In defence of democracy in Haiti

4 February 2021

On Sunday, 7 February 2021, the mandate of the President of Haiti, Jovenel Moïse, comes to an end. The Socialist International expresses its rejection and deep concern over the decision of the president not to convene elections as per the constitution, making it impossible for his term to come to its legal end and deepening the grave deterioration of democracy in the country. With this, there are now seven elections of different authorities, of president, parliamentarians, territorial authorities and others, that have not been called or carried out.

The SI's work with Haiti is permanent and long-standing. At each of the meetings of its last presidiums, the organisation has heard interventions on the gravity of the local situation from its vice-president Victor Benoit, leader of the SI-member Social Democratic Assembly for the Progress of Haiti (RSD), and has also received reports on this from Edmonde Supplice Beauzile, leader of the Fusion of the Haitian Social Democrats, also an SI member party. Less than two months ago, at its meeting in December 2020, the SI Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean denounced the authoritarian drift of the Haitian president, who has been ruling by decree and has illegitimately concentrated different public powers in his hands. On that occasion, the Committee hailed the efforts of the Haitian democratic opposition in demanding the holding of free elections in accordance with the constitution. The same Committee, at its meeting in Jamaica in December 2019, condemned the attacks on human rights in Haiti, the excessive use of force in suppressing demonstrations, the assassinations and other crimes committed by agents of the state, by its militias and by criminal gangs that act with the connivance of the regime, demanding investigations and that the judiciary establish the facts and responsibilities.  

Furthermore, in the same year 2019, the Secretary General of the Socialist International travelled to Port-au-Prince to meet with the two member parties of the organisation and with their agreement he met with the President of the Republic, proposing already then to initiate a national political dialogue that would include the government and the forces of the opposition to achieve a normalisation of the situation in the country.

Disregarding the alerts of Haitian political actors and the proposals for dialogue by the SI and other members of the international community, on 18 September last year, and outside of all constitutional provisions, Jovenel Moïse created by decree a Provisional Electoral Council, which de facto extended his mandate until 7 February, 2022. Our International rejects the presidential interpretation of the existence of an “institutional vacuum” and its illegitimate consequence of seeking to fill it irregularly through the creation of new bodies and authorities.

We see today in Haiti how crime and impunity, human rights violations, corruption of the public apparatus and the political persecution of social protest are realities that on a daily basis aggravate the economic, social and political crisis afflicting the country.

Faced with the great challenge to democracy and the constitutional order of the nation, the Socialist International reiterates the need for a national dialogue including all the political and social forces, to get Haiti out of the recurring spiral of crises. It is essential that free and transparent elections are convened as soon as possible, from which new authorities can emerge with full legitimacy. The Socialist International reaffirms its commitment to its member parties and to the Haitian democratic forces in pursuit of this objective.