Haitian militants reject U.S.-orchestrated elections
Published Sep 10, 2005 9:20 PM
In Haiti, which has been under the iron fist of
UN/U.S. occupation for a year and a half, the imperialist-supported regime is
trying to pull off national and local elections this fall to ease the political
crisis there. This maneuver has led to a split in Fanmi Lavalas.
Lavalas is the party of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the popular president who was
forced out of his country on Feb. 29, 2004, by armed U.S. officials. Thou sands
of its militants have either been imprisoned or murdered since then by the coup
Early in August, Rudy Hériveaux, Yvon Feuillé and
Louis Gérald Gilles, three high-ranking leaders of Lavalas, officially
registered the party for the upcoming elections.
Their right to take such
action was challenged by other leaders closer to the base of Fanmi Lavalas,
particularly in the militant and impoverished communities of Belair and
Cité Soleil, the source of numerous demonstrations supporting the return
of Aristide as the rightful president. The Haitian National Police broke up most
of these demonstrations by firing on and sometimes killing protesters.
importance of Cité Soleil is well understood by the imperialists. In an
article that itself tried to give credibility to elections held under military
occupation, the Aug. 29 New York Times observed that “bringing some
semblance of order to Cite Soleil and giving its residents a chance to vote in
the elections are seen as important steps in establishing a new, credible
government in Haiti.”
Cité Soleil a bastion of
Cité Soleil is part of Port-au-Prince, but with
500,000 or so people living there, it is more than just a neighborhood. It is a
bastion of Aristide support. Many people in this politically aware, extremely
poor community say that without ending the occupation, restoring justice and the
constitution, the people of Haiti have no chance of resolving the social and
economic crisis afflicting their country.
On July 6, 1,400 UN soldiers
with helicopter support entered Cite Soleil and assassinated Dread Wilme, a
leader of the Lavalas Movement there, after a 12-hour gun battle. Yet the UN
still doesn’t control Cité Soleil. UN forces conduct no regular
patrols, have no checkpoints and operate only in armored personnel
“Political leaders in Cite Soleil are deeply skeptical of
elections,” the same New York Times article admits, “having watched
as Mr. Aristide, who twice took office in elections, was twice removed...
.” But if Cite Soleil does not take part in them, the elections will not
be regarded as fair and the current de facto government will not gain the
political legitimacy it is seeking.
Since the February 2004 coup, the Nat
ional Popular Party (PPN) has been working in a coalition with the popular
organizations of the Fanmi Lavalas base, helping to organize demonstrations
demanding the return of Aristide. In a statement released on Aug. 30, the PPN
said that “to participate in these phony elections will give legitimacy to
the Feb. 29 coup d’etat. This gesture will likewise say we accept the
occupation of our country and the neo-liberal plan the IMF
One of the first actions of the current Haitian regime was
to open Haiti’s internal markets to competition from U.S. agribusiness,
which can produce rice, one of Haiti’s staple foods, far cheaper than
Haitian farmers can. Faced with losing their livelihood, even Haitian peasant
org anizations that once opposed Aristide are now against the current
On Aug. 31, President Aristide issued a statement from exile
in Pretoria, South Africa. “In Haiti, in order to have elections and not a
‘selection,’” it said, “the following steps must be
taken: 1) The thousands of Lavalas who are in jail and in exile must be free to
return home. 2) The repression that has already killed over 10,000 people must
end immediately. 3) Then, there must be national dialog.”
A wave of
renewed violence against Haitians living and working in the Dominican Republic
has been accompanied by mass deportations. Since many Haitians working there
send a portion of their meager wages home to support their families, this is
deepening the economic crisis inside Haiti.
A coalition of Haiti support
groups in the United States has called for the first session of an International
Tribunal on Haiti to take place on Sept. 23 at George Washington University in
Washington, D.C., the evening before a national march against the war in Iraq
that is expected to draw thousands of protesters.
Prosecutors will present
a detailed description of what preceded the coup and preliminary indictments
covering the period when the National Endowment for Democracy and the
International Repub lican Institute, two quasi-governmental U.S. agencies, were
training successors to the Tonton Macoutes and other notorious paramilitary
groups. The tribunal plans to present the details on actions taken by the
governments of the United States, France and Canada to destabilize the Aristide
Most importantly, the International Tribunal on Haiti will
introduce eyewitness and expert testimony on the daily slaughter being carried
out by masked police with the criminal complicity, and increasing participation,
of the UN occupation forces.
A blue-ribbon Commission of Inquiry, led by
former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, will be announced at the Sept. 23 session
of the tribunal.
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