Why America Remains Silent As Haitians Decry Fraud in National Election
Several reports find rampant fraud despite official results placing Martelly’s party in the next round of presidential elections.
JESSICA DESVARIEUX, PRODUCER, TRNN: ‘Down with the coup d’etat’ is what these Haitian protesters are chanting. After the release of final presidential election results, massive protests all over the Caribbean nation have flared. Protesters denounced reports of fraud, and called the election an electoral coup d’etat. Coming out ahead to move on to a runoff in December were two candidates: sitting president Michel Martelly’s party candidate, Jovenel Moise, and former head of the previous government’s construction ministry Jude Celestin, who was supported by Haitian musician Wyclef Jean.
Despite most likely entering into the next round, Celestin recently held a press conference denouncing the results of the vote and calling it a fraud.
[Video of Jude Celestin’s press conference]
DESVARIEUX: The top eight contesting candidates are calling for an independent body to review the election results. Their main point of contention is with political party observers also known as mandataires. During the October 25 election, reports found that mandataires were selling their entrance cards to enter into polling stations. A survey from the Brazilian Igarape Institute interviewed more than 1,800 voters in 135 centers throughout the country. It revealed a vastly different voting pattern than official results. The governing party’s candidate, Jovenel Moise, only received 6.9 percent of the vote, a stark difference from the official result of 42.8 percent of the vote.
Union spokesperson Didier Dominique says this fraud allowed members from mostly the ruling party, PHTK, to enter stations and vote multiple times.
DIDIER DOMINIQUE: More than 50 percent of the people are [sold] people. I vote once, and again with another [mandat] from another party that I bought, and I vote with it. So it’s a completely false number of people voting, and it’s a complete false number of people voting for [inaud.] who bought the majority of the [mandat].
DESVARIEUX: But what has the international community had to say about these reports? The Washington-based Organization of American States, also known as OAS, has not recognized the validity of these accusations. Instead they observe the election results announced by the electoral council to be, quote, consistent with what the OAS mission observed on October 25.
The United States has neither condemned or applauded the official results. Some critics speculate it’s because of their now-revealed role in the last presidential election in 2010. A FOIA request revealed that in the last election the Haitian private sector and the American government were working together to ensure that current presidential candidate Jude Celestin did not enter the second round of elections back in 2010. In an email between then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills and America’s ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Merten, Merten wrote, quote, [the loss] in private sector have told RP, Rene Preval, that Celestin should withdraw. They would support RP staying till the 7th of February. This is big.
And in an event in Washington last month, Merten was asked about America’s silence in this election. He said, quote, we’re in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t position. This is a Haitian election. We can’t say the elections were great and the outcome was perfect, because we don’t know yet. It would be premature for us, in my view, to prejudge this election as terrific or awful until we see this process run its course.
But Center for Policy and Research research associate Jake Johnson says America’s silence is clearly benefiting the Martelly administration.
JAKE JOHNSON: There was good reason to criticize the role of the international community in 2010 for intervening and overturning the results of that election. And it’s sort of interesting that the tables have largely been turned. The silence this time is sort of taken as tacit approval of whatever’s happened in the election, which obviously has benefited the government.
DESVARIEUX: Benefiting not just the Haitian government, but the American government as well. Dominique says America’s economic interest is to continue the spread of unregulated free trade zones under the Martelly administration.
DOMINIQUE: They want to continue it, in fact. So the whole international community say, very good. Very well. Very good elections. Their goals and their projects, which is the free trade zone, agricultural zone, mines, and tourism, they say it clear.
DESVARIEUX: America has been largely silent to reports of fraud, as well as intimidation tactics by the Haitian national police. The Real News spoke with Dr. [Thony Voltaire], who is a physician at a communal hospital in the northern department of Haiti. He says he’s directly experienced intimidation from the deputy who represents Martelly’s party. They have attempted to take over resources from the hospital, which runs as a nonprofit.
[Dr. Thony Voltaire speaking]
DESVARIEUX: This level of intimidation by the Haitian national police has been largely supported by the United Nations peacekeeping force, MINUSTAH, as well. Now the top eight candidates want changes to Haiti’s police department and electoral council, otherwise they are calling for a transitional government to oversee new general elections. But Dominique says that this election and the ensuing conflict does not represent a fight for everyday people’s voices, but rather a clash between competing elite interests.
DOMINIQUE: They have competition between them. The elections first will try, try, to resolve those contradictions and give the one who will emerge [legitimacy]. But none of them is really a popular candidate or even near. We have to organize a whole organization structured to end with this system and this imperialist domination, and above all the occupation which is against us now.
DESVARIEUX: A runoff on December 27 is scheduled, but the question remains whether Haitians will come out to vote. For the first round of the presidential election, according to the Brazilian observer’s report, only 20 percent of registered voters voted in the capital. And after the election results came out, only 5 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that their vote counted.
For the Real News Network, Jessica Desvarieux, Washington.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.