[News] Haiti Elections: The 'Pottery Barn Rules'

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Mon Feb 13 16:03:09 EST 2006

Haiti Elections: The 'Pottery Barn Rules'

by John Maxwell

If you really want to know what's wrong with 
Haiti consider this: On Thursday night, when it 
was clear that Rene Preval was getting something 
over 60% of the votes in the UN organised Haitian 
election, one of his opponents, the man coming 
second with about 12% of the votes was a former 
stand-in president, Leslie Manigat.

Manigat, recognising reality, said that the trend 
suggested that Preval had swept the board and 
that there might be no need for a runoff.

The candidate running third, a millionaire 
sweatshop owner named Charles Henri Baker, had a 
different opinion. Mr Baker, with about 6% of the 
vote,one tenth of Preval's and half as many as 
Manigat's, was promising to launch an election 
petition, charging fraud, hoping to overturn the results.

I cannot imagine anything which more clearly 
illustrates the mind-set of Haiti's so-called 
ruling class, the Elite, whose rapacious greed, 
racist intransigence and bone-headed stupidity 
have provided the main roadblock in Haiti's 200 
year long struggle to establish a free and civilised society.

I don't think it is possible for anyone, anywhere 
else in the world, to believe that Mr Baker's 
initiative makes any sense whatever. I don't 
believe that even in the US Embassy in Port au 
Prince or in the State Department itself that 
there is anyone who could believe that there is 
any way, short of assassination, to deny the 
people of Haiti their basic human rights after 
this week's demonstration of resolution and will.

For the last ten years Charles Henri Baker and an 
assortment of freebooters like himself, notably 
fellow sweatshop owners Reginald Boulos and Andy 
Apaid, have been able to convince the United 
States that 'populists' like Preval and Jean 
Bertrand Aristide do not represent the Haitian 
people. The Elite's stiff-necked refusal to 
cooperate, negotiate or participate in the 
democratic process recruited support from the 
most backward and primitive forces in US politics 
and effectively brought the operations of Haitian government to a standstill.

'Enhancing democracy''

They also managed to recruit the US Secretary of 
State, Colin Powell, whose Jamaican heritage 
should have informed him that he and the rest of 
the world, were being samfied (conned) by the 
Haitian elite and their co-conspirators against 
democracy - the International Republican 
Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy 
and the Haiti Democracy Project, among others. 
Under the guise of "enhancing democracy" these 
apparatchiks sabotaged the hopes of the Haitian 
people for a new birth of freedom after 
generations of savage dictatorship initiated by the American invasion of 1915.

The American 1915 intervention was explicitly and 
essentially racist and was perhaps best 
exemplified by the notorious remark of the 
American Secretary of State at the time, William 
Jennings Bryan. Upon discovering the ethnic 
character of Haiti he was appalled: "Imagine!" he 
expostulated, "Niggers speaking French!" 
encapsulating for a century white American 
incomprehension of the humanity of people who don't look like them.

This incomprehension extended to the first black 
American secretary of State, Colin Powell, and 
even more strongly to his successor, another 
"brilliant African-American" Dr Condoleezza Rice.

Powell bought the Elite nonsense so thoroughly 
that he was able to say, with a perfectly 
straight face, that President Aristide's 
"...failure to adhere to democratic principles 
has contributed to the deep polarization and 
violent unrest that we are witnessing in Haiti 
today... His own actions have called into 
question his fitness to continue to govern Haiti. 
We urge him to examine his position carefully, to 
accept responsibility, and to act in the best interests of the people of Haiti"

And he suggested that President Aristide was 
corrupt and that the US with its high tech and 
pervasive reach, would very soon charge Aristide 
with high crimes and misdemeanours.

That was two years ago

According to the North American pundits, the best 
interests of Haiti meant selling off the few 
national productive assets and accepting the wise 
guidance of people like Apaid, Boulos and Baker, 
all of them suspect as collaborators with the 
dictatorships under which they had amassed 
immeasurable wealth and power. .Aristide was also 
supposed to accept the dictates of the 
International Financial institutions (IFIs), the 
World bank, the IMF et al, to mortgage his 
poverty-stricken country to foreign usurers to 
build super-highways and other hard 
infrastructure when what Haiti wanted was the 
development of its people first so they could 
handle the work of re-inventing and rebuilding their country.

One of the Poorest countries in the World

It wasn't that the the US the World Bank and the 
IFIs didn't know what was needed. "Haiti is the 
poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one 
of the poorest countries in the developing world. 
Its per capita income--$ 250--is considerably 
less than one-tenth the Latin American average. 
About 80 percent of the rural Haitian population 
live in poverty. Moreover, far from improving, 
the poverty situation in Haiti has been 
deteriorating over the past decade, concomitant 
with a rate of decline in per capita GNP of 5.2 
percent a year over the 1985-95 period.

"The staggering level of poverty in Haiti is 
associated with a profile of social indicators 
that is also shocking. Life expectancy is only 57 
years compared to the Latin American average of 
69. Less than half of the population is literate. 
Only about one child in five of secondary-school 
age actually attends secondary school. Health 
conditions are similarly poor; vaccination 
coverage for children, for example, is only about 
25 percent. Only about one-fourth of the 
population has access to safe water. In short, 
the overwhelming majority of the Haitian 
population are living in deplorable conditions of 
extreme poverty.." - The World Bank -Challenges of Poverty Reduction.

And they all pledged to support Haiti get her 
back on her feet. But the Elite, citing 
Aristide's supposedly divisive populism and 
dictatorial tendencies, convinced anyone who 
could help to put their investments somewhere 
else. The Elite despised 'the ghetto priest' - as 
poor and black as his parishioners. Aristide 
nevertheless went ahead. Haiti wanted doctors; 
with the help of the Cubans he established a 
medical school for the children of the poor. 
Haiti wanted teachers; Aristide built more 
schools in his short time than had been built in 
Haiti in 200 years. Yet, to the foreign NGOs, 
busy building 'civil society' the man was a 
menace. They could not and would not work with 
him. They 'knew' that in a fair fight they would 
defeat him, so they refused to contest elections, because they would be stolen.

This time round the ground was better-prepared. 
Dozens of convicted rapists, torturers and 
murderers were let loose when the Marines took 
over. The Marines drove out the students and took 
the medical school for their barracks; their 
accomplices in 'civil society' burned the new 
Museum of Haitian Folkloric history. They shut 
down the children's television station. It was 
clearly subversive of good government and capitalism.

Press freedom became a memory with journalists 
tortured and murdered. Leaders of the Lavalas 
popular movement were sometimes murdered, 
sometime simply imprisoned without charge. The 
Prime Minister was jailed, as was the country's 
leading folklorist, a 69 year old woman named 
Anne August who was arrested at midnight on 
Mothers Day 2004 by Marines using stun grenades 
to shatter her front door. They shot her dog and 
carried away her young grandchildren in handcuffs. She is still in prison.

Convicted terrorists were freed by a compromised 
judicial system and one of the most notorius and 
dangerous even ran for the presidency. The work 
of years in bringing the torturers and murders to 
Justice was undone overnight. The US installed 
'President' acclaimed the murderers as "Freedom 
Fighters" He was in good company, the Canadian 
representative of the OAS was on his bandwagon as 
he hailed the criminal resurgence.And Condoleezza 
Rice, with more doctorates than common sense, was 
ecstatic about the prospects of an election. 
After all, lavalas had been silenced, the 
chimeres (Lavalas 'terrorists') had been 
murdered, the people were leaderless. When a 
leader stepped forward in the person of Father 
Gerard Jean Juste, a Roman Catholic priest like 
Aristide, he too was thrown into jail, prevented 
from becoming a candidate for President and only 
released two weeks before the election because he 
had been examined in prison by the 
internationally known Professor Paul Farmer and 
found to be suffering from leukemia. Not even the 
State Department could challenge that diagnosis.

Spreading 'democracy'

All was set fair for democracy to sprout. In a 
country of 8 million people with 4 million voters 
spread over 28,000 sq. km ( about the size of the 
US state of Maryland and nearly three times the 
size of Jamaica) there were 800 designated 
polling stations. about as many as would serve in 
the city of Kingston, Jamaica. There were three 
polling stations outside of the main slum cities 
adjacent to Port au Prince - to serve nearly 
300,000 voters. There were none inside.

Condoleezza Rice had a message for the Haitian 
people. In an interview last September, before 
the election was postponed three times, her 
"message for the Haitian people is don't miss 
this chance to go out and vote and to decide your 
own future. There is nothing more important to a 
human being than to control his own future and 
the vote is the way to begin to control your own future."

"Nou lèd, Men Nou La!"

The election was expected to be a shambles in 
which anything could happen to frustrate the 
popular will: widespread violence, too few 
polling stations, too many voters convinced that 
the rich would get many chances to vote while 
they waited, shoeless and voteless, in mile-long 
lines under the hot Haitian sun.

Yet, suspecting the worst, the Haitians were 
disciplined and resolute. There was one violent incident in the whole country.

People fainted as they waited for hours to vote, 
were revived, waited again and no doubt fainted 
again. All were hungry, I am sure. But they were 
hungrier for their rights than for food. Despite 
all the odds, they made the election work. 
Despite the intimidation, the confusion, the bad 
faith and the UN peacekeeping forces, they made 
the election work. If ever there were a people 
deserving autonomy, it is the Haitians. They 
proved it 200 years ago, when the Enlightenment 
made a soft landing in Haiti, when in advance of 
France and the United States and the world, the 
Haitians abolished slavery and promulgated the inalienable Rights of Man.

They proved it again on Tuesday when they cocked 
a snook at their 'benefactors' "Nou lèd, Men Nou 
La!" as they say in Haiti - "We may be ugly, but 
we are here!' or as we say in Jamaica "You a-go tired fi see mi face"!!

Preval won even in upscale Petionville.

And of course, we need to remember that despite 
this 'election' there is no vacancy in the office 
of President of Haiti. The President of Haiti is 
alive and well. He has been prevented from 
discharging his duties by the illegal 
machinations of the United States, Canada and 
France, aided and abetted by Kofi Annan. Those 
characters are simply attempting to legitimise the illegitimate.

The Haitian people know this and have used the 
election to explain to the world, as best they 
can under the circumstances, that they want their 
democracy and their President back. Of course, 
the American viceroy in Haiti, Timothy Carney, 
doesn't buy that: Carney said he was not 
concerned about Préval's former alliance with 
Aristide and dismissed speculation that Préval 
would bring Aristide back to Haiti. ''Aristide is 
as much a man of the past as Jean-Claude 'Baby 
Doc' Duvalier is," Carney said in an interview. 
''I believe the electorate has absolutely 
understood that." And of course, Mr Carney, like 
Dr Rice and Mr Bush, know what the Haitians want 
- much better than the Haitians themselves.

Colin Powell was fond of speaking about what he 
said were "the Pottery Barn rules":

'You break it; you've bought it."

The United States, Canada and France broke Haiti 
on behalf of a thoroughly toxic Elite. The French 
already owed Haiti $25 billion in blood money 
extracted by blackmail in the nineteenth century 
and the Americans, who financed that extortion at 
usurious rates, owe them even more having 
destroyed Haitian governance, killed and exiled 
their leaders and depraved their landscape as well as their politics.

Will they do the honorable thing and pay for their depredations?

Stay tuned.

Poetic Justice

They say revenge is a dish that men of taste prefer cold.

In his position as Foreign Minister of Canada Mr 
Pierre Pettigrew was one of the leading 
conspirators and mobilisers against President 
Aristide and Haitian democracy. So, it is with 
some satisfaction that I record that Mr 
Pettigrew, a rising star in the Liberal party, 
lost his seat in the Canadian Parliament in the 
recent elections. Pettigrew was defending a seat 
which had been safe for the Liberals for nearly 
80 years - since 1917. He was defeated handsomely 
by - WAIT FOR IT...... (DRUMROLL and FANFARE!!!)

...... A Haitian woman.

I am sure that you too will feel that somehow, 
somewhere, there is, occasionally, some Justice.

Copyright ©2006 John Maxwell

jonmax at mac.com

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