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9121: RE: 9111: No replies to Poincy?? (fwd)
From: Joel Dreyfuss <email@example.com>
I suspect that like others on the list who are tired of hearing such
arguments, I didn't even bother responding to Poincy. It's an old -- and
completely discredited argument. Nobody votes for benevolent dictatorship.
No unelected government has credibility. We're having enough problem getting
credibility for an elected government in Haiti.
I'd be the first to say that democracy is a learned process and that
Haitians have a lot to learn --but so do Russians, Lithuanians, East
Timorese, Poles, Mexicans and any other people who get the opportunity for
self-rule. I think we've seen the destructiveness of dictatorships in Africa
and the choatic end-game of dictatorship in Asia, where many of the
authoritarian governments were considered benevolent by many in the West.
Haiti has never had a real national government; the difference between our
various regimes has been the degree of power they are able to project
outside of Port-au-Prince. That was the original intent of the military
prefect system created in the 19th century. Out of paranoia, Duvalier I
consolidated power in Port-au-Prince and destroyed what little autonomy and
infrastructure existed in the provinces. Duvalier II completed the collapse
of government to Port-au-Prince our of sheer greed. Aristide I,II(Preval)
and III have shown no real capacity (and very little interest) to create a
managerial structure for the country.
What most Haitians mean by benevolent government is actually a moderated
kleptocracy. This is often the result of looking at the advances in Santo
Domingo's infrastructure under Trujillo. If we could get the level of
corruption down one or two orders of magnitude, some Haitians argue, some of
the money could actually trickle down to the people. It's a nice idea, but
it's least likely to happen under any kind dictatorship -- benevolent or
otherwise. A more vigorous democracy, with a free press and an involved
electorate, has a better chance of achieving this than some kind of
strongman (or strongwoman) government.