Haitian people step up their heroic resistance
January 1, 2017 marked the 213th anniversary of the Haitian Revolution. Beginning in 1791, the organized resistance of the enslaved peoples of the French colony of Saint-Domingue took hold and eventually overthrew both slavery and colonial rule. The revolutionaries led by Toussaint L’Ouverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines fought off successive European powers — the French, Spanish and British — to proudly establish their independent republic, Haiti, in 1804.
The Haitian Revolution was an earth-shattering development in the struggle for the emancipation of labour all over the world and the establishment of citizenship rights on a modern basis, namely that they belong to people by virtue of their being human as members of a body politic. Haiti’s decisive break from the conception of rights of the colonial powers based on the ownership of property and a system of privileges was a great contribution to the liberation struggles of all peoples. This outstanding achievement of the Haitian people looms large in their continued fight to defend their sovereignty and independence and bring into being new arrangements that affirm their rights.
It is a testament to this achievement that, after more than 213 years, the imperialist powers are still unable to suppress the Haitian people’s resistance and striving for empowerment. From 1804 to the present, the efforts of the colonial and imperial powers to wreak vengeance on the Haitian nation-building project have only intensified. They have sought to once against enslave the people so their historic example cannot inspire other nations and peoples in their struggles against slavery, colonialism and imperialism. Over the past year, as in the years before, Haitians boldly defied all the predatory forces from the U.S., France, Canada and elsewhere claiming to be for civilization and democracy.
2016 was marked by continuing opposition to the foreign occupation of Haiti and a heroic resistance struggle of the Haitian people against a corrupt, foreign-sponsored electoral process imposed and financed by the U.S. imperialists. From October 2015 to November 2016, the imperialists were unable to impose a President on Haiti and attempts to do so amidst widespread electoral fraud and the marginalization of the vast majority of Haitians were blocked.
The previous fraudulent vote, on October 25, 2015, in which participation of registered voters was only 29 per cent, had to be thrown out after the people refused to accept it and new elections were scheduled for January 24. Mass mobilizations of Haitians declared “Nou Pap Obeyi!” (“We Will Not Obey!”) and demanded the complete cancellation of the elections following the discovery of massive fraud in previous rounds of voting. By this time, the U.S. had already spent $33 million to secure a president, while Canada paid $11 million and additional funds had come from the European Union, while all three sent “observers” who declared that the process was “clean by Haitian standards.”
On January 22, the elections were postponed indefinitely. In February, Michel Martelly, who was imposed as president by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was forced to resign and an interim president was selected.
The U.S., Canada, France and others demanded that new elections be held as soon as possible. After more foreign-sponsored elections were called for April 24 and again cancelled due to the people’s resistance, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion declared, “Canada deplores the fact that the elections … have been cancelled for the third time.” Canada and the U.S. announced the suspension of all funding for Haitian elections until they were carried out as demanded.
Without addressing the serious concerns of Haitians a new election was called for October, but was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew. The new presidential vote was eventually held November 20. In a statement issued on November 19, on the eve of the vote, Foreign Minister Dion declared that Canada “recently dispatched more police officers to serve in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti [MINUSTAH] in order to beef up security” during the election.
The election saw a record low voter turnout of 21 per cent of registered voters, which dropped to 17 per cent when only valid votes were counted, while registered voters already number only 1 million out of more than 6 million eligible. The favoured candidate of the imperialists, an owner of banana plantations, was declared the winner. All other parties declared the result to be invalid and filed formal objections, pointing out widespread irregularities and questionable numbers. Despite this, on January 4 the Haitian Provisional Electoral Council declared that there was “no massive fraud in the election” and the results upheld.
In its response to the electoral council declaring a winner, the U.S. State Department called the election “a positive step for the full restoration of that nation’s democratic institutions” and urged “all actors to accept the final results…” A statement of the Core Group, the main countries occupying Haiti militarily including the U.S., Canada and France “encourages all actors to respect the final results and to work constructively toward the peaceful completion of the electoral cycle.” On January 5, Foreign Affairs Minister Dion and Minister of International Development and La Francophonie Marie-Claude Bibeau said on behalf of Canada that the vote of a small minority of the population marked a “return to constitutional order.” Dion and Bibeau said, “It is essential that the Haitian political actors respect the definitive results of the presidential election, avoid any and all incitement to violence and work together to ensure the stability of their nation and prosperity for all Haitians.”
Haitians continue to mobilize in their thousands and tens of thousands in consecutive daily protests to denounce the electoral coup as well as the illegitimate, foreign-sponsored electoral process rejected by 80 per cent of the Haitian electorate. Their heroic resistance blazes the same path of the indomitable Haitian revolutionaries and all who defended their historic victory for rights and liberty. As they fight anew on the anniversary of their extraordinary achievement, TML Weeklysends its militant revolutionary greetings to the heroic people of Haiti and all those in the diaspora, including those who are part of the ranks of the Canadian and Quebec working class. The continued attempts to undo the verdict written in the blood of the Haitian people 213 years ago by the U.S. and other foreign powers attest to the profound racism and inhumanity of the imperialists and the need to settle scores with them once and for all.
1. In the November 2000 presidential election, the candidate of the social movement Fanmi Lavalas, Jean-Bertrand Aristide won with 92 per cent of votes and a 50 per cent voter turnout. Among the measures taken by Aristide were significant increases in Haiti’s minimum wage, the construction of many new schools, and demands for repayment of debts owed to Haiti by colonial powers. In response, the U.S., European Union and Canada imposed sanctions against the Haitian government. In 2003, the Paul Martin Liberal government hosted a “diplomatic” event called the Ottawa Initiative on Haiti in which representatives from the U.S., France, Canada and the Organization of American States agreed on the need to remove Aristide and put Haiti under “trusteeship.” In February 2004, one year after the Ottawa meeting, Canadian troops took over the Port-au-Prince airport while U.S. marines kidnapped Aristide and removed him from the country. Since that time, Haitian elections have been conducted under foreign military occupation (now under the auspices of a UN Stabilization Mission, MINUSTAH) with the people and their organizations subjected to severe repression.
2. In an e-mail exchange in January 2011 while Hillary Clinton was in Haiti on U.S. State Department business, her Counselor and Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills advised: “You need to counter what appears to be a building up and potential unifying of oppositon [sic] parties … The [“international community”] and [U.S. government] taking hits and looking like villan [sic]. Nationalism views on rise. [Clinton] was specifically criticized today for imposing this solution and pressuring [then-President René Préval].” In particular, Mills advised Clinton to “ensure that different elements of haitian society (church leaders, business, etc) buy into the mms [Michel Martelly] solution and are out there on radio messaging why its good.”
(With files from Haiti Libre. Photos: M. Narcisse, Haiti Info Project.)
Source: TML Weekly, January 7, 2017 – No. 1