Tag Archives: Haiti

( Noam Chomsky, Tariq Ali, Slavoj Žižek and others call on the US, France and Canada to keep out of Haiti’s democratic process in an open letter to the Guardian

Over the next few years, much of Haiti will be rebuilt and much of its economy restructured. In response to last year’s earthquake an unprecedented amount of money has been promised for reconstruction. It’s more important than ever before that Haiti be governed by an administration that reflects the true will and interests of its people, rather than the concerns of foreign governments and corporations.

In 2004, the US, France and Canada, in alliance with members of Haiti’s business community and demobilised soldiers of the Haitian army,overthrew the last Haitian government to enjoy genuine popular support: the party that led this government, Fanmi Lavalas, was elected with around 75% of the vote. This past November, these same powers imposed and funded an illegitimate electoral process in Haiti, one that blocked the participation of Fanmi Lavalas. Only 23% of Haitian voters participated, scarcely a third of the proportion who voted in the last presidential election.

In recent weeks, the US and its proxies have brazenly interfered in the interpretation of this election’s first round of results. The flawed November vote was not only inconclusive and unrepresentative, its outcome was also unlawful. If the second round of these elections goes ahead as planned on 20 March, it is now sure to result in the unconstitutional selection of a president with closer ties to the powers that sponsored and manipulated them than to the people meant to participate in them.

At the same time, the powers that dominate Haiti have facilitated the return of the former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier while discouraging the return of the twice-elected president (and Fanmi Lavalas leader) Jean-Bertrand Aristide. These powers, with their allies in the Haitian business community, have made it clear that they seek to delay Aristide’s return until after 20 March. They will only allow Aristide to return after a suitably pliant new government has been installed, to preside over the imminent reconstruction process.

We the undersigned call on the Haitian government to make the security arrangements that will enable Aristide’s immediate return, and we call on the international community to support rather than undermine these efforts. We call on the Haitian government to cancel the second-round vote scheduled for 20 March and to organise a new round of elections, without exclusions or interference, to take place as soon as possible.

Signed: Read More

( Haiti’s new president is a friend of coup-plotters, fascists, and armed right-wing groups in his country and abroad.

No sooner had Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly been confirmed the winner in Haiti’s deeply flawed presidential election than he jumped on a plane and headed to Washington, where he met with his country’s real power brokers: officials from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the US Chamber of Commerce and the State Department.

There, he committed his desperately poor country – where some 700,000 people are still homeless as a result of last year’s earthquake – to fiscal discipline, promising to “give new life to the business sector”. In exchange, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave him a strong endorsement. “We are behind him; we have a great deal of enthusiasm,” she said. “The people of Haiti may have a long road ahead of them, but as they walk it, the United States will be with you all the way,” she added.

Martelly, a well-known kompa singer, is an unusual choice to lead Haiti. With no political experience, he represents a clear break with the country’s other democratically elected presidents since the island nation ousted the dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier and ushered in an unprecedented era of democracy.

The US press billed his victory as “overwhelming”. But with Haiti’s most popular political party, Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas, banned from participating in the election, a vast majority of Haitians didn’t vote. Martelly took the presidency with just 16.7 per cent of the electorate.

Compare this dismal turnout with the election of Haiti’s last two presidents. Aristide, a popular liberation theologian priest, won the presidency twice in landslides where a majority of the electorate voted, first in 1990 and again in 2000. Aristide’s first prime minister, Rene Preval likewise was elected twice by large margins with high turnouts, in 1995 and 2006. In this election, Martelly got two-thirds of the vote – but three-quarters of registered voters didn’t turn up.

It bodes ominously for Haiti, but Martelly may have more in common with Gerard Latortue, the head of state imposed on Haiti following the 2004 US-backed coup d’etat against Aristide. A South Florida talk-show host, Latortue, like Martelly, had no background in politics. But, like Martelly, he did have friends in Washington. During Latortue’s brief stint in office, 2004 – 2006, Haiti experienced some 4,000 political murders, according to The Lancet – while hundreds of Fanmi Lavalas members, Aristide supporters, and social movement leaders were locked up – usually on bogus charges. Latortue’s friends in Washington looked the other way.

Martelly’s Washington friends include Damian Merlo, his presidential campaign manager. Merlo’s CV should alarm anyone concerned with democracy in Haiti. Merlo has worked for Otto Reich, the Iran-Contra veteran and supporter of coups in Honduras and Venezuela. Merlo has also worked with the International Republican Institute, which – under the banner of “democracy promotion” – funds “civil society” organisations to destabilise governments it deems to be a problem.

During his stint at IRI, Merlo took steps to weaken Brazil’s governing Workers’ Party. Prior to taking on Sweet Micky’s campaign, Merlo beefed up his experience with John McCain’s failed 2008 presidential bid. McCain, interestingly, chairs IRI’s board, and brought Reich on as a foreign policy adviser during the 2008 campaign.

Many Haiti observers may be familiar with the IRI for the key role it played in overthrowing Aristide’s government during his second term. IRI trained and funded various anti-Aristide groups, promoted anti-Aristide propaganda, and, as described in a New York Times feature article in 2006, even worked to undermine political solutions being negotiated with Aristide by the US embassy and the Organisation of American States. Two years earlier, the IRI was also deeply involved in the failed coup against Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. Read More