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Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction

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IACHR Urges U.S. to Stop Deporting Sick People to Haiti Print
Friday, 04 February 2011 17:22

Following the tragic death of Wildrick Guerrier on January 22 following his deportation from the U.S. to Haiti, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States is urging the U.S. government to stop deporting people to Haiti who have serious illnesses. A press release from the Center for Constitutional Rights, Alternative Chance/Chans Alternativ, Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, and University of Miami School of Law reads:

Today, in response to an emergency petition filed on January 6, 2011 by six rights groups, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) took a rare step and urged the U.S. government to cease deportations to Haiti immediately for persons with serious illnesses or U.S. family ties. The action follows the first reported death of a person deported by the U.S. since removals resumed on January 20, 2011. In its decision, the IACHR expressed concern that “detention centers in Haiti are overcrowded, and the lack of drinking water and adequate sanitation or toilets could facilitate the transmission of cholera, tuberculosis, and other diseases.”

The deceased, Wildrick Guerrier, 34, exhibited cholera-like symptoms but is believed to have received no medical treatment while in a Haitian police station cell in the midst of a cholera epidemic. A second deported person was reportedly exhibiting cholera-like symptoms and released without medical attention.

Guerrier, AP reported, “had participated in a hunger strike while detained in the U.S. and wrote to immigration attorneys that returning to Haiti amounted to a death sentence.” He may have been healthy when he arrived in Haiti, as AP earlier had reported

Immigration advocates complain that Haiti's notoriously unsanitary jails pose a grave risk for those sent back. They say Guerrier was healthy when he was deported before being crowded into a cell along with 17 other men.

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"Big Setback" for Haitian Democracy as U.S. Gets Its Way Print
Friday, 04 February 2011 16:34

For anyone who missed it, our press release from yesterday, in reaction to the CEP's decision, is below. What has received little attention so far is that not all CEP members signed the statement; in fact, it may be that only four out of eight actually did so. We will post more details and analysis as the information becomes available.

"Big Setback" for Haitian Democracy as U.S. Gets Its Way; Forces Runoff Elections Between Two Right-Wing Candidates, CEPR Co-Director Says

Second Round Will Be Between Candidates Who Received Around 6.4% and 4.5% Percent Support from Registered Voters in First Round, Respectively

Washington, D.C. - Haiti's democracy and national sovereignty were severely undermined today, Mark Weisbrot, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), said today, reacting to news that Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) had given in to external pressure and announced that government-backed candidate Jude Celestin will not proceed to the second round of elections.

"What a disgrace this is to the United States government: the richest country in the world has forced one of the poorest to change the results of its presidential election, literally under the threat of starvation," Weisbrot said. "Now two right-wing candidates, who received votes from around 6.4 and 4.5 percent of registered voters, respectively, will compete for the presidency, in another farcical 'election.'

"This is a big setback for democracy in Haiti. Far from fixing the problems with the first elections, this is simply an attempt to impose an illegitimate government on Haiti, and it will backfire," Weisbrot said.

"Washington also continues to try to keep former President Aristide, the country's first democratically elected president, out of the country. This is equally inexcusable and will also fail," Weisbrot also stated.

Read the rest here.

 
Haiti Resists US Pressure, Announces Aristide Can Return Print
Wednesday, 02 February 2011 16:04

CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot writes in The Guardian (UK) today:

It didn’t get much attention in the media, but U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did something quite surprising on Sunday. After taping interviews on five big Sunday talk shows about Egypt, she then boarded a plane to Haiti. Yes, Haiti. The most impoverished country in the hemisphere, not exactly a “strategic ally” or a global player on the world’s political stage.

Inquiring minds might want to know why the United States’ top foreign policy official would have to go to Haiti in the midst of the worst crisis she has faced. The answer is that there is also a crisis in Haiti. And it is a crisis that – unlike the humanitarian crisis that Haiti has suffered since the earthquake last year – Washington really cares about.

Like the Egyptians, Haitians are calling for free and fair elections. But in this case Washington will not support free and fair elections, even nominally. Quite the opposite, in fact. For weeks now the U.S. government has been threatening the government of Haiti with various punishments if it refuses to reverse the results of the first round of its presidential elections. Washington wants Haiti to eliminate the government’s candidate and leave only two right-wing candidates to compete in the second round.

Just three weeks ago it looked like a done deal. The Organization of American States (OAS) “Expert Verification Mission” did a report on Haiti’s Nov. 28 presidential elections, and on Jan. 10 it was leaked to the press. The report recommended moving the government’s candidate, Jude Celestin, into third place by just 0.3 percent of the vote; leaving right-wing candidates Mirlande Manigat, a former first lady, and Michel Martelly, a popular musician, in first and second place, respectively. This was followed with various statements and threats from U.S. and French officials that Haiti must accept this change of result. U.S. officials strongly implied that aid to Haiti would be cut if the government didn’t do as told. It looked as if desperately poor Haiti would have to give in immediately.

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Congressional Black Caucus Statement on Elections Print
Tuesday, 01 February 2011 18:08

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Task Force on Foreign Policy and International Affairs has called on the US administration and the international community to support new elections in Haiti and states that, "the will of the people of Haiti was not, in good faith, represented.  We believe that the recommendation of a new election should be included in the OAS report, and it should not be endorsed, in its entirety, as it currently stands." The full text of the just distributed CBC Task Force statement follows:

 

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Hillary Clinton Calls For "Free, Fair, and Credible Elections" Print
Tuesday, 01 February 2011 16:55

On Sunday, Hillary Clinton, speaking with Bob Schieffer of CBS's Face the Nation urged Egypt's authoritarian ruler, Hosni Mubarak, to begin the process for "free, fair, and credible elections." Protestors have taken to the streets for over a week calling for democratic change and for Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt with US support for nearly 30 years, to step down.

Yet on the same day that she made those comments Hillary Clinton also traveled to Haiti to discuss a different election, one that was not free, fair nor credible, but that she never the less supports. Clinton was not in Haiti to call for new elections, nor was she pressuring the government to make the necessary changes (reforming the CEP, allowing all political parties to participate) to ensure an actual free, fair and credible electoral process.

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The Haiti Election Preliminary Results, Candidate Votes by Department Print
Tuesday, 01 February 2011 14:05

CEPR's paper, "Haiti's Fatally Flawed Election", which received significant media attention upon its release last month, has been updated and re-released with an accompanying data set that contains the totals from each tally sheet posted on the CEP's website. The data is easily sortable and search-able to allow users to analyze the preliminary results in any geographical sub set. Many election observers noted irregularities in specific voting centers or specific areas or the country. The data set would allow the observers to easily access the preliminary results from areas where they witnessed irregularities on election day. Additionally, the numbers in the paper have been updated to reflect the new, more complete, data set. In the graph below, the average number of votes for each of the top three candidates in each tally sheet is presented, broken down by department.

 
The Celestin Prophecy: What the INITE Statement Does, and Does Not, Say Print
Thursday, 27 January 2011 16:45
There is a good deal of confusion in current media reports regarding statements from INITE party members, and an INITE communiqué reported in the press beginning yesterday, regarding the continuation of Jude Celestin’s candidacy. It seems clear that reports that the second round will include only Mirlande Manigat and Michel Martelly have jumped the gun. As noted in the press, Jude Celestin did not sign the communiqué.

We are posting an unofficial translation of the full communiqué below, and the original, in kreyol, can be seen here (page 1) and here (page 2).

The statement does not state that Celestin is withdrawing. Nor does it say, as has been reported, that INITE “ is no longer supporting its presidential candidate,” rather, it is vague, suggesting that Celestin is welcome to withdraw -- but there is nothing in the communiqué itself that conveys that the party is requiring, or even pressuring him to do so.

Some reports have left out any mention of the communique’s explicit references to international pressure and “intimidation”, complaints against which form the central theme of the communiqué. The communiqué makes it quite clear that the decision to “agree to see [Celestin] withdraw his candidacy for president” is a reluctant one, which the party says it makes “because INITE does not want the people’s suffering to increase even more” – a credible response to implied threats of aid cutoffs. It is perhaps notable that the U.S. is widely rumored to have revoked the visas of one of the signers, Jean Joseph Moliere, as part of a pressure campaign on the Préval government and INITE.

Here is the full text of the communiqué, in English, followed by kreyol:

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Laura Flynn: "In Haiti, Reliving Duvalier, Waiting for Aristide" Print
Tuesday, 25 January 2011 16:46

Today in the Huffington Post, Laura Flynn, writer, activist, and board member of the Aristide Foundation for Democracy, writes movingly about the "constant terror" of life under Jean-Claude Duvalier and the hope of many Haitians that Aristide will be allowed to return. Flynn writes:

In the 1980s, when the armed forces of Jean-Claude Duvalier's regime set about exterminating "Haiti's Creole pigs", they would come to Haiti's rural villages, seize all of the "pigs", pile them up, one on top of the other, in large pits and set fire to them, burning them alive.

A Haitian friend recounted this story to me this week. It was an image that she could not get out of her head since Jean-Claude Duvalier returned to Haiti. Because that's what it was like for her, to watch Duvalier be greeted like a dignitary at the Port-au-Prince airport, and then escorted to his hotel by UN military forces -- like being burned alive.

In 1968, when my friend was 3 years old, members of Duvalier's Ton Ton Macoutes came to her home at 3 o'clock in the afternoon as her extended family shared a meal in the courtyard of their house in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Martissant. The Macoutes dragged her father and two of her uncles away. They then went to two other houses on her block, and took away all the men from those families as well. Her father and the other men in the neighborhood were members of MOP, the mass political party of Haitian populist leader Daniel Fignolé, which Duvalier wiped out, along with all other forces of opposition in the country.

To read the entire article, click here.

 

 
New Report: "Foreign Responsibility in the Failure to Protect Against Cholera and Other Man-Made Disasters" Print
Tuesday, 25 January 2011 12:13

A new report "Met Ko Veye Ko: Foreign Responsibility in the Failure to Protect against Cholera and Other Man-Made Disasters" by Mark Schuller, Ph.D, City University of New York and Faculte d'Ethnologie, takes an in depth look at camp conditions throughout Haiti. In their previous report, "Unstable Foundations" it was found after studying a random sample of 108 camps that "most of Haiti’s estimated 1.5 million IDPs lived in substandard conditions."

The new report, which uses the same 108 camp sample, aims to see how things have progressed in the two and half months since the outbreak of cholera. The problems remain severe:

Still using the random sample of 108 IDP camps from this summer, a team of three State University of Haiti stu-dents investigated 45 camps that lacked either water or toilets from the summer. The results show a minimum of progress: 37.6 percent instead of 40.5 percent still do not have water, and 25.8 instead of 30.3 percent of camps still do not have a toilet.

The cholera outbreak – combined with the continued lack of services – is a key factor in the rap-id depopulation of the IDP camps. According to the IOM only 810,000 remain as of January 7. One in four camps researchers visited disappeared since the last visit, eight because of IDPs’ fear of cholera, and three because of landowner pressure.

The previous study highlighted several gaps within the services. Given little progress since the outbreak, most of the patterns hold true. Camps with NGO management agencies are still far more likely to have needed services; this is increasingly evident. Municipality is still a factor in services, however there is some progress in Cité Soleil IDP camps because of a concerted effort led by the Haitian government. There is a slight difference in camps on private and public land.

All of this is to say that much more progress needs to be made, not only in the aid delivery but the coordination. NGOs need to be more transparent and accountable, and the ongoing political crisis stoked anew by the entrance of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier should not be an excuse for aid being delivered or life-saving water contracts renewed. As long as people are liv-ing under tents, especially during the outbreak of cholera, water and sanitation services are ab-solutely essential.

 

To read the full report, click here.
 
"Haiti: The Great Fear" - Mark Weisbrot in The Sun Sentinel Print
Sunday, 23 January 2011 15:00
CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot writes in Ft. Lauderdale's Sun Sentinel today:

The controversy over the return of the infamous dictator, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, to Haiti, is in many ways a distraction. Certainly, it is important he stand trial for crimes against humanity, including the murder and torture of opponents.

But there is another crime being committed against Haiti right now: Foreign powers are trying to rob Haitians once again of their democratic rights. More than 200 years after Haiti liberated itself from slavery and from France, the rich countries still seem to have a great fear of Haitians governing themselves.

It was obvious from the beginning of the disaster one year ago, when the United States took control of the air traffic into Haiti and immediately filled up most of the available landing slots with planes carrying soldiers and military equipment.

Their great fear of looting and crime in the aftermath of the earthquake never materialized, but in the first week after the earthquake, many people lost lives and limbs that could have been saved, if doctors and medical equipment had been the priority.

Read the rest here.

 
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