[News] 10 Steps to Dictatorship in Haiti

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Dec 17 12:45:15 EST 2013


December 17, 2013
http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/12/17/10-steps-to-dictatorship-in-haiti/



*Why The Grassroots Movement Is Taking To the Streets Against President 
Michel Martelly*


  10 Steps to Dictatorship in Haiti

by CHARLIE HINTON

At great personal risk Haitians demonstrated massively in cities 
throughout the country on September 30 and October 17, calling for 
President Michel Martelly to step down. Both dates commemorate important 
coup d'etats in Haitian history.

By choosing these historically significant dates, the Haitian grassroots 
majority is clearly saying they want an end to the 10-year military 
occupation that has followed the coup that overthrew elected president 
Jean-Bertrand Aristide on February 29, 2004. Martelly's police force 
brutally broke up some demonstrations with tear gas and beatings.

Demonstrators have reported the police used a very "powerful" gas, which 
surprised them in its potency and aerial reach.

In late October, students in Cap Haitien, demonstrating to support 
teachers demanding an increase in pay, were tear gassed so viciously 
that 60 were injured, 4 seriously.

The next day, students in the State University of Port-au-Prince, 
demonstrating in support of attorney Andre Michel (see #7 below), were 
gassed for hours, even after they had been pushed back to their campus. 
It went on so long that some legislators went on the radio to demand 
that it be stopped.

On November 6^th , lawyers marched in Port-au-Prince demanding an end to 
threats and harassment for those willing to take on cases involving 
Martelly's corruption. They also called for the resignation of the chief 
prosecutor.

And on November 7^th, thousands marched, chanting "Aba Martelly" (Down 
with Martelly). Haitian police attacked the demonstration with tear gas 
and beatings. Three people were shot and wounded.

*10 Steps to Dictatorship *

*1. Who Is Michel Martelly? *Martelly grew up during the 27 year 
dictatorship of Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his son, Jean Claude 
"Baby Doc."* * He reportedly joined the Duvalierist death squad, the 
/Tonton Macoutes/, at the age of 15, and later attended Haiti's military 
academy. Under Baby Doc, Martelly, a popular musician, ran the Garage, a 
nightclub patronized by army officers and members of Haiti's tiny ruling 
class.

After Baby Doc's fall in February 1986, a mass democratic movement, long 
repressed by the Duvaliers, burst forth and became known as /Lavalas/ 
("flood"), from which emerged Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a popular 
liberation theology Catholic priest, who was elected president in 1990 
with 67% of the vote in the first free and fair election in Haiti's history.

Martelly quickly became a bitter opponent of /Lavalas/, attacking the 
popular movement in his songs played widely on Haitian radio.

Martelly "was closely identified with sympathizers of the 1991 military 
coup that ousted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide," the Miami 
Herald observed in 1996, and ran with members of the vicious FRAPH death 
squad from that period, infamous for gang rapes and killing with impunity.

On the day of Aristide's return to Haiti in 2011, after 8 years of 
forced exile in South Africa, and two days before the "run-off" 
election, Martelly was caught in a video on YouTube insulting Aristide 
and Lavalas: "The Lavalas are so ugly. They smell like s**t. F**k you, 
Lavalas. F**k you, Jean-Bertrand Aristide."

*2. The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2010-2011: *In the 
presidential election cycle of 2010-2011, Haiti's Electoral Council 
banned Aristide's /Fanmi Lavalas/ Party from participation, which 
de-legitimized the whole corrupt process. Voter turnout was less than 
25% in the primaries and less than 20% in the "run-off." The top two 
candidates announced after the sham primaries were the wife of a former 
pro-Duvalier president and the son-in-law of Rene Preval, the president 
at the time. Martelly was declared third, but his supporters 
demonstrated violently. An OAS commission, with the full support of 
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who flew to Port-au-Prince at the 
height of the Egyptian revolution, ruled that Martelly had finished 
second. He received $6 million from an anonymous donor in Florida to 
hire a PR firm that had worked on the campaigns of Felipe Calderón in 
Mexico and John McCain in the U.S.

*3. Corruption* -- Corruption scandals have followed Martelly since he 
refused to divulge who funded his campaign for president.

    * *Bribes *- Award-winning Dominican Republic journalist Nuria Piera
      broke the story in April 2012 (later reported in /Time/) that
      Martelly was alleged to have accepted $2.6 million in bribes
      during and after the 2010 election to ensure that a Dominican
      construction company would receive contracts under his Presidency.

In addition, the vote to make Laurent Lamothe the Prime Minister is 
known in Haiti as the "/tout moun jwenn/ vote" ("everyone got their cut" 
vote).

    * *Surcharge on international calls and money transfers for
      "education" -- *Questionable new taxes have also fed controversy.
      A $1.50 tax on money transfers and a 5 cent per minute tax on
      phone calls to Haiti are alleged by Martelly to support education,
      but the poor majority continue to face unaffordable school fees,
      and critics say no money from this tax has gone to schools.
      Moreover, Haitian teachers have been marching to demand back pay.
      Martelly's new taxes were not ratified by or presented to Haiti's
      Parliament, making them illegal.

* *

    * *Travel Expenses -- *When traveling, which he does often,
      Martelly's entourage receives an outrageous per diem from the
      Haitian government. According to Senator Moise Jean-Charles,
      Martelly gets $20,000 a day, his wife $10,000 a day, his children
      $7,500, and others in his inner circle get $4,000 daily.

    * *A plan to establish an illegal parallel customs system to
      circumvent legislative control -- *This allegedly involved the
      selling of a membership card and gun to anyone who wanted to be
      part of the Martelly gang. The membership privileges included
      tax-exempt status at customs. The program had to be scratched when
      US DEA complained about members facilitating drug transport on the
      strength of their membership.

* *

*4. Rewriting and Undermining Haiti's Constitution: *The overthrow of 
Baby Doc in 1986 led to the creation of a new democratic Constitution in 
1987, ratified in a referendum by an overwhelming majority of Haitians. 
It recognized Haitian /Kreyol/ as an official language, along with 
French, and legalized /Vodun/, the spiritual practice of the majority of 
Haitians. It provided for grassroots participation in national 
decision-making, decentralized the nation's finances and political 
structure, and provided for protection of human rights.

On June 12, 2012 Martelly announced new amendments, which concentrate 
executive power and herald the return of Duvalier-style dictatorship. 
The new illegally amended Constitution, written by non-legislators, and 
never seen nor voted by the Parliament prior to its publication creates 
a top down method of choosing a Permanent Electoral Council to run 
elections, undermining grassroots participation and centralizing control 
from above.

It allows the president to appoint the prime minister after merely 
"consulting" the heads of the two chambers of Parliament instead of 
requiring Parliamentary ratification. In cases of "presidential 
vacancy," the new amendments make the prime minister the provisional 
president, so presidents can resign, appoint the prime minister to 
succeed them, and thereby maintain perpetual control.

New amendments provide that a "general budget" and a "general 
expenditures report" can replace line item annual budgets, thus limiting 
parliamentary oversight of the budget.

New amendments return Duvalier era and other retrograde laws, including:

    *

          * A 1935 law on "superstitious beliefs," which would ban
          /Vodun/ once again

        * * A 1977 law establishing the Court of State Security to
          increase state surveillance and repression.

    *

          * A 1969 law that condemns all "imported doctrines", thereby
          attacking freedom of thought and freedom of association. 
          Violation of this new law can result in the DEATH PENALTY. 
          The 1987 Haitian Constitution had eliminated the death penalty.

*5. Restoring The Army: *In one of the most popular moves of his 
administration, President Aristide disbanded the hated Haitian army in 
1995. Since the coup that overthrew Aristide for the second time in 
2004, UN troops and police, currently numbering 8,754 uniformed 
personnel, have occupied Haiti. One of Martelly's campaign promises was 
to restore the Haitian Army, and now new Haitian troops are being 
trained by Ecuador and Brazil. In addition, well-armed former military 
and paramilitary personnel have occupied militia camps since early 2012, 
supported by Martelly.

*6. Return of the Death Squads: *Martelly has issued pink identity cards 
with a photo for $30 to selected supporters, promising many benefits to 
those who hold them, like jobs and impunity from prosecution. During the 
Duvalier period, every /Tonton Macoute/ received a card that provided 
many privileges, like free merchandise from any store entered, 
entitlement to coerced sex, and fear and respect from people in general.

Senator John Joel Joseph has identified Senators that he claims are 
marked for assassination. He identified the people who have been paying 
the "hit squads" on behalf of Martelly. He denounced one of the men as 
an escaped criminal who had been caught red handed with a "near death" 
victim behind his vehicle. Said victim sent the police to a house where 
two more victims could be found. Senator Joseph identified the leader of 
the death squad and his vehicle, denouncing the group as the one which 
recently assassinated a grassroots militant. He accused the president 
and his wife of pressuring the chief of police to remove the senators' 
security detail, in order to facilitate their assassinations. He 
denounced a previous instance when Martelly tried to pressure former 
police chief Mario Andresol to integrate a hit-man into the police, to 
assassinate Senator Moise Jean Charles.* *

*7. Death of a Judge:*  Martelly set up his wife and son as head of 
governmental projects, but with no parliamentary oversight. A Haitian 
citizen, Enold Florestal, filed suit with attorney Andre Michel before 
Judge Jean Serge Joseph, maintaining that the Martellys were siphoning 
off large amounts of state monies, which the Haitian Senate has no 
jurisdiction over. Judge Joseph moved the case to the next judicial 
level, which required depositions from the Martellys and various 
governmental ministers. Enraged, Martelly and Prime Minister Lamothe 
called two meetings with the judge (which they deny took place) to 
demand he kill the case, the second on July 11. The judge drank a 
beverage offered him at that meeting.

On July 12 Judge Joseph became violently ill and died on July 13. 
Haitian police arrested Florestal on August 16 after viciously beating 
him, and Haitian authorities have issued a warrant for the arrest of 
Attorney Michel, who has gone into hiding. A commission of the Haitian 
Parliament is now calling for the impeachment of Martelly based on 
illegal meetings with the judge, interference in legal matters, and 
threats to those involved in the case.

Since then Enold Florestal and his brother, who's completely uninvolved 
with the case, have been arrested and remain in jail. On October 22, 
police stopped Attorney Andre Michel and demanded to search his car. He 
refused without a judge present to prevent tampering or planting of 
evidence. The action quickly turned into a standoff between police 
forces and a large crowd that was gathered to defend Michel. Michel was 
eventually summoned to appear in court the next day.

In court the prosecutor told the judge he did not have charges to file, 
but for Michel to  not leave the courtroom. Several Deputies and 
Senators who were present whisked Michel out of the courtroom and took 
him to an unknown location, where he remains at the time of this report.

*8. Corrupting the Judiciary and Parliament: *The Martelly regime is 
working to establish executive control over the judicial system through 
the use of "controlled" prosecutors and judges. In violation of the 
constitution, he appointed as Supreme Court chief justice, Anel Alexis 
Joseph, who is 72. Haitian law says a judge must be 65 or under to be 
named to this position. The chief justice also leads the commission that 
regulates the entire judicial system, so Judge Anel Alexis Joseph is 
using his power to block an investigation into the death of Judge Jean 
Serge Joseph and to protect Martelly and his henchmen from all legal 
challenges, thereby granting impunity.

Martelly has also corrupted the legislative branch that could bring 
charges against members of the executive. He ordered the arrest of 
Deputy Arnel Belizaire in spite of parliamentary immunity and his legal 
council's advice. He has so far failed to call elections for 10 Senate 
seats in January, and is trying to force the 10 Senators whose terms he 
says are up (they say in 2015, not 2014) to leave office. Since 
elections have still not been held for 10 additional seats, if these new 
10 seats are vacated, it would leave the 30 member Senate without a 
quorum, allowing Martelly to dissolve the Parliament and rule by decree.

*9. Reactionary Economic Policy: *Martelly enforces the Clinton Bush 
plan for economic "development" of Haiti through sweatshops, tourism, 
and the selling of oil and mining rights to transnational corporations. 
Under this plan, money donated for earthquake relief has been used to 
build a duty free export manufacturing zone in the north of Haiti, which 
was not affected by the earthquake, and several luxury hotels in 
Port-au-Prince. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund made a $2 million equity 
investment in a hotel called the Royal Oasis, to give foreign tourists 
and investors an "oasis" to escape the miserable conditions under which 
the majority of Haitians live.

At the same time, the Martelly regime viciously represses the economic 
activities of the poor super majority. The phone and money transfer 
taxes cut into their incomes. Taxes have been arbitrarily increased on 
imports, affecting small merchants. Thugs wearing masks have burnt 
markets in different cities, causing merchants to lose capital they had 
been accumulating for years, forcing them to raise new capital through 
usury loans. Street vendors are harassed and removed forcefully, then 
after hours, their stands are looted.

*10. Duvalierism Returns to Haiti: *Martelly warmly welcomed the 
January, 2011 return to Haiti of Jean Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, one of 
the most brutal dictators of the 20^th century, after his decades of 
luxurious exile in France. Duvalier still has many supporters in Haiti, 
some of whom are armed and have a history of killing political opponents.

Martelly's government is filled with Duvalierists: hardline former 
Haitian army officer David Bazile is now Interior Minister. Magalie 
Racine, daughter of notorious former /Tonton Macoute/ militia chief 
Madame Max Adolphe, is Martelly's Youth and Sports Minister. Public 
Works Secretary of State Philippe Cinéas is the son of longtime 
Duvalierist figure Alix Cinéas, who was a member of the original 
neo-Duvalierist National Council of Government (CNG) which succeeded 
Duvalier after his fall in 1986. In addition, Duvalier's son, Francois 
Nicolas Jean Claude Duvalier, is a close advisor to Martelly.

*Conclusion: *A major objective of the Duvalier dynasty was to 
institutionalize dictatorship through death squad brutality, supported 
by the United States and other powers. Martelly is an example of their 
policies having come to fruition. He's restoring a government of 
impunity per the Duvalier era, building an administration of right wing 
ideologues who believe in dictatorship, and who collaborate to sidestep 
all legislative and judicial controls.

His goal is to implement extreme neo-liberal economic policies on behalf 
of Haiti's less than 1% with control over all natural resources. The 
people will be at their mercy for factory work and other "subservient" 
positions, under the boot of a UN occupation force of 8,754 army and 
police personnel, the beginnings of a restored army, paramilitary 
training camps, death squads, gangs and mafias that use the cover of the 
corrupted executive and judicial systems to operate.

The Haitian majority does not accept this return to the bad old days, 
however, and has been actively and massively protesting this repression 
for the past year. They deserve the support and solidarity of freedom 
loving people everywhere.

/*Charlie Hinton* is a member of the Haiti Action Committee and works at 
Inkworks Press, a worker-owned and collectively managed printing company 
in Berkeley, Calif. He is the author of "From Jackboots to Wingtips: The 
evolution of Nazi Economics from World War II to the Present," available 
upon request. You may reach him at ch_lifewish at yahoo.com 
<mailto:ch_lifewish at yahoo.com>./

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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