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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Haiti and its flawed electoral process!

By Jean H Charles:

The Haitian Constitution stipulates that regular presidential elections shall take place every five years on the last Sunday of November, with a presidential inauguration to take place on the following February 7, to correspond ab eternum to the day the Haitian people delivered themselves from the Duvalier dictatorial regime.

Jean H Charles MSW, JD is Executive Director of AINDOH Inc a non profit organization dedicated to building a kinder and gentle Caribbean zone for all. He can be reached at: jeanhcharles@aol.comThe earthquake of January 12, 2010, has destroyed the capital city of Port au Prince as well as surrounding cities of Jacmel, Leogane, Petit Goave and Grand Goave, with more than 1.7 million people sleeping under a tent, sometimes in the rain amidst squalor and the mud. Vital records have been destroyed, the dead have been cremated without proper state sponsored identification and the Preval government has exhibited a culture of deception, corruption, and perversion of the electoral process. It is a perfect storm to create a disaster in lives lost in the next few months. It is also the perfect tool for maintaining the status quo through a flawed electoral process.

Yet the international community, through the voice of the OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin, the United Nations representative Edmond Mulet, the CARICOM delegate PJ Patterson, is pushing full speed ahead for a flawed election to take place under the baton of Rene Preval, a master mind of cunning, double talk, and plain disregard for the plight of the majority of the Haitian people.

He personifies the man Paul Berman would qualify in his recent book, The Flight of the Intellectuals, as the Pretender, saying different things to different audiences with no truth and no conviction to either. He is neither a capitalist, nor a socialist, nor a nationalist. He is “a dark smudge of ambiguity”. Here are some relevant facts on Preval’s past election records.

* The election of April 6, 1997 was set for the renewal of one third of the Senate; he forced upon the electorate Fourell Celestin, a recently drug convicted. There was opposition from the Electoral Board, causing its president Leon Manus to be spirited by an American helicopter to safer pasture abroad to avoid injury to his person.

* The election of May 2000 as well as the election of November 26, 2000 was mired in irregularities and disfranchisement of the majority.

* The election of April 21, 2009 has repeated the canvass of the election of April 6, 1997, with President Preval incubating with state funds the candidates of notorious human rights violators. There was very low national participation.
He was on his way of forging ahead with his macabre plan of succeeding himself through his newlywed wife or one of his trusted companions when, to quote the malicious Haitian people, God got Himself into the fray and allowed the earthquake the very afternoon after a crucial meeting of Preval in the national palace to seal the election in his favor.

May 18 commemorates the weaving of the flag made with the blue and red piece of cloth from which the white piece symbolizing colonial France has been extirpated. On this very day of celebration, the people of Haiti are demonstrating en masse, on the street demanding the forced departure of the Preval government so they can go on with their lives, and ensure a fairly clean election.

Will Preval and the international community, through misguided policy, succeed in maintaining a status quo that will lead to disaster in the coming months of the hurricane season with millions of people at risk? Or will the Haitian people succeed in forging a new order of business in running the Republic of Haiti?

To solve this dilemma, I will peer into the history of the Haitian Revolution and the story of the United States Black Emancipation for inspiration as to the outcome of this David and Goliath re-enacting the biblical battle.

I am now 64 years old. I have only lived 11 years in my youth in the bliss of the dream of living in a country where hope was part of the staple of the daily life. Yet I belong to the 10 percent minority of Haitian people where the roof was sound, the food was always on the table and the best education was a given expectation and a reality.

For the past 50 years, the mass of Haitian have endured a living hell. Through dictatorial regimes Duvalier pere and Duvalier fils, through military regime, Namphy, Avril and, Regala, through the populism regimes of Aristide and Preval, through government of transition, Malval, Latortue, it has been for Haiti and for the Haitian people: the more things change, the more they remain the same.

The United Nations, through several acronyms:

* MICIVIH February 1993- May 1998 to support the embargo against Haiti
* UNMIH September 1993- Jun 1996 to support the American military intervention
* UNSMIH July 1996- 1997
* UNTMIH August 1997 – November 1997
* MIPONUH December 1997- March 2000
* MINUSTAH April 2004 to present


have promised that they will stand fast to support and help the Haitian people to gravitate towards a better life. Yet, Haiti has since been sinking deeper into bigger risk in food security, diminution of human life protection and severe environmental degradation. It was Edmond Mulet of the United Nations who picked up Rene Preval from his hamlet of Marmelade to help to catapult him into his second mandate. Mr Mulet has today the odious task of helping Preval to choose his successor.

The Haitian intellectual and political class has for once entered into a holy alliance with the masses to say no to this plan. They have decided that Haiti must enter into a new paradigm where the children will be fed and schooled, where taking a leaking boat to Miami or the Bahamas is a nightmare of the past, where the government will work with the Diaspora to create a land hospitable to all, where the flora will be replenished with precious wood such as mahogany. They also plan to unleash the creativity of the critical mass of Haitian people for their own benefit and their personal wealth accumulation.

The international community has responded with unusual humanity and compassion to the earthquake-stricken Haiti with ten billion dollars, the corrupt regime and the partisans of the status quo will easily sink $100 billion with no apparent result for the Haitian people. They have discovered a brand new concept: disaster profiteering.

It took the advent of Abraham Lincoln after sixty years the American Independence to recognize that “American slavery had been an offense that God was ready to see destroyed”. Frederic Douglass, the black American avenger, saw the Federalist War against the South as a path to the nation’s healing, even “when the cold and greedy earth drinks up the warm red blood of our patriot sons, brothers, husbands and fathers, carrying sorrow and agony into every household.”

Will the deaths of some 300,000 Haitian people be in vain? Parodying Lincoln “with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation’s wounds”! This is the rallying cry of the new Haitian coalition that plans to remake the Haitian Revolution of 1804 in 2011 not with bullets but with ballots. We need a culture of respect for the electoral process.

Indeed, two hundred years ago, Napoleon Bonaparte succumbing to the pressure from the former colonial planters of Haiti, formerly St Domingue, invaded the country to re-establish slavery dismantled by Toussaint Louverture. Napoleon succeeded in kidnapping Toussaint but the roots of liberty were too deep to be uprooted. The Haitian indigenous army rebuilt and energized by the Congress of May 18, 1803 submitted a definitive blow to slavery for the benefit of the entire world. The only predecessor to this epic story of defying slavery was a vain attempt by Spartacus against the Roman Empire in 73 BC!

The Western world has succeeded in realigning Haiti to a de facto slavery condition through the connivance of its own leaders after the assassination of the black avenger, Jean Jacques Dessalines, in 1807. Haiti is today, after two hundred years, a de facto apartheid regime. The labeling is cheap but the facts are convincing. Not one of the 565 rural hamlets of Haiti has received any funding for infrastructure and institution building. Seven million Haitian people out of the 9 million population live in extreme misery, neglect and ostracism from their own government.

The holy coalition amongst the Haitian civil society, the masses, the Diaspora, the intellectual class is determined to dismantle that status quo. No amount of intimidation and pressure from the Haitian government and its allies – the so-called friends of Haiti- will stop this new alliance. Haiti needs a cafĂ© au lait revolution a la Martin Luther King or a la Nelson Mandela to create a culture of inclusion for the majority.

The Vatican some two hundred years ago was supporting slavery! It did oppose the recognition of Haiti! Victory is always on the side of morality. In the long run! There is a Creole proverb that says: la guerre avertie pa tue co-co be. Cicero said it best: Caveat Consules!

May 22, 2010