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#4087: Tom Driver comments on recemt Haitian violence: Judson comments
Driver's comments on June 5 were awakening - pardon the pun. I was back in
Haiti as a part of a group of volunteer election observers organized by
Global Villages and The Quixote Center. Last visit was in Dec. 99 but lived
in the country for two years from '97 to '99 and have made other short term
visits since 1968 - yearly since 1984. It is quite obvious that confusion,
violence, embargoes, and general decay of infrastructure are harming the
poor. Many of the elite are well protected, can go to Miami for shopping,
have good cars which cushion the terrible roads, and, to top it all, can have
as much hired help as they wish to do whatever they want because those in the
streets are happy to earn any small pittance. Aside from this, however,
there is a genuinely committed group of middle class and elite Haitians who
are struggling to create some political and economic stability. The
elections on May 21 demonstrated an extremely strong political will. The
people, themselves, cooperated to make the photo ID card issue a success.
They carried these cards with immense pride to voting stations and made their
will known even though there was an overhanging cloud of threatened violence.
It is a mixed picture and one which can only change with the emergence of a
strong leader who will unite the people. The new leader may not be exactly
what outside governments think best for Haiti but if that person is able to
coordinate the efforts of ALL Haitians, there is real hope for improvement.
The presidential elections are only 5 to 6 months away and as of this date,
there are no visible candidates who have any chance to accomplish these
things except Mr. Arrested. Remember, however, that in the elections of
1990, Aristide, himself was not a very visible candidate until about this
time of year. Others may still arise as reasonable candidates for this
election but the people will decide what they want and we, along with all
other international governments, will need to support that person.