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6061: 61% of voters vote in Haiti (fwd)

From: archim <archim@globelsud.net>
     Monday, November 27 - 9:00pm ET
     PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Rooters) - Haitians cast ballots yesterday in a 
     most peaceful and calm national election which had a higher percentage 
     of qualified voters going to the polls than was the case in the recent 
     United States election. An estimated 61% of the population braved the 
     threats and scares of the opposition groups, and voted. It was and is 
     unanimously believed that the former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, 
     would be the winner.
        Aristide, who was formerly the pastor of a Roman Catholic parish on 
     the edges of some of the slums of downtown Port-au-Prince, was 
     overwhelmingly-elected president of Haiti in 1989 in the first 
     democratic election the country has witnessed. His support comes from 
     the masses of Haitians who saw/see him as the one who can lead the 
     country out of despair and into peace and stability.
        Not many months after his inauguration, Aristide was ousted in a 
     military coup in 1991 and was in exile for three years, most of which 
     was spent in the USA. As a result of strong international pressure, the 
     US government assisted in restoring Aristide to his elected position in 
     1994, returning him in what was an almost pentecostal experience. 
     Throngs of cheering Haitians welcomed their president back to Haiti, 
     standing and cheering in the hot mid-day sun outside the gleaming 
     palace. That day will always be memorable in the minds of those who were 
     there. The helicopter landing on the lawn of the palace with Aristide 
     stepping out to immeasurable decibels of cheers and millions of persons. 
     The president was back! Our president was back! 
        But a minority of Haitians didn't want him back! That minority had 
     been involved in supporting the coup against him. That very minority 
     which had/has been involved in keeping the masses impoverished and 
     suffering for hundreds of years. Aristide had asked them to pay their 
     taxes; but they didn't want to, so they paid the military to get rid 
     of him instead. Aristide wanted them to help their fellow-man, but 
     they wanted to help themselves. These persons were the "big" 
     businessmen and the "elite" bourgeois who liked the status quo which 
     kept them comfortable while their countrymen suffered and lived in 
     abject poverty.
        The election yesterday was peaceful, but the days leading up to it 
     were marked by violence and terroristic threats. The "opposition" 
     (which surely should not be spoken of in a collective term because 
     they are in no way united) tried to scare the people from going to the 
     polls. Of course they blame the violence on Aristide, but that's 
     rather illogical since Aristide did not need any violence to win. The 
     opposition groups are so divided amongst themselves that they don't 
     appear to be able to speak with one voice.
        Numerous comments have been made about former allies of Aristide  
     turning against him, but it must be noticed that almost all of those 
     "former allies" formed other parties with themselves as presidential 
     candidates. Could it be that they turned because they wanted the power 
     and positions and felt that with Aristide they would have no chance? 
     That's a normal Haitian thing.
        But through it all...for months leading up to the election, the 
     opposition and the news media and, yes, even the USA have been waging 
     a war of discredit against Aristide and the Family Lavalas. They 
     accuse him of using violence to get people on his side. They accuse 
     him of being behind the numerous killings of political leaders. They 
     accuse him of being behind all the failures of the Preval government. 
     They accuse him of creating the terrible economic situation which 
     exists in the country. Some would try to blame him for the lack of 
     rain if they thought they could get away with it!
        But the biggest falsehood which is propagated by the news media 
     (and most of Aristide's opponents) is the constant statement that 
     Aristide is a "former Roman Catholic priest". Every news item from 
     Reuters or The Associated Press or Dow Jones...and even 
     privately-written ones, repeats the same false comment that Aristide 
     is a "former" priest. Aristide is not a "former" priest; he is still a 
     priest. He was never deposed or "defrocked" and he was married by 
     Bishop Willy Romulus of Jeremie, who would have been deposed himself 
     had he married a "former" priest without the "indult" given by the 
     Pope of Rome. This is a good example of "yellow journalism" and 
     intended to make the reader think that Aristide was a naughty boy and 
     got kicked out of the priesthood. Michael Norton (Associated Press 
     writer) who lives in Haiti knows better. Michelle Faul (Associated 
     Press writer) knows better. David Gonzalez of the NY Times knows 
     better. Carline Brice of Dow Jones Newswires knows better. Reuters 
     knows better. Jim Loney and Trenton Daniel and Yves Colon and Voila 
     News know better. But it's more "sensational" to use the "former 
     priest" description because it gets people thinking the way the news 
     media wants them to think.   
        The Haitian people elected the one they want as their leader; 
     that's democracy. Time will tell if their vote was correct. They chose 
     their leader and now we wait to see where Haiti will go under its new 
                                  By Eugene Seagraves
                                  Rooters Press Writer