Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Preval wins election with massive support from the Haitian people -- yet a threat from the elite class and the international community looms

The following update regarding the recent elections in Haiti was submitted by Shirley Pate of WILPF's Washington, DC, Branch on behalf of the Haiti Issue Committee:
Preval wins election with massive support from the Haitian people -- yet a threat from the elite class and the international community looms

On February 16, the Interim Government of Haiti (IGH) recognized Rene Preval as Haiti's next president - something the Haitian people knew eight days earlier on election day. Massive fraud marred the election in a move by the elite and the international community to rob Preval and the Haitian people of an opportunity for a better, more secure Haiti. The fraud began with an orchestrated campaign of vote suppression. In the Haiti election of 2000, there were approximately 10,000 voting stations. On February 7, the IGH provided for only 807 voting stations for the entire country! This meant that many Haitians would have to walk hours to vote. In the poorest neighborhoods, where Preval'’s support is the strongest, numerous voting irregularities took place: many voting stations opened as much as five hours late, few election workers were available to answer questions, registered voters'’ names were missing from voter lists, election officials ordered last minute shutdowns of voting stations, etc. Needless to say, voting went smoothly in the elite neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince.

Ballot counting was slow and the IGH encouraged Haitians to remain patient. But, Preval supporters smelled a rat and hit the streets by the thousands demanding that their candidate be declared president. This show of strength gave the IGH and the international community pause, but it was the scenes on Haitian TV of discarded, burned ballots at a Port-au-Prince dump, most marked for Preval, that brought the electoral house of cards down.

Yet, Preval does not have long to savor his victory and neither do we in the Haiti solidarity movement. Editorials are starting to pop up in US newspapers that attempt to detract from Preval's victory and mischaracterize his tenure as president of Haiti in the late 1990'’s. The international community did not kidnap Aristide; install a puppet government; supervise a two-year reign of terror; and spend $70 million on this election to have Preval come out as Haiti'’s next president -- now that he has, the elite forces and many members of the international community intend for his stay at the National Palace to be a short one. The Haitian people need all the support we can offer them as they struggle to retain their democracy and preserve the sovereignty of their country.

By Shirley Pate -- Washington, DC, Branch - February 18, 2006.


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