[News] Two-faced Democracy in Haiti

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Nov 30 12:00:58 EST 2009

Two-faced Democracy in Haiti

Written by Kevin Pina
Saturday, 28 November 2009

The Haiti Information Project 
published a short article reporting that the Provisional Election 
Council (CEP) had allowed the Fanmi Lavalas party to register to run 
in elections scheduled for early 2010. According to reliable sources 
an original document requested by the CEP and signed by Aristide was 
delivered to the offices of the council shortly after 1:00 pm on 
November 23. There was no indication on the part of the CEP or the 
Fanmi Lavalas party that anything was amiss in the process and it 
appeared a fait accompli.

Three days later the CEP would publish the names of those political 
parties allowed to participate in the elections and the Fanmi Lavalas 
party did not appear on the list. The CEP now clings to the same 
flimsy excuses it used to exclude Lavalas in the Senatorial race. The 
party did not meet all the legal requirements to register followed by 
incoherent legal opinions masking their true political intent. We 
humbly apologize for the mistaken assumption in our reporting that 
the CEP was telling the truth and willing to play by the rules of the 
democratic game in Haiti. Apparently they have no shame.

This decision by the CEP is clearly another attempt to continue to 
punish Haiti's poor majority, this time through exclusion, for their 
political choices and the probability of a Lavalas victory at the 
polls. <http://haitiaction.net/News/HIP/6_25_9/6_25_9.html>Ninety 
percent of the electorate boycotted the last Senate race after 
Lavalas was excluded by the CEP. The highest figure for the turnout 
in the April election and June runoff combined was given by the UN 
who placed it at 11% . Many independent observers noted voter turnout 
well below that number throughout Haiti's ten departments.

More importantly, this can only fan the flames for another boycott 
campaign and gives the impression of duplicity on the part of US 
foreign policy and the international community. One wonders what the 
response would be if the same were to happen in Venezuela or 
Zimbabwe. Reuters recently wrote that Fanmi Lavalas is "still 
considered the most popular political force in the impoverished 
Caribbean nation of 9 million people." How can the US and the 
international community continue to sponsor and fund an electoral 
process that is built upon exclusion of the most popular political 
force in Haiti? It's appears that democratic values as projected by 
the US State Department and its allies must be strictly upheld and 
enforced where the ruling party does not suit US objectives and they 
are otherwise ignored and given a pass when it does. The recent 
example of US and UN rapprochement over electoral fraud in 
Afghanistan comes to mind as an example of the latter.

What of the silence of the Organization of American States (OAS) in 
Haiti today? While the OAS takes a principled position on not 
recognizing bogus elections sponsored by the coup regime in Honduras 
their silence is deafening concerning the decision of the CEP to bar 
Lavalas in Haiti. Where are the OAS lectures to the Preval 
administration about the necessities of democratic inclusion and free 
elections in the hemisphere?

All of this begs the question, what does the US and the international 
community have to fear from Lavalas that they would not condemn 
Preval and his handpicked CEP for excluding them from the political 
process? It must preoccupy them greatly that after three years of 
hellish repression, thousands killed, arrested or forced into exile, 
that a Lavalas victory at the polls would expose their ultimate 
justification for Aristide's removal and United Nations forces 
occupying Haiti. How would a Lavalas return through democratic 
elections color their longstanding argument that Aristide had lost 
the support of the Haitian people and that Lavalas was nothing more 
than a violent political organization intolerant of opposition from 
civil society?

An even greater fear must also be that a Lavalas victory would 
interfere with the US/UN development plans for Haiti. One could not 
imagine that a low minimum wage suited to make Haitian sweatshop 
operators and their international partners hefty profits would have 
passed so easily in a parliament where Lavalas held sway.

Sweetheart deals in parliament that encourage partnering Haiti's 
elite families, who are historically notorious for fomenting 
political instability, with transnational companies would not be so 
easy to foist upon the Haitian people. Questions would likely be 
raised about deals between Mevs and George Soros, Apaid and 
GildenActive Wear, Bigio and Digicel all of which are being touted as 
the model of private investment for uplifting the majority of 
Haitians from their current economic state. The growing number of 
deals for mining rights on public lands and the current bidding 
process to sell the national telephone company or Teleco might also 
come under greater scrutiny with Lavalas in parliament. Simply put, 
taking a chance on a truly inclusive democratic process where Lavalas 
participates in elections would not fit into their plans for selling 
Haiti's few resources to the highest bidder while relying upon the 
Haitian elite and transnational capital investment as the motor for 
economic development in Haiti.

Lavalas is clearly seen as a boat rocker they have determined cannot 
be let onboard, even if it runs against the democratic principles of 
inclusion and participation. The US and the UN often remind Haitians 
that one of their main objectives is to strengthen democratic 
institutions in Haiti. Allowing the Preval administration and his 
election council to once again bar Lavalas from participation in the 
democratic process gives new meaning to that endeavor.

Kevin Pina is a journalist and filmmaker who has been covering events 
in Haiti since 1991. Pina is also the Founding Editor of the 
<http://www.teledyol.net/HIP/about.html>Haiti Information 
Project(HIP), an alternative news agency based in Port au Prince.

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