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First published September 29, 2000
Haiti's latest show business trial

Se Fue! (He is gone!) Se Fugo!) He Fled!) Buscan Como Locos Asilos Para Vladimiro! ( They are Going Crazy Looking for Asylum for Vladimiro!) Crisis Politica Esta En Via de Solucion! (A Solution is About to be Found to the Political Crisis!)  

These, in fact, were the headlines in many of Peru's major newspapers after the South American nation's former powerful intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, fled into exile in Panama late last week.

However, as the Haitian opposition continues to demand the most difficult things - the resignation of leftist Haitian President, Rene Preval, and the results of a series of largely fraudulent elections held not long ago be obliterated - millions of Haitians, indeed, remain optimist that they, too, will soon read the same very exact words in their newspapers.

Now, that criticism is mounting, and at the national and international levels so, over the "bogus" election results and the swearing-in of the bitterly contested lawmakers - most them members of former leftist Haitian President and firebrand Jean-Bertrand Aristide Lavalas Family party - on August 28, Preval who is said to drink vodka for breakfast, takes a step forward in an effort to draw attention, too, from the much-needed multilateral financial assistance that is now one step closer from being suspended.  

Army bandits, Army leaders, go on trial! Justice is right at the door! These have been the very   unusual words of the government Stalinist-like propaganda machine, which is not limited to state-owned media, lately.  

Most citizens who long ago decided not to dispose their television and radio sets but keep them as ornaments instead because they could not recall the last time their homes were illuminated for more than three hours a day first heard about the latest show business trial through words of mouth. From this you may conclude, as millions of Haitians have, Thomas Edison's revolution has not yet taken place in Haiti.

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Former Haitian military leaders on trial in tyrant Aristide's kangaroo court.   Raul Cédras, former Haitian army supreme commander
58 defendants (22 will be tried in abstentia), including former top Army commanders Raoul Cedras and Philippe Biamby, who led the September 1991 coup that overthrew leftist Aristide, and former national police chief Michel François for a massacre in a beach side slum, in 1994, now stand trial.    

While leftist Preval may now be seeking justice for the Haitians who were allegedly raped tortured or killed by the Haitian military - long decreed disbanded but constitutionally existent - his own journeys into the world of criminality, however, made the most of his capacity for adding insult to injury.

Both Preval and Aristide, have advocated burning political opponents alive. Hundreds of political opponents, including prominent Atty. Mireille Durocher Bertin, have been assassinated in broad daylight. Hundreds of businesses belonging to Preval and Aristide's opponents have been consumed by flames.

Increasingly, however, by most recent international treaties, embassies enjoy extraterritoriality. Even so, this year has seen a succession of attacks on foreign missions and their diplomats, who simply utter the very unpleasant words:  

"The method employed by the Haitian National Electoral Council to determine the percentage of votes won by each Senate candidate in the May 21st election cast doubt over its claim that some of the Lavalas Family party candidates do not face a run-off." Added the diplomats, "Only if the problem over the election is resolved will our respective governments not go the distance with the Haitian government." 

 In April, a car in which the Spanish Ambassador's wife was a passenger was stoned. The vehicle suffered major damage and the diplomat's wife was wounded.

A month later, a UN staff member, Garfield Lyle, was flown to Florida's Jackson Memorial Hospital after being fatally shot in the head. He expired there two days later.     

Sure was the boss of the bandits, who many often identified as former President Aristide, and so did the bandits, too, was thinking hard of June - about his next target. Bandits threatened to burn the compound of the Port-au-Prince U.S. embassy to the ground while they were smearing its external walls with human excrement.  

In July, grenades were launched at the Canadian Ambassador's private residence. Cars parked in the front yard of the diplomat's private residence were slightly damaged.  

And, again in July, a European Union official's private residence was firebombed.  

Had Preval and Aristide not caused Haiti to be perceived by the international community as a place where everything seems to go wrong the commanded-attacks on the respective embassies would certainly constitute "declarations of war.

While the pattern of putting, even those presumed to be political opponents, on trial continues in an effort to draw attention from Haiti's major problems, thousands of public employees, who have not been paid for more than 32 months, have threatened to take to the streets to force the grossly incompetent government to pay them for their hard labor hours.

Yet, in many of Haiti's towns and provincial cities, street vendors turned out in mass against the largely contested Lavalas mayors - a reference to mayors fraudulently elected under the banner of Aristide's Lavalas Family Party. There were reasons, in fact valid, for their protests against the largely believed crooked mayors.  Like many other businessmen, businesswomen, the hard working vendors also paid sales tax, still residents continued to receive no services associated with local taxes.

Many of the contested mayors, who can hardly define the concept "Budget," claim they have no money to pay for the cost of their budget items. "We had to raise the sales tax," declared the imposters.

The other major problem facing Haiti is the growing drug industry threatening its youth, as the Caribbean nation continues to be a transshipment point for 14% of Colombian drugs entering the united United States.  

Life in Haiti has become so intolerable for Haitians lately that hundreds more landed in Florida, last week - in search of economic liberty, in search of political freedom.

Only when the Preval government ceases to be a vessel for the legacy of Aristide's dictatorship of the proletariat will justice not be served on a selective basis, as the case of 58 citizens who now face the bar of a so-called "Haiti's Judicial System" suggests. And Haiti will end up achieving democracy and improve the quality of life of its citizens, hopefully.  

Yves A. Isidor teaches economics at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and is spokesperson for We Haitians United We Stand For Democracy, a Cambridge, MA.- based political pressure group. 
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