Elections are held in Haiti with no real choice for the people

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Source: ALBA Movimientos / HaitiNoMINUSTAH.com / October 26, 2015

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The democratic farce was carried out —almost—uneventfully last Saturday in Haiti, as the people decided between more than 50 similar presidential candidates, none of which truly represent their interests.

 

This Sunday, the Haitian people went to the polls to appoint president, members of parliament and municipal authorities. 52 candidates sought to replace President Michel Martelly, who has held the post since May, 2011. The second round of legislative elections was also held. The first parliamentary round, that had taken place on August 9, was marked by allegations of fraud and irregularities, and clashes that resulted in eight deaths. On that occasion, with an attendance of only 18%, only 10 legislators were elected —two senators and eight deputies— of 139 seats that were supposed to be renovated.

 

While the Haitian and international authorities, observers and media gloated over the “peacefulness” in with the elections were carried out, major issues like State terrorism from Martelly’s government are covered with a tight seal of silence.

 

The Chief of the European Union Mission, Elena Valenciano, said that, despite minor irregularities, voting was carried out normally on Sunday. She congratulated the officials for having improved the functioning of the electoral machinery. Prime Minister Paul Evans also expressed satisfaction about the attendance of citizens to the polls.


But the popular organizations had a different view. The movement “Socialist Regroup for a New National Initiative” called this elections “the second earthquake” to devastate Haiti. They denounced several fraudulent manipulations, including the handover of seats among the parties, preventing people from voting and forcing people to vote for a specific candidate, intimidating them with violence, even attacking elderly people. Moreover, armed forces literally destroyed voting centers where they were unable to commit fraud. The most violent forces were the officialist PHTK and the Réseau national Bouclier Haïtien. The movement also denounces that 36 million dollars were stolen during the setup of the infrastructure for the elections, and that some of the voting centers were located inside the residences of party members.

 

Meanwhile, Celso Amorim, head of the Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Haiti, echoes a similar observation that there were some problems, “appreciation became insoluble but none has been as to affect the Final results of the election”.

 

The OAS representative said the process has had a great turnout in a situation without any incident that has motivated people to participate and noted that observers had no problem to carry out their task. “There are reasons to believe that this is a very positive process”, Amorim said. Finally, he manifested his belief that this time “people’s will is going to be respected.”

 

Previous to the elections, a violent incident was recorded last weekend in Cite Soleil, the poorest neighborhood in America, in which ten people, including two pregnant women, died.

 

On October 21, Canada Haiti Action Network reported that “A new specialized police unit and affiliated local gangs unleashed a wave of violence during the past week which has taken over 20 lives and terrorized the population of Cité Soleil, Port-au-Prince’s largest shanty town.

“The Brigade for Departmental Intervention Operations (BOID), a 254-officer SWAT unit formed by the regime of President Michel Martelly in June, killed at least 12 people with gunfire and decapitated four men with machetes. Their bodies were discovered on Oct. 16.

“[…] Most people say the violence in Cité Soleil has been fomented by the regime to discourage voters there from going to the polls on Sun., Oct. 25, when the first round of presidential elections and second round of parliament elections will be held”.

Despite this scenario of State terrorism, the head of UE Haiti Observation Mission said that she perceives “a kind of social consciousness that is much more settled on the importance that these elections go well”. Prime Minister Paul Evans rejoiced in the “normal development” of the elections, and the Chief of the European Union Mission, Elena Valenciano, also congratulated the process. Antonal Mortimé, of the Platform for Human Rights Organizations considered that the process was adequate although there was not sufficient discretion in the casting of votes (see picture below).

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The novelty in the election was the presence of drones and security cameras surveilling the hottest voting center. Around 12,000 police and MINUSTAH troops were also deployed to control the population.

 

The Dominican-Haitian border was closed for the holding of elections. A large military police presence was seen on both sides of the border.

 

While there have been as many as fifty presidential candidates, a great number of Haitians are unhappy with the options. The population complains of partisan bickering that led to a political stalemate and prevented a serious discussion on core issues during the campaign.

 

Nearly six million voters were called to elect the next president, 129 legislators and municipal authorities. The results will be available next month.

 

Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide confirmed his popularity after being greeted by more than 1,500 people while he attended the polls. Many of his supporters chanted “Aristide is our blood.” The former president has kept a low profile since returning to Haiti after seven years in exile, but in recent times has requested support for Fanmi Lavalas, the candidate for the party he formed several decades ago.

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