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6190: Media give distorted view of Haitian vote (fwd)

From: radman <resist@best.com>

Media give distorted view of Haitian vote
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Dec. 14, 2000
issue of Workers World newspaper


By G. Dunkel

Jean-Bertrand Aristide will be Haiti's next president. He
received over 91 percent of the votes cast in that country's
Nov. 26 presidential election.

A surprising number of North American newspapers covered the
election. And not just major newspapers known for their
international coverage, like the Washington Post, New York
Times and Toronto Star.

Nor was it confined to regional papers that serve areas with
large Haitian communities, like the New York Daily News,
Newsday, the Montreal Gazette, the Boston Globe and the St.
Petersburg Times.

Papers like the Calgary Herald, the San Diego Union-Tribune,
the Houston Chronicle, the Omaha World-Herald and the St.
Louis Post-Dispatch all ran stories or editorials on this

You might think that among all these stories in papers
spread over the vastness of North America there would be
divergent views. But all of the commentaries were remarkably

Elections in Haiti were chaotic and badly run, they said.
Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his party, the Fanmi Lavalas
(Lavalas Family), would most likely win but there were no
foreign observers to guarantee the integrity of the polling,
they said.

Parliamentary elections last May were rigged, they claimed,
and the Election Board (CEP) was composed of Fanmi Lavalas

Some reporters even interviewed Haitian "opposition" leaders
without explaining their backgrounds, so workers here
couldn't evaluate their charges.

For example, when the Los Angeles Times quoted Chavannes
Jean-Baptiste, a "peasant leader" in the Central Plateau who
says he is "hiding from armed assassins," it should have
also reported that he is in a political alliance with forces
that supported the old Duvalier dictatorship and the 1991
coup against Aristide.

Other supposedly "independent" sources, like the Haitian
radio stations Radio Metropole and Radio Galaxie, called the
election illegitimate because "opposition parties did not
participate." They gave wildly deflated estimates of voter
turnout--5 percent or less. The official figure from the CEP
said turnout was over 63 percent.

A number of reports made a point of emphasizing the
"violence" on election day. Two pipe bombs exploded in Port-
au-Prince, Haiti's capital, and one or two elsewhere.

But compared to earlier elections, there was no large-scale


Haiti Progress--a progressive newspaper that is published in
French, Creole and English in Brooklyn, N.Y., and has
editorial offices in Port-au-Prince and correspondents
throughout Haiti--reported that the election represented a
"people's victory" and was a "check to terror." It pointed
out that the elections "unfolded with dignity and serenity."

On Dec. 3 the New York Times Week in Review ran an article
with the following admission buried near the end of the
story: "... even diplomats and members of civic groups
critical of Mr. Aristide admit that Lavalas enjoyed such
popular support that it was virtually guaranteed convincing

While the big-business media were unanimously critical of
Haiti's election, they all made a big point of saying it was
not comparable to the mess a few miles north in Florida.
This would be a "glib comparison," they said.

Of course, Haiti is far poorer than Florida. Some polling
places lacked electricity; paper ballots had to be counted
by hand using candles or flashlights.

But they were counted. The administrative problems due to
Haiti's poverty were overcome and the results were announced
within a week.

Florida has electricity. But many of the votes cast by its
Black citizens--including those of Haitian descent--will not
be counted.

The whole media campaign against the Haitian elections is
consistent with the racist attitude the U.S. ruling class
has held against Haiti since that country threw off its
French slave masters and declared itself independent in

But it has another point too: to cast doubt on Aristide's
victory and his support among the Haitian people. These are
steps to prepare the U.S. people for intervention in Haiti
against Aristide and the masses, to keep Haiti from
following the example of its neighbor, socialist Cuba.

For eyewitness reports on the Haitian elections, readers can
visit the Haiti Progress Web site at www.haitiprogres.com