State of emergency prolonged; Committee for national reconstruction established

THE STATE OF EMERGENCY VOTE:
REINFORCEMENT OF THE OCCUPATION!

By Hervé Jean Michel
Published in Haiti Liberté (information below)

On Apr. 8, Haiti's Chamber of Deputies ratified an 18-month extension of the post-earthquake State of

Emergency and the establishment of the Interim Committee for the Reconstruction of Haiti (CIRH) by a vote of 43 in favor, 6 against and 3 abstentions.
Under the law, President René Préval would be able to rule by decree. Préval's mandate ends in 10 months on Feb. 7, 2011. Some dissident lawmakers have suggested that this proposed law is a precursor to one that will seek to extend Préval's mandate by at least 8 months. Préval has repeatedly asserted that he will not serve "one day" past the date his mandate ends.
Meanwhile, critics of the bill have also protested that the CIRH, which is composed of 13 foreigners and 12 Haitians (including one diaspora representative), will be foreign-run.
Because Préval's newly formed ruling party, Unity, has a majority, he was easily able to extract a favorable vote from the deputies. Changes to the original text did not curtail the Executive's power and gave the CIRH the right to direct the country's policy and manage public funds without any accountability to the Haitian people for 18 months.
On Mar. 31 at the UN in New York, donor countries pledged $5.3 billion to Haiti over the next 18 months. It is expected that, as in the past, many donors will not honor their pledges, but money which does arrive will be doled out by the World Bank. The CIRH, headed by UN special envoy, former U.S. President, Bill Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive, will approve the projects, but without any ratification or oversight by any Haitian state body, like the Parliament. Préval can also veto projects, but few expect that from him.
After the vote, the Deputies' president, Levaillant Louis Young, a Unity member and former president of the influential Coordination of Progressive Parliamentarians (CPP), declared that the bill would "provide the government and the international community with the means to cope with the exceptional crisis facing the country since the earthquake."
Louis Jeune said he would encourage Senate president Kely C. Bastien to also pass the bill, which would make it law. The Senate was supposed to vote on Apr. 13, but the vote was postponed because senators could not form a quorum.
The Apr. 8 session was attended by Joseph J. Jasmin. In the 46th Legislature, he was a prominent anti-neo-liberal dissident who denounced the suffering created by IMF-dictated austerity measures. Today, however, he is Préval's Minister for Relations Between the Executive and the Legislature and has become a defender of the ultra-conservative ideology of the reactionary capitalists.
"The decision of the deputies is the beginning of hope for many victims of the earthquake for whom the street has became a place of residence," Jasmin said. (It is instructive how politicians like Young and Jasmin can so easily forsake their previous "principles.")
However, this bill would definitively place Haiti in trusteeship under Washington's supervision. Unfortunately, we can expect the same capitulation from the Senate.
Some senators will want to posture as nationalists like Youri Latortue and Andris Riché. Take the case of Wencessclass Lambert, appointed as Senator by Rene Préval, who made a very provocative statement.
"If the State of Emergency law passes, the CIRH will be free to steer as it wants the reconstruction process, and parliamentarians will have no means for legal action to question the ten foreign [voting] members of the commission," he said. (Three of the CIRH's foreign appointees are non-voting).
There was a street protest against the vote. A diverse group of demonstrators held a sit-in on Apr. 8 outside the Freres Police Academy, where the parliament now meets. On Apr. 5 they put out a joint statement that read: "We, political organizations and social organizations who have signed this document, say "No," we do not agree with President Préval's bill putting the country under a State of Emergency for 18 months."
While the position is good, the front that put it out is a collection of political platforms, political parties, and socio-political organizations from different backgrounds with different interests and demands, without any true ideological cohesion. It cannot be regarded as a movement which can play a fundamental role in future struggles. The political organizations that could play a decisive role in the current struggles in Haiti seem out of breath, worn down by the games of the current government, isolated, lacking leadership and confidence that the people can win.
This bill just passed by the deputies consecrates Haiti's trusteeship to imperialism. Without succumbing to pessimism, we must recognize that the struggle for democracy in Haiti has a huge challenge before it and must find again its power and ability to mobilize the national majority to influence the balance of power.
True patriots must rise to the occasion to lead a fight for Haiti's liberation and true reconstruction. It is sure that the Interim Commission, due to its origins, composition, and leadership, will not lead Haiti down a road towards national liberation.
The billions pledged by donors will be used only to purchase a commodity called Haiti, but never for its reconstruction in the sense of full social, economic and political development. When a country's leaders profit from the misery, ignorance, powerlessness, fear and despair of its people, this should spur patriots to embrace critical reflection and radical change.
Published in "This Week in Haiti", the English section of HAITI LIBERTE newsweekly, April 14 - 20, 2010, Vol. 3, No. 39 . For the complete edition with other news in French and Creole, please contact the paper at (tel) 718-421-0162, (fax) 718-421-3471 or e-mail at editor@haitiliberte.com. Also visit our website at http://www.haitiliberte.com.