Meek wants Haiti to let its overseas citizens vote

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Meek wants Haiti to let its overseas citizens vote

Post by T-dodo » Fri Jan 28, 2005 9:16 am

[quote]Posted on Wed, Jan. 26, 2005


U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, thinks Haitians living in the United States and elsewhere should be allowed to vote in their country's elections. But the Haitian government says it may not be able to cover the costs.


As a Haitian citizen living in the United States, Roland Montas would love to be able to cast a vote in Haiti's upcoming presidential elections. But to do that, the Miami community activist would have to take time off from work and fly to Port-au-Prince.

''It does not make sense,'' Montas says. "Why should I as a citizen of my country not be allowed to vote abroad? Everybody else is doing it.''

Agreeing with Montas and many other Haitians living here, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek on Tuesday sent a letter to interim Haitian Prime Minister Gerard Latortue asking him "to take whatever actions are necessary to allow Haitian citizens living in the United States to vote in Haiti's upcoming national elections.''

Meek's request comes as Haiti's electoral council prepares to adopt by the end of this week its final plan establishing the legal framework, calendar and procedures for the parliamentary and presidential elections, planned for later this year.

If the government goes along with Meek's request, Haiti would join a growing number of Latin American and Caribbean countries that allow citizens abroad to vote.

''While some Haitians undoubtedly would want to return home to vote, it is also likely that, for reasons of cost, family or work, others would greatly benefit from having the option of casting their ballots in the United States,'' Meek wrote.

The key, he said, is a willingness on the part of the Haitian government to permit this change, in the interest of making possible the widest possible voter participation in Haiti's elections.''


The Haitian government is interested in such a change, said Alix Baptiste, the Minister for Haitians Living Abroad. But the final decision rests with the electoral council -- not Latortue, who has publicly said he believes all Haitians, regardless of the passports they hold, should be allowed to vote.

''It's in study,'' Baptiste said from Haiti, noting that the government recently submitted such a request to the council.

In 1995, the electoral council agreed that Haitian citizens living abroad should be able to vote -- but Haiti did not have the resources to pay for it, it noted. Baptiste said such issues remain today.

''We need resources,'' he said.

Aware of that, Meek has asked President Bush and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to provide additional funds and assistance to let Haitians vote at a consulate, or sites.

Some say Meek's request does not go far enough because it still leaves out Haitian Americans and others who have become naturalized citizens of nations other than Haiti. They would not be able to vote because Haiti's 1987 Constitution does not recognize dual citizenship.

''If Haiti is serious about its social and economic development, then it has to do like Germany, like the Dominican Republic, Israel and other modern countries that are ahead of Haiti and include all of its sons and daughters wherever they might be,'' said Dumarsais Simeus, a Haitian businessman and Texas resident who serves on Gov. Jeb Bush's Haiti Task Force.


Dr. Emmanuel Francois, a retired Haitian-American surgeon and Maryland resident said he is considering advocating a referendum among Haitians here through a petition drive to force the issue.

''We can give Haiti a modern frame of governance,'' Francois said of Haitians like himself. He said the worst problem ``that has prevented Haiti from moving forward, has been the human-resource factor. The people who have been managing Haiti do not know what they are doing.''

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Post by Jonas » Sat Jan 29, 2005 4:51 pm

There is a snowball's chance in hell that those actually in charge in Haiti would let overseas Haitians vote.

If the vote would be free and fair, they know there would be an avalanche of Lavalas votes by diasporans.

The sympathy for the Lavalas Party remains strong among overseas Haitians.

No, they are not going to let Haitians overseas vote. One can already read the objections of the interim de facto government.

Complaints about possible cost and fraud.

They could let Haitians overseas vote, after first outlawing the Lavalas Party.


Post by T-dodo » Sat Jan 29, 2005 5:53 pm

[quote]For one: How does an illegal government without a Parliament legally change the Haitian Constitution?[/quote]

Excellent point, Marilyn! I hope someone smarter than me can find the answer to your question. But, I don't see it, if you want to remain within the framework of the constitution.

However, in maths, two negatives equal a plus. Since the government is already illegitimate, their holding up an election would be illegitimate as well. However, if the CEP would make that decision in order to make the elections more credible, wouldn't that add more legitimacy to the process? After all, if all [relatively speaking] Haitians go to vote and make a choice, wouldn't that reflect their will! It seems the Latortue government would save face!


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Post by admin » Sat Jan 29, 2005 6:34 pm

[quote]In particular, I have reservations about this proposal, which I believe was well-meaning on Meek's part, but which I believe raises Constitutional issues in Haiti.

[What doesn't raise Constitutional issues in Haiti these days?]

For one: How does an illegal government without a Parliament legally change the Haitian Constitution? [/quote]Marilyn, the better question is: should there be elections without the participation of the Lavalas Party - or - while a full repression of that political party is being carried out by the Haitian National Police, acting under the orders of an illegal Latortue/Boniface/Gousse government set up initially by the occupying forces of the U.S., Canada, and France, and later propped up by several other national entities under the U.N. umbrella (of which Brazil has been the largest contributor) ?

That is the fundamental question that every Haitian needs to answer by a YES or a NO. There are significant reasons to go either way, and a full debate is justified.


THIS IS AN OCCUPATION. Just because they put some Haitian or more likely some Haitian-American face on it (that of Gérard Latortue) does not make it anything less than an occupation. When President Bush sent his Marines in, he declared: "The Haitian Constitution is working." THAT IS THE MOST IGNORANT, THE MOST ABSURD, THE MOST ARROGANT STATEMENT I HAVE HEARD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. President Bush knew absolutely nothing about the Haitian Constitution then and I am willing to bet anyone that he still does not know absolutely anything about it today. He can say the stupidest things on Earth, and he will still find people willing to applaud his cacaphony, simply because he is the President of the mighty U.S., that's all!

So now that full force has been applied, and that there is no legitimate government in Haiti, how should Haitians respond:

- still cling to some romantic notion of the 1987 Constitution and scrutinize it to see what it says about elections at a time that we no longer have sovereignty over our territory? Way too contradictory in its very essence.

- participate in our Masters' planned elections, going along their wishes of total eradication of any trace of popular movement in Haiti, and resulting in a U.S./Canada production of an elite-directed masquerade of a government (similar to the one we currently enjoy) ? Well, there's probably quite a bit of money in this proposition for a few well-paid consultants.

- participate in our Masters' planned elections, but working our butts off to outsmart them (beat them at their own game), by turning the electoral tool against their original designs?

- boycott the elections altogether, and deriving some appreciable benefits from the boycott (though I have to confess, I am not sure what those would be, but I am inviting all of you to join the debate... I cannot see my way out of the darkness of this chamber)

- pretend that it's all a bad dream and that this will all go away when we wake up in the morning.

I am going to be honest with you, guys. I am not strong on ideology, and I am not at all sure what is the best course we should follow. That is why I think that we need to debate the issue thouroughly, and not necessarily on this forum, but in meetings among ourselves. We need to make some intelligent decisions about our future. Ideological rigidity will not win the day. Many among us would rather be dead right, but dead anyway, rather than taking the chance of being wrong. I think that we should put aside our ideological rigidity, petty partisanships, stubborn prejudices, all the different things that divide us, even in the diaspora (let alone the deeply fragmented citizenry in Haiti) and come to the realization that the current nightmare is not going away anytime soon if we do not put our heads together and take some bold steps towards our true independence as a Nation, a truly sovereign Haiti, a self-determining and ecologically viable country that is capable of feeding all of its children.

We should never accept to become a protectorate of the U.S., Canada, or the United Nations. Heck, they have screwed up the world enough as it is. If we have to use their resources to get to where we want to be, then so be it. That is only fair, because they have never been shy about exploiting our own resources. But let us not get screwed mindlessly without a care in the world, and without ANY idea of where we want to be a year from now, 5 years from now, 10 years, 20 years, etc. They have already mapped a plan for us, but it's up to us to say "Hell NO, WE HAVE GOT OUR OWN PLAN, THANK YOU!"

But that plan is exactly what we have got to work on. Right now. It's five minutes to midnight.

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Post by admin » Sun Jan 30, 2005 2:21 pm

[quote]Any further ideas on that subject?[/quote]Well, Marilyn, that was just one of the options that I put on the table. I am not, I cannot, at this point, advocate for it because I do not yet see the necessary ingredients that would make this approach a viable alternative. However, let me clarify exactly what I meant by the statement: "outsmart them (beat them at their own game)". (But please keep in mind that I have not embraced this approach yet, and in fact I may never, unless I see a clear chance of success. Organizing, tèt ansanm, purposeful action, coordination of efforts, and clear leadership, would be some of the key elements). This approach means that the population would heavily participate in the elections and manifest their will in a way to undo the best laid plans from our geopolitical saviors, the self-appointed Masters of our Destiny. It means that our participation would be so decisive that those in charge of spreading George Bush's freedom from Washington, D.C. would at least temporarily be forced to eat their own empty words of propaganda. Is this truly a viable option? Let's at least consider the possibility. Ready-made answers without thinking pragmatically about the Haitian situation are often not the best answers. We have to come to terms with whatever sacrifices and thinking out of the box that may be required to reach a decision that ultimately benefits the country in a durable way.

Not that I have any illusion about the Masters' plan or the obstacles that have been put in the way of a Haitianist agenda. The following article about the Masters' plan in Iraq and Palestine is chock full of lessons for Haiti. Please read it carefully.

US-Made Election Schemes In Iraq and Palestine
January 25, 2005

George Bush mentioned the word 'freedom' over 30 times in his inauguration speech, which lasted for over twenty minutes. The timing of the speech came after the Palestinian "elections" and before the Iraqi "elections." Bush concluded his speech by saying, "Democracy is coming whether you are ready or not."

As a result of the so-called elections in Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas became the president of the Palestinian Authority as of January 12. The election was called as a result of Yaser Arafat's death less than two months before. Declaring and registering candidates, allocating funds, deciding on and inviting international monitors, setting up voting centers, putting forth political agendas for the candidates, and running various election campaigns, all took place in less than fifty days. Impediments, such as pre-registering voters, appointing qualified election committees and commissioners, the Israeli military occupation with its stiff security measures in the areas where the elections were to take place, and the inability of over six million exiled Palestinians to participate and vote - all this was totally ignored. Abbas became the new Palestinian president with less than 400,000 votes out of a total of ten million Palestinians. The election was called by the US and approved by the Israelis. They were tailored to shoe in Mr. Abbas. There was never any doubt that Abbas would come out the winner.

On January 30 Iraq will have its turn in another election chosen by the White House. Interestingly, Eyad Allawi - the US-appointed prime minister in Iraq - announced this week during a press conference that tough security measures would be imposed during the elections between the 29th and 31st of the month. Such measures will include a curfew on all cities that have tense security conditions (no lists of these cities were provided, which meant all Iraqi cities qualify for the curfew) and traffic will not be allowed on those days. Allawi advised members of the media not to cover the elections since his government cannot guarantee their safety. He told the press that even international monitors such as the UN will not be on hand.

However, Allawi did invite all Iraqis to vote, assuring them that US forces and their collaborating police will be there to ensure that the Iraqi people can fulfill their long-awaited dream of an open election. He added that his men will not hesitate to shoot at any suspected saboteurs and then concluded by asking everyone to choose him for office.

The most bizarre aspect of the Iraqi elections is that the individuals who are running for Parliament are keeping their identities and programs secret until the end of the election day. This means Iraqi voters will not know who they are voting for. Votes cast will be for numbers rather than names. Each candidate will have a number that voters will write down to indicate their choice. When voting is over, US airplanes will transport the "sealed ballots" from all over Iraq to the Green Zone in Baghdad to be counted. Who will do the counting and who will observe the counting has not been announced.

Why is the US so determined to have the elections in Palestine and Iraq? Especially when the outcome is so predictable, why does the US carry on with the charade of presidents having any authority in either country?

Noah Fieldsman, a consultant appointed to the Iraqi government by the US occupation, is considered the mastermind behind the Iraqi elections. He advised - or rather, imposed - on the Iraqi puppet regime the idea of a coalition following the Israeli model of government. In this model the president plays a very limited role in deciding or executing polices. The prime minister, head of the largest party in the Parliament, is the man who runs the show.

A document seized by the Iraqi resistance in one government center in the northern city of Kirkuk revealed the predetermined outcome of the elections in Iraq. The cast is as follows:

- Adnan Pachachi playing the part of President
- Eyad Allawi as a Prime Minister who chooses a coalition government from a Parliament to consist of:
A National Coalition sponsored by Sistani, with 30 seats
The Iraqi List of Eyad Allawi with 40 seats
The Kurdish Coalition composed of three parties, with 45 seats.
Adnan Pachachi, with 24 seats.
Ghazi Al-Yawer, the current transitional president, with 16-20 seats.
The Turkoman list, with 15 seats
The Christian List, with 10 seats
The Iraqi Communist Party, with 12 seats
And 105 other lists to share the last 20 or fewer remaining seats

The biggest challenge facing these elections is how do you explain elections under foreign military occupation?

In deciding to have elections in Palestine, the US thought that Palestinian geopolitics clearly sees Israelis as an occupation, as aggressors. Also, there is the Palestinian Authority, which lives in a political gray area: it advocates the Palestinian agenda publicly but works within guidelines set by the US and Israel under the Oslo Accords. The PA's funding, mobility, and political conduct are approved by the Israelis.

The Palestinian Authority which, after Oslo, became a police force for the Israeli occupation, was created in order to replace the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which called for the liberation of Palestine by armed struggle. The switch was not obvious to many people. Furthermore, large propaganda efforts were used to conceal the PA under the cloak of the former PLO. This resulted in the PA gaining recognition as a legitimate sovereign political entity working for the Palestinians' best interests. Unlike the Iraqi resistance, which directly attacks the puppet police and US occupying army, it was hard for the resistance in Palestine to strike the PA. The small Palestinian population and the poorly funded and poorly armed Palestinian resistance could not meet the expense of a civil war.

The US decided that a show of elections in Palestine under the Israeli occupation could sway Iraqis into thinking that elections in Iraq under US occupation might be legitimate. Many pro-election Iraqis, press, and politicians today use the Palestinian elections in their arguments to explain how elections can be conducted under military occupation.

In addition, the Camp David treaty between Israel and Egypt in 1978, the Oslo Accord between Israel and the Arafat in 1993, the Wadi-Araba treaty between Jordan and Israel in 1994, and the Israeli peace offer to the Syrians in 1998, introduced a new concept with regard to occupied lands: the occupied have an abstract "national sovereignty" while Israel has actual control on the ground. The US occupation decided to use this concept in Iraq.

Another model is that of Afghanistan - a national sovereign government supposedly led by Karzai, but entirely under the control of US occupying forces.

Elections normally mean rivalry and a struggle for power. Under the occupation, elections in Iraq have been a decisive help in controlling a population hostile to the military presence of the occupier. The Iraqi people are divided today between those who support the resistance - mainly Sunnis - and those who do not - mainly Shiites. As a result, both groups differ in their opinion about the elections. Uncle Sam used the elections to create competing interests for the different ethnic groups in Iraq. The US focused its efforts on the Shiites, who were repressed during the Saddam era, for two reasons:

1) Shiites are a majority in Iraq who are not objecting to the presence of the foreign military occupation. For them, elections mean that they would have the largest numbers of voters; winning the elections means winning power.

2) If there are plans by the US to invade or attack the Shiites in Iran, the Shiites in Iraq must be neutralized by being given power in Iraq. Moreover, buying off the Shiites in Iraq means a less influential role for Shiites from Iran.

Many Shiites today believe that they need to defend their political future and rights against the Sunnis as an ethnic group that ran Iraq prior to the occupation, and not as a group that leads the resistance. The view that all players in Iraq's political arena are equal is false. Sadly, divisions along ethnic lines in Iraq do exist: Shiite, Sunni, Kurd, Turkoman, Christian, and so on.

Ex-Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz suggested in a joint article recently published in the US media that elections in Iraq could lead to another kind of civil war. This was a warning that Shiites who approve of the elections, and disapprove of the US winning a share in the "New Iraq," could mean an Iraq allied with Iran. According to the famous Iraqi journalist, Sameer Obaid, the election list endorsed by Sistani suffers from internal conflicts that most likely would lead to this list not winning a majority of votes. The list supposedly represents Shiites, but the big names known to be on list are divided in their loyalty between Iran and the US. Shifting loyalty back from Iran to the US could be accomplished by creating internal divisions to weaken the Shiites loyal to Iran.

On a parallel track, the US has worked quietly to persuade neighboring countries not to dare influence the outcome of the Iraqi elections by providing political, material, or logistical support to any candidate. A conference of the neighboring countries was called by Jordan about a month ago. The US, who was absent physically, but heavily present, warned Iran, Syria, and Turkey against messing with the elections in any way. It is not a coincidence that the US has launched numerous threats against Iran. This is all part of a campaign to keep Iran from having any effect in the Iraqi theater.

The Palestinian election performance is now concluded. Sharon is now enjoying some peace in Gaza, thanks to the political maneuvers of the Abbas collaborator regime. But nothing has changed in terms of the suffering of the Palestinian people. The Israeli occupation remains. Mahmoud Abbas, the new broker of peace elected by Israel and the USA, will need to somehow make the Palestinians ignore the Israeli occupation. With all the closures, military operations, killings by the Israeli army, and confiscating of land to build the so-called security fence of Israel, this will be a tough mission to accomplish. The inevitable failure to hide what everyone can plainly see will only enforce the strength of Hamas and the Palestinian resistance.

Likewise, the newly elected US government in Iraq must convince Iraqis that the occupation is an illusion - that the tanks they see are only a mirage resulting from the heat. A US-manufactured government in Iraq must be able to put food on tables, restore electricity, and end violence. That too will be a tough mission to accomplish.

The US may have its election day on January 30, but it will not be enough to change things in Iraq. The most important player on the Iraqi political scene will not be participating in these elections. This player is the Iraqi resistance, which keeps its eyes focused like a laser on only one thing: the hated presence of the US occupying forces in Iraq.

[Amer Jubran is a Palestinian living in Jordan. He left the United States one year ago after being jailed and harassed by the Department of Homeland Security for speaking and organizing in the Boston area in defense of Palestinian rights. This article is being sent by a friend in the US because Amer Jubran's Internet connection in Jordan is poor. Amer Jubran can be reached at]

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