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7573: What Haiti needs now



Haiti made a leap backwards of approximately two centuries by, once again, 
naming a "parallel 
president". As the result of contested legislative and presidential 
elections, a coalition among Haiti's political opposition parties named 
Gerard Gourgue "parallel president" alongside Jean-Bertrand Aristide the 
elected president.  In an atmosphere of reciprocal non-recognition, their 
respective partisans have begun to fight one another in a way that
the coming civil war if an entente is not negotiated. 

According to Amnesty International, "Several violent incidents have been 
reported since Saturday 
17 March 2001.  Among those, Lavalas supporters threw hand made explosives
the school run by opposition leader, Gerard Gourgue, whilst he remained 
trapped inside together with his family and 50 students.  Police
arrived and dispersed the mob with tear gas.  On Tuesday 20 March 2001 
Aristide supporters pushing for Gourgue's arrest reportedly threw rocks
molotov cocktails at the headquarters of the Convergence Democratique, 
wounding one opposition leader. 

Other Fanmi Lavalas party demonstrators outside the headquarters of the 
Convergence Democratique reported that two demonstrators were wounded by 
gunfire coming from inside the building.  Police present at the scene were 
said to have been forced to take shelter from the gunfire along with 

Violence is also apparently spreading across the country.  In Les Cayes on 
Wednesday, armed supporters of President Aristide are said to have taken
the streets demanding the arrest of a leading opposition figure.  In St.
on the west coast, an opposition supporter died of a bullet wound
received Saturday when President Aristide partisans attacked a peaceful 
protest.  In Hinche, the Lavalas Mayors of Hinche and Maissade lead an
against members of the Papaye Peasant Mouvement (MPP), and also on the
of the opposition's Democratic Consultation Group, allegedly shooting one 
member in the head and the other in the hand.  These incidents in Hinche
of particular concern following the event that took place on 2 November
at which an armed group, reportedly lead by the mayors of Hinche and 
Maissade, attacked and shot at participants at a meeting between the MPP
the Convergence Democratique, injuring five with bullet wounds." 

In 1807, just three years after Haiti's independence, Henri Christophe,
elected President ruling over the North, while Alexandre Petion, was 
concurrently, ruling over the South and West-including Port-au-Prince.
then, just like today, the political class was not able to reach the 
consensus necessary to govern the country.  Today this task is rendered
arduous with the passage of time and the accumulation of unresolved issues 
and sources of conflicts.  A chronic state of denial of justice and a 
zero-sum power struggle have not given any chance to nation-building. 

Haiti became independent with the motto: "liberty, equality, fraternity".   
While liberty was achieved, fraternity and equality remain elusive until 
today and play a significant role in the societal stalemate of, at least,
years.  The present Haitian leadership needs to honor the ideals  of 
independence, namely, liberty, equality and fraternity.  No one is free in 
the context of fraternal enmity and inequality.   No one is free when
is interpreted as laissez-faire and anarchy. 

The present government as well as the opposition must re-examine their 
purpose, and mission, and ask whether Haiti and the people deserve such an 
abysmal fate.  Friends of Haiti (the United States, France, Canada, 
Venezuela, Argentina, and others) should engage the Haitian leadership 
constructively in a way that assures the satisfaction of mutual interests, 
and at last, the take-off of Haiti as a country.  Direct foreign
in a reorganized Haitian economy would go a long way toward alleviating 
economic and social ills.  When "investment follow the flag", economic 
development and prosperity will usher social stability and progress. This
possible only if anarchy is replaced by order and stability.  The Haitian 
leadership has to assure the latter.  The other friends of Haiti, the
of the world, from all walks of life, should rally with the Haitian people
the struggle for a better day. 

Haiti needs to find its unity and a new brand of leadership. 

Joseph Marcel-Saint Louis   

Founder/President of The International Haitian Foundation and Friendship 
email:piaaas@aol.com  (Projet International Ayisyen pour l'Amitie et la