By: Kim Ives – Haiti Liberte

A nationwide uprising against the regime of business partners
President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe continued
to gain steam this week with massive demonstrations in several major
cities, including Port-au-Prince, Léogane, Petit Goâve, Cap-Haïtien,
Fort-Liberté, Ouanaminthe, and Aux Cayes.

Feeling the protests’ heat, Martelly made a short televised national
address on Nov. 28 to announce his formation of an “advisory
commission” made up of 11 people whom he called “credible, honest, and
trusted by society” to provide him “in eight days” with “a
recommendation” on what path to take out of Haiti’s political
imbroglio, saying that “the nation is divided, the problems are many,
the problems are complicated.”

Martelly outlined five categories of recommendation which he had
gleaned from “two months” of “consultations” with Haiti’s political
actors: 1) remove Lamothe as Prime Minister; 2) dissolve Parliament on
Jan. 12, 2015 when the terms of most senators and deputies expire; 3)
change the composition of the Electoral Council; 4) form a Constituent
Assembly to overhaul Haiti’s 1987 Constitution; and 5) extend
Parliament’s life or put in place a council to function in place of

Tellingly, Martelly did not include, or even mention in his address,
the principal demand of the nationwide protests: that he and his prime
minister immediately resign, ceding power to a State Council and
Supreme Court judge, as happened when demonstration-beset-dictator
Gen. Prosper Avril resigned in March 1990. The ensuing Dec. 16, 1990
election, carried out without the supervision of any occupying force
like the current UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), was among
the fairest in Haitian history.

Many demonstrators are also calling for the remaining 6,600 soldiers
of MINUSTAH to immediately leave Haiti.

Ironically, the “trusted” commission is made up of disgraced and
discredited political figures, including Gérard Gourgue, the former
“president” of a “parallel government” the opposition to President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide concocted in 2001; Evans Paul, the archetypal
scheming Haitian politician who was a leader in the 2004 coup; and
Réginald Boulos, a leading political strongman championing the
interests of Haiti’s tiny bourgeoisie.

With typical humor, the Haitian people immediately dubbed Martelly’s
proposal the “Baygon Commission,” referring to a popular insecticide
in Haiti for killing cockroaches. In early November, Martelly’s
Communications Minister, Rudy Hériveaux, a former leader in Aristide’s
Lavalas Family party (FL), issued an editorial in which he wrote:
“Carried away in a kind of destructive frenzy, these cockroaches are
agitated into a disgusting folkloric display in the streets to try to
attack the government.” He was referring to the tens of thousands now
demonstrating and to the Haitian opposition generally.

Such venomous comments and meaningless maneuvers by government
officials have only stoked the flames of “Operation Burkina Faso,” as
the movement is called, inspired by the October uprising that unseated
President Blaise Compaoré in Ouagadougou. “Here are the cockroaches,”
thousands of demonstrators now chant.

Following the giant demonstration on Nov. 25, equally large
demonstrations swept the capital on Nov. 28 and Nov. 29, two dates
with historic symbolism.

On Nov. 28, 1980, the Duvalier dictatorship brutally cracked down on
its political opponents and the press following the election in the
U.S. of right-wing President Ronald Reagan. In the reign of terror
that followed, many anti-Duvalierist journalists, politicians, and
activists were murdered, imprisoned, tortured, or exiled. Then on Nov.
28,1985 in Gonaïves, Duvalier’s soldiers and Tonton Macoutes gunned
down three students: Mackenson Michel, Daniel Israel, and Jean Robert
Cius. Outrage at these killings sparked the nationwide uprising that
led to the fall of dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier on Feb. 7, 1986.

On Nov. 29, 1987, a neo-Duvalierist military junta, composed of Gens.
Henry Namphy, and Williams Régala, backed by paramilitary chieftains
like Claude Raymond, carried out an election day massacre, killing
dozens of would-be voters, most bloodily and infamously at the
Argentine School on Ruelle Vaillant in the capital.

Nov. 29, 1803 is also the day at Fort Dauphin in Haiti’s North that
Haiti’s founding fathers first proclaimed independence, declaring at
the time that “we have secured our rights, and we swear to yield to no
power on earth.”

Inspired by their ancestors, on Nov. 29, 2013, thousands of
demonstrators had tried to march on the U.S. Embassy in Tabarre, an
action which was characterized as “Dessalines visits Uncle Sam.” But
Haitian police brutally dispersed the protest with tear-gas before it
reached the embassy.

The same thing happened this year. Haitian police met the chanting
multitude with tear-gas, batons, and gunfire at the Fleuriot
intersection, just a stone’s throw from the home were Aristide remains
under virtual house arrest.

Nonetheless, a few hundred protestors managed to break through police
lines and get to the embassy where Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles, the
principal leader of the anti-Martelly and anti-occupation
demonstrations, delivered a scathing speech.

“We were determined to demonstrate outside the embassy, and here we
are,” he said. “We must fight, and through our determination, we have
shown our ability to save our country from its current terrible
situation.” Sen. Moïse was joined by other uprising leaders such as
outspoken lawyer André Michel.

Meanwhile, in the northeastern cities of Fort Liberté and Ouanaminthe
near the border with the Dominican Republic, police wounded about 15
people with tear-gas and gunfire during a week of demonstrations.
There were four deaths reported, including a three-month old infant
and a 16-year-old boy. The people of the Northeast department are
protesting against blackouts, while they claim that more than 12
megawatts of electricity remains unused at the Caracol Industrial
Park, home to assembly factories. The residents of Fort-Liberté and
Ouanaminthe want their electrical grids connected to Caracol’s power

In Ouanaminthe, demonstrations are demanding the dismissal of customs
officials who harass with overcharges and blockages small merchants
crossing over the border’s Massacre River into Dajabon. The
demonstrations prevented 10 containers from getting to the Caracol
Industrial Park. A contingent of 30 heavily armed policemen from the
Brigade of Motorized Intervention (BIM) was dispatched to shepherd the
containers in.

Beginning at 9 a.m. on Dec. 1, the townspeople of Cabaret, about 20
miles north of Port-au-Prince, blocked National Highway # 1 to demand
electricity, drinking water, and a police outpost. Schools, banks, and
markets were closed by the protest.

An official vehicle, determined to pass through the blockade,
apparently fired on the crowd, reportedly killing two: a man known
only as “Macintosh” and a woman who sold soda known as “Mabi.

As mayhem ensued, the police anti-riot unit, the Company for
Intervention and Maintenance of Order (CIMO) arrived to suppress the
crowd with tear-gas and water cannons.

“Water is life, electricity is development,” the crowd chanted. “We
don’t want to continue to drink dirty water. If the police fire on us,
the situation will deteriorate. Down with Martelly!”

Christel Thélusma, spokesman for the local organization MADIBA,
condemned the government’s repression of peaceful demonstrations for
basic needs.

“We do not want street lights, we want electricity in our homes so
that our children can study their lessons,” he said. “We will not
yield to the pressures of the police. Our demands are fair and
justified. Martelly and Lamothe steal funds intended for development
of the country, while we have no electricity, we have no drinking
water. MINUSTAH’s cholera is killing us. This is our third
demonstration, yet the authorities have never come to talk with the

Similar demonstrations demanding electricity, drinking water, and
Martelly’s resignation blocked National Highway #2 in Léogâne and
Petit Goâve.

Opposition leaders have called for “Operation Burkina Faso” to
continue with mass mobilizations on Dec. 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 16, and 18.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is slated to visit Haiti
on Dec. 12. In preparation for that meeting, U.S. Embassy officials
invited six opposition leaders to a meeting on Dec. 2 at the
headquarters of Fusion, Haiti’s principal social-democratic party.

According to highly placed sources in the opposition, the plan of the
U.S. Embassy and the Martelly regime is to have Prime Minister Laurent
Lamothe resign. This would kill two birds with one stone. First, it
would make Martelly appear to have bowed to one of the opposition’s
demands (although it is only the Lavalas Family which officially
limits its demand to Lamothe’s resignation). Secondly, it would
distance Lamothe, the U.S. Embassy’s darling, from Martelly, who is
the focus of popular ire and has skeletons possibly about to spill out
of his closet, including corruption, drug-trafficking, passport fraud,
and maybe even murder.

Lamothe would then be free to concentrate on his presidential campaign
for the end of 2015. According to the sources, former Prime Minister
Max Bellerive, or possibly his predecessor Michèle Pierre-Louis, would
be brought in to “sell” a political deal to some opposition parties
and most of the six senators resisting ratification of Martelly’s
electoral law and electoral council, thereby isolating Sen. Moïse

However, Haiti is slippery ground, as the Kreyòl proverb says, and
already things have not gone as planned. The Lavalas Family, perhaps
the most important opposition party that needs to be part of any U.S.
Embassy solution, did not attend the Dec. 2 meeting, outside of which
several dozen demonstrators protested with signs like “USA=Bluff, Long
live a Haiti without bluff!” (Kontra Pèp La also shunned sitting down
with U.S. Ambassador Pamela White.)

In the days ahead, the U.S. and Martelly will keep trying to coopt,
divide, undermine, and threaten the Haitian opposition, as well as the
larger social movement behind it, in an effort to keep Martelly and
MINUSTAH in place. The challenge remains for Martelly’s opposition to
stay united and for the mass movement to sustain its mobilization
until it has the same momentum as those which drove dictators from
power in 1986 and 1990.

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