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5415: This Week in Haiti 18:33 11/1/00 (fwd)
"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
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"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
November 1 - 7, 2000
Vol. 18, No. 33
DIALOGUE, YES, BUT NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF INSTITUTION-BUILDING
by Dumas F. Lafontant
I support the efforts of the Government of Haiti and the
Organization of American States (OAS) to engage Haiti's political
parties in a dialogue. However, the primary concern of such
dialogue must be to strengthen, not weaken, Haiti's independence.
Toward this end, a new president must be sworn into office on
February 7, 2001. This is a condition that assures the political
integrity and territorial sovereignty of the nation.
Indeed, it is important to debunk the myth that the United
States, Canada, Argentina and Venezuela are the four "Friends of
Haiti." History has shown that nations do not have friends. They
have interests. Haiti's interests are to be neither isolated nor
assimilated. Moreover, Haiti's interests today are best served
and safeguarded in an "open world" characterized by social
mobility, political freedom, diversity of opinion, and freedom
from the legal restrictions that impede not just trade, but above
Although we live in a supposedly post-colonial period, a new
world order is being implemented which appoints a handful of
political and financial institutions as the overseers of nation
states. This is the reality Haitian political leaders presently
face. For example, the OAS contends that the counting method used
by the Provisional Electoral Council to tabulate the May 21
Senate races violates the election law. But it is clear that
their real objection is to the current composition of the Haitian
I would prefer to see the international community contribute to
institution-building rather than play the role of overseer.
Institution-building is one of the prerequisites that would
enable Haiti to break free from the stranglehold of dependency.
Presently, this condition is far from being achieved. Instead,
the OAS mediation approach seems to be modeled on European
colonial ideology. This ideology goes as follows: it is the duty
of Euro-Americans, and the United States in particular -- the
"mission civilatrice" if you will -- to bring democracy to
Haitians, to elevate them to the level of other civilized men.
Haiti is the only nation founded and built by former slaves. When
our founders bequeathed us this enduring legacy, they clearly
never envisioned Haiti as dependant on foreign aid. This is a
legacy and a vision that Lavalas should work to uphold.
*The author is a Haitian community activist in Boston.
"CRY OF THE EXCLUDED" IS HEARD IN NEW YORK CITY
by Jose Matta
On the anniversary of the arrival of Europeans in the Western
Hemisphere more than 500 hundred years ago, Nobel Prize winner
Adolfo Perez Esquivel and other renowned Latin-American human
rights activists gathered in Manhattan on Thursday, October 12th
to inaugurate the "Cry of the Excluded" movement in the U.S.
The event took place at the auditorium of the health workers'
union Local 1199/SEIU (Service Employees International Union).
The movement has also been launched in Philadelphia and soon will
spread to other US cities.
The "Cry of the Excluded" is a mass movement that grew from the
struggle of landless peasants in Brazil for political recognition
from other sectors of society and also to coordinate their
numerous nationwide actions. The Brazilian landless peasants
comprise close to three million families who roam the country
seeking to occupy abandoned lands and make them productive.
Hundreds, possibly thousands, of landless farmers have lost their
lives in the last 20 years, some in confrontations with
landowners and their private armies or with the police. Others
have perished from incredible hardship.
Landless peasants and many other poor people's organizations have
been ignored by most of Brazil's traditional political parties
(with the exception of the Brazilian Worker's Party) and excluded
from the political process. Therefore, "Cry of the Excluded"
groups were formed to obtain political representation.
Similar exclusion occurs around the continent, and now "Cry of
the Excluded" groups have been launched in fourteen Latin
American nations, generating a truly "Continental Cry".
Facing poverty, police brutality and relentless political
exclusion, numerous popular and community organizations in the US
have joined in the "Continental Cry", loudly and assertively.
*The author is the 1199/SEIU Nursing Home Education Fund
Last week we erroneously reported that Guy Philippe was in the
U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince based on incorrect information we
received as we were going to press from a close family member of
former police chief Ralph Fetière. That family member later
corrected the information to say that Fetière was rather in the
Dominican Embassy in Haiti and Philippe was indeed in the
Dominican Republic. We regret the error. The rest of the story
was drawn from another source, and we stand by it.
All articles copyrighted Haiti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Progres.