Chaos in Haiti as huge earthquake hits island
Haitians succeeded their first historical runoff. Now what?
After a precarious and fraudulent first round on November 28, 2010 Haiti turned to another surprising twist with new crisis and all sort of public and private speculations.
President Rene G. Preval used the chaos and lack of credibility in place to invite the OAS to supervise the electoral process, validate the explosive electoral crisis, and advise...
After weeks of back and forth, the OAS finally submitted their report to the executive branch on January, at a time where everyone was so focus on commemorating the first anniversary of the earthquake victims...The tragedy of the "Mardi Noir", a quake that destroyed the infrastructure of Port-au-Prince, Leogane, Jacmel, and some cities in the Nippes' department. In less than one minute, on January 12, 2010, over 300,000 Haitians died and 1 million became homeless living without hope, further promoting the survival mode life in Haiti. This tragedy is even more devastating for the Country's very weak economy!
Such moment was very appropriated for the OAS knowing diversion is always important in Haitian politics. While the OAS report has been already leaked to the international Press, the final document reaching the President's desk was quite different and mainly confirmed what everyone was already assuming: The INITE candidate Jude Celestin lost his second position to the popular singer turned politician Michel J. Martelly.
After thorough review the OAS report was submitted with the following: Mirlande Manigat : 31.19% (323,048 votes). Michel Martelly : 21.96% (227,467 votes). Excluding of the second round the INITE candidate Jude Célestin with 21.65 % (224,242 votes).
Many observers and political junkies thought it was appropriate to eject Jude Celestin because of all the frauds while others argued fraud was done for other candidates as well, and the best alternative would have been to void the process altogether and start over...
Since the CEP (Electoral council) was already contested by the main opposition, including the platform Alternative, joined later by the improvised group 12 (formed by 12 canddates the day of the first round to stop the process, and later divided when the front runners Mirlande Manigat and Michel Martelly quickly switched) who unsuccesfully called out for the boycott of the election even prior the first round, this situation was very tough and complex for the International players in Haiti, especially USA - France and Canada. The annulment of the election was definitely not a good alternative for several reasons: It would create more chaos. Their failure would have been way too obvious, and the time loss would have been an enormous challenge, especially when they would have a hard time following Haiti's Constitutional deadlines to jumpstart the process.
Most of these players were not even ready for a government of transition, which has been the biggest wish of several leaders excluded from this process, who saw a clear opening to become active again, and why not making more money - knowing that Haitian history shows that government of transition has always been a serious setback and an opportunity for bureaucrats to enrich themselves and often involved more controversies and zero accountability...
At a time of cholera and total chaos such option was not really appropriate, according to a US Diplomat.
As always, Haitian politics is like a thriller, always be ready for another twist, often more passionate than the previous...After rumors, finally................The surprising development caught the nation off guard as it grapples with a political crisis and the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake. Duvalier, 59, arrived on an Air France plane about 5:50 p.m. local time Sunday January 16, 2011.
He wore a dark suit and blue tie. He was greeted at the airport with hugs from supporters. He was taken into an immigration office before customs. "He is happy to be back in this country, back in his home," said Mona Beruaveau, a candidate for Senate in a Duvalierist party who spoke to the former dictator inside the immigration office. "He is tired after a long trip."
Duvalier's years of living in a chateau outside Paris and a luxury Riviera villa ended in costly divorce and tax disputes, leaving him near broke.
In recent years journalists tracked him down to a small, sparsely furnished two-bedroom apartment in a far from chic arrondissement. The modest rent of a few hundred euros a month was paid by supporters, including Haitian taxi-drivers and waiters living in France who propped up Duvalier morally, physically and financially.
At one point the former president was so desperate he took university classes to improve his "leadership skills" and placed an advertisement seeking work in a local paper in the south of France....All this drama related to exile and living in a foreign Country was over for Baby Doc as he received a great welcome from Haitians and started living like a king - while, to this date, several groups of human rights and victims and asking for his arrest and a fair trial in order to stop impunity. Others think we should just move on, especially after 25 years.
...Later on, the CEP confirmed the OAS recommendation and all the rumors by declaring Michel J. Martelly admission to the second round...
After International pressures, especially from USA, and the cancellation of several visas of government and INITE party officials, Jude Celestin accepted his defeat and wrote a short memoir via his lawyer Me Osner Fevry. A long text full of big words and metaphors where Jude Celestin accused his party of treason and swear to stay a man of principle and a real patriot... It was then clear for everyone that Jude was a loyal man and played his script quietly and perfectly while making a nice fool of himself. It was also certain that Jude celestin was not a politician and did not even intend to become one. Without a fight, he moved on and this was an act that some people find appropriate and good for stability. Some experts also find that Jude Celestin was simply being thrown under the bus, it was a victim of a very corrupted system. Corruption that exist at all levels and not only limited to Haitian politics.
While many observers were skeptical, Mr Martelly and Mrs Manigat began their campaign...
Both candidates were followed by huge crowd wherever they go. Both candidates managed to visit the Haitian Diaspora in USA and Canada every occasion they get for fundraising and PR. This election was definitely the first Haitian election that received so much international coverage. All that was possible because of the quake, the super star Wyclef Jean implication in the process (before being rejected for not meeting residency requirement of 5 years in the Country prior to the election, as required by the Electoral law and the Constitution) and the presence of so many famous leaders and megastars in Haiti months after the tragedy...
Michel Martelly was definitely the underdog candidate who benefited the most from such innovation and used it the most to his advantage. However, it was not without troubles.
The attention the candidate was receiving was also used to vet him thoroughly and lots of controversy surfaced, such as: The NO PIN investigation by the FCC related to illegals robot calls to FL residents and the real estate scandal published by the newspaper Miami Herald where Michel 3 homes investments went to foreclosures. Those two scandals are just among few that attracted most people attentions while hundreds of others were circulating the Internet and echoed by several radio hosts who endorsed Mrs Manigat...
It's not clear if the Manigat campaign strategically decided to run smear campaigns and focus all their attention upon their opponent Michel, but it was definitely obvious that the names Martelly or Sweet Micky were the most popular everywhere, and many experts qualified this phenomenon as a very big mistake! because negative campaigns always backfire!
Nevertheless, the International press was more comfortable with Mrs Manigat and that's the reason why nothing negative was being said about her. Miami Herald for instance did not write any article focusing on her weakness. No formal investigation was done.
Mrs Manigat always seem to be sure about her victory reason why she used the following very often during the campaign up and down time: DEVAN DEVAN NET (Ahead once and for all)!
Mrs Manigat and her team, among other efforts to show a huge difference between her background and her opponent Michel, managed to stimulate the dividing and hot debate among Haitians opposing Intellectuals vs illiterate or low skills individuals. Traditionally, those who never been to school, did some high school or detentor of only high school diploma and the rest who never been to college or drop out from college are often marginalized by the minority who did 4 years college and those who have higher education...
In Haiti, it's even inappropriate to be considered "intellectual" if one doesn't speak French fluently. Excellent French speaking is a sign of knowledge and respect. So language is often used to humiliate and divide people or show class origin.
M. Martelly did also use this occasion very well to preach about his dream of a better Haiti. He often sounded like ex-president Aristide but in a more aggressive and sometimes funny way. As no matter what Martelly's campaign tried they could never separate Michel Martelly from Sweet Micky. Each time they succeed in private it was later lost during a public speech because he could not help. That's the way he is. That's how and the only way he can connect with his public, and he believed the people would love him regardless; and as a matter of fact he was right. This Martelly belief was proven during his debate at the Karibe Center with Mrs Mirlande.
Mr Martelly was aggressive or arrogant and managed to own the debate while her opponent who happen to be also aggressive sometimes managed to use self control and kept her cool during the whole debate...After many short (improvised) surveys all over the Country and in the Diaspora, experts realized Michel Martelly came out to be the winner. Why? Simply because most Haitians did not care much about manners and some even found him funny...Days after the event people were screaming things he said on the streets of Port-au-prince, things like: A LA GUERRE COMME A LA GUERRE....BOURIK AP TRAVAY CHWAL AP GALONNEN, etc
So in communication and advertising this kind of effect are very important because somebody sold a message or a product to a group, whether they like the product or not.
So, if they memorize it, they will either think about it more or simply reconsider, even in their subconscious!
Having said that, Mrs Manigat team, while failing to connect with the potential and real voters, tremendously failed to sell their candidates image to the public.
In order to show how Mrs Manigat was proud to be 71 years old, and to quickly use that weak spot to her advantage, the campaign chose the slogan: "Banm Manmanm (Give me my mother)."
And they negotiated a good deal with a very popular young band: BARIKAD CREW in order to further promote their motto... While this band was popular it happened to be a controversial move for the Manigat campaign because this could not rime with the intellectuals vs illiterate or masses approach. Barikad Crew succeeded among the youth and mostly the masses in Port-au-Prince by singing ghetto style rapp and spreading some violence with their gangster approach...The band is surrrounded by controversies and not as successful as they once was. Couple members died and those left was trying to get some traction, so this was also a good opening...
When the Band arrived in Cap-Haitien (North) with Mrs Manigat hundred of thousand of people came to great them...
Some critics were thrilled and wonder if the people came to meet the candidate or the band?
It's never easy to answer such questions in Haiti, but we do know people joining a rally doesn't always translate to votes. Haitians are just often curious and they love big fiesta.
That's why the same group who followed one candidate might stay to assist the other, as long as there is music and good animations!
The candidate Michel Martelly who spent most of his life dealing with the public did not have any problem to gather huge crowd and keeping them motivated for hours.
That's how he closed beautifully his campaign in Champs de Mars (Port-au-Prince) and finally in Cayes with over half million people. Michel was always confident and stayed on message...always full of nice promises and guaranteeing the restoration of the authority and discipline in the Country, free education, low cost health care, security, transparency, etc
As announced by Fanmi Lavalas officials, ex-president Aristide, regardless of critics and USA recommendations, returned to Haiti on March 18, after 7 years in exile.
his triumphant return was a big question mark for lots of people, and some were worried that his presence was going to be the beginning of another era of troubles in Haiti.
A June 2005 State Department cable describes the US and Brazilian governments agreeing "that all efforts must be made to keep Aristide from returning to Haiti or influencing the political process." In another just released 2005 cable, US and French diplomats threatened to block South Africa's seating on the UN Security Council unless South African President Thabo Mbeki managed to keep Aristide in exile there...All that did not stop Aristide from returning in Haiti. Did he negotiate his return or simply challenged the system and his enemies by using the legal path? We may really never know, but the fact is he did return and people came out strongly to greet him.
Many have reported that Aristide's honeymoon did not end well, since the crowd managed, after accompanying him, to enter his house in Tabarre and stealing everything that has a value, including food and furnitures...
President Aristide did request 60 Police officers for his private security, but this demand was not approved by the current government.
Since this day, reactions varied in the Haitian community, but Aristide, after his speech at the airport Toussaint Louverture, kept a low profile in the Country and his presence did not change much since the election went perfectly well on March 20.
Some observers and politic agree that President Aristide presence did slightly modify the election turn out because many did not go out to vote either in solidarity to Fanni Lavalas exclusion or because they were expecting troubles, as rumors were very active and controversial hours before the vote....
Fifteen (15) days later, since results was postponed to April 4th instead for several administrative reasons or mainly because the tabulation was moving too slow due to frauds and irregularities per the CEP, lots of rumors were going around, especially via social networking and talk shows in the Diaspora and Haiti. Mrs Manigat campaign staff vowed to follow the process and wait for results while sharing a memoir of frauds and other regularities with the CEP...Most analysts could see the Manigat team was getting ready to contest the results for whatever reasons while The Michel's camp was more confident in victory using their proces verbaux as main proof of that. So, it was never clear why Mrs Manigat team refuse to talk about their own proces verbaux to support their belief.
Finally, by noon the word was out. Sources say that the US Embassy in Haiti couldn't keep up with the long wait and the dangerous stress...So they've leaked the results available to them to the Miami Herald (newspaper) who published it.
The article did not mention percentage, but was clear enough that Michel Martelly will win the election...
And, as the ex Dominican ambassador in Haiti Alberto Despradel in Haiti said from day one (March 21st): It was a landslide, and Martelly won without a doubt!
The CEP confirmed the news early evening on April 4th. Martelly won with 67.57% against 31.74% for Mirlande Manigat.
Most people were afraid of what could happen after the results and several rumors gave reason to believe the following week was not going to be peaceful...All that did not happen. The whole Country was quiet. Supporters of Martelly were very happy while Manigat's fans were very disappointed and speechless. It was a bad dream for some of them...
The frustrations was obvious at some levels, but nothing to worry about. It was a great day. A huge step for Democracy in Haiti - knowing that politics in Haiti often try to manipulate the masses or some violent groups just to show their opposition to new realities that do not benefit them. This time was different.
A huge portion of the population was very happy while this category was supporting neither candidate. They felt so glad there was no violence and mainly this electoral process was coming to its end. It has been a long journey... The stress was always there, and people couldn't expect such outcome. It was just unbelievable!
The following days were quiet as well. The international community was happy because they got saved by a peaceful ending.
A second round that validated the whole process.
At her Press conference, it was clear that Mrs Manigat was angry and felt the outcome was not fair. She even accused the CEP president, M. Gaillot Dorsainville, of corruption and fraud. In her speech of concession, Mrs Manigat protest firmly against the results and she did not congratulate the winner. However, she decides not to formally contest the results, which was a good decision per observers and even the new elected President...
The 49th legislature will be mainly dominated by two (2) political platforms: INITE (party currently in power) and Alternative (opposition). With already 17 Senateurs and 34 Deputes (while awaiting the BCEN verdict pertaining to additional contestations after the runoff) INITE may have the upper hand, especially if they finalize few coalitions... In the meantime, no party has an absolute majority, which is a good thing for the new President.
Having said that, the new President can either nominate a Prime Minister after consulting with the President of the Senate and the President of the House or simply push for a strong candidate on his own... Even though the Constitution has clear guidelines about this process it is almost certain the new President will proceed according to his own strategy because previous administrations went through this process following different approach.
The new President never miss an occasion so far to invite everyone to come together and help him build a new Country, especially after he got elected. However, many are wondering if he will take actions showing such enthusiast through his administration.
Will the President send a clear message of change by choosing a competent Prime Minister who can help him get things done without serious issue with the parliament?
Is the International going to influence such decision?
What exactly the wrong choice will mean for the President?
Unfortunately, those are not simple questions and the alternative is not as simple as many of us think...
Nevertheless, this is a great test that will either show maturity or the weakness of the new president!
As always: Time will tell!
About the Author
Founder and President of True Haitian-American Patriots
Vice-President of JADEN (Jeunes en Actions pour le Developpement Ecologique National)
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