Wednesday, February 22, 2006

New Orleans, Haiti, and Grammy Peg

New Orleans according to Bill Quigley

Loyola-New Orleans law professor and Haiti solidarity activist Bill Quigley continues his advocacy on behalf of the people of New Orleans with "Who was left behind then? Who is being left behind now?" Bill Quigley left Haiti, where he was offering legal solidarity to political prisoners like Gerard Jean Juste, in the days before Hurricane to be with his wife, an oncology nurse at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. After the hurricane they were trapped for almost a week in the institution where over 40 people died after the electricity failed.

Head of Haitian Election Commission Flees Haiti

The Miami Herald is reporting that Jacques Bernard, appointed three months ago to head the Haitian Election Commission, has probably fled Haiti for Miami. According to the article Bernard fled after a turbulent weekend.
On Friday, Bernard had reported receiving threats and requested more security amid complaints about the vote count from the Feb. 7 elections, which returned former President René Préval to office, Brunache said... Bernard's ranch in a town just northeast of the capital of Port-au-Prince was burned and looted over the weekend.

I guess the implication is that Preval's supporters are responsible, but none of the sources I have found even explicitly suggest this. Neither do they ask the question clearly, Who is responsible for the threats and violence? While anti-coup militants are likely to be responsible, it seems to me plausible that coup supporters are enraged that he allowed Preval to win which may lead to prosecution of war criminals.

As others like John Maxwell have pointed out. We seem to be entering into a new attempt to destabilize the post-coup Haitian government (which has not risen to power yet). For example, another Herald article quotes
Tim Carney, the acting U.S. ambassador in Haiti, [that] Préval clearly would have won the election but acknowledged the disputed outcome could hurt his government if he fails in office.

''If he doesn't perform, yes it could weaken him,''... ''I think the elections confirmed that Aristide is a man of the past, unlikely to have any role in Haiti's future,'' he said.

Notice strong anti-Aristide stance and the veiled threat that the disputed election will be used against Preval if he "doesn't perform" for the Americans. This suggests that American and Haitian elites may be willing to end Preval's second term as they have ended both of Aristide's (with a coup).

A question from Grammy Peg
My grandmother Peg is a long time activist who is quoted in the press as saying "I love my country like I love my family. And I love my family enough to tell them when I think they are doing something inappropriate." Since learning of the political oppression against non-violent catholic priests like Gerard Jean Juste has been following the news in Haiti. After all of this reading, she has asked me, with sincere confusion, "Why does the United States hate this man Aristide so much?

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