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6033: In NY, Haitian Election Loses Thrill (fwd)

From: nozier@tradewind.net

11/28/2000 - Tuesday - Page A 14 NY NEWSDAY 
In NY, Haitian Election Loses Thrill by Mae M. Cheng
Ten years ago, local Haitian Americans were glued to the television or
radio, eager to find out whether the popular priest-turned-politician
Jean-Bertrand  Aristide would be the victor in the country's first
democratic election. Today, despite having one of the largest Haitian
American communities in the United States, many New Yorkers said they
are more interested in the Florida vote wrangling between Vice President
Al Gore and Gov. George  W. Bush than the weekend presidential voting in
their native country.  For one thing, Aristide's win was expected even
before the voting took place, Haitian American leaders explained. At the
same time, violence, voter apathy and a boycott from opposition parties
who are against another Aristide term marred the election. 
You really did not have an election in Haiti," said Jocelyn McCalla,
executive director of the National Coalition for Haitian Rights, a
nonprofit policy organization based in Manhattan. "You had a referendum,
so to speak, on Aristide's popularity." McCalla pointed to the
intimidation campaign by some Aristide supporters that kept many voters
for opposition candidates home. He also said that the lack of
campaigning by the various candidates made it all but certain Aristide
would be the victor, despite the fact that official result will not be
known until later this week. Aristide was toppled from power in 1991
after a military coup. His presidency was restored in 1994 after a
U.S.-led invasion. In 1996, Aristide was forced out by term limits. 
 "I'm not interested in politics anymore," said Joseph Dormus, the
director of the Bedford Haitian Community Center in Brooklyn, a
nonprofit social service provider. "I don't follow it. I don't want to
follow it." Dormus, a Haitian American, said he had been interested in
Haitian politics 10 years ago and had frequently visited his native
country. But he now finds the politics there to be "a mess" and chooses
not to keep up with it. He is, however,watching the presidential
elections in his adopted country. Similarly, other Haitian Americans
said that they were reading newspapers, watching the nightly news and
tuning into CNN throughout the day to find out who will become the next
U.S. president. The Haitian election has been more of an afterthought. 
But with some of the violence that has erupted surrounding the Haitian
vote,a number of people in the local community said they are afraid to
voice their dissatisfaction with the election process abroad. 
"In Haiti, that's not an election," said one Haitian American community
leader from Queens who asked not to be identified.