lundi 4 janvier 2016

Commentary: Two hundred years ago, Haiti received Simon Bolivar with open arms

Published on January 4, 2016
 By Jean H Charles
 December 28, 2015, marked the 200th anniversary (December 28, 1815) of the visit by Simon Bolivar to Les Cayes, Haiti, seeking assistance from Alexander Petion, president of Haiti, in his quest to liberate Latin America from Spain colonial rule and its world order of slavery. He had been all over the world, especially in England, seeking assistance, but to no avail.

 Only Haiti came forward with arms, munitions, fresh troops and advice to continue the battle and win the independence for the entire Latin America (4,000 guns, 15,000 pounds of powder, a press machine, three boats, food and soldiers). In return, Petion asked nothing from Bolivar only that he should free the slaves in the lands that he liberates. He did so and, at the end, Bolivar said, “Let later future generations know that Alexander Petion is the true liberator of my country.”

Born into wealth on July 24, 1783, in Caracas, Venezuela, of a Creole family whose fortune was made in plantation and copper mine, Bolivar was sent to study in Spain where he became a scholar erudite in the teaching of the philosophers like Montesquieu, Hobbs, Spinoza, Montesquieu and Rousseau.

Around that time, Napoleon Bonaparte was pursuing his goals of a global empire, by sequestering the King of Spain and naming his brother Joseph Napoleon king of Spain, hastening the disintegration of the Spanish colonies in Latin America. On Bolivar’s return from Europe, he found a fertile land for revolt and enrolled in the resistance movement against Spanish rule and soon took command of the movement. Bolivar, in his first defeats by the Spanish troops that were now returned to the Royal hands with the defeat of Napoleon in France and Spain, sought exile in Jamaica. It was from there that he traveled to Haiti for help.

The assistance from Haiti contributed to defeat the Spanish forces and create the nation of Venezuela, and from there he went on to liberate the nations of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, incorporated in the Gran Colombia of which he became president in 1821.

The idea of a nation was novel. There were only two exceptions, the United States that became a nation in 1776 and Haiti that became the first black nation in 1804. Bolivar encountered difficulties in maintaining all these different countries in one nation like the United States. Intrigues and the need for some countries like Venezuela to maintain its slave system circumvented the bold idea of the Gran Colombia.
Bolivar’s speeches and exhortation, as the one of February 15, 1819, has resonance in today’s world: “Slavery is the daughter of darkness; there are those who simon_bolivar.jpg take license for liberty, treachery for patriotism and vengeance for justice.”

Bolivar died on December 17, 1830, of tuberculosis leaving a work in progress. Like Toussaint Louverture, he was a liberator who left a legacy of nation builder. His name should remain a precursor for the Abraham Lincolns, the Nelson Mandelas and the Nehrus of later years.
 Jean H Charles LLB, MSW, JD,
was a candidate in the last Haitian presidential election.
He can be reached at jeanhcharles@aol.com
and followed at Caribbean News Now/Haiti 
This essay is an attempt to build a memory lane for the solidarity gesture of the people of Les Cayes in particular and the Haitian people in general towards the people of Latin America. Haiti, after 212 years of independence is in distress. Its children are jumping ship to find a hospitable land in the Dominican Republic, where they are being driven back minus their belongings. They are now trying the long trek towards Brazil.

My wish this year is to see one of the countries of Latin America, Colombia perhaps, taking the lead in helping the southern part of Haiti in the city of Les Cayes to have a university campus similar to the one given by the Dominican Republic to the northeast of Haiti through funding from the European Community. The future Simon Bolivar University of Haiti would represent a friendly gesture from Latin America that would go a long way in cementing the tradition of helping started by one of Haiti’s founding fathers, Alexander Petion.

A small step but a giant image that hopefully will be framed on December 28, 2016, a year after the Jubilee 200; the Dominican Republic was on target one year after the earthquake that destroyed 300,000 people. Simon Bolivar and Alexander Petion would applaud that magnificent portrait with both hands from their grave!

Haiti presidential vote plagued by irregularities, report finds

- Haiti’s Electoral Commission issued a probe of the Oct. 25 presidential vote
- The Provisional Electoral Council must be changed to salvage elections
- One member of the commission failed to sign off on the report

A commission charged with evaluating Haiti’s Oct. 25 presidential and legislative elections has found that egregious irregularities and a high presumption of fraud plagued the vote, while the electoral machine requires sweeping changes in order to hold a postponed runoff.
According to official results, government-backed candidate Jovenel Moïse received 32.76 percent of the votes while Jude Célestin, the former head of the state construction agency, garnered 25.29 percent. Célestin, however, called the results a “ridiculous farce” and refused to campaign.
Alleging vote-rigging and ballot-stuffing, Célestin and other opposition candidates called for an independent Haitian-led commission to probe the disputed balloting. The commission was created by President Michel Martelly on Dec. 22, five days before the postponed second round. On Sunday morning, members issued their findings, which critics say do not resolve the political crisis despite pointing out a series of major systemic problems besieging Haitian society.
For one, the report, which acknowledged problems with the electoral machine, does not call for a postponement of the second round. Both Martelly and Prime Minister Evans Paul have indicated that it must take place on Jan. 17 if Haiti is to have a new president take office by its Feb. 7 constitutionally-mandated deadline.
Instead, the report calls for greater transparency including a national dialogue, an extensive analysis of the vote to determine the real extent of the irregularities and fraud, and changes in the electoral machine. The council, known as the CEP, “no longer has the credibility to permit it to continue with the process without plunging the country into a more serious crisis,” the report says.
During a meeting with the commission, the CEP recognized the weakness in its preparation. For example, more than 60 percent of poll workers were not able to properly perform the required work. The result was “many poorly written minutes, with erasures, errors of calculation or counting,” the report says.
“The commission is in fact saying that legitimate elections are impossible by Jan. 17. If elections were to take place under current conditions, they would not resolve the existing political impasse but instead would plunge the country into a deeper crisis,” said Robert Fatton, a Haiti expert and political science professor at the University of Virginia.
Some had hoped the commission’s probe would unblock the political impasse and move the electoral process along. But some believe that its findings risk deepening the impasse. The report, for example, pointed out that voters’ signatures or fingerprints were missing from 57 percent of the audited documents. Meanwhile, voter registration numbers were missing from 31 percent of the partial voting list and were written incorrectly on another 47 percent.
Meanwhile, 60 percent of voters were allowed to vote by proxy, and the commission noted that 43 percent of the tally sheets had been modified.
While commission members visited the vote-tabulation center to audit documents, the commission’s work is more an evaluation of the electoral process rather than a verification of the 1.5 million ballots cast. As a result, the report stops short of saying who benefited most from the irregularities or fraud, a conclusion that requires more technical expertise and analysis, the commission notes.
Commission member Gedeon Jean who represents the human-rights sector, did not sign the report.
The government on Sunday acknowledged receipt of the report but did not say officially whether the runoff will still take place Jan. 17. Martelly instead “urged the relevant actors involved in the electoral process,” to work toward a reasonable solution to the crisis. This includes promoting political stability by respecting the constitutionally-mandated dates of Feb. 7 for the handover of power to a newly elected president, and Jan. 11 for the start of the 50th Legislature. Haiti has been without a functioning parliament since Jan. 11, 2015.
“Ultimately, the commission failed to make the logical recommendation that its findings lead to: a new election with a new CEP. On the other hand, how can we guarantee, given past history, that a new CEP will indeed be able to organize new elections without major fraud?” Fatton said. “The commission did not want to go there because it was haunted by the specter of its own investigation and previous elections. In short, the report does not bring us any closer to a resolution of the current crisis, it merely exposes the underbelly of the beast.”
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article52872785.html#storylink=cpy