[News] Haiti Elections: The 'Pottery Barn Rules'
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.
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.
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?
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
The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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