Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
MARX: A HERO FOR OUR TIME? — Suddenly, everyone from the Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone seems to be talking about Karl Marx. Louis Proyect delves into this mysterious resurgence, giving a vivid assessment of Marx’s relevance in the era of globalized capitalism. THE MEANING OF MANDELA: Longtime civil rights organizer Kevin Alexander Gray gives in intimate portrait of Nelson Mandela and the global struggle of racial justice. FALLOUT OVER FUKUSHIMA: Peter Lee investigates the scandalous exposure of sailors on board the USS Reagan to radioactive fallout from Fukushima. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT: Kim Nicolini charts the rise of Matthew McConaughey. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the coming crash of the housing market. JoAnn Wypijewski on slavery, torture and revolt. Chris Floyd on the stupidity of US policy in Ukraine. Kristin Kolb on musicians and health care. And Jeffrey St. Clair on life and death on the mean streets of an America in decline
Who is Representing Who?

The Haitian People Need a Lobbyist

by RICHARD MORSE

Port-au-Prince.

If the Haitian government tells you these last Senate elections were fine; don’t believe them.

If the United Nations tells you these last Senate elections in Haiti were fine; don’t believe them.

If the OAS (Organization of American States) tells you these last Senate elections in Haiti were fine; don’t believe them.

If the Main Stream Media ignores the recent Haitian elections, maybe it’s because no one is supposed to say that it was a voting nightmare. When you hold an election and no one shows up, it’s a nightmare.

I drove around town (Port-au-Prince) late Sunday morning, April 19, as voters were supposed to be voting. One of the things reaffirmed to me that morning was that Haitians like playing soccer in the streets when there’s no traffic. People did not vote in Port-au-Prince and Port-au-Prince, in this case, probably reflects what was happening in most of the country.

If some one tries to tell you that Haitians didn’t vote on  Sunday because they’re apathetic, the person is either lying, uninformed, or trying to sell you a bridge in Brooklyn.

It’s not like people didn’t vote and went about their business. People didn’t vote and either stayed at home or went out onto the streets to see if anyone else would vote. The "no vote" was their vote.

This last election/ referendum showed us that Haitians have had enough of the Preval/Delatour approach to
governance.

This government isn’t representing the Haitian people.

Some voters of course, may have been intimidated by flyers which said "If you’re going to vote, print your name on the bottom of your feet so your body can be identified". Other people

may have been intimidated by the Haitian Government and the Haitian
National police who officially closed down the country day before and the day after elections, as though some kind of war operation was being prepared. No private cars were permitted to circulate in the streets.

Personally, I think the main cause for the massive non-participation is that, too often, the Haitian masses vote and then the winning politicians get
bought.

Wouldn’t you get tired of voting if your candidates kept getting bought?

Trying to exclude the Lavalas Party (Haiti’s largest party) from the
elections didn’t help anyone’s cause.

I remember the first time I saw President Preval shortly after he won the 2006 election. He was enjoying himself with a new crowd of friends who couldn’t possibly have voted for him. Preval ran on promises to eight million Haitians; these new friends were representatives of Haiti’s Gang of Eleven: the country’s controlling elite. Preval’s economic platform (HOPE 2) only represents five percent of the coun try. Haitians need an economic plan that effects 80% of the population, not 5%.

If some one tells you the only reason Aristide left the country is because he was kidnapped, well, that person is misinforming you. A Haitian industrialist, Andy Apaid, had the Haitian masses demonstrating against Aristide. Paradox in politics.

I saw those demonstrations. They were some of the largest demonstrations I ‘ve ever seen in Haiti. After Aristide departed, Gerard Latortue and the "transitional" government came to power, along with a "repression machine" that had policemen circulating around Port-au-Prince with black ski masks on their faces. Andy Apaid was silent during all of this; he orchestrated no demonstrations against repression. He was no longer pretending to represent the Haitian people; he was now openly representing himself and his business cohorts.

He was getting sweetheart deals and tax breaks from the transitional government.

The Haitian people have never rallied behind Apaid or the people  he supported, again. The honeymoon was over. Andy Apaid will never be able to mobilize the Haitian people again. And on top of this, when Hillary Clinton makes her first trip to Haiti as Secretary of State, someone convinces her that she should be visiting Andy Apaid. A fine example of Haiti’s lobbyists at work.

Somehow, with the help of the Delatours and the Haiti Democracy Project in Washington, Andy Apaid and Haiti’s business sector have come to dominate the Preval government.

Ever since April/May 2008 when Prime Minister Alexis was voted out of the Prime Minister’s office by Senator Youri Latortue and a contingent of Senators with dubious intent, Preval stopped talking about "National Production". Now we’re back to "Mme Clinton visiting Apaid at his factory" type of economics.

The Haitian people have said "no" already !!. Doesn’t anyone listen?

I can go on. The road from the Dominican Republic that’s supposed to
bring imported goods to Haiti and tourists from the Dominican Republic to the Citadelle has been built, but the road from Haiti’s breadbasket, the Artibonite valley, is in shambles. The message is clear: imports are good. Left over Dominican tourists are good.

Local production is in the back seat. Or, to put it another way,
well-off importers are good; poor Haitian farmers are once again invisible and unrepresented.

The Delatours, who have positions in Ministries, the National Palace and as lobbyists are the biggest link between Preval’s failing policies, and Washington.

Before they became best friends with Preval they were lobbying for Simeus, the Texas/Haitian billionaire who wanted to be president. When his bid failed, they switched tactics. If you can’t vote your own politician into office, buy the one who gets elected.

What it all comes down to is: "Who’s representing the Haitian people"?

I know who’s representing the business elite and the three to five percent of the population that they encompass, but the country has between 8 and 10 million people. The busses of tourists coming over from the DR aren’t going to help the Haitian people. That C2 money is going to be divided up in some office before the project gets off the ground. The HOPE 2 bill which is supposed to provide between 10 and fifty thousand "treading water" jobs, will attract people from the countryside into a city that has no infrastructure to support them. Does anyone care?

Lobbying must to be a great business in Haiti. Too bad the Haitian masses don’t have a lobbyist.

RICHARD MORSE runs the Oloffson Hotel Port-au-Prince Haiti and the leads the Haitian band RAM.