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6160: This Week in Haiti 18:38 12/6/00 (fwd)

From: "[iso-8859-1] Haiti Progrès" <editor@haiti-progres.com>

"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
newsweekly. For the complete edition with other news in French
and Creole, please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100,
(fax) 718-434-5551 or e-mail at <editor@haitiprogres.com>.
Also visit our website at <www.haitiprogres.com>.

                           HAITI PROGRES
              "Le journal qui offre une alternative"

                      * THIS WEEK IN HAITI *

                       December 6 - 12, 2000
                          Vol. 18, No. 38


November 24, 2000

Dear Sir,

I have visited your beautiful country on numerous occasions. I am
involved with a church mission which has taken on a number of
local projects, including agricultural assistance, health
clinics, churches, drilling wells for clean water, etc. I find
your people to be full of life and love, truly people whom I
respect and have a desire to be with.

I must take exception to the article "The U.S. Political Crisis:
What Does the Republi-crat Vote Squabble Mean for Haiti?" (Vol.
18 No. 35, Nov. 15, 2000). I also must confess that if the
Haitian people are all going to take an aggressive attitude
towards Americans, I will be forced (not because I want to) to
reconsider my efforts in Haiti.

The most obvious and glaring problem with your editorial is the
willingness to totally ignore history. America has had over 40
presidents since 1800, NEVER experiencing a bloody transition of
power from one president to the next.  In that same time period,
your country has experienced approximately the same number of
presidents. How many peaceful transitions have occurred in Haiti?
I say this not to pretend that Americans are better than
Haitians, not to rub your nose in your problems. I only point
this out to say that in general, the American system has worked
incredibly well. For countries that have not had anywhere near
the success that America has had to now say that there is no good
in our system is incredible, a baseless accusation which merits
no response.

Secondly, no one is happy with what has occurred in Florida in
this election or in other elections around our country where the
lure of power has led people to cheat to win elections.  Any
informed US citizen knows this has happened. However, despite the
apparent wickedness in the system, our country has generated
wealth and prosperity beyond the wildest dreams of most
people. Granted, many people consume the wealth they have
created;  it is still true, however, that America is the world's
philanthropist, and we would like a little respect and patience
while we work out our internal issues. Thank you.

Lastly, the Electoral College is not archaic, and it does not
constrict democracy. Much of your analysis of the mechanics and
the intentions of the Electoral College are correct. However, the
Electoral College does much more than what you suggest.

First, the EC amounts to a state election, where all states have
independent elections and are allowed to cast Electors for the
president. In order to win the presidency, you must win a
majority of the Electors in this election of states. One reason
the Electoral College is here to stay is that it guarantees that
small states will always receive attention from candidates. If
there were not a disproportionate number of electoral votes cast
from states like Montana and Wyoming, no candidate would ever
campaign there. The only states that would matter would be
California, New York, Texas, Florida and maybe Michigan.

Smaller states (by population) are guaranteed at least some
attention because of the College, and this will not be going away
any time soon.With regards to constricting democracy, this is
also fallacious. It is true that the system lends itself to only
two parties, but this is not such a bad thing. It has allowed
some uniformity in public policy and has allowed elected
officials to move the country in a single direction. To have many
parties in power at any time, à la Italy, Israel, Germany,
France, often breeds chaos and divides the country instead of

Really, it would be much appreciated if you could lay off the
rhetoric. For all the problems that America has (believe me, we
know there are lots of them), can't we have a little respect as
we try to work this out? Or will you continue to attempt to turn
this into a David and Goliath thing, where we are apparently
Goliath and there are all these little Davids running around, who
are apparently our enemies, even though they pretend to be our
friends when the checkbook is open.

Dan Johansson

Haïti Progrès responds: It is ironic when Mr. Johansson,
apparently a U.S. citizen, writes that "we would like a little
respect and patience while we work out our internal issues." This
is all that most Haitians would ask of Washington.

During Haiti's recent political struggles, the U.S. government
has done much more than just criticize Haiti's "internal issues."
It has directly meddled in them, providing overt moral and
political (and surely covert financial) support to opposition
parties while cutting off much needed financial aid to the
Haitian government. In violation of diplomatic protocol, U.S.
officials regularly admonish the Haitian government for its
sovereign decisions.

We also disagree with Mr. Johansson's assertion that "America has
had over 40 presidents since 1800, NEVER experiencing a bloody
transition of power from one president to the next." What about
the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, McKinley, and Kennedy?
What about the Civil War, one of the world's bloodiest conflicts?
What about the decimation and expropriation of Native Americans
and the equally barbarous murder and enslavement of millions of
Africans, both of which laid the foundation for U.S. wealth and
relative political stability? What about U.S. expansionist wars
in Mexico and Cuba and neocolonial occupations in Haiti, the
Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Nicaragua, Vietnam, and
other nations? In recent decades, the Pentagon and CIA have waged
wars and subjugated nations through surrogate militaries,
paramilitaries, and dictators. No, Mr. Johansson, not to rub your
nose in it, but U.S. history is one of the most aggressive,
bloody, and ignominious on the planet.

Lastly, we don't buy Mr. Johansson's justifications for the U.S.
Electoral College. It clearly subverts majority rule, the
cornerstone of a democracy. As he also admits, the Electoral
College throttles political diversity, innovation, and change,
all of which he likens to "chaos."

Yes, we do see the U.S. as a Goliath surrounded by many little
Davids. They don't wield the giant's might, but the occasionally
well-aimed stone reminds us that resistance is not futile.

by Stan Goff

In her Nov. 27 dispatch "Disenchanted, frightened Haitians fail
to flock to polls," Associated Press correspondent Michelle Faul
states that "fear, apathy and an opposition boycott marred
Sunday's presidential election" and dutifully reports that
"opponents say [President-elect Jean-Bertrand Aristide] will
install a dictatorship." She insisted that voter participation
was dismally low, in part due to bomb attacks which "Aristide
blamed (...) on opponents" while "opposition leaders say the pro-
Aristide government of President René Préval staged the attacks
to explain an expected low voter turnout." According to Faul,
Aristide "lives reclusively behind heavily guarded walls," while
"Haitians have become increasingly disenchanted with their
floundering democracy."

Michelle Faul is demonstrating the triple cause of press
distortions about Haiti: near exclusive association with Haitians
elites; fear of bucking US Embassy sources (and lines) on whom
reporters depend for future "scoops"; and the tacit acceptance of
the racist characterization of Haitians as incapable of

Faul gives equal weight to Aristide's supporters, the vast
majority of Haitians, and the shopworn hypocrisy of Duvalierists
and coup-makers, claiming Aristide will be a "dictator." If Faul
would list the authors of these comments, we could better
scrutinize their histories.

She also gives equal weight to the claim that recent bombings are
the work of Aristide opponents, and counter-charges by
Duvalierists and FRAPHists (right-wing death squads) that
President Préval staged bombings to explain "low voter turnout."
Preposterous!  This is like saying the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference killed Martin Luther King, Jr. to discredit
the opposition.

If 60-70 percent turn-out, even in the face of weeks of
right-wing terror, is a "floundering democracy," where does that
leave the US?  We barely register 50 percent for a General
Election.  And that vestige of slavery, the Electoral College,
has put us through our most recent "democratic" conundrum.

Faul is not asking a single penetrating question. She is shilling
for the US foreign policy establishment, one that does not under
any circumstances want to see this populist priest with a mandate
to seek real independence from the Northern "massah."  Shilling
is fine. But she should call it that... not journalism.

Stan Goff, a former U.S. Special Forces soldier, is author of the
upcoming Softskull Press book "Hideous Dream: A Soldier's Memoir
of the U.S. Invasion of Haiti."

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Please credit Haiti Progres.