Haiti: ‘This is an electoral coup’, says activist amid daily protests

Protesters burn election posters of Jovenel Moïse in protest at his fraudulent election. Port-au-Prince, November 28, 2016.

In a very lacklustre ceremony, with almost no international presence save a delegation of US diplomats, Jovenel Moïse was appointed president of Haiti this month. But no media outlet reported that, at the same time, Haitian streets were boiling with protests in rejection of Moïse and his administration. 

Argentine-based independent media outlet Resumen Latinoamericano talked with Henry Boisrolin, a member of the Haitian Democratic Committee, about the situation in the poorest nation in the hemisphere, where the people continue to fight for democracy and social justice. It is abridged from The Dawn.

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What is your take on Haiti’s situation after the recent inauguration of Jovenel Moïse as president, with the support of the United States?

In the first place, I’d like to renew once again my full solidarity with Resumen Latinoamericano regarding the attack you suffered last December [from Argentina’s right-wing government]. I must take this chance to condemn this attempt to censor you and express our full solidarity because this mustn’t remain unpunished.

Regarding Haiti, it is true that the president appointed by the Electoral Council is nothing but a direct representative of the Haitian elite, of the big landowners of Haiti and Dominican Republic, and of the international community led by US imperialism.

This has to be very clear: Moïse was their candidate, not the people’s.

Now, how exactly did he “win” [the November elections]? And I use quotes because according to their official data, this candidate only got 595,000, votes from a register of 6.2 million voters. This means that the current “president” has no legitimacy.

Does the whole opposition think this is an electoral coup?

That’s right. Jovenel Moïse has no legitimacy, he is a candidate imposed through a perverse electoral process.

That’s why right now, Haiti is denouncing an electoral coup perpetrated by wealthy sectors of the country in alliance with the international community.

An important element is the repression that took place before, during and after this process, by which Moïse was declared winner in the first round. Massacres and repressions, largely in poor neighbourhoods, were used to prevent demonstrations of thousands and thousands of Haitian men and women.

We also have to highlight that only 21% of register voters voted. That means that almost 80% of the population didn’t participate. Evidently, this is a fragile president, and since he’s presented as a continuer of former-President Michel Martelly’s government, obviously we can’t expect much from this man.

In recent weeks there have been protests, a massacre in Port au Prince — which is one of the most combative neighbourhoods — and a huge homage of the population to those killed. None of this has been published in the media. What do you think of this silence?

We have to read this in the context of the indifference that has always been shown towards the people of Haiti.

The real history of Haiti has never been talked about. It is always told from the official point of view that sets the start of the Latin American independence process in 1810. In fact Haiti was the first free country in 1804 [after a slave-led revolution] and helped many others to become free.

The current silence is a continuation of the manner in which Haitian popular struggles have been treated for centuries. Of course, the historical context is different but there is continuity because the ideology of racism and of destroying the popular movement is still hegemonic.

That has also affected the way alternative media from other countries looks at Haiti: they misinterpret the situation, thinking that there’s a failed state and therefore a failed people.

So they see us as poor beggars sitting outside a church waiting for someone to hand us a $20 bill. They don’t see solidarity, just charity, thinking nothing can be done. So, the class struggle is blurred, hidden and misinterpreted.

The duty of the Haitian popular movement and its leaders is to break that vicious cycle of classism, obliviousness and denial and end this disdain that hurts the popular movement.

What role has the United Nations Stabilisation Mission In Haiti (MINUSTAH, the Brazil-led “peacekeeping” mission occupying Haiti) played? Is it true that during the inauguration of Moïse it surrounded the Presidential Palace and tried to prevent demonstrations?

Fundamentally, the Haitian police had the role of preventing protests, always with the help of the MINUSTAH. The role of the MINUSTAH since it was imposed on this country in 2004, has been imposing a plan of neocolonisation of the country. They have obviously failed, their results are disastrous.

Even former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has acknowledged that the MINUSTAH was responsible for the introduction of the cholera virus in the country, which has killed more than 10,000 Haitians and infected 800,000. The troops have also raped girls and boys and have massacred people in poor neighbourhoods and at protests.

MINUSTAH has played the role of an armed occupation force to enable the appointment of Moïse as president. There is no doubt that Haiti is being colonised and the MINUSTAH has been the tool to enforce this.

Now the role of the MINUSTAH has been unveiled, it speaks of a gradual withdrawal, of reformulating the Haitian army, of a bigger police force. Even among the Haitian elites, there are sectors that believe that there must be a gradual withdrawal of the MINUSTAH.

But this is going to depend on what happens in the streets of the whole country — not only Port au Prince. This isn’t a homogeneous bloc, there are several power struggles about forming the government, particularly about who’s going to become prime minister — especially now that the pie isn’t as large. So Moïse is going to hand out every last bit of the Haitian resources.

That’s what’s in sight and another MINUSTAH is going to be needed to carry out this anti-popular project.

Apparently, the three other presidential candidates that didn’t win have joined in a coalition. What chances are there for this coalition to succeed in the struggle against this president? And what may the future hold for Haiti now Trump is president?

First of all, regarding Trump, many thought that he wouldn’t care about Haiti, but the act of inauguration of Moïse showed that wasn’t true. The US sent a high-ranking delegation, with people that have been influencing the Haitian crisis for a long time.

We must also remember that during the electoral campaign, when he visited Florida, he went to the headquarters of Little Haiti because that was a way to attack Hillary Clinton for all the damage the Clinton family caused Haiti.

So, Haiti is on this man’s agenda. We can’t expect absolutely anything good from him. But for the government, this is a bad sign because Trump speaks a lot about protectionism and there’s no hope Trump will invest money in Moïse’s Haiti.

As for the sector of the opposition that has formed the Reunited Democratic Sector, everything will depend on whether they’re able to maintain their internal unity and cohesion.

Pitit Dessalines is the political formation that has suffered the most — it has simply disintegrated. But there’s a sector that remained strong and is very involved in mobilisations.

What matters here is that these three parties, which according to electoral results were behind Moïse, don’t recognise his triumph, and I believe they won’t. This sector is apparently going to keep mobilising, which will strengthen the popular movement.