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Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction

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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:

Read more...

 

 
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.

 
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.

Read more...

 

 
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.

Read more...

 

 
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.

Read more...

 

 
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...
 
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