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Haiti's Elections
Failed Rural Voters

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Answer The Call - FreeHaitiMovement

HLLN's 2006 Haiti Resolution - PROTECT THE FEB. 7TH VOTE

2005 Haiti Resolution

2004 Haiti Resolution

Dessalines Is Rising!!
Ayisyen: You Are Not Alone!


 
 

Haiti's Election Failed Rural Voters

 

Despite Public Praise, Haiti’s Election Failed Rural Voters by J.P. Shuster, March 25, 2006

The two observers from the European Union planned to check in on the voting office in Sainton, a crumbling, one-room courthouse, just after 6 a.m. to confirm that the polls had opened on time and without irregularity. They would then continue on to the rest of the voting offices in the South-Aquin

electoral district, including the three other offices in the
 

commune of Fond des Blancs. But at 8:30 a.m., the young, French-speaking observers, one representing Luxemburg and the other, Belgium, remained hovering over the lists of registered
voters posted on the courthouse doors. Joined by the voting office’s supervisor, Mr. Onald Beauvil, the three officials scanned for the names of registered voters, trying to deduce why the list did not match their official voting register, freshly printed on several sheets of loose-leaf hours before the voting office’s tardy opening.

The new voting process by identification card, the government’s “first attempt at a reliable voter register,” required that election officials permit only those whose names appeared on both the preprinted list of registered voters and the final voter register to vote.

The three disappeared inside to check the official voter register for the third time, and at the advice of the European Union observers, Mr. Beauvil permitted the first trickle of voters to begin casting ballots. And what about those whose names were not on the final register? They were told to walk two to three hours to the next closest voting station in Frangipane to see if perhaps their names appeared on the neighboring locality’s final voting register instead.

The officials’ confusion began to wear on the voters’ patience – some had stood in place for over three hours - and a crescendo of fiery accusations soon severed the morning air.

“Four voting stations in Fond des Blancs? Where? We have no stations!” cried
Francois Frederick of Sainton over the swelling lines of irritated voters as he emerged from a fruitless attempt to vote. Scores of residents entered the small building after Mr. Frederick to find that the faulty final voting register also could not verify their registration.

Jean-Pierre Elias, a farmer from Sainton, emerged from the office, shouting curses onto the swelling lines of irritated voters. Like many voters eager to register, he had trailed the officials from the Office of Election Registration (BIV) to the voting office in Frangipane when the officials had not showed up in Sainton to register voters. The officials had assured Mr. Elias that their office would send his registration back to Sainton before the election, but inside the aging courthouse, Sainton’s final voting register did not have his name, and he too was denied his right to vote.

One couple, an elderly husband and wife, had started walking from Frangipane to Sainton at 3 a.m. after not finding their names on the preprinted list of registered voters, only to find that Sainton did not have their names on its final voting register either. Election officials told the couple they should walk back to Frangipane to check the other office’s final voting register, but could give them no assurance that their names would be there. Out in the street, dozens of community members crowded Mr. Beauvil, who was frantically pleading with motorcycle drivers to help transport voters to Fond des Blancs’ three other voting offices. Other voters abandoned the chaos for home when the E.U. observers regretfully admitted, “it is too late; there is no other plan.”

Without the capability of printing a revised final voting register for Sainton’s voting office, they could not reverse the problems already in motion.

The botched proceedings of the February 7 vote in Fond des Blancs, more specifically, at the voting office in Sainton, did not result only from a faulty list of registered voters. The mountainous, rural commune, like countless others in Haiti’s southern province, has had no substantial interaction with a national government since members of the international community froze development assistance to Rene Preval’s government in 2000. Its roads, made nearly impassable by a particularly harsh rainy season, even prevented non-governmental relief agencies from carrying vital food and medical supplies out to the population of roughly 45,000 predominately illiterate peasants for several months.

As plans for a national election circulated through the offices of Haiti’s interim government and the United Nations Mission in Haiti, Fond des Blancs saw little evidence of the preparations. Only a single presidential candidate, Guy Phillippe, the former military officer and coup leader, bothered to come speak to the community. It appeared that even the candidates had deemed Fond des Blancs inconsequential to their campaign. The international community - Canada, the European Union, and the United States – barreled ahead with elections despite reports of grossly ill-prepared rural communities, thus building upon the area’s historic neglect by financing the elections without making any effort to retrieve Fond des Blancs from the socio-political margins.

Educating the population of Fond des Blancs on the revolving status of the election and about the details of the thirty-three candidates’ platforms progressed with similar laxity. Yves Rene Guillaume, a volunteer for the Department Election Bureau (BED) working to prepare the population of Sainton to vote, repeatedly found no one present at BED’s headquarters in Aquin to update him on the details of the election’s four postponements or to even provide him with his education materials. He had difficulty finding venues to speak at as uninformed community members assumed he was campaigning for individual candidates.

While a portion of the $73 million given to Haiti’s Interim Government (IGH) for the elections – almost $30 per vote cast - could have been used to provide the rural citizens with information on the election as well as rudimentary training on how to use the election’s new ballot, paid government officials left the work to a handful of
ill-informed volunteers. As a result, hearsay perpetuated glorified claims about candidates raising Haiti’s minimum wage by 400 percent and voting with a new ballot system was left to the guesswork of mostly illiterate peasants.

“Many people are going to vote for the candidate with the best picture,” predicted Mr. Guillaume.

Long-term election observers - those who had followed the election from within the country since before November – explained that an extremely late registration process in Sainton upset election preparations and poised the office for calamity on Election Day. Over a period of two weeks in October, officials from the Office of Voting and Inscription (BIV) came to Sainton a total of five isolated and unannounced days to register voters. On each of the five days, the officials only registered voters after a candidate running for commune deputy supplied his own generator and gasoline to print the legally-required identification cards. Many voters did not even know the BIV officials had come.

Before that time, however, the United States’ denial of the United Nation’s Stabilization Mission in Haiti’s (MINUSTAH) request for ten military helicopters to distribute election materials to Haiti’s more isolated rural localities confirmed that Fond des Blancs would become one of the many provincial communes to not only suffer from a lack of civic education and registration materials, but also from the absence of necessary election supplies.

On the day of the election, the erroneous final voting registers became palpable testimonies to an ill-prepared election process that at no time had the capacity to document the voices of Fond des Blancs’ isolated masses. Despite the two years of preparation and the seventy-three million dollars spent on Haiti’s 2005-2006 national election, less than two hundred of the four-hundred legally registered voters trying to vote in the Sainton voting office found their names on the preprinted list of registered voters, entered the dilapidated courthouse, matched their identification cards with the office’s final voter register, and successfully cast a ballot.

Likewise, Frangipane’s voting office permitted a mere sixty-four of the four hundred voters who had registered at the office to elect the next president and legislative body of their country. Still, the Interim Government of Haiti (IGH), the National Electoral Council (CEN), MINUSTAH, and the international community cannot cite any evidence that the pitiable minority of successful voters received sufficient education and formal instructions how to vote in accordance with the updated election regulations.

Some residents have speculated that political motivations of the above-mentioned groups contributed to the repeated neglect of Fond des Blancs’ voters. The residents charge that the groups, sensing a large support in Haiti’s rural communes for presidential frontrunner, Rene Preval, did not work to assure the community’s access to the polls, in an attempt to avoid a sweeping Preval victory.

Post-electoral events, including the highly disputed, non-transparent vote counting process that slowly reversed Preval’s initial leap towards a presidential victory one week after the election and the dozens of boxes containing ballots marked by and large for Preval found the following weekend by journalists digging through a Port-au-Prince landfill cannot allow for a complete denial of the residents’ grievance. Regrettably, the same non-existing government structures that prevented the majority of voters in Fond des Blancs from participating in the election have also left the people without a means to voice the concern.

UN Special Envoy Juan Gabriel Valdez, seeing the long line of voters pouring down the street past St. Pierre Church in Port-au-Prince, proudly declared Haiti’s presidential election to be “a victory for democracy, a victory for Haiti.” Though the majority of Fond des Blancs’s residents would celebrate the agreement giving Rene Preval the presidency eight days later, in Fond des Blancs, democratic elections alone could not claim the hard-earned victory.

The upcoming legislative runoff, now slated for April 21, will inevitably disenfranchise the same population again, as Haitian law does not permit residents who did not vote in the first round on February 7 to vote in the second round. Still without adequate information on the candidates’ platforms or any assurance that
further organizational failure will not exclude even more residents from voting, many in Fond des Blancs are bracing for more confusion and disappointment at the polls on the 21. For others, there may be another way of thinking – attempt the election offices, stay, and watch the action of the officials – a sign that rural Haitians have
learned to live the oft quoted admonishment, “the price of Democracy is eternal vigilance.”

J.P. Shuster is a recent Boston College graduate and a former volunteer at the Haitian Multi-Service Center in Dorcester, MA. He currently lives and works in Fond des Blancs, Haiti as a volunteer for the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation, based in Randolph, MA.
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ANSWER THE CALL: Help protect the Feb. 7, 2006 Haitian vote, Join The FreeHaitiMovement

To join our list of sponsors this year. Please send an e-mail to Erzilidanto@yahoo.com


To sponsor a FreeHaitiMovement event: The Free Haiti Movement: Dessalines Is Rising Worldwide http://www.margueritelaurent.com/solidarityday/infoforsponsors.html


zilibuttonACTION REQUESTED: Sponsors
are encouraged to endorse the Haiti Resolution, join HLLN's letter writing campaigns, (such as, our Media campaigns to stop the lies and fabrications and criminalizations of the poor majority in Haiti, "stop UN massacres in Site Soley" and the "free the political prisoners campaigns"). Endorsers are encouraged to sponsor a "To-Tell the truth about Haiti Forum", to sponsor teach-ins, rallies, vigils and lectures, throughout the year, but especially on May 18, Haiti's flag day, on August 14 -the anniversary of Bwa Kayiman, the ceremony that begun the great Haitian revolution, and, on October 17th - the anniversary of Dessaline's death, and Haiti's very first coup d'etat. Sponsors and endorsers of the Haiti Resolutions are encouraged to learn and teach their communities about Haiti's historical accomplishments. HLLN, shall provide, upon request, access to suggested written materials, audio and video streaming for internet and DVD distribution of testimony from victims and resisters of the coup d'etat; letter campaigns, media outreach campaigns; HLLN suggests the wearing and flying of the blue and red colors of Haiti; and, that each year, at least on May 18, August 14 and Oct. 17, sponsors and endorsers commit to fax, call-in and deliver to the French, Canadian and US Embassies and Consulates worldwide, the People of Haiti's demand that France, Canada, the US and the international community respect Haitian sovereignty, stop inflicting Haiti with their traditional "benevolence," racism, patriarchy and incessant corrupt intervention in Haiti's affairs, through foreign "aid" and debt.Haiti.

 



May 18, 2006 FreeHaitiMovement
Investigate electoral Fraud

HLLN call for investigation of electoral fraud to dilute the People's Feb. 7th vote - Some of the factors to be investigated:

There were fewer than 800 polling stations for the 2006 election, with no stations in Site Soley and the poorest areas, where President Aristide and President Préval's supporters live, compared with 12,000 polling stations in 2000 when the International Community wasn't in charge of Haiti's government and Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) as they are with the imposed Boca Raton regime.

Even without campaigning because of the coup d'etat repression and for fear of being thrown in jail to join the other Lavalas political prisoners, President Preval won by a clear LANDSLIDE, garnering four/five times more votes than the Coup D'etat candidates supported by the International Community - the next highest per cent reported after Préval was 12.8%. And, that’s not taking into consideration the burnt dumpster ballots, and blank-ballot stuffing which, if these were not a factor, could only increase Renè Préval’s proportion and reduce his coup d'etat opponents percentages.

HLLN insists on a full investigation into the Internationally-run and financed 2006 Haiti election, including discovering exactly where the ballots found in the dumpster came from? Why was the truck carrying the ballots to the dumpster for burning HIRED by the UN/MINUSTHA forces in charge of keeping ballots safe and secure? If these sorts of allegations were made in any other country about the UN representatives, if thousands of ballots found in a dumpster while the ballot-counting process was still ongoing had happen in the US, France or Canada, you’d expect an investigation? Why not the double standard? Why not the same respect for an election in Haiti, especially given the totally illegal bi-centennial Coup d'etat that preceded the Feb. 7th elections, especially in light of the fact the UN Security Council which refused to send help to Haiti's elected government BEFORE to coup, sent help to uphold the coup detat regime after President Aristide was flown out of Haiti under military pressure from France, Canada and the US!

The world owes the innocent Haitian people more respect for their sovereignty and the international community which trivialized Haitian democracy and justice, at its whim, shares a grave responsibility for the more than 20,000 dead since the coup and for the current attempt, by Jacques Bernard, CEP executive director and, Reginald Boulos (OAS-financed printer of Haiti's ballots and key coup d'etat player), et al, to rig the 2006 parliamentary elections by summarily excluding the Lavalas and L'espwa candidates from the second rounds.

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zilibutton Slide Show at the July 27, 2004 Haiti Forum Press Conference during the DNC in Boston honoring those who stand firm for Haiti and democracy; those who tell the truth about Haiti; Presenting the Haiti Resolution, and; remembering Haiti's revolutionary legacy in 2004 and all those who have lost life or liberty fighting against the Feb. 29, 2004 Coup d'etat and its consequences
     
 
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