Interview of Camille Chalmers
By Mario Hernandez
M.H.: Communication in Montevideo with the Haitian Human Rights activist, Camille Chalmers. I would like to know your comments on your country’s situation and what are your reasons for the visit to the Eastern Republic of Uruguay.
C.Ch.: We are going through a very difficult time in Haiti as a result of 12 years of occupation by the MINUSTAH forces, allegedly to maintain peace that has had a large negative effect.In this situation we are in the midst of an electoral crisis that led to popular movements of protest in Haiti against attempts to manipulate the election and block expression of a popular vote.
There have been two elections in 2015; the last on October 9 in which there was a democratic majority and reports and evaluations revealed they were totally fraudulent with gross manipulation, including cartoons of a ballot with only one candidate. This was because the second place winner refused to present himself considering it a total farce.
Therefore we reached a situation of institutional vacuum that is the result of a political position by the oligarchy that never accepted the democratic conquest achieved after the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship.
The Martelly government attempted to reestablish the dictatorship but failed through the resistance of the people. For 5 years we have had no elections. Consequently we are at a point of vacuum and many difficulties to reset republican elections.
An important outcome between 2010 and 2015 was the people who prevented the situation of 2010 when Martelly took power although he did not have the popular vote. In 2015 there was an extended resistance of the political sectors, of the popular sectors and social organizations that stopped the elections of January 22.
M.H.: When will the next elections be held in your country? How do you see the future from an institutional point of view?
C.Ch.: The current problem is that imperialism wants to speed up the process to achieve elections and place a new president before May 14. They want acceptance of the first results. The democratic sectors of Haiti claim it is unacceptable because the results will be largely rejected since they are not legitimate and do not respect decisions. It is very important to take advantage of this crisis to rethink the electoral system and prepare a sovereign one, controlled by the social and political actors who relate to the problems of the country. We have a total colonial system today, controlled by extremist forces, a very costly system that does not correspond to a civic practice of institutional construction.
M.H.: What were you doing in Montevideo?
C.Ch.: I am developing a campaign to achieve the removal of the Minustah forces. We are preparing a large day of continental mobilization on June 1 in which we will demand their withdrawal but also a day of protest against militarization, against United States military bases in the Caribbean. We are here to say that they not only have to withdraw but should launch a process of reparation, justice and compensation for all it has done in these past 12 years. The worse example was implanting cholera when the United Nations forces introduced the disease in 2010; a disease that did not exist before. Today it has cost the lives of 9 000 Haitian citizens and infected almost 170 000 persons.
It is outrageous that the United Nations is not investing in technical and financial resources to eradicate cholera while people are dying in Haiti. They must compensate the families of the victims, build a system that allows universal access to drinking water and compensate the country for the damages suffered with the introduction of this disease.
M.H.: Did you achieve any agreement regarding the withdrawal of Uruguayan troops since it is the country that supplies most troops to Minustah?
C.C.: In previous visits we held talks with the presidency, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Parliament but now we are concentrating our efforts on public opinion, the social networks because I think that many people are aware of the failure of this mission; of the totally negative results regarding the objectives expressed in 2014 and the need to stop this experience and launch a real processes of solidarity with the people of Haiti. We have the image of the presence of 800 Cuban physicians in far rural communities and they are doing marvelous work, totally integrated to the communities. It is a cooperation of solidarity that does not generate debts and that respects Haitian culture and history.
M.H.: Do you want to add anything more?
C.Ch.: I think it is important to spread the necessary information to strip the role of Minustah. It is not a humanitarian mission and is part of the integral militarization of the Caribbean and a force that is present in Haiti in a process of re-colonization of the entire region.
Minustah participated directly in the repression of popular demonstrations when we were demanding a raise of the minimum wage; they were present in the privatization of the public telephone system dismissing 3 000 workers illegally; Minustah was present to make it possible.
There is an evident alliance between Minustah and the anti democratic, conservative and reactionary forces in Haiti. Consequently we believe it is extremely urgent it be acknowledged as a failure. At the same time we favor actions of solidarity that we can build directly: people to people.
When the Haitian nation was borne it was done with an internationalist conviction and contributed to the independence battles of the continent. Therefore it seems to me natural that we now build the internationalism we need to face the new aggressiveness of the Empire.