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a858: U.S. and the Haiti elections (fwd)





From: radtimes <resist@best.com>

U.S. and the Haiti elections

Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Feb. 21, 2002
issue of Workers World newspaper
-------------------------

REMEMBER FLORIDA, GEORGE BUSH?
U.S. CRITICIZES HAITIAN ELECTIONS

By G. Dunkel

The United States is refusing to release $200 million in
loans to Haiti. At the same time, the poor in Haiti are
hungry and desperate, while the wealthy and their hired
politicians--with open ties to exiled Duvalierists and
Macoutes--try to incubate a political crisis.

The Duvalier family ruled Haiti as presidents-for-life from
1957 to 1986 with the firm financial and political support
of the U.S. government. The Macoutes were the paramilitary
organization that protected their rule.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking recently at a
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) meeting in the Bahamas, said,
"We are terribly concerned about the political unrest that
continues to haunt Haiti. We are concerned about some of the
actions of the government, and we do not believe enough has
been done yet to move the political process forward."

"We believe we have to hold President [Jean-Bertrand]
Aristide and the Haitian government to fairly high standards
of performance before we can simply allow funds to flow into
the country," he added.

Some Haitians living in the United States argue that under
these standards, all federal funds to Florida would have to
be cut off because of its undemocratic conduct of the 2000
presidential elections.

While Powell claims Aristide has not moved the "political
process forward," the U.S. government still gives Emmanuel
"Toto" Constant political asylum and a comfortable existence
in Laurelton, Queens, part of New York City. Constant was
head of FRAPH, another paramilitary organization that was
responsible for 3,000 to 5,000 deaths from 1991 to 1994,
when the Haitian military ran the country.

When the U.S. Army occupied Haiti in 1994, Stan Goff, a
Vietnam vet and Green Beret, was one of the U.S. soldiers in
the invasion force. His book, "Hideous Dream-- Racism and
the U.S. Army Invasion of Haiti," is an exposť of the racism
and hypocrisy that lurked behind the occupation. Goff was
arrested and expelled from the country for resisting orders
to treat FRAPH like a "legitimate political opposition."

The issue that the United States has seized as its pretext
is the conduct of the 2000 elections for Haitian Senate.
Aristide's political party won 26 out of the 27 seats; in
six races the opposition contested the rules under which the
votes were counted. Aristide has offered to rerun the
elections, but the opposition has for the last year and a
half put up obstacles to avoid coming to an agreement with
the government.

BUSINESS LEADERS CALL FOR 'LAW AND ORDER'

The week before the CARICOM conference in the Bahamas, the
top business leaders of Haiti issued a common statement on
the "unacceptable deterioration of law and order in the
country." (Agence France Press, Feb. 1). They called on the
government to agree to their demands and the demands of the
Organization of American States (OAS), which just happen to
be the same as the U.S. demands.

While the U.S. has refused to release loan money directly to
the Haitian government, it has funneled about $56 million to
private, non-governmental organizations that have started
importing rice, a staple of the Haitian diet. A
"cooperative" set up by some members of the government
started channeling the rice away from charity to private
merchants and taking a cut of the profits along the way.

After the scandal broke, hundreds of people stormed
warehouses at the port and began making off with sacks of
"peace rice." Heavily armed cops broke up the expropriation,
according to Haitian Radio reports, and then began taking
the rice for themselves. Powell then delivered his rebuke in
Bermuda.

This kind of protest over corruption and the lack of food is
common enough in desperately poor countries like Haiti. What
is significant is that it was U.S. money that fueled the
whole deal. At the same time the U.S. is in cahoots with the
local comprador bourgeoisie, whose "Convergence" party is
waging a fierce political campaign against the government.

Ben Dupuy, secretary general of the National Peoples Party,
warns that "The Convergence has the support of the OAS and
is financed by foreigners. They cry scandal but do not
mention that they receive money from abroad to make an
alleged opposition in order to return with the Macoute
army."

He calls on the struggle in Haiti to last until final
victory.