Wednesday, February 15, 2006
DEMOCRACY: BUSH STYLE
One thing that has become clear is that the democracy that Bush is always talking about is one where the winners are approved by him and his buddies. Haiti is just the latest case in point. The Haitian Action Committee has printed a statement issued by Rep. Maxine Waters. Following that you will find an analysis from The Progressive.
Haiti: Maxine Waters denounces election fraud by coup government
Washington, D.C. Today, on Capitol Hill, Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-35) released a statement on the elections in Haiti. The elections took place on Tuesday, February 7, but the results have yet to be announced. The Congresswoman's statement follows:
The obvious attempts to steal the elections in Haiti are blatant and shameful. It is absolutely outrageous that the President Aristide-haters, the anti-Lavalas elites, and the United States Government would so openly and blatantly steal these elections.
The international community is witnessing yet another blow against the Haitian people by the same forces that forced President Aristide out of Haiti, the same forces who are responsible for all of the chaos and destabilization of this small country. How much more can the Haitian people take?
The anti-Aristide forces have done everything in their power to imprison the leaders of the Lavalas Party and deny Lavalas leaders their right to run for office and their right to voice their opposition to the Group of 184, the Provisional Electoral Council, the puppet government, the International Republican Institute, and others who are determined to undermine democracy in Haiti. President Bush must accept responsibility for the ongoing violence, the chaos, and the blatant attempts to steal these elections.
Early results showed an overwhelming victory for Rene Preval. Many polling stations posted their results the day after the elections, and Preval won between 60% and 90% of the vote in all of these polling stations. Last Thursday, the Provisional Electoral Council was reporting that Preval had 61.5% of the votes counted thus far.
Since that time, 125,000 ballots or 7.5% of the votes cast were declared invalid by the CEP because of alleged irregularities. Another 4% of the ballots were allegedly blank but nevertheless included in the vote count, thereby making it more difficult for Preval to exceed 50%.
No one in their right mind could possibly believe that Rene Preval's lead plunged so quickly below the 50% required to avoid a runoff. What are the people of Haiti to do?
Who in the international community will step forward and speak up against the obvious power-grab perpetrated on a nearly defenseless people?
I am totally disgusted with my own government and the role it played in this entire fiasco. Is their no shame? Is their no compassion? Is their no decency?
I cannot believe the audacity of the United Nations and others to tell the Haitian people that they should not resist oppression and demand respect. The Haitian people have suffered greatly at the hands of the United States, France and Canada, powerful nations who preach democracy and yet orchestrated the removal of the democratically-elected president of Haiti and drove him from his own country.
Is their no shame in the fact that the United States installed the puppet Prime Minister Gerard Latortue from Boca Raton, Florida, who proceeded to jail former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune on frivolous charges and jailed other Lavalas leaders like former Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert, Haitian singer Anne Auguste and Father Gerard Jean-Juste without cause? Is their no shame in the fact that the United States allowed Roger Noriega to conspire with Andy Apaid and the Group of 184 to manipulate Haitian students in cooperation with the Haitian elites in an attempt to grab control of that country for their own purposes?
Haven't the Haitian people suffered enough? The man-made terror and violence coupled with natural disasters that have been inflicted upon the people of Haiti will be recorded in history as catastrophic events that caused tremendous loss of life and an unbearable and tragic existence for the Haitian people.
After all of this suffering, is the United States really prepared to stand by and deny the poorest of people who persevered on election day, walked for miles, and waited for hours for the right to elect persons of their choice? If so, then the President of the United States does not deserve to use the word "democracy," for he neither respects nor supports it, but simply promotes the rhetoric of democracy to his own advantage.
I stand with the people of Haiti. I stand with the Lavalas Party. I stand with Rene Preval and his Party of Hope. I stand with President Aristide. I stand for justice, equality and democracy. And I challenge the United States, France and Canada to correct their destructive behavior and give democracy a chance.
Rene Preval is obviously the elected president of Haiti. He received considerably more than 50% of the vote, and he must be granted the right to serve without further interference, obstacles or violence.
Behind the Manipulation of Haiti's Election
By Amitabh Pal
February 14, 2006
How long must Haiti continue to suffer? Judging by events over the past few days, the answer is: for at least some more time to come.
After a number of delays, Haiti finally had its presidential and parliamentary elections on February 8. At first, things seemed hopeful, with the polling taking place peacefully. But then trouble started.
The leading candidate, Rene Preval, looked like he was on his way to securing a comfortable majority when things started getting murky. By February 14, with 90 percent of the votes counted, Preval had suddenly dropped in the vote count. His proportion of the vote currently stands at 48.7 percent, a tad short of the majority needed to avoid a runoff.
It is hard to say what exactly happened. But Preval’s abrupt drop off seems to be dubious, to say the least. And doubts about the vote are heightened by the fact that a member of the nine-person electoral council has come out and alleged fraud.
“According to me, there’s a certain level of manipulation,” Pierre Richard Duchemin told AP . “There is an effort to stop people from asking questions.”
Another official, Jean-Henoc Faroul, has also alleged deceit . “The electoral council is trying to do what it can to diminish the percentage of Preval so it goes to a second round,” Faroul, president of one electoral district, told AP.
Who would be behind the manipulation?
The suspicion falls on the interim government, headed by Gerard Latortue. Preval, a former head of state himself, is an ally of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Twice elected president, Aristide remains very popular among the Haitian poor. And while his own record was not without serious blemishes , the Bush Administration had no right to encourage his overthrow. The interim government hates Aristide with a passion, and has jailed a number of people from his regime, including the prime minister under him. (Aristide is in exile in South Africa.)
“The long-term imprisonment of former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune continues to raise serious concerns” states Human Rights Watch . “Although formal charges were finally brought against Neptune in September 2005, the apparent political grounds for Neptune’s detention undermines confidence in the validity of the charges and in the fairness of any future trial.”
Latortue appears determined to keep Aristide from coming to power, even by proxy.
“Preval was leading with 70-80 percent of the vote, and then there suddenly was this surge within a few minutes where his opponent, Leslie Manigat, got a huge number of votes,” says Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. “Where were the election monitors? Were they inside the room or out in the streets?”
Washington is deeply implicated in the actions of the Latortue government, since it helped install it in 2004.
“An indictment can be brought against the United States for putting Latortue in power by extraconstitutional means,” says Birns. “He’s been both cruel and inept, a complete disaster. If there’s a Christ, then Latortue is the anti-Christ.”
But Washington is not interested in calling its protégé to task. In spite of budgeting $400-plus million in aid for the interim government in 2004-2005 (in marked contrast to its stinginess toward Aristide’s administration), it hasn’t even begun to address the grave human rights abuses that the government has been committing.
“After installing Latortue, Washington hasn’t had a word to say,” says Birns. “It pretends to not have anything to do with the regime.”
Condoleezza Rice issued a boilerplate statement on February 10 commending the high turnout and the “free and fair election process,” but has been quiet since then. Worried over possible turmoil, the Brazilian foreign minister, Celso Amorim, has called Rice to urge the U.N. Security Council —presided over by the United States this month—to take up the issue.
By failing to act quickly to ensure that the Haitian people are not denied their choice, the Bush Administration would mock its platitudes about democracy.