Originally: Many Crosses to Bear

Coming out of the coup d’etat: a taxing operation (1994-1996)

On September 19, 1994, the United States, equipped with a U.N. mandate, intervened militarily in Haiti. This event marked a decisive step for the protest movement demanding that constitutional legality be restored. It removed the major obstacle from the scene ? the narco-military authorities ? and it also promised to guarantee security, indispensable for the desired political normalization. The Aristidians were placated and the Americans, after putting their credibility on the line, regained their prestige. The Democrats in power in Washington gave themselves direct means to control a situation whose long-term instability would have compromised their political interests. Considering the recent past and the intensity of the conflict between the Haitian parties, it was not surprising that security was put at the top of the leaders* agenda. Whether justified or not, steps were taken and the highest security was granted to Aristide by the Americans. This has been perceived as the symbol of a convergence, or even a merging, of interests between the western powers and the Lavalas who were repositioning themselves on the national scene.

During these uncertain times, there were some concerns about the possibility of destabilizing terrorist attacks. The American military presence constituted the security guarantee needed for the resumption of the democratization process. Security was imperative for people to go about their every day business, for business and commerce to operate, for parliamentarians to meet freely, for political organizations and unions to function openly. It made it possible for President Aristide to prepare his political and physical return to Haiti. Finally, democratic and political organizations would recover their freedom of speech and the scope of action they would need for launching creative initiatives.

The restoration

After a period of initial euphoria, difficulties in organizing day-to-day activities and in normalizing life in general came to the fore. The embargo had destroyed entire segments of the national economy. Insecurity and social and political conflicts persisted. The remains of the armed forces could not be used to reestablish security. It would obviously take time to train and deploy a new police force. Even under foreign guidance, and despite the overwhelming power of the foreign troops, these questions would not be resolved overnight.

In the short term, normalization had to follow a systematic process beginning with the reestablishment of the legitimate authorities and the effective functioning of Parliament, which needed to pass emergency measures, including an amnesty to accelerate the departure of the military leadership. President Aristide*s return on October 15, 1994 represented the culmination of phase one of the restoration processes. Not only was his return a symbolic victory, it would also allow the country, at least it was hoped, to realize immediate dividends from the promised politics of “reconciliation” and “justice”. The Head of State officially taking possession of his functions on home ground was going to enable the government to begin functioning on a normal basis. That was the price for a resumption of international economic and technical aid.

In the medium term, practical questions had to be resolved to put distance between the present and the coup. These questions dealt with a series of political and legislative measures stipulated in the July 16th New York Accords and agreed upon by the various political parties. The different representatives of the concerned parties needed to concentrate their efforts in these areas and urgently, because of the tight schedule specified by the electoral calendar. Article 11-4 of the New York agreement, following that of Governors Island, presented a list of nine emergency laws that Parliament was to pass in order to reach the constitutional normalization of the Haitian State. Specifically, they concerned the implementation of amnesty, the organization of a new constitutionally-valid police force, the functioning of a Reconciliation Committee, regional interests, reparations for the victims of the coup, etc. The program included a mechanism for amending the unconstitutional government decrees passed during the coup, specifically Decree 101, which established an Exceptional Electoral Council. The agreement also provided for removing the parliamentarians fraudulently elected on January 18, 1993, until a definitive solution could be found. This program was not as simple to enact as one would have thought.

Concretely, the content of the return to constitutional order needed to be defined in political terms, and thus in the context of the power struggle between the principal actors; hut it also needed to be defined in light of constitutional provisions However, the 45th legislature was at the end of its mandate and certain constitutional articles and provisions ? including the practicalities of how to create the Electoral Council ? had expired. Hence, accommodations could only be political; it was thus reasonable to expect that the actors would be invited to negotiate the details of a return to normality cautiously, imaginatively and with a heightened concern for the national interest.

It is important to point out that restoration happened with the help of external forces, under foreign supervision, and therefore outside of the constitutional framework. Moreover, the economic and political conditions were dramatic and had repercussions on all aspects of life in Haiti. This kind of situation called for the implementation of a national rescue mechanism. Such a plan would include forming a coalition government and developing a plan for economic and political revival and for a proper transition to constitutionally legitimate institutions. Aristide had his work cut out for him. He advocated reconciliation and peace. To be convincing, his discourse needed to be translated into proposals; eloquent gestures had to be made toward political organizations and active sectors of society. He should have taken steps to relieve tensions, to reassure, and to stimulate ? before even returning home. His collaborators and partisans should have done their part to responsibly relay this project. After reading his Prime Minister Robert Malval*s account of events, we now know that his profoundly suspicious manner of managing the crisis from Washington could only have made the problems facing post-coup Haitian society even thornier than they already were.

Democrats in Haiti were governed by only one main purpose: the return to constitutional order and reinstating Aristide as president as a symbol of the popular will as expressed in the elections of December 16, 1990. This was the legitimists? combat rule number one; the sine qua non for jump-starting the democratic process. Apparently, this governing principle may have become a fixation, and it seems to have reinforced the Lavalassian decision-makers in their wariness; they brushed off thoughts, studies, projects and proposals that had been solicited or spontaneously offered. Thus, for lack of vision the time of the coup was not put to good use in preparation for Aristide*s return. Many factors had to be taken into consideration: it would be necessary to weigh the resources and the working forces in the democratic camp; to evaluate the state of decay the country was in; the tears in the social fabric; and the specific nature of the fight for democracy as conditioned by the dominant role of the international community and the considerable weight of the United States.

Upon his return on October 15, Aristide held all the keys to a successful mission. Not only had Haiti become an American internal political issue, but the Haitian cause had also mobilized the international community and touched all movements for democratic solidarity. At home, his enemies were beaten and his capital of popular sympathy was almost intact. All the sectors of the democratic movement, be they Lavalas or not, made known their readiness and willingness to contribute to national reconstruction. The call of duty was for all the democratic forces to join in the project for the public good. Aristide was not called into question, but the quality of his leadership was a key factor for success. It is also true that he had little time left as president if the constitutional deadlines were to be respected.

A new government led by a local businessman, Smarck Michel, took office on November 8. Later on, it was completed by the addition of representatives from several political groups, including parties like PANPRA and MIDH, which had been associated with the government headed by Marc Bazin during the coup. Foreign aid poured in along with a succession of visits by important foreign dignitaries. Reconciliation began. The parties and parliamentarians were consulted concerning the organization of the upcoming local and legislative elections. Steps were taken to add substance to the new course of events: meetings with local union leaders; the creation on November 30 of a presidential commission for economic growth and modernization, including 15 representatives of the private sector and eight members of the government; finally, on December 6, Prime Minister Michel launched an emergency program allocating 77 million dollars to fighting poverty.

The end of the army

Among the most significant measures announcing the government*s deposing of the coup and its consequences, it is important to note the creation on March 28 of the National Commission for Truth and Justice. The commission was presided by a sociologist, Françoise Boucard; on the very day of its founding, Mireille Durocher Bertin, a renowned Aristide opponent, was assassinated. However, the termination of the Haitian army stands out as the most symbolic of the measures that were undertaken. The leadership was dismissed and evicted from headquarters, where the chief of staff used to keep a symbolic watch over the National Palace; the army became a shell of its former self. The operation proceeded in phases. It started shortly after October 15, beginning with disruptions in the hierarchy: on October 1 8, the high command was reorganized for the first time, and two days later many senior officers were given foreign assignments as military attaches. Then came the dissolution of the rural police force on October 28, followed by the reassignment of 750 military personnel to the interim Police Corps on November 6. On December 23, personnel were effectively reduced to 1500 and on February 20 all military men above the rank of major were fired. Finally, the disbanding was completed on April 28, when Aristide openly declared that the armed forces of Haiti had been abolished. Constitutionally the army still existed, but in fact it had been dissolved.

One can say that the army suffered a crushing defeat even if it did not go to battle. Actually, it was only specialized in repression and state-sponsored violence within Haiti. From 1986 to 1991, the military used all the weapons in its arsenal to neutralize the democratic movement and prevent the normalization of a new political regime. It had engineered the failure of the November 1987 elections through terror and assassinations.

Then, it installed a president that suited it, Leslie Manigat, in June 1988; that was still not enough: it fomented yet another coup and overthrew him. Then came the destructive internal power struggles such as Prosper Avril*s coup in September and clashes between different army factions in April 1 989. The army carried on with arrogance and complete disdain for the political classes, flexing its might and reigning with terror over the working classes. It successfully disorganized national affairs to the point where the army no longer represented the traditional forces of order, most likely to rectify the course of events when they went beyond the control of the leading classes; nor could they be counted on by the dominant western powers as the last resort. In fact, it is lair to say that the Haitian military was its own worst enemy.

It is obvious that Aristide did not want to keep dragging the army around like a ball and chain. His strategy began to appear quite clear in 1992 once he felt secure in the legitimacy of his power thanks to the support of the dominant forces and demonstrations of solidarity worldwide. However, he was forced to negotiate, under pressure from the USA; he pretended to answer the requirements of the international community by engaging in dialogue with the emissaries who traveled to the country seeking to help solve the crisis. From Cartagena, Colombia (December 1991), to Washington (February 1992) to the Governor*s Island and New York agreements (July 1993), Aristide resigned himself to participating in negotiations. In fact, he was trying to exhaust the perpetrators and supporters of the coup by making the country ungovernable under their rule and unbearable for them until they rendered their arms. The army was weakened and could not resist the purge that was taking place. What were the means Aristide used?

  • Instigate and support the internal resistance (demonstrations, denunciations; popular, student and media protests);
  • Encourage “sidewalk diplomacy” as the protestors from the Diaspora, mainly in North America, were known;
  • Play all possible lobbying angles, especially the U.S. Congress* Black Caucus;
  • Accelerate external pressures; take advantage of promises made by an international community forced to accept Aristide*s leadership as the key factor in solving the crisis;
  • Render the application of agreements impossible by making ambiguous statements provoking the putschist military and forcing them into still more reprehensible actions.

And he succeeded. Not so much because he took advantage of American leaders* gullibility, but because several circumstances favored him: proximity of the American elections, increasing numbers of boat people, and particularly the unbelievable stupidity of the coup leaders. The embargo put an end to it all: this economic weapon dealt the final blow by applying the utmost political pressure. The July accords seemed to open the way to an acceptable compromise. The offer that had been made to the military was more than generous. They would be able to cooperate with Malval?s government while Aristide was still on the outside. By agreeing to play fair, they would have all the cards in hand to control the transitional process leading to the restoration of constitutional government. However, their reading of the situation was skewed. They understood nothing of the international and national stakes and the changes that had occurred in American politics, especially after Clinton was elected to the White House. These changes made their coup anachronistic in the context of the implementation of democracy. They chose to persist in repression and to defy the UN.

Military intervention was a foregone conclusion: the imperatives of American politics and the criminal obstinacy of the military made it possible. Aristide, the champion nationalist and anti-imperialist, wanted it, and made it acceptable. The State was put under foreign supervision at the levels of security planning, economic projects and political accountability. Services were deficient. This predicament contradicted typical Lavalassian rhetoric, which was usually revolutionary, nationalistic, anti-bourgeois and anti-imperialistic. This enormous contradiction was going to be that much harder to resolve because those in power did not yet really control anything other than the political means imposed by the dominant powers.

The restructuring of power in 1994-1995 was subject to strict political and constitutional demands. The Americans associated with the legitimists sought quick and tangible results in the democratic normalization process; this was the point of military intervention. Haitian voters would soon be called upon to renew the composition of the territorial collectivities (regional communities, municipalities and departments), the chamber of deputies and two-thirds of the Senate. If the new legislature could not begin work according the constitutionally-defined timetable (second Monday of January 1995), it was nonetheless imperative to proceed as quickly as possible in organizing elections, to prevent the institutional void existing longer than necessary. On this point, the concerns of the actors were not simply legalistic; it was truly the first step in repositioning political forces. People were already mobilized by the proximity of the presidential elections (November 1995) in which Aristide could not legally stand for office.

1995 was a year of multiple elections and it promised fierce competition. The perverse effects of this were being felt even within the triumphant coalition. Since the whole point was to reestablish constitutional legality, the democratic objective for the previous three years, the Charter dates had to be respected and elections held on time.

In 1995, all political forces hostile to Lavalas were wiped out, whether they were part of the coup itself or simply participants in governments in power during the coup. Defeated, they were denied access to power through elections or any other political means, whether legal, illegal or violent. The opportunity to be elected to power was offered only to members of the democratic movement, and particularly organizations with Aristidian affinities such as the National Congress for Democratic Movements (CONACOM or KONAKOM), the National Front for Change and Democracy (FNCD) and the Lavalas Political Organization (OPL). To these may be added The Coalition for Resistance in the Grand Anse (KOREGA) and Pati louvri baryP (Open the Gates Party) (PLB). The competition for power was limited to the aforementioned and the consequence was to be the explosion of the great legitimist family into multiple and hostile factions.

Evans Paul and Turneb Delpe opened the dance on October 26, 1994 by inviting all democrats to join under the FNCD banner for the electoral battle. On February 1, 1995 the FNCD, itself a coalition, proposed a “five-year transitional democratic pact for the political organizations belonging to the December 16 family, to offer the country political stability.” On March 17, 1995, OPL initiated an electoral alliance with the Movement for the Organization of the Country (MOP) and the PLB and created an organization called the Lavalas Political Platform (PPL). On March 27, the Lavalas rupture with the FNCD became official. In a public statement, Evans Paul, the leader of the FNCD, announced that his party would not sit at the same table as the PLB connivers. Both forces assumed their battle positions but OPL still held the best position. They had jumped ahead in the battle, putting the period of struggle against the coup to good use by offering the as yet undefined Lavalas movement an organization staffed with experienced politicians. One could be led to believe in the birth of pluralism inside the Haitian political system, due to the multiplicity of parties both outside and within the democratic movement. In fact, this apparent pluralism could not mask the reality of Aristide*s supremacy inside OPL and its clever accommodation to the situation.

In truth, OPL filled a void: the Aristidian organizational vacuum. In the end, they were recognized as a major partner in the Lavalas arena during the 1995 legislative elections. Aristide, the charismatic leader, and the OPL, the organization, needed each other. The OPL leaned on Aristide*s popularity and he took advantage of their experience, their organizational capacities for working in the field and for running an election campaign. The alliance became stronger as the campaign progressed. It will be noted, however, that the Lavalas Platform opened itself to some Aristidian barons, such as René Préval and other small groups ? certainly at the leader*s instigation. This positioning, itself a political power struggle, left KONAKOM and FNCD out in the cold. They could no longer rely on proven networks, whereas the Aristidians were still tied to the Ti Leg]iz sectors; their social base was growing smaller, more fluid and less reliable. Only the purest of the pure Lavalas were invited to The Table (Bb tab La: the Lavalas electoral slogan). This included only those who were not labeled as enemies because they had not cooperated with the coup leaders. It also excluded everyone whose previous political behavior could he considered favorable to the Americans. It is significant that Evans Paul, the mayor of Port-au-Prince, attracted attention; he impressed the international community to the point that it was said that they would favor him to succeed Aristide. The rumor had already circulated during the coup. Lavalas was alerted; everything had to be done to prevent the disqualified representatives (PANPRA, MIDH, RNDP and others) from accessing democratic institutions. Moreover, those who had formerly been Lavalassians and even firmly in the anti-coup camp but who no longer figured in Aristide*s plans (FNCD, KONACOM, and MRN, for example) were not welcome either. Their success at the polls had to be compromiscd. The popular singer Emmanuel Charlemagne eventually opposed Evans Paul*s campaign for mayor.

In light of this atmosphere of suspicion, we have an understanding of how the 1995 legislative and presidential elections unfolded: it was practically an invitation-only affair. There were irregularities, abuses of power and even fraudulent maneuvers tied to the entire electoral process (Electoral Council formation, electoral law, voter registration, the voting process, counting of ballots, etc.). The low voter participation rate further darkened this electoral exercise, although the election was essential for legitimizing the newly elected officials.

Overall, the 1995 CEP ran into the same difficulties as its predecessors, and for the very same reasons: the complexity of the electoral system, the scarcity of resources and the unrelenting power struggle in Haiti. According to the electoral timetable published on February 20,1995, the first and second rounds were scheduled for June 4 and 25. They were postponed until June 25 and July 16. The opening date for registration was postponed three times: from April 17 to 30, then to May 31 and finally June 3. The first round actually took place on June 25 and almost all the major parties participated. However, everything was in such disorder that voting could not take place at all in some districts. The result was that a great number of results were disputed. Almost all the non-Lavalas political parties (22 in all) rejected the results and called for their annulment.

Too many irregularities marked the electoral process and appeared to compromise its credibility, although foreign representatives and electoral observer missions, delegated by the international community, were making appeasing statements. The discredited CEP was accused of incompetence and was said to have been manipulated by Lavalas. However, bargaining between President Aristide and certain political groups led to the departure of the CEP president, Anselme Remy, on July 27. This concession alone did not allay the opposition*s concerns. Two parties, PANPRA and the FNCD, removed their representatives from what was called the government of national reconciliation. The MIDH representative had already left in April. The second round of the elections, initially scheduled for July 16, was only held on September 17, after the August 13 supplementary vote. These elections, as well as the presidential elections on December 17, were widely boycotted by the opposition parties. They were overwhelmingly won by the Lavalas platform which, in fact, would come to dominate at all levels of power. The greatest surprise of the 1995 presidential elections was the presence of Victor Benoît, the KONAKOM leader, among the candidates. The results attributed to Benoît were quite incredible: 2.3% of the vote, putting him in third place behind Léon Jeune with 2.5% and René Préval with 87.9%. That would mean that he received much less than Marc Bazin in 1990 (a bit over 14%) behind Aristide (67.50%) although the latter rode the coattails of a plebiscite.

The stretching of electoral operations through all of 1995 is an illustration of the painstaking nature of the democratization processes in Haiti. After the arduous ordeal of the coup, the elections should have been a key event in the democratic and institutional rebirth that had been sought since 1987. Even though the victors celebrated the results, the campaign left a bitter aftertaste. A notable part of the political class had been left out, and the promise of “a general framework for a government promoting openness and national harmony” was lost in the uproar of the struggle between various factions of the ultra-fragmented political class.


All initiatives, parties, groups and organizations that began operating in Haiti during the Duvalier dictatorship are considered part of the Democratic Movement (DM); their activities were intensified during the l980s and played a decisive role in accelerating the growth of social and political awareness. In its varied aspects, after Duvalier?s departure the democratic movement remained a socio-political arena defending vested interests and representing hope for democratic salvation. The DM could always count on a wide social base. Therein lies its strength and, when faced with the accelerated disintegration of the traditional forces, what propelled it as a possible social and political regulatory force. Even though the DM did not or could not equip itself with the political instruments needed to answer the high hopes pinned on it, it has represented the only road to political normalization.

In November 1987, the DM was well on the way to electoral victory under the FNC (United National Front) banner. In 1990, after many disappointments and divisions, yet another FNCDLavalas coalition with a charismatic leader mobilized the voters and won the elections. Such coalitions always collapse eventually. Reunited to overturn the coup, they could not resist the conflicts following Aristide*s resumption of power. In this context, to grasp the problematic of democracy in Haiti and without underestimating other explanations, it seems to me important to evaluate the forces at work in the democratic movement, to analyze the impact of their fragmentation on the political and institutional normalization process, and to understand their responsibility in the perpetuation of the crisis.

Indeed, the eviction of the military and Aristide?s return to the presidency opened the way for normalization. However, what do we know about the political and strategic preparations of the future national leaders? Facing such an enormous task, careful preparation would have been indispensable to rectify the situation. Instead, extreme rivalries evolved. Before, they had been concealed but were seething underneath; they eventually exploded, as Lavalas would move closer to regaining power. To contest the power of the usurpers and to disqualify Aristide*s adversaries in advance, the Lavalassians were mostly content either to fan anti-macoute passions or to foment hatred for the coup leaders. So much so that anti-Duvalierism and references to the coup became real political capital for some. It can be said that we entered the struggle for power without vision, without preparation, without any plans, with nothing more than slogans about justice, democracy and popular participation.

The conditions of 1994 should have alerted the democratic forces to he more careful in achieving the restoration of government to legality. In an open letter to CONACOM, OPL, FNCD and MOP on January 5, 1995, a coalition of Haitian organizations in New York called in vain for unity in the movement and for the development of a true national plan to prepare for the upcoming elections. At this point it is instructive to recall the late Emile Ollivier*s appeal to President Aristide, four days after the Head of State had returned from exile. In an open letter published in the Montreal daily Le Devoir on October 19, 1994, he wrote:

It is up to you and your team, Mr. President, to find the proper tone … for keeping hope alive and renewing confidence. Magic tricks and promises of bliss are not enough. If you do not understand this, I*m afraid your welcoming hosannas will quickly become a public outcry.

Politics are played by clearly and rationally considering the issues of power and consequently confronting rival groups and the need for creating alliances. It is much better to be well engaged in this process early on, before taking power, rather than improvising a response dictated by circumstances. Uncontrolled power struggles have a tremendous impact on the democratization process. They end up perverting the democratic project and degrading it to emotion-driven exclusivity, and conflicts of interest centered on small groups and clans.

We do not have well-established popular organizations. The unions, just like the political parties, fight for existence in an exhausting socio-economic and political context. Up until now, we have seen movements, coalitions and parties, allied with small interest groups, storming into power; but we have not yet seen disciplined and rigorously organized major political groupings. During the 1990s, these movements relied upon the Ti Legliz networks, on professional groups, civic groups and miscellaneous popular organizations, and even NGOs (nongovernmental organizations). Recent history has revealed how truly effective were the political activities and propaganda techniques used by the numerous actors that came out of such movements. It has also showed that they were much more effective in disputing and destroying than in producing a true social project and elaborating a democratic strategy for Haitian society.

The Catholic Church, more specifically the grassroots church (Ti Legliz, little Church), played an important historical role beginning in 1981 by contributing to destabilizing the Duvalier regime. Tactically, the support of the church was to prove invaluable for the democratic movement. The strength of its intervention was greatest during the period of transition and up until it was fractured by social and political upheavals. The episcopate lost control of the clerical grassroots organizations; these in turn would come to play a decisive role in the social movement because of their organizational capabilities and ideological influence. The militancy at the heart of these organizations, and the activism of certain clerics, propelled the Church into the thick of the political struggle. Once the priests had taken sides in political struggles, they rendered their church vulnerable to all kinds of abuses and forced it out of its role as a refuge for those seeking liberty. Instead of passing the ball to a nonexistent national lay organization, they followed the next logical step in their political commitment. In the absence of reliable organizational structures ready to give shape and strength to a political strategy consistent with the social development movement, permanent engagement in social protest and politics resulted in prolonged instability and an apparently endless general disorder all too similar to anarchy.

Although it may not be possible to have a major impact in the context of the current retreat of the Democratic Movement, it is very important that the political groups involved in the struggle and that claim to have democratic ideals continue to play their part. We must therefore question present positioning, proposals and projects in the re-composition of the political scene, dominated by Lavalas since Aristide?s return to power. Are they strategically and technically prepared? What solutions do they offer to answer the main questions of the day? What is their position on real issues such as democracy in Haitian society and the development of the country? What fundamental reforms do they propose? How does this all fit in with Lavalas and the Messianic connotations attached to Aristide?s messages and actions during his seven months as president and three years in exile?

Harassed hy the military in 1987, most of the Democratic Movement joined in the United National Front (FNC). Under this banner, the front became one and went to the polls with the desire to defeat the military and its macoute allies. In 1990, the movement had already cracked at the seams. New electoral alliances were formed around the National Alliance for Democracy and Progress (ANDP), the National Front for Change and Democracy (FNCD) and the National Congress of Democratic Organizations (KONAK0M or CONACOM). The latter dropped out of the electoral race when influential individuals in civil society and in the political arena convinced the FNCD to support Jean Bertrand Aristide*s presidential candidacy instead of Victor Benoît?s, who, by the way, had already been endorsed by the FNCD.

In 1995, KONAKOM and FNCD, the two parties that had joined forces to reinstate constitutional legality, broke their alliance to face the post-coup period on their own. Later, FNCD underwent yet another split. Moreover, there are two KONAKOMs today; Victor Benoît is the leader of one and Dunois E. Cantave of the other. Even under the Lavalas banner, there were parties that would have been hard-pressed to justify their existence (MOP, PLB, FROP and KOREGA etc.); many more divisions were exposed during that time. The United Party of Haitian Communists (PUCH) dwindled to a mere shadow of itself. Its historic leaders, like Gerard Pierre Charles, had long since departed in favor of René Theodore, the general secretary. In turn, he joined another coalition, the National Movement for Reconstruction (MRN), which was soon divided in two, with Senator Rosny Mondestin taking one side and Theodore the other. To complete the picture, we will mention other political groups found outside of this political sphere. Some of the most important were: Leslie Manigat and his National Progressive Democrats (RNDP), Marc Bazin and the Movement for the Foundation of Democracy in Haiti (MIDH), the late Sylvio Claude*s party, the Haitian Christian Democratic Party (PDCH) and Hubert de Ronceray*s Mobilization for National Development (MDN). This coalition included two or three parties considered Christian Democratic and three or four Socialist parties. This list is far from complete; among others that could be included are various individual parties usually found within alliances, groups and assemblies such as PAIN, PNT, UNR, MODELH, UPD, PARADIS… For further information on this subject consult Sabine Manigat and Christian Lionet to unscramble and make sense of the abbreviations.

How can we explain why the forces were so fragmented? The answer has nothing to do with anything pre-determined by history; rather, it lies in personal ambitions. The situation was absurd if you consider the inanity of the political speeches and the small numbers of followers. There is no doubt that some assertive personalities were determined to cash in on their small capital of power. There were, of course, different sensibilities, whether political or ideological, and even pronounced biases and personal enmities. However, the question remains: what was the difference between KONAKOM, KID, PANPRA or even OPL? What made them different from RDNP? Everyone is in favor of democracy and social progress, but what can be found behind the variety of labels? In addition, another political current stands out due to its ideological stances and political positioning. It could be called the radical left wing; the weekly newspaper Haïti Progrès is a platform where they express their ideas. Residual Duvalierism should also be mentioned, but few people admit to being followers.

A new wave of politicians emerged after Duvalier*s departure. It may be difficult to apprehend the full dimension and true nature of their political fragmentation. Within the broad Aristide camp there were contradictory influences. Some expended their energies on building the charismatic leader*s strength and were suspicious of organizations and organizers; others, influenced by former communist mentors, tried to tip the balance the other way and wanted to organize the movement*s transformation and provide it with structure. Still others remained faithful to the revolution they had dreamed of and continued to dream of a federation of grassroots organizations; they were staunchly determined to carry on the long and necessary purification process in order to establish true popular power.

In short, the specific question facing the social and political actors, particularly those who, coming from Washington, were next in the political line of succession, could have been: what will follow the coup? In other words, how could all the problems and their implications brought about by the total disruption of the political normalization process be dealt with to work towards democracy in Haiti? Back then, there were two possibilities:

  • The first could be viewed as a national pact; its conception and development would start with the New York accords and the social and economic demands presented by the Haitian people;

  • The second, the Lavalas normalization process in the strictest sense, would he founded on Aristide*s supremacy.

The second option was chosen.