09/19/2016 09:20 am ET | Updated 5 hours ago
Danny Glover Actor, producer and humanitarian
The United States isn’t the only country in the midst of a drawn out election campaign marked by voter discontent and demands for bold, new policy directions that genuinely respond to the needs and aspirations of ordinary citizens. It is also election season in Haiti, and by the end of the year, both countries could elect their first ever female presidents, both of whom will face strong grassroots pressure to shift governance away from elites and take into account the interests of the majority.
MUST SEE – ARISTIDE’S DEMOCRACY:
Unfortunately, Washington has not always played a helpful role in Haitian democracy. Since Haiti’s first democratic elections in 1990,
SYLVIO CLAUDE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE 1990 – NECKLACED BY ARISTIDE 29 SEP 1991.
the U.S. has become more and more deeply embedded in Haiti’s political system, funding elections and judging their legitimacy, at times in a completely arbitrary fashion. But while international involvement has increased, Haitian citizens have become less politically proactive and less and less interested in going to the polls. By 2010, participation was just 20 percent, down from close to 80 percent in 2000.
In 2004, the U.S., Canada and France formed an alliance with members of the former Haitian military and the country’s economic elite to oust the democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whisking him into exile aboard a U.S. government jet. While Aristide and his wife were prevented from returning to the country they hold dear, Haiti’s sovereignty was further eroded and his popular Fanmi Lavalas party blocked from participating in politics. United Nations troops, sent to consolidate the 2004 coup, remain there today. When a devastating earthquake struck in 2010, killing hundreds of thousands, Haiti’s government was almost entirely bypassed by an international reconstruction effort that gave more money to Beltway contractors than to any Haitian entity.
But the upcoming October 9 election represents an opportunity for Haitians to begin winning back the sovereignty that they fought so hard for more than 200 years ago.
In March 2011, I flew to South Africa, where President Aristide had lived for the previous seven years, to accompany him on his return to Haiti. Thousands of Haitians greeted their former leader, who told the crowd that the times of political exclusion were over, that what Haiti needed was true political inclusion. After five years, and despite ongoing political persecution, a burgeoning grassroots pro-democracy movement is finally succeeding in making good on that pledge.
Upon returning home, Aristide, who remains one of Haiti’s most popular political figures, kept a low profile, focusing on efforts to strengthen his university and foundation which has struggled for years to improve the lives of the vast majority, who have for so long been excluded from Haitian society. But the previous government, led by Michel Martelly, continued the decade long persecution of Haiti’s first democratically elected president. In 2014, old trumped up charges were dusted off and trotted out again. With legislative elections around the corner and as it was no longer feasible to keep Lavalas off the ballot, many believed the Haitian government was afraid of facing a strengthened opposition in free and fair elections. Aristide was placed under house arrest, despite it not being allowed under the Haitian constitution; and his government-provided security detail was withdrawn, putting him and his family at risk.
But the 2014 elections didn’t happen. Martelly, who himself owes his presidency to the intervention of the United States and its international allies in the 2010 election (which, again, excluded Lavalas), failed to hold scheduled elections during his first four years in office. In 2015, with the parliament no longer constitutionally functional due to the expiration of legislators’ terms, Martelly began ruling the country by decree. One can only imagine the reaction from the U.S. and others if this had happened under Aristide, or indeed any left government in the hemisphere.
When elections finally did take place, in late 2015, they were so plagued by fraud, violence and abuse that it led to the formation of a grassroots protest movement that advocated for a full investigation of the vote. Haitian election observers documented a “massive fraud” designed to benefit Martelly’s hand-picked successor, banana plantation owner Jovenel Moise. The U.S. and other international actors, however, simply wanted to move on — regardless of how undemocratic the election was.
The new group has a rallying cry: “Nou Pap Obeyi” (We Do Not Obey). Dissatisfied by a flawed election that saw the relatively unknown Moise come in first place in the initial round of the elections, many thousands of Haitians braved tear gas and batons and took to the streets, eventually succeeding in having the fraudulent elections canceled.
This was an unprecedented victory for democracy in Haiti, in the post-dictatorship era. An independent investigation, taking place under a caretaker government after Martelly’s term ended, confirmed what everyone knew — the vote had indeed been plagued by massive irregularities and so-called “zombie votes” that couldn’t be traced to any real person. By not simply obeying the dictates of the U.S. and its allies, the historic pro-democracy movement has given Haiti a second chance. New elections are scheduled for October 9.
No longer under the thumb of Martelly, Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas party have begun campaigning in earnest on behalf of their presidential candidate, Dr. Maryse Narcisse, a medical doctor and longtime activist, who could be Haiti’s first woman president. Together, Aristide and Narcisse led a peaceful march through Port-au-Prince, followed by thousands of cheering supporters. They want a government that will restore dignity to the Haitian people, that will fight for the decent schooling and health care, and that can provide real hope for the millions who have been excluded for far too long.
For decades, Haiti has been tightly controlled by a small clique of economic elites (the .001 percent) and their international allies. Fanmi Lavalas, the party of Haiti’s poor majority, threatens to upend that dynamic. Fed up with the gains of Haiti’s pro-democracy movement, the U.S. has decided not to fund the upcoming elections. Good. Haiti’s democracy must be in the hands of Haitians. Haiti’s leaders need to inspire its people, to send a message that through political inclusion, active citizen participation and progressive policies, Haiti can indeed enact bold change in favor of the needy majority of its citizens. Many powerful interests are working to prevent this from taking place, but that’s why those fighting for a real democracy need our support so that their commitment to progressive change can be put to the test.
Danny Glover is a neat guy, wonderful actor and historian. Unfortunately, his historical knowledge seems to have topped around the era of Toussaint Louverture.
In 1990 Aristide won the election with something like 67% of the 350,000 votes cast. Not really a staggering mandate in a nation of 9,000,000 people. And the votes were never really counted since the French embassy declared him winner, on their illegal FM radio station, at 11 AM. Evans Paul put the mob on the street and anyone questioning the French declaration would have been necklaced.
When the nation could no longer tolerate his violence it sent him into exile on September 29, 1991.
In 1995 Aristide pressured the international community into declaring Rene Preval President, or Aristide would have “taken his 3 more years…”
In 2000 Danny Glover must be referring to somewhere else, perhaps Mars.
On March 7, 2000 Aristide sacrificed a newborn child at Tabarre, in order to guarantee his 2000 electoral victory.
Thank God Donald Trump hasn’t heard of this formula.
Aristide also had Jacques Dominique assassinated when he spoke out against Aristide.
In May, the vote was so flawed that Aristide had to threaten Manus, the CEP chief, with death if he did not validate the vote. Manus refused and was smuggled out of the country and into asylum in the States.
So fraudulent were the 2000 parliamentary vote that international observers left Haiti. The Presidential ballot was held with no observers and very few voters. Some suggest 20,000 while others suggest the total was something near 2,000. Who would vote when they couldn’t find voting locations? Aristide had threatened to burn down any location people rented for use during the election.
The International Community walked away, allowing Aristide’s theft of Haiti.
Finally, in 2004 enough was enough. Aristide was sent into exile, yet again. The Haitian people had had enough.
When South Africa could tolerate him no longer, and no one else would accept Aristide, he was allowed a return to Haiti, with the promise to stay out of politics. Of course, like all other Aristide promises, this was worth nothing.
We now see Aristide trying to manipulate the system, yet again. His earlier victories depended upon his control of the CEP. Now, he has an old ally Privert as false President who has promised a Lavalas government.
Aristide visited with Leopold Berlanger, CEP chief, and Privert last week telling Berlanger he would be killed if Narcisse did not win.
Not really a democratic concept.
Aristide then set out on a campaign trip that took him to St. Marc, Gonaives and Cap Haitian, plus other intermediate stops. Aristide wa attacked at each and every location, something that had never happened during his political career.
In Cap Haitian the Moise Jean-Charles mob was moving to attack, perhaps kill Aristide.
Aristide collapsed and was carried away.
Some said he had a stroke and was in a coma.
Perhaps, Aristide saw the reality, and played possum in order to escape.
He is not a brave man.
In fact, Aristide is a coward when faced with danger.
Glover assails the Martelly presidency and – we admit – it was not one without flaws. It was one truly selected by the majority of Haitians who picked sweet Mickey because he was not a politician. Haitians hate politicians. No one was necklaced during the Martelly Presidency. There was law-and-order.
Aristide, Lavalas wer never barred from the electoral process. They chose to remain out of it. Lavalas is not the most popular political group in Haiti – a reality reflected by Maryse Narcisse’s 7% vote in the 2015 ballot.
And the 2015 ballot was a good one.
The opposition simply didn’t like the winner and here we are, about to have the same results.
Jovenel will win, on the first round.
Jude Celestin will come in second and Maryse Narcisse will trail in the dust.
The real lose will be Haiti’s 10,000,000 citizens who have been screwed around for a year, cannot find food to eat or cash to send their children to school.
That is the reality of Danny Glover’s Democracy.
READ THE FOLLOWING EDITORIAL FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES FEBRUARY 26, 2004
Roger J. Daley, Former US General Consul in Haiti 1998-2002 Originally: Letters to the Editor. International Herald Tribune
Feb 25, 2004
In its editorial of February 25th, the IHT points out multiple failures of Bertrand Aristide as president of Haiti. Yet, it draws the curious conclusion that the blame to reach a solution to Haiti’s current political crisis lies with the civilian opposition. The civilian opposition has sought compromise for years and only when armed rebellion began to threaten Aristide’s hold on power did he indicate any interest in sharing power.
As American consul general in Port au Prince from 1998 to 2002, I witnessed the betrayal of the hopes that many Haitians originally had for President Aristide and his political movement in the early 1990s.
I saw members of the electoral council flee Haiti for their lives when they refused to approve the government’s fraudulent count of votes in the March 2000 legislative elections. I spoke with local politicians whose lives had been threatened and with journalists who had received death threats because they didn’t toe the government’s line.
In the presidential elections in Haiti in late 2000, boycotted by the opposition after the massive fraud earlier that year, less than 10% of eligible voters participated. There was more enthusiasm and participation in the elections that gave Charles Taylor the presidency of Liberia and who the USG told last year to step down when civil war reached Monrovia. To support Aristide’s continued tenure as president…
Haiti Democracy Project:
Secretary of State Powell has recently contended that Jean-Bertrand Aristide was democratically elected in 2000.
This is not true and contradicts what his own State Department said at the time.
The question is not an arcane historical item.
Current U.S. policy still seeks to maintain Aristide in the presidency on the grounds he was legitimately elected. In fact, Aristide’s election was illegal under Haitian law and capped off an election cycle that was ridden by fraud and marred by violence.
The OAS electoral observation mission condemned the previous legislative election as rigged and the president and two members of the electoral commission resigned, leaving Haiti without a legally constituted electoral commission. An illegal commission of Aristide supporters was constituted which held the presidential election without the constitutionally-required election law and virtually without opposition.
The May 21 elections On May 21, 2000 some 60 percent of the electorate voted in an impressive, dignified manner in the legislative elections. The OAS monitored the vote. In the following days, ballot-box stuffing and violence against oppositionists cast a shadow over the results. Then came the deliberate miscount of the senatorial ballots by Aristide partisans on the election commission.
Without any basis in the electoral law, the electoral commission cut off the counting of the votes at the top two finishers in each senatorial race. This bumped up the percentages of the front-running candidates, all from the Aristide party, so that they “won” on the first round, giving a monopoly of senate seats to the Aristide supporters. But actually non-Aristide candidates outpolled Aristide candidates in four of the eight departments. (Source: Tally…