Lavalas Flexes its Muscles in Haiti

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Lavalas Flexes its Muscles in Haiti

Post by Barb » Fri Apr 24, 2009 4:06 pm

Lavalas flexes its muscles in Haiti

by Kevin Pina
President of Haiti Rene Preval appears visibly worried as his security detachment far out numbers voters at the polling station where he cast his ballot.

A nearly empty ballot box sits at a polling station in Port-au-Prince on April 19, 2009. Voters overwhelmingly stayed away from the polls after Haiti's largest political party called for a boycott.

HIP — Haiti's Lavalas movement effectively destroyed the credibility of yesterday's Senate election through a successful boycott campaign called Operation Closed Door. Even the most generous electoral count puts participation at less than 10% in the capital of Port-au-Prince while the actual figure may be as low as 3% nationwide.

According to Rene Civil, one of the spokespersons for Operation Closed Door, "What we are seeing is the non-violent resistance of the Haitian people to undemocratic elections. There is no way they will be able to call the Senators elected in this process legitimate. You cannot hold elections without the majority political party." Ronald Fareau, another representative of the campaign stated, "We want to congratulate the international community for their hypocrisy in these elections. They spent over 17 million dollars on another electoral fraud in Haiti while our people continue to suffer from malnutrition and illiteracy."

The controversy over the election began when factions of the Fanmi Lavalas party originally presented two slates of candidates to the Conseil Electoral Provisoire or CEP. The two slates were an apparent attempt to wrest control of the party from former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide who was ousted in Feb. 2004 and remains in exile in the Republic of South Africa. A break-away faction led by former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune questioned the legitimacy of the candidates presented by the former president's appointed representative Dr. Maryse Narcisse. The campaign against Narcisse and Aristide was brutal among their supporters including accusations of his appointed representative working with the CIA and the US State Department. Neptune's group then presented a second slate but in the end the Fanmi Lavalas party's leadership managed to hammer out a compromise list of candidates in time to meet the deadline.

The CEP finally refused to accept the Fanmi Lavalas applications on the grounds they did not have former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide's personal signature from exile in South Africa. The CEP reportedly would not allow for a facsimile copy of his signature on the documents when they were presented on the final day of the application deadline. This effectively excluded all Fanmi Lavalas candidates from participating in the election and led to the boycott of the Senate elections on Sunday.

Neptune and other members of his faction within the Fanmi Lavalas party called for participation in the election despite the nationwide boycott. Early Sunday morning Neptune said publicly on a local radio program, "We must vote today if we are to keep the integrity of the democratic process." When asked on Radio Caraibe's Ranmase program if he had a message for voters Neptune responded, "Vote well." The success of yesterday's boycott was taken as a referendum of support for Aristide by the base of the Lavalas movement in the much-touted internal party conflict.

Although there were some reports of sporadic violence in yesterday's elections between supporters of current president Rene Preval's Lespwa party and its rival L'Union, the disruptions were isolated to a single city, Mirebalais, in the country's Central Plateau region.

There were largely no reports of violence or voting irregularities in the capital where streets and polling stations remained deserted throughout the day. The only incident occurred in the seaside shantytown of Cite Soleil after a member of the L'Union party was accused of handing out money and food to bribe voters.

Private vehicles and motorcycles were banned during the election as they were during the presidential election in Feb. 2006. Where long lines formed at the polls early in the day on Feb. 7, 2006, polling stations remained virtually empty on Sunday due to the Lavalas boycott.

Five Lavalas hunger strikers continued to occupy Haiti' s parliament building in an effort to draw attention to their party's exclusion from the election. They vowed to continue until the election is nullified and demanded that they be held over again during upcoming national elections scheduled for November.

As of 2:00 PM Haitian time, thousands of demonstrators were gathering in front of the parliament to support the hunger strikers as SWAT teams with the Haitian National Police, backed by UN military personnel, were seen surrounding the building.

©2009 Haiti Information Project
all rights reserved

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From Reuters

Post by Barb » Fri Apr 24, 2009 4:16 pm

Haiti will likely wait days for election results

By JONATHAN M. KATZ – 3 days ago ... gD97MHOC80

Results of Haiti's Senate elections will likely not be known for more than a week despite an apparent low turnout, an election official said Monday.

Voting for 11 vacant seats in the 30-member Senate took place across the impoverished country Sunday after a year and a half of delays caused by political infighting, riots and damaging storms.

It will take at least eight days to count ballots trucked in from the countryside and determine winners, said Jean-Marc Baudot, a Canadian consultant serving as logistics coordinator for the provisional electoral council's computation center.

Baudot said that officials have not been able to gauge the turnout yet, but it appeared to be low, based on the observations of balloting observers and reporters covering the elections.

Ballots are being counted at polling places and tabulated at a warehouse computer center guarded by armed U.N. peacekeepers in an industrial park in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Turnout appeared to be extremely low in the capital, where voter apathy and fear of election-day violence were more common than political interest. President Rene Preval declined to comment on the turnout Sunday until official results are calculated.

U.S. Ambassador Janet Sanderson, who toured the tabulation center Monday, remarked that "Historically, off-year elections in the United States as well as in other countries tend not to be as well-attended as presidential elections. We'll have to see."

The international community gave at least $12.5 million, including $3.9 million from the United States, to help carry out the election.

Supporters of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide — whose still-popular Fanmi Lavalas party was prohibited from running by electoral officials — had also encouraged citizens to stay away from the polls.

The party took credit for the apparently low turnout Sunday.

Voting for a 12th seat from the rural Central Department was halted by Haiti's provisional electoral council after demonstrators ransacked polling places and a poll supervisor was shot in the plateau town of Mirebalais. That race will be rescheduled.

On Monday, Haitian workers guarded by Chinese police in blue U.N. berets examined, scanned and tabulated the results reported by polling places across the country. The original ballots are archived elsewhere.

Since the Port-au-Prince facility is the only place where results are being tabulated, voters will have to wait for ballots to make hours-long journeys over Haiti's washed-out, dilapidated mountain roads and to be brought in by boat from surrounding minor islands.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission issued a statement Monday expressing its hope that the Haitian people and political parties will "await calmly the publication of results ... and that any dispute will be pursued through legal channels."

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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From Counterpunch

Post by Barb » Fri Apr 24, 2009 4:19 pm

Who is Representing Who?
The Haitian People Need a Lobbyist



If the Haitian government tells you these last Senate elections were fine; don't believe them.

If the United Nations tells you these last Senate elections in Haiti were fine; don't believe them.

If the OAS (Organization of American States) tells you these last Senate elections in Haiti were fine; don't believe them.

If the Main Stream Media ignores the recent Haitian elections, maybe it's because no one is supposed to say that it was a voting nightmare. When you hold an election and no one shows up, it's a nightmare.

I drove around town (Port-au-Prince) late Sunday morning, April 19, as voters were supposed to be voting. One of the things reaffirmed to me that morning was that Haitians like playing soccer in the streets when there's no traffic. People did not vote in Port-au-Prince and Port-au-Prince, in this case, probably reflects what was happening in most of the country.

If some one tries to tell you that Haitians didn't vote on Sunday because they're apathetic, the person is either lying, uninformed, or trying to sell you a bridge in Brooklyn.

It's not like people didn't vote and went about their business. People didn't vote and either stayed at home or went out onto the streets to see if anyone else would vote. The "no vote" was their vote.

This last election/ referendum showed us that Haitians have had enough of the Preval/Delatour approach to governance.

This government isn't representing the Haitian people.

Some voters of course, may have been intimidated by flyers which said "If you're going to vote, print your name on the bottom of your feet so your body can be identified". Other people may have been intimidated by the Haitian Government and the Haitian National police who officially closed down the country day before and the day after elections, as though some kind of war operation was being prepared. No private cars were permitted to circulate in the streets.

Personally, I think the main cause for the massive non-participation is that, too often, the Haitian masses vote and then the winning politicians get bought.

Wouldn't you get tired of voting if your candidates kept getting bought?

Trying to exclude the Lavalas Party (Haiti's largest party) from the elections didn't help anyone's cause.

I remember the first time I saw President Preval shortly after he won the 2006 election. He was enjoying himself with a new crowd of friends who couldn't possibly have voted for him. Preval ran on promises to eight million Haitians; these new friends were representatives of Haiti's Gang of Eleven: the country's controlling elite. Preval's economic platform (HOPE 2) only represents five percent of the coun try. Haitians need an economic plan that effects 80% of the population, not 5%.

If some one tells you the only reason Aristide left the country is because he was kidnapped, well, that person is misinforming you. A Haitian industrialist, Andy Apaid, had the Haitian masses demonstrating against Aristide. Paradox in politics.

I saw those demonstrations. They were some of the largest demonstrations I 've ever seen in Haiti. After Aristide departed, Gerard Latortue and the "transitional" government came to power, along with a "repression machine" that had policemen circulating around Port-au-Prince with black ski masks on their faces. Andy Apaid was silent during all of this; he orchestrated no demonstrations against repression. He was no longer pretending to represent the Haitian people; he was now openly representing himself and his business cohorts.

He was getting sweetheart deals and tax breaks from the transitional government.

The Haitian people have never rallied behind Apaid or the people he supported, again. The honeymoon was over. Andy Apaid will never be able to mobilize the Haitian people again. And on top of this, when Hillary Clinton makes her first trip to Haiti as Secretary of State, someone convinces her that she should be visiting Andy Apaid. A fine example of Haiti's lobbyists at work.

Somehow, with the help of the Delatours and the Haiti Democracy Project in Washington, Andy Apaid and Haiti's business sector have come to dominate the Preval government.

Ever since April/May 2008 when Prime Minister Alexis was voted out of the Prime Minister's office by Senator Youri Latortue and a contingent of Senators with dubious intent, Preval stopped talking about "National Production". Now we're back to "Mme Clinton visiting Apaid at his factory" type of economics.

The Haitian people have said "no" already !!. Doesn't anyone listen?

I can go on. The road from the Dominican Republic that's supposed to bring imported goods to Haiti and tourists from the Dominican Republic to the Citadelle has been built, but the road from Haiti's breadbasket, the Artibonite valley, is in shambles. The message is clear: imports are good. Left over Dominican tourists are good.

Local production is in the back seat. Or, to put it another way, well-off importers are good; poor Haitian farmers are once again invisible and unrepresented.

The Delatours, who have positions in Ministries, the National Palace and as lobbyists are the biggest link between Preval's failing policies, and Washington.

Before they became best friends with Preval they were lobbying for Simeus, the Texas/Haitian billionaire who wanted to be president. When his bid failed, they switched tactics. If you can't vote your own politician into office, buy the one who gets elected.

What it all comes down to is: "Who's representing the Haitian people"?

I know who's representing the business elite and the three to five percent of the population that they encompass, but the country has between 8 and 10 million people. The busses of tourists coming over from the DR aren't going to help the Haitian people. That C2 money is going to be divided up in some office before the project gets off the ground. The HOPE 2 bill which is supposed to provide between 10 and fifty thousand "treading water" jobs, will attract people from the countryside into a city that has no infrastructure to support them. Does anyone care?

Lobbying must be a great business in Haiti. Too bad the Haitian masses don't have a lobbyist.

Richard Morse runs the Oloffson Hotel Port-au-Prince Haiti and the leads the Haitian band RAM.

Posts: 140
Joined: Fri Dec 29, 2006 1:36 pm

From aljazeera

Post by Barb » Fri Apr 24, 2009 4:22 pm

Haitians shun senate elections ... 20542.html

Many clear-plastic ballot boxes were nearly empty in Sunday's polls [AFP]

Haiti's long-delayed senate elections have been marred by extremely poor voter turnout.

Official results are still days away but Al Jazeera's Teresa Bo, reporting from the capital, Port-au-Prince, said only eight per cent of registered voters cast ballots on Sunday.

Most cited poverty, disenchantment with the current government and resentment over the banning of a popular party as reasons for not voting, she said.

The polls, delayed since 2007 and held under the watch of 9,000 UN peacekeepers on Sunday, were seen as an important step in the country's return to democracy.

It was also critical to the efforts of Rene Preval, the president, to retool the constitution and implement economic projects.

Edward Joseph, an observer with the Haiti Democracy Project, a Washington-based think tank, said voter apathy or fear of election violence could be behind the meagre turnout.

"When you see this kind of low turnout, you have to wonder how interested people are in an election," he told The Associated Press news agency.

Boycott urged

Fanmi Lavalas, a party widely supported by the country's poor, was barred by Haiti's provisional electoral council from fielding candidates, for not fulfilling legal requirements.

It urged the estimated four million registered voters to boycott the elections and has vowed to take action if the government insists on the legitimacy of the polls.

The populist party is led by Jean Bertrand Aristide, the president who fled into exile after being ousted in a 2004 coup.

But there was also violence, with protesters raiding polling stations and destroying ballots in Mirebalais, causing voting to be halted in the central plateau city, Radio Metropole said.

"The people stole the ballots, they destroyed the ballots. People were with guns," Charles Messier, a United Nations spokesman, said.

"So, we had some violence yesterday night and even this morning."

In the northern town of Marchand Dessalines, police and UN forces exchanged fire with civilians leaving at least one member of the security forces injured, local officials said.

Civil right

Police in the capital, Port-au-Prince, banned vehicles from the streets and shut down public transportation to keep order, a move that exacerbated the poor turnout.

About 9,000 UN peacekeepers were deployed for Sunday's polls [AFP]

A total of 79 candidates were vying for 12 seats in the country's 30-member senate.

Preval sought to defend the low turnout as he cast his ballot.

"Voting is a civil right but in this country it is not mandatory ... I know the Haitian people, they vote only if they feel like voting," he said on Sunday.

"I'm aware they say the participation rate is going to be low but tomorrow the results will come out and we will know who wins and how many people voted."

The elections were postponed from 2007 after the electoral council was dissolved amid infighting and an alleged assassination attempt on one of its members.

Riots then toppled Haiti's government.

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