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Posts Tagged ‘Jude Celestin’

Protester-Running

Port-au-Prince is still on lock-down after thousands of protesters took to the streets for a second day contesting the results of Haiti’s November 28th elections.  “If they don’t make Martelly president by the end of today,” one protester explained while following a group marching through the streets of Petionville, “then we will burn the city down.”  The number of crowds had decreased significantly compared to Wednesday and many of the protests were much calmer, but road-blocks on many of the main roads have been fortified to the point of being almost completely impassable.   At one road block on Delmas our moto-taxi driver was forced to pay a group of way-too-drunk-for-10am Haitians 50 goudes before we were allowed to pass.

The sky was filled with rain clouds, which sent showers cooling the tension in the city periodically throughout the day.  The storm proved to be the perfect way to keep the number of protesters down, because if there’s anything that Haitians hate more than feeling that their votes have been stolen, it’s rain.  The weird thing was that we haven’t had a rain shower here during the day in months, so it was almost as if the skies had realized that the city needed a little break, and decided to try to keep people off the streets, even for just a couple hours.

Woman-with-Umbrella

Burning-Car

But after the storm let up the protests continued, and a general sense of frustration was felt amongst the people.  “We are fighting for Martelly,” explained 27 year-old Dabouzae Lexima while he participated in a protest outside the CEP in Petionville, “He understands the people, he understands our problems.”  But when pressed about why Martelly is the right choice for the country, and why they are fighting for him, his answer was simple: “Because he is not Celestin!  Preval and Celestin are the same, and we don’t want the same problems we had before.”

This man’s frustrations seemed to reflect a growing sense of anger not necessarily because Martelly was left out of the second-round run-off, but because there is the possibility of Preval’s pick being their next leader.  “Preval is the devil!” explained another protester, “We call the presidential palace the Devil’s house.  He has done nothing for us.”

And while many of the protesters chant pro-Martelly chants and carry around his posters, the huge turnout in the streets also reflects the anger people have about the general situation they face everyday in Haiti.  For instance, protesters are still taking any chance they can get to pelt UN tanks and troops with rocks and bottles.  “MINUSTAH (UN forces) gave us cholera, they are trying to kill us,” explained Dabouzae, “Why are they here?  We should kill them!”

Protester-Throwing-Rock

Huge-Crowd-on-Delmas

This afternoon the Provisional Electoral Council (or the CEP) announced that they would be reviewing the results of the elections with the top three candidates, and that that review may lead to a recount.  According the Miami Herald, the Inite party (which is lead by Celestin) will be contesting the results of the election on Friday, even though he came in second place and is slated to be included in the second-round run-off.  This is the guy who everyone is marching against, and who everyone has charged with widespread election fraud, and he has the guts to say that he was cheated.

What I fear most is that they could be trying to use this recount as a way to prove to the people that the results they reported were correct.  If, at the end of the recount, Martelly is not included in the run-off then these protests and riots will be taken to another level, and the city may actually be burned to ground.  After it was announced that there would be a recount, protesters flocked to the CEP office in Petionville and demanded to be let inside.  “We want to burn the CEP down,” said one protester, “and then we want to give Martelly the presidency.  Not for 5 years, but for 10.”

Approaching-UN-Troop-Line

UN-Troops-with-Shields

Angry-Protester

UN-Troop-Line

The protest stayed relatively peaceful, and only once was there an exchange of rocks from the Haitians, and tear gas from the UN troops.  We headed home and called it a day as the sun was setting and it would soon be unsafe(r) to be driving around the city.  Jillian and I sat at home and ate a delicious meal that she prepared for us, and we debated when the next time we would be able to go to the grocery stores would be, as they have been closed since the protests began.  We’re hoping sooner rather than later, as Olie has run out of food (priorities people!), but we fear that this could last weeks instead of just days.

At the end of the night I went to our land-lady’s house to grab her internet modem as our internet bill was not paid because of the commotion happening in the city.  We got to talking about the election, and she explained that she hadn’t gotten the chance to vote because she was in Miami that day.  But when I asked her what candidate she would have voted for she quickly responded, “None of them!”

“These people are protesting for Martelly,” she explained, “but he has no credentials to be president, why should I pick him?”  We talked about how she was, for the first time in her life, considering leaving Haiti, which is a big statement for a Haitian.  “I’m tired,” she exclaimed as she let out a deep breath, “I’m tired of all of this, I’m tired of having to worry all the time, I’m tired of everything being so unorganized.”  She admitted that, in the end, she would likely never leave the country that she loves, even if it has it’s problems.

As I left I asked her if she thought any of the candidates would make the situation in Haiti any better, if they could make the country right.  “It won’t be better, it will just be a different,” she said with a sigh, “Haiti has been like this since 1986, and to be honest, I don’t see it changing anytime soon.”

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Richard-Dumel-Side

Recording-Audio-CU

The streets of Port-au-Prince are filled with violent protests tonight after the Provisional Electoral Committee (CEP) released the results of an election that has been fraught with allegations of widespread fraud and irregularities.  In a press conference at a concert hall in Petionville, CEP Spokesman, Richard Dumel, read the results as throngs of local reporters held their phones and voice recorders to speakers hanging from the ceiling.  There were 19 candidates for president, but only the top three received enough votes to be notable.  Here is the breakdown:

Mirlande Manigat – 31.37%

Manigat

Jude Celestin – 22.48%

Jude Celestin
(Photo by Ben Depp)

Michel Joseph Martelly – 21.84%

Michel-Martelly

The top two candidates, Manigat and Celestin, will now go on to a run-off that will take place on January 16th.  The reason why there are countless gunshots outside our complex, burning barricades in the streets, and loud explosions filling the night is because Michel Martelly will now be left out of the second round.  A heavy favorite amongst the people in Port-au-Prince, Martelly’s followers are now flooding the streets and protesting results that they claim are fraudulent.  Jude Celestin, who is backed by current President Rene Preval, has been accused of election fraud throughout the country, which makes this announcement that much harder to swallow for the Haitian people.  At one road-block that Ben came up to, they asked him for gasoline so they could light a truck on fire that the protesters had pulled into the street.  He said ‘no’, and they then threw rocks at him.  We passed the same road-block 10 minutes later, and they had, in fact, lit the truck on fire.

Vote-Tallies

We then quickly drove towards our houses (we live almost next-door to each other), but as we were driving we passed by the market which had a large group of people congregated around it.  Amongst the protesters was a man who works with the CEP that I had met while getting my credentials.  I approached him and asked him how he was doing.  He explained that he was scared, and that he needed to get out of the market area.  “I have CEP on my back,” he explained, “these guys are going to kill me.”  He looked around nervously as he scarfed down some street food.  “They’re going to burn down the city,” he whispered, “this is not good.”

He explained that the people are unhappy with the results, and that they should be…as they were incorrect. “President Preval put pressure on us,” he explained, “we were forced to include Celestin in the second round.”  I was shocked, this man was clearly scared for his life, yet he was divulging this huge bomb of information that the President of Haiti forced one candidate out of the run-off, and inserted his own hand-picked candidate into his place.  “We kicked Martelly out of the race, and now the people are going to destroy the city,” he said.  I prodded further, asking him what the correct percentages were.  “Manigat had 39%, Martelly had 27%,” he said, “and Celestin had 15%.”  If these are, in fact, the correct results, then Michel Martelly has been cast aside from the second round of an election that he fairly won a chance to participate in.

The man had been abandoned by his colleagues at the CEP who had “escaped to the hills”, and he pleaded with us to give him a ride to his home in lower Delmas, which is not a good part of town (especially considering what was happening).  Things were quickly escalating, and the people around us were starting to give the man dirty looks and yelling angerly at him.  We told him to jump on the back of the motorcycle, “We need to get out of here, NOW,” Ben exclaimed as he started the bike.  We took the man down the street to an empty street corner and let him off, going any further would have been dangerous as ahead of us in the road was a newly started fire.  As we pulled away the man stood in the middle of the road, searching for somewhere to go, or someone to bring him to safety.  He had been abandoned by his co-workers, and now had to defend himself amongst his own people, all because of a decision the CEP was forced to make.

We went straight home, passing a barricade that a group of men were putting up at the entrance to our neighborhood.  Ben, graciously, allowed me to drive his motorcycle home, as the streets were no longer safe to walk on.  “If you’re going to go, go now,” he hastily said, “and don’t stop.”  Ben is a really level-headed guy, so when he says that it’s not safe you know it’s not safe.  I accelerated down the road towards my complex as a group of men were congregating in an alley ahead of me, and made it safety home as the sound of gunshots filled the air.

The following days are expected to be filled with more protests and, I’m assuming, an appeal by Martelly.  According to the man from the CEP, these results are final, and they will now just move on to the run-off, but I was also told that the final results would not be released until just before Christmas, and that these were just preliminary.  Either way the people here feel slighted, and are upset that yet another election has resulted in the same fraud that has permeated their government for decades.

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