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#3930: Pina writes about ramifications of elections (fwd)

From: kevin pina <cariborganics@hotmail.com>

Port au Prince, May 28, 2000 - There is palpable tension left in the wake of 
Haiti's  recent parliamentary elections as many Lavalas supporters brace 
themselves for possible attacks by those who oppose a return of Jean-Betrand 
Aristide to Haiti's presidency.  While a few naturally feel it could strike 
at any moment, others speculate it is more likely to occur closer to the 
final tallying when Lavalas appears to have won a majority in the Haitian 
parliament.  This is not an irrational fear, as Haitian history will attest. 
  For many, today is as it ever was, confronting the fear of retaliation 
from the wealthy elite and the military that are backed by powerful 
political allies in the US government.

When Jean-Bertrand Aristide emerged as the hands down winner of Haiti's 
presidential elections in 1990, it was at the head of a broad popular 
movement fomented by Haiti's poor majority known as Lavalas. After having 
endured years of being ruled as virtual chattel by the wealthy elite and 
military dictatorships which were propped up through corruption and 
violence, they courageously spoke with one clear voice in December of 1991 
to demand real change in Haiti. Aristide and the Lavalas movement came to 
symbolize in the hearts and minds of most Haitians the desire to overturn 
the dark legacy of the past and create the possibility of a new future for 
Haiti's impoverished majority.  Aristide's election by Haiti's poor majority 
was only the first challenge to the power of the country's traditional 
rulers. Preval and Aristide then pushed it further by throwing open the 
gates of Haiti's political reality to include the voice of the country's 
poor and dispossessed.  For the first time the voices of the poor were 
echoed throughout Haiti's greatest symbol of power, the presidential palace.

After only seven months, this was, in the common tradition of Haiti, 
followed by a violent military coup financed and backed by the wealthy elite 
with powerful allies in Washington. This vicious military coup was prolonged 
by a half-hearted US led embargo that many in Lavalas believe was designed 
to allow time for the movement to slowly get chewed up by the army. At the 
same time, many within Haiti's traditional elite strengthened their position 
and added to their vast fortunes through profiteering during the embargo. 
Many Lavalas veterans view the coup as having been a "slow bleed" scenario 
for depleting the best resources of a popular movement for change while 
allowing Washington's traditional allies to grow stronger.

Those who offer this view have good reason to believe that the political 
machinations of Washington will not cease until they have a government to 
their liking in Haiti. First there was the coup of September 1991.  Then, 
after Aristide's return there was the parliamentary elections of 1997, in 
which Lavalas won a clear majority, only to have them annulled following 
charges of fraud led by the likes of the International Republican Institute, 
The Carter Center for Democracy and the National Democratic Institute and 
the OPL.  For many of in Haiti's grassroots it has become crystal clear that 
a government to Washington's liking does not include Aristide or Lavalas. As 
Haiti approaches the final tally of the ballots in this latest round of "US 
sponsored" elections, many are convinced it is essentially the same 
configuration of forces and dynamics in play today, the poor majority of 
Haitians opposed by the wealthy elite and their allies in the former 
military supported by powerful friends in Washington.

Not surprisingly, remnants of the US-trained Haitian military don't agree 
with the concept of popular democracy and in light of recent evidence there 
is growing speculation they have been plotting a comeback for quite some 
time. A May 11th story broke in Haiti reporting that eight former members of 
the Haitian military had been arrested for operating an underground 
recruitment network that supplied photo IDs bearing the official logo of the 
Armed Forces of Haiti.  A warrant was also issued for the arrest of the 
signatory of the military IDs, identified as Mr. Serge Justafort who was 
working as chief of security for rental installations used by the US 
diplomatic mission in Haiti. Although much attention was given to this story 
in Haiti, confirmed by the Haitian National Police and the Ministry of 
Justice, not one word of it reached the international press.

The name of a Canadian national named Lynn Garrison also surfaced in 
connection with the busts in Haiti. Garrison was described in a June 1994 
interview in the Toronto Globe and Mail as "a former Canadian born fighter 
pilot…playing the improbable role of advisor to the military regime, public 
relations man for the 1991 coup, and intelligence source for attacks by 
American conservatives on exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide." Garrison 
has made public claims he was the source for the "psychological profile" of 
former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide that was presented by the 
CIA's Brian Latelle to the US Senate in 1993. In that report, Aristide was 
described as mentally unbalanced, on lithium, and having been confined to a 
Canadian mental institution in the 1980's. On may 17th, less than one week 
before Haiti's scheduled election, the Haitian National Police issued an 
"arrest on sight" for Garrison on charges of "activities suspected of being 
destabilizing to democratic order."   As one could have guessed, no mention 
was ever made of this in the international press.

The US Embassy staff, under former Ambassador Alvin Adams, used to refer to 
Haiti's wealthy class as the MRE's or the Morally Repugnent Elite because of 
their pronounced lack of concern for their fellow human beings.  They too 
have also resurfaced in the form of Olivier Nadal, unabashed coup supporter 
and president of the Haitian Chamber of Commerce.  Mr. Nadal claims to have 
taken refuge in Washington out of fear of reprisals from Aristide, Preval, 
Lavalas, and the Haitian people. Popular organizations in Haiti have 
publicly accused Mr. Nadal of involvement in a campaign to force small 
peasant farmers off their land in the Artibonite Valley in 1995.  It 
resulted in the "sacking and burning of over 100 homes and left several 
dead" according to the peasant rights organization Tet Kole.

Mr. Nadal's departure from Haiti coincided with the shenanigans of American 
Rice Corporation, owned by the  Erly Corporation based in Los Angeles 
California, whose company representatives staged a dramatic flight from the 
country after it was revealed they had under claimed imports values to avoid 
customs fees.  Nadal is also the voice closest to the ears of Senator Jesse 
Helms(R-SC), the powerful chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee, and is known to have the favor of Congressman Benjamin Gilman 
(R-NY), chairman of the House International Relations Committee.  On May 19, 
the eve of Haiti's parliamentary elections Nadal stated, " Aristide 
demonized Haiti's military to a point that no one commented upon its 
destruction, even though the army was Haiti's only structured element of 
law-and-order. This was replaced by an Aristide controlled police force, now 
coordinating much of the cocaine traffic into America. It is greatly 
responsible for much of the violence in Haiti as Aristide directs their 
activities from his 50 plus acre estate at Tabarre. Not bad for a priest who 
renounced his "vows of poverty" in October of 1990. He is now said to be 
worth over one billion dollars-much of his cocaine related"!!

Given the recent revelations about the military and Nadal's pronouncements, 
to many in Lavalas it appears there is a new alliance being forged between 
Haiti's former military and the wealthy elite that represents a long lineage 
of "traditional" rulers known for their brutality and ruthlessness.  They 
realize that the thought of a Lavalas led parliament and Aristide's return 
to the presidency must be a nightmare scenario to these familiar opponents.  
It must be the same for their allies in Washington.  Early press reports 
from the election included scenarios of an Aristide "dictatorship" replete 
with a circle of "drug barons" and "political assassins" while Lavalas is 
portrayed as a violent mob under the control of a charismatic leader.  There 
has, after all, been much invested in this campaign to cultivate an image of 
Aristide as a former priest and president transformed into a monster leading 
unruly mobs through the streets of Port au Prince.

PART 2  to follow

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