In the LA Times today, Dan Beeton from the Center for Economic and Policy Research argues that the U.S. is finding almost the exact opposite role from what it should have in Haiti's elections, scheduled for next week.
It's not just the practicality of it all, given Haiti's severe public health problems (not to mention the equally devastating homelessness problem nearly one year later).
In Haiti, as in Burma, several parties, including the most popular, Fanmi Lavalas, are being kept off the ballot in an overtly anti-democratic move. Fanmi Lavalas has won every election it has participated in, and authorities seem determined to prevent that from happening again. In Haiti, as in Burma, a council handpicked and controlled by the government is overseeing the electoral process. And in Haiti, as in Burma, the popular party's leader is kept from rallying supporters.
While Suu Kyi was kept under house arrest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide is prevented from returning from exile in South Africa because the Haitian government refuses to grant him a new passport. Haitian police have fired live ammunition at pro-democracy crowds, just as demonstrations in Burma have been violently repressed. Shamefully, in Haiti, U.N. troops have provided support for this police repression, when not attacking crowds and journalists directly. Just as members of the NLD in Burma have been persecuted, thousands of Lavalas supporters were killed after the 2004 overthrow of the elected president, Aristide, in a coup strongly supported by the U.S. government.
Whereas Obama administration officials cited exclusion of key political parties in the elections as a major concern in Burma, the U.S. is providing at least $13 million in support for Haiti's elections. Even condemnation of the flawed process from 45 members of Congress in an open letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, from Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), the ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a report and from the nongovernmental organization community has not budged the administration from its expressed support.