2009 - No. 99
No to Foreign Interference in Haiti!
Get Canada Out of Haiti!
• No to Foreign Interference in Haiti!
Canada Out of Haiti!
Farce Continues in June of 2009 - Wadner Pierre,
• Lavalas Flexes Its Muscles in
- Kevin Pina, www.haitiaction.net
• Popular Initiative Calls for
Removal of Bush Appointee
- Kevin Pina, www.haitiaction.net
• Canada's Ambassador to Haiti:
Were Legitimate - Canadian Haiti
• U.S. Development Plans for
Haitians - Ansel Herz, HaitiAnalysis.com
No to Foreign Interference in Haiti!
Get Canada Out of Haiti!
On April 19, elections to the Haitian Senate were
held to fill 12 out of 30 seats. The election was widely boycotted as
part of organized resistance to an electoral process which was viewed
as illegitimate especially because of the exclusion of Lavalas Party
candidates. Voter turnout was estimated at somewhere between 2-11
percent of Haiti's 4.5 million voters. No candidate received a majority
of votes with the result that now a run-off election is scheduled for
June 7. Lavalas candidates were excluded on spurious
technical grounds, with the electoral commission rejecting
their forms for not being physically signed by party
leader Jean-Betrand Aristide who is in exile in South Africa, having
been ousted in a coup
on February 29, 2004.
Since 2004, Canada has played a particularly
nefarious role in Haiti. Canadian troops were part of the international
invasion force which overthrew democratically elected President
Aristide under the high-sounding ideal of "defending
democracy." From that time until the present, foreign interference has
continued to destabilize the people and undermine their
fight to establish and build organizations and institutions that
represent their interests. This includes interference by the Canadian
state through the sending of RCMP to train the hated Haitian National
the Canadian International Development Agency and its funding of
non-governmental organizations, and Elections Canada's participation in
elections following the coup,
as well as the many foreign troops suppressing the people as part of a
UN "peacekeeping" mission.
A May 17 article in the Halifax
Chronicle Herald provides
a recent example, in which the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre and a South
counterpart hosted a "joint seminar about UN
challenges in Haiti" on May 13-14 in Santiago, Chile. "Funded by the
Department of Foreign Affairs,
the seminar brought together about 40 participants to discuss improving
peace operation training in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in
Haiti. The purpose of the seminar, co-hosted by the Chilean Joint
Peacekeeping Operations Centre, was to enhance the ability of UN troops
and police from contributing countries
to respond to complex situations. Representatives attended from Canada,
the U.S., Latin American training centres, the UN Department of
Peacekeeping Operations, the UN mission in Haiti and Haitian government
officials," wrote the Chronicle Herald.
Haiti and its people, far from their portrayal by
as a people and place of helpless victimhood and destitution in need of
condescending saviours are
fighting to overcome the blocks to progress put in their way by those
same imperialists. The Haitian people are the inheritors of a militant
tradition of struggle for self-determination and the recognition of
rights which belong to people by virtue
of their being human, first in the fight of the slaves to end their
enslavement, then the winning of their independence through
the first revolution in
the Americas and then the establishment of a constitution which
enshrined human rights on a modern basis. Since then, the Haitian
been fighting to extricate themselves from brutal terms of foreign
debt-servicing and a series of puppet governments in service of foreign
imperialists and their monopolies. TML
calls on the Canadian working class and people to give their full
support to the Haitian people so that their historic struggle for
self-determination is realized once and for all.
In this issue, TML is
posting several items on the
attempts of outside interests to use the April 19 Haitian Senate
elections as a further opportunity to block the aspirations of the
Haitian people and impose foreign agendas and illegitimate institutions
and governance on the Haitian
Electoral Farce Continues in June of 2009
As widely predicted, Haiti's senatorial elections
April 19 were boycotted by the overwhelming majority of the electorate.
Two days ago, as if to
deliberately invite more ridicule, the Provisional Electoral Council
(CEP) announced that there were no winners in the first round for 12
vacant senate seats
that were contested. Haiti has a 30 seat senate. A second round of the
discredited elections will take place on June 7. However, the vote in
Plateau has been cancelled due to fear of violence.
station on the outskirts of Cité Soleil remains empty as voters stay
away during April 19 Senate elections.
Haiti Information Project)
Government officials have claimed that turnout was
but many political organizations say it was 2-3% -- consistent with a
survey by the Florida-based advocacy organization Haiti Priorities
Project (HPP). Regardless of the exact figure, no one is disputing that
extremely low. U.S. Ambassador Janet Sanderson attempted to dismiss the
significance of low turnout by saying:
"Historically, off-year elections in the United
as well as in other countries tend not to be as well-attended as
presidential elections. We'll
have to see."
However, in 2006, turnout was 30%, according to UN
officials, for legislative elections held months after René Preval won
The Secretary General of the Organization of
States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza, gently chastised the Haitian people:
"Indifference is harmful for a democratic process
requires a strong interaction between political actors and governments."
In fact, outrage, rather than indifference,
voters stayed away. The boycott was provoked by the CEP's
candidates put forward by Famni Lavalas (FL), the party of deposed
president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. International donors, embarrassed by
the CEP decision,
were initially critical of the ban but soon opted to promise more aid
for Haiti as a way to appease voters.
Eliminating FL was the objective of the 2004 coup
primarily by U.S., France and Canada. Thousands of FL partisans were
during the two year rule of a UN backed dictatorship and hundreds
became political prisoners. The FL base, overcoming countless obstacles
participation, carried René Preval to victory in the presidential
election of 2006. It was widely hoped that he would make it possible
for Aristide to return
to Haiti. He has disappointed the FL partisans many times since his
election, but going along with the CEP's disqualification of FL appears
to have been
the last straw.
Increasingly bitter critics observe that Preval's
party is well positioned to prevail after the second round in June.
candidates appear headed toward victory. It has been suggested that
Preval's allies in the senate will then amend the Haitian constitution.
FL partisans sent a powerful message with the
boycott. They have referred to it as "operation closed doors and empty
group of young people interviewed on a radio station said "We, in Bel
Air, belong to Lavalas. Preval excluded us. We cannot vote today."
Cité Soleil, an FL stronghold with over
predictably shunned the election. An inhabitant of Cité Soeleil told a
election is not for us. It is for Preval. Lavalas are out -- we are out
FL's message appears to have even reached the
international press. An April 21 press report by AP reporter Jonathan
Katz refers to FL as the
"still-popular" party of Aristide.
Liberté reports that even a group of
by Evaliere Beauplan, whose parties participated in the April 19
the elections as a "farce" and called on Preval to apologize to the
After four tropical storms that ravaged Haiti last
the $16 million wasted on this so-called election (which was postponed
could have been used to help starving people.
Lavalas Flexes Its Muscles in Haiti
nearly empty ballot box at a polling station in Port-au-Prince during
the Haitian Senate election on April 19, 2009. (Photo: Haiti Information
Haiti's Lavalas movement effectively destroyed the
credibility of the April 19 Senate election through a successful
boycott campaign called Operation
Closed Door. Even the most generous electoral count puts participation
at less than 10 percent in the capital of Port-au-Prince, while the
actual figure may
be as low as 3 percent nationwide.
According to René Civil, one of the spokespersons
Operation Closed Door: "What we are seeing is the non-violent
resistance of the Haitian
people to undemocratic elections. There is no way they will be able to
call the senators elected in this process legitimate. You cannot hold
the majority political party."
Ronald Fareau, another representative of the
stated: "We want to congratulate the international community for their
these elections. They spent over $17 million on another electoral fraud
in Haiti while our people continue to suffer from malnutrition and
The controversy over the election began when
the Fanmi Lavalas party originally presented two slates of candidates
to the Conseil
Electoral Provisoire or CEP. In an apparent attempt to wrest control
from Aristide, one faction led by former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune
legitimacy of the slate presented by the former president's appointed
representative, Dr. Maryse Narcisse. Neptune's faction presented a
second slate, but in
the end the Fanmi Lavalas party's leadership managed to hammer out a
compromise list of candidates in time to meet the deadline.
The CEP finally refused to accept the Fanmi
applications on the grounds they did not have former President
personal signature from exile in South Africa. The CEP reportedly would
not allow for a facsimile copy of his signature on the documents when
presented on the final day of the application deadline. This
effectively excluded all Fanmi Lavalas candidates from participating in
the election and led to
the boycott of the Senate elections on April 19.
Neptune and other members of his faction within
Fanmi Lavalas party called for participation in the election despite
the nationwide boycott.
Early Sunday morning Neptune said publicly on a local radio program,
"We must vote today if we are to keep the integrity of the democratic
asked on Radio Caraibe's Ranmase program if he had a message for
voters, Neptune responded, "Vote well." The success of yesterday's
boycott was taken
as a referendum of support for Aristide by the base of the Lavalas
movement in the much-touted internal party conflict.
Although there were some reports of sporadic
yesterday's elections between supporters of current president René
party and its rival, L'Union, the disruptions were isolated to a single
city, Mirebalais, in the country's Central Plateau region.
There were largely no reports of violence or
irregularities in the capital, where streets and polling stations
remained deserted throughout
the day. The only incident occurred in the seaside shantytown of Cité
Soleil after a member of the L'Union party was accused of handing out
food to bribe voters.
Private vehicles and motorcycles were banned
election as they were during the presidential election in February
2006. Where long
lines formed at the polls early in the day on Feb. 7, 2006, polling
stations remained virtually empty on Sunday due to the Lavalas boycott.
Five Lavalas hunger strikers continued to occupy
parliament building in an effort to draw attention to their party's
exclusion from the
election. They vowed to continue until the election is nullified and
demanded that it be held over again during upcoming national elections
November. On the following day, thousands of demonstrators gathered in
front of the parliament to support the hunger strikers as SWAT teams
Haitian National Police, backed by U.N. military personnel, surrounded
Popular Initiative Calls for Removal
A spokesperson for grassroots organizations
Haiti's Fanmi Lavalas
party demanded the Obama administration remove current U.S. Ambassador
Janet Sanderson. Reached by telephone in the capital of Port-au-Prince,
of a group calling itself the Popular Initiative stated, "She is lying
about last Sunday's elections by not acknowledging it was our boycott
that kept voters
away." He continued, "She claims it was because this was not a regular
election year and that people may be tired of the political process.
The only voter
fatigue we have in Haiti is with undemocratic elections. Allow Fanmi
Lavalas to participate and we'll show you the voters have a lot of
enthusiasm for an authentic democratic process. She is out of touch
with reality in Haiti."
Haiti held controversial Senate elections on April
that were boycotted by Fanmi Lavalas after all of their candidates were
procedural grounds. Voters mostly stayed at home on Election Day after
Lavalas launched a campaign called Operation Closed Door. The Obama
administration is widely seen as having green lighted the contested
elections after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Haiti
three days prior
to the ballot.
The Popular Initiative has also called for a
re-evaluation of U.S. policy in Haiti by the Obama administration,
claiming that its current direction
is a holdover from the Bush administration. A second spokesperson in
the conference call declared, "It is time for a real change in Haiti
and that can only
come by breaking with the past, which means the policies of the Bush
administration. A good place to start is with the removal of Ambassador
who was put in place by the Bush government."
They also blamed Ambassador Janet Sanderson for
pressuring the Preval administration to issue arrest warrants for 42 of
the organizers of
the election boycott, including five hunger strikers who were forced
out of the parliament building by police earlier on Monday, the day
after the election.
"She made remarks on the radio that the organizers
should be investigated. Since then several of our people have been
forced into hiding,
including René Civil and Nawoon Marcellus. They have invented a new and
bizarre charge, 'obstruction of democracy,'" concluded the spokesperson.
At a press conference yesterday, the Popular
and other groups aligned with Lavalas announced they would step up the
the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide from exile in the Republic of
South Africa. They declared May and June months of mass mobilization
that exclude Lavalas and to fight what they call the "growing misery
and poverty as a result of the removal of our democratically elected
president on Feb.
Canada's Ambassador to Haiti:
The Elections Were Legitimate
Agence Haitienne de Presse reports that Canada's
ambassador to Haiti, Gilles Rivard, felt that the controversial April
19th partial Senate elections, which
excluded Haiti's most popular party, Fanmi Lavalas, were legitimate.
Rivard, in an exclusive interview with Radio
Solidarité in Haiti, claimed that the Provisional Electoral
Commission (CEP) and the UN force
MINUSTAH had pulled off a remarkable logistical feat, with more polling
stations open than in the 2006 elections.
Rivard also felt that, despite a participation
only 11% [that number is itself contested], the elections were
legitimate. He dismissed the
low numbers as a result of general disinterest in partial elections.
Rivard, who admitted he knew little about Haitian
politics, has previously attracted controversy for declaring the file
closed on the exclusion
of Lavalas from the elections, despite the rulings of a judicial
council that Lavalas should be admitted.
U.S. Development Plans for Haiti
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stood on the
a textile factory in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti earlier this month and
talked about America's commitment
to the island nation. "I pledge we will do more to create more good
jobs for the people of Haiti," she told an audience of Haitian textile
Sounds good, right? But when Clinton finished her
and smiled the applause was muted. Many of the workers could not
her speech because it was not translated into Kreyňl, the
language spoken by the vast majority of Haitians. Clinton's
obliviousness typifies the mindset of
policymakers who are ignoring a deeply flawed democratic process in
Haiti, while pushing neoliberal anti-poverty schemes on Haiti from afar.
Clinton, along with UN Secretary General Ban
are touting a plan devised by Oxford economist Paul Collier to expand
export zones around Haiti. Their plan calls for Haiti to lift urban
slum-dwellers out of poverty through jobs in textile factories, like
Garment Factory at which Clinton spoke.
There is little popular demand in Haiti for this
development. Workers at the factory assembling
clothes for American
companies like Levi's are paid twice Haiti's minimum wage, but they
complained to Al Jazeera English that the wages are still so low that
they cannot escape
The former President of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand
whose Lavalas party has enjoyed overwhelming support among Haitians in
after election, tried during the 1990s to triple the minimum wage. But
under pressure from U.S. officials and people like Andy Apaid, Aristide
to drastically scale back the wage increase. Apaid is a rich Haitian
who owns numerous sweatshops and the garment factory that hosted
Hillary Clinton two
In 2004, Apaid and other members of the tiny
elite successfully conspired to overthrow President Aristide with the
help of the U.S.
government. Aristide was flown out of the country on a U.S. jet
surrounded by Marines and dumped in the Central African Republic.
Aristide says he was
kidnapped and still has not returned to Haiti.
Aristide and Lavalas represent a grassroots
the centuries-old status quo in Haiti and the international interests
that have sought to
exploit it. Aristide raised taxes on the rich, launched highly
effective literacy and anti-AIDS programs, and built schools and
hospitals across the country
during his two presidential terms, each cut short by U.S.-backed coups.
The Lavalas party has tried to carry on amidst
continuing repression. A heavily armed UN peacekeeping force has
repeatedly shelled and
occupied Cité Soleil, a slum outside the capitol and one of Lavalas'
strongest bases of support. Many of the party's leaders were imprisoned
on bogus charges
by the post-coup
regime, and without Aristide the party is less united
than it once was. Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, a leading human rights and
who was abducted in 2007 after announcing his bid for Senate office, is
Lavalas was banned from last week's Haitian Senate
elections by the government's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP)
because of a technical
problem with the list of candidates they submitted. A judge who ruled
that the CEP's decision was illegal was promptly stripped of his post
by the Haitian
Like the rebel force of slaves that defeated
armies and founded Haiti, however, Lavalas and its agenda of social
uplift have not
been easily marginalized. The organization called for a boycott of the
Senate elections from which it was banned, and Haitians duly heeded the
call -- voter
turnout on April 19th was estimated at less than ten percent.
Popular Haitian demands include revitalization of
peasant economies, debt cancelation, temporary protected status for
immigrants in the
United States, and the return of Aristide. The Obama administration has
already pledged $20 million to pay off part of Haiti's illegitimate
debt to the World
Bank. That's a start.
The notion that poor Haitians should become a
labor force for American corporations, on the other hand, is more of
the same. The
mentality that the "international community" knows what is best for
Haiti's poor has been discredited by decades of worsening poverty.
Strong support from
the Obama administration for democracy in Haiti, including the
participation of Lavalas, would represent change Haitians can believe
in and so desperately