Kevin Edmonds: Supporting a sham: The international community and Haiti’s elections

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      The normally bustling streets of Port-au-Prince are unnaturally quiet and tense today (November 26), as if the people are preparing in advance for the arrival of a storm. The upcoming elections in Haiti on Sunday (November 28) hold the potential to push Haiti over the edge, adding political fuel to the multiple crises the nation is already facing. Despite this, the international community has committed to supporting and spending millions on an election which has been widely criticized—both within Haiti and abroad—as illegitimate due pervasive allegations of fraud and the unconstitutional exclusion of 14 political parties.

      The winner of the election will be responsible for the colossal task of rebuilding the nation’s shattered infrastructure and psyche after the January 12 earthquake and the ongoing cholera epidemic. To overcome these tremendous challenges, Haiti needs both an aggressive and progressive plan to move the country out of its present desperation through the building of strong state institutions and the development of widespread, basic social services. However, the current election is based on exclusion, clearly undermining the democratic process the Haitian people have sacrificed so much to obtain.

      As pointed out by Dan Beeton in the Los Angeles Times, the hypocrisy of the international community in criticizing rigged elections in Burma but not in Haiti is highly troubling. Without a doubt it is due to the fact that international capital has yet to penetrate Burma, but has been given a blank slate in Haiti through the development of the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Committee and decades of neoliberal policy implementation. The international community needs a leader which will rubber-stamp all of their lucrative and self-serving investment and development initiatives. At the time of writing, Haiti has the most privatized social-service sector in the Americas, with some 80 percent of the country’s basic services provided by the private sector through nongovernmental organizations.

      The international community and the Haitian elite have successfully eliminated the most progressive and most popular political party—also their largest obstacle—through the banning of Fanmi Lavalas. Fanmi Lavalas was strong within Haiti’s most impoverished commu ­ni ­ties because they pro ­moted the wide ­spread build ­ing of pri ­mary social ser ­vices such as health care and edu ­ca ­tion, attempted to halt the pri ­va ­ti ­za ­tion of pub ­lic util ­i ­ties, and worked to raise the country’s low min ­i ­mum wage—all poli ­cies that should be res ­ur ­rected to help the Haitian people, but remain widely absent from any of the international community’s reconstruction proposals.

      In addition to electoral undermining, the political climate has been very oppressive to popular protest—as the recent cholera protests in both Cap-Haitien and Port-au-Prince were met with violence from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Despite their declaration of peacekeeping, MINUSTAH has taken a political stance in the country, actively opposing the kinds of policies that Lavalas was promoting before their violent ousting in 2004.

      The Haitian people deserve peace and stability in order to rebuild, but in their current form, the November 28 elections are an electoral coup d’état engineered by the Haitian Provisional Electoral Council with the support of the international community. The pathway to democracy for the Haitian people has been barricaded by the actions of MINUSTAH, the CEP, and the international community, leaving little institutional space for the Haitian people to express their voices. After all of the Haitian people have been through this year, to expect any more patience from the Haitian people is both naí¯ve and dangerous. International support for the rigged election process may just be reaching the climax of how much the Haitian people can take before they collectively push back.

      Kevin Edmonds is a freelance journalist and graduate student at McMaster University’s Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition in Hamilton. He is in Port-au-Prince with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.




      Nov 26, 2010 at 9:11pm

      I am sorry your piece has no substance. You are far to be a knowledgeable "journalist" in Hatian affair . With all due respect your writings lack of objectivity worth of good journalism.

      Tyler Durden

      Nov 27, 2010 at 8:44am

      Picture it, the year 2050, and still Haiti is near completely destroyed. Only this time, there are 25 million people instread of 10 million needing support!

      Rogera Annis

      Nov 27, 2010 at 12:55pm

      Mr. Edmonds' commentary on Haiti is born out by almost all the news reports we are hearing, including from the mainstream (Vancouver Sun excluded--it hasn't said a word this week!). For more background and news on Haiti:
      Roger Annis
      Haiti Solidarity BC


      Nov 27, 2010 at 7:35pm

      How true your article is. When it's convienent for the international community to turn a blind eye to issues that they don't care about that is always the case. But when a socialist leader like Chavez does something like nationalize THEIR oil, all hell breaks lose. Such a hypocritical world we live in where the powerful will ensure absolute power is in the hands of a small minority while the rest of the world suffer. TJ- this is the way it is, you're probably one of those right wing idiots that think the world is great the way it is becuase it's in YOUR benefit.

      Isabeau Doucet

      Nov 28, 2010 at 9:08am

      Very well said Kevin. This is just a summery of all the reasons these elections are a sham. Today is fast revealing the extent of the the sham. People have been up waiting to vote since 6. Either the stations opened two hours late, or didn't open, or didn't have their names on the list. People are reportedly going around to 3, 4, 5 voting stations, walking by dead cholera victims on the streets only to find they are not on the list but their neighbor who died in the earthquake is.