Joegodson didn’t vote on Sunday. He preferred to watch the proceedings.
To participate in the elections, as voter or candidate, was to accept an American-imposed farce. The Electoral Council had exposed the fraudulent underpinnings of the elections back in July when it excluded Fanmi Lavalas on an invented, unconstitutional technicality. The Council, reaching ever further into the absurd to find a way to exclude Haitians from the process of choosing their government, had claimed that the party leader must present in person each candidate for president. Aristide, the head of Fanmi Lavalas, is living in exile in South Africa and the Preval government will not issue a passport. With that petty edict, the Electoral Council had demonstrated its contempt for democracy and the Haitian people. The Electoral Council is a creation of Preval who owes his allegiance to Washington and its intermediaries: Bill Clinton, MINUSTAH, the United Nations–the usual suspects.
So, Joegodson became an observer in the process on Sunday … and since. He sees the most inspiring and noble hint of Haiti’s future appear through the confusion, like a single ray of light that pierces dark and menacing clouds.
The actual election was clearly fraudulent. The Electoral Council had set up a game where electors were challenged to find where to vote. Wandering around Port-au-Prince, lining up at different voting stations only to be sent to another and yet another, voters came to understand that the Electoral Council did not want them to vote. In fact, the earthquake and the cholera epidemic were helpful to that end: they provided the cover for fraudulent elections. It was even easier to rig the elections hiding behind the outdated voter lists, displaced persons, and so on. But that wasn’t enough. The voting boxes were stuffed before the voters arrived. The election had already taken place in the office of the Electoral Council before Sunday and the voters were invited to add a few ballots if they could find a voting station.
In the midst of that farce, Joegodson watched the press conference midday on Sunday in which twelve candidates refused to sanction the election. Joegodson was elated. This was the only honest answer to the situation. The elections, as organized and instituted, were an insult to democracy. They insulted Haitians. Joegodson was only sorry that people were taking the elections seriously. But the Electoral Council had been so contemptuous and contemptible this time that there was no way to even pretend that anything legitimate could come of it. Now, the candidates came together to refuse the insult.
It was a noble moment in Haiti’s history.
L’union fait la force is Haiti’s motto. It is written on the flag. A couple of decades ago, it was actually brought into vision when the lavalas movement invited all Haitians to participate in the country’s future. This movement made concrete sense of the notion of democracy. Each Haitian came to see that, however poor, however downtrodden, his or her voice was welcomed into the process of creating a new future. The poor were inheriting the earth. Sunday’s farce could not have been further removed from this recent history.
On Sunday, other Haitians saw what was happening as well. The refusal by the twelve was a rejection of the entire occupation of the country. Soon, it was not about the elections, but about the entire occupation. The twelve were giving voice to something much more significant than a particular election. They were, inadvertently perhaps, giving voice to the situation of Haitians in the face of an unwanted stewardship, imposed by self-interested foreign powers in conjunction with local, rich anti-democrats.
The people are still digesting the effects of this moment of solidarity. What is happening now?
Some of the candidates, on Monday, began to understand also (after Haitians had understood) that they had gone too far in representing the will of the people. Mirlande Manigat and Michel Martelly separated themselves from the twelve. They claimed that they would accept the results of the elections after all. The same facts that had brought them to the table on Sunday held, and hold still. The elections were as transparently fraudulent on Monday as they were on Sunday, but the two front-runners now decided that they would accept them. In so doing, they have separated themselves from democracy and the Haitian people. They don’t understand the people that they want to represent.
The people took the moment of solidarity on Sunday as the noblest expression of the rejection of foreign control. The elections were finished! Refused! Period! Now, Manigat and Martelly were saying, “Just wait until I see if I win.”
They didn’t get it. They were willing to accept American-imposed anti-democracy if they could fill the presidency. In so doing, they have excluded themselves from democracy. Now, neither will ever be able to represent the Haitian people. By Monday’s betrayal, they have told the Haitians that they really don’t understand them … or democracy. They understand opportunism. That’s ugly.
And so the country is dividing as we write these words. There are those who now are rallying around solidarity against foreign control. L’union fait la force! These people understood what Sunday’s press conference meant. Then there are those who just want to win the illegitimate process. Those people–like Manigat and Martelly and their supporters–are not democrats. They never understood the message of lavalas.
On Tuesday, this new moment in Haitian history began to take shape. People began rising up against the signs of foreign tutelage. A young boy was killed in Saint Marc by MINUSTAH troops during a protest against their presence. All signs of that foreign presence will be facing open resistance and revolt.
On the other side are those who think they can still profit from the farce of American-style democracy. Martelly has shown himself to be a fraud. He tried to appeal to the people as being opposed to foreign control of Haiti. Now, he shows that the people were way ahead of him. He never understood what he was talking about. The people did. Manigat never came close to understanding democracy–pure egotism.
The shock waves from this current phase of Haitian history will reverberate around the world and jostle all those who are trying to control their own lives and give meaning to the word democracy. People in ‘democratic’ rich countries will be the last to understand.