How Haitians Helped Bush in Florida

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How Haitians Helped Bush in Florida

Post by » Fri Nov 05, 2004 11:29 pm

How Haitians Helped Bush in Florida

BY RAYMOND A. JOSEPH
November 5, 2004
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/4331

A majority of Haitian-American voters at South Florida responded favorably to their wooing by the Republicans, who have forged a strong alliance with a large sector of the Haitian community. The victory of President Bush is considered their victory, too.

Although there is no official tally of the Haitian vote, there is no mistaking their contribution to Mr. Bush's decisive victory in the Sunshine State. More than half of the Haitian vote went for Mr. Bush, an American citizen of Haitian ancestry, Marie Bell, said. A week before the election, she exuded confidence about a Bush victory. Ms. Bell, who helped organize the Haitian community for the Republicans, told me: "Look, it's not going to be any 537-vote margin as last time. Haitians alone will give the president thousand
s of votes. You'll be surprised how there won't be any challenge this time around - not in Florida."

The Republican strategists targeted a dozen press and broadcast venues, especially radio and television programs geared to Haitian audiences in several cities in South Florida. The Haitian-American who was named consultant for the Republicans, Hans Mardy, bought commercial spots that aired immediately before and after popular programs, some of which are staunchly pro-Lavalas, the party of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the deposed president. The slogans were devastating for the Democrats and quite flattering to the Haitians. Here's a sample: "Haitians prefer opportunity to charity. Haitians are hard workers like the Republicans."

The Protestant churches went heavily for Mr. Bush, said the director of Radio Planet 17 in Miami (WJCC, 1700 AM), Ed Lozama. He added that the "moral values" embraced by Mr. Bush appealed to the churchgoers, who voted overwhelmingly for him. "Haitians don't believe in men m
arrying men and women marrying women," he emphasized, and they think a President Kerry would have turned America into Sodom and Gomorrah.

The Democrats took the Haitians for granted and spent very little on ads targeting them. Only in the final week of the campaign did they run a few ads, which failed to arouse their base.

Another powerhouse in the corner of the Bushes - both the governor and the president - is Lucy Orlando, who, unabashedly, dubbed herself "the Other Mrs. Bush." An early Bush supporter, she preached and displayed the Bush message. During the Republican National Convention in New York in late August, she wore illuminated attire that turned her into a walking Bush poster. She wore a Bush hat and a Bush family watch. She was constantly on her cellular telephone urging friends, relatives, and acquaintances to "get on the victory bandwagon before it's too late, darling!"

On Tuesday, Lucy was shuttling back and forth among three voting precincts at Miami's Little Haiti. She
told me, "I had to watch these unscrupulous Lavalassians," as the supporters of Mr. Aristide's Raging Flood party are called. "They were poised to inject fraud in the voting," she said.

In effect, Mr. Bush won the majority of the Haitian vote last February, when his administration finally paid attention to the plight of the Haitian people who were demanding the departure of Mr. Aristide. Instead of dispatching Marines to shore up the Haitian president, as Senator Kerry said he would have done, the president teamed up with President Chirac of France to facilitate the departure of the Haitian leader. Late on February 28, the Security Council of the United Nations put its seal of approval on the action when it received Mr. Aristide's letter of resignation.

The situation in Haiti earlier this year had become a threat to Mr. Bush's re-election. The New York Sun had brought the matter to the attention of the administration. At the top of the front page of the January 30 issue, the editors of the Su
n ran a color picture of Mr. Aristide with a provocative statement: "Why this man could hurt George Bush in November. See page 7."

The headline chosen for my column that day asserted, "Bush's inaction in Haiti may cost him in November." The column went on to express the dissatisfaction of Haitian-American voters in Florida with Mr. Bush, who appeared to be ignoring the situation in Haiti. In an interview, Gerard Latortue, then the host of two shows on Haitian Television Network, asked: "Can you imagine what would happen if President Bush failed to act in Haiti?" Mr. Latortue, who is now the prime minister, went on to say, "The Haitian-American citizens now know the value of their vote, and they are ready to use it to effect change back home. Unfortunately, President Bush hasn't met their expectations."

The opinion of Mr. Latortue was shared by thousands of Haitian-American citizens, who demonstrated in South Florida against the mayhem instigated in Haiti by the Aristide regime. "We are 80,000
registered voters in Dade County," some placards trumpeted at a demonstration in Miami. Similar messages appeared at a demonstration at Fort Lauderdale, in Broward County, where registered Haitian-American voters were estimated at more than 100,000.

Then, prominent Haitian-American voters such as Carl Craig, a registered Republican from Coral Gables, began a letter-writing campaign to Mr. Bush. In a letter dated January 28, after recalling that he voted for Mr. Bush in 2000, he wrote: "I would do it again, but the seemingly hands-off attitude of your administration, as it relates to the corrupt, criminal, and undemocratic situation in Haiti is forcing me to reconsider my choice during the next presidential election."

Apparently, the rumblings of dissatisfaction in the ranks of Haitian-Americans reached the ears of Governor Bush. What happened next is history. In exactly one month, Mr. Aristide resigned under pressure from all sides. The Craigs of the Haitian-American community returned to the fo
ld and worked enthusiastically to re-elect the president.

This week, Lucy Orlando summed up the feeling of most Haitian-American voters when she said, "We feared that a President Kerry might have been influenced by the Black Caucus just as Bill Clinton was in 1994. And who knows, he could even have entertained the idea of returning Aristide to power to assuage him and his terrorists."

Now that Mr. Bush has been re-elected, the Haitian-Americans who supported him expect him to finish the job he began last February. That would mean full support to the Latortue government, at a time when the prime minister is facing all sorts of threats from the terrorists in Port-au-Prince who are receiving orders and funds from Mr. Aristide, now exiled in South Africa. Mr. Latortue's meeting today with Jeb Bush and other American officials in Coral Gables is a good omen for sustained interest in Haiti by the new Bush administration.

Jonas
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Post by Jonas » Sat Nov 06, 2004 11:29 am

I find it completely inconceivable that the Haitians in South Florida would have given the majority of their votes to G.W. Bush. Given the author of this article and the newspaper in which it originated, whatever was said must be taken with a grain of salt.

T-dodo

Post by T-dodo » Sat Nov 06, 2004 12:18 pm

[quote]A majority of Haitian-American voters at South Florida responded favorably to their wooing by the Republicans, who have forged a strong alliance with a large sector of the Haitian community. The victory of President Bush is considered their victory, too.

Although there is no official tally of the Haitian vote, there is no mistaking their contribution to Mr. Bush's decisive victory in the Sunshine State. More than half of the Haitian vote went for Mr. Bush, an American citizen of Haitian ancestry, Marie Bell, said.[/quote]
This article is outrageous! It underscores the terrible job that the Haitian press, both inside and outside Haiti, has been doing. To say that "a majority of Haitian-American voters at South Florida responded favorably to their wooing by the Republicans" is not a fact, it is an impression. And to back this statement up by Mary Bell's statement: "More than half of the H
aitian vote went for Mr. Bush" instead of polls or actual numbers is bad journalism. My guess is, the impression both Bell and Joseph got is false. This information is not substantiated, as Mr. Joseph indicated, by neither exit polls nor official numbers. Instead, Mr. Joseph is relying on the statements of a few individuals who were working for the Republican party.

It is true that the Republican party has spent more money this time in the Haitian community than they did in the past. Their primary objective was management of the refugee crisis. In the process, some educated Haitian-Americans ended up working for them and became richer. The beneficiaries in the community were those educated people who were paid to improve the image of the Republican party in the community. The most prominent ones were even rewarded with political appointments. But, to imply - using nebulous wording as "responding favorably to their wooing by the republicans" - that the majority of Haitian-Americans in South Florida vot
ed for Bush is a gross distortion of the truth. The evidence does not support it.

[quote]The Republican strategists targeted a dozen press and broadcast venues, especially radio and television programs geared to Haitian audiences in several cities in South Florida.
....The Democrats took the Haitians for granted and spent very little on ads targeting them. Only in the final week of the campaign did they run a few ads, which failed to arouse their base. [/quote]
True, there were ads on HTN, a Haitian TV station, according to a Republican worker. I never saw them. According to a poll published by The Sun-Sentinel on April 14, 2004, Pg 1.B., radio remained the number one source of news for the majority of Haitians living in South Florida. Hernst Phanor, who hosts a very popular radio talk show on AM1320, between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m., Haiti Antenne Plus, also called Le Boulevard, complained throughout the 2004 campaign that the two parties failed to advertise on
Haitian radio stations. Two weeks before the elections, I heard ads from the democrats on the station. I heard Republicans' ads on the station only during the last week of the elections. Meanwhile, I heard many Haitian/Non-Haitian leaders of the democratic party - Philippe Brutus, State Rep. Lucy Tondreau of Haitian Grassroots Coalition; Jean Monestine, North Miami City Councilman; Kendrick Meek, U.S. Rep. , to name a few - often on the radio show promoting the democratic party and John Kerry. This is one of the most popular Haitian radio stations in Miami. There was also one Haitian of the Republican party, Marc Villain, who I heard defending Bush on one of the shows in the last week of the campaign. The majority of Haitian leaders in Miami was promoting the democrats. Besides, all the people mentioned by Joseph in the article are not leaders in Miami. I know that because I also know them.

More importantly is the flood of phone calls daily to the station and the program by Aristide partisans denoun
cing "Bush's coup d'etat" in Haiti and the "forced exit of Aristide" out of Haiti. The words in quotations are theirs, not mine. It makes it hard to believe that those people, who represent the majority of the about 190,000 Haitians living in South Florida, voted for Bush and the Republican party. When I went to vote, I met a Haitian-American in the line. He was a Democrat who was going to vote for Kerry. He told me that, "had he heard that Kerry declared that he was going to try to restore Aristide to power in Haiti, he would not vote for him." He was part of the anti-Aristide clan, but he was going to vote for Kerry! This is a sample of voting of the anti-Aristide clan. It seemed that Marie Bell failed to reach those.

True, most of the Haitian-Americans hired by the Republican Party to soften their images are from the elite classes of Haiti, including many names cited by Joseph in his article, whom I personally know. One of them managed to find my e-mail address and sent me an e-mail exhorting to
vote for Bush. That is the closest they got to me. It is easy to believe that Bush would have been popular with this group, because of their known anti-Aristide positions. But, they represent a minority in South Florida.

In order to give the impression they did a good job for the Republicans, they are going to radio stations after the elections saying something close to what Joseph said. That was the case yesterday, when Pierre Saliba and P-E Elysee, self-proclaimed top leaders of this republican movement in the Haitian community, went on 1320 A.M. claiming credit for the Republicans' improvements with South Florida Haitian voters. But, because they could be challenged by the radio host, Phanor, they didn't go as far as Joseph did in the article. Raymond Joseph has a reputation for exagerated journalism. If I understand correctly, he was behind The Nouvel Observateur, a Haitian tabloid from Brooklyn in the 60s and 70s specializing in rumors and propaganda against the Duvalier regime. I saw him sev
eral times appearing on PBS, MacNeil & Lehrer Newshour in the past 10 years. He does not have the same respect for truth as regular American journalists would have. We have to be careful at believing what he writes. If I am not mistaken, he wrote extensively in favor of the FRAPH people living in the US after the return of Aristide to power. One must take what he said with a grain of salt.

Jean-Marie

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Post by admin » Sat Nov 06, 2004 12:45 pm

Jonas, well said, and you are very kind! I am not taking this with a grain of salt, but with a barrel of salt herring and codfish (lanmori ak haran sale!)

Nevertheless, I am very much interested to learn about Haitian-American voting patterns in South Florida and other Haitian ethnic communities.

[quote]Gerard Latortue, then the host of two shows on Haitian Television Network, asked: "Can you imagine what would happen if President Bush failed to act in Haiti?"[/quote]
I can't quite imagine, Mr. Latortue, but I don't have to imagine what has actually happened since the illegitimately-elected President Bush acted to remove popularly-elected President Aristide. We do not have to imagine, the ugly reality is all there in front of our eyes. Perhaps the Haitian situation was not all that good under Aristide, but you certainly have made it much worse. And you certainly be
ar historical responsibility, along with Raymond Joseph, for the current state of affairs, which practically everyone, even among the early coup supporters, has begun to deplore. Remember too that History has a way of evolving very rapidly in Haiti. Who can blame you for encroaching yourself servilely to the coattails of your great protector, the President of the United States? In your place, I too would feel that I needed every ounce of protection that I could get. But beware, you have to keep feeding this Republican machine, as the personal attention of Governor Jeb Bush and President George W. Bush may not turn out to be all that it is cracked up to be.

[quote]Now that Mr. Bush has been re-elected, the Haitian-Americans who supported him expect him to finish the job he began last February. That would mean full support to the Latortue government, at a time when the prime minister is facing all sorts of threats from the terrorists in Port-au-Prince who are receiving o
rders and funds from Mr. Aristide, now exiled in South Africa. Mr. Latortue's meeting today with Jeb Bush and other American officials in Coral Gables is a good omen for sustained interest in Haiti by the new Bush administration.[/quote]
I can see how glibly you use the term "terrorists" to denounce Haitians whose views you do not like, when the focus of the U.S. government is its so-called "War on Terror". I am mildly surprised that you did not take the opportunity to talk of "Operation Baghdad" in your article as well. The vocabulary must conform to current phraseology to better target the enemy. "Lavalassians" does not quite do, as only Haitians would understand. But when you expect to have the gubernatorial and by extension the presidential ear, the full terminology of terrorism is at your disposal.

That Haitians will be massacred is of no import, apparently, because after all "they are terrorists".

You also stated matter-of-factly that Mr. Aristide is giving orders and f
unding the Haitian "terrorists", from his exile in South Africa. That's a grave accusation, at the highest level of international diplomacy. Are you simply parroting Mr. Latortue? Was Mr. Latortue parroting you? Which one of you has the proof that should be required of government officials for making such accusation, which invite the most severe of reprisals? Is the United States to attack South Africa as well for being a source of terrorism in the Americas?

"Observing minds" would like to know.

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Post by admin » Sat Nov 06, 2004 1:37 pm

Jean-Marie, I wrote my response before I read yours, and I must say to you as well as Jonas that you are very kind indeed! I am not taking this with a grain of salt, but with a barrel of salt herring and codfish (lanmori ak haran sale!)

All of the points that I made above still stand, but I was glad to read your exposé on Haitian-American voting patters and the media influences (TV and Radio) that wooed those voters. Your own observations complement well those of Empress Verite and give me a more comprehensive picture of how the South Florida Haitians turned out the votes and in whose favor. That's exactly the kind of information I have been asking for in the last few days, and I am glad that Raymond Joseph's article has provided the impetus for you to give us all of that good information.

So now, we do not have to rely solely on the usually excessive statements of Raymond Joseph, in his self-serving depictio
n of Haitian-American support in South Florida for President Bush. Even though we understand that his charge is to defend the interests of the U.S. installed government of Gérard Latortue in Haiti, which appears to be running on nothing but the fumes of anti-aristidism, it is important that we keep a pulse, ourselves, on our communities abroad.

Empress Verite

The Haitian American Vote and Bush re-selection

Post by Empress Verite » Sun Nov 07, 2004 11:14 pm

Geetings all!!

Thank you so much for printing the Raymond Joseph piece. I was happy to read it however I do question some of his statistics or claims. I was aware that the Republikkklans were actively wooing the Haitian vote ever since Gore lost. In fact the very mention of South Florida, West Palm Beach, Broward and Miami Dade evoke the idea of Haitianess. Let me elaborate, the media in south florida would have one believe that in fact if one is Black one is an ethnic Other most probably a Haitian. This depiction has interested me because I feared the retaliation or backlash from African Americans and West Indians but also because I felt that they were playing into the misconception that there are millions of undocumented Haitian immigrants in this area. In fact there are less than a half a million Haitians in Florida! Perhaps this number only refers to those who are legal and records the 1st
generation and the 1.5s.

At the same time, earlier this year or voting season the Haitians made history by being the group who was granted the largest number of citizenship. I had gaged the feelings through selective interactions and media (primarily tv and hip hop radio) and I realized that there were very conservative Haitians who wanted to vote for the Republikkklans to the detriment of a more progressive or leftist democratic agenda. These are primarily elderly folks who have worked hard and were granted grants to renovate their homes and to maintain the status quo. They showed the group of Haitians being sworn into their US citizenships and they were all brown or dark chocolate! The events that led to the firing of Leonie Hermatin from HAFI or the Haitian American Foundation Incorporated were well discussed in the Miami Herald a few years ago. In fact, someone mentioned that it happenned because the old guard wanted to return to their positions in the States. These old guards were Haitians who re
turned on the heels of a new Aristide administration but were forced to go back to the US because of failed business interests. These same ones were able to return and rebuild with grants and lones given by a Republikkklan control state government (very influenced by Jeb Bush) to put on new programs. These programs are supposed to help community folks find jobs and become better acculturated into the Miami area. However upon walking into their offices one can feel the aura of intimidation and anti-leftist or noirist (not me) agenda. That is the new HAFI they focus a great deal on citizenship and the elderly.

In my view Sant La is another non-profit that seemed to work against the Lavalass administration. I accept their positions but I couldn't help but notice that they too have great facilities very post modern and that they have a big staff. The lone Lavalass organization Veye Yo has not moved from its location nor has it been renovated. It looks well used and in need of fixing. These poor folks wer
e so disenfranchised in February when HAFI the organization run by primarily light brown Haitians (who I am surprised to see in little Haiti but they represent the coming of a gentrification that is pushing out everyone who can't pay from Biscayne boulevard!) put on a Haitian mardi gras on the very day that Aristide was overthrown. It seems as if it was planned that way too as a celebration for the downfall of a dark skin and pro black and pro poor Haitian man with no background! In fact, there was a white dread Haitian woman protesting that a student had been hunged at the University in Haiti. When I asked the folks and anti Aristide people at Sant La about this they had no response.

There is no doubt that something needed to be done about the situation in Haiti/Ayity but the overthrow and the kidnapping of Aristide and his family was not it. And the persecution of Lavalass members now is an abomination and it is anti democratic! Latortue has the same fever that Trujillo had when he executed 40k + H
aitians in the DR. This malady is called wanna be macho henchmen. He and his friends on the sunday program on HTN promoted the overthrow of Aristide. In fact, they disagreed so much with the latter's call for France to repay the $21 billion that they appologized for Aristide's supposed mental illness! Meanwhile many black folks from various nations around the world have full blown reparation movements and lawsuits including blacks in the US! There is no question that Latortue sees himself as a friend of the oligarchy or the old elite in Ayiti. As such, he has to show them his commitment to their values and ideologies at any cost.

The other issue is that the Republikkklans managed to air ads on HTN just prior to the recent selections. It was about a week before and I wanted to call Representative Kendrick Meeks to ask him to put a DemocRat ad on HTN right away but I realize that the man was busy and that the African Americans were not reaching out to make alliances or create bridges with the Haitians
. They were however making these amends with the West Indians specifically the Jamaicans who are perceived as having power (e.g.; Colin Powell) and money. Representative Philippe Brutus himself was not happy with the DemocRats because they ignored him. In fact, he mentioned this on his show Frontline Avant Garde which he host with a Republikkklan strategist, Marc Villain (a French speaking brown skin man who has his finger on the pulse of the Haitian elite community in South Florida). Apparently, representative Meeks did not consult him regarding his trips to Haiti prior and after the coup and he seems more conservative with regards to some of the social issues such as abortion and women's rights.

I do not feel that the DemocRats in south Florida are very organized. They are still reeling from the Gore loss back in 2k. Unfortunately, I saw that coming too, in South Florida the DemocRats as the good woman Representative would tell you are very conservative. Their party line does not differ greatly fr
om that of the Republikklans. It seems to me that in South Florida the DemocRats are more readily identified with social issues and they tend to be more vocal regarding civil rights. However, these good meaning white folks are very protective of their turfs and they do not want to share. They are as conservative as the Republikkklans regarding black civil rights issues and they work to uphold the status quo.

And this is why they did not Rock The Vote hard enough to get out the youth and woman and poor folk's vote that could have given Kerry enough to win. Whereas the Republikkklans reached out and had contact with various folks in the community the DemocRats were careful. One reason is that the Republikkklans could draw on volunteers who did not need a salary and who had the time but the DemocRats were working with a much different group of folks. These folks were paid workers who had limited time and funds supposedly and they were not able to reach out as far.

When I was standing online to g
o vote early in North Miami I saw and heard an ocean of Haitian voices and people. There were Haitians waiting to vote others holding pro-Democrat signs and still others passing out flyers to educate folks about the votes. I was not contacted by any Republikkklans except for a DemocRat who tried to get me to vote for a RepubliKKKLan public defender because he was supported by a predominently black staff of lawyers who he would promote if he were elected. In all my education about the issues and the voting process in South Florida was done mostly by folks on HTN. I benefitted the most from Mr. Brutus who brought the candidates on his Frontline show and introduced us to them.

Surprisingly, I am not at all surprised that at least half of the Haitians who voted in South Florida voted for the shrub! This goes to the issues that I have been trying to discuss in various threads on this site...self hatred, wanna be mentality and classism, ethnocentrism, colorism, racism, sexism, prejudice etc...South Florida
IS Haiti in a different geographical location period! My experiences with these powerful Other Haitians is that they exert much power and they intimidate others to various ends.

The light skin Haitan elite in South Florida closely resemble the southern Haitian group of people. Their leader is Petion who helped Simon Bolivar with the belief that he would do as promise and free the black slaves in South America. Not only did Bolivar renigue (sp?) on the promise he also went on to renounce Petion when the South Americans met as states to discuss their position in the Caribbean region. They behaved just like the white southerners who refused to sit down with the Haitians during meetings because they were gens de couleur.

The battle between light and dark Haitians is being mediated by the relationships that are burgeoning between Wyclef Jean and the TVice brothers and with HTN. Wyclef was conspicuously absent during the madi gras on 2/29/04. This was a great to do and HAFI was buzzing with preparat
ions. The mayor of North Miami, Joe Celestin also held a gala featuring mostly white and brown Hispanic women painted with various color paints with no clothes! it was pure madi gras!

The madi gras was the same spetacle! It featured Fat Joe another well known Puerto Rican woman stripper/dancehall/ragga star and a sea of Latin acts. The Haitian floats were present but TVice was the only loud noise. This was the representation of the fact that we had been beat and they were given it to us where it hurts!

There are great scholars and scholarships on festivals and this one was worth a good article. It seems to me that a great effort and a lot of money was put out for this festival but I don't know how successful it was financially and I don't feel that it helped to build bridges within the Haitian community in South Florida. The message was assimilate and acculturate into a white Haitian and Latin identity for your survival!

In essence this is precisely what Fanmi Lavalass has fought again
st this recolonization of our minds and culture. On wednesday, when Rep. Brutus and others inaugurate the new Jean Jacques Dessalines boulevard on NW 7th avenue and 125th street he will herald in a new era that will emphasize more of an African American and Haitian relationship and identity. Still, the Toussaint L'Ouverture statue has not been erected in little Haiti even though the now deposed commissioner Teele and others granted the funds more than a year ago!

There is so much more to say and write about the Haitian vote in South Florida in the recent selections. I must recoup so that I can better evaluate my feelings.

kenbe

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