Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Election Time in Haiti

April is election time in Haiti.

One of the few international journalists who covers Haiti is Jacqueline Charles, whose story can be read here. There is not more international coverage of Haiti because there is no one who will cover the expenses of journalists to go there. Except, evidently, the Miami Herald. Ms. Charles has been doing an excellent job at reporting on the ground for years and is to be applauded for her work.

Among those running for office are Guy Phillippe, who led the rebellion which overthrew Aristide. Many have said that he was a US pawn, since he received training in Ecuador via the US. Lavalas supporters, strong on the US left, assert that Aristide was "overthrown" by imperial external forces. and make no mention that there was any opposition to him on the ground, any corruption in his administration, any withdrawal of support from the population.

Others say the Phillippe was just a strong armed drug lord, wanting to depose the head drug lord, making use of the discontent on the ground against the slow progress in Haiti, to lead an armed rebellion.

Armed rebellion is a time honored way to change governments in Haiti. In the entire 200 year history, only the current President, Rene Preval, who is now serving his second term, retired in peace in his own country. All others were either executed or left in exile. Such, at least, is the history that I have read. Of course, there may indeed have been people who served as president for a month or two and retired. It is possible, I don't know.

The US has said that it has tried to "capture" Philippe three times. I assume that the Haitian government has allowed such an intervention.So, if Philippe wins the election, it will presumably be easier to capture him if and when he takes his Senate seat. Hardly a cave in Tora Bora.

The US would have a great deal more credibility in this region if it did not have a history of training and protecting assassins, and leaders of coups. People would be so much more likely to believe that we might, just might, be on the side of the people, if we did not have such a long history of being--- well-- against them.

We have most often in this hemisphere been on the wrong side of the struggle for democracy. Our nation has historically sided with dictators against freedom seekers, and with oligarchs against the peasants.

In our rabid fear against "communism", or "socialism" , we have placed the values of capitalism and "free market economics" above the values of democracy.

Now is the time to change that. Since it is clear that unfettered capitalism was no more a successful system than unfettered communism, and has sunk, has it not, under the weight of its own excesses, let us seek a better way.

Haiti's agriculture must take priority over everything else. The US must do everything that it can to support the agricultural sector in Haiti, lest the 10 million people become even more food aid dependent, and the flood of illegal immigrants to the DR increase, and the narco trafficing become worse and worse, and the entire island, these two nations, descend into chaos.

We are counting on you, President Obama

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