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From: radman <resist@best.com>


By G. Dunkel
Reprinted from the Nov. 30, 2000
issue of Workers World newspaper

The strings pulled by the "invisible" government of the CIA
and the Pentagon became a little more visible in the
violence, chaos and coup attempts before the Haiti's
presidential election scheduled for Nov. 26.

Of course, Washington's campaign against Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, the candidate expected to win the presidency, has
many angles. The major big-business press have published a
series of articles smearing Aristide. The U.S. State
Department is still complaining about the parliamentary
elections last May 21. Then the Haitian election board
followed its own rules and Haitian law rather than the
wishes of the U.S. government.

Until 1990 the Haitian army chose the president. If the
people dared to go to the polls--as they did on Nov. 29,
1989--the army drowned the election in blood by machine-
gunning those standing in line. The U.S. government, which
financed and trained the Haitian army, uttered a few mild
reproaches but did nothing to stop it.

The 1990 election marked a turning point. Aristide, a
radical priest who made his mark in championing the poor
against the Duvalier dictatorship and the Tonton Macoutes
death squad, decided to run. The masses stood up and voted
him into office, sweeping aside Marc Bazin, the candidate
backed by millions of U.S. dollars.

The Haitian army overthrew Aristide less than a year after
he became president.


The coup years were murderous. Over 5,000 people resisting
the army were killed. Washington allowed Aristide to return
only when he promised to step down at the end of what should
have been his five-year term. The last thing he did before
leaving office was to disband the army.

The FBI and various other big-city U.S. police departments
trained the new Haitian police force. Its officers were
carefully selected from among former army officers. Having
no standing army was more of a bother than a real hindrance
to controlling Haiti, at least in the eyes of the people in
charge of the police training.

In the 1995 elections René Préval, an ally of Aristide, was
elected president. A reactionary bourgeois grouping
controlled parliament. The elections drew little popular

This year, however, when Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas party
contested all the seats in parliament, the masses turned out
and gave it a resounding victory. It won 19 of 20 seats in
the Haitian Senate and a solid majority in the lower house.

The votes had to be counted by candlelight, without air-
conditioning or even fans in most of the country. But the
tallies were ready quickly, candidates were notified and
most Haitians felt the process was fair.

But not the U.S. government. It criticized the way winners
were calculated, the way voters who were illiterate were
helped, the way that ballots were stored after they were
tallied and so on.

As late as the end of October, Donald Steinberg, the State
Department's special Haiti coordinator, told the New York
Times, "It's essential that we reach a resolution on the May
21 elections and proceed as rapidly as possible to
presidential elections so that we can have a smooth
transition on inauguration day."


In early October a different transition was sketched out.
Eleven senior police commanders tried to stage a coup. Their
plot was uncovered and they fled to Ecuador and the
Dominican Republic. A U.S. citizen gave some of them a ride
out of the country. That person is now under arrest.

According to a report in the weekly newspaper Haiti
Progress, U.S. Special Forces trained these police chiefs.
Former Pétionville Police Chief Goodwork Noel was trained
with them but decided not to participate in the plot. Noel
went to Haiti Progress and told the story instead.

Haitian-born U.S citizens who met obstacles trying to vote
in the recent U.S. presidential election said they were
reminded of past elections in Haiti.

Merleine Bastien, president of the group Haitian Women of
Miami, told a Newsday reporter: "I think about Haiti and all
the people who died with a ballot in their hands, all the
people who voted while bullets were raining down on them.
Here, on Election Day, intimidation and threats and fear
rained down on the people."