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If elections can happen in Iraq, why not Haiti?

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  • Greg Cannon If elections can happen in Iraq, why not Haiti? By. Bill Fletcher Jr. NNPA Columnist 01/04/05 ICH -- Having helped to
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 4, 2005
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      If elections can happen in Iraq, why not Haiti?

      By. Bill Fletcher Jr.
      NNPA Columnist

      01/04/05 "ICH" -- Having helped to bring about the
      horrendous mess that has been unfolding in Haiti
      following the overthrow of elected President
      Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the Bush administration faces
      a tremendous dilemma. There is no stability at all.
      The puppet government has proven totally incompetent
      in addressing anything ranging from natural disasters
      to the reign of terror by the thugs of the former
      Haitian military. The obvious hope of the Bush
      administration was for a smooth transition, but there
      is nothing smooth about the situation in Haiti.

      In this setting of chaos, a peculiar proposal has
      begun to emerge. Sort of like the emergence of a rash,
      with first one bump and then more, various individuals
      have started to suggest that the situation in Haiti is
      hopeless. Specifically, they suggest that it is
      impossible for Haiti to return to stability in the
      near future and, therefore, the elections that are
      scheduled to take place in the fall of 2005 will have
      to be put off. Actually, this line does not end there:
      the elections would need to be put off indefinitely
      while Haiti is placed under a United Nations
      protectorate to help the country recover from its
      current trauma.

      On one level, this may sound quite reasonable.
      Killings continue to take place, particularly
      targeting supporters of ousted President Aristide.
      Leaders from President Aristide's administration,
      along with ranking members of the Fanmi Lavalas
      political party, are underground or in exile.
      Unemployment is going through the roof. So, one may
      ask, why not just put the whole thing off?

      The first answer is contained in one word: Iraq. As
      you may have noted, the Bush administration has been
      willing to push forward with an election in Iraq
      despite the fact that there is a full-scale guerrilla
      war underway, along with the activities of terrorists.
      There is no stability, yet the Bush administration and
      many of their allies believe that an election needs to
      happen in order to send the right signal, whatever
      that signal happens to be.

      So, what about Haiti? The violence is certainly not on
      the scale that is taking place in Iraq, but more
      importantly, the violence can be contained largely
      because it is being carried out by supporters of the
      government, otherwise known as allies of the USA.
      Thus, it does not take an Einstein to understand that
      should the Bush administration truly wish to end the
      killings in Haiti and provide the groundwork for
      elections, that it could do this with a bit of
      pressure on both the puppet government and the thugs
      running around the countryside.

      It is amazing that a situation that the Bush
      administration repeatedly described as being out of
      control under the leadership of President Aristide is
      now either ignored entirely or considered unredeemable
      short of a UN trusteeship.

      Demonstrations are taking place in Haiti on a regular
      basis calling for the return of elected President
      Aristide. If there is any doubt as to who should be
      the legitimate leader of Haiti, then free and fair
      elections would be the most effective means of
      establishing an answer. In order for elections to take
      place, the killings must stop and this demands that
      the Brazilian troops currently in Haiti under a UN
      mandate take a strong and unequivocal stand in favor
      of the rule of law and break the backs of the armed
      thugs. It is clear to most observers that the armed
      thugs allied with the puppet government could not
      withstand a crackdown by the Brazilian military.

      A crackdown must be accompanied by legitimate,
      independent assistance in paving the way for new
      elections. Unfortunately, assistance from the USA,
      with the possible exception of some financial
      assistance to an honest intermediary, seems much too
      risky for many to take seriously. The destabilization
      project undertaken against the Aristide administration
      by the USA, including a de facto blockade, makes any
      suggestion of US involvement a source of concern. The
      same can be said for France which played nothing short
      of a despicable role in the overthrow of Aristide.
      There are, however, countries in the Organization of
      American States and the African Union, along, perhaps
      with the Nordic countries, that might be willing and
      able to assist in the transition back to democracy.

      We have to stop permitting our leaders to speak with
      forked tongue. There is nothing special about Iraq
      that permits it to have elections in a time of war--
      leaving aside the entire question of the legitimacy of
      their proposed elections--while Haiti remains under a
      cloud. There are some disturbing racial overtones to
      the notion that Haiti is an eternal basket case that
      can only be improved by being caged as a UN
      protectorate. The basket in which Haiti is encased is
      one that was woven by the USA and France a very long
      time ago. It is time for Haiti to regain its
      sovereignty and be permitted to follow its own path.

      Bill Fletcher Jr. is president of TransAfrica Forum, a
      Washington, D.C.-based non-profit educational and
      organizing center formed to raise awareness in the
      United States about issues facing the nations and
      peoples of Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. He
      also is co-chair of the anti-war coalition, United for
      Peace and Justice (www.unitedforpeace.org). He can be
      reached at bfletcher@....

      Copyright: Haitian Lawyers' Leadership Network
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