Haiti: A Seismic Election


Juliana Ruhfus: In these elections Haitians actually have a choice between no less than 19 different presidential candidates. . . .  Haiti’s political history has been one of revolt, dictatorship, and violence. . . .  Democracy arrived in the country in 1990, with the election of the priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide.  But, over the following decades, two US-backed coups against him resulted in cycles of political violence, leaving Haitians disillusioned with what elections can achieve. . . .  While organizations like the UN claim that the growing array of candidates signals more choices for the electorate, Patrick Elie, former defense minister for President Aristide, believes that the choices have actually narrowed.  “There are so many so-called candidates belonging to the same political movement. . . .” (Patrick Elie). . . .  There is one candidate that is clearly outspending all of the competition.  The face of Jude Célestin, President Préval’s nominated successor, is everywhere. . . .  Though Confiance never says he is a gang leader, he claims to be in charge of the group which controls security in this area [the emergency camp outside the National Palace] and . . . he also claims they are on the payroll of Jude Célestin’s party Inite. . . .  “How much would somebody from the camp committee get for supporting Jude Célestin?  How much do you get when you go to a rally?” (Ruhfus) . . .  “Just an example: If he [Jude Célestin] gives us 200,000 gourds ($5,000 USD), I can keep 5,000 gourds and give people 1,000 gourds or 500 gourds, you know” (Confiance).  Confiance invites us to film a meeting with other camp members who also claim they are getting money from Célestin’s party. . . . The only person who does seem to galvanize much of Haiti’s poor is the exiled former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.  “If Aristide were to run again, would you vote for him?” (Ruhfus)  “Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  He should have come back already.  Too many thieves in this country” (Vox Populi).

This report by Juliana Ruhfus was first broadcast by Al Jazeera on 17 November 2010.  The text above is an edited partial transcript of Ruhfus’s report.  See, also, Romeo Estinvil, “Jean Henry Céant, President Aristide’s Secret Weapon?” (Jeune Haiti); “Concertation avec le Candidat a la Présidence Jean-Henry Céant autour du Thème (Tout Moun Ladan L)” (Le cybercarnet de Fanmi Lavalas, 17 October 2010); “Yon Prezidan Tou Nèf, Pou Yon Ayiti Tou Nèf.  Tout Moun Ladan L = Jean Henry Céant #63” (Le cybercarnet de Fanmi Lavalas, 30 October 2010); Keane Bhatt, “Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Urge US to Ensure Free, Fair and Inclusive Elections in Haiti as Condition for Funding” (TruthOut, 10 November 2010); Nicolas Rossier, “Exclusive Interview with Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide” (Eurasia Review, 13 November 2010); Randall White, “Thousands Demonstrate for Aristide and Jean-Henry Céant in Haiti’s Popular Neighborhoods” (HaitiAction.net, 14 November 2010); Randall White, “Haiti: Céant Campaign Hits the Road, Calling for the Return of Aristide” (HaitiAction.net, 16 November 2010); and National Association for the Advancement of Haitians, “Haiti Presidential Elections: Notary Jean-Henry Ceant Favored by the Majority of Displaced in Port-au-Prince Tent Cities, New NOAH 2010 Presidential Election Poll Reveals” (17 November 2010).

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