In the midst of the brewing crisis over the election in Haiti, I’m taking solace in small, containable observations. Jude Celestin, the ruling party candidate who now stands accused by twelve other candidates of having carried out fraud at the polls today, made a shrewd choice in his campaign colors. As Emily Troutman noted in a pre-election article on the candidates, the green and white of his posters and shirts are the same as those of the Brazilian national team. Which means a huge swath of the Haitian population already had a shirt ready to wear if they wanted to go to a rally for Celestin. To top it off, his number — the one voters were to check if they chose him — was none other than #10. You can see musician Gasman Couleur sporting his Brazil #10 shirt at a Celestin rally (photo from Haitianbeatz.com).
Basically, it was as if Celestin was trying to channel the spirit of Pelé. It doesn’t seem, for now, to have really worked. One of Celestin’s rivals, meanwhile, the singer Michel Martelly, has opted for a bright pink as his campaign color, as Emily Troutman also notes. (Her tweets from Haiti have been extremely informative today.) Which prompted one of the few humorous tweets to come out about Haiti today, which hoped that if Martelly wins he won’t change the red and blue of Haiti’s flag to pink and red. In a pre-election rally, meanwhile, Martelly taunted Celestin, suggesting maybe he was bad luck for Brazil. “You’ve seen Celestin’s posters, right? Green and yellow? That’s probably why Brazil keeps losing.”
There was, until this morning, cautious optimism that the election would go ahead relatively smoothly. Now, with candidates calling for an annulment of the election and demonstrations tomorrow and the electoral commission declaring the election is valid, it’s unclear what is going to transpire this week. But we are likely heading into a serious political crisis of accusation and counter-accusation, perhaps worse. I’ll offer one half-joking hope: maybe the fact that there is a Real Madrid-Barcelona match (El Clasico) is being played tomorrow will cool things down a bit? The game is always a major draw in Haiti, as Laura Wagner reported here last Spring.
Moments like this leave me wishing politics was a little more like football where — for all the drama, inscrutability, tragedy, and unfairness — there at are least some rules, and you know that at some point the game will end.