Monday, November 21, 2005

Haiti: Empty bellies and empty elections

Workers World - Nov 24, 2005 issue

Haiti: Empty bellies and empty elections

By G. Dunkel

The desperate situation of the people of imperialist-occupied Haiti
has grown worse. Hunger and random brutality, according to a report
produced by the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights and the Latin
American office of UNICEF, are the daily fare of children and
teenagers in Haiti.

Of course, UNICEF didn't put its conclusions so bluntly. It merely
reported that, in 15 percent of the zones included in its nationwide
survey, children were killed by gunfire. In one-third of the zones
children were either injured by gunfire or beaten. In urban areas,
where violence is most common, rapes of children have increased

Fewer and fewer children are going to school in this country where the
illiteracy rate is more than 50 percent because schools and the
streets leading to them are too dangerous. In about 70 percent of the
zones UNICEF surveyed, families had fled to safer areas.

Much of the burden of the current situation in Haiti is falling on its
children. Hunger affects them more severely since they are still
growing and they are less capable of resisting violence. But their
parents and other adults have also suffered. An estimated 10,000
people throughout Haiti have been killed by violence since the
U.S.-backed coup began in early 2004 and more than 3,000 supporters of
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide are currently political prisoners.

UNICEF is pleading for compassion and mercy and aid from the very
countries that created, deepened and intensified the misery of Haiti:
the United States, Canada and France, with the assistance of Brazil.

The U.S. government, with some technical and political cooperation
from France, organized and implemented the coup that removed from
office Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti's democratically elected
president. U.S. Marines from the ambassador's bodyguard then put
Aristide on a U.S. plane that took him to the Central African

When the U.S. and France had to pull back a bit from Haiti in order to
fulfill more pressing commitments--the U.S. in Iraq, France in the
Ivory Coast--Canada stepped up its role, spending at least $100
million to prop up the current, illegitimate government that
Washington imposed on Haiti.

The current UN approach to "solving" Haiti's problems is a
"selection/election" of a president and parliament that will do what
they are told and certainly not challenge the U.S.'s political control
in the Caribbean and Latin America or demand reparations from France
for imposing a crushing debt on Haiti. In 1825, France forced Haiti to
pay French plantation owners 150 million gold francs in compensation
for freed slave laborers. According to an estimate by the Aristide
government, this would amount to $21 billion today. The Aristide
government was actively seeking this amount as reparations when it was

Currently the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) claims to have
registered 3 million Haitians for the proposed elections, but only a
handful of its fancy identification cards--which require thumb prints
and photos--have been distributed. The CEP has been forced to postpone
the first round of elections, which was scheduled for Nov. 17 but has
been pushed back to Dec. 11 and Dec. 18, despite the fact that de
facto Prime Minister Gérard Latortue made a round of international
visits at the end of October to the UN Security Council and various
bodies in Europe swearing up and down that the next president of Haiti
would take office as constitutionally mandated on Feb. 7, 2006.

The CEP has removed three candidates from the roster of 39 who are
running for president because they have foreign passports, which under
Haitian law means they are no longer citizens. The CEP assigned
identification numbers to the 43 parties and political groups running
in the elections. Some of the concerned parties registered loud
protests, charging the draw was rigged because their numbers weren't
in the box.

This article is copyright under a Creative Commons License.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011

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