By MARTY GOODMAN
Enraged Haitians took to the streets in the thousands in the wake of the rigged Oct. 25 elections in Haiti. Protests took place throughout November in Port au Prince in support of the candidates, but were sometimes met with right-wingers armed with machetes, clubs, hammers, and guns, as cops looked on.
One man was wounded by a machete, another shot and killed by a Haitian police unit associated with the regime of President Michel Martelly, a U.S. puppet. Several died at the hands of what are presumed to be Martelly loyalists.
Independent election observers have called the vote a sham—which included ballot stuffing, improper counting, and improper procedures. While not as violent as the Aug. 9 provincial elections, which saw widespread fraud, violence, and intimidation, a joint report by the National Lawyers Guild and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) declared in a Nov. 24 release, “Haiti’s Oct. 25, 2015, presidential and legislative elections fell far short of minimum standards for a fair election,” and supported calls for an “independent investigation of widespread allegations of fraud.”
The election included an incredible 128 political parties. In desperate Haiti, where unemployment is at some 70%, elections are seen by opportunists of all stripes as a vehicle for personal advancement.
Presidential candidate Jovenel Moise, the anointed candidate of Martelly of the PHTK party, took top spot for president with 32.8% of the vote. Moise faces second-placed LAPEH candidate Jude Celestin, the pick of former president Rene Preval, with 25.3% of the vote, both destined for a Dec. 27 runoff election. Placing third was populist Moise Jean-Charles, with 14.3%, and fourth was Dr. Maryse Narcisse, a favorite of the popular former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, with only an improbable 7%.
Fear of violence and the well-founded expectation of vote rigging led to a voter turnout on Oct. 25 of only 23% of eligible voters. In the August election, 13% of voting centers were closed due to violence, intimidation, and fraud. It was understood that the election, called a “selection” by many Haitians, was engineered by the Martelly regime, which has thrived on increasing repression.
Haitian attorney Mario Joseph, who is on the board of the IADL, stated, “President Michel Martelly is not capable of holding democratic elections.” Indeed, the rabidly pro-U.S. president and former rap artist has ruled by decree for over four years, having let parliament expire without holding required elections. In lieu of elections, he has appointed judges, mayors and “interim executives.”
More than 916,000 accreditation cards were issued to political party monitors who were not required to vote at any particular voting center, opening the way to massive amounts of multiple voting. In fact, a black market in such cards would fetch anywhere between $2 and $30. As a result, up to 60% of the 1.6 million votes could have been fraudulent!
The Brazilian Igarape Institute conducted a poll of 1800 voters in 135 voting centers across Haiti and determined that the vote tallies seemed wildly askew. It found that Celestin was favored by 37.5%, populist Jean-Charles was favored by 30%, and 19.4% for Narcisse. The poll revealed that Jovenel Moise was chosen by only 6.3% of those polled.
A coalition of eight political candidates, known as G8, have demanded an “independent inquiry” into the election, which was conducted by the Provisional Electoral Council (CED), a pliant body of political appointees tat has proven its loyalty again and again to Haiti’s rapacious ruling class and to U.S. imperialist manipulation. Washington subsidized the election charade with $30 million.
The Obama administration and the U.S.-dominated Organization of American States (OAS) have turned a blind eye to the gross improprieties of the election. The OAS, while acknowledging incidents of violence, nevertheless said that they “did not affect the overall voting process.” The UN, the U.S., Canada, and the European Union have all given legitimacy to this caricature of an election.
Blatant U.S. manipulation of the 2010 Haitian elections in favor of the Martelly run for president was a backdrop to the current wave of protests. Some 2000 documents released by the news agency Wikileaks documented U.S. intervention in 2010 by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the U.S. Embassy as well as corporate pressure on the Haitian parliament to vote against a small raise to the minimum wage of $5 a day. Bill and Hillary Clinton both pressed the CED to bump up Martelly in the 2020 election from third to second place, enabling him to successfully challenge the front-runner, Mirlande Manigat, and win.
Martelly is known as a close associate of supporters of the former Haitian dictator, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. After the election, in 2012, Martelly joined the Clintons and U.S. celebs at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at a sweatshop industrial park in Caracol in northwestern Haiti. During the ceremony, in which the Haitian president drew praise from Hillary as a far-sighted leader, Martelly declared, “Haiti is open for business!”
None of the parties in the election deserve the support of the Haitian masses. None are workers’ parties, despite the vague populist rhetoric of some like Moise Jean-Charles. Although Jean-Charles has called for an end to the despised U.S.-led UN military occupation force known as MINUSTAH, his promises are full of vague liberal slogans, not the fighting words of socialism and revolution. Earlier in the election cycle, Jean-Charles, once a follower of pseudo-radical president Aristide, joined with leftists in boycotting the election, but threw his hat in the ring as the election grew closer.
Haiti needs to break with middle-class and reformist leaders. Haiti needs revolution. The misery of daily life is worse than under the U.S.-backed Duvalier family dictatorship (1957-1986).
An earthquake in 2010 killed over 200,000 and displaced over 1 million, from which Haiti has not recovered. Thousands still live in makeshift tents, betrayed by Western governmental and private pledges of relief. The “reconstruction” effort headed by Bill Clinton and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have squandered billions in so-called relief, much of which went to beltway corporations, not to Haitians. Hundreds of millions went to defray the costs of a renewed U.S. military occupation, cynically undertaken by the Obama administration after the earthquake tragedy.
Moreover, tens of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian origins have fled the Dominican Republic’s racist deportation orders, only to be dumped and abandoned in isolated regions by the Martelly regime. The Martelly government has now engaged an Israeli security firm to guard its borders.
Elections will not solve Haiti’s problems. For that, it is necessary to build a workers movement, and a revolutionary movement and party, to expel imperialism and Haiti’s blood-sucking ruling class once and for all!