Tuesday, December 22, 2015

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


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?

“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.”

Monday, December 21, 2015

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


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 on 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 Haiti's higher and lower chambers. On Feb. 29, 2009, 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.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

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

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 AMIt 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.

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