With the task of covering the presidential election, I have observed and lived experiences of Ricardo Seitenfus, Brazilian, professor of international law and resident for about ten years in the country. In his book, “Haiti – International dilemmas and failures”, Sentefus makes a harsh criticism to foreign domination of the Caribbean country under the guise of international aid.
With a strong revolutionary tradition, born in the War of Independence, a revolution of slaves that was successful, and of which the 200th anniversary was celebrated in 2004, Haiti is still waiting for the liberation of most of its people, who are living under the rule of a political elite highly favored by institutionalized misery.
Modern and vibrant cars fill the narrow streets of Puerto Príncipe (Port-au-Prince), next to a public transport system similar to the one used by the livestock industry of other Latin American countries. With only one difference: at least animals enjoy a minimum security; Haitian workers have no such right.
The nation was the first to free the slaves in America, for it was born of an insurgency of these workers, however, it still maintains child slave labor, denounced by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2013 but recognized by some Haitian thinkers like an element of their culture. The figure of the restavec is the greatest and saddest example. Little girls begin their work at four o’clock. They empty their bedpans, sweep the floor, carry water for cooking and, as soon as the sun is up, prepare coffee and heat the oil to make scrambled eggs for the family (which is not theirs). They work every day on housework, and their workday can last 14 hours. They have no weekly rest and feed on leftovers (restavec). Most of them are aged between seven and fourteen. A report released in 2013 has pointed out that over 209100 people are living in these conditions in Haiti, but the country’s Elite does not mind. Child labor remains a cultural element of this society.
Everyone is left-wing and a Democrat
Since the collapse of the dictatorship of Francois Duvalier and Touton Macute Sues in 1986, no party has given a speech that is openly right-sided.
Only the Kontrapepla party expresses a concern with most of the population – 60 percent of which is made up of peasants. Its candidate Chavannes Jean Baptiste has consistently claimed that his campaign is organizational, different from traditional campaigns, and that the main objective is to organize the workers for a real process of change.
In words of economist Camille Chalmers, in an interview with Opera Mundi, “the people do not believe in the institutions and shallow discussions, but they understand the elections as a way to earn some money”.