'Step Off, United States': Progressive International Voices Solidarity With Haitians Rising Up Against Dictatorship

The Progressive International on Monday expressed solidarity with the people of Haiti as they continue to rise up against the U.S.-backed government of Jovenel Moïse, who has been ruling by decree for more than a year after dissolving a majority of the Caribbean nation’s parliament in 2020.

“Progressive International stands with the people of Haiti, striking across the nation against the dictatorship of Jovenel Moïse,” the global organization tweeted Monday, a day after thousands of Haitians took to the streets of the nation’s capital in a mass demonstration against the Moïse government, which has long been accused of rampant corruption and repression.

“Step down, Moïse,” said Progressive International. “Step off, United States. And make way for a new popular sovereignty in Haiti.”

While the Haitian opposition argues—with the backing of the nation’s judicial branch—that Moïse’s five-year term ended earlier this month, Moïse and his supporters contend that he is legally entitled to another year in power because the results of the country’s 2015 presidential election were disputed, delaying his inauguration.

“I am not a dictator,” Moïse said shortly after having nearly two dozen people, including a Supreme Court judge, arrested, accusing them of plotting a coup against him.

Ned Price, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, took Moïse’s side during a press briefing on February 5, stating that “a new elected president should succeed President Moïse when his term ends on… February 7th, 2022.”

Thanks to Moïse’s dissolving of the parliament last year, “Haiti now has only 11 elected officials in office to represent its 11 million people, with Mr. Moïse having refused to hold any elections over the last four years,” the New York Times reported. “Mr. Moïse is seeking to expand his presidential powers in the coming months by changing the country’s Constitution.”

“We are back to dictatorship! Down with Moise!” demonstrators chanted last week as they took to the streets to demand Moïse’s resignation. Protesters also condemned the U.S. role in lending Moïse legitimacy, shouting, “Down with Sison!”—referring to the U.S. ambassador to Haiti, Michele Jeanne Sison.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on February 6, a group of Democratic lawmakers including Reps. Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), and Ilhan Omar (Minn.) raised alarm over Moïse’s “undemocratic actions” and said that “the people of Haiti deserve a voice in their own governance.”

The letter continued:

We cannot parse words: President Moïse has lost credibility. He has been ruling by decree since January 2020, and although he pays homage to forthcoming elections, he insists they can only occur after the completion of dubious constitutional reforms.

His attempt to unilaterally name the members of the body that would certify the results of a future election also demands scrutiny. His extra-constitutional decrees—including the establishment of a domestic intelligence force, the unilateral appointment of key officials, and the harsh criminalization of acts of protest—must be called out for exactly what they are: attempts to hold onto the presidency at the expense of the democratic process.

“The time for a Haitian-led democratic transition,” the lawmakers declared, “is now.”

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