by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)
Huge demonstrations calling for President Michel Martelly to step down are growing in size, scope, and frequency. On Nov. 7, a march of many thousands, called by the Patriotic Force for Respect of the 1987 Constitution (FOPARC), marched up the Delmas Road from La Saline and burst through the barricades which Haitian police had erected to prevent the crowd from marching through the tony streets of Pétionville.
“We proved today that we don’t need a visa, we don’t need a passport, to go to Pétionville,” said demonstrator and journalist Wendel Polynice after the symbolically powerful victory.
The demonstrators then marched back down to Port-au-Prince along the Bourdon Road. When they reached the central Champ de Mars, police dispersed them with teargas and shots in the air.
The slogan of the Nov. 7 march was: “Dessalines is paying a visit to Pétion.” Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a former slave, led the masses of former slaves into an alliance with Alexandre Pétion, who headed the forces of St. Domingue’s largely mulatto affranchis or propertied freedmen. This alliance was what allowed the “indigenous army” to defeat the French legions of Napoleon in a decisive battle at Vertières, near Cap Haïtien, on Nov. 18, 1803, paving the way for Haiti’s Jan. 1, 1804 declaration of independence.
On the 210th anniversary of Vertières, Haiti’s most nationalist holiday, another huge demonstration filled the streets of the capital. Estimates ranged from 10,000 to 50,000. The principal calls were “Down with Martelly” and “Down with MINUSTAH,” the acronym for the 9,000 soldier occupation force known as the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti.
Meanwhile, Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe traveled to Cap Haïtien where they spoke to a largely bussed in and paid crowd after police aggressively broke up the anti-Martelly demonstrations that had been planned.
Anti-Martelly, anti-MINUSTAH demonstrations were held on Nov. 18 in other Haitian cities including Aux Cayes, Jacmel, Miragoâne and Petit Goâve.
“There were some 1.7 million people marching in the streets of Haiti today,” said Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles, one of Martelly’s most outspoken critics, surrounded by a throng of demonstrators in the Nov. 18 march in Port-au-Prince. “And there were only 700,000 who supposedly voted for Martelly” in the illegal and controversial Mar. 20, 2011 presidential run-off election.
“It is clear that Martelly does not have the legitimacy or the credibility to lead the country,” Sen. Jean-Charles continued. “We are asking the Americans, French, and Canadians to come an collect their errand boy because he cannot lead the country any more.”
The next major demonstration in the capital is planned for Nov. 29, the 26th anniversary of the 1987 election massacre carried out by a neo-Duvalierist military junta. For that day, Moïse called on Haitians to “prepare your chairs, your gallons of water, and your sleeping mats” because “we are going to set up our headquarters across from the U.S. Embassy.”
On Haitian radio shows, there is increasing discussion of what would follow Martelly’s resignation. However, the first proposal for a transitional government was made during a Sep. 29 Popular Forum of grassroots organizations, where the keynote speaker was Sen. Jean-Charles, held at the Fany Villa in Port-au-Prince, the only such large public meeting to take up the matter to date. The proposal was drafted by the Dessalines Coordination (KOD), a new influential political formation made up of militants who have distinguished themselves over the past 25 years of Haiti’s struggle for democracy.
In previous weeks, Haïti Liberté has published in Kreyòl and French the proposal, which was adapted and then adopted by the participating popular organization on Oct. 7. In light of the growing prospects of Martelly’s resignation, we present the KOD’s proposal in English below.
Popular Forum, September 29, 2013, Port-au-Prince
The Proposal of the Dessalines Coordination (KOD) for a Provisional Government
The government of President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe was never legal because the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), the final arbiter of any Haitian election, said that it was Mirlande Manigat and Jude Celestin who should have gone into a run-off election. It was Washington, the Organization of American States (OAS), and the occupation force known as the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), as represented then by Edmond Mulet, which then gave Haiti orders as to how to do its election and who should be in it. They imposed a Mar. 20, 2011 run-off between Mirlande Manigat and Michel Martelly. This Martelly regime, which came to power through a bogus election, doesn’t have any legitimacy in the eyes of the majority of the Haitian people.
Since Hillary and Bill Clinton put Martelly in power, the people have been squeezed, as if through the eye of a needle, by all kinds of tribulations. The first illegal act of Martelly was to brazenly take money without Parliament’s assent on all the international money transfers and telephone calls that Haitians overseas make to their families back home.
On top of that, Martelly has flexed his ill-gained authority with intimidation, violence, and repression, as on Oct. 22, 2011 when he threatened a neighbor in an effort to take his home. On Oct. 26, 2011, he arrested a sitting deputy with immunity. On Feb. 17, 2012, Martelly led a band of thugs from the airport through the streets of Port-au-Prince to the University’s Ethnology School, where they physically attacked and fired on students.
Through a bunch of fake projects, inflated travel per diems, and other “legal banditry,” Martelly has stolen state funds. But that’s not all. The Dominican journalist Nuria Piera revealed a lot of documents which clearly showed that Martelly during 2011 took $2.6 million in bribes from Dominican Senator Felix Bautista.
There are a lot of drug-dealers in this government. We haven’t forgotten the testimony of Sherlson Sanon who charged Senators Edo Zenny and Joseph Lambert, both close Martelly aides, with involvement in drug-running, killings, and other criminal acts. Until now, the leader of a kidnapping ring, Clifford Brandt, has never gone to trial since his arrest a year ago, and both Martelly’s son Olivier and one of his security officers have been accused of being part of the ring.
Attacks against journalists are too many to even count. The latest was the attack Judge Lamarre Belizaire made against Radio Kiskeya.
But the biggest government crime is the death of Judge Jean Serge Joseph. Martelly, Lamothe, and Justice Minister Jean Renel Sanon met with the judge on Thursday Jul. 11, 2013 in the offices of lawyer and Martelly legal advisor Garry Lissade. Two days later, the judge died, either from the tension caused by the threats they made against him or by poison they gave him. But what is even worse, they all lied to the nation, completely straight-faced, as if they didn’t even know the judge much less meet with him.
That is why two Special Parliamentary Commissions, after in-depth investigations, issued official reports calling for Martelly, Lamothe, and Sanon to be indicted. Thirteen deputies signed a call for an impeachment indictment against Martelly. But, everyone knows that President Martelly has bought a majority among the deputies with the money he has stolen from the public treasury not to mention from the PetroCaribe fund. Thus he has blocked the deputies from indicting him, which would allow the Senate to judge him and his acolytes.
Thus the legal road to unseat Martelly via the Parliament is blocked. The only way which remains is for popular power to exert its will because we cannot take it anymore. Enough is enough!
Martelly took power illegally. Unfortunately, he promulgated the amendments to the 1987 Constitution, thus the amendments cannot be valid. For us, all decisions to be taken to bring a change for the better in the country, without confusion, should be done on the basis of the 1987 Constitution.
Popular organizations today want to take up their historic responsibility to engage in a fight against this illegal power which doesn’t have any legitimacy but continues to everything it can to soil Haiti’s face in the interests of the imperialist countries.
It is Washington, the OAS, and the UN occupation which have put us in the situation we are today. The government doesn’t have the capacity to deliver anything to improve the life of he people, and that is why we popular organizations, who are gathered today at Fany Villa, have decided to bring a change.
We in the Dessalines Coordination propose that all national sectors join together to form a “Council of State” to lead the country forward. We are not proposing a coup d’état or a kidnapping. We don’t have guns in our hands to fire on anybody. We aren’t here for that, that is not our practice. We are Haiti’s children. If the nation’s life is in danger, if the nation is stuck, about to die, it is us, her children, who should bring the remedy, the solution.
Thus, every sector will be able to participate in this work of unity. What makes the nation work are different forces: peasants, students, women, youth, unions, political parties, civil society, religious sectors, and so on.
We propose that leadership of state be taken over by a Supreme Court Judge with a Council of State of 13 members, which would have representatives of:
1) peasant organizations
2) popular organizations
3) political parties
4) womens’ organizations
6) business owners
7) Vodou practitioners
12) civil society
13) non-aligned parties
All parliamentarians, that is the deputies and two-thirds of the Senate, would remain in their posts until their mandate finishes in January 2015. They would continue to do their job in Parliament. The Council of State would have the right to convoke them in extraordinary session if necessary, the same way the President does.
Although we see this road is blocked for the moment, we propose that we continue to put pressure on the deputies, above all the pro-Martelly PSP deputies, to make them pass the impeachment indictment just as two commissions, 13 deputies, and the Senate as well has asked, in the latest vote it took on Sep. 26. It would be ideal for the PSP deputies to stop avoiding the issue and take responsibility before history to vote on the parliamentary reports and the indictment, just as the Senate has.
The Role of the Council of State
The Council of State will sit with a Supreme Court Judge to find a democratic formula for them to name a government, that is a Prime Minister and the ministers under him.
That government would put in place a democratic Provisional Electoral Council which would have the task of holding a general election for all empty posts in a not less than six months.
If there was a vacancy on the Council of State, that is, if a person left or died before the Council finished its work, the sector affected could always appoint a new representative.
Haiti shouldn’t accept money for the elections from any foreign government or international institution which sets conditions. Any country which chooses for whatever reason to give their solidarity to the Haitian people, we won’t refuse them, but they can’t meddle in Haiti’s internal affairs. They can give their support, but without conditions.
MINUSTAH would not have any right to meddle in this process, even if it hadn’t yet had time to get all its troops out of Haiti. The last MINUSTAH soldier should not remain in Haiti any later than May 2014, as the latest unanimous Senate resolution has demanded.
The Martelly Administration together with other international institutions, above all the embassies of imperialist countries like the U.S., France, and Canada, will say that what we propose is not legal, not receivable.
The Haitian people have to stand up to defend what they have given birth to. When the imperialist countries make a coup d’état or an illegal election, even if the people reject it, they never take that into account. Now they must allow the Haitian people to take their destiny in hand.
What we propose is more democratic, more authentic, more honest, and more sovereign than all the machinations which the imperialists have carried out in Haiti. It is time for the Haitian people to stop taking orders from the colonists and to construct our own democracy, because we are a nation, not a colony, and we are our own masters.
As Thomas Sankara said: “Let us dare to invent the future!”
We the organizations who took part in the Popular Forum agree with KOD’s proposal and resolve to:
1) Not go into elections with Martelly and his clique in power.
2) Strengthen the mobilization against Martelly and the UN occupation force MINUSTAH.
3) Prevent from returning to their districts all PSP deputies who won’t vote for the indictment against Martelly, Lamothe, and Sanon.
4) Continue working with all organizations to reinforce their capacity for reflection and action.
5) Set up a follow-on committee with all the organizations which participated in the Forum to continue planning for solutions to our national problems.
Port-au-Prince, October 7, 2013
Oganizasyon Tèt Ansanm nan Nip (OTAN)
Rasanbleman Popilè pou Chanjman (RPCS)
Oganizasyon Jèn Aktif pou Devlopman (OJAD)
Mouvman Revolisyonè pou Devlopman Nòdwès (MRDNO)
Oganizasyon Jèn Patriyotik pou Devlopman Baradè (OJPB)
Mouvman pou Libète, Egalite ak Fratènite tout Ayisyen (MOLEGHAF)
Tèt Kole Oganizasyon Popilè yo
Platfòm Nasyonal Popilè
Thousands marched through Port-au-Prince on Nov. 18 demanding that President Martelly step down.
Credit: Wendel Polynice/Haiti Liberté
Workshops discuss KOD’s proposal for a provisional government at a Sep. 29 Popular Forum in Port-au-Prince.
Credit: Kim Ives/Haiti Liberté