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Published on Dissident Voice, by Stephen Lendman, April 17th, 2009.
Few people anywhere have suffered more for so long, yet endure and keep struggling for change. For brief periods under Jean-Bertand Aristide, they got it until a US-led February 29, 2004 coup d’etat forced him into exile where he remains Haiti’s symbolic leader — for his supporters, still head of the Fanmi Lavalas (FL) party he founded in 1996 to reestablish links between local Lavalas branches and its parliamentary representatives.
From then to now, nothing has been the same. UN paramilitaries occupy the country. Washington effectively controls it. President Rene Preval got a choice: go along or pay the price. He submitted knowing what awaits him if he resists. Nonetheless, he’s disappointed bitterly.
Haitians suffered dearly as a result, deeply impoverished, at times starving, denied the most basic essentials, plagued by violence, a brutal occupier, police repression, an odious and onerous debt, and exploitive sweatshop conditions for those lucky enough to have a job in a country plagued by unemployment and deprivation.
Elections, however, are regularly scheduled and held, the latest for April 19 — democratic in name only, this time for Haiti’s senate. Here’s the problem. On February 7, AP headlined: “Aristide Allies, Ex-Rebel Barred from Haiti Vote.” It refers to Haiti’s Provisional Election Council’s (CEP) February 6 disqualification of Fanmi Lavalas candidates on procedural grounds. At stake are 12 open seats in the 30-member body, ones vacant since early last year after 2007 elections were postponed when Preval dissolved the CEP because of infighting. Delays persisted after food riots, a prime ministerial ouster, parliamentary wrangles, and last summer’s catastrophic hurricanes from which the country has yet to recover.
Radio Metropole reported that “at least 40 of the 105 (registered) candidates…were rejected” with CEP officials unavailable for comment. Expecting protests, it barricaded its headquarters in anticipation. (full text).