priests to reach the population.

> Aristide and his entourage of thugs.

Well, some are, but there are some good people still in there.  Any strong
leader attracts thugs and thieves like flies.  It's his job to tame them. 
That'll be Aristide's test.  And the issue on which most will judge him.

> Aristide was neither a democrat nor a friend.  

Not a friend of the US, no.  But the "not a democrat" needs more time to be
proved.  The mass of Haitians did vote for him, even if he and his guys
were at the same time fixing up to rig some of the results.  He has an
uphill job because so many people see him as a messiah, and messiahs, by
definition, aren't democratic and certainly aren't encouraged to be by
their supporters.

> the Clinton-Gore administration ignored the democratic opposition

Here, Helms stupidly or knowingly swallows the whole bit about "house
parties" (one-man political parties) forming any kind of opposition worthy
of the name.  A minority of Haiti's opposition groups/parties have any good

> By the 1997 legislative elections, Haitians had become so disillusioned
that voter participation dwindled to less than 5 percent.

This election has consistently been presented as on a par with the 1990,
1995 and 2000 full legislative elections.  The 1997 election was only for
one third of the Senate and only _two_ of the 83 members of the Chamber of
Deputies, plus 133 town council monitors ("délégués") and the members of
564 rural councils (ASEC).  But Helms conceals that so he can gloat about
the 5% turnout.  

> many Haitians voted courageously in local and legislative elections.  

Hypocrisy!  He thinks of them as savages beholden to "witchcraft."

> the Clinton administration, which used human-rights violations to justify
the invasion policy, maintained the mere appearance of human-rights
monitoring in Haiti. 

The US has routinely denounced all major incidents of human rights
violations in Haiti.

> Misguided hopes aside, consider what could have been done -- in
flood-ravaged North Carolina , for example - with a fraction of the $3
billion frittered away by an irresponsible administration on an unreliable
partner in Haiti.

Here we have Helms at his most cynical -- the man who has always been a
slave to the big tobacco interests that dominate his state and is grubbing
for pork barrel money.

We should once again be aware that the probable author of this is not Helms
himself but one of his aides who burns with resentment and a desire for
revenge for having been refused a job with the OAS observer mission.

        Greg Chamberlain