[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
#3792: The Legislative Elections in Haiti: Observations of an ubofficial observer
Observations of an Unofficial Observer
By 7 o'clock on Sunday night, the diaspora breathed a sigh of relief that
people in Haiti had been allowed to cast their ballot without any
significant bloodshed. The writing had been on the wall for a repeat of the
1987 Ruelle Vaillant massacre. The tension drove many in Port-au-Prince to
flee, and a nonbeliever like me to the verge of prayers. From what quarter
then did the relief come from?
Aristide's call for peace three days before the elections surely accounts a
great deal for the relative lack of violence at the polls. He told the
"chimères" to desist from the violence, and they abided by his word. He
wished the opposition well (it was his first acknowledgment in years that
Lavalas is indeed the party in power). He admonished those "who choose
violence" that "we are all brothers and sisters."
The relative calm on Sunday is an indication that the violence, the madness,
and the seeming anarchy in Haiti are politically motivated and can be brought
under control. "For 2001 to be the best that it can, vote peacefully under
the flag of peace," the Speech goes on. "2001 will be good for you, for us"
(M. Karshan's translation). Two-thousand-one, when Aristide reclaims the
presidential throne, is the only agenda that really seems to matter. Anbisyon
ak fotèy boure sa a (Ambition and that padded armchair)... les causes de
nos malheurs (the root causes of our backwardness).
Lavalas Family, the ruling party, wanted to combine the legislative elections
and the presidential elections in order to scoop up the results. But the
violent tactics of the "chimères" and the slogans of the Lavalas press did
not prevail on Sunday. People came out to vote in massive numbers. They chose
the Constitution over Lavalas' hegemonic agenda. How honestly the ballots are
counted will tell to what extent the people in power respect that vote.
Aristide's call for peace was a reluctant concession to Uncle Sam. It was
either that or the Lavalas government could kiss the coveted foreign-aid
millions goodbye. The much publicized report by the National Coalition for
Haitian Rights and its mainstream human rights partners, calling on Aristide
to denounce the violence of his followers, only conveyed that message out in
the open (like a mouthpiece, if you will). When Uncle Sam speaks, the powers
that be in Haiti listen! The point here is not that Uncle Sam is against
Aristide as president in 2001, or is on the side of democracy in places like
Haiti. Uncle Sam wants a balance of power, with himself in the middle
calling the shots. For that to happen Washington must keep a firm handle on
all the players, and insure that they all play by the rules -- Uncle Sam's