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#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 

Daniel Simidor