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

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed May 18 11:37:46 EDT 2016


http://sfbayview.com/2016/05/haitis-election-verification-commission-a-step-in-the-right-direction/ 



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

*/by Marilyn Langlois - May 17, 2016
/*

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 U.S. 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’état backed by the U.S., France and Canada, which ushered in 
a two-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-U.S. 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 Oct. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. citizens and one Canadian, met with 
Michael Gayle, deputy political counselor in the U.S. 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 U.S. 
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 U.S. 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 U.S. policy of dismissing 
Haitian people’s intelligence, skills and aspirations.

After the U.S. 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 U.S.-based delegation, our message to Mr. Gayle of the U.S. Embassy 
in person and to the U.S. 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 watch-dogging the process intently.

/Marilyn Langlois is a member of the Haiti Action Committee, 
www.haitisolidarity.net <http://www.haitisolidarity.net/>, and can be 
reached at action.haiti at gmail.com <mailto:action.haiti at gmail.com>. /

-- 
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