For over a month now, the residents of Petit Goâve, a small city on the southwest coast of Haiti, have been out in the streets in struggle.
They are demanding that the deputy representing the town in the Haitian parliament, Jacques Stevenson Thimoléon, and the town’s mayor, Sandra W. Jules, both resign. The protesters claim that Thimoléon, who is the head of Haiti’s lower house of parliament, and Jules have led and promoted violence against members of the press, street merchants and members of the opposition, as harsh as it was under the dictatorship of the Duvaliers before the 1986 uprising threw out “Baby Doc” Duvalier. Jules is also accused of accepting bribes.
Besides setting up barricades of burning tires, the people shut down a number of government offices and attempted to shut down City Hall, where they confronted partisans and security team members of the two politicians. There were daily protests from Sept. 10 to Sept. 12.
The protesters also demanded that Laurent Lamothe, the prime minister, and Michel Martelly, the president of Haiti, resign. Lamothe and Martelly run the country in a micromanaging manner and bear ultimate responsibility for events in Petit Goâve.
Lamothe, who was appointed prime minister in 2012 by President Martelly, is a former major telecommunications entrepreneur. Martelly became president in 2011 in an election where his candidacy was “urged” forward by the then U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and “arranged” by the Organization of American States.
Elections in Haiti in general are not expressions of democracy. They are rather a mechanism by which the dominant imperialist power, the United States, along with its close allies France and Canada, anoint their choice of local agents with the oil of domestic and international legitimacy.
The imperialists remember all too well the election of 1990 when the masses decided to elect Jean-Bertrand Aristide and created a mass movement. Since then, the Haitian authorities have kept control of elections by keeping progressive candidates off the ballot.
Six courageous Haitian senators, calling themselves the G 6, have delayed the election scheduled for this year, which they consider a fraud. They have boycotted a vote on some needed amendments to the election law.
Occupation of Haiti, attacks on Aristide
Minustah, the United Nations occupation force, has been occupying Haiti militarily for nearly 11 years, providing an armed backup to guarantee that the repressive policies of the Haitian government are not overturned by mass pressure. It also ensures that the interests of U.S., French and Canadian imperialism come before those of the Haitian workers and farmers.
Although Jean-Bertrand Aristide has been politically quiet since he returned to Haiti in 2011, he still is a symbol of the successful resistance of the Haitian people. Aristide was elected to the presidency by a landslide in 1990, but deposed by a coup the next year. He was returned as president from 1994 to 1996 and then re-elected to the presidency in 2000. A second coup — backed by the U.S., France and Canada — deposed him again in 2004 and deported him, and the Haitian people spent four years agitating in massive numbers to get him back in the country.
It is not surprising, given this history, that the government of Haiti, which is under the heavy thumb of the U.S., has opened up a criminal investigation into possible charges of corruption against Aristide, charges that his lawyer says were already dismissed. Along with applying charges, the government withdrew the armed guard in front of Aristide’s house. Since there have been assassination threats, this withdrawal is a danger to his and his family’s safety.
Rep. Maxine Waters, a U.S. House member from California, wrote an open letter to Secretary of State John Kerry expressing her concerns that an attempt to arrest former President Aristide, or worse, to kill him, would produce “chaos” in that country.