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Haiti | International

Elites Try to Block Democracy in Haiti, Again
by Ben Terrall
Tuesday Feb 14th, 2006 9:14 AM
More elite machinations to block will of the poor majority are both more of the same and a blatant provocation to create a self-fullfilling prophecy, that is "ungovernable" masses.

Executive Director of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) Jacques Bernard, an appointee of the unconstitutional coup regime’s ‘interim’  Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, indicated Saturday evening that the percentage of votes for Presidential candidate Rene Préval in the February 7 presidential elections was actually lower than originally estimated. This was due to the addition of 72,000 blank ballots.

A spokesman for the electoral council said blank votes had not been counted in past elections, but these ballots were added to vote totals used to calculate each candidate's tally, effectively lowering each candidate's percentage of the overall vote and dropping the vote for Préval to less than 50 percent. If this is allowed to stand, there will be a runoff vote, presumably pitting Préval , the only candidate with wide credibility and respect among the country's poor majority, against elite-backed Leslie Manigat, who has no popular base and only received around 12 percent of the vote.

Electoral council member Pierre Richard Duchemin said he was being denied his rightful access to information about the tabulation process and called for an investigation.

Pointing to "a certain level of manipulation," Duchemin told The Associated Press, "there is an effort to stop people from asking questions."

Dr. Frantz Large, a Senate candidate for Lespwa, Préval’s party, observed: "The first objective of the provisional authority is to force René Préval to a 2nd round, and run a coalition of candidates against him.

"The second objective is to push the popular masses who have a legitimate beef, into the streets, inciting them to vent blind rage onto the « bord de mer » (dockside) in Port-au-Prince which houses stores and offices of all kinds, small businesses, fine victims making up the country’s working middle class. This would certainly lead to creating hate and resentment against President Préval, and a desire to find refuge in stifling policies that border on fascism."

Further fanning the flames of discontent amongst hundreds of thousands who have been subjected to unrelenting repression involving rape, extrajudicial execution and illegal imprisonment of dissidents since the February 2004 U.S.-backed ouster of the democratically-elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the UN today again opened fire on demonstrators in Port-au-Prince. An anonymous UN official told a reporter that "several dozen" were injured.

Meanwhile, more than 800 U.S. troops will soon be stationed in the Dominican Republic’s capital Santo Domingo (200 miles from Port-au-Prince), along with stockpiles of "war materials."  A member of the progressive Dominican coalition People´s Unity, which is protesting this development, noted, "Dominicans remember that in 1915, under the so-called Monroe Doctrine America for the Americans, US forces invaded Haiti and a year later our soil."

Frantz Large observed of the latest anti-democratic maneuvers of Haiti’s U.S.-backed elites, "The Haitian people continue to be treated in the same paternalistic and colonialist manner which consists of believing them to be complete idiots, and expressing disbelief when this noble people demonstrates its notable intelligence."

Not surprisingly, that treatment is nowhere clearer than in most mainstream press coverage of the election. Much was made of whether or not Preval would allow President Aristide, still a bete noir of the Bush Administration, to allow to return to Haiti, but questions about plans for the hundreds of violent criminals freed by the coup regime were notably absent. And in discussing UN troops with a journalist this week, Mark Schneider of the International Crisis Group said:

"Even with all the problems, nobody here is saying they want them to leave -- on the left, right, or center. They are needed here not for one year, or two years, but for the next 10 years." But there are people that want the UN to leave -- they just aren’t French or English speakers, the only people that U.S. reporters tend to interview. They are among those people Ginger Thompson of the New York Times referred to when she wrote that electoral irregularities “have  sent crowds of menacing people out of the slums," a construction that the Times surely never used when describing State Department-supported white demonstrators contesting election results in the Ukraine.

As usual, the San Francisco Bay View was one of the few U.S. outlets offering an alternative perspective to the conventional wisdom. In an article by Haiti-based journalist Lynn Duff, a 70 year-old gardner explained, “At my age, you aren’t fooled by the charlatans anymore. I knew this would happen, that the people holding the puppet strings would not allow a just and fair vote. The question is, since there are so many people who are voting for Lespwa, will the masterminds of this situation be able to prevent him from winning? We will see.

“Our enemy thinks so poorly of us that he underestimates us. He thinks we are uneducated and ignorant, but his misunderstanding of the Haitian people will be his undoing.”

To act in solidarity with the poor majority of Haiti as they struggle to hold on to their hard-won democratic rights, see IJDH.org. An action alert should also be up shortly at HaitiAction.net.



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Mr.CaramelTuesday Feb 14th, 2006 2:23 PM