“It shows that the OAS cannot be relied upon as a neutral, independent arbiter of electoral disputes, because of the control of its administration by the United States government and its allies,” read a report recently published by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
The Organization of American States in Haiti, a study authored by Economist David Rosnick, analyzed a decade-long arbitration history by the Organization of American States’ (OAS) in Haiti. Putting the 2010 presidential elections under the microscope, the report attempted to determine whether OAS’s unprecedented decision to reverse the first round results last November amounted to simple election monitoring or political intervention. The report also highlighted OAS’s significant contribution in the destabilization and eventual overthrow of the democratically elected administration of Jean Bertrand Aristide by de-legitimizing the 2000 election.
Rosnick’s report is extremely important because the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) will use it during its December 2011 meeting to decide in which areas to replace the OAS as a regional arbiter. Created by heads of states throughout the Caribbean and Latin America on February 23, 2010, CELAC membership included Cuba, but excluded the United States and Canada. Rosnick argued that if successful, the new organization could displace the OAS, arguing, “This paper shows that an organization independent of Washington’s influence is both necessary and desirable, especially for the furtherance of democracy in the Hemisphere. The report read:
“The two biggest flaws in the OAS Mission’s report were that (1) it did not use any statistical inference from the sample of 919 tally sheets that it had examined, in order to draw a conclusion about the whole set of tally sheets, and most importantly, (2) it did not take into account 1053 tally sheets, or 9.5 percent of the total that were missing.
Amid reports of systemic fraud and widespread violence over Haiti’s disputed first round election results, the OAS stepped in as a neutral arbiter to settle the dispute. Rather than calling for a recount, the organization reversed the results, placing third place Michel Martelly ahead of Jude Celestin who according to the Provisional Electoral Council’s published results, came in second place behind former first lady Mirlande Manigat. Martelly went on to win the second round in a landslide to become Haiti’s 56th president.
While the report stopped short of de-legitimizing Martelly’s presidentcy, it painted the OAS as a politically motivated organization deliberately pushing Washington’s agenda, in lieu of an impartial hemispheric organization created to help resolve electoral disputes. More importantly, Rosnick’s findings underlined the region’s need for strong leadership in pursuit of democracy’s highest ideals. Failure to choose competent leaders would seriously undermine voters’ intent; thus, perpetuating the vicious cycle depicted in the Rosnick report that concluded “By all indications from the data, those who cast their votes did so in favor of Celestin over Martelly.”