[News] Haiti’s Election Verification Commission: a step in the right direction

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu May 12 11:47:47 EDT 2016

This report by Haiti Action Committee member Marilyn Langlois was 
published May 9th on Transcend Media Service 

*Haiti’s Election Verification Commission: a step in the right direction*


On a visit to Haiti in late April with Task Force on the Americas, a 
California-based organization in solidarity with the social justice 
movements of Latin America and the Caribbean, we witnessed another 
example of Haitians resisting US attempts to facilitate continued 
looting of the country’s resources and sabotage its democracy.

Democracy has been sorely missing in the island nation ever since the 
2004 coup d’etat backed by the US, France and Canada, which ushered in a 
2-year reign of terror, followed by the unjust exclusion of Haiti’s 
largest and most popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas, from 
participating in any elections until August and October, 2015.The most 
recent president, Michel Martelly, had been pushed fraudulently to the 
forefront of sham elections in 2011 by then-US Secretary of State Hilary 
Clinton.Haitians we met with did not appreciate this interference, as he 
stole public funds, privatized valuable natural resources, and 
instituted a paramilitary security force reminiscent of the notorious 
Duvalier era.

The October 25, 2015 first-round presidential election was riddled with 
massive irregularities, voter intimidation, ballot-box stuffing and 
tampering with tally sheets, as has been widely reported and 
documented.People we met with from different sectors, including two of 
the presidential candidates, affirmed the nature and extent of the 
electoral fraud. Yet the US has pushed for a quick run-off between the 
ostensible top two vote-getters, which Haitians have successfully 
resisted with persistent, large scale street demonstrations.

Physical structures can symbolize power or lack thereof.The Haitian 
National Palace, seat of government and source of national pride for 200 
years, was severely damaged in the 2010 earthquake and has since been 
leveled.All we could see was a tall fence surrounding the now-empty 
site.On the other hand, shortly after the 2004 coup, the US Embassy was 
relocated from a modest downtown Port-au-Prince building to a newly 
constructed gigantic, fortress-like compound outside of town, surrounded 
on all sides by United Nations “MINUSTAH” military bases.

Our group, consisting of seven US citizens and one Canadian, met with 
Michael Gayle, Deputy Political Counselor in the US Embassy, to discuss 
the electoral crisis.As we underwent rigorous security protocols upon 
entering the compound—passport check, metal detectors, handbag search, 
no cameras or cell phones allowed, no wandering around on your own, no 
going to the restroom unaccompanied—I kept wondering, what is it they’re 
afraid of?

Our conversation with Mr. Gayle, while cordial and friendly on the 
surface, revealed the condescending and colonialist nature of the US 
government’s attitude towards Haiti.His claim that Haitians have a poor 
history of participation in elections was refuted by one of our 
delegation members who had observed the 1995 and 2000 presidential 
elections in Haiti, both of which had gone smoothly with strong voter 
turnout and no major problems reported.He further suggested that “both 
sides” were to blame for cancellation of local and parliamentary 
elections between 2011 and 2015, and that there was cheating on “both 
sides” during the 2015 elections, when in fact outgoing president 
Martelly and his party were clearly responsible in both cases, with help 
from well-paid foreign political operatives.

Mr. Gayle stressed the urgency of having a stable elected government in 
order to reassure outside investors (no mention of reassuring the 
citizens that their votes were counted!).When asked why the US isn’t 
more concerned with the integrity of the elections than a delay in 
seating the government, he paused and then denied electoral fraud was 
widespread or affected the ultimate outcome.His concluding remark, “When 
capabilities are so low and challenges are so great, where do you draw 
the line about how flawless the process has to be?” was indicative of 
the self-serving US policy of dismissing Haitian people’s intelligence, 
skills and aspirations.

After the US Embassy visit, our next appointment with one of the 2015 
presidential candidates offered a refreshing contrast.At the office of 
Dr. Maryse Narcisse of the Fanmi Lavalas party, we were warmly welcomed 
in an open air and relaxed atmosphere, where supporters from various 
communities were engaged in lively discussions.Dr. Narcisse told us how 
all of the candidates and parties except a few associated with Martelly 
had come to consensus on heeding the people’s demands and proposing a 
framework for a verification commission to do an in-depth and 
transparent evaluation of the 2015 elections.She said her party is not 
afraid of the results because people were fed up with the 2010-11 
elections and insist on free and fair elections this time. She pointed 
out that while the current Provisional President has little power, he 
can appoint the verification commission and take steps quickly to assure 
a fairly and justly elected government is in place, which could then 
tackle the broader social and economic issues the country faces.

As a US-based delegation, our message to Mr. Gayle of the US Embassy in 
person and to the US State Department in a press conference we held in 
Port-au-Prince was to stop pressuring Haitians to accept a seriously 
flawed electoral process and respect Haiti’s sovereignty in rectifying 
the situation.

The day after we left Haiti, on April 28, we were pleased to learn that 
Provisional President Privert did in fact convene the election 
verification commission as proposed by the group of parties and 
candidates, giving it 30 days to complete its investigation.Haitians 
will be watchdogging the process intently.

--Marilyn Langlois

Haiti Action Committee, www.haitisolidarity.net 

6 May 2016

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