Crowds have been thin and enthusiasm weak during the current Mardi Gras celebration (which culminates Mar. 8) due to a lack of government funding and a malaise which hangs over the country where more than one million earthquake victims remain homeless in growingly tattered IDP camps and where “a mockery of an election, which will result in the ‘selection’ of one of two arch-reactionaries to be President, is being shoved down our throat by the so-called international community,” he said.
The run-off, between former First Lady Mirlande Manigat and former konpa singer Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly is scheduled to take place on Mar. 20, and the two candidates are crisscrossing Haiti with campaign rallies in towns, large and small.
There is only one small problem: the election is illegal under Haiti’s Constitution and Electoral Law. Only four of the eight-member Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) have voted to proceed with the second round, one short of the five necessary. Furthermore, the first round results have not been published in the journal of record, Le Moniteur, and President René Préval has not officially convoked Haitians to vote, both constitutional requirements.
“In this election, it is the United Nations [UN] and Organization of American States [OAS], both acting on Washington’s behalf, who are convoking the people to vote for the candidates whom they have designated,” Pierre-Louis said. (Last month, the OAS forced the CEP – legally, the “final arbiter” of Haitian elections – to replace Jude Célestin, the candidate of Préval’s party, with Martelly in the run-off.)
In response, Tet Kole and a number of other organizations and parties are organizing a demonstration in the capital on Mar. 15 to call for a boycott of the elections and exiled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s return.
Meanwhile, four other presidential candidates – Jean Henri Céant, Yves Cristallin, Jacques Edouard Alexis, and Charles Henri Baker – have called for annulment of the elections, whose first round was severely marred by massive and widespread voter fraud, violence and disenfranchisement. “We want the annulment, pure and simple, of the shameful Nov. 28 election,” Cristallin said.
Last week, The Guardian (UK) published an open letter signed by prominent figures like author and linguist Noam Chomsky, Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, actor Danny Glover, British Pakistani intellectual Tariq Ali, and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, among others. The letter, which calls for new elections and Aristide’s return, was published simultaneously in French in last week’s Haiti Liberté. Since that time, a number of other well-known and well-respected figures have signed on to the letter, including Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat, Uruguayan author and historian Eduardo Galeano, British parliamentarian John McDonnell, and philosopher Cornel West.
Below we reproduce the complete letter in English along with the updated list of signers:
In 2004, the U.S., France and Canada, in alliance with members of Haiti’s business community and demobilised soldiers of the Haitian army, overthrew the last Haitian government to enjoy genuine popular support; the party that led this government, Fanmi Lavalas, was elected with around 75% of the vote. This past November, these same powers imposed and funded an illegitimate electoral process in Haiti, one that blocked the participation of Fanmi Lavalas. Only 23% of Haitian voters participated, scarcely a third of the proportion who voted in the last presidential election.
In recent weeks, the U.S. and its proxies have brazenly interfered in the interpretation of this election’s first round of results. The flawed November vote was not only inconclusive and unrepresentative, its outcome was also unlawful. If the second round of these elections goes ahead as planned on 20 March, it is now sure to result in the unconstitutional selection of a president with closer ties to the powers that sponsored and manipulated them than to the people meant to participate in them.
At the same time, the powers that dominate Haiti have facilitated the return of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier while discouraging the return of twice-elected president (and Fanmi Lavalas leader) Jean-Bertrand Aristide. These powers, with their allies in the Haitian business community, have made it clear that they seek to delay Aristide’s return until after 20 March. They will only allow Aristide to return after a suitably pliant new government has been installed, to preside over the imminent reconstruction process.
We the undersigned call on the Haitian government to make the security arrangements that will enable Aristide’s immediate return, and we call on the international community to support rather than undermine these efforts. We call on the Haitian government to cancel the second round vote scheduled for 20 March and to organise a new round of elections, without exclusions or interference, to take place as soon as possible.
Marie Célie Agnant, writer Tariq Ali, writer Andaiye, Red Thread, Guyana Roger Annis, Canada Haiti Action Network Reginald Antoine, PEVEP Molefi Kete Asante, President, Molefi Kete Asante Institute for Afrocentric Studies Alain Badiou, Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris) Brian Becker, National Coordination, ANSWER Coalition Emile Wilnes Brumer, Mas Popile Site Soley Sara Callaway, Women of Colour/Global Women’s Strike, UK Yves Camille, Haiti Liberté Jean-Claude Cajou, community activist Noam Chomsky, MIT Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General Brian Concannon, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti Dan Coughlin, Executive Director, Manhattan Neighborhood Network Edwidge Danticat, author Ezili Dantò, Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network Mike Davis, UC Riverside Castro Desroches, SUNY Rea Dol, SODUPEP Berthony Dupont, Haiti Liberté Ben Dupuy, Haiti Progres & Parti Populaire National Darren Ell, Montreal-Haiti Solidarity Committee Joe Emersberger, writer Yves Engler, writer Anthony Fenton, journalist Weiner Kerns Fleurimond, Haiti Liberté Pierre L. Florestal, Fanmi Lavalas – NY Daniel Florival, Tet Kole Oganizasyon Popile yo Sara Flounders, International Action Center Laura Flynn, Aristide Foundation for Democracy board Eduardo Galeano, historian and journalist, Uruguay Danny Glover, actor & activist, Board Chair, TransAfrica Forum Leah Gordon, photographer & curator Manu Goswami, NYU Greg Grandin, NYU Thomas Griffin, lawyer Prince Guetjens, writer Bishop Thomas Gumbleton Peter Hallward, Kingston University London Georges Honorat, Haiti Progres Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté Selma James, Global Women’s Strike, UK Dr. G. Carlo Jean, educator Marlene Jean-Noel, Fanmi Lavalas Baz NY Tony Jean-Thénor, Veye Yo Frantz Jerome, Coalition Against Occupation and Sham Elections Evelt Jeudi, Fanmi Lavalas Miami Jude Geffrard Joseph, Radio Pa Nou, Brooklyn Mario Joseph, Office of International Lawyers (BAI) Farah Juste, representative of Fanmi Lavalas for Florida & the Bahamas Michelle Karshan, Aristide Foundation for Democracy Katharine Kean, film-maker Ira Kurzban, Counsel for the Republic of Haiti from 1991-2004 Pierre Labossiere, Haiti Action Committee Ray Laforest, International Support Haiti Network Frantz Latour, Haiti Liberté Andrew Leak, University College London Didier Leblanc, Haiti Liberté Jacques Elie Leblanc, Haiti Liberté Maude Leblanc, Haiti Progres Richard Ledes, film director Nicole Lee, President, TransAfrica Forum Jack Lieberman, Haiti Solidarity Committee, Miami Nina López, Legal Action for Women, UK Gardy Lumas, PEVEP Isabel Macdonald, journalist Albert Maysles, film-maker John McDonnell, Member of Parliament, UK Yves Mésidor, Mas Popile Site Soley Johnny Michel, Mas Popile Site Soley Melinda Miles, Let Haiti Live Georges Mompremier, Fanmi Lavalas Baz NY Fednel Monchery, Jeunesse pour la République (JPR) Joia S. Mukherjee, Chief Medical Officer, Partners In Health Nick Nesbitt, Princeton University Harry Numa, community activist Vanel Louis Paul, Mas Popile Site Soley Gladys Timmer Phillpotts, Fanmi Lavalas Baz St. Francis Fritzner Pierre, radio host of Dyalog Popile Wadner Pierre, Haitianalysis.com Yves Pierre-Louis, Tet Kole Oganizasyon Popile yo Kevin Pina, Haiti Information Project Margaret Prescod, Women of Colour/Global Women’s Strike, USA Jackson Rateau, Haiti Liberté Jane Regan, journalist Roosevelt René, engineer Corey Robin, Brooklyn College & CUNY William Robinson, UCSB Nicolas Rossier, film-maker Robert Roth, Haiti Action Committee Jean Saint-Vil, writer Alina Sixto, Radio Fanmi Lavalas New York Ashley Smith, International Socialist Review Mark Snyder, International Action Ties Jeb Sprague, UCSB Irwin Stotzky, University of Miami Law School Lucie Tondreau, community activist Eddy Toussaint “Tontongi”, Revi Tanbou Harold Valentin, Oganizasyon Jen Salomon (OJESA) Dave Welsh, San Francisco Labor Council Cornel West, Princeton University Burt Wides, former counsel to Haiti’s constitutional government; Special Counsel to President Carter for oversight of all U.S. Intelligence Agencies Cécile Winter, Collectif politique sida en Afrique Slavoj Zizek, University of Ljubljana