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Haiti: Sham `selection' serves interests of wealthy elite and foreign powers

November 18, 2010 -- Democracy Now! -- "Protests against UN continue over cholera outbreak". Protests are continuing in Haiti over the cholera outbreak that has now killed more than 1100 people and infected some 17,000. For the full transcript of the report, click here.

By the Canada Haiti Action Network

November 12, 2010 -- The Canada Haiti Action Network (CHAN) is once again expressing its grave concerns about exclusionary elections in Haiti.[1] It joins with the many Haitians as well as human rights organisations in Haiti and abroad in condemning these elections as serving the interests of Haiti's wealthy elite and the foreign powers that have dominated Haiti's past and present.

A national election for president and legislature has been called for November 28. While the focus of international media has been the candidacy of popular hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean and his exclusion from the ballot, the arbitrary exclusion of the candidates of the most popular Fanmi Lavalas party is of much greater concern. It is the largest and most representative party in Haiti.

This is the third time in the past year that Fanmi Lavalas has been formally excluded from elections in Haiti. The party was excluded from the two-round, partial senate election held in April and June 2009 and from the presidential and legislative election scheduled for late February 2010, cancelled after the devastating January 12, 2010, earthquake. Voter turnout in April/June 2009 was less than 5 per cent following the call for a boycott by popular organisations, including Fanmi Lavalas.

Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) has provided no credible justification for refusing to register Fanmi Lavalas. The council is widely regarded as a biased tool of President René Préval and the foreign powers that back him.

Recent protests outside the offices of the CEP and the US and French embassies demonstrate Haitian popular resistance to ongoing international interference in Haiti's sovereignty. Many Haitians disparage the coming elections as "selections".[2]

The push for elections in Haiti is coming from the international powers that sponsored and assisted the overthrow of the elected government and presidency of Jean Bertrand Aristide in 2004. It is a part of the sweatshop labour model for Haiti's future development being touted by Haiti's elite, foreign governments, and Bill Clinton and other representatives of UN agencies and international financial institutions. Canada announced on October 5 that it would fund the elections to the tune of C$5.8 million.

Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon stated last May, "The sooner we have political stability, the sooner we're going to be able to get economic stability and growth in that country." "Political stability" for Haiti is imperial doublespeak for policies that deny social justice and political sovereignty to the poor and oppressed people of that country.[3]

Fanmi Lavalas leader Maryse Narcisse recently told the IPS news service, "For us, this isn't just the exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas. What they want to exclude is the majority, the people."

She says that Fanmi Lavalas will not participate in the election. "For us this is a selection, not an election."

As US Congress member Maxine Walters and 44 other representatives recently wrote in an open letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on October 7, "Haiti's next government will be called upon to make difficult decisions in the reconstruction process that will have a lasting impact on Haitian society, such as land reform and allocation of reconstruction projects among urban and rural areas. Conferring these decisions on a government perceived as illegitimate is a recipe for disaster."

Fanmi Lavalas and its presidential candidate, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, won an overwhelming victory in the 2000 national election. In February 2004, Aristide and the Haitian legislature and senate were overthrown in a coup d'état backed by US, French and Canadian armed forces.[4]

The Canada Haiti Action Network calls on the Canadian government to end its support for the sham election of November 28. It must cease its ongoing interference in Haitian sovereignty, which only results in disenfranchising Haiti's poor majority. The suppression of popular dissent by UN and other foreign forces or foreign-funded Haitian police agencies must stop.

We urge members of parliament and Canada's local and national media to speak out for democracy and national sovereignty for Haiti. No meaningful recovery from the earthquake can take place without the fullest democracy, including popular participation in decision making. Much more Canadian government resources are required for earthquake relief and reconstruction. None should go to continued interference in Haiti's political affairs.

Signed, the following member committees of the Canada Haiti Action Network:

Haiti Action Montreal

Toronto Haiti Action Committee

Winnipeg Haiti Action Committee

Haiti Solidarity BC

To contact the Canada Haiti Action Network: canadahaiti@gmail.com. Phone Roger Annis at 778.858.5179 (Vancouver) or Niraj Joshi (Toronto) at 416.731.2325. Please voice your concern to the minister of foreign afairs of Canada. See a suggested letter of concern here: www.canadahaitiaction.ca/statements.

Notes

1. See CHAN statements: April 16, 2009, "Haiti's Unfair Elections" and December 28, 2009, www.canadahaitiaction.ca/node/158; and "Haiti: Flawed election in the making", www.canadahaitiaction.ca/node/66.

2. For background on recent elections in Haiti: www.canadahaitiaction.ca/content/haitis-election-unfair-and-undemocratic

3. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2010/05/21/mtl-cannon-haiti-elections.html

4. See Peter Hallward, Damming the Flood (Verso Books, 2008)

Aid facts on Haiti

By Roger Annis, Canada Haiti Action Network

(All figures are based on the latest statistics from the Office of the UN Special Envoy on Haiti, September, 2010. Corrections welcomed. This aid feature will soon be posted to the CHAN website and kept updated. We leave aside comment on the utility, or not, of the international spending promised for Haiti.)

  • US$6.036 billion was pledged for Haiti in NYC on March 31, 2010, for the following 18 months in all fields of spending government, international agencies, charities and NGOs. Of that, $886 million is for debt relief.
  • As of September, $1.94 billion has been pledged for 2010. That's 32% of the total March 31 pledges. Of this amount, $1.317 billion has been disbursed or committed. That's 22% of total pledges. The US has committed zero for 2010.
  • We have passed the seven-month mark since the NYC conference. At this rate, less than half of total pledges will be realised.

Haiti Interim Reconstruction Commission

  • Of the $6.036 billion pledged in NYC, $507 million was destined for the commission. Of that, $163 million has been paid or "confirmed" -- 27% -- including US$30 million from Canada. Neither the US nor France have paid nor confirmed.

Canadian funding

  • In NYC on March 31, Canada said it is committing US$632 million to Haiti for 2010/11. This includes funding already promised to Haiti in Canada's pre-earthquake, C$555 million aid budget for the years 2006-2011. CAN$150 million was spent up to March 31, 2010; none of this went to the Haitian government.
  • Of the US$199 million promised for 2010, Canada has disbursed $44 million, or 22%.
  • Since the earthquake, Canada has announced spending on police equipping and training of at least C$58 million: $44 million in April, $4.4 million in May and $9.5 million in November. These include the construction of a training academy and a new national headquarters for the Haitian National Police. Policing is the largest item of Canadian government spending in Haiti to date. Additionally, it is giving $5.8 million to the flawed, November 28 election.
  • The two largest non-police spending items are US$19 million to the World Food Program and US$19 million to a hospital in Gonaives. The hospital has been promised for many years and remains a promise only.

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