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28385: Haiti Progres (News) This Week In Haiti 24:7 4/26/2006 (fwd)
From: Haïti Progrès <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
newsweekly. For the complete edition with other news in French
and Creole, please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100,
(fax) 718-434-5551 or e-mail at email@example.com.
Also visit our website at <www.haitiprogres.com>.
"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
April 26 - May 2, 2006
Vol. 24, No. 7
DESPITE LEAD IN RUN-OFFS, PRÉVAL'S PARTY LIKELY TO FACE PARLIAMENTARY
Espwa, the electoral coalition of Haiti's President-elect René Préval,
has won the most parliamentary seats of any party in the April 21
run-off elections, according to partial results issued by the
Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). But, as expected, Préval's party -
Hope, in English - will have to forge a political alliance to gather the
parliamentary majority needed to select the Prime Minister, Haiti's most
powerful executive post, and pass legislation.
But some observers predict that Espwa's rival parties - which almost
universally supported the Feb. 29, 2004 coup against President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide - will benefit from CEP vote rigging, working to
destabilize and hamstring Préval's government.
"We foresee that there are going to be problems in the Parliament," said
Emile Jean-Baptiste of SOS, a political reflection group, in an Apr. 25
interview with Radio Solidarité. "The [pro-coup sector's] plan [to steal
the presidency] was foiled but nonetheless it succeeded for the
About one million Haitians - close to 30% of Haiti's 3.5 million
eligible voters - turned out to elect 30 senators and 97 deputies in
Haiti's second round of national legislative elections, said David
Wimhurst, the spokesman for the United Nations Mission to Stabilize
Haiti (MINUSTAH) on Apr. 24. The CEP said participation was 28.31%. This
was well below the 60% participation rate in the Feb. 7 first round,
during which only two deputies - St. Louis Fleurimé of Serge Gille's
social-democratic Fusion party and Francenet Dénius of protestant pastor
Chavannes Jeune's Union party - won seats.
"Isn't a low voter turn-out precisely what they wanted?" asked
Jean-Baptiste, speaking of the CEP, Washington, Paris, Ottawa, and the
pro-coup parties. "It facilitates manipulation of the results... The
'international community' doesn't have a problem with low turn-out as
long as it contributes to their objective: to control the parliament so
that they can work on the executive."
Espwa has so far won 11 of 24 tabulated Senate races and 20 of the 41
tabulated Chamber of Deputies seats, the CEP announced Apr. 24. A
majority in the Senate requires 16 seats and in the Chamber, 50 seats.
Candidates from Aristide's Lavalas Family party (FL), possibly Espwa
allies, have won two Senate seats and three Deputy seats. Only a handful
of unauthorized Lavalas candidates ran since the FL, along with the
National Popular Party (PPN), officially boycotted the de facto and
occupation-run elections, calling them "selections."
Indeed, a Parliamentary "selection" may have been achieved,
Jean-Baptiste observed. "I heard members of the [bourgeoisie's] 'civil
society' talking, and that confirmed what we suspected," he said. "It
will be a parliament where the opposition, the CEP, the Coucil of the
Wise [which appointed the de facto government], the Group of 184 [the
Washington-spawned pro-coup civil society front], and all those who were
there before, who put in place this [de facto] power, will work with an
attitude to create blockage... It was Mr. Rosny Desroches and Mr.
Christian Rousseau that I heard talking. They said it plainly, that we
will see what will happen. After we saw what happened on Feb. 7 where
the population showed its desire for democracy, for peace, we think it
is very, very unfortunate that people would lead us into the politics of
Despite the low turn-out, calm generally prevailed throughout the
country during the vote. However, there were a number of cases of
violence. In the northern town of Grande Saline, in the Artibonite
Valley, Bertin Désir, a polling station observer for a one political
party, was shot by his cousin, Ricardo Désir, an observer for a rival
party. At least three other people were wounded after partisans of
different candidates clashed. Due to the incidents, elections in that
town were cancelled for the second time.
Also in the Artibonite, in the town of Verrettes, Jean Beauvois
Dorsonne, a candidate for deputy of Youri Latortue's Party of the
Artibonite in Action (LAA) went into hiding after shooting and wounding
a Haitian election observer, Marc Michel, of the National Observer
In Lascahobas, on the Central Plateau, Charlemagne Denaud, the candidate
for deputy of the social-democratic Struggling People's Party (OPL), was
threatened by partisans of Markenz Sigué, Fusion's candidate.
Meanwhile in the northern town of Savanette, voting was disrupted when
one candidate's supporters stormed the polling center, threating
election officials there.
Electoral Council officials said that similar incidents occurred in the
south-west Grand'Anse province, in the counties of Moron and Pestel,
where armed men terrorized voters and election officials. In the
southwestern town of Nippes, the president of a voting station was
arrested for trying to rig the vote for a candidate.
There were also about a dozen people arrested in the northern town of
Acul, near Cap HaVtien, with bundles of pre-filled out ballots.
Several election observers said that voter turn-out was very low,
compared to the 60% participation of the first round.
Johan Van Hecke, the head of the European Union's election observer
mission, originally underestimated voter participation at less than 15%,
but later revised his estimate upwards.
Many were critical of the EU observers for refusing to criticize Haitian
electoral authorities, who refused to let people vote because their
names were not found on voter rolls, although they had their electoral
"It is very ironic that they talk about low voter turn-out while people
who wanted to vote were turned back from the polls by election
authorities right under the nose of European observers," said one
journalist covering the vote at "Building 2004" where the inhabitants of
Cité Soleil voted, according to the Haitian Press Agency. Many voters
simply went to the polling station where they voted in the February 7
first-round only to find that their names were not on the voter list
Electoral Council officials defended their refusal to let people who
went to the wrong station vote, saying that voters had been instructed
over the radio to consult the Electoral Council's Internet site and
posted electoral rolls before the elections.
But Haitian voters complain that most of them have no access to the
Internet and that it was impossible to find one's name in the labyrinth
of lists put out by the Electoral Council. Many voters say that the
Electoral Council did everything in its power to lower voter
Under Haiti's constitution, the party or coalition with the most
parliamentary seats gets to choose the prime minister, who acts as head
of government and appoints Cabinet members and most administrative
Final results are expected in about a week.
ON PRÉVAL'S VISIT TO CUBA AND CUBAN-HAITIAN COOPERATION:
AN INTERVIEW WITH RADIO HAVANA'S ANNA KOVAC
(Second of two parts)
Last week, we presented the first part of an interview with Anna Kovac,
Haiti Progres' correspondent in Cuba and the head of Radio Havana Cuba's
Creole language service. The interview was made April 15 on the radio
program "Haiti: The Struggle Continues," produced by the Komite Chalo
Jaklen and Haiti Progres on WBAI 99.5 FM in New York. Ms. Kovac, who
conducted two interviews with René Préval during his visit to Cuba,
spoke by telephone from Havana.
Roger Leduc, Komite Chalo Jaklen: Anna, I was going to piggy back on the
notion of the different approach that countries like the United States
give aid to Haiti and the way Cuba gives help. The Haitian masses have
expressed in different ways their gratitude for the gesture of the Cuban
revolution and the Cuban people toward Haiti. I have seen the Cuban
doctors in Haiti and they are like fish in water. There is a very good
rapport with the masses, which is not the rapport of someone giving
charity but it is the rapport of fraternal solidarity which prevails.
And at this point, Cuba has been able to maintain the aid, even going
through the coup, going through very difficult times, ordeals and
trials. How do you see that the Haitian people can - even if we don't
have the material means - how can we, through our relationship with
Cuba, pay a little bit of this back to you?
Anna Kovac: Well, I don't think it's a question of giving back. I think
it's a question of solidarity and working together. Just to give an
Cuban medicine is very different from U.S. medicine or French medicine,
because it is based on different principles. Of course in Cuba, all
medical care is absolutely free. But it's not only that it's absolutely
free, but it's done with the idea of prevention first of all. In other
words, all children, ALL children, get 13 vaccines to protect them
against 13 different diseases. All pregnant women are cared for and
followed by doctors that have ultrasound and all kinds of tests to
assure that their new born baby is born healthy. There is another
attitude, another way of doing things... And this in itself terrific.
This is a step forward for all humanity.
You know Fidel once said in one of the summit meetings that the planet
is like a boat. Even if the rich and the elite are up on the top decks
and the poor are in the hold of the ship, if the ship goes down, we all
go down. If the planet goes to pot, we all go. We're all in this
together. So Cuba has another way of thinking, another way of seeing the
world. And the Haitian people's solidarity for Cuba is really
Now if we are going to talk about cooperation, for instance in sports,
Haitian football [soccer] is a thousand times more sophisticated than
Cuban football. Cuban football players are healthy and strong and can
run and kick the ball, but they just don't have the same level of
strategy and tactics. They don't play football in as excellent a manner
as Haitians do.
So I think that's one area where there can be exchange. And in fact,
during Préval's first term in office, there were exchanges between
football teams of young children and teenagers.
I also think the possibility of cultural exchange between Haiti and Cuba
are absolutely fantastic. Even in the 40s, one of the greatest Cuban
jazz piano players, Chicho Valdés, his father [Bebo ValdPs] played in
[famous Haitian band leader] Issa Sayeh's orchestra. Omara Portuondo,
who is the great lady of Cuban song, sang at the Choucoune Night Club in
Port-au-Prince. So Haitian music and Cuban music really influenced each
other a lot, especially in the 1950s, because I think there is a natural
attraction between two countries which are neighbors and which were
artificially separated for 40 years during the Duvalier dictatorship. So
there are so many levels where there can be real sharing and real
learning on both sides, because Haiti has lots and lots to offer.
Haiti has been a beacon for over 200 years because Haiti was the first
country which became free and independent, that ended slavery, in the
Western hemisphere. I know there was the American revolution, but they
just betrayed their principles and they didn't free the slaves, etc.
So Haiti has been and still is a beacon for the world, just as Cuba has
become another beacon because of its socialist revolution. The Western
countries have spread lies and said the most absurd things about Haiti
to make people afraid of Haiti. During the 19th century, they restricted
Haitian commerce because they wanted people to believe that being free
was not a good idea, that it was better to be a slave. Well maybe you
can convince slave-owners that it's better to be a slave, but you
certainly can't convince an ex-slave that it's better to be a slave. But
the United States and France have been trying to do this for over 200
They are trying to do the same thing to Cuba! Oh, free health care is no
good! Since when? Certainly not to the Cuban people. Free education is
no good! Well, the Cuban people certainly don't think so.
Roger Leduc: Anna, the Haitians are really impressed by the attitude of
the Cuban doctors, who really taught a lesson to the whole society in
this way: Haitian doctors tended to be very elitist and arrogant in
their dealings with the poor masses in Haiti, and the Cuban doctors have
shown that you can provide medical services while maintaining the
dignity of the people you are servicing. And this, I hope, is a lesson
that the Haitian medical students in Cuba can bring with them in Haiti
and set a new tradition, a new kind of rapport between medical doctors
and the population at large.
Anna Kovac: I'd like to say something about that because most Haitian
doctors are great doctors. But that's not the problem. The problem is
the system. A Haitian doctor has to eat and feed his family. So if a
Haitian doctor were to treat everybody for free, he'd die of hunger. I
want to say this because it's not that Cubans are better than Haitians.
It's not true. It's just that in Cuba we have a socialist system that
provides all doctors with a salary. So they treat everybody for free.
Here in Cuba, no doctor gets money from a patient. And in medical
school, all medical students are taught that you have to serve, you have
to heal, you have to alleviate suffering of everybody. And for free, of
I can tell you terrible, terrible stories. Just yesterday, I was
speaking to a Haitian patient who is in a Cuban hospital having an
operation on his knee. He told me a terrible story of a young man in
Jérémie, who was pretty poor and was using his bicycle to transport
goods. That's what he did for a living. He was hit by a car. His foot
and his leg were smashed. His jaw was out of place. He was brought to
the Jérémie general hospital, and the Haitian doctors wanted to cut off
his leg. The Cuban doctor who was there said "Why do you want to cut off
his leg? We can fix his leg." The Haitian doctor said "Well he doesn't
have a dime and he can't pay us." The Haitian doctors wouldn't even
cooperate with the Cuban doctors to operate on this young man. So the
Cuban called the other medical personnel to come and help him, and they
operated and saved his leg. I was told that he still limps but he still
can use his bicycle, and they put his jaw back in place. He can still
use his bicycle to transport goods, in other words he can still eke out
a living. He said "Why, these Haitian doctors! How terrible! They didn't
want to help." But this is what the capitalist system does to people. It
makes them inhuman. But it doesn't mean that the person is inhuman. It's
that the person is living in a system that instead of encouraging
solidarity, instead of encouraging even Christian or Muslim principles,
it is encouraging dog-eat-dog principles.
Kim Ives: Anna, can we look at some of the other domains of
Haitian-Cuban cooperation? We know that the Cubans helped revitalize the
sugar plant in Darbonne, near Léogane in Haiti, during the 1996-2001
administration of President Préval and also have been helping in the
domain of fishing, trying to provide more protein to the Haitian diet.
What can you tell us about these two areas?
Anna Kovac: In fishing, one plan went down the drain and I don't have
all the details as to why. But after Préval's term in office, Cuba had
sent a couple of fishing boats - what they call mother boats. The mother
boat goes out with a group of fishermen in their small boats. They go
out on the high seas where there are fish banks. They have refrigerators
in their hold. The small fishermen bring in their catch every single day
and after two or three weeks go back to port, and can sell their fish.
Well, the Cuban boats were in Haiti for about six months but they never
went out to sea. I don't know why they never went out to sea. There was
a whole big fight over this, but I don't know why. Anyhow, finally the
Cuban boats went back home because they were doing nothing. So we hope
that maybe a similar plan to help poor Haitian fishermen can be
There is also aqua-culture, which means raising fish in ponds,
artificial lakes and reservoirs. That is another plan which they do in
Cuba. That's another possibility.
There is also sports. I think that would be great if there were a new
There are lots of other things, for example, in computers and computer
technology. Préval went to the Infomatics Science University in Cuba. In
Cuba, all schools in the countryside and the city have computers. In
other words, everybody can learn how to use a computer - and we're
talking about a poor and underdeveloped country.
Kim Ives: We know that Haiti used to produce a lot more sugar but that
has been severely curtailed in recent years. Is the revitalization of
Darbonne going to be one of the projects?
Anna Kovac: Well, I don't know. I think it would be great. As I said,
Préval has not yet spoken to the press about these projects... But he
certainly is exploring many different areas, and not only the
traditional areas. I think in commerce too, there are possibilities
between the two countries. In all, they are looking at about ten areas
of cooperation ...
Kim Ives: Finally, can you tell us how people can find the Creole
language service of Radio Havana Cuba and when you broadcast each week?
Anna Kovac: Well, it's every day! We broadcast at 4:30, 5:30, 6:30, and
7:30. You can get us on the internet on the Radio Havana Cuba web page
which is www.radiohc.cu. We also have www.rhc.cu, and you can listen to
us on shortwave on the 49 meter band and the 31 meter band at 5:30,
6:30, and 7:30.
All articles copyrighted Haiti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Progres.