Haiti: Cancelled elections spark big protests

If you don’t hold elections, you can’t lose them. This maxim, which the Duvalierist dictatorships upheld for decades in Haiti with the full faith and connivance of the U.S. government, is being applied by the current government of President Michel Martelly.

According to Haitian law, elections for the senate and municipal governments should have been held three years ago. President Martelly, who is currently touring France and Germany, had promised to hold these elections on Oct. 26 and then abruptly canceled them a few days before that.

In response, tens of thousands of people in Port-au-Prince, as well as Aux Cayes, Petit Goâve and Cap Haïtien — the largest cities in Haiti — came out into the streets, waving their voter cards and demanding the resignation of Martelly and his government. They want the constitution and their democratic rights respected.

In Port-au-Prince, the demonstration started from St. Jean Bosco, the church that was destroyed when former President Jean Bertrand Aristide was its pastor.? Demonstrators chanted, “We demand the immediate resignation of Martelly,” “Martelly is a vagabond. He should not be president of Haiti. He was imposed on us by the international community. No matter what, Martelly must go!”

The cops, accompanied by a justice of the peace with? prepared warrants, arrested Rony Thimotée and Biron Odigé, two leaders of the Patriotic Front for Respect of the Constitution (FOPARC). FOPARC was one of the principal march organizers. Besides the two FOPARC leaders, the cops grabbed 20 people in Port-au-Prince, three in Aux Cayes and 20 in Petit Goâve.

The cops used tear gas and pepper water to break up the demonstrations. Protests were held on Oct. 27 and 28 outside the prison where the demonstrators were held, according to Haiti-Liberté.

Martelly not only faces growing diplomatic and economic problems, but the growing popular resistance to his regime could cause Washington to lose confidence in his ability to control Haiti and abandon him, threatening his rule. n