Hooded gangs attacked a large demonstration against election fraud today (November 20) in the Haitian capital. A group of about 20 hooded men in a white pickup (license plate 1-00692), armed with machetes, pipes, hammers and guns, attacked marchers in the Delmas 95 district while police turned a blind eye, according to radio reports. One marcher was wounded in the head by a machete, AP reported. In the Delmas 40 district a young man in the march was shot and killed by a unit reportedly affiliated with the national police of outgoing President Michel Martelly.
Haitians, determined to thwart what they see as an ongoing “electoral coup d’etat,” have been in the streets almost daily in their tens of thousands since the Oct. 25th first round Presidential elections. There were huge demonstrations, punctuated by police firing into the crowd, wounding several, on Nov. 18, anniversary of Haiti’s defeat of the armies of Napoleon at the Battle of Vertieres in 1803, which paved the way for independence from France and abolition of plantation slavery on the island. On Nov. 1, a big election protest in the Bel Air popular district, led by a Rara band, was attacked and two marchers shot dead; later that day a third protester was ambushed and killed on the way home.
Massive and sustained protests
“Only continuous mobilization throughout the country can win respect for the people’s rights and their votes. When one person tires, their neighbor must take up the fight,” said Fanmi Lavalas, widely acknowledged as the country’s most popular political party, although banned until now from running candidates ever since the coup that ousted former President Aristide in 2004.
Lavalas presidential candidate Dr. Maryse Narcisse, who is in the streets every day getting teargassed with the protesters, has officially challenged the results with the National Electoral Litigation Bureau. Other major parties have unofficially protested the fraudulent elections, in which President Martelly’s handpicked candidate, a political neophyte, miraculously emerged as the front-runner. A run-off election is due to take place in December.
[This recalled for many the 2010 election, when Martelly was illegally catapulted into the run-off under pressure from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Organization of American States. The US and United Nations forces have continued their in-your-face interference in the 2015 election as well.]
U.N. charged with major role in election fraud
Haiti’s political crisis took a dramatic turn with the mid-November revelations of Antoine Rodon Bien-Aime and two other candidates for Parliament from President Martelly’s own PHTK party. It has been reported that some 10,000 Haitian police and 2,500 MINUSTAH (UN military mission in Haiti) personnel were deployed during the Oct. 25 voting, and that both MINUSTAH and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) were involved in transporting ballots to be tallied in Port-au-Prince.
Now Deputy Bien-Aime and his two colleagues are accusing the U.N. Mission in Haiti, headed by Sandra Honore, with direct involvement in the Oct. 25 election fraud. Specifically, they charge UNOPS and its Electoral Logistics Coordinator Sylvain Cote, a Canadian national, with being directly responsible for taking boxes of ballots actually cast by the people, and switching them with boxes of pre-filled-out ballots. Sylvain Cote scurried out of the country the day after the revelations surfaced.
Fifteen well-known Haitian intellectuals were so outraged by the “clear involvement of U.N. agencies in the fraud that marred the elections of October 25” that they wrote an Open Letter to Sandra Honore on Nov. 16, stating: “…the whole world is discovering, under pressure from the street…. the truth of the biggest electoral fraud operation…for the last 30 years in Haiti.”
But the main force is coming from the street. Many are comparing today’s non-stop mass demonstrations to the uprisings that led to the 1986 collapse of the dictatorship of “Baby Doc” Duvalier. The people are turning the defense of their vote into a focus of mass struggle against the hated neo-Duvalierists in the Haitian government and their US, French and Canadian backers.
On November 9th there was another General Strike by transportation workers, forcing the government to rescind draconian price and fee hikes and effectively shutting down most of the country. Haiti is defiant and its people determined.
Dave Welsh, a delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council, was a member of a Human Rights and Labor Fact Finding Delegation to Haiti in October, that reported on systematic voter suppression, violence and intimidation in the election process.