News and opinions on situation in Haiti
Haiti’s election crisis was made in Washington but transfomed by the people of Haiti: HLLN questions MINUSTHA’s credibility, OAS and Washington’s credibility, willingness and ability to legitimately support and safeguard the Haitian people’s landslide mandate to President Rene Preval
HLLN questions MINUSTHA’s credibility, OAS’s credibility and ability of legitimately support and safeguard the people’s landslide mandate to President Rene Preval
NO DEAL ELECTED RENE PREVAL, THE PEOPLE OF HAITI ELECTED PRESIDENT RENE PREVAL and now its been firmly DECLARED by the de facto authorities at the CEP
THE CEP TABULATIONS WERE A FARCE IN THE FIRST PLACE
1. NO DEAL ELECTED RENE PREVAL, THE PEOPLE OF HAITI ELECTED PRESIDENT RENE PREVAL and now its been firmly DECLARED by the de facto authorities at the CEP
HLLN takes this opportunity to remind the world that no “deal” elected President Preval.
President Preval was elected by the people of Haiti, not by a “deal” brokered by the international community led by Brazil, not by 51.15% which we know the opposition will soon be calling a “slight lead.” No. President Preval won legally and by a LANDSLIDE as all can see who have eyes in their heads, who check the tally sheets before they got to the CEP tabulation center and who take a look at the long, long lines going out to vote for Preval and who have been in the streets since to make sure their votes were not negated by the US-supported illegal authorities.
President Preval won by a landslide that was being fraudulently cut down because of MASSIVE FRAUD by the illegal authorities running the show in Haiti. Those are the facts. The CEP’s tabulations is the farce requiring questioning, not the people’s landslide mandate to Rene Preval.
A February 16, 2006, New York Times article, by Ginger Thompson, entitled “A Deal Is Reached to Name a Victor in Haiti’s Election” states:
“The official from the Organization of American States, who insisted on anonymity because of the fragile nature of the agreement, said that loopholes in Haitian electoral law allow the government to discard an estimated 85,000 blank ballots included in the original tally. By excluding them, Mr. PrÈval’s lead would increase from 48.7 percent of the votes to slightly more than 51 percent.” (Emphasis Added)
HLLN has already outlined those “loopholes” for the world in our report, dated February 14, 2006, entitled “HLLN report on Haitian Election Laws.” ( https://lists.riseup.net/www/arc/ezilidanto/2006-02/msg00012.html )
In said HLLN analysis of the election laws, HLLN articulated the Haitian people’s legal and moral right to have all their votes COUNTED. We explain how blank votes had never been counted before. We explain how the people of Haiti exhibited too much fervor to vote for the leader of their choice due to the two-years coup d’etat repressions, sacrificed too much to get in those long lines, to then cast almost 5% as blank votes. We pointed out that voided votes could have easily been recorded as blank votes. We examine the law that covers blank votes and stated:
The people’s voice was duly heard this morning, February 16, 2006, as “officially confirmed” and declared when Max Mathurin announced (notice it wasn’t the extra-extra-illegal Jacques Bernard who made the announcement) that Rene Preval had won the elections on the first round!
Ayibobo. Ayibobo. Ayibobo.
HLLN congratulates the people of Haiti for their vigilance, for the huge sacrifices they made in order to vote, for remaining mobilized, even after they had cast their votes, unlike for instance, the voters in Ohio or Florida, and for absolutely refusing to allow their votes to be stolen by high tech computer or tabulation maneuvers. A great people they are INDEED and without peer in struggling for their own civil, human and cultural rights in this hostile American Mediterranean. Chapo ba pËp Ayisyen, chapo ba. Ayibobo!
This being said, HLLN also encourages further investigation into the role of CEP staff members in the attempt to swing the election away from Rene Preval’s outright victory and an investigation of the role of MINUSTHA in the security or lack thereof, and with respect to electoral fraud, especially in terms of the ballots found smoldering at the garbage dump in Truitier. Why is HLLN requesting an investigation of MINUSTHA role? Well, because HLLN and everyone else, in-the-know about Haitian issues, and who is not obtuse, EXPECTED the interim government to try and commit fraud and try to maintain the power grab of the bi-centennial coup d’etat for the Haitian bourgeoisie and their foreign interests through these elections.
However, a great many sincere people still regard the UN as credible. And, besides, they are impinging on Haitian sovereignty and being PAID millions per month as “peacekeepers.”
Thus, it is beyond the pale to countenance their involvement in electoral fraud in Haiti.
All efforts must be made to get to the bottom of this and quickly. Otherwise, how is the newly elected President of Haiti to rely on these troops to buttress, shore-up and support, without prejudice or bias, the transition to Rene Preval or, to provide real police security and stability with equal treatment afforded to ALL the peoples of Haiti, no matter their wealth or political leanings, in accordance with Haitian and international laws?
2. CEP HAS NO AUTHORITY TO COUNT, RE-COUNT OR EXAMINE BALLOTS IN THE FIRST PLACE (The exception comes in after declaring a winner and if a credible complaint has been duly received.)
HLLN demanded that the CEP STOP re-examining, determining, counting or sorting the ballots cast in the Feb. 7, 2006 election, including determining “blank” and “null” votes and do its job, which is simply to COMPILE the ballot tally sheets and add the totals already on the sheets. Then declare a winner. If there’s a protest, then on the basis of said protests, that’s when the CEP would come in with dispute resolution. This is a critical point, because it was not the CEP that made Rene Preval a winner in Haiti. The CEP’s function was ONLY to add the tally sheets, as given them. The tally sheets as given them showed clearly that Rene Preval had won the election.
Any controversy, according to their own laws, would have had to be taken into account, after they had processed the tally sheets. Again, clearly the tally sheets locally published showed Rene Preval as the WINNER hands-down in these elections. It was the CEP’s venture into examining ballots, deciding or re-examing blank votes, not to mention the discovery of thousands of burnt votes that has led to these charges of massive fraud and illegal activity on the part of the CEP.
Thus, again, neither the CEP nor the international community DECIDED for Rene Preval by some “agreement.” The people of Haiti, by a majority of the votes, VOTED for Rene Preval and are solely responsible for his victory. A victory, which the CEP clearly seemed to have tried to minimize and even negate by seemingly counting as blank votes ballots that were voided-blank-ballots not used by the polling places, and by losing custody of ballot and tally sheets, by re-examing the cast ballots, blank ballots, null ballots and tally sheets, in contravention of its own laws.
This is what must be made clear to one and all.
3. THE BLANK VOTES SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN COUNTED OR RE-COUNTED IN THE FIRST PLACE
Further, HLLN’s encouraged the discounting of the blank votes because of the ambivalence in the laws, its capacity to allow or prohibit their inclusion allowed for fraud and manipulation. Also blank votes had NEVER been counted before in Haiti and given the people’s determination to have all their VOTES counted; given the many proofs of massive fraud or gross errors and that the nearest candidate to Rene Preval has only managed to garner 11% of the vote and this 11% itself is seen, by many, as OVER-INFLATED; given the newly found “stashed ballots” just delivered to the CEP offices yesterday (See AHP Feb. 15 report below); given the burnt ballots – given all this, the Haitian people’s intentions, as clearly and uncontrovertibly expressed on Feb. 7, 2006, and seen by the world, through news picture after news picture, this intention to make Rene Preval their legitimate and freely elected president HAD to be allowed free and un-tethered expression. The game was over. It wasn’t that the international community “brokered” a solution. Frankly, they were part of the problem and simply realized the game was over. (See New York Times “Democracy Undone,” then you will realize how much this “deal” idea is a farce.)
The Haiti Democracy Project, its former board member Timothy Carney, Andre Apaid, the Boulos Brotheres, Group 184 and the IRI, IFES and USAID folks do not compromise or negotiate. That’s a fact made plain from 1994 to 2004. Their whole purpose has been to DESTROY the Lavalas Movement and exclude the majority in Haiti from participating in the affairs of their own nation. Period, no comma. (See, Democracy Undone by the New York Times, which, in part, confirms this allegation.)
4. THE GAME WAS OVER ONCE THE MAINSREAM MEDIA REPORTED THE TRUTH – that the people of Haiti were PEACEFULLY protesting the attempt to negate their votes; reported all the FRAUD and showed the world, through print and on TV screens, the pictures of the burnt ballots (See the reports of the people taking over the Montana Hotel and then peacefully leaving, without incident.)
The massive fraud reported by the mainstream media doing this election crisis – a mainstream media, that this time and thank God, did not go home after the elections as they had right after the bicentennial coup d’etat, this media presence combined with the Haitian people’s VIGILANCE shamed the UN troops and Haitian police into not shooting at the peaceful demonstrators as they have been shown to do, shamed the international supporters of the de facto authorities to take the right and legal position, for once.
The New York Times reported that “…Of the 2.2 million ballots cast, about 125,000 ballots have been declared invalid because of irregularities, raising suspicion among Preval supporters that polling officials were rigging the election.
Another 4 percent of the ballots were blank but were still added into the total, making it harder for Preval to obtain the 50 percent plus one vote needed.” ( See, Smashed Ballot Boxes Found in Haiti”, By ANDREW SELSKY, Associated Press Writer )
5. BURNT BALLOTS:
MINUSTHA spokesman, David Wimhurst’s original reaction when told about the smoldering ballots at Thuiery was to speculate that the burned ballots could have come from any of the nine polling stations across Haiti trashed on Election Day and forcing officials to throw out up to 35,000 votes.
This issue of missing and stolen ballots, ballots that were supposed to be in the custody of MINUSTHA, but ended up in a garbage truck, that issue cannot be minimized or isolated to just the burned ballots found in Thuirery.
First, because AHP in describing, on Feb. 14, 2006, the burned ballots wrote that
“All of these votes, many of which were found inside ballot boxes, appeared to have come from voting centers set up in the periphery of the shantytown of CitÈ Soleil, where more than 95% of the population voted for Espoir. “
Second, other papers and Haitian witnesses confirmed this. The Andrew Selsky New York Times article “Smashed Ballot Boxes Found in Haiti” stated, inter alia:
“Among the bags seen by AP was one vote tally sheet from the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Carrefour that recorded 129 votes for Preval out of 202 cast.”
Therefore, David Wimhurst’s original speculation must be revised. The burnt ballots that were found in the garbage dump clearly also came from polling places, outside of Cite Soley, set up for Cite Soley residents and from Carrefou. These polling stations WERE NOT ransacked. Those ballots and ballot tallies from non-ransacked polling places were in the custody of MINUSTHA. If not, why not? If they were delivered by MINUSTHA to the tabulation center and then sent for destruction, only an independent investigation, not a MINUSTHA or CEP conducted investigation should be mounted to shed light on these issues.
HLLN urges a thorough and INDEPENDENT investigation of allegations of fraud, but especially an investigation of MINUSTHA, in reference to the burned ballots that came from clearly un-ransacked polling places where the ballots were given into the custody of the UN.
Haitians HLLN spoke to, who examine the ballots and still have a few in their hands (as souvenirs!!!) indicate there were Xs marking a vote for Preval on most of the ballots found at Truitier, and behind the ballots, the polling place staff signature clearly indicated where they originated. The charred and still smoldering ballots, but not completely destroyed ballots and tally sheets that were found at the Truitier garbage dump, showed, that these ballots originated from polling places where the people of Cite Soley voted – polling places set up just outside for the people of Site Soley. There is no question about that. It’s public knowledge. (Click on the Yahoo pictures:
Of course, the people living in the Truitier district area have also reported that the strange and heretofore unknown garbage trucks made MANY trips to the Truitier garbage dump, starting Feb. 8, 2006, the day after the election. Thus, it’s conceivable other ballots besides the ballots from polling places for the people of Site Soley and Carefou were likewise burnt and we don’t have proof of it because they’ve been burning ballots for quite a number of days before the rain came and STOPPED the evidence from being TOTALLY destroyed.
There were also found in the Truitier garbage dump, in addition to ballots, TALLY sheets. Thus, none of these ballot tallies were included in the tabulation of votes in Port au Prince. For, it’s inconceivable the Truitier ballots and tallies would have gone to the tabulation center first and COUNTED, and then sent to be BURNED!
Also, when Max Mathurin, president of the CEP was told about the stolen and burned ballots and tally sheets, his first answer was that the CEP had nothing to do with this; had no knowledge of this matter and wasn’t at fault because Haiti’s voting ballots and tally sheets where picked up from the polling places by MINUSTHA, and therefore were under the care of MINUSHA.
The problem with this passing the buck, of course, is that a strict reading of the CEP laws would prove, that total relinquishing of CEP function to MINUSTHA was in contravention of their own CEP laws in and of itself and that someone from the polling place or the BED -(Bureau …lectoral DÈpartemental) (Departmental Electoral Bureau) – should, at the very least, have been with all those ballots being transported to and fro, allegedly for SECURITY reasons, by MINUSTHA to assure chain of custody.
Further, as we’ve already pointed out in our report of laws violated by the CEP, the actual voting ballots, according to CEP laws, were not supposed to be transported outside of the polling places, only the tally sheets and these should have been driven directly to the BED, not to the CEP.
Be that as it may, the reality is that MINUSTHA was the caretakers of HAITIAN ballots and apparently charged with getting them to the CEP tabulation center. Yet, there they are – thousands of ballots – dumped in a Truitier garbage dump, by a Boucard Pest garbage trucks, hired and in the employ of MINUSTHA!
6. The Huge Boucard Pest Garbage Trucks that begin transporting ballots as “barbage” where hired and in the employ of MINUSTHA!
I will repeat this again: The Boucard Pest garbage trucks, that dumped an unknown amount of ballots, tallies and boxes of ballots and election materials at the Truitier garbage dump, were HIRED and in the employ of MINUSTHA.
When the company was contacted, they said they were just HIRED by MINUSTHA to pick up some garbage and had no idea what the “garbage” was that they were dumping at Truitier on Feb. 8, 2006 and for many days after.
HLLN finds MINUSTHA involvement here extremely DISTURBING.
Could the hasty conclusion to the elections fraud investigation be because of this MINUSTHA involvement in the stolen ballots?
These questions should be answered. A full and independent investigation of MINUSTHA role in the matter of stolen and dump ballots is necessary.
Moreover, if ALL the ballots dumped in garbage trucks were ballots, which MINUSTHA had already delivered to the CEP’s tabulation centers, then an independent investigation of the CEP is surely and absolutely necessary.
According to a February 15, 2006 AHP report, attached below, in its entirety:
“Thousands of ballots and election count reports whose origin is unknown arrived Wednesday evening at the vote tabulation center of the CEP”
Why are their origins unknown? Did MINUSTHA bring them to the tabulation center?
The AHP article goes on to state, inter alia, that:
“According to a variety of accounts, these documents have been kept for nine days in a secret location while the executive director of the CEP had affirmed that all of the signed election tally reports (procËs-verbaux) had been received by the CEP.” (See AHP, February 15, 2006 article, copied below:
Who transported these ballots to “a secret location”? Was it MINUSTHA or not? Where any of these ballots part of the ballot boxes transported on trucks in the employ of MINUSTHA to the Truitier garbage dump?
These questions and many pertinent others must be answered and by an independent and credible authority.
Most importantly, HLLN wants to point out, that Preval was winning by 48.76% with 90% of the total votes counted. He only needed 1.24% plus one vote to gain the majority and an outright victory without going to a second round.
HLLN repeats, that even after MASSIVE fraud, as outline above, the gap was only 1.24% and these newly found ballots, stashed in “secret locations” could only have increased Preval’s lead, otherwise, there would have been no need to steal them.
Thus, all the evidence shows Rene Preval was not elected by a deal brokered by the international community.
Said “international” community created the coup d’etat crisis and election crisis. There are many questions to be faced by said international community as outlined in part, by the New York Times’ “Democracy Undone” article. The events after the Feb. 7, 2006 elections intensifies this need for investigation into these authorities, including OAS officials and their role in this coup d’etat and now with the attempt at rigging Haiti elections in favor of their morally repugnant Haitian protÈgÈs.
This is even more critical when we remember that the votes for the Legislature positions have yet to be published.
7. THE CEP TABULATIONS WERE A FARCE IN THE FIRST PLACE
The last reported CEP results published on their website showed Rene Preval ahead at 48.76 with 90% of the votes tallied. Preval needed 50 percent plus one vote to win outright and not have to go to a second round with Leslie Manigat, who was in second place at a mere 11%.
But to the people of Haiti, Preval had won on the first round and by a landslide. They took to the streets to demand the CEP not negate their votes through fancy technocrat additions and formulas.
Copies of voting results published, by law, at the various polling stations received and examined by HLLN showed clearly that Preval was ahead by MORE than 70% of the votes. So how come when these tallies got to the tabulations center, the percentage for Preval started to drop so precipitously.
HLLN finds the CEP tabulation were a farce. HLLN wants to make it CLEAR, Preval did not win by an agreement that GAVE him 1.4% plus one to put him over the top!!! This is subterfuge. There is no mathematically logic that would explain the fraud that kept Preval’s percentages on the steady DECREASE as they reached CEP authorities. Many believe there was massive fraud at the CEP tabulation center. They were stealing. They got caught. Rene Preval was nice enough, big enough to offer them a way out.
There are already coup d’etat folks crying foul because Rene Preval’s victory was duly declared. The Haiti Democracy Project, whose former board member is the current interim US Ambassador to Haiti, Timothy Carney, said Haiti Democracy Project is already declaring that the blank votes should have been counted and that the Preval victory is not legal. We want these folks to understand that blank votes had NOTHING to do with President Preval’s victory. The people of Haiti elected President Preval by a landslide, or as they would say LAVALASEMENT!!!
The CEP tabulation was a farce in the first place. So, let’s not spent the next five years arguing President Preval’s legitimacy. N’ap bare rout sa prese, prese.
This farce is intended to undermine the popular mandate, the STRONG mandate given to Preval by the PEOPLE OF HAITI.
But, to the people of Haiti, this so-called agreement has nothing to with reality. Preval won by more than 50% plus one, and without the interference of Jacques Bernard, et al and, blank ballots, null ballots, stolen and burnt ballots, and CEP re-examinations, and a whole series of other documented irregularities, there would be no need for a “resolution.”
Those who are already starting to complain about Rene Preval’s victory and centering on the discounting of the blank ballots as their primary lifeline to make their case, carry no legal or ethical weight.
First off these are the very people who disregarded the Haitian Constitution and supported the forceful ouster of the Constitutionally elected government of Haiti. They have no leg to stand on now, crying about the “illegality” of not counting the blank votes. Especially as, HLLN has outlined that under their own CEP laws, to count and not count blank ballots ARE BOTH LEGAL!!!! See, HLLN Report on Haitian Election Laws, Feb. 14, 2006 https://lists.riseup.net/www/arc/ezilidanto/2006-02/msg00012.html , where HLLN outlines how the CEP article, article 185 that governs blank ballots “is ambivalent and could be argued to both allow and deny the counting of blank votes. It leaves a lot of room for manipulation and massive fraud.”
Those who are railing against the CONFIRMATION of Preval’s victory are simply using this tabulation farce to MASK the Lavalas mandate ñ Lavalas in terms of the FLOOD of the people, their massive turnout on Feb. 7, 2006 and LAVALAS in terms of Aristide Lavalas, the people who support President Aristide.
This victory for Preval is a manifestation of the people’s will; it’s a repudiation of the bicentennial coup d’etat; it is support for oustered President Jean-Bertrand Aristide by the population of Haiti and a vote against those who conducted the coup d’etat and a vote against the international folks and NGO’s that financed and help orchestrate said coup. It’s a vote against that sector within the UN troops and Haitian police involved in terrorizing, arbitrarily arresting and slaughtering the people of Haiti who demonstrate or, are seen as supporters of Lavalas. That’s what the Feb. 7, 2006 vote means. Let there be no doubt about this whatsoever.
Aristides’ base, even today, is still a solid 60% of the country. Anyone who polled, talked to or want to know the thoughts of the people of Haiti, would KNOW that. HLLN challenges those who disagree to go to Haiti and simply ask around.
On top of this 60% that still talks about Aristide and who would never have voted another way but for someone they see as close to Aristide as you could get, there’s a another 15% to 20% of Haitian folks, who, had a problem with Aristide, like even for instance, those who participated in the GNBis demonstrations against Aristide, but who now also make up part of Rene Preval’s base.
It is this group plus Aristide’s base that has brought this people’s victory to Haiti.
Let’s not make a mistake about this and allow the coup d’etat folks and un-informed mainstream press to be talking about how the people of Haiti rejected Lavalas, the Lavalas Movement or President Aristide by electing Rene Preval.
Declaring President Preval winner was not only the right thing to do, but it was the LEGAL thing to do.
But just because, for once, the illegal authorities did the right thing, mostly to stop the bright media lights they were facing from digging deeper, mostly to save face, let’s not get carried and bestow credibility or even people power and sanction upon either the CEP officials, or the political parties coming in 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th…in these elections. The poor showings of these political parties and candidates (Manigat, Baker, Guy Phillip, et al), or non-votes for them are vote against them as leaders in Haiti by the people of Haiti. It is an _expression of the people’s will and that _expression should not be minimized now that the CEP has, for once, done the right thing in light of the massive proof of fraud that were made public.
The CEP was pressured into stopping its own fraud, stopping group 184 fraud. It choose one way out by not counting the blank votes to save face. This should not in any way minimize the people’s victory, only confirm it.
The international community, the OAS, the interim government and their employees, through UN troops, had control of the ballots and tally sheets. There are questions as to the level of complicity of said internationals in this attempted fraud, like those that were burnt at Truitier. If, Preval had not been declared President, could these folks have withstand a fair investigation into their roles in the attempt to swing the elections to the coup d’etat contingent.
This is not to say there is not a section within MINUSTHA that backs up the people of Haiti, which has since the beginning of this coup d’etat fought determinedly to actually be “peacekeepers” and not Group 184 henchmen. HLLN makes clear, not all of MINUSTHA are doing the dirty deed of IRI and group 184 in Haiti. There are two schools within the UN contingent in Haiti, problem has been the rogue elements have had great backing and from powerful elements within the governments of France, US, Canada and their allies.
Marguerite Laurent, Esq.
The Smoking Gun – Photos of STOLEN ballots found in garbage dump in Haiti | Brazil backs Preval as victor in elections | Smashed ballot boxes found in Haiti, et al https://lists.riseup.net/www/arc/ezilidanto/2006-02/msg00014.html
Fraud anticipated in order to compel a second round : Sham Elections followed by What, Politique De Doublure? by Marguerite Laurent for Haitian Perspectives, Feb. 7, 2006
Let them save face, let us continue to struggle for justice: THE CEP TABULATIONS WERE A FARCE IN THE FIRST PLACE
Port-au-Prince, February 15, 2006 (AHP)- Thousands of signed election tally reports and ballots for the presidential and legislative elections of February 7, 2006 were delivered Wednesday afternoon to the Vote Tabulation Center of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) in northern Port-au-Prince.
These ballots, which were filmed inside the tabulation center by the Haitian television station, Channel 11, came notably from polling centers that were operating at the Sainte TrinitÈ School, the Carrefour-Feuilles High School, and in the 3rd communal section of Abricots in the Southwest of the country.
According to a variety of accounts, these documents have been kept for nine days in a secret location while the executive director of the CEP had affirmed that all of the signed election tally reports (procËs-verbaux) had been received by the CEP.
These ballots and polling center tally reports arrived at the Tabulation Center amidst a scene of great disorder, as there was no member of the CEP to receive them, and most of them had disappeared from view.
Only a few lower ranking officials were present.
“This is yet another trick”, said a source close to the Tabulation Center, confiding to AHP that “Everyone is going to be very worried here from now on because reports suggest that it was a senior manager of the Tabulation Center (a woman) who may have given the order to throw out thousands of ballots and signed election tally reports (a majority of which were marked for PrÈval) which were discovered in the Truittier district of northern Port-au-Prince.
For many, “this scandal has confirmed the existence of a vast plan to hijack the vote of the majority”.
Displaying posters of the presidential candidate of the Espoir Platform, RenÈ Garcia PrÈval, as well as posters of ballot boxes containing ballots found at a public garbage dump at Thuitier, the demonstrators chanted slogans hostile to the senior officials of the Provisional Electoral Council, whom they blamed for this confused situation.
At the same time, the Brazilian government, whose troops are leading the UN force in Haiti, indicated Wednesday that there is no reason to organize a second round in the presidential elections and that the decision of the majority must be respected.
For its part, the UN Security Council appealed to the different sectors to respect the commitment they have made to democracy.
AHP February 15, 2006, 7:30 PM
“Made in the USA” election crisis in Haiti
The front-runner in Haiti’s election charged Tuesday that the vote count—now entering its second week—was plagued by “gross errors and probably gigantic fraud.” The totals being reported by the country’s electoral council “do not correspond with reality,” he said.
Former Haitian president Rene Preval made the accusations in the wake of mass protests Monday that saw two Haitians gunned down by United Nations “stabilization” troops and the capital of Port-au-Prince paralyzed by demonstrations and burning barricades.
The political crisis ignited by the prolonged delay in announcing the results of the February 7 election has brought the impoverished Caribbean country to the brink of civil war. There are strong indications that this is precisely the intention of the US-backed figures from within Haiti’s right-wing political class who control the ballot tabulation.
The Haitian people are entirely justified in believing that the election is being rigged by Washington to impose US policy on the island nation. In February 2004, the US orchestrated a bloody coup by ex-soldiers, criminals and death squad leaders to oust President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was kidnapped by American operatives and forced into exile. Washington then sent in the US Marines, who have since been replaced by some 9,500 blue-helmeted UN troops. The one party that enjoyed mass support, Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas, has been outlawed since the coup, with its prominent members imprisoned, exiled or forced into hiding.
Having used violence and military force to overthrow an elected government that it opposed, the Bush administration has no compunction about employing fraud and provocation to shape the kind of regime it wants in Port-au-Prince. After all, similar methods for stealing an election were used to install George W. Bush in the White House in the first place.
Seven days after millions of Haitians went to the polls, the ballot count has inexplicably ground to a halt. There is no dispute that Preval was the overwhelming victor in the election, winning at least four times as many votes as his nearest rival. The issue is the attempt by those opposed to Preval to deny him an outright majority and thereby force the election into a second round next month.
While initially vote totals had Preval sweeping the election with over 61 percent of the vote, as the count has dragged on his percentage has precipitously fallen to just below the 49 percent mark—a shift that is widely attributed to the throwing out of tens of thousands of ballots from the impoverished shantytown neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, which voted massively for the ex-president. In addition, some 72,000 blank ballots were reportedly added to the total, thereby diluting Preval’s lead.
Pierre Richard Duchemin, the Catholic Church’s representative on the electoral council, and Patrick Requiere, another council member, both charged Sunday that the results of the election were being manipulated to deny Preval a clear-cut victory.
While the US State Department has signaled that it is willing to work with Preval, who during his 1996-2001 presidency faithfully implemented a draconian structural adjustment program dictated by the International Monetary Fund, his election by a landslide was by no means a welcome development in Washington.
The vote, which saw a powerful turnout by Haiti’s oppressed masses, represented a stinging repudiation of US policy and, above all, the 2004 coup that toppled Aristide, whose populist rhetoric made him anathema, both to the Bush administration and the Haitian oligarchy.
Among Haiti’s privileged classes, Preval’s former ties to Aristide made him suspect, at best. Their favored candidate, sweatshop owner Charles Henri Baker, who garnered barely 5 percent of the vote, has vowed to challenge the election and to prevent Preval from taking office.
US officials have pressed Preval to give them a guarantee that he will not allow Aristide to return from exile in South Africa and that he will bring his political opponents into the government. Forcing a second round would provide Washington and its right-wing Haitian allies with political leverage either to compel Preval to accept their dictates or, failing that, to unleash a campaign of violent destabilization similar to that utilized to oust Aristide two years ago.
There are in all probability differences within the Bush administration over what course to pursue in Haiti. In an article published January 29, the New York Times cited past “ideological wars and partisan rivalries” in Washington over how to deal with the Aristide government. Extreme right-wing elements with ties to the anti-Castro Cuban exile groups, like Otto Reich, who was appointed the State Department’s top official for Latin America, supported Aristide’s overthrow, just as they had sought to overthrow Venezuela’s elected president, Hugo Chavez, two years earlier. Other State Department professionals had warned that such a coup would only throw Haiti into chaos.
The Times report detailed the operations of the International Republican Institute (IRI), a Republican Party-linked body that is a constituent part of the National Endowment for Democracy, the agency created by Congress in the 1980s to carry on the kind of US political operations that were previously conducted by the CIA.
The IRI, working with elements like Baker and fellow sweatshop owner Andy Apaid, organized in the Group 184, poured in money and advisors to destabilize the Aristide government and pave the way to the violent coup of 2004. No doubt, these extreme right-wing Republican ideologues are just as opposed to Preval taking power as their Haitian allies.
While the Bush administration has claimed to be pursuing a global crusade for democracy and, together with the US media, portrayed elections held under US military occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq as major achievements, it has drawn no such attention to the chaotic process in Haiti.
The Haitian developments expose all too clearly what the US ruling elite means by democracy. The gross manipulation of the election is only the latest episode in a long history of oppression dating back to the US invasion of Haiti in 1915, the 20-year occupation that followed, and Washington’s subsequent support for the Duvalier dynasty, which ruled the country through naked terror for three decades.
The “democracy” that Washington is exporting begins and ends with the establishment of regimes that allow the unhindered domination of US-based multinationals over all facets of the economic and political life of their countries.
To the extent that the people seek to express their democratic aspirations by voting against US interests, Washington is prepared to use more violent or coercive methods to achieve its aims. Significantly, even as the vote-rigging drama was unfolding in Port-au-Prince, the New York Times reported Tuesday that the Bush administration and Israel were drafting plans to destabilize and topple the newly elected Palestinian government controlled by Hamas by starving the Palestinian people into submission.
In Haiti, a century of US domination has yielded a social catastrophe, with two thirds of the population of 8 million somehow surviving on less than a dollar a day, 80 percent unemployment, and a life expectancy of barely 51 years. It has also produced extreme social inequality, with a tiny ruling elite that is prepared to utilize the bloodiest forms of terror to defend its privileges.
The fight for genuine democracy in Haiti, as elsewhere in the world, must inevitably take the path of confrontation with US imperialism and its local allies. The bitter lesson of the Aristide presidencies is that such a struggle cannot be waged on a nationalist basis, but rather requires a unified struggle of the workers and oppressed masses of Haiti, the Caribbean and the United States itself against global capitalism
The Smoking Gun – Photos of STOLEN ballots found in garbage dump in Haiti | Brazil backs Preval as victor in elections | Smashed ballot boxes found in Haiti, et al https://lists.riseup.net/www/arc/ezilidanto/2006-02/msg00014.html
Fraud anticipated in order to compel a second round : Sham Elections followed by What, Politique De Doublure? by Marguerite Laurent for Haitian Perspectives, Feb. 7, 2006 www.haitiforever.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=13774#13774