Haiti Archives 1995-1996

Via Workers World Service Reprinted from the July 13, 1995, issue of Workers World newspaper

The Clinton administration's desperate bid to portray Haiti as a foreign-policy success was dealt a blow on election day in that Caribbean country.

The balloting took place on June 25. It was plagued by a low voter turnout—"anywhere from 25 to 50 percent depending on the estimates," according to Haiti Progress newspaper.

The election was held under military occupation. The White House had sunk some $11.3 million into it through the Agency for International Development in order to control the outcome.

Two-thirds of the Senate seats, the entire Chamber of Deputies, and 700 local and community boards and councils were up for grabs. Some 10,000 candidates participated—including popular singer Manno Charlemagne, who ran for mayor of Port-au-Prince.

"Polling booths failed to open," Haiti Progress reported, "voters' names weren't on the electoral register, official candidates didn't appear on ballots, election materials were scarce, and chaos and confusion reigned." As of July 3, results have not yet been announced.

The U.S. government is eager to prove that last year's invasion and the continued occupation are justified. So the White House and the capitalist media rushed to declare the elections a great victory for democracy. "Haiti's elections on Sunday were, by any reasonable standard, a success," opined the Washington Post on June 26.

Anselme Remy, head of the U.S.-funded Haitian Provisional Electoral Council, declared: "We didn't have the means or the time. Despite the weaknesses, the elections are a victory for the Haitian people."

But participation was nowhere near that of the 1990 landslide election that swept President Jean-Bertrand Aristide into power. And neither was the enthusiasm.

The promise of the 1990 elections, as Aristide articulated it then, was social and economic justice for the masses of people. Today he is a captive of Washington, the imperialist power that returned him to Port-au-Prince on the heels of an invasion. Aristide joined in heavily promoting the elections and the International Monetary Fund's Structural Adjustment Program.

It's no wonder so many people stayed home on election day. Under the IMF plan, wages will be cut. The economy will be structured to benefit the private export sector. The program will devastate the peasantry—some 90 percent of the population.

It's no wonder that at its May congress the National Popular Assembly called for boycotting the elections. Elections under occupation, controlled by U.S. imperialism, can only strengthen the neocolonial domination of Haiti by the capitalist government in Washington.

All along—from coup to invasion to occupation to elections— Washington's aim has been to increase capitalist super-exploitation of the Haitian people. This also means supporting that sector of the Haitian bourgeoisie that's aligned with U.S. economic interests; this includes the wealthy backers of the 1991 coup that ousted Aristide.

Students at the Cap-Haitien Law School recently demonstrated a popular alternative to the bourgeois elections and the IMF prescription for Haiti.

At a May 11 news conference the students announced that their institution would become part of the State University of Haiti. Plans to privatize were scrapped after months of student protest. Four major student groups supported the actions.


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