Jan. 8 — The seemingly irresistible momentum of Haiti’s mass movement — combined with convincing evidence of widespread election fraud — have forced a surprise delay in the slow-motion theft of the 2015 national elections.
Faced with December’s incredible outpouring of nonstop demonstrations throughout Haiti — and daily revelations of vote rigging and voter suppression in the Aug. 9 and Oct. 25 elections — the authorities were constrained to postpone the runoff that had been set for Dec. 27. But there’s no end to the maneuvering by Haiti’s ruling elite, outgoing President Martelly and their foreign backers, determined as they are to thwart the popular will in this election.
U.S. ambassador OKs faked election results
Ambassador Peter Mulrean said he sees “no evidence of massive electoral fraud.” But his “see no evil” pose is contradicted by Martelly’s own new election commission. This body disclosed on Jan. 4 that they studied 1,771 vote tally sheets and found 92 percent had “serious irregularities” amounting to “massive fraud.” Then, on Jan. 6, thousands marched to denounce Mulrean and Martelly: “Don’t steal our votes!” Ominously, while the people marched, a plane carrying top State Department operatives Thomas Shannon and Kenneth Merten touched down in Haiti.
The 2015 elections were plagued by endless incidents of ballot stuffing, vote buying, armed coercion and naked vote rigging, all the way from polling place to final tabulation. Fanmi Lavalas, long the most popular political party in Haiti, described the Oct. 25 election as “a preplanned fraudulent enterprise that stripped the elections of all credibility” in its petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. “These rigged elections of 2015 constitute … an attack on the national sovereignty … and a violation of the political rights of the Haitian people.” (tinyurl.com/jjmdqx2)
Here are some key facts about the 2015 stolen election:
- 78 out of 78 tally sheets tainted — Dr. Maryse Narcisse, Lavalas candidate for president, called a meeting at the Vote Tabulation Center as part of her party’s legal challenge. In attendance were election officials, observers, representatives of the ruling PHTK party and another contesting smaller party, Meksepa. They examined 78 randomly selected vote tally sheets (proces verbaux). All present agreed that every one of the 78 tally sheets was fraudulent, without exception. The U.S.-backed election commission (CEP) then abruptly ended the legally mandated verification process — invalidating those 78 particular tally sheets, but failing to check the over 13,000 tally sheets still to be verified. With that, the CEP inexplicably accepted the fraudulent election “results” as legitimate.
- U.N. implicated — Deputy Antoine Rodon Bien-Aime and two other PHTK candidates made a startling revelation about UNOPS, a United Nations agency assigned to transport ballot boxes to the Tabulation Center. They charged that while in U.N. custody, the ballot boxes were switched en route with boxes of pre-filled-out ballots. Separately, a National Palace official was involved in a vehicle accident in which pre-filled-out ballots, marked for the presidential candidate of Martelly’s PHTK party, Jovenel Moise, spilled on the road.
- Open Letter to the U.N. — Fifteen prominent Haitian intellectuals, outraged by the “clear involvement of U.N. agencies in the fraud that marred the elections,” wrote an open letter to the U.N. Mission stating, “The whole world is discovering, under pressure from the street … the truth of the biggest electoral fraud operation … for the last 30 years in Haiti.”
- Experts at election rigging — Kenneth Merten was appointed U.S. special Haiti coordinator in August to deal with the election crisis. He was also on the scene as U.S. ambassador for the 2010-2011 elections. Under orders from then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. favorite Martelly was catapulted from 3rd place into the runoff and ultimately the presidency. CEP chair Pierre Opont admitted last July that the U.S. “rigged the 2010 election.”
- The 2015 election “cannot be decided by the street,” Kenneth Merten said recently, pointing out that the U.S. had committed $31 million to fund the election, plus $2.8 million to the National Police for election “security.” [Some 10,000 police and 2,500 U.N. troops were deployed on election duty.] It’s clear the U.S. Embassy does not want “the street” to decide anything.
- For sale: 1 seat in Parliament — Speaking on Radio Metropole (12/17), Gerald Jean, candidate for deputy (congressman) for Ferrier, admitted he had paid $15,000 in U.S. currency to CEP member Yolette Mengual to ensure his victory in a disputed election. He told the radio audience he was angry that despite having made his payment, he did not win the seat he’d paid for.
- Coup plotters and Occupiers — The self-described Core Group consists of the U.S., France and Canada, whose troops invaded Haiti in the 2004 coup; Brazil, which heads the U.N. military occupation of Haiti; the European Union, the Organization of American States and Spain. The Core Group accepted CEP’s fraudulent election results as “legitimate.”
International Days in Solidarity with the Haitian People
Inspired by the Haitians’ strong response to the election debacle, the Haiti Action Committee (HAC) issued a call for solidarity actions on Dec. 16 — the 25th anniversary of Haiti’s first free election in 1990. That was when Jean-Bertrand Aristide swept into the presidency with two-thirds of the vote on a platform of social and economic justice for the poor majority. After barely seven months in office, Aristide was overthrown in a U.S.-backed military coup in 1991.
In 2015, after being excluded for 11 years since a second U.S.-sponsored coup in 2004, Aristide’s Lavalas party was finally able to run candidates again, headed by presidential standard-bearer Dr. Maryse Narcisse. People in poor neighborhoods all over Haiti welcomed the grassroots campaign of Dr. Narcisse with obvious joy. And they marched on Dec. 16 against the brazen attempt to steal the election — in the cities and also in smaller places like Camp-Perrin and Port-Salut in the south.
Meanwhile, Haiti’s overseas supporters were organizing. The call for Dec. 16 solidarity actions was widely promoted by the Haiti human rights community — activists, bloggers and organizations — on Facebook, Twitter and their websites. HAC’s Facebook post alone reached over 4,000 people. Thanks to this significant response, U.S. officials received a flood of emails, phone calls and tweets on Dec. 16 and beyond. The message: 1) Stop supporting fraudulent elections in Haiti, and 2) Stop support for police terror in Haiti. Friends of Haiti organized 25th anniversary actions or teach-ins in Los Angeles; Boston; Miami; Oakland, Calif.; Windsor, Ontario (Canada); Buenos Aires; Palo Alto, Calif.; New York (United Nations); London; and Washington, D.C.
Use of systematic terror
Fraud effectively prevented Haiti’s voters from electing candidates of their choice. Instead, the ruling party’s handpicked Jovenel Moise, a banana exporter and political neophyte, miraculously emerged as the top first-round vote-getter for president. But state violence also played a role in suppressing the vote.
National police and paramilitaries fired automatic weapons into working-class areas like Arcahaie and Cite Soleil in the leadup to the Aug. 9 and Oct. 25 elections. Scores of people were killed, including two pregnant women and a 7-year-old boy. Some were “disappeared,” never to be heard from again. Later, hooded paramilitary gangs attacked marchers in Port-au-Prince with machetes, pipes, hammers and guns, killing young election protesters as police looked away.
Now, people are noticing a rise in killings of local neighborhood organizers. During the Christmas holidays, the newly created special police unit, BOID, continued their killing spree in Lavalas strongholds of Port-au-Prince. But these death squad type actions — reminiscent of those carried out by the Duvalier dictatorship, or under the murderous Latortue regime after the 2004 coup — have not deterred the resistance.
The 1804 Haitian Revolution
Many have commented that the Haitian people, in their vast majority, are very aware of their history — proud inheritors of the Revolution of 1791-1804, when Haiti defeated the army of Napoleon, ended plantation slavery and declared independence from France. The story of the Haitian Revolution has been passed on, in the oral tradition, from generation to generation.
How does this connect with their battle in the streets today, to stop the ongoing “electoral coup d’etat” — to have their votes counted, their choices honored and their country’s sovereignty respected?
“It’s on every lip,” said one Lavalas activist we spoke with. “People are saying that in rejecting this stolen election, we are lighting the fires of struggle, continuing the fight for equality and sovereignty that our ancestors fought for 200 years ago.”
The author, a delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council, was a member of the Human Rights and Labor Fact Finding Delegation to Haiti in October, which reported on systematic voter suppression, violence, fraud and intimidation in the election process.