Your Take: Who Will Listen to the Haitian People?

Illustration for article titled Your Take: Who Will Listen to the Haitian People?

By the time U.S. policymakers in Haiti are finished playing with Haiti, they will have hung President René Préval out to dry; ignored an election process that was not inclusive, not fair and not free, even before one ballot was cast; and ignored the fact that most of the candidates asked for the (s)election to be annulled in the middle of the process, as well as the fact that their supporters stopped voting. With presidential candidates Mirlande Manigat and Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly going along, they will also have found a way to make the election stick. They've already set it up.

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Everyone is supposed to forget the cast and uncast ballots we saw strewn around, the untold numbers of voters with ID cards unable to vote, those who couldn't find their polling places, video evidence of ballot stuffing and children playing around in piles of discarded ballots.

The unexpectedly strong showing of musician Sweet Micky has left some observers baffled. Apparently there is no un-co-opted Haitian voice high enough in the citadels of Western power to effectively point out that Haiti's frustrated young are using the Martelly vehicle to drive their frustration, their discontent, somewhere — even if it's over the cliff with him in the crumbled palace.

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The marginalized, totally disenfranchised have died a thousand deaths. What's another? Haiti has suffered through two Bush coups d'état, Clinton's famine, the apocalyptic earthquake, charity organizations enriching themselves with earthquake donations, a hurricane, more than a million remaining in tarp camps nearly a year after the earthquake, and imported U.N. cholera.

In our shallow, narcissistic, celebrity-driven, globalized pop culture, the novice Martelly is merely a tool to be used by those more schooled in the patterns of privilege and domination than any self-serving Haitian politician could ever dream of being. Martelly is the valve that releases accumulated surface pressure while reinforcing the "violent Haitian" narrative. Brilliant U.S.-Euro move. A no-brainer. Bottom line: Once the U.S. Embassy is done manipulating, the so-called election on Nov. 28 will count.

The U.N. reportedly convinced Martelly and Manigat to stop calling for annulment by telling each of them that they were in the lead. If these farcical elections are not annulled, whoever wins will have no legitimacy and will depend on the U.N. and the U.S. to maintain their rule. This means the next president of Haiti will accept and legitimize the people's brutal repression because that person's rule will depend on it.

I'd really like to be wrong, to believe that Haiti's beleaguered people will sidestep the U.N.-U.S. use of Manigat and Martelly to divide the initial block of 12 candidates who originally called for annulment. That the Haitian people will not play into the hands of the enemy. That they will have enough strength left to continue demanding for the annulment of this charade even if Martelly is put back in the runoff. That they won't take Martelly's reinclusion as a victory and fall for the old okeydoke. That they won't allow this latest disaster, the elections, to help push through a Haiti-Clinton-oligarchy cohort. Except that, when fairy tales end, reality steps into view.

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The statement by the U.S. Embassy is gobbledygook, doublespeak, signifying nothing but avoidance of the truth and duplicity. The embassy "stands ready to support efforts to thoroughly review irregularities in support of electoral results that are consistent with the will of the Haitian people expressed in their votes."

The U.S. Embassy talks as if the whole election process was sound except for some "irregularities," as if the Préval government and the electoral council (CEP) were unbiased and might be counted on to "ensure that the will of the people is fully reflected in the outcome of this election." The embassy cites "the will of the people," when that embassy helped finance an election it knew would be rigged in favor of Préval's candidate. It's an insult to our intelligence. The partisan CEP has no credibility, nor the U.S. Embassy, nor Haiti U.N. mission chief Edmond Mulet.

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By pushing these rigged elections down Haiti's throat in the name of stability, the international community is saying, "Beggars can't be choosers." Elections without an electorate are a sham, and therefore without meaning. Haiti's masses did not ask the foreigners to spend money on this charade. Nor will Haiti accept from foreigners that this circus they wish us to swallow is "for our own good" and stability. Haitians know when their will is being circumvented, and that foreigners are destabilizing Haiti with these elections, not encouraging stability.

Dying and being disenfranchised is not the will of the people of Haiti. Haitians are hoarse and empty from screaming out their will. Our loss is bottomless. And these foreigners want the masses not to express that will.

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Listen, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton! It's the will of the people to annul the Nov. 28 farce, end the U.N. occupation, prioritize investing Haiti's life force and resources and any reconstruction funds in water-treatment plants, sanitation-treatment plants, sustainable housing, domestic agriculture and manufacturing, public-works jobs, indigenous schooling and basic infrastructure.

If this had been done in the first place, cholera would not have erupted. Instead, you foreigners prioritized your own interests in Haiti. You discounted the will of the people. Forced upon Haiti as "development" and "for our own good" have been your elections; your promises of aid that never, ever gets to Haiti; your self-serving U.S. sweatshops; your U.N. soldiers replacing the traditional role of the bloody Haitian army; and your policies like privatization.

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Ezili Dantò is president of Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, an organization dedicated to institutionalizing the rule of law in Haiti and to promoting and defending the civil, cultural, economic and human rights of Haitians living at home and abroad.

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