The United States, the European Union and the United Nations decided to support Haiti’s recent presidential and parliamentary elections despite believing that the country’s electoral body, “almost certainly in conjunction with President Preval,” had “emasculated the opposition” by unwisely and unjustly excluding the country’s largest party, according to a secret US Embassy cable.
The cable was obtained by WikilLeaks and made available to the Haitian newspaper Haïti Liberté, which is collaborating with The Nation on a series of reports on US and UN policy toward the country.
At a December 1, 2009, meeting, a group of international election donors, including ambassadors from Brazil, Canada, Spain and the United States, concluded that “the international community has too much invested in Haiti’s democracy to walk away from the upcoming elections, despite its imperfections,” in the words of the EU representative, according to US Ambassador Kenneth Merten’s December 2009 cable.
Haiti’s electoral body, the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), banned the Fanmi Lavalas (FL) from participating in the polls on a technicality. The FL is the party of then-exiled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was overthrown on February 29, 2004, and flown to Africa as part of a coup d’état that was supported by France, Canada, and the United States.
This history made Canadian Ambassador Gilles Rivard worry at the December donor meeting that “support for the elections as they now stand would be interpreted by many in Haiti as support for Preval and the CEP’s decision against Lavalas.” He said that the CEP had reneged on a pledge to “reconsider their exclusion of Lavalas.”
“If this is the kind of partnership we have with the CEP going into the elections, what kind of transparency can we expect from them as the process unfolds?” Rivard asked.
Despite the Lavalas exclusion, the European Union and Canada proposed that donors “help level the playing field”—they could, for instance, “purchase radio air time for opposition politicians to plug their candidacies.” They were presumably referring to “opposition candidates” who would come from parties other than the FL.
That plan was nixed by the United Nations, but when the elections finally did take place on November 28, 2010, followed by a runoff on March 20, 2011, Washington and the international donor community played an influential role in determining their outcome.
When the first-round results were disputed, international donors arranged for an evaluation by the Organization of American States, which pronounced that pro-coup candidate Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, 50, a former konpa musician, should face another neo-Duvalierist candidate, Mirlande Manigat, in the final round. Martelly emerged as the victor in the runoff.
Less than 23 percent of Haiti’s registered voters had their vote counted in either of the two presidential rounds, the lowest electoral participation rate in the hemisphere since 1945, according to the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research.
Furthermore, the second round was illegal because the eight-member CEP could never muster the five votes necessary to ratify the first-round results.
The December 2009 election donor meeting took place just over a month before the January 12, 2010, earthquake, which derailed the elections originally planned for February 28, 2010.
When the polling was rescheduled, there was even more at stake, primarily how billions of dollars in pledged earthquake aid would be spent and the future of the 11,500-strong UN military force that has occupied Haiti since the 2004 coup d’etat.
According to the December 4, 2009, cable, US officials pushed hard for the election.
Ambassador Merten urged a minimal donor reaction to the FL’s exclusion, saying they should just “hold a joint press conference to announce donor support for the elections and to call publicly for transparency,” because “without donor support, the electoral timetable risks slipping dangerously, threatening a timely presidential succession.”
His cable was classified “Confidential” and “NOFORN,” meaning “Not for release to foreign nationals.”
The US State Department declined to comment on the disclosures in this article, citing a policy against commenting on releases of documents that purport to contain classified information.
Merten explained in the cable that he had opposed FL’s exclusion because the party would come out looking “like a martyr and Haitians will believe (correctly) that Preval is manipulating the election.”
The election’s low turnout has been ascribed to Haitians’ sense of futility in the choice between two unappealing candidates, to a grassroots boycott campaign and, primarily, to popular dismay over the FL’s exclusion, the very issue that gave rise to the December 2009 meeting.
Former President Aristide, who returned to Haiti from exile on March 18, two days before the second round, drove the point home when he declared on his arrival: “The problem is exclusion, the solution is inclusion.”
3 thoughts on “WikiLeaks Haiti: Cable Depicts Fraudulent Haiti Election-Added COMMENTARY By Haitian-Truth”
Since when did the media ever tell the truth?
What are the sources of 20,000 voting nationwide in the 2000 election? According to the Wikipedia article on the 2000 Haitian election, it had a high turnout. Of course, you would say don’t believe Wikipedia. Then there is the interparliamentary website ipu dot org that also gives the figure of 60% turnout, at least for the first round. Are they lying? Since the 2000 election results are hardly a secret, I am sure there are reliable sources which provide the numbers. Thus, please give your sources for saying that 20,000 voted nationwide and in what context. I am open-minded to weigh the evidence if I know from where the statistics are coming.
In any case, the Wikileaks cables are damning evidence of US interference in poor Haiti’s affairs no matter how you look at it. They are solid proof that the US is a bully and putting US corporations ahead of all other considerations, especially when it comes to the welfare of the majority of Haiti’s desperately poor. This is not a question of Left and Right but of Right and Wrong. They show that the US embassy is invariably on the side of the very rich, never for the very poor.
Martelly’s recent violent expulsions of camp dwellers (or acquiescence thereof) are proof of which side he is on. His mandate is extremely weak (a low turnout cannot be simply talked away, no matter how hard one can try) and it does not bode well for the future if he keeps on as he is. I weep for Ayiti.
Collins, did WE really need Wikileaks to confirm how the elections were run? We don’t need any “leaks” to tell us what happened. Maybe the international commnity needs this. Listen, we cannot move forward with some type of democracy until we include everyone, even those we don’t tend to agree. We all have opinions about how things should run in Haiti and all should be considered. We all know the situation. Now, how do we fix this broken country, it’s people, etc? Haitians know how to do it. Let them fix it! Assist them. They want their country back. This time, the international community should listen and learn from Haitians. Haiti is more than just the government. It is bright, hopeful children walking miles to go to school or those wishing there was a school to walk to. It is the elderly walking and selling whatever they can. It is the merchants rising early to put out their wares for the day praying they make a sale so that they can feed the family. It is hope for safety and a decent place to sleep during the heavy rain. It is the sound of comforting, uplifting music ringing out in the night. No one can know this country and its people from the outside. Haitians are unique and strong. You can’t break them, they are like bamboo. But, the strain on them has become almost too much. Thank you for your insightful articles about Haiti. We need to a way for us tpo move forward. The Haitian people deserve that. They have earned the right to be happy!
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