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6917: "Aristide, Again"; Simidor responds to Cindy Tschampl (fwd)
I'm accused of knit-picking for saying that the use of "international community" as a euphemism for imperialism is an active act of misinformation. That innocent-sounding euphemism is actually a way for some people to surrender to the logic of not sounding too radical, of not speaking evil of one's own superpower. Of course, it's also a way to conceal US imperialism's true nature, which by the way "performs a much greater disservice" to . . . the Fon-imbo tree survival rate and the people of Gros Morne!
Back to "the crux of the matter" and the "little-publicized facts" of Cindy Tschampl's trip.
> First, Charles Sufrard, National Coordinator of KOZEPEP explained
> that in the May 21st election where crowds were very obvious each voter
> had to fill out six or seven ballots, thus extending the time they had to > wait in line. Compare this with the two ballots of the November 26th > election.
In an earlier post I pointed out that Charles Suffrard is a Lavalas operative, which is news only if you don't read or listen to the Haitian press. Suffrard boasted recently about how he's going to take over the leadership of Tèt Kole and MPP (Haiti's two national peasant organizations) if they persist in their opposition to Aristide. Maybe this doesn't invalidate his argument that two ballots as opposed to six or seven make for faster moving lines. But the big stumbling block for all the excuses compiled by Ms Tschampl is the absence of enough people to line up anywhere. Throughout the day on Nov. 26, I carefully listened to report after report by the teams of journalists from Radio Haiti, Vision 2000, Radio Quisqueya, Radio Ginen, and WLIB's Moment Creole. They all told the same story: that voter turnout was low everywhere except in Cite Soleil, that some polling places had registered fewer than 15 ballots by noon, and that generally people were casting their vote by stay!
ing at home.
> Second, Pierre Esperance, Director of NCHR Haiti said that the streets
> are always empty during elections, especially due to the fact that up
> until now driving was not allowed during election days.
Esperance could not say that the street are always empty on election day, since the litmus test for the Nov. 26 elections is precisely the absence of crowds. Cast your mind back to May 21 last year or to Dec. 16, 1990. What do you see? Crowds, everywhere. Until Nov. 26, it was accepted as common sense that the absence of crowds on the streets and of lines at the polls meant that people were sitting out the elections. This was true in 1988 for Manigat and again in 1995 for Preval's elections. But come Nov. 26, good bye common sense!
> Third, in an interview with members from three different youth groups in
> Gwo Mon, I found that they made a deliberate and rational decision to go
> to the voting bureaus one-by-one or in very small groups.
Aristide first thought of this clever stratagem when the people did not respond to his call to come out in huge numbers on Nov 26. But as an excuse, this is silly. 2.7 million people (60% of 4.5 million registered voters), spontaneously going out to vote in twos and threes, would take at least a week to cast their vote, not to the few hours the process lasted on Nov 26.
> Finally, Melinda Miles, Co-coordinator of the ICIO explained that the
> voting pattern shifted from heavy in the morning and very slow in the
> afternoon (May) to very slow in the morning and a steady trickle for
> the remainder of the day.
"Very slow in the morning and a steady trickle" the rest of the day is consistent with a 10 to 15% turnout. Radio Haiti-Inter, which is loyal to Lavalas, concurred with that observation. In fact Radio Haiti-Inter, reporting at 6 pm from an empty polling place, made the sad remark that "they were already stuffing the ballot boxes."
> Now, add this to the fact that the only groups to _actually observe_ the
> election _and_ give a defined percentage of voters report numbers that
> confirm and support the official results of 60% voter-turn out.
The two groups in question being KOZEPEP and the ICIO. As I explained previously, KOZEPEP is a Lavalas front, not the independent grassroots or peasant organization of Melinda Miles' imagination. The ICIO has also shown itself to be less than independent. The handful of people it deployed could not account for the fairness of an electoral process organized and controlled by the party in power.
> Not only can you not call it a "referendum", it says that Aristide has a > legitimate and strong mandate.
If not a referendum, what else do you call an election with only one candidate? Or do you actually count the 4 or 5 "pakapala" clowns whose names appeared on the ballot as actual candidates? The joke this week is that Jean Arnold Dumas is now loudly claiming the top post of any parallel or provisional government since he was the candidate with the most votes after Aristide! Which is not unlike Leslie Manigat's persistent claim for a pension for the 4 months he spent in the palace as Namphy's boy. Haitian politics have this funny way to make you laugh when tears are in order.
> Even the OAS said that by October, it was the Convergence that refused to
> budge in the negotiations despite numerous concessions offered by Fami > Lavalas.
Numerous Lavalas concessions? Now I know you're really joking.