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9893: Aristide the powerless? Chamberlain comments (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>

Bob Walton's view of Aristide as an inncocent surrounded by thugs is
familar.  When things go wrong, as here, the charismatic figure is often
portrayed thus, with a diatribe thrown in about how it's all the fault of a
bunch of Johnny Foreigners.

Since Aristide hasn't chosen to move against these thugs acting in his name
(or even perhaps on his orders -- remember how they spilled out into the
streets when CEP president Manus refused to endorse the doctored Senate
election results, when that refusal was not yet public), one must ask if he
has any power to stop them.  

If it is concluded that he does have that power, but doesn't use it, then
he is unfit to hold office (though the squabbling Afghan-style "opposition"
is hardly an alternative).  If he does not have that power, then what is he
doing there?  This is the guy with supposedly the greatest mass support and
mass organisation in the country's history, yet it does not extend to
stopping people (including journalists) being lynched.

Or is he simply holding the fort against a coup by Dany Toussaint?  The
blocked Jean Dominique murder investigation really is the test, as most of
his erstwhile international supporters now seem to have concluded.  Who can
believe Aristide does not have the power to make the Lavalas senators turn
up for work and lift Toussaint's immunity so he can be formally charged
(though of course not yet found guilty by a court) ?  Can someone on the
government side explain why these basic functions of any government
(controlling quasi-political thugs, curbing cabinet-level corruption and
making parliamentarians of the ruling party earn their salaries) are not
being fulfilled?  So far the answer has been an embarrassed silence from
the regime and its spokespeople, including Corbetteer Michelle Karshan. 
And please, no whining about big bad foreigners.

The continued withholding of much aid is unjustified, but it is, as ever,
being used as a tired old excuse for inaction elsewhere.

Poincy's portrayal of the mentality of the opposition (but applicable to
all the political class) is accurate, but his famous solution of
dictatorship would, of course, simply officialise rule by the thugs
employed "unofficially" at present.

Come on, Mr President, be straight with us.  Have you got any power or
haven't you?   And if so why haven't you been using it to control the
"Lavalas" thugs?  Is Dany Toussaint more powerful than you and are you
terrified of him?  We'd all like to know.   Prove to us you're not the
devil incarnate the opposition says you are by coming up with some action.

        Greg Chamberlain