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  • Don't Let Aristide Wreck Haiti's Future Again

    Democracy, stability, and moderation are in the balance not just in Egypt but closer to home in Haiti. On Thursday, Haiti’s electoral board decided that the presidential run-off on March 20 will pit Mirlande Manigat, a former first lady and law professor, against Michel Martelly, known as “Sweet Micky,” a carnival performer and kompa music singer of raunchy chart toppers. Removed from the run-off race was Jude Celestin of the INITE party, who was assigned third place after a technical review of the elections. Celestin’s removal was a blow for outgoing President Rene Preval.

    According to press reports, the U.S. “strongly suggested Haiti might lose billions of dollars in aid if it didn’t go along with the recommendation to drop Mr. Celestin.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Haiti on January 30 to press home that point.

    The Administration certainly hopes the March 20 run-off will limit political fratricide and overcome the political uncertainty that has gripped post-earthquake Haiti. It seeks to engineer consensus and national unity frayed by the November 2010 elections that were fraught with irregularities, registration problems, and absenteeism. It also hopes that the eventual winner will grasp the tattered threads of government leadership, bolster sagging confidence in the recovery and rebuilding process, and interface effectively with the U.S. and the international community.

    Adding to the complexity of the political equation has been the return of former dictator Jean Claude ["Baby Doc"] Duvalier and the probable return of ousted populist firebrand and former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

    Interestingly, the Obama Administration is coming under a heavy barrage of criticism from the Congressional Black Caucus, led by members like Maxine Waters (D–CA). Waters and others on the Hill are aligning with pro-Chavez groups and a cohort of hard left celebrities—including Danny Glover, Oliver Stone, and Harry Belafonte—demanding new elections. Announced Waters:

    Once again, the people of Haiti have been denied the opportunity to express their will through free, fair, credible, and transparent elections—which are important factors for effective governance—and once again, it appears that the international community is determining the political fate of Haiti.

    That a significant sector of the Obama Administration’s congressional constituency rebels at Secretary Clinton’s diplomacy while demonstrating a long track record of backing Aristide is an invitation to conflict.

    For all the Administration’s efforts at influence and pressure, the governance ball is in the people of Haiti’s court. It will not be able to move forward without an elected government its beleaguered people consider legitimate and believe they can trust.

    If the March 20 run-off fails to deliver a winner capable of inching Haiti forward, violence and discord are to be expected. With a number of Democratic Members of the U.S. Congress and the pro-Chavez left casting doubts upon the legitimacy of the present electoral process and cheerleading Aristide’s eventual return to Port-au-Prince, the chances of further costly political disruptions cannot be discounted.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Don't Let Aristide Wreck Haiti's Future Again

    1. Matt Donlan says:

      Thanks HF for covering this important issue. Despite the anti-democratic bias of the headline of this piece, Mr. Walser does make one good point – "[Haiti] will not be able to move forward without an elected government its beleaguered people consider legitimate and believe they can trust." That is entirely correct. And it is also *exactly* why the progressives you criticize are calling for new elections. The most widely supported political party in Haiti, Fanmi Lavalas, founded by Mr. Aristide, was excluded from the Nov. elections on a technicality. Second, it's disingenuous for Mr. Walser to affect the language of democracy while opposing the return of Haiti's single-most widely supported leader (67% in a multi-candidate race in 1990. And 92% in 2000. And spare me the false predictable retort of a "popular rebellion" in 2004. The leader of that violent coup ran for president in 2006 and received less than 2% of the vote. That Aristide is, and was, hugely popular is not disputed by honest and sane observers). HF is right to be true to its ideological convictions, but don't forget that those ideological convictions are consistently rejected by Haitian voters.

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    4. Chavanne, Miami says:

      Interesting piece but I don't understand why Aristide a Haitian citizen should not be allowed to go home. If he committed crimes then he will be prosecuted like JC Duvalier will ultimately. This habit of exiling leaders in the third world is actually rewarding impunity on the long term not preventing it.

    5. Chavanne, Miami says:

      A good piece here about a possible reconciliation in Haiti. Very much needed and if South Africa did it we can also do it.

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    7. Bea, New York says:

      At this point, the congressional black caucus and these celebrities need to give it a rest. yes the election was marred with fraud but people who did not get to vote in last election can vote now. as for the Lavalas party, it has broken up, Preval was smart enough to incorporate many high profile Lavalas in his government and a few of the candidate run under a different party. As a haitian woman, I care more about my counry moving forward than any leader or political party. the Majority of haitians are ok with these two selections, so can we please move on. we have 1million homeless people, the people are resilient yes, but we are tired and we want to move on with reconstruction. Those who did not get a chance to run or be elected, they can wait but the homeless in haiti can't.

      Why don't the black Caucus and these celebrities do something more valuable with their time, like figuring out what happen to the billions in aid money that was distributed to the NGOs as we know, the Haitian government received less that 1% of the donated funds and haitian private businesses received less than 2% of the contracts. so if the Haitian govt didn't get the money, the private sector didn't get the contracts, so where's the money Red Cross, 200 millions in plastic sheets?

      let's focus on how Haiti can become self-sustain, is Haiti condemn to be a beggar state where the NGOs beg on behalf of Haiti so they can use the funds to employ themselves and award large contracts to their buddies and continue to blame the Haitian government. That's the real issue, this election distraction is nonsense! who cares who get elected in this election, don't you know that Haitian legislature pass a law authorizing the HIRC (head by Bill Clinton) to make all rebuilding decisions. so how much power is the new president going to have in shaping the country, Clinton get to cut and separate the cake will these Haitian politicians fight and scramble for the crumbs falling of the table!

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