Haiti aftermath: Self-government still a great fear By Mark Weisbrot
23 January, 2011 — Sun-Sentinal
The controversy over the return of the infamous dictator, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, to Haiti, is in many ways a distraction. Certainly, it is important he stand trial for crimes against humanity, including the murder and torture of opponents.
But there is another crime being committed against Haiti right now: Foreign powers are trying to rob Haitians once again of their democratic rights. More than 200 years after Haiti liberated itself from slavery and from France, the rich countries still seem to have a great fear of Haitians governing themselves.
It was obvious from the beginning of the disaster one year ago, when the United States took control of the air traffic into Haiti and immediately filled up most of the available landing slots with planes carrying soldiers and military equipment.
Their great fear of looting and crime in the aftermath of the earthquake never materialized, but in the first week after the earthquake, many people lost lives and limbs that could have been saved, if doctors and medical equipment had been the priority.
The “international community” has made a mess of the relief effort that is shameful by any standards. Some 95 percent of the rubble has still not been cleared.
Little has been done in the way of sanitation, according to Doctors Without Borders, helping to spread the cholera that was apparently brought by the United Nations occupying troops ? causing 3,600 deaths from a disease that is normally relatively easy to treat and prevent from spreading.
Most of the people who lost their homes in the earthquake are still living under tarps where the ground beneath them turns to mud when it rains ? they couldn’t even get tents. The “international community,” which dominates the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission ? didn’t want to pressure Haiti’s landowners to accept what would be done in any other country, including the United States: taking available land, with compensation, for the necessary shelter.
But this same international community has not been shy about pressuring the Haitian government to accept its choices for the presidential run-off election. This despite the fact the Organization of American States team of “experts” used an arbitrary method to throw out 234 tally sheets and change the result of the election.
But we have no idea what they would have found if they had subjected all of the tally sheets to the same test (there was no statistical inference reported).
And more than 1,300 tally sheets (about 12 percent of the total) were missing or quarantined by the electoral authorities. If these were included, it appears that Jude Celestin ? the government’s candidate and the one who the OAS proposes to exclude ? would have come in second, and would proceed to the run-off.
In other words, Washington and its carefully selected allies are telling Haiti what the results of its election should be.
Of course, the election was illegitimate to begin with because the country’s most popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas, was excluded from appearing on the ballot. Mostly as a result of this exclusion, only about a quarter of Haiti’s voters went to the polls. This compares to a 59 percent turnout in the 2006 presidential election, and even larger percentages in the past. No voter turnout has been this low in the past 60 years of presidential elections in this hemisphere, including Haiti.
Fanmi Lavalas is the party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was overthrown by the “international community” in 2004. Their great fear is if the election were to re-run ? as it obviously should be ? this arbitrary exclusion, which is analogous to banning the Democratic party in the United States, might be called into question. A free and fair election, with the Haitian people choosing whom they want, could occur.
That is what the “international community” ? which is really Washington and its closest allies ? cannot accept. And that is why they have been pushing so hard for Haiti to allow foreign governments to determine the results of their election.
Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C.