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Opinion: Why they did not support elections...

From Haiti Info,
Vol. 3, no. 19. 1 July 1995

During the week following the elections, while political parties and officials argued over whether or not the process was free and fair, Haiti Info asked members of the democratic and popular movement who did not support the elections process to explain their positions.

A member of TET KOLE TI PEYIZAN, a national peasant movement dating back to 1973 and remembered in part for the brutal massacre of over 100 members on July 23, 1987, in Jean Rabel, said: For Tet Kole, as always, our priority is not elections. Our priorities are the demands of the popular masses, especially the small peasants who are always exploited, since the demands of this sector are never respected.

The representative explained that in many rural areas, peasants don't have schools, health care, access to drinking water. Some farmers are so poor and the environmental degradation so bad, he said, they collect rocks to sell by the truck-load, and those rocks were drywall barriers from their own land that they are obliged to sell, so the land continues to erode and end up in the ocean. They are also cutting down avocado and other trees for charcoal.

Every time elections are held, the situation has never changed, he said. All those reasons that made us say, 'What credibility, what hope do peasants have in elections?'

Regarding the process, the Tet Kole member noted he had heard a big quantity of people who were not able to vote because they could not find the office. In Jean Rabel, elections were cancelled altogether.

These elections are part of a global project the imperialists have for the country which they have already started, said A WELL-KNOWN HEALTH WORKER ACTIVE IN THE DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT.

The health worker said she felt the elections and installation of a parliament is meant to institutionalize the status quo of reconciliation, no justice and neoliberalism, and said that she thinks the majority of the population is not aware of what was really at stake on Sunday. One reason, she said, is because there has never been a good analysis of what happened in 1990. Now, five years later, there are many candidates taking a ride on the backs of the masses again.

There are many people who will be elected who are supposedly from the 'people's camp,' she said, but there is a whole orchestration going on... It's very dangerous, she said, and explained that not all, but many of the candidates of Bo Tab La are not people who are really going to satisfy the demands of the population. They have their own agendas they are following... Bo Tab La is something very complicated and it goes along with the imperialists' vision. If it did not, the elections would not have been allowed to happen.

The foreign observers witnessed and ended up accepting all these irregularities... and in effect legalized everything because, whether the elections were done well or not, that is not important. What was important was that they were done at all. That's their agenda, she said.

ASSEMBLEE POPULAIRE NATIONALE (APN), which openly opposed the elections and printed leaflets telling people to Stay At Home on June 25! issued a press release on June 27 condemning the dirty elections and noting that the majority, 70 percent, of the voting age population stayed away from the voting booths.

This garbage is one more proof to make the Haitian people understand that the Americans, the Macoutes, the bourgeoisie and the petite bourgeoisie who are selling the country off have only one interest - fool the people, lie to the people, exploit the people, the release said.

An APN member said that, despite all the problems, it was predictable that the elections would be declared free and fair.

The 1995 elections are being held in the context of an occupation, where the country is under foreign control, and the institutions of the country... do not have autonomy or independence, said a member of FEDKKA (FEDERASYON KOMITE KATYE AK ASOSYASYON), a popular organization in the capital. The results aren't credible and they aren't going to take us anywhere anyway.

The FEDKKA member added that it doesn't make sense for someone who says they want real change and real democracy to support the elections, and said Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) proved its incompetence and that it is full of people who were not really in favor of democracy.

A member of KILE (KOMITE INITE LIT ETIDYAN), one of several outspoken student groups at the state university, said they opposed the elections because they did not think they could satisfy their demands, since there is no system of sanctioning a representative once he or she is in office (such as through a vote of no confidence) and because of the context of an occupation.

The imperialists would not permit these elections to be really, democratically organized, he said. It's a 'selection' made in the interest of the dominant classes and the imperialists.

A PROGRESSIVE JOURNALIST who covered the elections said she opposed the process from the beginning because she believes the electoral process in general does not ever bring real change for people in an underdeveloped country. She also said that peoples' real problems - the lack of justice, the high cost of living, insecurity - should be resolved first, adding: I think that, in June, 1995, the people's needs are not answered by elections.

SOLIDARITE ANT JEN and VEYE YO, two popular organizations with a national presence, decided it was materially impossible for us to participate in this kind of thing... because these elections are being organized in the context of an occupation. Secondly, we noted that the electoral process was entirely financed from the outside... and investments like that are not made for free.

The spokesman said there is also a tendency to present elections as the only alternative for the popular masses, and that it is being combined with a large demobilization of the democratic movement. He said that, as in 1990, SAJ/Veye Yo told people that the ballot does not give you power, it's the organization of the people that gives you power.