Haiti protests erupt against election fraud
Published Dec 20, 2010 9:41 PM
A mass movement of protest and anger has erupted in Haiti against the
oppression, extreme poverty and desperation experienced by the vast majority of
people. The militant struggle is challenging the so-called
“constitutionally mandated” election of Nov. 28, claiming fraud and
misconduct throughout the process.
On Dec. 7, after the election results were announced, outraged protesters shut
down Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, with barricades of earthquake
debris, garbage dumpsters and burning tires.
The “official” tally showed presidential candidate Mirlande Manigat
leading, with Jude Célestin, the ruling party’s candidate, coming in
second, ahead of popular candidate Michel Martelly by a few thousand votes. A
fraudulent election hadn’t put Célestin in the second round;
therefore, the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) had to rig the count.
One protester told NPR, “If we don’t get Martelly, I’m the
rock that will crush you. We are going to tear this country down.”
The mass anger aimed at Haiti’s ruling party; at its president, René
Préval ; and at its presidential candidate, Célestin, resulted in its
headquarters being destroyed by fire.
Some of the most militant street protests, which confronted the Haitian police
and faced down the armored personnel carriers of Minustah, the U.N.’s
occupation force, challenged the system itself and called for revolution.
Even though the Nov. 28 election was so flawed and fraudulent that 12 of the 18
presidential candidates called for its annulment or cancellation, the U.N.,
which provided “security” for the voting, and the CEP declared that
it was valid, while admitting it had “some problems.”
After three days, the protests died down. People were running out of food,
water trucks couldn’t get through to the camps, and supplies
couldn’t get through to the cholera treatment centers.
Then the CEP declared a recount of the votes for Manigat, Célestin, and
Martelly. Célestin’s party accepted the recount and claimed that a
recount would show he “obtained 52 percent of the votes.” (
Haïti Liberté, Dec. 10).
Manigat refused to participate in the recount and issued a statement
criticizing the CEP’s press release and procedures. Martelly’s
campaign formally rejected the recount and at its press conference on Dec. 10
asked, “Would you report theft to a thief?” Martelly’s
campaign demanded a new CEP before any electoral decisions are made.
The U.S., France and Canada aim to preserve Haiti’s present political
structure and maintain their political hold on the country, with the goal of
potentially reaping vast profits from its mineral wealth. Between the
imperialists’ aims and the roiling anger of the masses, it is going to be
difficult for the CEP and the wing of the Haitian bourgeoisie it represents to
find a solution to the current electoral crisis.
While the imperialists and the Haitian ruling class push their candidates and
maneuver the election results, mass protests can restart at any time.
Cholera, the U.N. and Cuba
The electoral campaign omitted reference to the cholera epidemic. As of Dec.
10, however, more than 2,200 people have died and more than 100,000 people have
gotten ill from the disease.
While the U.S., France and Canada have pushed the phony elections, they and
other wealthy, capitalist countries have not provided housing for the 1.5
million homeless since January’s earthquake, nor have they provided the
necessities of clean water and sanitation, which are life and death matters in
this time of cholera.
Angry protesters have chanted, “U.N. and Cholera out of Haiti!” The
Haitian people blame the Minustah troops for introducing this deadly disease
into Haiti. French epidemiologist and cholera specialist Renaud Piarroux has
Piarroux conducted a study in Haiti in November at the request of the Haitian
department of public health. He concluded that the epidemic began with an
imported strain of the disease that could be traced back to the U.N. base at
Mirebalais in central Haiti. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control confirmed
that the cholera strain there originated in South Asia.
Fidel Castro said that Cuban medical personnel, who have been treating 40
percent of Haiti’s cholera cases, confirmed Piarroux’s theory. He
said that this epidemic “is threatening to extend to the neighboring
Dominican Republic, the Caribbean, Latin America and other similar Asian and
African countries.” (Granma, Dec. 7)
While the U.S. is planning a vaccination campaign that will cost $6 a dose and
take two months to start, socialist Cuba is proposing a different plan based on
its experience in successfully treating tens of thousands of cholera cases.
Castro explained, “The Cuban medical mission, with the support of the
Haitian authorities, has offered a presence in many of the isolated 207
sub-communes, so that no Haitian citizen lacks medical attention in the face of
the epidemic, and many thousands of lives can be saved.”
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