The Haitian presidential election was held on Nov. 20 in such a serene fashion that the country’s ruling class, with the blessings of their international “observers,” decided to count the vote. Candidates for the Senate and Chamber of Deputies were also on the ballot.
It wasn’t until the results of the count were provisionally announced that the manipulations were exposed. The overall voter turnout was very low, at 17.3 percent. There were nearly 500,000 fewer votes this year than last, despite 300,000 more registered voters.
The parties that came in second, third and fourth have all filed formal objections to the count, which gave the Party of Bald-Headed Haitians (PHTK), whose candidate was Moïse Jovenel, 55.7 percent of the vote.
Over 10 percent of the ballot tally sheets were submitted incorrectly and 118 were never turned in. Hundreds of thousands of citizens lost their IDs during Hurricane Matthew in the early part of October and couldn’t get them reissued. There were major bureaucratic snafus in relation to voting lists and sites.
The so-called Core Group — the special representative of the United Nations and the Organization of American States, plus the ambassadors of the U.S., France, Brazil, Canada and the European Union — issued a statement on Nov. 23 congratulating Haiti on its success in holding the election. (Haiti Libre, Nov. 23)
Before the voting, Fanmi Lavalas, the party founded by Jean-Bertrand Aristide, had held marches called “caravans of dignity” throughout the country. They demanded a fair and free election, one in which everyone could vote and where every vote would be counted. Some of the marchers in southwest Haiti, which was devastated by Hurricane Matthew, also brought food and basic necessities, like beds and sheets, to the people there.
After the election, Fanmi Lavalas, whose candidate was Dr. Maryse Narcisse, held large and militant demonstrations in Port-au-Prince against this “electoral coup d’etat.”
Wendy Lerisse, a videographer in Port-au-Prince, has posted 17 videos of Fanmi Lavalas marches on YouTube.
On Nov. 29, the day after the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced the preliminary results, some smaller, more militant groups erected barricades of burning tires, burnt a few cars and broke some windows.
How U.S. deposed Aristide
On Feb. 7, 1986, the Haitian masses removed the dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier from power. He was then flown to southern France on a plane provided by the U.S. government. Since then, elections in Haiti have involved mass struggle as well as contradictions of voting in a bourgeois democratic election. The U.S. ruling class has been very active in trying to shape the outcome of these elections/struggles. They don’t want Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, to provide the rest of the Caribbean and Latin America with an example of successful resistance.
In the December 1990 election, the U.S. directed millions of dollars to its candidate, Marc Bazin. Jimmy Carter, the head U.S. monitor in these elections, tried to get Jean-Bertrand Aristide to concede. Instead, Aristide won with 67 percent of the votes.
Aristide was deposed by a Haitian army coup in 1991, which got at least tacit U.S. endorsement, and several thousand Fanmi Lavalas supporters were killed.
Aristide successfully ran again in November 2000 with 92 percent of the vote. Since he had disbanded the Haitian army in 1995, at the end of his first term, it took longer for the right-wing Haitian forces, even with the support of the U.S., to carry out a coup. But on Feb. 29, 2004, U.S.-paid mercenaries kidnapped Aristide, forcing him to board a U.S. Air Force jet and flew him to the Central African Republic.
The next week, people from the International Action Center and the Haiti Support Network in the U.S. went to the Central African Republic and held a press conference exposing Washington’s maneuvers, which drew international attention. A week later, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, a progressive African-American legislator from Los Angeles, rented a jet and escorted Aristide to Jamaica.
Some progressive Haitian political tendencies, like Haïti-Liberté and Batay Ouvriye, say the boycott was a rejection of elections as part of the solution to Haiti’s desperate problems. As Haïti-Liberté put it, the people are “not thirsty for elections but for a social transformation.” (Nov. 23-29)