Popular candidates kept off ballot in Haiti
Published Dec 11, 2009 10:39 PM
Ever since 1990 when the people of Haiti turned an election into a movement and
voted en masse for Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the Haitian bourgeoisie and its
imperialist backers have been leery of elections.
They have used military coups to reverse the results of elections they
didn’t like. They have also excluded popular parties from the ballot to
keep them from winning. This is happening again right now.
Earlier this year, in partial senate elections, the candidates of
Aristide’s party, Fanmi Lavalas, were disallowed by the Provisional
Electoral Council (CEP) on spurious grounds. FL called for a boycott, which was
a resounding success. The National Council of Electoral Observation (CNO)
estimated that only 2 to 3 percent of eligible voters participated.
Additional elections are now scheduled for February 2010, and the CEP has been
even more outrageous. It has disqualified not only FL, Haiti’s largest
party, but 16 other parties that couldn’t get their documents together in
the seven days the CEP gave them. Haiti’s Popular National Party (PPN),
headed by Ben Dupuy, has refused to participate in these elections so as not to
“back this trickery.” (Haïtí-Progrès, Dec. 2-8)
Aristide is in exile in South Africa. In order to meet the strict deadline the
CEP had imposed, he sent his appointment of Dr. Maryse Narcisse as FL’s
electoral representative via the package delivery service DHL. Gaillot
Dorsinvil, chair of the CEP, rejected it, saying, “It didn’t have a
stamp or envelope.” (Haïtí-Liberté, Dec. 2-8)
Aristide then gave an interview to a Haitian radio station for the first time
in five years. He told Radio Solidarité, “It was me who wrote the
mandate, signed the mandate and sent the mandate.” He called for
“honest, fair and free elections” and said he would personally come
before the CEP if the Haitian government would give him travel documents.
Dorsinvil’s reply was that the CEP’s decision was final.
The CNO said this was “outside of all acceptable public
justification.” The Assembly of Organizations for Change (ROC), a
coalition of neighborhood groups and cooperatives, called for massive
demonstrations and threatened a boycott of the elections unless the CEP backed
The imperialists—the United States, Canada and France—have had to
deal with the election of other candidates supported by the masses, like Hugo
Chávez in Venezuela, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador and,
recently, José Mujica, the co-founder of the Tupamaros, in Uruguay.
When money doesn’t elect the candidate they want, the imperialists have
another favorite tactic—coups. Aristide was first removed by the army in
1991. After years of struggle and thousands of deaths, he returned, abolished
the army and was constitutionally succeeded as president by René
Préval. At the end of Préval’s term, in 2000, Aristide was
again elected president by a bigger margin than his first victory. Fanmi
Lavalas also swept the parliamentary elections.
Without an army, it took longer for reactionaries in Haiti, politically and
financially backed by the U.S., to organize a coup. After a long series of
commando raids and reactionary demonstrations, however, President Aristide was
hustled onto a U.S. transport plane the night of Feb. 29, 2004, and flown to
the Central African Republic.
Honduran soldiers followed the same script when they flew President Manuel
Zelaya to Costa Rica this past June.
U.S. troops occupied Haiti for the third time in 2004, with a bit of help from
France and Canada. (It was the first time French troops had been in Haiti since
1804, when an anti-colonial revolution kicked them out and set up the first
Black republic.) The occupiers got a U.N. “stabilization” fig leaf
called MINUSTAH in place three months later. The U.N. has occupied Haiti ever
After some interim regimes, René Préval won the presidential election
in Haiti in 2006, running on the Lespwa (“Hope”) slate. FL
didn’t field a candidate but strongly backed Lespwa.
The imperialists have additional reasons for controlling Haiti, besides
overcoming its stubborn resistance. Haiti has significant deposits of gold,
silver, bauxite and copper, whose development is hindered by political
instability and crumbling infrastructure.
Even though Haiti is a country where hunger is rampant, the economy depends on
remittances from abroad. Where protests are often met with deadly force from
the U.N. occupying troops, the Haitian people have not abandoned their struggle
and hope for democracy and freedom.
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