National Coordinator of Just Foreign Policy
Posted: October 17, 2007 12:16 PM
Our government often claims to be promoting democracy abroad, although the policies implemented are often counterproductive to that end. In Iraq, the U.S. invasion and occupation has created a government that doesn’t function, and unleashed an insurgency and civil war. Nearly 4,000 U.S. soldiers and�over a million Iraqis have died.
Democracy activists in Iran have�called for an end to U.S. funding of “democracy promotion” there, since such funding facilitates accusations by Iran’s government that democracy activists in Iran are serving the agenda of a hostile foreign power.
But Americans should insist that their government is actually supportive of those working for democracy abroad, regardless of how the rhetoric of “supporting democracy” has been misused in the past. Every nation has the right to determine its own forms of governance. But the underlying principle of democracy – that people have a right to participate in the decisions that affect them – is universal.
Few have fought as hard for democracy as the Haitian people. Since the revolution of slaves that won independence in 1804, Haiti has suffered repeatedly from dictators and anti-democratic foreign intervention. As recently as 2004, the democratically elected president was�toppled in a coup d’etat and flown into exile on a U.S. plane.
Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine has been a leader in the struggle for human rights and democracy in Haiti. Following the coup in 2004, Lovinsky went into exile in Washington, DC and demonstrated himself to be an effective and persistent advocate. He returned to Haiti last year after successful democratic elections were held. His organization, the September 30th Foundation, is seen as a model of persistent, non-violent human rights advocacy.
Over two months ago, Lovinsky – who was being urged to run for the Haitian Senate – was kidnapped. Many fear that the kidnapping may have been by political opponents (many of which fear giving democratic power to the poor Haitian majority) and that his life may be in danger. It is important for the development of Haitian democracy that violence not be successful in silencing his voice.
Thanks to the recent success of the pro-democracy movement, the current Haitian government is democratic, but constrained by lack of resources. The US continues to have tremendous influence in Haiti; in particular, the country is occupied by a UN force, with which the US has a good deal of influence. If Members of Congress ask questions about Lovinsky’s case, it’s more likely that resources will be directed to saving his life. Let’s do what we can to prevent this pro-democracy Haitian voice from being silenced.
Ask your Members of Congress to send a message about Lovinsky.