The Next Few Years Look Bleak

by Marc-Arthur
Fils-Aimé (Haiti Liberte)

Haiti’s Nov.
20, 2016 elections did not live up to expectations. There was great hope that
they would enable the country would emerge from its ever-deepening crisis.
Instead, the elections were fraught with fraud and irregularities, sometimes
similar but often different from that seen in 2015.

            Electoral participation was only
about 20%, enabling neo-liberal political parties without a proven program to
seize power. Many of those elected are rumored to be drug traffickers,
smugglers, and perpetrators of other heinous acts, thus depriving them of
legitimacy and respect. The nation will suffer for at least the next four or
five years.

The new Provisional Electoral Council did not revolutionize
the electoral system

In terms of
organization, the 2016 elections were not a break with those of 2015,
especially with an electoral system which has discrete ways to facilitate or
eliminate any candidate at any level. The new Provisional Electoral Council
(CEP) of 2016 was chaired by Mr. Léopold Berlanger, historically a close ally
of Washington. Despite the progressive credentials of a small minority of its
nine members, as an institution, the CEP did not revolutionize the electoral
system, as it should have. On the contrary, it legitimized many of the
reprehensible acts orchestrated by its predecessor.

            Relentless public outcry and
demonstrations had forced the 2015 CEP to discontinue the fraudulent elections
then in progress. This led to the 2015 CEP’s dissolution. The new CEP removed
some members of the communal or departmental electoral offices (BEC, BED) and
replaced them with better trained and possibly better intended people, but this
did not have a significant impact on improving the flawed electoral system, now
more than a decade old. The illusion that these elections symbolize the
paradigm of democracy served as a pretext for the executive to push the CEP to
go quickly. Some like to pretend that only elections, at whatever price, can cure
state institutions of their dysfunction. Yet any thorough analysis shows us
that these institutions work within the logic and interests of the ruling
classes and play their part in the concert of the imperialist powers, and this
has consequences for the electoral process.

What are the consequences?

During the last
quarter of 2016, this CEP facilitated the rise to power of questionable figures
who will not give up their criminal instincts for an elected office or for
honor. On the contrary, these people, now wearing the armor of impunity during
their term, will profit and increase their ill-gotten fortunes. The methods
they have used to win power match their status as brigands. They used brazen
tactics such as buying votes, using stolen electoral cards, and bribing agents
and even electoral council members to disqualify their competitors, who
sometimes registered under the same political banner or shared the same
ideological label. Some of them have even had the capacity to manipulate the
electoral machinery in these various areas, with the complicity of the
“international community,” which had direct control over it. The tabulation
center is its legitimate daughter. The United Nations Development Program
(UNDP) was the sole contributor to the Electoral Council, which had to provide
receipts for any purchase, even though the elections were almost completely
financed by the Haitian government. The United Nations Office for Projects
Services (UNOPS) had a monopoly on the transport of ballots under the watchful
eye of the military occupation force called the United Nations Mission to
Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH). This mission is responsible for appalling acts such
as rape, pedophilia, and the introduction of cholera, which already has caused
more than 10,000 deaths and sickened close to a million. Many MINUSTAH soldiers
have abandoned children they fathered. They claim immunity from Haitian
justice. Who are they?

Despite everything, the CEP, formally autonomous, did
not take the opportunity extended by the executive

committed an irreparable error when it did not seize the opportunity, after it
was first formed and some of its members enjoyed popular confidence, to redress
a situation that was already very bad. This error had an insidious effect on
the political situation. Provisional President Jocelerme Privert and Prime
Minister Enex Jean-Charles offered the CEP a golden opportunity to clean up the
fraudulent and irregular elections of August and October 2015 and to make
meaningful positive changes to the electoral system. The Independent Electoral
Evaluation and Verification Commission (CIEVE), which the executive had helped
establish despite the hostility of the “international community,”  had revealed all the fraud that plagued the
2015 elections. Election officials threw out some races where there was
fraudulent voting but laundered and accepted many others, according to their
political and ideological vision and their attachment to the status quo. It is
difficult to understand how the CEP accepted the results of certain Senate,
House of Deputies, and even mayoral races, while rejecting those of the 2015
presidential elections. Presidential, legislative, and local voting were all
done together and part of the same process.

            Another time-bomb ticking since 2013
has suddenly been discovered. It is a matter of interest to the Haitian public
and even foreigners that follow the Haitian situation for one reason or
another. During the electoral campaign preceding the Nov. 20 elections, the
anti-corruption Central Unit on Financial Information (UCREF) uncovered 14 bank
accounts that it suspects were used to launder money in the name and in favor
of Jovenel Moïse, now president.

            The CEP, for the same political and
ideological reasons. did not take up this matter. The Haitian judicial system
has, once again, exhibited its strength in reacting to opinions that criticize
its weakness.

            This judiciary, which has remained
one of the three state powers for more than 200 years, has punished the popular
masses, who constitute Haiti’s largest majority, for the most minor things
while pampering the principal supporters of the ruling classes even after they
have committed abominable crimes. It is true that impunity exists and persists.
It is also true that it is only available to a certain layer of the population.
A clear example, however, was the mistake made by Mr. Jovenel Moïse, on
Wednesday, Jan. 25, when he presented himself without being summoned before
investigating judge Breddy Fabien in an attempt to prove the functioning (but
actually dysfunction) of our legal institutions. Eminent jurists have said that
the president-elect, by this impromptu gesture, automatically became an accused
party. Since he is accused, should he have been able, at least on the ethical
angle, to be inaugurated on Feb. 7 by the National Assembly? Should he be free
in his movements?

            Jovenel Moïse’s election as
president is not just about him exclusively. He represents a right-wing,
neo-Duvalierist current, including people involved in drug trafficking and
smuggling, that now holds Haiti’s main financial and economic levers. Mr.
Moise, with his neoliberal vision is merely a front for imperialism which, like
an octopus, will try to extend its tentacles into all the spaces of political
power in order to appropriate all our natural resources.

            This is the compromise which has
invested the newly elected president with all his power and pomp. The Haitian
Bald Headed Party (PHTK) and its allies won control of the Senate and the lower
house. The three main candidates for the presidency – Jude Célestin, Moïse
Jean-Charles, and Dr. Maryse Narcisse – seized on the UCREF report to demand
the invalidation of Jovenel Moïse’s victory. One wonders why these candidates
waited until the last minute, until it was too late, to raise the money
laundering issue involving Mr. Moïse, because the report was published in
August, three months before the election. This attitude hides some things we do
not know yet.

            Mr. Moïse may have given some clues
about what his presidency will be like. His first speech after the CEP
proclaimed his victory was full of threats. His watchwords are “Order” and
“Respect,” accompanied by the promise of legislation on defamation. This
project will be welcome in the Parliament because it will not only limit or
reduce the accusations against the president, but also against most
parliamentarians suspected by public opinion of committing crimes and
misdemeanors. His electoral promises suggest he will dismantle our
institutions. More than one fear a return to Duvalierist repression in a
post-cold war version. Moreover, let us listen to his conclusion when he
announced the organization of the national carnival in the city of Les Cayes:
“The president has spoken. Period.”

            He had not yet taken the oath of
office before the National Assembly, composed of the majority of the members of
each of the two legislative bodies. Like his predecessor and mentor Michel
Martelly, he plans to dethrone Port-au-Prince as the traditional carnival host
in favor of one of the cities most affected by Hurricane Matthew.

The next few years look bleak

It is not
because the new president has no political experience that we foresee trouble
in the immediate future. The suspicion of the money-laundering case against him
will taint and weaken his entire presidency. It is true that he will hold
almost absolute power with the support of the majority of parliamentarians,
most of whom have as bad a reputation as him.

            Thus, he will be free from any
constraint to continue the PHTK policy of turning over the country’s natural
resources to the multinationals while paving the way for the embezzlement of
public funds. He has his hands free to protect his corrupt acolytes and prepare
for the return of Michel Martelly to power in the next presidential election in
2020, the man who thrust him onto the political stage about three years ago.
This reactionary group is about to change the Constitution in the wake of the
48th legislature, which completely illegally amended it, removing
from the people certain clauses which guaranteed their participation.

            Such a policy will not allow him to
sleep in peace. In any case, with fewer opportunities available to him with the
likely unavailability of the PetroCaribe fund, he will not have all the means
his predecessor had to implement his policies. Unfulfilled electoral promises
will awaken slumbering popular demands. Traditional politicians, even those who
have opportunistically already extended an olive branch of reconciliation,
will, as usual, take advantage of popular demands to serve their political
ambitions. The revolutionary left has a duty to unite on a principled basis to
accompany the masses in their struggle and offer them a real alternative.

(Translated and edited by Kim Ives)