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8852: Haiti's Current Situation and the Caribbean Context (fwd)

From: MKarshan@aol.com

By Hazel Ross-Robinson 
Ross-Robinson & Associates

During its June Summit in San Jose, Costa Rica, the Organization of American 
States unanimously endorsed a resolution incorporating the five point plan 
put forward by President Jean Bertrand Aristide to break the political logjam 
in Haiti. The initiatives identified by President Aristide for moving Haiti 
forward were: the resignation of seven senators; the establishment of a new 
electoral council by June 25, 2001; holding elections to replace the seven 
senators prior to the end of 2001; a reduction by two years of the terms of 
all parliamentarians elected in Haiti's May 2000 (and the holding of 
elections for the establishment of a permanent electoral council); and the 
establishment of an OAS/Caricom mission to facilitate dialogue and strengthen 
democratic institutions in Haiti. 

The United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan declared his support for the 
unanimously passed OAS resolution. President Aristide, Haiti's Catholic/ 
Protestant churches, Fanmi Lavalas and other political parties in Haiti moved 
forward to implement the OAS resolution. Convergence, a political grouping 
with no support amongst the Haitian people, declared the OAS resolution "a 
snake we will not swallow." 

To make good on its promise, Convergence has refused to name any members to 
the electoral council. As a result, the OAS/Caricom mission that traveled to 
Haiti on June 24 in anticipation of the June 25 installation of the new 
electoral council (called for in the OAS resolution), was for naught. When 
Convergence refused to present any names, President Aristide (as required by 
the OAS resolution) expressed the readiness of all other nominating entities 
(the supreme court, Haiti's Protestant/Catholic Churches, Fanmi Lavalas, and 
other political parties) to go forward with substitute nominations in order 
to meet the OAS-established June 25 deadline. The Secretary General of the 
OAS, however, requested that President Aristide extend the deadline to July 
1, in order to permit the OAS to continue "consultations" with Convergence.

On June 30, Convergence presented the Government of Haiti with a list of 
demands that were diametrically opposed to the objectives and timelines 
contained in the OAS resolution. 

Convergence demanded that the elections for the seven senate seats be held 
not in 2001, as specified in the OAS resolution, but in May 2002. Convergence 
also demanded that elections no longer be staggered as required by the OAS, 
but that elections for the seven senate seats be held at the same time as the 
2002 elections for 1/3 of the senate. Incredibly, Convergence even demanded 
that it be given the right to "review and evaluate" last November's 
presidential elections even though the outcome of these elections was neither 
questioned nor referenced in the OAS resolution. More recently, Convergence 
has demanded that the terms of all local officials be reduced. (The OAS 
Electoral Report found nothing wrong with the election of Haiti’s local 

Who Benefits From The Crisis? Who Loses? 
Convergence seems intent on prolonging the crisis in Haiti. What Caribbean 
governments must not lose sight of, however, is the impact of Convergence's 
power play on the lives of eight million Haitians. Despite its lack of 
popular Haitian support, but with the help of foreign-based enthusiasts, 
Convergence continues to hold the government and people of Haiti hostage. By 
refusing to "cooperate", Convergence continues to hold up international loans 
for urgently needed health, literacy, water  and other projects. The 
international community has stated that until the crisis is resolved, there 
will be no international loans to Haiti. So, if Convergence maintains its 
stance, the Government of Haiti will be denied the resources it must have to 
serve the Haitian people. In light of Haiti's pressing social and economic 
needs, and in light of Aristide's support throughout Haiti, Caribbean 
governments must demand within the OAS that the San Jose resolution be 
considered sacrosanct and inviolable, and that Convergence's rejection of the 
OAS resolution be declared obstructionist The OAS resolution represents the 
region's only realistic hope for ending the crisis in Haiti.

A New Look At Haiti
Democratically elected Caribbean governments must no longer allow Convergence 
to hold the Haitian people hostage. More importantly, they must no longer 
allow Convergence to hold them hostage. 

In an effort to hasten the resolution of the crisis, the Government of Haiti 
has done even more than was required by the OAS resolution. The government 
has secured the resignation of the seven senators.  In a show of good faith 
it has reduced the term of all remaining senators elected in May 2000 by two 
years.  It has reduced by half the term of all deputies elected in May 2000 
although the validity of those 
elections was never questioned in the OAS Electoral Report. And the 
government, the OAS, and the Catholic/Protestant Churches in Haiti are in 
agreement that local officials should complete their terms, but will go to 
the polls six months early. (The legitimacy of Haiti’s local elections was 
never questioned by the OAS.) 

Finally, until the crisis is resolved, the government has also committed to 
hold off on scheduling the indirect elections that would lead to the 
appointment of judges and the establishment of a permanent electoral council.

“Virtual” Democracy In A Caribbean Context
Convergence is seeking political power in Haiti via “a global political 

The international community must be careful about introducing such alien and 
undemocratic "arrangements" to a solidly democratic Commonwealth Caribbean 
community. The Caribbean's politically ambitious but locally disdained have 
never been able to work with foreign-based supporters to trump political 
rivals who have built up a strong base of in-country popular support. 
Successful politicians throughout the Caribbean community have had to woo, 
compete, charm, and deliver for their nationals in exchange for political 
power. It would be in the best interest of the entire region if Caricom 
governments were to impress upon Convergence the fact that campaigning, 
competing, and winning the hearts and minds voters are the only paths to 
legitimate political power in a democracy. There is no prime minister or 
opposition leader anywhere in the Caribbean community who has had political 
power handed to them by the OAS, Caricom, Washington, or Ottawa. It is not 
wise to head down this slippery slope in Haiti. The way forward in Haiti must 
be illuminated and inspired by the Commonwealth Caribbean's long tradition of 
vibrant democracy. Caribbean governments must resist any attempts to 
re-introduce the kinds of anti-democratic “political arrangements” that led 
to so much suffering and injustice in “the old Haiti.” 

Caricom's Moment
With so much at stake, Caribbean governments must step forward now to restore 
the San Jose Resolution as the sole blueprint for ending the crisis in Haiti. 
Caricom governments must also recognize, expose, and counter any politically 
motivated attempts to break the back of the Haitian government by those 
clearly determined to make resolution of the crisis impossible. In so doing, 
Caribbean governments will have met the challenge posed at this crucial 
juncture in the region's history by being the principled voice that led the 
OAS to say "enough" to unelected politicians in Haiti who, for too long, have 
wreaked havoc with the lives of eight million Haitians. 

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