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Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction

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US, UN Increasing Pressure on Haiti to Accept Flawed Election Print
Thursday, 20 January 2011 16:01

The UN joined the chorus of international actors that are pressuring Haiti to accept their choice for presidential candidates. At a UN Security Council meeting today, Under-Secretary-General Alain Le Roy, told the room:

“Having officially received the report of the OAS technical mission, the CEP must now honour its commitment to fully take into account the report’s recommendations with a view to ensuring that the results of the elections truly reflect the will of the Haitian people,”

Adding:

“Should the CEP decide otherwise, Haiti may well be faced with a constitutional crisis, with the possibility of considerable unrest and insecurity.”

At the same meeting, Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, went even further. AFP reports:

The United States told President Rene Preval on Thursday to pull his favored candidate out of Haiti's disputed presidential election race or risk losing US and international support.

"Sustained support from the international community, including the United States, will require a credible process that represents the will of the Haitian people," Rice told a UN Security Council debate on Haiti.

"We urge the Provisional Electoral Council to implement the OAS recommendations," Rice said, also calling for a "timely" timetable for the second round.

Read more...

 

 
"Aristide Should Be Allowed to Return to Haiti" - Mark Weisbrot Print
Thursday, 20 January 2011 13:04

CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot wrote in The Guardian (UK) earlier this week on the pressure the international community is putting on Haiti to accept their choices for presidential candidates. Today, he wrote the following, distributed by McClatchy:

Haiti’s infamous dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier, returned to his country this week, while the country’s first elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is kept out. These two facts really say everything about Washington’s policy toward Haiti and our government’s respect for democracy in that country and in the region.

Asked about the return of Duvalier, who had thousands tortured and murdered under his dictatorship, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, “this is a matter for the Government of Haiti and the people of Haiti.”

But when asked about Aristide returning, he said, “Haiti does not need, at this point, any more burdens.”

Wikileaks cables released in the last week show that Washington put pressure on Brazil, which is heading up the United Nations forces that are occupying Haiti, not only to keep Aristide out of the country but to keep him from having any political influence from exile.

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Relief and Reconstruction: The Year in Review, Part II Print
Wednesday, 12 January 2011 18:30

Various journalists who have covered Haiti over the past year have published essays today with their thoughts, reflections, sentiments, and recollections. Notable among them is this one from the AP’s Jonathan Katz, who writes:

What is most distinct about this Jan. 12 — from the last and from all Haiti's 206 previous Jan. 12s — is that this one was supposed to be different.

If you live in basically any of the world's major economies, and a lot of minor ones, chances are that your government made a promise of money, commitment, speed, coordination and intent — not just to rebuild what was here before, but to help make it better.

But most of the money promised was not delivered, and most of the money delivered was not spent.

The underlying issues, the core problems that keep Haiti like this — poor governance, lack of institutions, lack of national leadership unimpeded by interference from abroad, a lack of even the most basic governing systems like tax collection, land registries or a census — were barely addressed, if at all.

On this Jan. 12, the aid groups and NGOs are flying in their bosses to tout very limited successes and ask for money to do it over again.

Elsewhere, articles in The Nation from Isabel MacDonald, and Isabeau Doucet assess the state of relief and reconstruction one-year later. Doucet writes:

On the tragedy's one-year anniversary, it’s become clear that perhaps the only positive aspect of the past 12 months has been the exposure of the failures of the NGO aid system, and the international community's long-standing use of the country as a laboratory for cashing in on disaster – both of which have been wrecking havoc on this country since long before the earthquake.

Despite being home to the world’s highest density of NGOs per capita, Haiti is presently being ravaged by a cholera epidemic with an official death toll of some 3,500, with experts estimating the number of dead at twice as high.

More than a million people are still living in overcrowded camps under the same now-frayed tarps they received last January. A third of these camps still don’t have toilets, and most Haitians have no access to potable water.

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Where Does the Washington Post Ed Board Get Its News on Haiti? Print
Wednesday, 12 January 2011 16:15

The Washington Post posted an editorial last evening on Haiti’s elections (which is in today's print edition). Not surprisingly, the Post's editorial writers -- who in the recent past have praised the deceased Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and presented a “positive view of the Colombian government’s human rights record” despite major human rights scandals, including killings of thousands of civilians by the Colombian military – support the conclusions of the OAS Expert Mission’s report, which we found to be methodologically and statistically flawed and not conclusive.

The Post’s support for the OAS’ conclusions comes despite the fact that the writers have apparently not read the report. The editorial states:

The OAS report is expected to be publicly released this week. Diplomats and international aid officials who have seen it describe it as a careful work, based on a review of nearly a fifth of the more than 1 million ballots cast.

Nevertheless, the Post was ready to wholeheartedly endorse the integrity of the mission and its findings:

The OAS was invited by the government to sort out the electoral mess, and its report is based on an extensive sampling of ballots and statistical analysis by a team of specialists from the United States, France, Canada, Jamaica, Spain and Chile. Mr. Preval, who so far has said he knows nothing of the report, should embrace it clearly, audibly and publicly for the sake of stability and Haiti's long-term chances of recovery. To do otherwise would be to invite mayhem.

Shouldn’t President Preval take the time to determine whether the report is credible before quickly “embracing” it?

Of course readers of this blog knew the report was publicly available – on our site – yesterday, hours before the Post went to print with its editorial. Nor did the Post amend the article to note that the report is publicly available.

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CEPR Examines OAS Report on Haiti's Election, Finds It "Inconclusive, Statistically Flawed, and Indefensible" Print
Tuesday, 11 January 2011 17:57

The Center for Economic and Policy Research has posted the full OAS election report on its website [PDF], and after analyzing the report, released the following press release. Also see Robert Naiman's analysis on the parallels between what the OAS is advocating for in Haiti and the Bush vs. Gore recount in 2000.

Washington, D.C.- The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) has analyzed the Expert Verification Mission's Final Report from the Organization of American States (OAS) on Haiti’s presidential elections, which has not been released to the public but is now available on the CEPR website here [PDF]. CEPR’s analysis found that the OAS report cannot help determine the outcome of the first round of Haiti’s election.

“This report can’t salvage an election that was illegitimate, where nearly three-quarters of the electorate didn’t vote, and where the vote count of the minority that did vote was severely compromised,” said Mark Weisbrot, CEPR Co-Director and co-author of the report, “Haiti’s Fatally Flawed Election.

CEPR has been unable to find a presidential election in the Western Hemisphere, including Haiti, with such a low turnout, going back to 1947. Haiti’s parliamentary election of 2009, in which the country’s most popular political party was also banned, had a turnout of less than 10 percent.

The OAS report does confirm some of the most important conclusions from CEPR’s analysis of the elections, which was published on Sunday. For example, the OAS finds that 12 percent of the tally sheets were either not received by the Provisional Electoral Council or were quarantined – a much larger number of lost votes than the OAS or the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) had previously publicly acknowledged.

Read more...

 

 
OAS Backs Illegitimate Election in Haiti in Which Three-Quarters of Haitians Didn’t Vote Print
Monday, 10 January 2011 14:52
CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot writes in The Guardian (UK):

What is it about Haiti that makes the “international community” think they have the right to decide the country’s fate without the consent of the governed? Yes, Haiti is a poor country, but Haitians have fought very hard and lost many lives for the right to vote and elect a government.

Yet on November 28, nearly three-quarters of Haitians did not vote in the presidential and parliamentary elections. That is what we found when we went through 11,181 tally sheets from the election. This is a ridiculously low turnout for a presidential election.

Now the Organization of American States (OAS) has decided that the election should go to a runoff, finding that the top two finishers were former first lady Mirlande Manigat and the popular singer Michel Martelly. The OAS is proposing a runoff between presidential candidates who received about 6 and 4 percent, respectively, of the electorate's votes in the first round.

One reason that most Haitians did not vote is that the most popular political party in the country, Fanmi Lavalas, was arbitrarily excluded from the ballot.  This was also done in April 2009, in parliamentary elections, and more than 90 percent of voters did not vote. By contrast, in the 2006 presidential elections, participation was 59.3 percent. And it has been higher in the past, even for the parliamentary (non-presidential) election in 2000.

Haitians have taken great risks to vote when there was political violence, and have been pragmatic about voting even when their first choice was not on the ballot (as in 1996 and 2006). But the majority won’t vote when they are denied their right to choose. This is the big story of the election that most of the major media have missed entirely.

Read more...
 
Will the OAS Note All of These Election Irregularities? Print
Sunday, 09 January 2011 12:05

Today we released the full report of our independent recount of vote tally sheets from Haiti’s November 28 presidential election. It found massive irregularities and errors in the vote tallies, including that 11.9 percent of tallies were not counted, while 8.4 percent were irregular. The report concludes that based on the numbers of irregularities, it is impossible to determine who should advance to a second round. If there is a second round, it will be based on arbitrary assumptions and/or exclusions.

“The amount of votes not counted or counted wrong in this election is huge – much larger than has been reported by either the Organization of American States or the Provisional Electoral Council,” CEPR Co-Director, and co-author of the report, Mark Weisbrot stated. “I don’t see how any professional observers could legitimately certify this election result.”

As the paper notes, the number of votes not counted actually is far more than has previously been stated by the OAS: “Nearly 4 percent of polling place tally sheets used to calculate the results were thrown out for alleged fraud at the tabulation center, [OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert] Ramdin said.”

The OAS is expected to announce the results of its recount as early as today, and Haitian Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive has reportedly said "his government was striving to leave a stable country for the next administration and will accept the results of the ...re-count that is expected to be completed in a few days." Meanwhile, the U.S. government signalled on Friday that it may support throwing out the November 28 election entirely depending in part on the OAS' conclusions:

Cheryl Mills, Hillary Rodham Clinton's chief of staff, said the U.S. is waiting for the 12-member election team from the Organization of American States to finish its report, expected next week. Mills said U.S. officials will evaluate any steps deemed necessary by the panel.

"If the OAS mission concludes that cancellation or redo ... needs to be considered, we obviously would be interested to understand how they came to those conclusions," Mills told reporters.

The U.S., then, "would want to review whether or not those conclusions were ones that we, too, could support," she added. "Those are the things we'd be willing to entertain, though I wouldn't be able to tell you what we are going to do until we know what they conclude."

Read more...

 

 
Relief and Reconstruction: The Year in Review, Part I Print
Friday, 07 January 2011 15:32

 Ahead of Wednesday’s one-year anniversary of the earthquake, NGO’s, international agencies, and media outlets are issuing various summaries of what has been (and has not been) accomplished over the past year in terms of relief and reconstruction. Here’s a sampling of some of what has been released so far. We will post more summaries in the coming days.

Assessing NGO Efforts:

The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Caroline Preston and Nicole Wallace reported yesterday that "In the year after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, Americans gave more than $1.4-billion to aid survivors and help the impoverished country rebuild, according to a Chronicle survey of 60 major relief organizations. Roughly 38 percent of that sum has been spent to provide recovery and rebuilding aid." They go on to say:

The share of Haiti donations that has been spent is roughly the same as the amount spent one year after the tsunamis. A year after Hurricane Katrina, charities had spent about 80 percent of donations.

But the percentage of funds spent in Haiti varies widely among organizations.

While a few charities have distributed all the money they raised, others have big sums still on hand. For example, by the end of November, the American Red Cross, in Washington, had committed $188-million of its $479-million in private donations. It expects to have committed $245-million by the one-year anniversary of the earthquake this month.

On Wednesday, the Disaster Accountability Project (DAP) issued a report entitled "One Year Followup Report on the Transparency of Relief Organizations Responding to the 2010 Haiti Earthquake"

seek[ing] to determine (1) Whether 196 organizations that solicited donations for Haiti disaster relief produced regular, factual reports on their activities; and, if so (2) How comprehensive, frequent, factual, and publicly accessible such reports were. (3) Determine how much money has been raised for Haiti relief, how much of that has been spent, and on what (i.e., healthcare, food, clean water, etc.).

The findings? According to DAP’s press release:

Read more...

 

 
Haitian Presidents: When In Doubt, Fly 'Em Out? Print
Monday, 03 January 2011 17:14

Ricardo Seitenfus, the Organization of American States' Special Representative in Haiti, seems to have lost his job after an interview in which he sharply criticized the role of MINUSTAH, and NGO’s, in Haiti (in a December 29 interview he said he had received no official word of his status).

The story of Seitenfus' controversial comments has gone all but completely unnoticed by the U.S. media, and one remark in particular has been completely ignored. In an interview with BBC Brasil, Seitenfus revealed that diplomats proposed Preval’s forced removal – a suggestion that Seitenfus says he found shocking (Google translation):

In addition, on November 28, election day, was discussed at the meeting of Core Group (donor countries, UN and OAS), something that seemed just creepy. Some representatives suggested that President Rene Preval should leave the country and we should think of an airplane for that. I heard it and was appalled.

The prime minister of Haiti, Jean-Max Bellerive, and soon arrived said he did not count on any solution to the margins of the Constitution and asked if the term of President Preval was being negotiated. It was a silence in the room.

Seitenfus seemed especially shocked by the reaction of his superiors at the OAS to this proposal of what would be a clear violation of the Inter-American Democratic Charter and of Haiti’s sovereignty (Google translation):

Beside me was [Albert Ramdin], deputy secretary of the OAS, ie I could not speak, as the OAS was being represented by him. But face to silence him and the rest, I asked to speak and remembered the existence of the Democratic Charter and that any discussion on the mandate of President Preval, to me it would be a coup. I was very surprised with the fact that Deputy Secretary of the OAS to remain silent before the possibility of shortening the term of a legitimately elected president.

Read more...

 

 
Recount and Review of Haiti’s Election Tally Shows Massive Irregularities Print
Thursday, 30 December 2010 17:21

The Center for Economic and Policy Research put out the following press release today:

Recount and Review of Haiti’s Election Tally Shows Massive Irregularities

 

Election Outcome In Doubt

WASHINGTON - December 30 - An independent recount and review of 11,171 tally sheets from Haiti’s November 28 election shows that the outcome of the election is indeterminate. The review, conducted by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), found massive irregularities and errors in the tally. A report detailing the recount’s findings, and methodology, will be made available next week.

“With so many irregularities, errors, and fraudulent vote totals, it is impossible to say what the results of this election really are,” said Mark Weisbrot, economist and CEPR Co-Director.

“If the Organization of American States certifies this election, this would be a political decision, having nothing to do with election monitoring,” said Weisbrot. “They would lose all credibility as a neutral election-monitoring organization.”

Among the preliminary findings:

•    While OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that “Nearly 4 percent of polling place tally sheets used to calculate the results were thrown out for alleged fraud at the tabulation center,” the actual number is closer to 12 percent. CEPR found that 11.9 percent (1,324) of the tally sheets were either never received by the CEP (Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council) or were quarantined by the CEP due to irregularities.  These tally sheets added up to more than 15 percent of the total votes counted.

Read more...

 

 
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