Thursday, January 21, 2016

Haiti’s Fraudulent Presidential Frontrunner, Jovel Moïse Seizes Land for His Own Banana Republic

By Joshua Steckley and Beverly Bell

This report is based on extensive interviews, on-site and via phone, with more than 20 government officials, economic development professionals, peasant farmers, and community organizers, between July 2015 and January 2016. We reached out to Agritrans for comment, but they did not respond.
Agritrans Bananas
The frontrunner in Haiti’s rigged election grabbed land from peasant farmers to grow bananas for export. Photo: Joshua Steckley.
The only man running in Haiti’s fraudulent presidential election run-offs on January 24, 2016, Jovenel Moïse, dispossessed as many as 800 peasants – who were legally farming – and destroyed houses and crops two years ago, say leaders of farmers’ associations in the Trou-du-Nord area. Farmers remain homeless and out of work. The land grabbed by the company Moïse founded, Agritrans, now hosts a private banana plantation.
To grow bananas for export in a hungry nation, Agritrans received at least $6 million in state loans, and possibly much more. Agritrans seized a 1,000-hectare (2,371-acre) tract from farmers, bulldozed their houses and fields, used bribes to buy local support, distorted claims of its benefit to local residents, and created a phantom organization to legitimate itself.
Should he become president, the company Moïse created would likely be a bellwether of loss of family livelihood and domestic food production.
To stand for office, Moïse stepped down from Agritrans last year, though he is still campaigning under the moniker Nèg Bannann, or the Banana Man. He portrays himself as an entrepreneur determined to transform Haiti’s agricultural sector into private enterprise.
Moïse alone will appear on the presidential ballot after the only other candidate who was imposed on the run-off slate said that he would not participate in “this farce… [of] selections.” Moïse is from the political party of the current president Michel Martelly, whose principal platform has been “Haiti: Open for Business.” Martelly himself came into office in 2011 through an invalid election backed – like the current one – by the US. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton played a pivotal role in imposing him.
A Moïse presidency would ensure that political decisions prioritize free trade and private enterprise over support for the destitute majority. This, in turn, would likely give a green light to massive land grabs that are planned or in process, while peasants working the land would be dispossessed.
Expropriation and Destruction of Homes
In August 2013, according to local residents, Agritrans forcefully expelled hundreds of farmers who were legally using the land. Local leader Milosten Castin, coordinator of the organization Action to Reforest and Defend the Environment, said that, with no warning, several bulldozers invaded the land, plowing under crops and forage used for grazing. The machines later destroyed the homes of at least 17 families, many of whom remain homeless today.
After protests organized by the Peasant Movement for the Development of Deveren (MPDD) took place, Agritrans gave the owners of the destroyed homes US$40 to US$700 each in compensation. Gilles St. Pierre, a member of MPDD who lost his concrete block house, said the compensation was inadequate. “What am I supposed to do with 700 dollars?,” he asked in a phone interview last week. “I had a house and land… and now I work as a taxi driver.”
Food for Export, Not for Eating
The Agritrans plantation is the first agricultural free trade zone in the country, established by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. This allows the company to take advantage of perks of reduced tax and tariff payments, along with special customs treatment.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

#ESSAY, Haiti and the UN’s Endless Peacekeeping Mission: Is UN a Curse for Haiti’s Democracy?

BY WADNER PIERRE

IMG_0720Introduction
Three presidential elections have been organized under the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission watch; all of them had been either marred with irregularities or massive frauds. In 2006, Haitian people had to gain the streets for several weeks to abort an electoral coup pre-engineered by United States-backed de facto government Gerard Latorture. In 2010, right after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake ravaged the country’s western part, Haiti’s then President Rene Preval was forced to abide by a U.S.-backed Organization of American States’ electoral commission result asking him to remove his handpicked candidate Jude Celestin to replace him with U.S.-preferred candidate, Michelle Joseph Martelly.
In 2010, Haitians reject CEP’s contentious and tainted preliminary results for the presidential elections. Nearly two months since Haiti’s Conseil Electoral Provisoire (Electoral Provisional Council), know as the CEP, announced the final results for the first round presidential elections, second round legislative and local elections that plagued with massive frauds. The controversial results for the presidential elections placed Haiti’s ruling Party candidate, Jovel Moïse at the first place with over 34 percent of the popular and the former 2010 presidential candidate Jude Celestin in second place. Since then protest against those tainted results have been widened throughout the country. The question one may ask is, is UN a curse for Haiti’s democracy?
This paper will discuss the meaning of justice for Haitians who survived the 1991 and the 2004 coups. This paper will also point out why the first and the second UN missions in Haiti have failed to respond to the need for justice of the survivors of both coups. Finally, I will argue that the conflicting agenda or the interference of some powerful members in the International Community in the Haiti’s politics such as the United States, France and Canada may be one of the salient factors –besides the cultural and historical factors that may anticipate in the UN-OAS endless process of building peace and restoring justice in Haiti after ravaging by the recent two coups –and other previous political unrests. As it could be noticed that the name of Jean-Bertrand Aristide already appeared many times in the introduction, it will continue to appear as former statesman, and most importantly one of the survivors, perhaps the principle leading figure of both coups.
 UN’s Endless Peacekeeping Mission in Haiti
To understand the division amongst Haitians regarding the first and the second United Nations Missions for Stabilization in Haiti, it is crucial to look at the history of Haiti and the circumstance in which the former slaves freed themselves from French rule. The first UN mission, the Mission Civil International in Haiti (International Civilian Mission in Haiti) or MICIVIH a United Nations and Organization of American Sates (UN-OAS) joint mission, started in 1993 during the military junta regime that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the 1991 coup d’état. The UN-OAS joint mission ended in 1996. This mission supposedly was a successful mission, was coincided with the return of constitutional order by the reinstatement of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to his office. It was also the first time Haiti experienced a democratic political transition, where Aristide handled the power to another democratic elected leader, his former Prime Minister, Réne Préval on 7 February 1996. The second UN mission, Mission des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation en Haiti (United Stabilization Mission in Haiti), known as MINUSTAH, began in 2004 after President Aristide was ousted for a second time. The MINUSTAH mission may probably the most controversial UN mission among Haitians, particularly those from the poor class, who have unconditionally supported Aristide since he was first elected from the first Haiti’s democratic election on 16 December 16 1990.
 Haiti: The Road towards a freedom and Democracy
Haiti, known as La Perle des Antilles (The Pearl of the Islands) for its natural beauty, was one of the French richest colonies in 18th century because of its sugar cane production, and other productions such as coffee, which was made possible by the Africans who were brought to the colony as slaves. As Aristide (2008:xxix) wrote, “The blood of Africans and the labour of Toussaint’s people caused the colony of St-Domingue to flourish economically, and it became the richest of the French colonies.”
Unhappy with the most dubious and inhumane treatment, the slaves revolted against their master’s rules. Their goals were to escape their masters’ most illegal and harshest treatments and punishments, and to forever free themselves from their masters’ social and economic injustice, and racism. This struggle for freedom, equality and justice would remain an endless struggle, even after the slaves in a unusual alliance with the mulâtres (people whose one of their parents is either African descent or European descent) fought the French Army in the most bloodiest battle on 18 November 1803 to become independent, which they proclaimed on 1January 1804. Haiti became the world’s first Black Republic, and the first successful slave rebellion. Haiti’s former President Aristide wrote about Toussaint Louverture, an early leader of the slave uprising in Saint-Domingue (present day Haiti) and his political and economic vision. Aristide said, “The dream held by Toussaint was a two-side coin: on one side political freedom, on the other economic freedom” (Aristide, 2008: ix).
However, the alliance between the former slaves and mixed-raced people did not last for a long time because the two groups could hardly figure out a mechanism to share the country’s resources. The marriage between former slaves and mixed-raced people was purely circumstantial. As Laurent Dubois (Dubois 2012:25) points out in his book, the demand of free people of color in the colony of Saint-Domingue was to be equal with whites. Dubois (Dubois 2012:25) wrote, “They didn’t attack the institution of slavery itself –after all, wealth in Saint-Domingue was rooted in slavery, and many of them were slaveholder themselves.” Slavery, which was itself an institution of injustice, was an ideal institution for the mixed-race people, and they wanted to keep it after the collapse of French rule in the colony. Thus the struggle for equal social, political and economic and religious rights would become a struggle for justice from the day Haiti became a nation to this day.
Haiti: The Endless Struggle for Justice
From the slave rebellion to the popular movement, the social, economic and political struggle between the poor and rich in Haiti can be summarized in three words: the struggle for justice. Whether the struggle is for economic, social and political rights, it is all about justice. The reason for that is that the poor seem themselves as the victims of the social and economic inequality of the country. For them the lack of economic opportunity and social mobility come from the distribution of their country’s resources; where a minority, the wealthier, have held over 80 percent the country’s resources and the majority, the poorer, can barely survive with what was left for them. For the poor, this is injustice. Therefore, they want to move from a system that promotes injustice to a system that promotes justice. The question raised here is: what is justice?
You can download the full essay here.

“The Struggle for Land Justice Knows No Borders”: Corporate Pillaging in Haiti

An interview with Nixon Boumba, Democratic Popular Movement (MODEP) and American Jewish World Service
Edited by Natalie Miller, Other Worlds
Since the earthquake of January, 2010, Haiti has increasingly become a target of extraction and private business development by Haitian and foreign investors. Income and trade – if the wages are livable and the trade is fair – would, of course, be helpful for the poverty statistics-topping nation. This would be especially important for the majority of the population who survive on agriculture. However, much of the new business is being planned or executed on lands those farmers’ families have lived on since they were enslaved, leaving them landless and without livelihood.
This article debuts a new series, “Land Rights and Food Sovereignty in Haiti,” to run every other week. The series will feature interviews with those directly impacted, investigation by scholars and other experts, and analysis from Haitian activists. The pieces will examine the problems; the role of the US and UN; and solutions, spotlighting food sovereignty.
Members of a peasant organization heading to community meeting to discuss their rights. Photo: Roberto (Bear) Guerra.
Members of a peasant organization heading to community meeting to discuss their rights. Photo: Roberto (Bear) Guerra.
The January 2010 earthquake provided a perfect opportunity for many to come and do business in Haiti. Even prior to the earthquake, Bill Clinton led the discussion on developing Haiti through corporate investment. President Martelly turned that approach into a credo: “Haiti is open for business.”
We understand the pretext for this so-called development. The concept of extraction isn’t very well known in Haiti, but the country has had a long history of pillaging by colonial and imperial powers.
There is a massive transfer of public resources being planned, from collective to private property. Public funding that should be spent on the population is being used to facilitate business investment. This happened in the construction of the free trade zone in Caracol, in which funds from US Agency for International Development and the Inter-American Development Bank that should have been spent on the Haitian people were instead used to develop private business.
When corporations arrive in countries like Haiti – where extreme poverty is so prevalent – they cast a spell on the people by promising a brighter future. When people don’t know what the consequences may be, they tend to welcome any proposal for potential progress. However, once the development projects begin, the promises start to break.
That’s when people begin to resist. They protest, they try to bring the companies to court, and they go on the radio to denounce what’s going on. That’s what is happening right now in Haiti. We’re working on alternatives and we are leading a concentrated resistance movement against this model of development.
Extractive Strategies
The extractive corporations that have arrived in the country generally employ one of four strategies.
The first is the mining and drilling of Haiti’s mineral and [possible] petroleum resources. The government has said that mineral extraction will be a principal development strategy in the pursuit of being seen as an emerging nation in 2030. Currently, the Northeast, Northwest, parts of the Artibonite Valley, and the Central Plateau are undergoing mineral exploration.
The amount of water a company uses to mine for gold for one hour would last the average Haitian family of 7-10 people 20 years. A region in the Northeast, with one of the heaviest concentrations of mines, has been under exploration for the last 10 years. This area is now experiencing a severe lack of water, which is no coincidence. Forced expulsion to get at the land under peasants’ feet is also a threat of mineral extraction.
Petroleum is another natural resource that companies are looking to extract. According to the petroleum companies’ figures, the petroleum contracts in the Northeast region could be worth over $20 billion. They also estimate that the petroleum riches actually dwarf the mineral riches of the country.
The second strategy [which has historically created poor working conditions and unfair wages] is to take advantage of free trade zones. Manufacturers have done this since the 1980s when industries were looking for countries to move their operations to. They saw Haiti as an ideal fit, due to both its geographic proximity to the US and cheap labor. A Haitian worker makes less than five US dollars a day and there are no laws protecting workers. The rampant poverty means that the overwhelming majority of the population are starved for work. According to the government, 35 to 40 free trade zones, mainly for textile companies, are set to open in the near future.
The third strategy is tourism. This development plan includes many large hotels, nightclubs and businesses. The scale of tourism development currently being planned in Haiti is unheard of. For the first time ever, we have a Ministry of Tourism. Who stands to benefit? The businesses being lured here. Who will foot the bill? The peasants living on the land who are being dispossessed in the process.
A catastrophe in tourism development is set to take place on Ile-à-Vâche, an island with 20,000 inhabitants who live off of agriculture, animal husbandry, and fishing. The state wants to appropriate almost 45 square kilometers of land where the government is planning to build an international airport, just as they are in Les Cayes. Petrocaribe funds are helping to create the infrastructure.
Near Ile-à-Vâche are the towns of Cotes-de-Fer and Aquin, where almost $300 million is being invested by the Punta Cana Group to draw tourists to Haiti’s coasts.
In 2014, all of the housing along the shores of Port-au-Prince was demolished and there are similar projects underway in Cap-Haïtien, Môle-Saint-Nicolas, Savanne, Jacmel and Ile de La Tortue. Much of the coast has been snatched up by eminent domain and designated as a free trade zone for tourism development.
The fourth strategy is agro-exploitation. Large North American and European corporations have deemed that Haiti has a comparative advantage in products that Haitians don’t need. This model just doesn’t make sense for Haiti, a country that is heavily dependent on its food resources.
For every kind of land, there’s a specific kind of crop that grows well on it. Despite this, companies are taking large swaths of land and hiring peasants to plant bananas for export. This is happening in Léogâne, as well as in the Northeast region where a company called Agritrans got millions of dollars from the Haitian government. [Ed. note: With manipulation by the US, Agritrans’ chief operator, Jovenel Moïse, is likely to be named Haiti’s next president in a discredited election. Watch for our upcoming article.]
Resistance
Resistance is only effective when it’s part of a larger movement with clearly stated goals and plans for achieving that change. Organizations are beginning to form and discuss these issues on a regional level. We’re asking people, “What would make your lives and your livelihood better?” In the Northeast, where they produce rice, we’re asking people what they need to produce more and involve more people in the production process. If more rice is produced, more Haitians will eat. Why plant bananas and sell them elsewhere? Why produce textiles to sell overseas?
We’re asking these communities what they want and how they want to develop. We haven’t arrived at a consensus yet, but the ball is already rolling in communities throughout the country. We hope that people will continue to cooperate, organize, and work on alternatives to these destructive projects. We have collaborators working with us on these problems internationally, notably in areas of Latin America.
We hope that others will join us in intensifying the battle, because it’s the same fight all over. The struggle for land justice knows no borders. It’s up to us to unify and fight this battle together.
With thanks to Nathan Wendte for translating this interview, and to Roberto (Bear) Guerra for use of his photo.
Copyleft Other Worlds. You may reprint this article in whole or in part. Please credit any text or original research you use to Other Worlds.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Opinion: Haiti’s Electoral Shambles, CEP Officials Can Either Fix the Mess or They Go to Jail

By WADNER PIERRE

This opinion article was originally published by UnlessWecare
Fanmi Lavas supporters protest in the streets of the Port-Au-Prince in support to their candidate Dr. Maryse Narcisse. Photo from Fanmi Lavalas presidential  Dr. Maryse Narcisse Facebook page.
Fanmi Lavas supporters protest in the streets of the Port-Au-Prince in support to their candidate Dr. Maryse Narcisse. Photo from Fanmi Lavalas presidential Dr. Maryse Narcisse Facebook page.
For too long, people paid by Haitian people to do their job have not been held accountable. Now, it’s the time for the Haiti’s electoral officials – the Conseil Electoral Provisoire (CEP) – to either fix the electoral mess or go to jail.
It is despicable that a CEP official threatened to shut down the whole electoral process instead of collaborating with a government-backed commission to investigate massive electoral frauds that they fail to avoid. Marie Carmelle Paul Austin, a member of the electoral council, told a radio in Haiti’s capital that the electoral council members are ready to depart in bloc “If this commission’s purpose is to redo or verify the work that the CEP has already done, the council members will resign.” What Madame Austin did not say is that when you betray your people, violate your country’s laws and contribute to social and political destabilization you should be in jail.
For too long, Haitian people have been struggling for participative democracy and social justice. They’ve been ignored by Haitian officials who primarily seek to satisfy the interest of their international backers like the United States, Canada and France by either plotting electoral coups. Although the Martelly administration finally established a commission to address the latest electoral disaster, it is uncertain that anything will come of it.
Martelly himself was a beneficiary of an electoral fiasco. How can one believe he will accept any recommendation asking the removal of his handpicked candidate? This move reminds me of an article by Haiti’s renowned author Edwidge Danticat: Sweet Micky and the Sad Déjà Vu of Haiti’s Presidential Elections.
For too long, the business elites have been exploiting Haiti’s masses for the sake of becoming wealthier than they had ever before. They have involved in concocting the invasion of Haiti by the U.S. in 1915, as well as the occupation of Haiti by powerful international players under the banner of United Nations (U.N.). Thanks to their loyalty to the U.S. transnational corporate class, they have been able to succeed in imposing their free-market-based economic plan, and their neoliberal-style democracy on Haitian people through different electoral masquerades. Together with U.S. States Dept., in 2010, they orchestrated an electoral coup by threatening to depose Haiti’s then President Rene Preval should he refuse to swallow U.S.-backed Organization of American States’ electoral de facto results.
For too long, the United States has been undermined democracy in Haiti by either supporting dictatorship or electoral coups. Now, it’s the time for American taxpayers to hold U.S. officials accountable for using their dollars to fund coups and flawed elections. In a first ever democratically organized election in Dec. 16, 1990, Haitian people elected a former priest and liberation theologian, Jean-Bertrand Aristide as the country’s first democratically elected president just to see him overthrowing in bloody military coup supported by the U.S. and financed by the Haitian business elite seven months after he took office on Sept. 30, 1991. Some the coup leaders were trained at U.S. military school and were under Central Intelligence Agency ‘s (C.I.A) payroll. In Nov. 2000, in another presidential elections marked by high turnout, Aristide won a second term and his Fanmi Lavalas party won the majority of the seat in both Haitian higher and lower chambers. However, on Feb. 24, 2004, he was forced to leave the country aboard a U.S. military plane to Central African Republic then South Africa where he and his family spent 7 years in exile. His party was also banned from participating at the electoral process during those years.
As Brian Concannon wrote, the U.S. has been religiously supported Martelly since he ascended to power using its diplomatic and financial leverage to legalize the president’s unconstitutional decisions. The U.S. spent over $30 million for the organization of long overdue elections, now it’s the time for Obama administration to use its diplomatic and financial leverage to make his man in Port-Au-Prince do the right thing.
The clock is ticking; Haitian people have been patient, resilient and vigilant throughout the democratic process, and they have showed no sign that they will validate a 2010-style electoral coup. Now, it’s time for the CEP officials to do their job or go to jail.
Wadner Pierre is a Haitian award-winning Photojournalist based in Shanghai, China. He is the founder of UnWelessWeCare.org and co-founder of Haiti Analysis blog. He completed a Master’s degree in International Relations at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK, with a focus on International Security and Human Development.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Haiti Elections: Catholic Church still Undecided whether to join the Govt.-formed Electoral Commission or Not

BY WADNER PIERRE

This article was originally published by UnlessWeCare
REUTERS271698_Articolo
Photo Credit: Reuters.
Nearly two months since Haiti’s Conseil Electoral Provisoire (Electoral Provisional Council), know as the CEP, announced the final results for the first round residential, second round legislative and local elections that plagued with massive frauds. The controversial results for the presidential elections placed Haiti’s ruling Party candidate, Jovel Moise at the first place with over 34 percent of the popular and the former 2010 presidential candidate Jude Celestin in second place. Since then protest against those tainted results have been widened through the country.
After candidates and their backers, religious leaders (Catholics and Protestants) and national and international human rights and advocacy groups urged the CEP to form an independent commission to investigate the electoral frauds that were no longer mere allegations, the CEP rejected such proposition and proceeded to schedule the presidential runoff on Dec. 27 with the two candidates obtained the majority of the vote. Celestin, a member of group of eight presidential candidates, known as G8, who have been protesting the CEP’s results, declared he would not participate at the runoff unless the CEP satisfied the demand of G8.
The United States, a staunch supporter of the current administration, and spent over $30 millions for the organization of these log-overdue elections, sent Kenneth Merten, the U.S former ambassador to Haiti and State Department’s Special Envoy to Haiti to convince candidates, most importantly Celestin, to accept the CEP’s results. Merten, a close friend of Martelly, and one the controversial figures that engineered Martelly’s election in the 2010 controversial elections, failed to his mission.
After political and diplomatic negotiations failed, the Haiti’s government then decided for form a commission to the electoral crisis and make recommendations to end the electoral dispute. The commission is formed, but Catholic Church is still undecided whether not it will send a representative.
Bishop Patrick Aris, a supposed member of the commission, denied Rosny Desroches’ statement of the Church participation at the presidential commission’s first meeting. He told Haiti’s daily newspaper, Le Nouvelliste that Cardinal Chibly Langois, who is the head of Episcopal Conference of Haiti, “Is in touch with the government officials.” He added, “There is progress, but no decision has yet reached,” the religious leader referred to the possibility of the Church join the electoral evaluation commission.
It is important to point out that Mr. Desroche is polarized figure, and was a supporter of the 2004 coup. His presence at this commission could certainly bring back some bad memories, and that could discredit the commission’s recommendations.
Meanwhile, Haitians continue to root for fair, democratic and participative elections. They demand the CEP to investigate the frauds that tainted the electoral process, and they will not stand by to let another 2010-style electoral debacle hinders the democratic process in Haiti.

Haiti Elections: Catholic Church still Undecided whether to join the Govt.-formed Electoral Commission or Not

BY WADNER PIERRE

This article was originally published by UnlessWeCare
REUTERS271698_Articolo
Photo Credit: Reuters.
Nearly two months since Haiti’s Conseil Electoral Provisoire (Electoral Provisional Council), know as the CEP, announced the final results for the first round residential, second round legislative and local elections that plagued with massive frauds. The controversial results for the presidential elections placed Haiti’s ruling Party candidate, Jovel Moise at the first place with over 34 percent of the popular and the former 2010 presidential candidate Jude Celestin in second place. Since then protest against those tainted results have been widened through the country.
After candidates and their backers, religious leaders (Catholics and Protestants) and national and international human rights and advocacy groups urged the CEP to form an independent commission to investigate the electoral frauds that were no longer mere allegations, the CEP rejected such proposition and proceeded to schedule the presidential runoff on Dec. 27 with the two candidates obtained the majority of the vote. Celestin, a member of group of eight presidential candidates, known as G8, who have been protesting the CEP’s results, declared he would not participate at the runoff unless the CEP satisfied the demand of G8.
The United States, a staunch supporter of the current administration, and spent over $30 millions for the organization of these log-overdue elections, sent Kenneth Merten, the U.S former ambassador to Haiti and State Department’s Special Envoy to Haiti to convince candidates, most importantly Celestin, to accept the CEP’s results. Merten, a close friend of Martelly, and one the controversial figures that engineered Martelly’s election in the 2010 controversial elections, failed to his mission.
After political and diplomatic negotiations failed, the Haiti’s government then decided for form a commission to the electoral crisis and make recommendations to end the electoral dispute. The commission is formed, but Catholic Church is still undecided whether not it will send a representative.
Bishop Patrick Aris, a supposed member of the commission, denied Rosny Desroches’ statement of the Church participation at the presidential commission’s first meeting. He told Haiti’s daily newspaper, Le Nouvelliste that Cardinal Chibly Langois, who is the head of Episcopal Conference of Haiti, “Is in touch with the government officials.” He added, “There is progress, but no decision has yet reached,” the religious leader referred to the possibility of the Church join the electoral evaluation commission.
It is important to point out that Mr. Desroche is polarized figure, and was a supporter of the 2004 coup. His presence at this commission could certainly bring back some bad memories, and that could discredit the commission’s recommendations.
Meanwhile, Haitians continue to root for fair, democratic and participative elections. They demand the CEP to investigate the frauds that tainted the electoral process, and they will not stand by to let another 2010-style electoral debacle hinders the democratic process in Haiti.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Haiti: Govt. Formed an Electoral Commission to End Electoral Deadlock; Will the CEP Reschedule the Runoff?

BY WADNER PIERRE

This article was originally published by UnlessWecare.org

Since the CEP published its tainted and most controversial results for the presidential, second round legislative and local elections early last November, thousands have been demonstrated in the streets of Haiti’s largest cities to reclaim a recount of their votes. Religious leaders and international human rights and advocacy groups have also urged the CEP to investigate irregularities and massive electoral frauds that are no longer mere allegations.
Photo Credit: CEP_Haiti Twitter Account.
Photo Credit: CEP_Haiti Twitter Account.

As protests widening, diplomatic talks failed and G8 candidates remaining steadfast in their position, to remedy the situation, Haiti’s PM Evans Paul in an one-page letter sent to the President Michel J. Martelly, proposed a formation of an electoral commission to ensure the credibility of the already festered electoral process.
The commission according to the Prime Minister’s letter will have three days to produce recommendations to the government and the Conseil Electoral Provisoire (Electoral Provisional Council), known as the CEP. The head of the government stated,“ …it is necessary to organize credible, transparent, participative and inclusive elections,” as well as “to do whatever it takes” to create a climate of trust for the actors involving in the process.
The CEP shows no sign that it will abide by the recommendations of the government-formed commission. One of its members Marie Carmelle Paul Austin told a radio in the Haiti’s capital that the electoral council members are ready to depart in bloc should the commission interfere in their work. “If this commission’s purpose is to redo or verify the work that the CEP has already done, the council members will resign,” implied council Austin.
One thing Council Austin failed to admit is that the CEP could have avoided this electoral crisis and save the country from the upcoming political quagmire had it verified the alleged electoral frauds when one of its members brought it to the council’s attention. Instead of taking time to verify the alleged massive electoral frauds, the CEP’s negligent President Pierre-Louis Opont proceeded to the already contentious results. Now, it is the time to fix this mess.
In 2010, the U.S. State Department and Haiti’s private sector elected Martelly in highly flawed presidential runoff with less than one million votes. When then President Rene Preval refused to accept the U.S.-OAS’s fabricated electoral results that demanded the removal of his handpicked candidate Jude Celestin. It was later reported that the U.S. and the rest of the international community threatened to depose him should he resist the OAS’s electoral commission’s recommendation.
Today, nearly all the polarized figures, notably U.S. former ambassador to Haiti and current State Dep. Special Envoy to Haiti Kenneth Merten, who were involved in imposing a president to Haitian people, are part of the diplomatic negotiating team aiming at constraining the same Jude Celestin and other candidates to validate the CEP’s Opont infected results.
It is important to point out that Merten is a closed friend to Martelly and one of the foreign diplomats who plotted the 2010-style electoral coup. By choosing Merten as his Haiti’s go-to person, President Barack Obama, once again, signals that there is no shift in U.S. policy towards Haiti.
Meanwhile, Haitians have continued to remain vigilant against any possible flawed elections, and are ready to thwart another 2010-style electoral debacle. Within less than two months the CEP has to organize credible, fair and democratic elections for Haitian people to elect a new president to succeed Martelly. Under Haiti’s constitution, Martelly’s term ends on Feb. 7, 2016 and forbid to run for a consecutive term.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Haiti: CEP Failed to its Mission, But an Electoral Miscarriage Can Be Avoided

By Wadner Pierre

This Article was originally published by UnlessWeCare

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 6.34.24 AM It has been over a month since Haiti’s Conseil Electoral Provisoire (Electoral Provisory Counsel), known as CEP, published its foreknown controversial fraudulent results for the first round presidential and second round legislative elections. The CEP’s preliminary results for the presidential elections placed President Michel Martelly’s hand-picked candidate Jovenel Moise of Parti Haïtien Tèt Kale, or P.H.T.K in the first place with 32.8 percent of the popular votes. Jaccéus Joseph, a member of the electoral council, qualified the results as unacceptable.
 Miami Herald’s Jacqueline Charles reported, Joseph refused to sign “the presidential and legislative preliminary results” because of irregularities and frauds that plagued them. Joseph thought his refusal to endorse the results would prompt the Tabulation Center to verify “the allegations of electoral fraud, including checking the voter registration lists against the ballots cast in the Oct. 25” elections to avert an unnecessary electoral crisis.
Joseph said, “We asked the director of the Tabulation Center did he have enough time to thoroughly verify if there was fraud.” According to Joseph, the director told them, “[H]e didn’t have enough time for that.”
Despite Joseph’s insistence on verifying and correcting the irregularities and frauds  threatening the credibility of the results, CEP’s President Pierre-Louis Opont decided to publish the tainted results.  The electoral crisis that was avoidable is now becoming an inevitable crisis. This man-made electoral dispute could further derail the political and social stability of the country.
Following the electoral process, eight presidential candidates known as G8 filed  complaints before the electoral court. The court confirmed that there have been frauds, and the CEP agreed. To address the electoral frauds, the CEP proposed to meet with the G8 to listen to them and address their concerns. During the meeting, the candidates denounced the irregularities and massive frauds that tarnished the credibility of the preliminary results; they demanded that an independent commission be formed to investigate the alleged frauds before scheduling the presidential runoff. Opont declined the request, concluding that the electoral result is final and the runoff is straight.
Fanmi Lavalas presidential candidate Dr. Maryse Narcisse whose CEP’s result put in fourth place, argued that the results were marred with frauds and demanded that the CEP investigate them. The Le Bureau du Contentieux Electoral National (National Electoral Complaints Bureau) (BCEN) allowed her to go to the Tabulation Center and randomly pick 78 tally sheets from more than 13,000 sheets. The candidate discovered irregularities in some of the sheets, and others were completely fraudulent. The frauds and irregularities were in favor of the ruling party candidate. The CEP jettisoned the 78 tally sheets. Dr. Narcisse insisted that Moise be removed from the process according the electoral laws. But the CEP has rejected her call.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

U.S. Actor and Human Rights Activist, Danny Glover and other Human Rights Activists Signed a Letter to Support Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the Lavalas Movement

Stop the Attacks on Former President Jean Bertrand Aristide and the Lavalas Movement

On August 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.  This is the fourth time since his return to Haiti in 2011 that he has been the target of a politically motivated legal case. (Previous charges were dropped before he could even challenge them in court.) The judge in this case, Lamarre Bélizaire, has been suspended for ten years from practicing the law by the Port-au-Prince Bar Association for using the court to persecute opponents of the present regime. His suspension is due to begin once he steps down as judge.

President Aristide, a former priest, was Haiti’s first democratically elected president. He is loved and trusted by the majority of Haitians. While in office he built schools and hospitals, encouraged agriculture and doubled the minimum wage. He was removed and forced into exile with his family in 2004 by a US-backed military coup.  Thousands of members of his Lavalas movement were killed, raped or falsely imprisoned in the aftermath of the coup.

In 2011, after seven years of grassroots organizing in Haiti backed up by an international campaign, President Aristide and his family returned home.  Tens of thousands of people welcomed him. He promised to work for education and the inclusion of all Haitians in the democratic process. He has done just that – reopening the Aristide Foundation’s university, UNIFA, where today over 900 students from all sectors of society, including those who cannot afford higher education, are training to become doctors, nurses and lawyers. 

Legislative elections due to take place in Haiti in October are triggering a new chilling wave of repression aimed at President Aristide and his supporters.  Lavalas has overwhelming won every election in which it has participated, but since the 2004 coup the party has been barred from elections.  As a result, fewer than 20% of Haitians turned out for the flawed election that brought the current President Michel Martelly to power in 2011.  The Martelly government has not held an election since, and legislative elections are now three years overdue. Determined to consolidate dictatorial power, the Martelly government has systematically attempted to defame Lavalas, throwing out one set of accusations after another against President Aristide and other respected Lavalas leaders such as former Senator Myrlande Liberis-Pavert. 

While President Aristide is being threatened with arrest, former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier – who is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Haitians during his rule – is living freely in Haiti, and has been openly embraced by Martelly.

Since the devastating earthquake and the cholera epidemic, doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals training at UNIFA are needed more than ever. President Aristide must be able to carry on with his vital work as an educator.

The last time President Aristide was summoned, thousands of people surrounded the courthouse, chanting: “If they call our brother, they call all of us.” We echo their voices. Enough is enough. It is time for food, housing, health care and education.  It is time for free, fair, and inclusive elections in Haiti, not dictatorship, so the urgent needs of the population can be addressed. The arrest warrant and other false charges aimed at President Aristide and his supporters should be dropped once and for all.

Signers:
Danny Glover, Actor and Human Rights Activist
Selma James, Author and International Coordinator, Global Women’s Strike (GWS)/UK
Pierre Labossiere, Co-founder, Haiti Action Committee
Mumia Abu-Jamal, Journalist and death row prisoner
Jerry Acosta, Senior National Representative, Utility Workers Union of America
Dr. Adrianne Aron, Liberation Psychologist
Kali Akuno, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM)
ALBATV (Venezuela)
Alexandria House, Los Angeles, CA
Bilal Mafundi Ali, Organization of African American Unity
Jahahara Amen-RA Alkebulan-Ma'at, Founder, Africans Deserve Reparations
Akubundu Amazu-Lott, Central Committee AAPRP
Jack Albert, Windsor Peace Coalition, Windsor, Ontario
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition - Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (U.S.)
Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)
Ayuko Babu, Pan African Film Festival
Michael Bass, School of the Americas Watch
Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Committee (BALASC)
Richard Becker, A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition - (U.S.)
Dennis J. Bernstein, Executive Producer KPFA/Flashpoints
Johanna Berrigan, House of Grace Catholic Worker, Philadelphia, Pa.
Diana Block, California Coalition for Women Prisoners
Diana Bohn, Nicaragua Center for Community Action, Berkeley, CA
Blase and Theresa Bonpane, Directors, Office of the Americas
Richard Brown, San Francisco 8/Committee for Defense of Human Rights
Dr. Siri Brown, Chair of Ethnic Studies, Merritt College
Mark Burton, Visiting Professor, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK
Reverend Richard Meri Ka Ra Byrd
Joey Cain, SF LGBT Pride Celebration Committee Board Member
Rossana Cambron, member of Military Families Speak Out
Dolores Canales, Organizer and activist
Laura Carlsen
Andrea Casher, PsyD, ABPP 
Chiapas Support Committee – Los Angeles
CIP Americas Program
Terry Collins, KPOO
Brian Concannon, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH)
Shandre Delaney, Human Rights Coalition-Fed Up and Abolitionist Law Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Jacques Depelchin, Historian
Dignity and Power Now – Los Angeles
Emory Douglas, former Minister of Culture, Black Panther Party
Sister Maureen Duignan, Executive Director, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant
Carolina Dutton, Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition (BALASC)
Derethia DuVal, PhD, MFT, SFSU Director of Counseling & Psychological Services Center
Mia Engberg, Documentary Filmmaker, Sweden
Ecumenical Peace Institute/CALC
Linda Evans, Organizer, All Of Us Or None
Leslie Fleming, Director, Anthropology Program, Merritt College, Oakland, CA
Laura Flynn, Author
FMLN - Northern California
Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular (Honduras)
Cindy Forster, Professor, Scripps College, California
Tova Fry, Workers World Party
Mattias Gardell, Professor Comparative Religion, Uppsala University, Sweden
Anna-Maria Gentili, Professor History and Politics, Bologna University, Italy, retired
David Gespass, former President, National Lawyers Guild
David Gibson, Peacehome Campaigns
Eric Gjertsen and Dean Kendall, Payday men’s network
Andy Griggs, LA Laborfest
Deeg Gold, LAGAI Queer Insurrection
Sister Stella Marie Goodpasture, OP, Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose, CA
Guerilla Food Not Bombs
Ben Guillory
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Archdiocese of Detroit
Professor Shadrack Gutto, PhD, University of South Africa
Daletha Hayden, RN and activist
Genesy Hernandez, Union Salvadorena de Estudiantes Universitarios, UC Berkeley
Charles Hinton, Inkworks Press, worker-owned collective
Marcus Holder, ILWU Local 10 delegate to San Francisco Labor Council
Hondurans in Resistance – NorCal
Gerald Horne, Historian
Phil Hutchings, Civil Rights activist (SNCC)
Nehanda Imara, AAPRP Organizer & Faculty at AFRAM Merritt College
Dr. Nia Imara, Harvard University
International Action Center
Kokayi Kwa Jitahidi, Campaign Director LAANE (Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy)
Sister Gloria Marie Jones, OP, Congregational Prioress Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose
Hank Jones, Committee for the Defense of Human Rights
Phoebe Jones, PhD, Quaker, Global Women’s Strike
James Jordan and Chuck Kaufman, National Co-Coordinators, Alliance for Global Justice
William Joyce, Chair, Fr. Bill O'Donnell Social Justice Committee
Malaika Kambon, Photojournalist
Sara Kershnar, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Nadine Khoury-Quesada, RN, Trauma Nurse, San Francisco General Hospital
Nunu Kidane, Director, Priority Africa Network
Marcus Kryshka, Executive Vice President, National Lawyers Guild
Eusi Kwayana, Caribbean Activist Without Borders
Tchaiko Kwayana, Educator
Labor Community Strategy Center (Los Angeles)
Regina Day Langhout, PhD, Provost, Oakes College, University of California at Santa Cruz
Marilyn Langlois, Richmond CA Planning Commissioner
Gloria La Riva, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
Rev. Dr. Phil Lawson, Pastor Emeritus, Easter Hill United Methodist Church
Richard Lichtman, Professor Emeritus, Philosophy, The Wright Institute, Berkeley, CA
George Lippman, Vice-Chair, Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission [for identification only]
Rev. Dr. Lewis E. Logan, II
Jose Lopez, Executive Director, Puerto Rican Cultural Center, Chicago
Nina Lopez, Coordinator Latin America working group GWS/Argentina, UK
Jacqui Lovell, PhD Candidate, York St. John University, U.K
Barbara Lubin, Director Middle East Children’s Alliance
M. Brinton Lykes, Associate Director, Center for Human Rights & International Justice, Boston College
Robert Majzler, University of California at Santa Cruz
Claude Marks, Freedom Archives
Gayle McLaughlin, Mayor, City of Richmond, CA
Anita Schrader McMillan, Warwick Medical School, Coventry, UK
David McPhail, Ruling Elder, St. John's Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, CA
Judith Mirkinson, San Francisco Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Wazir Mohamed, Associate Professor, Sociology
Alejandro Molina, National Boricua Human Rights Network
Movimiento Cumbe Afrosalud Barlovento (Venezuela)
Leslie Mullin, San Francisco Women in Black
Michael Neocosmos, Director UHURU program, Rhodes University, South Africa
Robert Nixon, School of the Americas Watch – Oakland, East Bay
Kwazi Nkrumah, Co-Chair, Martin Luther King Coalition of Greater Los Angeles
Kiilu Nyasha, Host/Freedom is a Constant Struggle
Oakland-Santiago de Cuba Sister Cities Association
Ofraneh (Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña, Honduras)
Catherine Owen, Human Rights Committee & District Labor Council, Windsor, Ontario
Tanalis Padilla, Professor of History, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, U.S.
Rosa Peñate, FMLN – Northern California
Peter Phillips, PhD, President Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored
Kevin Pina, Documentary Filmmaker
Richard Pithouse, Professor Politics and International Studies, Rhodes University
Suyapa Portillo, Comité Solidario Graciela Garcia
Margaret Power, Professor of History, Illinois Institute of Technology
Margaret Prescod, Host “Sojourner Truth,” Pacifica Radio & Women of Color/GWS/US
Porfirio Quintano, Coordinator, Honduran Resistance FNRP Northern California
James Quesada, PhD, Chair and Professor, Department of Anthropology, San Francisco State University (SFSU)
Kate Raphael, Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT), KPFA Women's Magazine
Mary Ratcliff, Editor, San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper
Dr. Willie Ratcliff, Publisher, San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper
Barbara Rhine, Attorney
Wilson Riles, Oakland C.A.N.
Walter Riley, Attorney, Chair of Board, Haiti Emergency Relief Fund
William I. Robinson, Professor of Sociology, University of California-Santa Barbara
Robert Roth, Co-founder, Haiti Action Committee
Alex Sanchez, Executive Director, Homies Unidos
Carolyn Scarr, Ecumenical Peace Institute/CALC
Azadeh Shahshahani, President, National Lawyers Guild
Dan Siegel, Attorney, Oakland, CA
Dr. Vito Signorile, Professor Emeritus, Windsor, Ontario
Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, National Council of Elders
AJ Smith, Artist, Windsor, Ontario
Bob Smith, Brandywine Peace Community
Susan Gold Smith, Professor Emerita, Windsor, Ontario
Dale Sorensen, Director, Marin Interfaith Task force on the Americas
Jeb Sprague, Author and Instructor, UCSB
Patricia St. Onge, Seven Generations, Nafsi ya Jamii: The Soul Community
Ruth Todasco, Every Mother is a Working Mother Network
Clarence Thomas, member ILWU Local 10
Willie Thompson, Professor Emeritus Sociology, City College of San Francisco
Walter Turner, President, Board of Directors, Global Exchange
Akinyele Umoja, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of African American Studies, Georgia State University
Lisa Valenti, US Cuba Sister City Association
Sister Judy Vaughan, CSJ
Gloria Verdieu
Margaret Villamizar, Chair, Windsor Peace Coalition, Windsor, Ontario
Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, Congolese Historian, Philosopher
Kristin Wartman, Author and Journalist
Tom Webb, Oakland Catholic Worker
David Welsh, delegate, San Francisco Labor Council
Michel Wenzer, Documentary Filmmaker, Sweden
Laura Whitehorn, former political prisoner
Witness For Peace Southwest
Michael Wong
Workers World Party
Pauline Wynter
Mario Zelaya, Father Bill O'Donnell Social Justice Committee, Berkeley, CA

Affiliations listed for identification purposes only