Though likely to go widely unnoticed, the results of the U.S. purchased elections in Haiti constitute yet another populist slap in the face to the Bush Administration’s policy of spreading ‘democracy’ by force. The illegal overthrow of democratically elected President Bertrand Aristide by a bloody coup sponsored by Washington, threw the country into the hands of oligarchs and warlords. The election of Rene Preval, a former ally of Aristide’s and himself a former President between 1996 and 2001, seems to bring the country full circle from constitutional rule, to military dictatorship, and back to constitutional rule once again. He may even bring Aristide back from exile in South Africa.
Given that Preval’s policies are likely to be very much like those of the Lavelas party and ousted President Aristide, one has to wonder what Washington thought it would gain by the coup? Why did all those hundreds, or thousands, of people brutally murdered by the Bush-sponosored Junta loose their lives? Somehow the Bush Administration, which has proven so adept at winning majorities for policies which benefit only an elite minority in this country, has proven unable to export this formula overseas.
My best guess as to why there has been such a disconnect between electoral outcomes and official expectations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, and now Haiti is that the mass media isn’t as socially powerful in those countries as they are here. People pay attention to more traditional sources of information which are harder to clog with misleading propaganda. Not that the Bush Administration hasn’t tried; they’ve spent millions on manipulating the press and buying access for their favored candidates and parties in foriegn elections (a meddling by foriegners in internal political affairs that we wouldn’t tolerate, btw). Each time however, the toadies of the Bush Junta have been sent packing by the voters.
Perhaps these countries model an important lesson to those who wish to see an end to the rule of the oligarchic GOP in this country. Turn off your televisions and radios. Turn to peer to peer sources of information. Read newspapers critically and seek independent and primary sources of information. The less the GOP is able to deliver its decietful propaganda, the worse it’s electoral outcomes will be.
Maybe, in the end there is only so much lies and deceit can accomplish in a democracy. And to the extent that is true, we can find some small consolation for victims of the Bush Administration’s foriegn policy disasters, and some measure of hope of keeping our own democracy intact in the face of an all-out assault by some in the GOP who seek to undermine and destroy it.
UPDATE: It looks like Preval may fall short of the absolute majority needed to win outright and avoid a run-off election. Preval’s supporters calim fraud, and though the UN observers discount the possibility of massive enough fraud to influence the election, the disparity between polling and results in the double digits raises questions. Certainly, should Preval fail to claim the Presidency in a run-off election, Haiti will explode with violent protest at the stolen Presidency.