Haiti Election: Chickens Come Home to Roost

Haiti is on edge, after Haiti's election council announced preliminary
results in the November 28 election which even
the US Embassy has questioned

Like others, the Government of the United States is
concerned by the Provisional Electoral Council's announcement of
preliminary results from the November 28 national elections that are
inconsistent with the published results of the National Election
Observation Council (CNO), which had more than 5,500 observers and
observed the vote count in 1,600 voting centers nationwide,
election-day observations by official U.S. observers accredited by the
CEP, and vote counts observed around the country by numerous domestic
and international observers.

According to the results announced by the CEP, Jude Celestin, Haitian
President Preval's anointed successor, will
advance to a runoff along with Mirlande Manigat
. But this outcome
depends on a razor-thin margin in the CEP's tally: only .64 percentage
points -- 6800 votes -- separate Jude Celestin from Michel Martelly.

The CNO -- financed by the European Union -- had
predicted that Celestin would be eliminated, based on polling
voters at 15% of polling stations

But even putting the CNO evidence to the side, 6800 votes is way too
small a margin to have confidence in the outcome, given the widespread
allegations of fraud.

This was a disaster foretold. Back in June, the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee published a report prepared under the direction of
Republican Senator Richard Lugar, the ranking Member, calling for
Haiti's electoral council to be reformed. But the Obama Administration
Lugar's report, despite the fact that the US government was paying for
the elections, as 45 Members of the House pointed out in an October

Why was Sen. Lugar's report ignored? It's hard to escape the
conclusion that the overall framework of US policy has been: the right
people are in charge, the people that we support, so we can't push
them too hard, because that might inadvertently result in the wrong
people being in charge.

How did the "right people" get to be in charge in Haiti? The US
supported a coup against democratically elected President Jean
Bertrand Aristide in 2004. UN troops have been there ever since,
maintaining the "order" brought about by the US-supported coup. One of
the electoral council's most controversial decisions was to exclude
the Fanmi Lavalas party of former President Aristide. Sen. Lugar and
45 Members of the House criticized this, but the Administration was
silent. That represents continuity with the Bush Administration's
support of the coup against Aristide in 2004.

Opposition in Haiti to the presence of UN troops has crystallized
recently with accusations that UN troops were responsible for the
outbreak of cholera in Haiti, which has killed at least 2000 people.
The UN and others initially dismissed these accusations as unfounded
rumor, but now a report by a leading French epidemiologist, selected
by the French government to assist Haitian health officials in
determining the source of the outbreak, says that UN troops were
the likely source
of the cholera outbreak.

The flawed election, ignoring warnings about the electoral council;
and the lack of honesty about and accountability for the cholera
outbreak, suggest it is high time to turn a new page in US relations
with Haiti, towards the restoration of full Haitian sovereignty. US
officials should support a timetable for the withdrawal of UN troops
from Haiti. You can sign a petition to
U.S. officials here

A key obstacle to reforming US policy is that major US media downplay
to the point of invisibility the history of US policy. You would have
to look hard to find an article in the major establishment media that
acknowledges the US role in the 2004 coup, and the continuity of that
with present US policy. This is part of a larger pattern of failure by
US media to acknowledge the US role in coups in Latin America.

Oliver Stone's documentary "South of the Border" tried to do something
to correct the record. It documented the role of the US in the 2002
coup in Venezuela.

On Friday, December 10 -- Human Rights Day -- people in 20 cities around
the US will be hosting screenings of "South of the Border." You can check
to see if there is a screening near you.

Here is a clip from South of the Border, in which Scott Wilson,
formerly foreign editor of the Washington Post, describes the
involvement of the U.S. in the coup in Venezuela:

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