[Documents menu] Documents menu

Date: Thu, 14 Dec 1995 16:39:35 CST
Reply-To: haiticom@nyxfer.blythe.org
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>
From: NY Transfer News Collective <nyt@nyxfer.blythe.org>
Subject: CORRECTED: This Week in Haiti 12/13 13:38
To: Multiple recipients of list ACTIV-L <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>

Lavalas offers new president with same agenda

In Haiti Progres, This Week in Haiti,
Vol. 13, no. 38, 13-19 December 1995

For the fifth time this year, Haitians will be headed to the polls. But for the few banners hanging over the main streets of Port-au-Prince, and the odd poster, you might not know that a presidential election campaign is supposedly in full swing. The reason is simple: none of the candidates, including the Lavalas Political Platform's Rene Preval who is expected to win the election easily, have much to say or to offer to the people of Haiti.

In fact, this latest round of occupation elections might properly be called the neo-liberal elections because they are the political packaging for the economic structural adjustment on which the U.S. government is so insistent and which will only bring more misery to Haiti. As a result, few, if any, people are on the streets and actively engaged in the electoral process. Unlike Dec. 1990, this election is not being viewed by the Haitian people as a tool with which to change their lives. It represents another sad chapter in the debilitation of a once vibrant and revolutionary spirit that inspired an entire country and people around the world.

This demobilization of a revolutionary movement resides squarely on the shoulders of the Lavalas caciques, or chiefs, who fashioned the U.S.-led military intervention of the country and, above all, refused a popular solution to the coup. Comfortable in their tet befs (Toyota Land Cruisers) and ministry jobs, the Lavalas high command appears ready now to sell the country to the World Bank and the IMF and to allow an occupation army to remain in the country for at least another year.

Rene Preval and other Lavalas leaders have made it clear this week that any new administration will continue with the structural adjustment program. The state has to create the conditions for private business to invest, then leave the private sector to its activities. And then the state must occupy itself with health, education, those areas, Preval told The Associated Press in a recent interview. Sounding more like a Milton Friedman-taught Chicago boy than the leftist that he is labelled by the mainstream press, Preval makes it plain that he's the man for the U.S. and the World Bank. Preval's line, like that of many government officials, is that only he and his party -- profiting from Aristide's support -- can sell the deeply unpopular IMF-dictated neo-liberal structural adjustment package to the Haitian people, albeit, Preval says, we are going to work to our own timetable. Another way, that Preval intends to sweeten the pill is to convince Haitians to support the reforms by saying [they are] necessary 'to change the Duvalierist structure of Haiti,' which he equates, absurdly, with state ownership of key industries and brands state monopoly in an attempt to appease his leftist supporters and other opponents of capitalism, the AP reported.

Furthermore, Preval and other Lavalas strategists are trying to disguise the drive to privatize Haiti's publicly owned industries by offering formulas for mixed enterprises and the like. We can privatize the management, we can rent the companies, we could sell shares, Preval told the AP. The candidate apparently has no problem with the basic neo-liberal strategy, just some differences on tactics and implementation.

Nor does Preval object in principle to the occupation of Haiti. He made clear this week that he's interested in keeping U.S. forces in Haiti for some time yet. As soon as the time comes, we will evaluate the possibility in light of the state of the disarmament operation, and after work to improve the capabilities of the police, he told journalists, raising the same police problem that Washington has wielded in recent weeks as a justification for keeping troops in Haiti.

Meanwhile, popular organizations clearly see the agenda for which the present half-baked election exercise is being executed. Even the debate about 3 more years for Aristide versus 5 years of Lavalas continuity with Preval is only to sow confusion among the popular masses, SAJ/Veye Yo said this week in a statement. Whether it's 3 years or 5 years, it's the same thing (50 kob ak degouden) because since the Americans invaded the country, almost every act of the [Aristide] government does not have anything to do with addressing the fundamental interests of the popular masses. SAJ/Veye Yo also asks if Preval would be carrying on the continuity of Lavalas #2 or of the power of December 16, 1990, when Aristide was elected on a platform of strengthening the national industries and judging Duvalierists for their crimes, the opposite of today's policies of privatization and reconciliation. We note that what is happening today in the country is a knife in the back of the people, the statement says.

The Assemblee Populaire Nationale (APN) also denounced the upcoming elections saying that no honest and democratic election can be held under the banner of occupation. The APN statement also said that even if the people would vote for someone from among the 14 candidates of all different plumages, as long as the country is not its own master, as long as the macoutes continue to circulate among the people under the protection of the US/UN occupation forces without the rope of justice around their neck, that president can't do anything in the interests of the masses; rather, he would continue the big-fish-swallows-little-fish policy in the interests of the corrupt (patripoch) bourgeoisie and the anti-national policy of the IMF/World Bank in the interests of the big imperialist countries.

The Komite Defans Entere Nasyonal (KODENA) also denounced the Lavalas' servile strategy before the international community and said that each time the situation demands the will of the masses, there always appears the alternative of elections to throw confusion and division into the people's consciousness. KODENA closed their statement with Down with bogus elections for a hand-me-down (pepe) democracy. The Kolektif Mobilizasyon kont FMI also issued a statement criticizing the supposedly anti- bureaucracy Aristide government for ballooning state payrolls with 18 ministers and 6 secretaries of state while claiming poverty to address the people's crying needs. Elections under occupation, empty elections are not the solution to our problems, the Kolektif said.

Although Preval appears confident about taking power in early February, a lot can happen in the interregnum. One factor is political violence, which could flare up. On Dec. 11, four business-suited automatic-weapon-toting men tried to muscle their way into the offices of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) but were turned away by security guards. On Dec. 12, unidentified assailants machine-gunned the home of Leon Jeune, a candidate visible only by virtue of the fact that he is a distant cousin and former minister of Aristide. Jeune's camp claims that the attack was Lavalas intimidation (which hardly seems necessary); a Lavalas spokesman responded that the attack was probably a self- perpetrated publicity stunt.

There could also be trouble in the poll itself. The total lack of enthusiasm may translate into a low turnout. That could mean that Preval might not be the outright winner (more than 50% of the vote cast), thus forcing a second round between the top candidates on Jan. 21. Such a scenario could leave plenty of room for manipulation. After all, the elections are being almost entirely financed by the international community and are occurring under a military occupation. And Lavalas can't look to the 300 OAS observers for help, if there's trouble. Like the municipal and parliamentary elections, which were a total fiasco, the OAS will do what they're told by their financiers -- the United States.