Haiti Archives 1995-1996
19/12/95 Haiti Elections: Some Observations from CPT workers

From: “James R. Lynch”

Forwarded message: Date: Tue, 19 Dec 1995 15:54:29 -0600 Reply-To: cpt@igc.apc.org From: “Christian Peacemaker Teams” cpt@igc.apc.org Subject: Haiti: Elections

CPTNET Dec. 19, 1995

No major incidents of violence throughout the country during presidential elections

Low voter turn out due to several reasons:

1. Voter cards had been lost from the June election,

2. There was some confusion in the electorate about how much they should work to extend Aristide’s term to include the three years lost to military rule.

3. There was ambivalence about the value of the election process due to the high cost of living and serious hunger,

4. Some disillusionment of what Aristide’s government has not been able to do.

Two of us observed the elections in Cite Soley (poor area of Port au Prince) and of Kenskoff. Kenskoff is in the mountains where the majority of the people make their living in vegetable gardening. Farmers interviewed while playing dominoes on election day, showed their ink-blotted thumbs to attest to having fulfilled their civic duty but explained that voting for a president wasn’t going to change anything for them. They need the prices of seeds and fertilizers to be lowered. They said, “it’s almost not worth anything for them to plant”.

One lady in Kenskoff was quite proud of Aristide and would never talk bad of him, saying it wasn’t his fault but rather the big rich guys that are the ones that control the money and commerce. She said that before Aristide came back, the military kicked her market table for no reason, arrested her and her family had to spend precious money to get her released. She would never denounce Aristide and pointed to the new road that had been built since he had come back.

Cite Soley was calm contrary to expectations. We heard youth saying how they were proud of their participation in the election process, because they know that there can’t be another coup, but they were emphatic that they hoped they wouldn’t be sorry they had dunked their thumbs in the ink.

At counting time, we were at a downtown Port-au-Prince polling station and observed the process unfolding and announcements of each ballot’s results. This voting station had 420 registered voters, but only 60 ballots caste. Of the 60 votes 58 were for Preval. The adjoining polling station also had 420 registered voters, 72 votes, and 69 for Preval.

Aristide had the boys from his orphanage to his home on election day and then went out to vote.

Rene Preval, the expected victor is articulate, though not as charasmatic. He brings a characteristic of family togetherness to the movement instead of the mystical unrealistic idea of one man solving all problems. Throughout his campaign, he had Aristide-like crowds everywhere. Sometimes they held shovels in the air asking for work.

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is a program of the Church of the Brethren, the Mennonite Church, the General Conference Mennonite Church, and the Friends United Meeting. Contact: CPT, P. O. Box 6508, Chicago, IL 60680 telephone/fax: 312-455-1199 email: cpt@igc.apc.org

— Jim Lynch written at Rochester, New York ============================================================================== jlynch@cyber1.servtech.com

jlynch@igc.apc.org

jim_lynch.parti@ecunet.org

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