Okay, Drop the Screwdriver: Imperial Screws Tightened Regarding “Election” and Haiti’s Future

Posted on January 24, 2011

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If you are going to be an imperialist, you must act like one.  You must be arrogant, duplicitous, condescending  and, when dealing with certain countries like Haiti, you must treat the people and their government officials like children.  If I was casting for the role of the new UglyAmerican, I would pick the US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice. 

A few days ago, Rice gripped her screwdriver and tightened the screws (see article below) on Haiti regarding the “election”:    She announced that for Haiti to maintain the support (read money) of the US and the international community, it must serve up credible second-round elections.  Interesting.  How serious was the US about the credibility of the first-round election?

Disregarding the hundreds of thousands killed and injured in the quake, the lightning spread of cholera, the unsanitary camps in which Haitians have been held hostage and where girls and women are in constant fear of being raped, the fact that donors did not come through on their pledges and NGOs gulped money that should have gone to the Haitian government, the US and members of the international community forced Haiti to hold its first-round Presidential election this past November 28.  It was a bust.  On the day of the election, it was difficult to see beyond the cloud of massive fraud and a voting boycott by supporters of Haiti’s largest political party, Lavalas, which once again, had been barred from the ballot (this is the fourth time Lavalas has been barred from participating in national elections).  If you figure in the 1.3 million  Haitian citizens in the camps, it is obvious that an overwhelming majority of Haitian voters were disenfranchised on election day.  The numbers bear this out.  It is estimated that only 22% of  Haitian voters cast a ballot and, if one can dig deeper down into the fraud, it is likely to be much less.  Actually, the highest vote getter on November 28 was the Lavalas party’s “no vote.”  When the US kidnapped Aristide in 2004 and dropped him like a sack of potatoes in the Central African Republic, it figured it was on its way to decapitating the Lavalas movement.   Not so –the US has a huge numbers problem in Haiti — and this is why it had to bring in the UN peacekeepers as its proxy army.

Early on election day, the fraudulent nature of the election was evident.  By noon, twelve candidates held a press conference to say the election was a farce due to massive fraud and demanded it be annulled.  This scared the beejeebers out of the international community because they had a plan to manipulate the outcome of the November 28 election and a wild card, do-over election sometime in the future would jeopardize that.  To keep things on course, the US recruited the Vincent Price-like head of MINUSTAH in Haiti, Edmond Mulet, to do some smooth talking.  Mulet called candidates Mirlande Manigat and “Sweet Mickey” Martelly on the same day to tell them “you’re ahead in the vote count, hang in there.”  Both, thinking they were in the lead, stopped calling for an annullment of the first round.  This took the wind out of the sails of many of the other candidates who had called for an annullment.

When the results were issued, Manigat was in first place, Jude Celestin was second and Sweet Mickey was in third, right on Celestin’s  heels. Celestin is the candidate of Preval’s party.   The US does not want him succeeding Preval because the President has proved more and more difficult to manage because of his increasing protestations over the US’ manic meddling in Haitian affairs.

All hell broke loose over the results, with Martelly’s supporters claiming that second place had been stolen from him.  With these results, Manigat and Celestin would square off in the second round and Martelly would have to go back to his music career.  As the reports of fraud thundered throughout Haiti and beyond, the demand to re-do the election grew as well.  But, the US was on a timeline.  Preval’s term is over on February 7, 2011, but because Preval’s initial election did not take place until May 2006, and he has offered to stay until May of this year, if needed, to complete the election process.  The US is not going for it.  It fears that if Preval stays beyond the end of his term, it won’t be able to get rid of him.  

The US had to “fix” its election problem quickly.  It  turned to its most reliable rubber stamp, the OAS, and formed an Expert Verification Mission to review the first-round election results. It’s well known that the OAS is the US and the US is the OAS and the US is running the show.  I always thought that the most masterful stacking of the deck by the US is the composition of the permanent membership of the UN Security Council.  But, I believe the US has outdone itself with the membership of the OAS Verification Mission by figuring a way to include FRANCE!

Greg Weisbrot of the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR) revealed the decidedly undemocratic composition of the OAS Verification Mission in an article on January 18, 2011:

In fact, six of the seven members of the OAS “Expert Verification Mission” are from the United States, Canada, and France. France ! Not a member of the OAS but the former slave-holding colonial power that was still forcing Haiti to pay for its loss of property (i.e. the slaves who liberated themselves) until the 1940s. Apparently the OAS couldn’t find any experts in all of Latin America (they got one from Jamaica) to review Haiti’s election.

After deeming the gross fraud in the November 28 election more or less bearable, the OAS mission recommended that Jude Celestin be dropped from the second round altogether and Sweet Mickey Martelly be moved to second place to run against Manigat in the second round.  Most Haitians and their Government thought it arrogant of the OAS Mission to make recommendations about which candidates would go on to the next round in their election. 

Thus far, Haiti has received a one-two punch. First, through its mouthpiece, the OAS, the US made recommendations for how Haiti should proceed in the electoral process and then Susan Rice tightens the screws threatening to withhold international funds if Haiti doesn’t adopt the “recommendations.”  P. J. Crowley, State Department spokesman, took another quarter turn with the screwdriver when he acknowledged last Friday that the US has revoked visas for certain Haitian officials. 

If Haiti produces “credible” elections, will this prevent the international community from cutting off the money faucet?  No, the US doesn’t give a damn about credible elections — that phrase is for international consumption.  The US’ primary objective, and the one for which it will withhold funds if not adhered to, is that Haiti must head quickly to second-round elections with candidates designated by the US –specifically, Manigat and Martelly.  And why these two?  Neither is associated with Preval, but mostly because these are the easiest candidates to manipulate.  Ask Edmond Mulet. 

With two weeks left in Preval’s term, it is doubtful that even the US would ramrod a second round election between now and then.  Not having a “credibly” elected candidate to take over from Preval and loathe to Preval extending his stay until the electoral process concludes, the US is capable of anything.  The US is fond of February coups — remember, Aristide was taken out of the country on February 29, 2004.

 After nearly five years in office and having served previously as President and Prime Minister, Preval has seen every trick in the US book.  I’m sure after hearing Rice’s threats about “credible elections,” he chuckled knowingly and then poured himself another scotch.

US ambassador says international support for Haiti requires credible elections

By Anita Snow (CP) – 1 hour ago

Haiti must have credible elections to maintain support from the United States and the international community, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said Thursday.

The U.S. representative to the United Nations told the Security Council that the United States welcomes the recommendations made by the Organization of American States, including an OAS call for runoff elections in Haiti.

The results of a Nov. 28 presidential election are under challenge.

“Sustained support from the international community, including the United States, requires a credible process that represents the will of the Haitian people, as expressed by their votes,” she told the 15-member council.

Rice further urged Haitian officials to “outline a very clear way forward that will lead promptly to the inauguration of a legitimate and democratically elected government.”

Rice spoke during a briefing on Haiti’s progress one year after a devastating earthquake killed more than 200,000 people.

Haiti’s political situation remains shaky one year after the earthquake. A cholera epidemic has complicated reconstruction efforts, and this week’s surprise return of former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier has provided a new distraction.

After briefing the Security Council on conditions in Haiti, U.N. peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy acknowledged to reporters that “for the time being, the political situation is very complicated” with Duvalier’s return. Meanwhile, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is saying he might return as well.

Rioting broke out across Haiti in December when preliminary results from the Nov. 28 first-round election were announced. They indicated the runoff would be between former first lady Mirlande Manigat and current President Rene Preval’s candidate, state-run construction company chief Jude Celestin.

Supporters of the third-place candidate, popular singer Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, barricaded streets and burned Celestin’s campaign headquarters to demand their man be named president.

A planned Jan. 16 runoff was postponed and the OAS team called in to review allegations of fraud.

“Given the continuing turmoil surrounding the November 2010 election, the United States is concerned about the unpredictable impact that Duvalier’s return may have on Haiti’s political situation,” Rice told the council.

Duvalier was 19 when he assumed the presidency following the death of his father, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, and ruled from 1971-1986.

The two leaders presided over a dark chapter in modern Haitian history with a secret police force known as the Tonton Macoute torturing and killing political opponents.

“My government is clear about Duvalier’s notorious record of human rights abuses and corruption,” Rice said. “The situation on the ground is obviously fluid, but the government of Haiti seems to be taking initial steps to hold Duvalier accountable for his actions during his time ruling Haiti.”

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