Election Forecast in Haiti
from Bad fo Dreadful
July 25, 2005
(Demand Immediate Release of Father Gèrard Jean Juste, go to:
: Stop UN
massacres of civilians.)
€ Latortue shows his cards as he tries to fix the deck.
€ Democracy takes a turn for the worst in Haiti, where acts of
political persecution are both encouraged and committed.
€ LAVALAS will make a tragic mistake if it adopts the strategy
of sitting out the election—a move that would carry out Latortue’s
€ On July 16, Washington’s Haiti servitors—the Council
of Sages—recommended banning former President Aristide’s
Lavalas Party from participating in upcoming national elections.
€ On July 22, Haitian police again arrested Lavalas leader and
likely presidential candidate, Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste.
€ Haiti’s already staggering death toll continues to rise
as Haitian police and UN forces carry out violent raids in poor neighborhoods,
killing scores of innocent bystanders.
€ For the first time since the days of former Secretary of State
Colin Powell, the U.S. State Department may finally be taking small
steps to a higher ground by insisting on representative elections for
Just when it seemed like things couldn’t get any worse for Haiti,
events further deteriorated on the beleaguered island last week.
On July 16, Haiti’s Council of Sages formally recommended barring
former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s LAVALAS Party from participating
in upcoming elections, accusing the group of “continu[ing] to
promote and tolerate violence.”
Then, on July 22, LAVALAS leader and likely presidential candidate,
Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, was arrested on charges in connection with the
death of prominent Haitian journalist Jacques Roche.
It is important to note that a State Department official carefully articulated
that his agency had seen no credible evidence establishing that pro-Aristide
forces were responsible for Roche’s death. The priest’s
arrest and the recommendation made by the seven-member advisory council,
which was formed under the plenary direction of the U.S. following Aristide’s
February 2004 ouster and was responsible for selecting interim Prime
Minister Gerard Latortue, dealt fatal blows to any lingering hopes for
delivering an open democracy in the near future to the long-struggling
island. These events, along with stepped-up violence by Haitian police
in complicity with the UN peacekeeping forces, have projected Latortue’s
interim government as proving to be increasingly incapable of establishing
the necessary stability, security and protection from political persecution
on the island in order for free and fair elections to take place within
a three month framework.
Although the Council of Sages formally moved to exclude LAVALAS from
participating in the ballot, the party has yet to announce its intentions
to partake in the elections. Now, with the arrest of Jean-Juste, LAVALAS
cooperation seems even farther from reality. The priest became LAVALAS’
top presidential hopeful when Aristide announced in April 2005 that,
in accordance with the Haitian constitution, he would not seek a third
presidential mandate. According to the Associated Press, Jean-Juste,
who has denied any involvement in Roche’s murder, is detained
in a cell with more than twenty people and he has good reason to fear
for his life. As before, the unscrupulous Latortue has failed to present
a sliver of evidence implicating one of Haiti’s most popular figures
in an unlawful act. The State Department says that it has been apprised
of Jean-Juste’s arrest and its awaiting the presentation of credible
evidence backing up the charges.
VIOLENCE CONTINUES UNDER LATORTUE’S
Under Latortue’s interim government, Haiti has been marred by
persisting violence, brutality and kidnappings. Human rights groups
estimate that more than 700 people, including 40 police, seven peacekeepers,
a French diplomat and a prominent Haitian journalist, have been killed
on the island since June 2004. While the Council of Sages castigates
LAVALAS for perpetrating the continuing bloodshed, they fail to address
the charge that the party is often the target of oppression by the Haitian
police and the UN peacekeepers, which together contribute to Haiti’s
rising death toll.
LAVALAS members have long been subjected to police brutality.
Shortly after Aristide’s abrupt departure from office, LAVALAS
supporters marched in Port-au-Prince demanding the return of their democratically-elected
president. Police opened fire on the mainly unarmed crowd, killing eleven
and wounding many more. Unfortunately, this type of tragedy has become
commonplace in the politically torn country and UN peacekeepers have
done little to improve the situation. Nevertheless, it would be playing
into Latortue’s and Washington’s hands if LAVALAS refuses,
on grounds of personal security, to sit out the election even though
it is by far, the most popular political grouping on the island.
The month of July has been especially deadly for Haitian dissidents.
On July 6, 350 heavily armed UN troops stormed the slum of Cite Soleil,
a pro-Aristide neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, resulting in the deaths
of approximately fifty Cite Soleil residents. Brazilian Lt. General
Augusto Heleno Ribeiro, head of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti
(MINUSTAH), claimed that the attack was an attempt to curb violence
in the neighborhood. Then, on July 13, MINUSTAH forces killed as many
as eighty people, again in Cite Soleil, and on July 15, Haitian police
left ten dead in the slum of Bel Air. Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA),
an active Haiti observer who has made numerous diplomatic visits to
the island, has expressed her concern that “violence in Haiti
has been escalating over the past year” and that “Members
of the LAVALAS political party are murdered routinely, kidnappings are
commonplace and security is non-existent.”
Brutally bloody missions, such as the July 6 and July 13 incidents,
demonstrate how the UN, along with Latortue and the Haitian police have
hugely failed the Haitian people in establishing anything resembling
the necessary security and stability to hold elections. According to
Waters, “The interim government of Haiti has been unable to disarm
the gangs that roam the country, enforce the rule of law, or provide
security to citizens and foreigners. The Haitian National Police contribute
to the violence through summary executions and other forms of brutality.”
The Congresswoman correctly concludes that “This is not an atmosphere
that is conducive to the organization of free and fair elections.”POLITICAL
PERSECUTION BECOMES INSTITUTIONALIZED
At first glance, the Council of Sages’ recommendation appears
to be just one more U.S.-backed ploy to prevent Aristide, or any of
his LAVALAS supporters, from regaining power in Haiti.
But the U.S. Department of State’s position now seems interesting,
if we are to believe it. State Department officials immediately denounced
the Council’s advice, insisting that only the Provisional Electoral
Council (CEP) has the authority to determine who is qualified to participate
in the forthcoming elections, and that the CEP almost immediately opposed
the unfortunately named “Sages.” In fact, Washington called
the proposal completely inappropriate and asked that body to encourage
the participation of all parties in the elections. However, U.S. officials
have also stated that parties engaging in violent activities not be
allowed to vote. If such a mandate is to be strictly followed in Haiti,
where it is nearly impossible to differentiate among violence perpetrated
by political parties, common gangs, the police or UN peacekeepers, then
the process of registering voters would appear almost futile.
In any event, prospects for free and fair elections appear very bleak
for the struggling island. Haiti’s CEP has reported that only
600,000 of the 4.5 million eligible voters have registered, or roughly
13 percent of the electorate. But State Department officials have remained
confident that elections will take place within three months, as scheduled.
Likewise, Latortue maintains optimism that voting will be carried out
on time; although on July 23 he announced that the August 9 voter registration
deadline will likely have to be postponed to meet his goal of at least
2.5 million people registered. The interim prime minister was not close
to the mark when he noted that, “the only topic on which this
government will be judged is its capacity to organize fair and representative
Not only has he yet to exhibit a sincere commitment to staging authentic
elections, but his anti-pathetic government is also sure to be judged
on other grave grounds, including its total disregard for the country’s
constitution, its ongoing contempt for high human rights standards and
a lawful judiciary, its incompetent rule, a woeful failure in its administrative
capacities, as witnessed in its inability to even elementally deal with
Tropical Storm Jeanne in which several thousand Haitians died, as well
as its indifference to due process.
The question remains as to how consonant the Bush administration is
regarding its Haiti policy. Clearly it would represent a massive diplomatic
defeat if LAVALAS would win the presidential election scheduled for
November. The bedrock of U.S. policy has been to eliminate Aristide’s
influence, not to pave the way for one of his disciples to be the next
president. In fact, the hard truth for the administration is that LAVALAS
by far, is the country’s most popular party. Given that LAVALAS
maintains an overwhelming political plurality, there is no evidence
that anything else but its victory could happen if free and fair elections
take place as promised.
The State Department has pledged to recognize any government that is
legitimately elected, but it has also habitually added the disclaimer
that the U.S. cannot acknowledge as official any group believed to be
promoting violence. Just as the administration efficiently fine tunes
its pronouncements on the standards against which U.S. presidential
advisor Karl Rove will be judged as a means to exonerate him, there
is good reason to believe that Washington is fully prepared to resort
to any slight of hand required to prevent the return, in any form, of
Aristide’s influence on the island.This analysis was prepared
by COHA Director Larry Birns and COHA Research Fellow Sarah E. Schaffer.
Additional research provided by COHA Research Associate Stephanie Luckam.
July 25, 2005
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Solidarity Day Pictures & Articles
May 18, 2005
and Articles Witness Project
photo for larger image
Wilme - on "Wanted poster" of suspects wanted by the
"Dread" Wilme reported killed July 6, 2005
"Dread" Wilme speaks:
Radio Lakou New York, April 4, 2005 interview with Emmanuel "Dread"
Alert- Demand a Stop to Killings
in Cite Soleil:
Sample letters and Contact information provided, April 21, 2005
Crucifiction of Emmanuel
Peralte - The old Bandit King of Haiti
* In 1919 the US murdered him and put the body on public display
Urge the Caribbean Community to stand firm in not recognizing
the illegal Latortue regime:
Show at the
July 27, 2004 Haiti Forum Press Conference during the DNC
in Boston honoring those who stand firm for Haiti and democracy;
those who tell the truth about Haiti; Presenting the Haiti
Resolution, and; remembering Haiti's revolutionary legacy
in 2004 and all those who have lost life or liberty fighting
against the Feb. 29, 2004 Coup d'etat and its consequences