Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Legislative Elections Also Go to the PHTK and its Allies

by Catherine Charlemagne (Haiti Liberte)

Humans, unlike other animals, possess what philosophers call reason. Without entering into philosophical analysis - that is not the purpose of this chronicle at this point in the Haitian electoral process - it is now urgent that all people endowed with this faculty use their common sense.

            Using reason, let’s examine the final results of the Nov. 20, 2016 general elections, results which were challenged by the three main presidential candidates and some candidates for seats in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.

            The presidential candidates – Dr. Maryse Narcisse of Fanmi Lavalas, Jude Célestin of LAPEH, and Moïse Jean-Charles of the Pitit Dessalines Platform – began protesting even before the results were published, giving a first round victory to their competitor, Jovenel Moïse of the Haitian Bald Headed Party (PHTK). But there was not just one election that day. There were also partial legislative elections (senators and deputies) and municipal races.

            In principle, we should begin to challenge when we have in our possession all the results. But in Haiti, politicians live by different rules. They challenge first, then see what happens later.

            Recent history encouraged adopting this approach. A verification commission found that the 2015 presidential elections were fraudulent. Therefore, in 2016, the three protesting presidential candidates immediately suspected fraud.

            After the preliminary results were released, the three runners-up brought the matter before the Electoral Courts. They contended that there was massive fraud, resulting in an “electoral coup.” They demanded proper verification, which is legitimate, otherwise their competitor would win the election dishonestly.

            But in the meantime, the results of other races were released. They revealed a spectacular sweep of legislative and municipal elections by the PHTK and its allies.

            This made it more difficult for the three protesting candidates to make their case, since the legislative results seemed to confirm the results of the presidential election. But the Fanmi Lavalas, Pitit Dessalines, and LAPEH could not now retreat. They had to defend their position, as Moïse Jean-Charles was fond of saying, “until the bitter end.”

            Almost everywhere, the candidates of the PHTK and its allies won seats, apparently confirming that the few voters who had their vote counted (less than 19% of the electorate) did indeed vote in favor of Jovenel Moïse. The candidates of PHTK and its allies are also in the lead for second round races. In some races, the second round will be between two candidates of the same family, such as a PHTK versus KID, or Bouclier versus PHTK or the Haiti in Action party (AAA) of Sen. Youri Latortue. The candidates of Fanmi Lavalas and Pitit Dessalines are rare in the run-offs for the final third of the Senate. LAPEH has none. What a strange surprise!

            In this electoral landscape, there are several surprising cases. Take, for example, the Senate candidate for the West Department, the PHTK’s Fednel Monchéry. This candidate who was ridiculed throughout the campaign, in the press and by his opponents, surprisingly will be in the Jan. 29 run-off. He was up against such heavyweights as Assad Volcy, a candidate (albeit dissenting) of Pitit Dessalines, Dr. Schiller Louidor of Fanmi Lavalas, and the well-known sports journalist Patrice Dumont (RPH), whom he will face in the second round.

            Another significant race was the easy victory in the Grand'Anse Department of paramilitary leader Guy Philippe of Consortium. (On Jan. 5, he was arrested by the Haitian police and turned over to agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency or DEA). Elected as the second Senator of the Grand’Anse was the former President of the Chamber of Deputies, Sorel Jacinthe, under the banner of René Préval’s INITE Patriotic Platform.

            The PHTK and its allies also had victories in the North. Lavalas defectors to PHTK and its allies beat their former party colleagues. Nawoom Marcellus, under the Bouclier’s banner, and Dieudonné Etienne Luma of the PHTK both beat out Kelly C. Bastien, the former Senate President who came in third. In fact, the PHTK’s Luma is the only woman to sit in the Senate of Haiti’s 50th legislature.

            In the Center Department, there is another “enfant terrible” who left the Lavalas for the PHTK: Willot Joseph. He sailed to victory with his colleague, Wilfrid Gélin. The latter was apparently convicted in the U.S. in the 1980s for trafficking Haitians illegally into Florida.

            In the Northeast Department, the PHTK won a stunning upset by former deputy Wanique Pierre who garnered 58.78% of the votes against one of the leaders of the opposition against Michel Martelly and Jovenel Moïse, former senator Jean-Baptiste Bien-Aimé. This well-known Lavalassian, who has never betrayed his camp since the beginning, was beaten in a region where he had long been top-dog.

            Curiously, another ESPWA baron who had joined with Martelly in 2012 before returning to Jude Célestin in 2015 and finally joining Jovenel Moïse in 2016 is former Sen. Joseph Lambert, who had been badly beaten in 2015. He was elected in the first round in the Southeast under the banner of his small local party KONA. In the space of a few months, what changed? Did different people vote for him, or did the same people change their vote? His indisputable victory with 53.78% of the votes dissuaded his opponent from contesting the election. So Joseph Lambert, who had paid lip service to Jude Célestin in 2015 and then supported Jovenel Moïse in 2016, now will be a senator in the latter's camp. (For the record, the PHTK had no candidate running against him.)

            In the Center Department’s Senate run-off, two allied former deputies are facing each other: Abel Descollines of KID and Rosny Célestin of PHTK. No matter who wins, he will be an elected member of the pro-presidential parliamentary group. In the Artibonite, it is the same scenario. A sitting deputy, Garcia Delva, elected from the PHTK, had chosen to run under the banner of AAA, a PHTK ally, for the Senate. He will face in the second round another PHTK ally, Marc Antoine Adolphe of Bouclier.

            In the North-West, it is a strong, even unconditional, supporter of Jovenel Moïse, Kedlaire Augustin, who will represent the PHTK against outgoing senator François Lucas Sainvil of the obscure regional party, MOSANOH .

            The same is true for the Nippes, the home region of Interim President Jocelerme Privert. Bouclier’s Denis Cadeau, former Director General of the National Education Ministry will face off against Louberson Vilson of Fanmi Lavalas. It will be a close battle because the two candidates had virtually the same first-round percentages: 21.03% for the Lavalas candidate and 21.08% for the PHTK ally, Bouclier.

            It is practically the same situation in the South Department where the two candidates are neck-and-neck. An illustrious unknown, Pierre François Sildor of PHTK, got 25.51% of the vote, slightly leading the political colossus of the region, former Quaestor of the Senate Fritz Carlos Lebon of Fanmi Lavalas, with 25.33% of the votes.

            The battle is expected to be tighter in the Grand’Anse Department where veteran politician, Sen. Andris Riché, a flag bearer of the Struggling People's Organization (OPL), faces Jean Rigaud Bélizaire of Guy Philippe’s Consortium.

            Finally, the North Department PHTK candidate Jean Marie Ralph Fethière, with 35.68% of votes, faces the Pitit Dessalines’ only run-off candidate for the final third of the Senate, Théodore Saintilus, who garnered 14.04% of the votes.

            This is undoubtedly a great advantage for the President-elect who, in the first round or in the second of the partial legislative elections, has practically a majority in the Senate. In the Lower House, the PHTK and allies are already in the majority. In the partial elections for 25 posts, PHTK and its allies picked up five more deputies. While the nebula of small and large parties (Renmen Ayiti, Canaan, Kanpe platform, KONA, VERITE, OPL, Fanmi Lavalas, APLA, Pitit Dessalines, Fusion) shares the remaining 20 posts.

            Three women were elected to the Chamber of Deputies in the first round of these partial elections. They were Saint-Jean Marie Gladyce Lyndy with 53% of the votes for Jérémie; Guerda Bellevue with 51% of the votes for Savanette; and Raymonde Rival with 55% of votes for Cornillon/Grand-Bois.

            Basically, the legislative results correspond to the presidential results. There would be even more doubt about Jovenel Moïse’s victory if his party and its allies did poorly in the legislative races.

            However, it must be remembered that over 81% of the electorate either did not or could not vote. Could this minimal voter participation have been programmed to ensure a victory by Haiti’s right-wing forces?

This is a translation of the 138th installment of Catherine Charlemagne’s weekly French-language series entitled “Haiti, Chronicle of an Electoral Crisis.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Remembering the violence of Guy Philippe and his FLRN paramilitary death squads

Eyewitness reports of: • harassment • false arrest • house burnings • death threats • rapes • assassinations • etc. 

This violence targeted members of the party of President Aristide immediately before and after February 29, 2004. 

Read here for testimonies of Lavalas Victims of the 2004 coup. 

Compiled by Kevin Pina for the Haiti Information Project (HIP) for the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund (HERF)

See entire report "Crushing President Aristide's Party [Lavalas] Through Violence"  Here.

Violent reprisals by Guy Philippe's Neo-Macoute supporters

Published on HAITI LIBRE

Since Friday, the day after the arrest and extradition to the United States of Senator Guy Philippe the Haitian National Police (PNH) had to evacuate more than 50 US citizens to secure them to safer places in Haiti, confirmed the Police Commissioner in Grand'Anse Berson Soljour.

It should be recalled that more Americans are in the region to help the population following the passage of Hurricane Matthew, so the Commissioner advised American citizens who chose to stay, not to leave their residences. He explained that US citizens were evacuated to a police station before being transferred to a United Nations base, where they waited to be transported to Port-au-Prince, others are still waiting.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Senator-Elect and Former Paramilitary Leader Guy Philippe Arrested on Drug Charges

by Jake Johnson for CEPR

Guy Philippe, a paramilitary coup leader and DEA most-wanted fugitive who was elected to Haiti’s Senate late last year, was arrested on Thursday, just days before he would have been sworn into office and obtained immunity. Philippe has been wanted under a sealed drug indictment in the United States for years, but previous attempts at arresting him failed. Last year, the DEA confirmed to me that they maintained “apprehension authority” for Philippe, but would not confirm if any active efforts were underway to do so. He will now be extradited to the United States to face charges, though no indictment has been unsealed as of Thursday night.

Popular Protests Grow in Face of Mass Voter Suppression by Authorities

Resisting the lynching of Haitian liberty!

 By: Malaika H Kambon - San Francisco Bayview Newspaper

It should be obvious by now that the U.S./UN, EU, OAS, and various hired paramilitary police have engineered a second fraudulent election in as many years in Haiti.

This latest attempt to kill Haiti’s freedom by aborting her dreams of democracy via the electoral process was designed to prevent landslide victories by Fanmi Lavalas, reminiscent of the presidential victories of Jean Bertrand Aristide. The U.S. and UN do not want to see this.

But people have turned out in force, as protests continue against the blatant sabotage of the November 20, 2016 elections, where Dr. Maryse Narcisse and Fanmi Lavalas again sought to reclaim Haiti’s freedom, only to be met – again - by a U.S. elite intent upon electoral sabotage.

But the fraudulent elections have ignited the country. Daily protests have been held for over a month. For the 35th consecutive day, tens of thousands are in the streets, who see in the candidacy of Dr. Narcisse the fruition of their dreams: freedom, dignity and sovereignty via a political party of the people that knows what it wants to achieve.

The international press is busily trying to shore up the fraudulent "win" of PHTK (or bald head party) candidate Jovenel Moise. But even in an electoral process that was blatantly manipulated, Moise, “the banana man,” controls nothing in Haiti but his mouth, and that not very well.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Record Low Voter Participation in Haiti’s 2016 Election

by Catherine Charlemagne (Haiti Liberte)

After polls closed on the evening of Nov. 20, 2016, all the actors involved in Haiti’s presidential and legislative elections that day profusely complimented the authorities who organized them. Later, however, some of the candidates began contesting results that were not favorable to them.

            In any case, after all the praises sung for the government and the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) and the doubt that arose a few days later, we decided to take a closer look at why so few Haitians actually took part in the vote or were even interested in these elections.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

U.S. Haiti Aid Reports to Congress Are Deficient and Based on “Incomplete Data,” New Review Finds

by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)

A new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) and the Haiti Advocacy Working Group (HAWG) reviews reports released by the U.S. State Department on contracts for Haiti aid and finds significant omissions and deficiencies, including incomplete data, a failure to link projects and outcomes, and a failure to adequately identify mistakes and lessons learned. The State Department reports are intended to comply with the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act (APHA), which was signed into law in August 2014. CEPR and HAWG incorporated Haitian civil society feedback in their review of these reports.

How Electoral Observers Evaluated Haiti’s Nov. 20, 2016 Election

by Catherine Charlemagne (Haiti Liberte)

It is an unmistakable sign. Long before the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) and the Haitian government gave their assessment of the Nov. 20, 2016 presidential and legislative elections, all electoral observation organizations (both Haitian and foreign) had made it clear that they felt everything had gone well.

            These organizations felt that the electoral results proclaimed by the CEP also reflected the atmosphere that day. These institutions are generally very cautious about recognizing the good conduct of an election in Haiti, especially the results.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report Haiti November 20th Elections

Lead Up to Election Day

Friday, November 18th was the last day of campaigning for Haiti’s Presidential and Parliamentary elections which were to be held on Sunday, November 20th.  On Fridaywe visited Delmas 2 where we met with activists on the ground including women and men.  Preparations were underway for the get-out-the vote campaign.  In Delmas 2 there were banners and other materials for the Lavalas Presidential candidate Dr. Maryse Narcisse.  Several people expressed to us the widespread concern that the election may be stolen, nevertheless the people we spoke to felt it was nevertheless important to vote.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Breakdown of Haiti’s Preliminary Election Results

by Jake Johnston (CEPR)

More than two weeks after Haitians went to the polls to elect a new president, 16 Senators and 25 Deputies, preliminary results from all races have finally been released. Presidential results have already been contested by the second, third and fourth place finishers while many legislative races will likely be contested as well. However, if the preliminary results are upheld, the Nov. 20 elections will have consolidated nearly unprecedented political power in the hands of PHTK [the Haitian Bald Headed Party], the party of former president Michel Martelly. While PHTK and its allies appear to have scored electoral victories at both the presidential and legislative level, their political success has occurred in a context of extremely low turnout, raising questions about the significance of their mandate to govern moving forward.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

UN secretary-general apologizes to people of Haiti, outlines new plan to fight cholera epidemic


NEW YORK, USA -- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday apologized to the people of Haiti, expressing deep regret for the loss of life and suffering caused by the country’s cholera epidemic, and outlined the way forward including immediate steps to stem the outbreak and long-term support for those affected – while also highlighting the need for adequate funding of the proposal.

“On behalf of the United Nations, I want to say very clearly: we apologise to the Haitian people. We simply did not do enough with regard to the cholera outbreak and its spread in Haiti. We are profoundly sorry for our role,” Ban told UN member states at a gathering of the General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York, and at which he launched his report on the matter, entitled A New Approach to Cholera in Haiti.

Protesters in Haiti Say Moise Victory Amounts to ‘Electoral Coup’ (Interview with KPFK radio host & Global Women's Strike organizer Margaret Prescod)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti

by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

The largest and most important percentage to emerge from Haiti’s Nov. 20, 2016 election is that 78.31% of the country’s 6.2 million eligible voters did not vote.*
            Some could not obtain their National Identification Card (CIN) or find their name on the long voter lists posted on the gates of huge voting centers. Others could not get to their assigned center because they live or work too far away, perhaps in another part of the country. In fact, the whole “voting center” system, which is different from that used in the 1990s when participation was much higher, has objectively suppressed the votes of many poor, itinerant Haitians.
            Nonetheless, it appears that the vast majority of Haitians remain disenchanted with or unmoved by the candidates offered in the last four presidential contests in 2010, 2011, 2015, and 2016, or have lost faith in elections as a means to change their miserable lot. Participation in all those contests lurked at about one quarter of the electorate. The November 2016 polling is one of the lowest turnouts for a presidential election in Haiti and the Western Hemisphere.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Experiences of a Haitian-American Unionist in Trump’s America

by Marie-Paule Florestal (Haiti Liberte)

I’ve just returned to the New York metropolitan area after working as a Democratic Party campaigner in rural Michigan for the two months leading up to the Nov. 8 election. This is an account of the deep anger, ignorance, and racism I encountered in the American heartland.
            Based in New York City, I am a Haitian-American organizer for the northeastern United States with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The union released me to work with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) of Michigan from September to Nov. 9, 2016 as a part of the AFL-CIO’s Working America Coalition, which sought to encourage voters to vote for Democratic Party candidates.
            My job was to target specific groups of voters among Democrats, Republicans, and independents and then reach them via phone banks, mailings, and door-to-door canvassing.
            Using software that tracked the voting habits and histories of AFL-CIO union members and the general public, we identified voters whom we might encourage to vote for Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as well as candidates for nine seats in the Michigan House of Representatives.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Nov. 20 Elections Thrown Into Doubt

by Kim Ives
A letter from Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to interim President Jocelerme Privert suggests that the first round of do-over presidential elections as well as several legislative run-offs might not take place on Nov. 20 as currently planned.
            In the Oct. 27, 2016 letter, which was obtained by the Haitian daily Le Nouvelliste, CEP chief Léopold Berlanger gives Privert’s government ten days to repair 280 voting centers, make passable the roads leading to 161 others, and provide potentially tens of thousands of voter identification cards to people who lost them due to Hurricane Matthew.
            About 40 of the would-be voting centers – mostly schools – are being used to temporarily house people made homeless when Hurricane Matthew passed over the tip of Haiti’s southern peninsula on Oct. 4, devastating the geographic departments of the South, Grand-Anse, and Nippes.

UN’s Emergency Aid to Go Mostly to the UN and Foreign NGOs

by Jake Johnston

On Oct. 10, less than a week after Hurricane Matthew ripped across Haiti, the United Nations launched an emergency appeal for $120 million. As of this report on Oct. 24, donors have failed to fill the need, contributing just over 20% of the funds deemed necessary. But whom is the money being raised for? What planning or coordination went in to the $120 million ask? Are donors right to be hesitant?
            An analysis of UN Financial Tracking Service data shows that the vast majority of the funds raised are destined for UN agencies or large, international NGOs. Reading press releases, government statements, and comments to the press, it would seem that many lessons have been learned after the devastating earthquake of 2010: the importance of coordinating with the government, of working with local institutions and organizations, of purchasing goods locally, and of building long-term sustainability in to an emergency response.

UN’s Emergency Aid to Go Mostly to the UN and Foreign NGOs

by Jake Johnston

On Oct. 10, less than a week after Hurricane Matthew ripped across Haiti, the United Nations launched an emergency appeal for $120 million. As of this report on Oct. 24, donors have failed to fill the need, contributing just over 20% of the funds deemed necessary. But whom is the money being raised for? What planning or coordination went in to the $120 million ask? Are donors right to be hesitant?
            An analysis of UN Financial Tracking Service data shows that the vast majority of the funds raised are destined for UN agencies or large, international NGOs. Reading press releases, government statements, and comments to the press, it would seem that many lessons have been learned after the devastating earthquake of 2010: the importance of coordinating with the government, of working with local institutions and organizations, of purchasing goods locally, and of building long-term sustainability in to an emergency response.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Clinton E-Mails Point to U.S. Intervention in 2010 Haiti Elections

by Jake Johnston (CEPR)

“The situation cannot afford Washington to sit on sidelines. They elected him and they need [sic] pressure him. He can't go unchecked,” Laura Graham, then the Chief Operating Officer of the Clinton Foundation, wrote to Bill Clinton in early 2012.

            Graham was referring to the increasingly erratic, and potentially dangerous, behavior of Haitian president Michel Martelly. When she said “They elected him,” she was referring to the U.S. government, which intervened through the OAS to change Haiti's first round election results, putting Martelly into the second round. The e-mail –  one of many Graham sent to Bill Clinton’s deputy chief of staff on Feb. 26, 2012 –  was sent eventually to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her top aide, Cheryl Mills. The note is perhaps the clearest evidence to date that key officials, even within the Clinton camp, viewed the U.S. intervention in the 2010 Haitian election as decisive.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

7th International Day in Solidarity with Haiti

25th anniversary of the US-backed military coup that overthrew the Lavalas government of President Aristide on Sept. 30, 1991

In response to the Jan. 2016 Call for Solidarity from Haiti’s Popular Movement (“We will not obey”), friends of Haiti are organizing Sept. 30th public events in many cities. For example, in Oakland we’re having a street demonstration with music/drums on Fri. 9/30, 4:30 PM at 14th & Broadway, and a public event on Sun. 10/2, 3:00 PM at Eastside Arts, 2277 Internat’l Blvd, with the theme: “US Hands Off Haiti!” Other cities are taking up the call.

Join us in raising these just demands of the Haitian people:

1) Free and fair elections! [Scheduled for October 9, 2016.]

2) No US, UN or OAS interference in the elections! [They were involved in the fraud last time!] Respect Haiti’s sovereignty! 

3) Stop the terror campaign against the poor majority and the Lavalas popular movement! End the brutal US/UN foreign military occupation!

4) Rebuilding Haiti the way the Haitian 99% want it built – Paying a living wage in the factories instead of sweatshop wages … Restoring farming self-sufficiency so Haiti can feed itself again … Real Haitian control of mineral resources and aid funds … Jobs, schools, housing, clean water and health care for the people! … In short, the program of Aristide’s Lavalas movement and its Presidential candidate, Dr. Maryse Narcisse. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

As Appeals Court Upholds “Immunity” Plea:

New Internal Report Slams UN Cholera Cover-Up
by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

UN officials are frantically fending off questions about their organization being to blame for importing cholera into Haiti following the leak last week of an internal Special Rapporteur draft report which slams their “existing approach of simply abdicating responsibility [as] morally unconscionable, legally indefensible, and politically self-defeating.”
            On Aug. 18, the day after freelance reporter Jonathan Katz (the AP’s former Haiti correspondent) leaked excerpts of New York University law professor Philip Alston’s draft report in the New York Times, a New York State Appeals court upheld a lower court decision granting the UN “immunity” from a class-action suit being brought on behalf of Haitian cholera victims. (Alston’s full report was published in the New York Times Magazine on Aug. 20).
            UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s deputy spokesman Farhan Haq stated that the UN “needs to do much more regarding own involvement in the initial outbreak," stopping short of admitting responsibility or specifying what exactly “much more” is.
            On Aug. 19, Mr. Ban issued a statement saying he “deeply regrets the terrible suffering” the cholera epidemic has caused Haitians and assumed “a moral responsibility to the victims” by “building sound water, sanitation and health systems.”

Saturday, August 20, 2016

UN Admits Role in Haiti's Cholera Outbreak After Years of Denial

KIM BROWN, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News.
As Haiti was struggling to rebuild after the devastating earthquake that crumbled the country in 2010, they were struck again by another disaster, a cholera outbreak that ended up killing about 10,000 people and sickened hundreds of thousands. Many Haitians immediately pointed the finger at United Nations troops for causing the outbreak, claims that the UN long denied until now. A spokesperson for UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon said in a statement to the New York Times that “The UN has become convinced that it needs to do much more regarding its involvement in the initial outbreak and the suffering of those affected by cholera.
We’re joined today with Brian Concannon. He’s the executive director at the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. He’s also an attorney representing some of the families of the victims of the cholera outbreak. Brian thank you so much for joining us.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Finding Only 9% of Votes Valid: Haiti Verification Commission Says Presidential Election Should be Scrapped

by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

The moment of truth had arrived. At least, some of the truth.
            On the evening of May 30, Haiti’s Independent Commission of Electoral Evaluation and Verification (CIEVE) released its long-awaited report on the controversial Washington-supported elections of Aug. 9 and Oct. 25, 2015.
            The bombshell report found that “the electoral process was marred by serious irregularities, grave inconsistencies, and massive fraud.” Only 9% of the votes in its sampling were found to be valid.
            The five-member CIEVE, which reviewed 3,235 voter tallies (procès verbal) or 25% of the 12,939 total, recommended that October’s presidential first-round “restart from zero.”
            “The number of untraceable votes [also called zombie votes] exceeded the legitimate votes acquired by politicians,” said CIEVE president François Benoit. As another CIEVE employee summed it up: “More dead people voted than living.”

Monday, May 9, 2016

Polyarchy in the Dominican Republic: The Elite versus the Elite

The two leading candidates in the upcoming Dominican Republic presidential elections differ little when it comes to economic policy and the targeting of migrant and migrant-descendant communities.

By: Jeb Sprague-Silgado - NACLA 

In the Dominican Republic, as in many other countries around the Caribbean, the political strategy of leading dominant groups in recent decades has been one of polyarchy – that is to say, the options in democratic elections have been limited to voters selecting between different factions of elites. Since the 1970s, U.S. foreign policymakers, along with an increasingly wide array of UN, EU and other international agency officials have come to promote this approach. If ideological differences can be minimized, with parties differing little on core issues like economic development, then electoral competition is not only unthreatening to dominant interests, but also legitimating to notions of democracy.
This scenario is on clear display in the Dominican Republic, where the country’s mainstream political establishment, while squabbling amongst themselves, has sought to further facilitate and benefit from this “new normal.” The upcoming May 15th general election pits the country’s two mainstream parties, the Dominican Liberation Party (Partido de la Liberación Dominicana, PLD) and the Modern Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Moderno or PRM), amidst a variety of other parties. 
The incumbent candidate and leader in the polls is Danilo Medina, of the PLD, and his main opponent is Luis Abinader of the PRM. Medina’s tenure in office has been marked by a deepening of the country’s integration with the global economy and a controversial “denationalization” program targeting Haitian migrant families and laborers and the descendants of Haitian migrants.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

As Demonstrators Demand Audits: Haiti Sees Sixth CEP in Four Years

by Yves Pierre-Louis and Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

After installing a new government led by Prime Minister Enex Jean-Charles, Haiti’s interim president Jocelerme Privert has now passed a second hurdle: setting up another Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) on Mar. 30, 2016. This is the sixth CEP formed in the past four years.
            The new CEP has as its president Léopold Berlanger, formally the representative of the National Association of Haitian Media (ANMH) and the Association of Haiti’s Independent Media (AMIH). Berlanger is also the informal representative of Haiti’s bourgeoisie and the so-called “Core Group,” the ambassadors who follow U.S. leadership in Haiti.
            The CEP’s vice-president is lawyer Carlos Hercule, who represents the Catholic Church of Cardinal Chibly Langlois and Bishop Patrice Aris.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Women Farmers and Land Grabs in Haiti: An interview with Iderle Brénus

From an interview by Beverly Bell

PAPDA, a coalition of nine Haitian organizations, supports rice cooperatives like this one in Northern Haiti as part of its commitment to women's leadership in local agricultural production against the backdrop of increasing land and resource grabs throughout the Caribbean nation. Image courtesy of Salena Tramel, for Grassroots International.

In Haiti, the majority of the people working the land are women. Not only are they there during planting, weeding and harvesting, but they also play a role in transforming and marketing food products. They’re involved in the entire agricultural production process. This is why we call women the poto mitan, central pillar, of the country.

When a family is dispossessed of its land, women are victims. Rural women are the first to feel the pain. Ways that land theft and expulsions are affecting them need to be put on the table so the impacted women can be made a priority. There needs to be social, educational, technical, and economic support, and a lot of community organizing. The world needs to see what women suffer under land grabs and the neoliberal policies behind them.

No Land Rights for Women

Our constitution very clearly says that those who work the land have the rights to the land, but this has never been the reality. Haiti’s poor continue to be victims of land expropriation for the profit of others, which give a tiny minority rights over the riches of this country.  

Today multinational corporations and other interests are taking cultivable land that used to produce food, and giving it to industries to make textile factories or other businesses that have nothing to do with food production - and in a country that is experiencing so much hunger. Those who are running the country profit, too. Elite landowners, who don’t even live in the country, own many thousands of hectares of land. The [Catholic] church, too is one of the institutions that owns a lot of land historically, and [rarely] does anything with it.

The problems around land ownership, occupation, and expropriation of land for the profit of multinational corporations - with the complicity of the government of Haiti - are especially grave for women. This isn’t anything new. These issues have always existed for peasant families, but it is taking on new dimensions. We see women – who already lacked access to and control of land, and who didn’t have control over production in economic terms – suffering even more.

Consequences of Land Grabs on Women

Even though a woman doesn’t hold the title to property - it’s rare to find one who has a title - she will work the land that her husband owns. She lives with, supports, and collaborates with the [husband or father’s] family to make sure that she and her children can eat, that her children can go to school, that she can pay for their health needs, for everything. All this is because in Haiti the population is mainly on its own; the state doesn’t provide any basic social services. The social services that had been there, even though they were minimal, have disappeared for the profit of neoliberal politics that have been applied in the country over the last 20 to 25 years.

Haiti Rises: A Time for Solidarity

by Nia Imara and Robert Roth*

Reflecting on struggles everywhere, we came to the conclusion that a people can’t be sovereign if they don’t have the right to vote. No people can retain their dignity if their vote does not count.” 
From a Statement Issued by 68 Haitian Grassroots Organizations on January 22, 2016

The voice of Haiti’s popular movement at this critical period in the country’s history has never been clearer.  For the past several months, since the discredited legislative and presidential elections of last August and October, mass, vibrant protests for the right to a free and fair vote and against foreign intervention have been a relentless force, in the face of heavily-armed and well-financed adversaries and mounting repression.  The influx of articles and editorials in recent weeks by leading U.S. media outlets depicts the situation in Haiti as a confused, incomprehensible, morass of violence and dysfunction, with all sides being equally unreasonable in their demands.  This misleading portrayal of Haitian politics and culture—indeed, of Haitian people—by American mainstream media is not new. Rather, it is a continuation of a historical pattern of obfuscating the underlying reasons for the grievances of Haiti’s mass movement, which has consistently denounced foreign intervention and the suppression of Haiti’s sovereignty.  

The popular revolt in Haiti has forced the postponement of the January 24 presidential run-off election, to the dismay of the U.S. State Department and the current Haitian government of Michel Martelly, whose handpicked candidate had been declared the frontrunner.  And now, on February 7, it has forced the end of the rule of Martelly himself, who has had to step down rather than oversee the next stage of the electoral process.

These are major victories for the people’s movement in Haiti. But already there are signs that the next round will be just as difficult as the fight has been already.  The popular movement has made it clear that they have no interest in a top-down solution that excludes the participation and voices of the tens of thousands of Haitians who have risked their lives nearly every day in the fight for democracy.  They have raised the fundamental question: How can elections proceed to a second round if the first round was hopelessly illegitimate? How can elections move forward without a thorough investigation and repair of the fraud that already took place?  These are the critical issues being fought over today as Haitians celebrate the end of the Martelly dictatorship.

Background to the Revolt: 
Twelve Years Since the Coup, Twelve Years of Occupation

The revolt in Haiti has not emerged overnight. It is now almost twelve years since the U.S.-orchestrated coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and removed over 8,000 elected officials, and exiled, jailed, raped and murdered thousands of supporters of the Fanmi Lavalas Party.  The coup was enforced by a United Nations military occupation that still exists today.  It has been five years since Michel Martelly, a supporter of the brutal Duvalier dictatorships and their death squads, was selected as president; only 17% of eligible Haitian voters turned out in an election that excluded the most popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas. Hillary Clinton, then the U.S. Secretary of State, flew to Haiti to dictate to Haitian officials that Martelly be placed in the election runoff after initial results had left him only in third place. His U.S.-backed reign has featured one corruption scandal after another, intimidation of the judicial system, the return of death squads, torture of political prisoners, selling off of oil and mineral rights to foreign corporations, and rule by decree.  

Haitians have had enough of this.  As they watched this latest election being stolen and a Martelly minion emerge as the leading vote getter, they took to the streets by the tens of thousands. As they saw ballot boxes burned and “observers” with 900,000 government-issued credentials vote over and over again, they declared the election an “electoral coup.” As they were turned away from one polling place after another, and told that they were not eligible to vote, they declared fraud.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

As Martelly Steps Down: Parliament, With OAS Coaches, Forms Provisional Government Denounced by Demonstrators and Opposition

by the Haiti Elections Blog

This Sun., Feb. 7 marked the 30th anniversary of Jean-Claude Duvalier’s departure and the end of President’s Michel Martelly’s term. A last-minute negotiated deal secured Martelly’s departure, but it may not succeed in producing a long-term solution. Tensions leading up to Feb. 7 provoked violent confrontations between pro-government paramilitaries and opposition protestors in Port-au-Prince, resulting in one dead, as well as the cancellation of the first day of Carnaval. And while foreign diplomats welcomed the accord, a number of opposition parties raised objections to the agreement.
            On Feb. 6, Martelly publicly signed a political accord with Chancy Cholzer and Jocelerme Privert, the presidents of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, respectively. The agreement confirmed that Martelly would leave office and laid out a process for establishing a transitional government to take over. As de facto Prime Minister Evans Paul stays on, the Parliament will supposedly select a new provisional president within five days following the end of Martelly’s term. The new president will then engage in consultations to appoint a consensus prime minister and “redynamize” the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). Once a new government is in place, the accord stipulates, it is responsible for implementing the “technical recommendations” of the Evaluation Commission and “restarting” the electoral process begun in 2015. The interrupted elections are to resume on Apr. 24, definitive results to be announced on May 6, and a new President sworn in on May 14. [However, all of these dates would have to be established by the new CEP, the independent institution which governs all electoral matters. - HL]

Monday, January 25, 2016

Statement from Haiti's popular movement

In this statement, written right before the postponement of the January 24th presidential “run-off” election, 68 grassroots organizations in Haiti issue an urgent call for solidarity with their struggle for free and fair elections, dignity and justice.
The statement was written as tens of thousands of Haitians have taken to the streets—braving assassination, tear gas, beatings, and police torture—demanding the annulment of the fraudulent elections that gave the lead positions in the legislative and presidential races to the hand-picked candidates of President Michel Martelly.
The postponement of the presidential election was a dramatic and hard-won victory for the people’s movement, which had insisted that no election take place until it could be free and fair and democratic.
The struggle for the right to vote and for all Haitians to participate in the political process continues.
Haiti Action Committee

A Call for Solidarity from Haiti’s Popular Movement
Reflecting on the voting rights struggle led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and so many other courageous fighters for justice fifty years ago in the US; on the one person one vote struggle led by Mandela’s comrades in South Africa; reflecting on struggles everywhere, we came to the conclusion that a people can’t be sovereign if they don’t have the right to vote. No people can retain their dignity if their vote does not count. As clearly stated by President Aristide: “If we don’t protect our dignity, our dignity will escape us!” That is why we struggle and ask that people the world over with a history of struggle stand in solidarity with us.

Six years after the earthquake that jolted the country, causing the death of hundreds of thousands of Haitians, we, Haitian organizations, in the context of reflection, take our hats off and humbly say to the people all over the planet who opened their hearts to us, “We have not forgotten your acts of solidarity”. The sharing impulse manifested by people the world over, should have helped the Haitian people to rebuild their environment, rebuild their lives. Pity! To this day, the people’s lot has not changed. Adding insult to injury, shameless characters, local slave owners, empowered by various international organizations, hijacked the reconstruction funds.

Right after the earthquake, the internationals took advantage of our momentary state of helplessness to occupy the political space. Today, the Haitian people are engaged in an all out struggle to reclaim that space and to exercise their right to vote. The very ones who hijacked the reconstruction money want to prevent the people from choosing their government, in a wide scale conspiracy to continue the looting of the country’s resources. Subsequent to many schemes designed to remove the people from the political equation, local colonialists joined forces with international colonialists to force the people to accept choices against their best interests. Illegitimate officials implemented urban removal plans and land grabs, assaulting both the middle-class, as well as the poorer classes, putting the country on the brink of collapse. The people’s resistance slowed down the “terror apparatus,” prevent- ing it from completing this program. Now they want to put more false officials at the helm of the government to continue their assault.

The blatant violence perpetrated in Ile-a-Vache, the hideous massacres perpetrated on the people of Arcahaie, the continuous massacre of the people of Cité Soleil because they manifest a will to vote, various acts of aggression perpetrated throughout the country, in the context of land-grab or voter suppression, convince the Haitian people that they are in a fight for their very existence. We say NO, WE WILL NOT OBEY ILLEGITIMATE OFFICIALS. Self-defense is a legitimate universal law. Civil-Disobedience is an accepted universal right when a people confronts an illegal regime. The right to elect a government is uni- versally accepted as a way for people to protect its existence. Today, confronted by the danger presented by local and international colo- nialists, the Haitian people have started a RESISTANCE FOR EXISTENCE movement. They ask for people to people solidarity from everywhere on the planet. The local and international colonialists plan is not an earthquake, yet it has caused far more damage to the country.

Our experience of the six years since the earthquake is no different than the experience of other small countries with natural and human resourc- es. The internationals loot, have an orgy, while the international media turns a blind eye to lies spread by “their” ambassadors in their country’s name. The Haitian army, now being rebuilt to oppress the people, is a gift to the Haitian people by the Organization of American States (OAS). The Cholera epidemic and the blood thirsty and corrupt Haitian Police, were United Nations (UN) gifts to the Haitian people. The Media is mute, as the country nears total collapse. We say NO, WE WILL NOT OBEY. We will not dig our own graves. We’d rather tell the truth and expose the conspiracy. n

List of Signers
Action Nationale des Chauffeurs (ANC)
Aide Humanitaire
Alternative Syndicale pour le Transport Moderne (ASTM)
APMS: Action des Paysans de Masson Sion
APTN: Association pour le Développement Terre Noire
Association Professionelle des Enseignants Haitiens pour l’Avancement de l’Education (APEAE)
APSAB: Association Planteur Savane Dubois Asosiyasyon Fanm Senlwidisid (AFS) Asosiyasyon Fanm Vanyan Okay (AFVO) Asosiyasyon Machann Aken (AMA) Asosiyasyon Peyizan Gwomaren (APG)
BPN (Baz Popile Nord)
Baz Fanmi Lavalas Aken
Baz Fanmi Lavalas Anike
CURO: Comité Usager Rodaille
CRCSPFL (Cellule de Reflexions des Cadres Socio Professionnels de Fanmi Lavalas)
CUREH (Cercle Universitaire pour le Renouveau d’Haiti)
G.R. (Gwoup Refleksyon)
FAJEP (Fanm an Aksyon pou Jistis ak Pwogre)
Groupe Alternative pour Petites et Moyennes Entreprises (GRAPME)
Gwoupman Plante Senlwidisid (GPS) JOFAP
Baz Fanmi Lavalas Kanperen
Baz Fanmi Lavalas Kavayon Kodinasyon Peyizan Sid (KPS)

KPDS (Konbit Planteur pou Devlopman Sanyago) KORE MAP KORE W
Baz Fanmi Lavalas Maniche

MOJIDMA: Mouvement des Jeunes Intègres pour le Développement de Marigot
Mouvement d’Opposition Citoyenne (MOC) Mouvman Tet Kole Kavayon (MTKK)
Oganizasyon Devlopman Solon (ODS) Oganizasyon Fanm Vanyan (OFAV) OGANIZASYON LEVE KANPE

Baz Fanmi Lavalas Okay
Organisation 30 Septembre
OPG: Organisation Paysan de Grande Rivière Organisation Sans Bloff (OSB)

OPDPS: Òganizasyon Pou Devlopman Peyizan Sarazin
OPPB: Organisation Paysan Platon Blan
Plateforme Nationale des Syndicats de Transports Fidele (PNSTF)
POGRES (Oganizasyon Planteur pou Devlopman Sanyago)
Baz Fanmi Lavalas Port Salut
Pou Solèy Leve
Regroupement des Enseignants Normalien Haitien (RENOH)
RFDP (Rasanbleman Fanm pou Devlopman Petitans)
Rasanbleman Militan Pwogresis (RMP)
RASSINE (Rasanbleman Sitwayen NORD AK NORD EST)
SDDC (Societe d’Encadrement pour le Developpement Communautaire)
Baz Fanmi Lavalas Senlwidisid Solidarite Jenn Kavayon (SJK) SOPU- FANM pou FANM
S.O.S Transport Federee

Baz Fanmi Lavalas Tibiron
Baz Fanmi Lavalas Torbec
Union du Mouvement Syndical de Transport Public (UMSTP)
UJDSB:Union des Jeunes pour le Developpement Savane du Bois. 

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