The general strike in Haiti and the struggle against the PHTK regime

PHOTO SOURCE: El Pais Digital (Argentina)

We publish here two perspectives from the Haitian Left on the current crisis in Haiti

Jaques Roméo (February 7)

The unions and the Haitian political opposition announced two days of general strike for February 1 and 2, 2021. In the big cities the strike was a success.

The aim of these two days of strike was to tell President Jovenel Moïse to respect article 134-2 of the Haitian constitution which puts an end to his mandate on February 7 of this year. The president used the same article to end the mandate of mayors, deputies and senators a year ago. Unfortunately, in the same unconsulted way that the general strike was called, it was bureaucratically lifted without consulting the workers.

The president comes from an extreme right-wing party, he came to power in an election denounced for fraud with the support of the international community and the bourgeoisie. With Jovenel Moïse life is becoming more expensive for the masses while the members of the government and their allies are getting richer every day. The president and his allies are accused of embezzlement of state funds, kidnapping and looting.

So far the president counts on the support of imperialism and a part of the bourgeoisie to stay in power. During the two days of the general strike there were deaths by police bullets all over the country, mainly in Cap Haitien, the second city of the country, with 3 deaths in the streets.

While the political opposition is demanding a transition government, the president intends to stay in power for another year, ruling by decree.

The lack of confidence in opposition political leaders, also questioned for corruption and for their links with the bourgeoisie, keeps Jovenel in power. Had it not been for this, the government would have collapsed about two years ago in the great mobilizations against hunger and misery. The leaders neither agree with each other nor exercise a democratic leadership, decisions are not taken in assembly. Nor is there a revolutionary leadership to channel the movement to victory. In spite of everything the people continue to struggle courageously and since February 7 they have declared a permanent mobilization until the fall of Jovenel Moïse. We call on the organizations of the workers and the left to protest in solidarity with the struggle of the Haitian people, against the interference of the Core Group, against the repression and for the resignation of Jovenel Moïse.

The creators of the Haitian political crises and the search for solutions
West Zone Organizations Network (February 5, excerpt)

The current situation´s origin dates back to the 2011 general elections, when presidential candidate Michel Martelly was in fourth place in the presidential race. Unfortunately, to the detriment of all principles of the Haitian people’s right to self-determination, the United States and the OAS forced the Provisional Electoral Council to fraudulently reinstate the candidate in second place. The second round took place and Martelly became president of the country. Under this gentleman’s leadership, the country experienced the biggest fraud since its existence, that of the four billion dollars of Petrocaribe funds loaned to the country by Venezuela. The United States and the OAS have it to their merit imposing this type of president on the people.

As a result of this profligacy, the country is facing an extremely serious socio-economic situation, with the poor getting poorer and the rich getting richer. The poor are still unable to feed themselves, have died from lack of health care, and inflation is skyrocketing.

Parallel to the socio-economic crisis, this government creates an electoral crisis by not holding elections for the renewal of the parliament. This explains the malfunctioning of this political institution during the five years of President Martelly’s mandate. This crisis persists until the end of his mandate on February 7, 2016. To succeed him, a mechanism had to be found to have himself replaced by the President of the Senate, Senator Jocelerme Privert, both belonging to the same club of friends. The latter’s mission was to organize general elections within a year. As best he could, he accomplished this mission, even if the Haitian people suffered.

Jovenel Moïse’s rise to power and the squandering of public funds

All the preparations were made, the Electoral Council was constituted, communal and departmental electoral offices were created and funds were disbursed. The organization of these elections was the occasion of a vast theater of corruption. There were electoral councilors who negotiated money for elective positions, ballot boxes that were filled by the zealous supporters of the official candidate, in addition to the manipulation of the electoral results by the OAS and MINUSTAH in the tabulation center. This explains why most of the published results provoked strong protests throughout the country.

This electoral crisis gave rise to another crisis. All levels of state powers and institutions, such as the Parliament, local authorities, the Provisional Electoral Council, the Superior Council of the Judiciary, etc., have been corrupted. These institutions are practically controlled and dominated by drug traffickers. The candidate Jovenel MoÑ—se who was to accede to the supreme magistracy of the State is not exempt. One need only refer to the investigation conducted by UCREF before the November 2015 elections to determine the extent of Jovenel Moïse’s involvement in money laundering.

In spite of everything, he receives the enormous support of the Core Group, of a good part of the Haitian bourgeoisie and of the OAS to make his electoral campaign. An electoral campaign that was quite long.

The end of Jovenel Moïse’s mandate

Today, on the eve of February 7, 2021, we are witnessing a confrontation between the opposition and the government over the date on which Jovenel Moïse’s presidential mandate will end. The amended Constitution of 2007, which regulates the major powers of the State, has already decided the question of the President’s mandate in Article 234-2, which reads: “Presidential elections shall be held on the last Sunday of October of the fifth year of the presidential mandate. The President shall take office on February 7 following the date of his election. In the event that the vote cannot take place before February 7, the President-elect shall take office immediately after the validation of the ballot and his term of office shall be deemed to have begun on February 7 of the year of the election.” President Jovenel’s refusal to accept this article of the Constitution on which he was sworn in gives an idea of the magnitude of this new crisis.

First of all, this crisis is explained by a systematic will of President Jovenel Moïse to violate the Constitution. Then, the failure to hold the elections provided for by the Constitution at all levels (senators, deputies, mayors and local authorities) and, finally, the temptation of Jovenel Moïse to extend his mandate indefinitely or to hand over power to one of his relatives, in this case former President Michel Martelly, implicated in the theft of Petrocaribe money.

The trajectory of Jovenel Moïse’s government

With reference to the aforementioned article of the Constitution, it can be stated unequivocally that President Jovenel Moïse’s mandate will effectively end on February 7, 2021. The end of his mandate reflects a negative balance sheet, false promises, high unemployment, growing insecurity, a flourishing of criminal gangs followed by kidnappings and a worsening hunger of the Haitian population which reaches almost 4.6 million according to the OCHA HAITI 2020 report. In addition, the damning investigative report conducted by UCREF on Jovenel Moïse, corruption in the awarding of contracts, the waste of public funds in his caravan project, etc., have contributed to this situation. Most of the teachers and directors of public schools and hospitals are appointed by parliamentarians accused of kidnapping.

They are also the ones who appoint the government commissioners in the Courts of First Instance. Some other CEOs appointed by the President have already been tried and convicted by the courts for theft and fraud. This is the case of Eudes Lajoie, former Director General of the National Solid Waste Management Service (SNGRS).

Today, the results are palpable at all levels of state power. In the courts, impunity has gained strength. For two years now, the Court of Appeals has not been functioning. Employees are on strike over poor working conditions. Crimes and corruption are neither prosecuted nor punished. Criminals roam the cities without fear of arrest. The lives of the poor are not protected; they are left to the whims of armed gangs. Civil and political rights are not protected; social and economic rights are violated. Some judges, sheriffs and police have abused their power to attack the property of citizens. People close to and friends of the rulers take advantage of their influence to illegally and forcibly occupy the property of others. All this is committed outside the rules and the victims have no recourse.

Moreover, the insecurity situation since Jovenel’s ascension to date is not good. The country is facing armed gangs that make families cry day and night. All sectors of national life are affected. Murdered, kidnapped, ransomed and impoverished, they find no authority to come to their aid. They are left at the mercy of the whims of armed gangs operating within sight of the police. In the provincial cities, the peasantry is sounding the same alarm. A situation that is becoming gangrenous. Markets, stores, boutiques, large, small and medium-sized businesses can only open their doors if they agree to negotiate with the gangs. They are the ones who control the areas instead of the national police. In most cases, they cooperate with the police.

The gangs are becoming institutions. Since a few months ago, the various gang bases have joined, in complicity with the government, the Commission for Disarmament and Reintegration (CNDDR) and, under the leadership of the Barbacoa gang leader, alias Jimmy Chérisier, have formed a federation called G9 and allies. This federation has always positioned itself in favor of the executive power, threatening with death all movements that pretend to fight against the government. In the various massacres perpetrated in the working class neighborhoods, the names of these gangs are cited as perpetrators. Hearing the gangs speak in the press, it is not difficult to know the origin of the very expensive weapons they have. The weapons they hold, they say, come from the authorities. It is the same authorities that send them money, always according to their statements. They are created and financed by the authorities. (…) They are the ones who dictate to the president which minister and director deserves to be dismissed. We have as an example, that after their statement asking for the dismissal of the Minister of Interior and Social Affairs, in less than a week they have obtained the satisfaction, that is, the dismissal of this minister.

Kidnappings generate fear and reduce the mobility of the people. For this reason, some analysts conclude that kidnapping is a political instrument put in place by the political authorities to terrorize the population and prevent it from taking to the streets and participating in demonstrations against the authorities. In this way, protest movements against the government will have very little reach and the authorities will be able to establish their totalitarian power. That said, armed gangs are means created by the President and sometimes to the detriment of the national police to establish a dictatorship.

Dictatorial fancies

The malfunctioning of the parliament was an opportunity that opens the way to absolute power on the part of Jovenel Moïse, of the PHTK and in the service of a part of the international community, including the Core Group. All powers are concentrated in his hands, both legislative and judicial. Most of the judges are domesticated by the executive power. He issues endless decrees, such as the decree on a National Intelligence Agency (ANI), which goes in the direction of taking control of the lives of citizens. Moïse decided to give the country another constitution by himself and by force, without popular consultation. Most of the judges rub shoulders with ministers and directors general of ministries. We see them frequenting the government, the friends of power, all day long. Institutions that should be independent and exercise a role of control over state spending are being domesticated by the President.

Under the leadership of the current director, Mr. Léon Charles, the Haitian National Police is much more oriented to serve the government. Some requests for authorization for anti-government demonstrations have been denied, and the abundant use of gas, beatings and live ammunition remain the main means of crushing demonstrations. That is why there have always been injuries and deaths. It has not stopped firing on the crowds. It can be said that this police is constituting itself into a militia corps like the tontons macoutes of the Duvalier dictatorship. These soldiers of death are now at work. They have other names, other uniforms, more violent than their comrades, in this case the VSN. They have similarities with Hitler’s SS.

It is this regime of terror that characterizes the government of Jovenel Moise, which, to stay in power beyond February 7, 2021, uses the methods of the dictator of the Duvaliers, father and son. We remember the fraudulent elections of 1957 that brought François Duvalier to power. He did not win because he was popular, but simply because he was supported by U.S. imperialism. Thirty years later, the balance was meager, 70% illiteracy, 1 doctor for every 15,000 inhabitants according to Gérard Pierre-Charles’ book “Radiograhie d’une dictacture”. Intellectuals who did not go into exile were assassinated or killed. After several popular demonstrations throughout the country, it is again American imperialism that makes arrangements with France and embarks Jean Claude Duvalier for France.

This same comedy resurfaced on September 30, 1991 in the case of President Aristide, who was in power by popular vote and was overthrown by a criminal coup d’état ordered by the CIA. This coup was responsible for the thousands of people forcefully disappeared, murdered and terrorized. It contributed to the collapse of the national economy. To terrorize the population, a paramilitary organization called FRAPP was created. After three years of so much pain, suffering, catastrophes, popular resistance, the same US imperialism returned Aristide to power under the control of its military.

Historically, we have seen in the last hundred years or so that this actor has intervened in the Haitian political scene, either to create crises or to bring solutions in its own way. What solution? Always palliative, diktats and very often based on exogenous models. A simple renewal of the presidential mandate is enough for the same crisis to resurface (resignation, exile, transition, etc.). These are constants in Haitian political life. What government after 1986 in which we did not hear one of these three words at the end of his reign? Today, the government of Jovenel Moise finds itself before the court of history where it must choose one of these three options. Faced with strikes, lockouts and endless demonstrations by the opposition, he does not seem to be shaken.

By way of conclusion, the question we ask ourselves is: Will US imperialism, that great actor, rewrite the history of our country, that is to say, will it overthrow Jovenel Moise to take the path of the opposition? Or will a new solution coming from the working classes and the left impose itself to put an end to these always artificial and cosmetic solutions?

Political leadership of the Network of Organizations of the Western Zone (ROZO)

Port-au-Prince, February 5, 2021