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Democracy There, Democracy Here: Haiti | The Nation

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Democracy There, Democracy Here: Haiti

A lot’s been happening regarding the fallout from Haiti’s flawed November presidential election—which has shaped up to be a sequel to the Bush-backed 2004 coup that drove president Jean-Bertrand Aristide from office—and I’ve been meaning to write a longer post on the topic, but in the meantime, this interview run at the Council on Foreign Relations with Jacques-Philippe Piverger, the director of something called PineBridge Investments, gives a crisp snapshot of the Washington/Wall Street/Haitian elite attitude toward democracy.

Exiled president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, living in South Africa since 2004, also wants to come home. How worried are people about Aristide's return? What could be the political impact?

It would be destabilizing since there's a large faction of the population that would potentially be supportive of him being in the government.

As the great historian/musician/songwriter Ned Sublette, who forwarded me the interview, puts it, “Can't have that, can we?”

As the world’s attention fixes on Egypt and its remarkable democratic revolt, here in the Western Hemisphere there’s been much machination on the part of the US State Department to make sure democracy remains contained in Haiti. On Thursday, Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) picked the former first lady Mirlande Manigat and musician Michel "Sweet Mickey" Martelly to advance to the March 20 runoff, even though they only received a combined 11 percent of the vote in the first round. There are many critics, including the Congressional Black Caucus, though the story is largely ignored in the United States. Congresswoman Maxine Waters said the US, Canada and France—three countries active in the overthrow of Aristide—used their “tremendous power and influence to determine the outcome of the first round'' and denied Haitians “the opportunity to express their will.”

Praise to the Center for Economic and Policy Research for being the only Washington think tank to pay consistent, skeptical attention to Haiti. As usual, it has been doing invaluable work on the issue, including a statistical analysis of the stolen vote. Also see Mark Weisbrot’s running commentary on Haiti in the Guardian.

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