Haiti’s Virtual Government

Nation on the Brink of Civil War

Since the end of the Cold War, Haiti has lost its geopolitical significance and therefore its purpose for the United States. Today, instead of cajoling the right wing, the U.S. seems primarily interested in having any kind of Haitian government that can stem the flow of black refugees to Jeb Bush's Florida. Beyond this, Haiti offers a pool of cheap labor and a new market in which to dump goods and crops subsidized by American taxpayers.

With so much pressure being wielded on Aristide, the obvious question is why he has not reconnected with the diaspora, which was instrumental in bringing him back to Haiti in 1994. "A few months after Aristide's return," said a computer analyst and former core supporter who did not wish to be identified, "he surrounded himself with people who see the diaspora as Haitians wanting to take their jobs away. Today the lines of communication are almost nonexistent."

Indeed, the once stentorian voice of nearly 1.5 million people, who, from 1991 to 1994, staged protest after protest in Washington, New York, Paris, and elsewhere, is all but mum. "How can we take to the streets when he [Aristide] does not tell us what he's doing?" asked another partisan who requested that his name not be published.

Yet, in spite of their cooling relationship with Aristide, most Haitians in the diaspora believe that even if the U.S. and Europe continue to withhold funds from Haiti, any concession by Aristide before Haiti's "parallel government" is disbanded guarantees that the opposition parties will move further.

Is there any hope? Confronted with the escalating violence, Haiti's first "virtual president," Gourgue, told the Associated Press last week: "Our lives are in jeopardy. The government and the police have abandoned the country to street thugs."

Candor or Freudian slip, he was obviously alluding to the Aristide government.

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