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a286: Re: a267; A lawyer's spin on Dec. 17 (fwd)
In a267: "Analysis from Brain Concannon re Coup Attempt," Mr. Concannon
> In response, hundreds of thousands of Haitians took to
> streets throughout the country to defend their democracy.
The Haitian press and some Lavalas officials spoke of thousands of protesters
in front of the National Palace. The photographs I saw were consistent with
5 to 20 thousand people. The "hundreds of thousands" in question are
strictly from Concannon's vivid imagination.
> A few dozen protesters reacted violently,
> burning facilities of opposition parties,
The lawyer Concannon "forgets" to mention that the "protesters" in question
were heavily armed and travelled in all-terrain vehicles. Just like the
average Haitian, right? The good lawyer remains carefully vague in order to
sidestep the reality of a well-coordinated attack orchestrated by the Lavalas
party in power.
> The last four major coup attempts, two each in 1991 and
> 2001, all followed the same pattern. Each was timed
> to coincide with a wave of criticism of the elected authorities
> in Haiti by the economic elites and the media they controlled,
> usually echoed by the major media in the U.S.
Concannon's analogy between 1991 and 2001 leaves out two important factors:
1) that the military no longer exists as an organized force. (Lavalas is in
fact the main perpetrator of violence in Haiti today.) 2) that the people
are now mostly disillusioned after seven straight years of Lavalas corruption
> Last July, national and international criticism of the Haitian government
> again reached a peak. For over a year the criticism had centered on the
> elections of seven senators, most from the majority Lavalas party, etc.
Mr. Concannon points to "national and international criticism" of the Lavalas
regime as evidence of an international campaign to overthrow the Aristide
government. But he doesn't deal with the substance of that criticism, so
that he doesn't have to admit that most of that criticism is well-founded.
Likewise he dismisses the Convergence Democratique as a "US-financed
coalition," without mentioning that Aristide and his party were equally
financed and otherwise supported by the previous US administration. Deux
poids, deux mesures. What Concannon "forgets" to mentions is often more
instructive than his painstaking narrative.
> President Aristide and other government officials implored the population
> to defend their democracy, but without violence.
Mr. Concannon doesn't tell his readers that Aristide's call came well after
the commando left the palace and well after the Lavalas goons had burned down
the opposition homes and offices. Aristide has perfected the art of talking
peace while waging war.
> The police, overwhelmed and preoccupied with the
> deadly coup attempt, did little to halt the violence.
Ha, ha, talk about bending over backward to justify police inaction and
complicity with Lavalas mob violence! Would this excuse also hold for all
the times before that when the police either stood by or sided with Lavalas
> The abuse was targeted with remarkable consistency around the country:
You got that right.
> predictably against the attackers and the former military,
Actually there is no evidence of Lavalas goons going after right-wing
elements like the Tonton-Macoutes and the former military.
> but just as vehemently against the Convergence Democratique.
i.e. the real and sole target of Lavalas repression.
> The Convergence was targeted because it has managed to
> identify itself with both the Haitian population's greatest fear,
> and its greatest source of frustration.
A tricky statement which leads to the conclusion that Convergence was
targeted by the population, when in fact it was not. Convergence was
targeted by the Lavalas regime which sent out its goons to burn down the
opposition's HQ at Pont-Morin.
> For once in their troubled history, Haitians are free to speak their minds
There have been many stories, even on the Corbett list, of independent
trade-unionists and grassroots organizers being repressed by Lavalas, but you
wouldn't know it from Concannon's rosy picture.
> The army's lion share of the economy, extracted in small but
> regular amounts from peasants as bribes and protection money,
> and in large amounts from the state treasury, can now
> be diverted to healthcare, nutrition and education.
That "lion share" has not been "diverted to helthcare, nutrition and
education" but to Lavalas' deep pockets.
> For good reason, advocating the army's
> return in Haiti is equivalent to advocating free
> immigration for flight school students in the U.S.
An ackward and farfetched analogy, unless Concannon is strictly writing for
officials in the US government.
> Faced with mounting public opposition to its
> neo-liberal economic policies, the OPL government
> resigned, and the party split from Lavalas.
Were these neo-liberal policies not Aristide's in the first place? My
recollection is that Titid signed on the dotted line, and then fed his
Prime-Minister to the wolves when the people rejected his slogan
"Privatization Equals Democratization."
> The Convergence has identified itself with Haitians'
> worst fears by making the army's return a centerpiece
> of its political platform
This statement is factually untrue. The return of the army is not and has
never been the centerpiece of the Convergence platform. Two other points are
relevant here: 1) the majority of people feel that the Lavalas-controlled
Haitian National Police is just as repressive as the former military; 2) a
lot of people feel that a military force of some sort is necessary to guard
the country's border.
> . . . and calling for economic sanctions on its own suffering
Here Concannon conveniently forgets that Aristide did much worse a decade
ago. Whereas the opposition is merely calling on the US to avoid lending
more money to Lavalas, Aristide in 1992 called for a strictly enforced
international embargo -- an embargo that crippled the already ailing Haitian
> Now considered the enemy by a
> majority of the population, they most likely are
> beyond political rehabilitation.
Then why this maniacal fury against such a futile and puny oppostion? Is
Lavalas unable to cope with its own pathology?
> (although they are not formally part of the Convergence, Roger
> Lafontant's URN party, and the pro-military CREDDO party
> of dictator Prosper Avril participated in the IRI process, and
> support the Convergence).
Likewise, former Leopards chief Acedius St. Louis and FRAPH propagandist
what's-his-name Baulieu were/are now part of the Lavalas bandwagon.
> This converted a 12% vote share into a near veto over
> Haiti's political and economic development.
Why are foreign loans so crucial to Haiti's "political and economic
development?" Why this avid reliance on foreign dependency -- unless it's an
avidness on the part of Lavalas officials to wet their beaks at the foreign
> . . . pursuing power by alienating voters does not
> inspire confidence that the party will later respond
> to democratic checks on its power.
Ha, ha, as if Lavalas was responding to such democratic checks on its power.
>In the same way opposition parties whose support comes
> from outside the electorate become accountable to those
> constituencies, and therefore inherently undemocratic.
Go ahead, dear reader, apply the same standards to US politics and see what
> The U.S. should also help the Haitian government help
> its people, by resuming direct aid and ending the
> embargo at the international financial institutions.
There you have it: the Concannon piece is part of Lavalas' fancy lobbying to
get their hands on the fabulous $500 millions of promised international
assistance. Blame it on Convergence all you want, that money is no longer
available. Not while the US is in a severe recession and while the
international financial institutions are telling Argentina to drop dead.
Lavalas' attempt to blame the opposition for its lousy economic performance
in 2001 has not fooled the people.
Quite frankly, if you discount all the money the Duvaliers would steal
(roughly the equivalent of all the foreign assistance programs from 1969 to
1986), then add the huge chunk that used to go for the military, you get as
much if not more than the Duvaliers used to have in their budgets. The lowest
projection for the 2002 budget is 8 billion gourdes, roughly half a billion
US dollars. By US standards it's a pittance, but enough nonetheless to
maintain basic services, i.e. keep the water running, the electricity on, and
clean up the streets.
So why is Lavalas failing so miserably where the corrupt Duvaliers used to
maintain at least a minimum of standard? Because of rampant Lavalas
corruption and incompetence, that's why. But you won't read that in
Concannon's clever prose, because lawyer Brian Concannon is a Lavalas hired
gun. His job is not to tell the truth, but to make his client, Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, look good. And guess who's paying for that slick damage-control
operation? The poor Haitian tax-payer, that's right.