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Following Haiti’s controversial presidential and legislative elections held on Sunday, Oct. 25, alarm is growing about irregularities in the counting of the votes at voting centers and in the transportation of votes to the tabulation center. There is widespread mistrust of the process. Most international observers of the election and subsequent press reports have focused on the day of the election but not on the counting and tabulation of the votes.
On Oct. 25, Haitians are slated to go to the polls to elect a new president and Parliament, after a disastrous first round vote for Parliament on Aug. 9, marred by Martelly government-sponsored voter suppression, violence and corruption. Amid protests and calls from thousands of demonstrators to annul the August elections, it took almost two months to announce the “winners” who will contest this Oct. 25 “run-off.”
Five years ago, after the catastrophic Haiti earthquake, the international community – a self-defined “Core Group” under the leadership of former President Bill Clinton – took over Haiti recovery and reconstruction and announced they would “build Haiti back better.” But this was a euphemism for land grabbing, privatization, occupation and imperial plunder. Black lives don’t matter in the United States, much less in Haiti.
On Aug. 21, Haitian police wearing black masks and carrying heavy arms appeared in front of the home of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide as a Haitian judge issued calls to arrest him. Hundreds of people courageously surrounded the house to protect him. One week before, President Aristide was summoned to court on false corruption charges. On Sept. 10, he was placed on house arrest and barred from leaving the country.
At great personal risk, Haitians demonstrated massively in cities throughout the country on Sept. 30 and Oct. 17, calling for President Michel Martelly to step down. By choosing historically significant dates marking past coups, the Haitian grassroots majority is clearly saying they want an end to 10 years of military occupation. Martelly’s police force brutally broke up some demonstrations with tear gas and beatings.
Update Sept. 30, 2012: For the past two weeks, massive demonstrations have rocked Haiti, protesting constitutional changes and the corruption of the Martelly government. The democratic and participatory spirit of the 1987 Constitution has been subverted by the illegitimate President Michel Martelly, who announced new amendments, which concentrate executive power and herald the return of death squad Duvalierism to Haiti.
Haiti’s brutal army was disbanded in 1995, yet armed and uniformed paramilitaries, with no government affiliation, occupy former army bases today. Join Haiti Action Committee for a discussion on the roots of paramilitarism in Haiti at La Pena Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, featuring Jeb Sprague, author of ‘Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti.’
In 2012, the Maafa is a penal colony in U.S.-occupied Haiti – the national penitentiary. This image expresses a reality reminiscent of chained Africans in the hull of a slave ship bound for the Carolinas. In Haiti, prisoners without human rights are guarded by the world arbiters on human rights, the United Nations. This is how prisoners are treated. Forgotten and abandoned.
The real plan for Haiti’s northeastern region – especially the Caracol Bay area – is one that was hatched by Canadian mining corporations, with the U.S. and South Korean sweatshop zone being a side project and distraction. If this mining plan is given a green light while Haiti is under foreign occupation, it will permanently strip the country of much of its mineral, cultural and ecological wealth.
Mathias O is 34 years old. He is one of about 600,000 people still homeless from the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He lives with his wife and her 2-year-old under a homemade shelter made out of several tarps. They sleep on the rocky ground inside. The side tarp walls are reinforced by pieces of cardboard boxes taped together. Candles provide the only inside light at night. There is no running water. No electricity. They live near a canal and suffer from lots of mosquitoes.
In 2004, I was in Haiti living under the injustice Bernard Gousse inflicted on his own people while serving the Haitian elite and the “international community.” Like many of Gousse’s victims, I was driven into hiding after the arrest of the late Father Gerard Jean-Juste, a prominent Lavalas leader and human rights activist.