[News] Why the grassroots movement in Haiti is taking to the streets against President Michel Martelly

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Sep 25 21:47:26 EDT 2013

    10 steps to dictatorship: Why the grassroots movement in Haiti is
    taking to the streets against President Michel Martelly

September 25, 2013

/*by Charlie Hinton, Haiti Action Committee*/

*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 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 percent 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 eight 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, the Electoral Council ruled 
that Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas Party could not participate, which 
de-legitimized the whole corrupt process. Voter turnout was less than 25 
percent in the primaries and less than 20 percent in the "run-off."

The top two candidates announced after the 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, and an OAS "investigation" of the elections 
ruled that, in fact, Martelly had finished second.

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton flew to Port-au-Prince in January 
2011, at the height of the Egyptian revolution, to reinforce this 
decision. Martelly 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 Sen. 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
      the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration 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 on 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 
2005. Since the coup that overthrew Aristide for the second time in 
2004, U.N. 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.

Sen. 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.

Sen. 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 Sen. 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 

On July 12 Judge Joseph became violently ill and died on July 13. 
Haitian police arrested Florestal on Aug. 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.

*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 
counsel'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 20th 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 percent 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 U.N. 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.

/The Haiti Action Committee is online at www.haitisolidarity.net 
<http://www.haitisolidarity.net>, email action.haiti at gmail.com 
<mailto:action.haiti at gmail.com>. Charlie Hinton may be reached 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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