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9218: Freedom Identity and Socialism Collective part 2 (fwd)
New organisation searches for a way to rescue Haiti from a stultifying
crisis. (Part Two*)
by Charles Arthur for the Haiti Support Group (8 October, 2001)
At the beginning of June, the Freedom, Identity and Socialism Collective
published its proposals for a way to arrest the current crisis in Haiti. The
document, reproduced in the 8th June issue of Le Nouvelliste newspaper,
outlines "an urgent plan to save the nation and promote participatory
The appeal is addressed to "those sections of civil society in favour of
participatory democracy in the framework of national reconstruction," and
invites "all those who still believe in the potential of the Haitian people
to join together to find a way out of the crisis."
The Collective's hope is that the plan will serve as "the base on which will
be grafted a political accord in response to the crisis resulting from the
total breakdown in democratic procedures that was confirmed by the elections
"In order to find an effective and lasting way out, it is, above all," the
document states, "the responsibility of the different actors involved in the
crisis to enlarge the management of the situation to include sectors and
actors who are not just obsessed by the question of power. The issues are too
serious to be left only to these politicians; too serious for the other
concerned actors - the international community and civil society - to be
relegated to the positions of would-be referees or facilitators. Such an
aberration confirms that the very existence of the nation itself has been
taken hostage, and that the process of national development and
democratisation has been reduced to a struggle for power."
The International Community
In light of the Organisation of American States' recent formation of the
'Friends of Haiti' group (the United States, Canada, Argentina, the Bahamas,
Belize, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, along with Germany,
Spain, France and Norway), the Collective's position on the role of the
international community is all the more pertinent.
"The international community," the document continues, "cannot be conceived
of as a simple referee armed with the power to apply pressure exercised with
perfect neutrality against one or other of the protagonists. It is an actor
with its own interests, behaviour and procrastination which have an impact on
"Just as democracy has much to gain when national sectors hold the hand of
the international community to demand respect for certain universal rights,
at the same time the nation must unite to demand that the international
community respects our dignity as people and respects our national rights. We
should point out the way in which international solidarity can have real
"The construction of democracy should not be conceived of as emanating from a
process of bargaining between an international community that is in favour of
it, and a pernickety local team that has to have its ears twisted so that it
concedes certain minor advances under the pressure and threats of sanctions.
The reality is altogether different. It's about a society, albeit materially
weak, engaged in a dynamic of building democracy, and breaking out of the
limits imposed on such an exercise by those who see it as an international
relations crusade. At the origin of this crisis is the international
community's refusal to accompany the Haitian people in their democratisation
experience with respect for their will and for their dignity. Instead, it
imposed another model...."
"A prefabricated democracy, where the people are kept at a respectable
distance, and which is installed by local shifts, does not correspond to the
demands of our times. The democracy equation of a government brought to power
through corruption, plus internationally financed opposition parties, built
on a weakened civil society, is bankrupted. This is the reality of the crisis
that we are currently experiencing."
The Collective's document sends this message to the foreign ambassadors and
diplomatic envoys, "We have said that democracy in Haiti will be
participatory, or it will not be a democracy at all."
For over a year, the self-styled, Civil Society Initiative Group (GISC), has
attempted to present itself as a facilitator helping the protagonists reach a
compromise solution to the crisis arising from the May 2000 elections. The
GISC is composed on a number of private sector associations and interest
groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Centre for Free Enterprise and
Democracy, and Haiti's Protestant Church federation.
Without questioning the representativeness of the GISC, the Collective
stresses that "Haitian civil society, however it is composed, should not be a
referee for a crisis which is undermining the society of which it is a part.
Such an attitude suggests a certain conception of democracy that relegates
the whole of society to the role of a spectator that is only reactivated on
the occasion of periodic electoral contests."
"The willingness to impose the 'reduced democracy' model is precisely one of
the factors that is contributing to the dimensions of the current
crisis....The weakness of the political class; the inability of the
international community in its pretend role of referee to even bring the
protagonists together to agree an accord, and society's loss of confidence in
the nation's institutions, all demonstrate that, as we say, Haitian democracy
will be participatory or it will not be a democracy at all. If one attempts
to confine the people to the simple role of voting every now and then, one
purely and simply sacrifices democracy. Today, the attempt to reduce the
question to the manifestly totalitarian processes of an individual, hides the
most important aspect of the democratic process in Haiti."
"Haitian civil society in all its different components must take part in the
whole process of getting out of this profound crisis. That suggests that this
crisis must be understood as much more far-reaching than as just an electoral
issue. No durable solution will come out of a political accord between the
two protagonists - Lavalas and the Convergence - that merely concerns itself
with the electoral problematic. The basis of a way out of the crisis demands
the serious, clear and transparent involvement in an emergency plan to save
the nation and its democracy of the following three protagonists:
a) the international community,
b) the political class represented by the Lavalas Family and the Democratic
c) Haitian civil society in all of its components.
(Part Three - details of the CSIL emergency plan - to follow)
* Part One can be seen on the Haiti Support Group web site in the What's New
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The Haiti Support Group - solidarity with the Haitian people's struggle for
justice, participatory democracy and equitable development, since 1992.