Haiti’s Sham Elections: Solidifying Imperial Control – by Stephen Lendman
On November 28, first round legislative and presidential elections will be held. As a previous article explained, democracy will be absent because the nation’s most popular party, Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas, and 14 others are excluded, the system rigged to install Washington’s favorites.
In a September 8, Miami Herald op-ed, Ira Kurzban, an immigration and employment law expert as well as
Aristide’s former legal counsel headlined, “Unfair and undemocratic,” saying:
“Imagine if (America’s) Federal Election Commission disqualified the Democratic and Republican parties from the 2012 presidential election and declared that only candidates of minor parties could run.”
“Yet (Haiti’s November 28 elections) are just that – unfair, unconstitutional and undemocratic.”
On November 10, Brian Concannon, Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, in the Boston Haitian Reporter headlined, “Haiti’s Flawed Elections: They Told Us So,” saying:
The November elections “may be the most important in Haitian history,” voters to “choose the entire House of Deputies (its lower body) for four years, a President for five years, and one-third of the Senate for six years. These officials (will be responsible for) guiding Haiti’s (post-quake) reconstruction for at least four years.” What they accomplish “will shape Haitian society for decades.” What they won’t is deeply worrisome.
Especially since the process is deeply flawed under new eligibility rules, President Preval’s hand-picked Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) requiring each party head register presidential candidates in person. Exiled in South Africa, Aristide can’t do it, denied permission to renew his passport to return that prevents him. Moreover, the CEP lacks legitimacy, Haiti’s Constitution mandating an independent Permanent Council, free from party politics.
As a result, Kurzban calls the process a “faux election that will have lasting consequences for Haiti and the international community.” Haitians know a charade is planned. Many will opt out, their choice in April 2009 to fill 12 open Senate seats that saw an estimated 3 – 5% turnout. Why bother now under dire conditions, Haiti stricken by earthquake destruction, little aid, and a deepening cholera epidemic taking dozens or more lives daily.
Concannon said Haiti’s CEP never gave comprehensive reasons for excluding parties. For Fanmi Lavalas (FN), it mentioned only informal ones, “regarding a mandate sent by (Aristide) last November. In fact, (FN) presented an original mandate, authenticated by a Haitian notary that complies with Haitian law.” Aristide followed up with a fax, “confirm(ing) its authenticity in a radio interview.”
The International Crisis Group: Supporting Power, not People
Founded in 1995 by World Bank vice-president Mark Malloch Brown and former US diplomat Morton Abramowitz, it issued an October 27 report on Haiti’s elections titled, “Haiti: The Stakes of the Post-Quake Elections,” endorsing the flawed process, noting only that it’s proceeding under daunting conditions.
“To boost confidence in the process,” it said, a great deal must be done in a very short time. The CEP’s actions need to be more open and those actions to be explained better to the parties and the electorate. The parties (not mentioning those excluded) should commit to a peaceful campaign and to acceptance of the eventual results, and they and their candidates should begin to articulate substantive platforms that address national problems.”
“To stimulate turnout, voter and civic education about the process and the stakes should be intensified, particularly among IDPs….Once the elections are over and parallel to the new government’s priority task of pushing reconstruction and sustainable development, a national consensus will be needed on electoral and political party reforms….But the urgent requirement is to succeed with the November elections.”
The ICG doesn’t hide its agenda, providing detailed recommendations about proceeding with a sham process. Crucial is “meet(ing a) tight electoral timetable,” defrauding the electorate, urging “all political actors (support) the new government” so it can rebuild “the country’s economic, physical and institutional infrastructure,” one planned for profit, not poor Haitians to be exploited for maximum amounts.
The New York Times – Endorsing Fraud
On November 21, writers Randal Archibold and Damien Cave headlined, “Mired in Crises, Haiti Struggles to Focus on Election,” saying:
“It may not be the best time to choose a president….But the (November 28) election….may be Haiti’s most important in decades….a colorful field of 19 candidates is seeking the highest office….”
Instead of denouncing a sham process, the article focused on campaign politics, “ginning up excitement, plastering brightly colored posters across the devastated capital, blasting catchy Caribbean-beat jingles from trucks and staging large rallies with T-shirt – and sometimes, money – giveaways.”
Noting a potential low turnout could raise claims about legitimacy, it explained that “international observers will monitor the balloting.” America’s funding it with $15 million or more, assuring the best “democracy” its money can buy, by no means a real one.
Focusing on competing presidential candidates, Archibold and Cave said nothing about excluded parties, notably Fanmi Lavalas that would win by a landslide if participating. The only hint of sham was a final comment saying, “It remains to be seen how much the voters are buying. Haitians, analysts said, tend to make their choices at the last minute,” omitting that none of the above will swamp other choices, given FL’s exclusion.
It’s the third time in the past year, including the April and June 2009 senatorial elections, and originally scheduled February 2010 presidential and legislative ones. Recently, Aristide’s spokeswoman, Maryse Narcisse, told the Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS):
“For us, this isn’t just the exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas. What they want to exclude is the majority, the people. For us this is a selection, not an election.”
Washington, of course, controls it, US Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley saying at a September 15 press briefing:
“….we are working diligently with Haitian authorities to help them prepare. It is vitally important to Haiti’s future that there be a credible election. We are mindful of the fact that with the earthquake back in January, among the institutions of government that were hard hit were those that would either conduct or support a successful election.”
“This is a Haitian process. There are qualifications that have to be met….this has to be seen as a legitimate and credible process, and we’re doing everything that we can to help Haiti have a successful election.”
Asked about excluded political parties, Crowley laughed, saying only, “Why don’t you ask us again tomorrow and we’ll see if we have more to say about this.”
A follow-up question wasn’t asked, America’s media ducking the issue to avoid embarrassing the secretary about a clearly sham process, Washington very much in control.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research’s (CEPR)
Dan Beeton was less reserved, issuing an October 14 press release headlined, “CEPR Criticizes US Funding of Flawed ‘Elections’ in Haiti,” saying:
Washington should explain its funding of a clearly flawed process, involving “the arbitrary exclusion of over a dozen political parties – including the country’s largest party – from the ballot, Mark Weisbrot (CEPR’s Co-Director) said today.”
Last week, the State Department ducked the issue for the second time. “The exclusions problem has dragged on for months, becoming a growing scandal.”
As Weisbrot explained:
“Justice delayed is justice denied. The US has known about this problem for months, and it has been reported numerous times in the international press, not to mention that it is a major bone of contention in Haiti.”
Nonetheless, the Obama administration’s failure to explain why it’s funding “such a blatantly anti-democratic process is inexcusable.”
In early October, 45 members of Congress raised the issue, saying Washington should opt out of an election not “includ(ing) all eligible political parties and ready access to voting for all Haitians, including the displaced.”
The Preval government won’t touch the issue. Neither will the State Department, stonewalling whenever asked, determined to install its favorites, stooges to solidify coup d’etat control. This time through ballot box shenanigans, an “election” in name only, flawed enough to make a despot blush.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.