Haiti Relief & Reconstruction Watch

Haiti Relief & Reconstruction Watch

Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch is a blog that tracks multinational aid efforts in Haiti with an eye towards ensuring they are oriented towards the needs of the Haitian people, and that aid is not used to undermine Haitians' right to self-determination.

A Look at the New Provisional Electoral Council

Haiti’s current Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), formed in late January, is the fourth incarnation of an electoral council since Martelly’s ascension to the presidency in 2011. With elections delayed over three years, parliament ceasing to function and the country run by a de facto government, the current CEP will have a large role in leading the country to elections and a restoration of constitutional rule. “Fair elections will require an impartial, independent and constitutional CEP to facilitate the free participation of all political parties,” wrote the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) last month.

While the formation of previous electoral councils did not follow Article 289 of the Haitian constitution (Martelly originally wanted to form a permanent electoral council that is subject to different provisions, for background on this, see here), the current one hews more closely to what is outlined there. Nine representatives from various sectors of civil society nominated representatives to the CEP, which were then ratified by the President. However, as IJDH points out, the process “deviated from the relevant constitutional provisions in several respects, including the participation of new civil society groups, and prohibiting the participation of government agents and political parties.” Further, the political accord outlining this new process never received parliamentary approval. Another aspect that differs from what is outlined in Article 289 is that Martelly requested each of the nine sectors to submit two names for the CEP. The executive branch would then be able to choose one of them for the post. While not called for in the constitution, this is a similar process as was used to form the previous CEP under Preval, which oversaw the flawed 2010 elections.

The electoral council is tasked with drafting the electoral law, which will govern the upcoming and as yet unscheduled elections. One of the key questions the CEP must address is whether one or two elections will be held in 2015. President Martelly has called for a first election in May, to elect a new legislature, followed by presidential elections toward the end of the year.  In a meeting Wednesday with some of the remaining 10 senators in Haiti’s parliament, U.S. Ambassador White reportedly stated her belief that partial elections could be held as early as July. There is also the question of inclusiveness; during the last election, political parties were arbitrarily excluded from the balloting and previous electoral councils under Martelly had been criticized for also blocking full participation in elections.

The international community will also play a key role in the functioning of the CEP, as foreign donors will be paying nearly the entire cost of elections. After a visit from the United Nations Security Council, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power briefed the Security Council, stating, “The provisional council is charged with developing a framework for the elections crucial to Haiti’s stability. We were impressed with the electoral council’s seriousness of purpose and commitment to independence, and we offered its members our full support.”

For the first time since the CEP’s formation two weeks ago, some news on its work emerged today from an exclusive interview from an anonymous member of the CEP with Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste. A press conference next Tuesday, February 10, is also expected, according to Le Nouvelliste (UPDATE: the CEP issued a press release today announcing a press conference for February 10. The release states that they will outline the electoral calendar among other announcements). The member told the paper that a draft electoral law was nearly complete and would soon be sent to Martelly for publication in Le Moniteur, the official gazette laws are published. Normally an electoral law would have to be passed by parliament, thus calling into question its legal viability. Since at least early November, the U.S. government has considered the expiration of parliamentarians’ terms to be a foregone conclusion; however they have consistently stated their belief that Martelly would only use his executive powers to hold an election and not to push through other, unpopular measures.

The anonymous council member told Le Nouvelliste that it was as yet undecided if the electoral law would provide for two elections this year or just one. Haiti’s National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH) released a statement earlier this week acknowledging the key role of the CEP in leading the country out of the current crisis, but warning that it should not simply move the crisis from pre-election to post-election. “The current political situation can never justify the implementation of rushed elections whose results will not necessarily resolve the pre-electoral crisis plaguing the country,” RNDDH said. An election for election’s sake will not solve the problem.

Further, some 20 human rights organizations issued a statement last week declaring that the current government is unconstitutional, but also that elections must be held as soon as possible. The organizations added, “But much is left to be done. Because the elections must be free and without violence, honest and without fraudulence, democratic and without harmful influences, and above all they must be independent and free of foreign meddling during the results.” Some sectors of civil society have also raised concerns with their representatives to the council. Vodou and peasant groups were tasked with naming one representative, but the Vodou groups have stated they do not agree with the council member chosen in the process. The Council of the State University of Haiti, one of two education groups tasked with naming a representative, and Haitian Women’s Solidarity, one of two women’s groups responsible, have also expressed their disagreement with their respective choices. Nevertheless, opposition political parties have expressed measured optimism that the new CEP will allow for credible elections. 

A previous version of the CEP had given political parties one week to register for elections, in June of 2014, however many parties did not register as they did not recognize the institution’s legitimacy. Though many hope the new CEP will provide for an inclusive election, Le Nouvelliste reports, “Our source was not able to say whether the new CEP would consider the 100 political parties that already registered under Emmanuel Ménard and Fritzo Canton, the two former presidents of the CEP, or whether the registrations would be open to all political organizations.” Any electoral law that does not reopen party registration is sure to be seen as illegitimate.

An interesting development with the current CEP is that the president, Pierre Louis Opont, served as Director General of the CEP during the 2010 election. In her insider account of the election and the intervention of the international community, Ginette Cherubin, a member of that CEP, had a generally favorable view of Opont. As opposed to much of the CEP, which she saw as beholden to President Preval, Opont appeared more independent. Cherubin recounts a conversation between Opont and then-head of MINUSTAH, Edmond Mulet, on the day of the election. According to Cherubin, Mulet told Opont that the international community would not accept Jude Célestin moving to the second round of the election, while Opont countered that the CEP had not received all the votes yet, and refused to comply with Mulet’s orders. Eventually Martelly would replace Célestin in the second round after a mission from the Organization of American States visited the country. (for more on this aspect of the 2010 election, see here).

However, some questions have been raised about Opont’s independence in the current CEP. Opont was nominated by the business sector, which was coordinated by the Private Sector Economic Forum. Sitting on the board of directors at the business grouping is Reginald Boulos. Boulos was also the coordinator for the Presidential Advisory Commission which recommended the resignation of Prime Minister Lamothe and the formation of a new CEP in December 2014. Boulos has remained a close advisor to President Martelly since.  Another member of that advisory commission, Evans Paul, is the current Prime Minister. According to a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks, Opont previously was “Finance Director for the Centers for Health Development (a private network of health clinics run by the Boulos family), and was Finance and Administrative Director for the Canape Vert Hospital, also in the private sector.” Interestingly, the two nominations from the private sector were Opont, and Leopold Berlanger, who was parliament’s representative to a previous CEP and has been critical of Martelly in the past. It is therefore no surprise that Martelly would choose Opont over Berlanger.

Two weeks after its formation, there remain more questions than answers about the current CEP and its ability to lead free, fair and inclusive elections. Today, a round table discussion took place at Quisqeya University with featured speakers (the previously mentioned) Ginette Cherubin; Ricardo Seitenfus, the OAS representative in Haiti who blew the whistle on electoral interference in 2010; and current CEP President Opont. According to journalist Amelie Baron, while discussing electoral problems in Haiti, Opont stated, “The Provisional Electoral Council is judge and jury.”

Haiti’s current Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), formed in late January, is the fourth incarnation of an electoral council since Martelly’s ascension to the presidency in 2011. With elections delayed over three years, parliament ceasing to function and the country run by a de facto government, the current CEP will have a large role in leading the country to elections and a restoration of constitutional rule. “Fair elections will require an impartial, independent and constitutional CEP to facilitate the free participation of all political parties,” wrote the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) last month.

While the formation of previous electoral councils did not follow Article 289 of the Haitian constitution (Martelly originally wanted to form a permanent electoral council that is subject to different provisions, for background on this, see here), the current one hews more closely to what is outlined there. Nine representatives from various sectors of civil society nominated representatives to the CEP, which were then ratified by the President. However, as IJDH points out, the process “deviated from the relevant constitutional provisions in several respects, including the participation of new civil society groups, and prohibiting the participation of government agents and political parties.” Further, the political accord outlining this new process never received parliamentary approval. Another aspect that differs from what is outlined in Article 289 is that Martelly requested each of the nine sectors to submit two names for the CEP. The executive branch would then be able to choose one of them for the post. While not called for in the constitution, this is a similar process as was used to form the previous CEP under Preval, which oversaw the flawed 2010 elections.

The electoral council is tasked with drafting the electoral law, which will govern the upcoming and as yet unscheduled elections. One of the key questions the CEP must address is whether one or two elections will be held in 2015. President Martelly has called for a first election in May, to elect a new legislature, followed by presidential elections toward the end of the year.  In a meeting Wednesday with some of the remaining 10 senators in Haiti’s parliament, U.S. Ambassador White reportedly stated her belief that partial elections could be held as early as July. There is also the question of inclusiveness; during the last election, political parties were arbitrarily excluded from the balloting and previous electoral councils under Martelly had been criticized for also blocking full participation in elections.

The international community will also play a key role in the functioning of the CEP, as foreign donors will be paying nearly the entire cost of elections. After a visit from the United Nations Security Council, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power briefed the Security Council, stating, “The provisional council is charged with developing a framework for the elections crucial to Haiti’s stability. We were impressed with the electoral council’s seriousness of purpose and commitment to independence, and we offered its members our full support.”

For the first time since the CEP’s formation two weeks ago, some news on its work emerged today from an exclusive interview from an anonymous member of the CEP with Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste. A press conference next Tuesday, February 10, is also expected, according to Le Nouvelliste (UPDATE: the CEP issued a press release today announcing a press conference for February 10. The release states that they will outline the electoral calendar among other announcements). The member told the paper that a draft electoral law was nearly complete and would soon be sent to Martelly for publication in Le Moniteur, the official gazette laws are published. Normally an electoral law would have to be passed by parliament, thus calling into question its legal viability. Since at least early November, the U.S. government has considered the expiration of parliamentarians’ terms to be a foregone conclusion; however they have consistently stated their belief that Martelly would only use his executive powers to hold an election and not to push through other, unpopular measures.

The anonymous council member told Le Nouvelliste that it was as yet undecided if the electoral law would provide for two elections this year or just one. Haiti’s National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH) released a statement earlier this week acknowledging the key role of the CEP in leading the country out of the current crisis, but warning that it should not simply move the crisis from pre-election to post-election. “The current political situation can never justify the implementation of rushed elections whose results will not necessarily resolve the pre-electoral crisis plaguing the country,” RNDDH said. An election for election’s sake will not solve the problem.

Further, some 20 human rights organizations issued a statement last week declaring that the current government is unconstitutional, but also that elections must be held as soon as possible. The organizations added, “But much is left to be done. Because the elections must be free and without violence, honest and without fraudulence, democratic and without harmful influences, and above all they must be independent and free of foreign meddling during the results.” Some sectors of civil society have also raised concerns with their representatives to the council. Vodou and peasant groups were tasked with naming one representative, but the Vodou groups have stated they do not agree with the council member chosen in the process. The Council of the State University of Haiti, one of two education groups tasked with naming a representative, and Haitian Women’s Solidarity, one of two women’s groups responsible, have also expressed their disagreement with their respective choices. Nevertheless, opposition political parties have expressed measured optimism that the new CEP will allow for credible elections. 

A previous version of the CEP had given political parties one week to register for elections, in June of 2014, however many parties did not register as they did not recognize the institution’s legitimacy. Though many hope the new CEP will provide for an inclusive election, Le Nouvelliste reports, “Our source was not able to say whether the new CEP would consider the 100 political parties that already registered under Emmanuel Ménard and Fritzo Canton, the two former presidents of the CEP, or whether the registrations would be open to all political organizations.” Any electoral law that does not reopen party registration is sure to be seen as illegitimate.

An interesting development with the current CEP is that the president, Pierre Louis Opont, served as Director General of the CEP during the 2010 election. In her insider account of the election and the intervention of the international community, Ginette Cherubin, a member of that CEP, had a generally favorable view of Opont. As opposed to much of the CEP, which she saw as beholden to President Preval, Opont appeared more independent. Cherubin recounts a conversation between Opont and then-head of MINUSTAH, Edmond Mulet, on the day of the election. According to Cherubin, Mulet told Opont that the international community would not accept Jude Célestin moving to the second round of the election, while Opont countered that the CEP had not received all the votes yet, and refused to comply with Mulet’s orders. Eventually Martelly would replace Célestin in the second round after a mission from the Organization of American States visited the country. (for more on this aspect of the 2010 election, see here).

However, some questions have been raised about Opont’s independence in the current CEP. Opont was nominated by the business sector, which was coordinated by the Private Sector Economic Forum. Sitting on the board of directors at the business grouping is Reginald Boulos. Boulos was also the coordinator for the Presidential Advisory Commission which recommended the resignation of Prime Minister Lamothe and the formation of a new CEP in December 2014. Boulos has remained a close advisor to President Martelly since.  Another member of that advisory commission, Evans Paul, is the current Prime Minister. According to a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks, Opont previously was “Finance Director for the Centers for Health Development (a private network of health clinics run by the Boulos family), and was Finance and Administrative Director for the Canape Vert Hospital, also in the private sector.” Interestingly, the two nominations from the private sector were Opont, and Leopold Berlanger, who was parliament’s representative to a previous CEP and has been critical of Martelly in the past. It is therefore no surprise that Martelly would choose Opont over Berlanger.

Two weeks after its formation, there remain more questions than answers about the current CEP and its ability to lead free, fair and inclusive elections. Today, a round table discussion took place at Quisqeya University with featured speakers (the previously mentioned) Ginette Cherubin; Ricardo Seitenfus, the OAS representative in Haiti who blew the whistle on electoral interference in 2010; and current CEP President Opont. According to journalist Amelie Baron, while discussing electoral problems in Haiti, Opont stated, “The Provisional Electoral Council is judge and jury.”

In July of 2014, Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald reported on then Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe’s “Hillary Clinton”–style campaigning:

But Lamothe’s schedule reflects a Hillary Clinton-like method of raising a future candidate’s profile without officially announcing for office. And that is prompting concern and panic in Haiti where observers say the presidential posturing is intensifying a crisis prompted by legislative and local elections that are three years behind schedule.

In order to run, Lamothe would need certification that he has not misused government funds. But the opposition-controlled Senate is unlikely to support giving him the décharge, leaving opponents and some supporters of President Michel Martelly to see delaying the Oct. 26 elections until next year as key. Martelly will rule by decree, practically guaranteeing that Lamothe will get the needed clearance. Opponents believe the delay would lead to Martelly’s downfall.

Six months later and indeed the long overdue elections remain unscheduled, and the entire lower chamber and an additional one-third of the Senate’s terms expired earlier this month. That has left Martelly to rule by decree until elections are held. As for Lamothe’s presidential candidacy, after his resignation in December, he told Charles:

“We wanted to show people what progress was happening in the country and of course that led to a misperception that I am trying to run for president…I always said it, I told that to the president, I told that to the press, I was always clear I was not a presidential candidate.”

Today, the Nouvelliste reports that one of the ten remaining senators, seen as close to Martelly, Andris Riche, has made a request to the relevant authorities to obtain the décharge for Lamothe.

In July of 2014, Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald reported on then Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe’s “Hillary Clinton”–style campaigning:

But Lamothe’s schedule reflects a Hillary Clinton-like method of raising a future candidate’s profile without officially announcing for office. And that is prompting concern and panic in Haiti where observers say the presidential posturing is intensifying a crisis prompted by legislative and local elections that are three years behind schedule.

In order to run, Lamothe would need certification that he has not misused government funds. But the opposition-controlled Senate is unlikely to support giving him the décharge, leaving opponents and some supporters of President Michel Martelly to see delaying the Oct. 26 elections until next year as key. Martelly will rule by decree, practically guaranteeing that Lamothe will get the needed clearance. Opponents believe the delay would lead to Martelly’s downfall.

Six months later and indeed the long overdue elections remain unscheduled, and the entire lower chamber and an additional one-third of the Senate’s terms expired earlier this month. That has left Martelly to rule by decree until elections are held. As for Lamothe’s presidential candidacy, after his resignation in December, he told Charles:

“We wanted to show people what progress was happening in the country and of course that led to a misperception that I am trying to run for president…I always said it, I told that to the president, I told that to the press, I was always clear I was not a presidential candidate.”

Today, the Nouvelliste reports that one of the ten remaining senators, seen as close to Martelly, Andris Riche, has made a request to the relevant authorities to obtain the décharge for Lamothe.

Yesterday, Radio Kiskeya made public a letter from leaders of the station to Lucien Jura, spokesperson of the presidency, alleging that President Martelly had personally given cash to journalists at a meeting in December. The letter begins:

Radio Tele Kiskeya hereby wishes to protest – to the president of the Republic and to you [presidential spokesperson Lucien Jura] in particular – the ignoble act of corruption that you were both responsible for last December 23 when, following a reception which you invited journalists with National Palace accreditation to, you delivered envelopes to them containing fifty thousand gourdes (50,000.00 Gdes) and forty thousand gourdes (40,000.00 Gdes). 

According to the information received from the concerned parties, the president of the Republic, Michel Joseph Martelly, personally offered them “a little gift that’s so modest that it’s not worth mentioning.” Subsequently, he referred them to his spokesperson, Lucien JURA, and to Esther FATAL, head of the communication office of the Presidency, who personally delivered to each one of them the ignoble seal [envelope with presidential seal] beneath the glare of the palace cameras.

The letter reports that 3 Radio Kiskeya journalists received the payment and have been “severely sanctioned.” The letter continues, writing that the actions at the National Palace reflect “the general level of deterioration of moral values at both the state level and within all of society, including the press unfortunately.”

Today, Shearon Roberts, an assistant professor of Mass Communication at Xavier University of Louisiana, writes about the situation facing Haitian journalists, five years after the earthquake:

Haiti’s media landscape had been divided before the earthquake along political lines. The disaster brought media factions together as news organizations faced limited resources, ongoing political-socio-economic crises and a strong adversary in the government of President Michel Martelly.

“The Haitian state does not want freedom of the press that is not in their interest,” said Liliane Pierre-Paul, president of the Association National de Médias Haïtiens (ANMH), Haiti’s largest media organization. “They do no wish to respect transparency. They do no want to have awareness among the population, and they do not approve of our reporting that denounces their behavior in government.”

The government often takes weeks to get back to Haitian journalists, while in the meantime granting interviews to international journalists, Roberts reports. In some cases critical journalists have been barred from press conferences and are obstructed in efforts to obtain information. While less brutal than under Duvalier, Roberts writes that “the current tactics employed by the Haitian state and its supporters have served to dissuade journalists from critical, advocacy, and investigative journalism that could change the current conditions of ordinary Haitians or the existing political status quo.”

In addition to the State, NGOs have also played a detrimental role according to Roberts’ report:

Haitian news organizations now face a strong competitor in non-governmental agencies who would like to hire journalists with talents, said Max Chauvet, the owner of Le Nouvelliste, Haiti’s oldest newspaper and current paper of record.

The millions of international aid that flows to non-governmental organizations mean that radio stations receive more advertisements from NGOs and that NGOs, in turn, seek out Haitian journalists as employees, Chauvet said.

Haitian news organizations are outnumbered 10 to 1 by NGOs who seek to communicate their agenda across the airwaves, in print and in broadcast ads that read like news articles.

“They have the means that we don’t have, so it is gonna be a tough fight. We can only influence the government,” Chauvet said.

Roberts’ article, which was based on interviews with Haitian journalists conducted since 2013, also takes a look at the impact of Ayiti Kale Je, “a consortium of alternative and community news networks,” that produced over 30 investigative reports. The reports influenced mainstream coverage and were distributed widely through radio broadcasts as well. A full list of Ayiti Kale Je investigations can be found here.

Yesterday, Radio Kiskeya made public a letter from leaders of the station to Lucien Jura, spokesperson of the presidency, alleging that President Martelly had personally given cash to journalists at a meeting in December. The letter begins:

Radio Tele Kiskeya hereby wishes to protest – to the president of the Republic and to you [presidential spokesperson Lucien Jura] in particular – the ignoble act of corruption that you were both responsible for last December 23 when, following a reception which you invited journalists with National Palace accreditation to, you delivered envelopes to them containing fifty thousand gourdes (50,000.00 Gdes) and forty thousand gourdes (40,000.00 Gdes). 

According to the information received from the concerned parties, the president of the Republic, Michel Joseph Martelly, personally offered them “a little gift that’s so modest that it’s not worth mentioning.” Subsequently, he referred them to his spokesperson, Lucien JURA, and to Esther FATAL, head of the communication office of the Presidency, who personally delivered to each one of them the ignoble seal [envelope with presidential seal] beneath the glare of the palace cameras.

The letter reports that 3 Radio Kiskeya journalists received the payment and have been “severely sanctioned.” The letter continues, writing that the actions at the National Palace reflect “the general level of deterioration of moral values at both the state level and within all of society, including the press unfortunately.”

Today, Shearon Roberts, an assistant professor of Mass Communication at Xavier University of Louisiana, writes about the situation facing Haitian journalists, five years after the earthquake:

Haiti’s media landscape had been divided before the earthquake along political lines. The disaster brought media factions together as news organizations faced limited resources, ongoing political-socio-economic crises and a strong adversary in the government of President Michel Martelly.

“The Haitian state does not want freedom of the press that is not in their interest,” said Liliane Pierre-Paul, president of the Association National de Médias Haïtiens (ANMH), Haiti’s largest media organization. “They do no wish to respect transparency. They do no want to have awareness among the population, and they do not approve of our reporting that denounces their behavior in government.”

The government often takes weeks to get back to Haitian journalists, while in the meantime granting interviews to international journalists, Roberts reports. In some cases critical journalists have been barred from press conferences and are obstructed in efforts to obtain information. While less brutal than under Duvalier, Roberts writes that “the current tactics employed by the Haitian state and its supporters have served to dissuade journalists from critical, advocacy, and investigative journalism that could change the current conditions of ordinary Haitians or the existing political status quo.”

In addition to the State, NGOs have also played a detrimental role according to Roberts’ report:

Haitian news organizations now face a strong competitor in non-governmental agencies who would like to hire journalists with talents, said Max Chauvet, the owner of Le Nouvelliste, Haiti’s oldest newspaper and current paper of record.

The millions of international aid that flows to non-governmental organizations mean that radio stations receive more advertisements from NGOs and that NGOs, in turn, seek out Haitian journalists as employees, Chauvet said.

Haitian news organizations are outnumbered 10 to 1 by NGOs who seek to communicate their agenda across the airwaves, in print and in broadcast ads that read like news articles.

“They have the means that we don’t have, so it is gonna be a tough fight. We can only influence the government,” Chauvet said.

Roberts’ article, which was based on interviews with Haitian journalists conducted since 2013, also takes a look at the impact of Ayiti Kale Je, “a consortium of alternative and community news networks,” that produced over 30 investigative reports. The reports influenced mainstream coverage and were distributed widely through radio broadcasts as well. A full list of Ayiti Kale Je investigations can be found here.

A United Nations Security Council delegation is set to arrive in Haiti beginning a three-day visit to discuss the ongoing political crisis in the country. Thousands of protesters, who have taken to the streets of the capital to call for the president’s resignation, planned to go to the airport to greet the visiting members.  On Monday, Haiti’s Foreign Minister, Duly Brutus addressed the Security Council in New York, asking for “the Security Council as well as all of our partners in the international community to continue to back the government” of President Martelly.

But the international community’s overt support for Martelly has already had a negative impact on the political crisis, as Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald reported earlier this week:  

The U.S. had hoped a last-minute deal brokered between Martelly and several opposition political parties would have allowed for lawmakers’ terms to be extended for up to four months, and an electoral law to be passed. But parliament dissolved before either measures could be voted after pro and anti-Martelly senators failed to show up to provide the necessary 16 member quorum.

Biden commended Martelly’s “efforts to reach a negotiated agreement,” while recognizing that he had “made several important concessions in order to reach consensus, and expressed disappointment that Haiti’s Parliament did not pass an electoral law before lapsing on January 12,” said the statement from the White House.

Hours before the signing of the deal, the U.S. Embassy issued a press release stating U.S. support for Martelly should he have to rule by decree. Many believed that statement, and later U.S. Ambassador Pamela White’s appearance in the parliament chambers on the night of the aborted vote, were deal changers that helped encourage senators not to show up. Both were widely condemned as un-welcomed interference in Haitian domestic politics.

In an op-ed in the Miami Herald, Nicole Phillips and Morenike Fajanaand of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, respectively, offer up some context for the current political impasse:

Stalled elections have put Haiti’s democracy in jeopardy. As a result of elections delays, some for more than three years, Parliament is no longer operational. All of Parliament except for 10 Senate seats are vacant, and all elected municipal officials have been replaced with executive branch appointees, allowing President Martelly to run the country without any checks or balances.

The causes of this impasse are complex. Although blame has been cast widely, in Haiti, more often than not the fingers are pointed at the president. Over the past four years, President Martelly has proposed a series of electoral councils to run the voting, each of which fell short of constitutional requirements and gave the president significant leverage over the supposedly independent council. His government has also arrested many political opponents and protestors on flimsy evidence.

The international community, by contrast, has publicly supported President Martelly’s electoral councils and blamed members of Parliament for using legislative procedures to block the unconstitutional councils.

Given that backdrop, the authors write:

If the U.N. Security Council and the rest of the international community want to contribute to a sustainable solution to Haiti’s political crisis, they will encourage all sides to respect the rules of the democratic game, not act as cheerleaders for one player.

Respecting the rules means installing an electoral council that complies as much as is now possible with the Constitution and runs fair elections that allow the free participation of all political parties.

Also today, members of the new Provisional Electoral Council will be sworn in. The nine members were set to be inaugurated last night, but “technical issues beyond the control of the Government and the CEP,” resulted in a delay until today. There were reports that certain sectors had disagreed over nominations, but it appears the CEP, as named yesterday, will indeed be installed today. Yet to be seen is if the CEP will be seen as a neutral and impartial actor in scheduling elections. Or if the Security Council is willing to truly act as an independent mediator in the current crisis. 

A United Nations Security Council delegation is set to arrive in Haiti beginning a three-day visit to discuss the ongoing political crisis in the country. Thousands of protesters, who have taken to the streets of the capital to call for the president’s resignation, planned to go to the airport to greet the visiting members.  On Monday, Haiti’s Foreign Minister, Duly Brutus addressed the Security Council in New York, asking for “the Security Council as well as all of our partners in the international community to continue to back the government” of President Martelly.

But the international community’s overt support for Martelly has already had a negative impact on the political crisis, as Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald reported earlier this week:  

The U.S. had hoped a last-minute deal brokered between Martelly and several opposition political parties would have allowed for lawmakers’ terms to be extended for up to four months, and an electoral law to be passed. But parliament dissolved before either measures could be voted after pro and anti-Martelly senators failed to show up to provide the necessary 16 member quorum.

Biden commended Martelly’s “efforts to reach a negotiated agreement,” while recognizing that he had “made several important concessions in order to reach consensus, and expressed disappointment that Haiti’s Parliament did not pass an electoral law before lapsing on January 12,” said the statement from the White House.

Hours before the signing of the deal, the U.S. Embassy issued a press release stating U.S. support for Martelly should he have to rule by decree. Many believed that statement, and later U.S. Ambassador Pamela White’s appearance in the parliament chambers on the night of the aborted vote, were deal changers that helped encourage senators not to show up. Both were widely condemned as un-welcomed interference in Haitian domestic politics.

In an op-ed in the Miami Herald, Nicole Phillips and Morenike Fajanaand of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, respectively, offer up some context for the current political impasse:

Stalled elections have put Haiti’s democracy in jeopardy. As a result of elections delays, some for more than three years, Parliament is no longer operational. All of Parliament except for 10 Senate seats are vacant, and all elected municipal officials have been replaced with executive branch appointees, allowing President Martelly to run the country without any checks or balances.

The causes of this impasse are complex. Although blame has been cast widely, in Haiti, more often than not the fingers are pointed at the president. Over the past four years, President Martelly has proposed a series of electoral councils to run the voting, each of which fell short of constitutional requirements and gave the president significant leverage over the supposedly independent council. His government has also arrested many political opponents and protestors on flimsy evidence.

The international community, by contrast, has publicly supported President Martelly’s electoral councils and blamed members of Parliament for using legislative procedures to block the unconstitutional councils.

Given that backdrop, the authors write:

If the U.N. Security Council and the rest of the international community want to contribute to a sustainable solution to Haiti’s political crisis, they will encourage all sides to respect the rules of the democratic game, not act as cheerleaders for one player.

Respecting the rules means installing an electoral council that complies as much as is now possible with the Constitution and runs fair elections that allow the free participation of all political parties.

Also today, members of the new Provisional Electoral Council will be sworn in. The nine members were set to be inaugurated last night, but “technical issues beyond the control of the Government and the CEP,” resulted in a delay until today. There were reports that certain sectors had disagreed over nominations, but it appears the CEP, as named yesterday, will indeed be installed today. Yet to be seen is if the CEP will be seen as a neutral and impartial actor in scheduling elections. Or if the Security Council is willing to truly act as an independent mediator in the current crisis. 

Last July, in a stirring and rare demonstration of bipartisanship, the U.S. House and the Senate passed a bill dedicated to increasing transparency and accountability around the billions of dollars of U.S. government funds allocated to assistance to Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake.  On August 8, President Obama signed the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act and the clock began ticking down for the State Department to produce the first of several comprehensive reports detailing the government’s assistance efforts, as mandated by the new law.

Assessing Progress instructed the State Department to complete a first report by the end of 2014.  While it’s not clear that that deadline was met, the Department’s Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator posted their report on their web page by the time the fifth anniversary of Haiti’s earthquake rolled around on January 12.

The reporting requirements outlined in Assessing Progress are far-reaching and fairly concrete.  It’s therefore not surprising that the report is truly massive in size, consisting of a general report on the results of U.S. assistance to Haiti and 17 attachments, many of which are PDFs of spreadsheets containing detailed quantitative and qualitative information about U.S. aid programs.

The question is: Is all of this information useful to those seeking an answer to the oft-repeated question, “Where did the money go?”  The answer is undoubtedly yes, but it doesn’t take more than a rapid survey of the report to see that the information provided is, in many cases, incomplete.  Furthermore, there are instances where State’s reporting may formally comply with the letter of the law, but not with its clear intent of providing lawmakers and the public with a better idea of the concrete results of U.S. Haiti assistance.

We’re not going to attempt a thorough analysis of this report at this time.  A rigorous and complete assessment requires considerable input from stakeholders, in particular those on the ground in Haiti.  For now we’ll share a few general observations regarding the report’s contents, highlighting what we see as the good, the bad and the murky.

Let’s start with one of the good things. For years now, CEPR and other groups have been trying to uncover where U.S. assistance funds have been going [PDF] after they are channeled to USAID’s primary implementing partners.  To begin answering that question one needs to know who are the “subprime” agents, – i.e., what companies and organizations these primary partners are contracting with – but despite innumerable direct queries to USAID and Freedom of Information Act requests, it was previously impossible to access this information. 

Attachment B of the State Department’s report contains a long-concealed treasure trove of data that includes the names of hundreds of subprime level partners involved in executing USAID projects, along with the exact amounts disbursed to these partners.  While further digging is still required in order to extract useful information – for instance, regarding the nationalities and specific operations of the subprime partners – the Attachment provides a lot of key information for researchers to work with.

So, what exactly is covered in Attachment B? It lists 217 prime awardees, broken down by sector (Health & Disabilities, Health, Food Security, Multi-Sector, Governance & Rule of Law, Economic Security, Energy, Education, Shelter, Ports) and by specific project. Each entry also includes a brief description of the project. Overall, the report shows that USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and State/Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs have committed $2,078,594,265, obligated $1,574,840,952 and that contractors and grantees have actually disbursed $1,243,119,413. The total reported amount that has gone to subcontractors is $252,828,953. The State Department earlier reported that $84 million went to local subcontractors, though there is no way to confirm that with the data provided.

It’s important to emphasize that the data provided in Attachment B allows for only a partial assessment of USAID’s current and recent programs in Haiti. There is no information on benchmarks or results of specific programs, making an assessment of their respective successes or failures impossible without considerable follow-up on the ground. Furthermore, with no specific contract or grant numbers provided, comparing this list with other publically available data, such as on USASpending.gov, remains a highly complex task.

Still, Attachment B of the report is a milestone in the fight for accountability and transparency around U.S. assistance, not just assistance to Haiti but U.S. assistance more generally.  For many years, USAID and State would only provide subprime data on a piecemeal basis.  Now – and for the next three years – USAID is legally obliged to provide this information for their work in Haiti.  As a result, the U.S. government is now offering an example of aid transparency, one that it can hopefully be persuaded to implement for all of its foreign assistance programs. 

But there is much more in this report that is worth commenting on, even if only briefly.  So, stay posted for more analysis of the first Assessing Progress report in the Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog. 

Last July, in a stirring and rare demonstration of bipartisanship, the U.S. House and the Senate passed a bill dedicated to increasing transparency and accountability around the billions of dollars of U.S. government funds allocated to assistance to Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake.  On August 8, President Obama signed the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act and the clock began ticking down for the State Department to produce the first of several comprehensive reports detailing the government’s assistance efforts, as mandated by the new law.

Assessing Progress instructed the State Department to complete a first report by the end of 2014.  While it’s not clear that that deadline was met, the Department’s Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator posted their report on their web page by the time the fifth anniversary of Haiti’s earthquake rolled around on January 12.

The reporting requirements outlined in Assessing Progress are far-reaching and fairly concrete.  It’s therefore not surprising that the report is truly massive in size, consisting of a general report on the results of U.S. assistance to Haiti and 17 attachments, many of which are PDFs of spreadsheets containing detailed quantitative and qualitative information about U.S. aid programs.

The question is: Is all of this information useful to those seeking an answer to the oft-repeated question, “Where did the money go?”  The answer is undoubtedly yes, but it doesn’t take more than a rapid survey of the report to see that the information provided is, in many cases, incomplete.  Furthermore, there are instances where State’s reporting may formally comply with the letter of the law, but not with its clear intent of providing lawmakers and the public with a better idea of the concrete results of U.S. Haiti assistance.

We’re not going to attempt a thorough analysis of this report at this time.  A rigorous and complete assessment requires considerable input from stakeholders, in particular those on the ground in Haiti.  For now we’ll share a few general observations regarding the report’s contents, highlighting what we see as the good, the bad and the murky.

Let’s start with one of the good things. For years now, CEPR and other groups have been trying to uncover where U.S. assistance funds have been going [PDF] after they are channeled to USAID’s primary implementing partners.  To begin answering that question one needs to know who are the “subprime” agents, – i.e., what companies and organizations these primary partners are contracting with – but despite innumerable direct queries to USAID and Freedom of Information Act requests, it was previously impossible to access this information. 

Attachment B of the State Department’s report contains a long-concealed treasure trove of data that includes the names of hundreds of subprime level partners involved in executing USAID projects, along with the exact amounts disbursed to these partners.  While further digging is still required in order to extract useful information – for instance, regarding the nationalities and specific operations of the subprime partners – the Attachment provides a lot of key information for researchers to work with.

So, what exactly is covered in Attachment B? It lists 217 prime awardees, broken down by sector (Health & Disabilities, Health, Food Security, Multi-Sector, Governance & Rule of Law, Economic Security, Energy, Education, Shelter, Ports) and by specific project. Each entry also includes a brief description of the project. Overall, the report shows that USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and State/Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs have committed $2,078,594,265, obligated $1,574,840,952 and that contractors and grantees have actually disbursed $1,243,119,413. The total reported amount that has gone to subcontractors is $252,828,953. The State Department earlier reported that $84 million went to local subcontractors, though there is no way to confirm that with the data provided.

It’s important to emphasize that the data provided in Attachment B allows for only a partial assessment of USAID’s current and recent programs in Haiti. There is no information on benchmarks or results of specific programs, making an assessment of their respective successes or failures impossible without considerable follow-up on the ground. Furthermore, with no specific contract or grant numbers provided, comparing this list with other publically available data, such as on USASpending.gov, remains a highly complex task.

Still, Attachment B of the report is a milestone in the fight for accountability and transparency around U.S. assistance, not just assistance to Haiti but U.S. assistance more generally.  For many years, USAID and State would only provide subprime data on a piecemeal basis.  Now – and for the next three years – USAID is legally obliged to provide this information for their work in Haiti.  As a result, the U.S. government is now offering an example of aid transparency, one that it can hopefully be persuaded to implement for all of its foreign assistance programs. 

But there is much more in this report that is worth commenting on, even if only briefly.  So, stay posted for more analysis of the first Assessing Progress report in the Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog. 

(Updated January 20, 2015, 12:10 p.m. to include a response from the American Red Cross – see below.)

Two years ago, we noted that the American Red Cross’ (ARC) annual update on its response to the Haiti earthquake raised a number of questions, and seemed to provide less detailed information than earlier updates that the ARC had released. This year is little different: The ARC’s five-year update [PDF] is big on saying how many people have been “helped,” “reached” or are “benefiting” due to ARC activities, but few details are offered to explain exactly what this means. Since the ARC is far and away the top U.S. recipient [PDF] of funds for disaster response, and notably served as the go-to organization for millions of Americans who wanted to donate in the aftermath of the earthquake, transparency from the Red Cross is especially warranted.

The Red Cross’ update is overwhelmingly glowing and positive, and certainly the organization has had an impact through helping to build or repair hospitals and waste-water treatment facilities, among other concrete examples. While it may not be surprising for an organization to tout its achievements while downplaying (or ignoring) its shortcomings, considering past questions about its spending and documented problems with some of the ARC’s post-earthquake work in Haiti, an acknowledgment, at least, of “lessons learned” might not be out of place. Yet the ARC response to past criticism of its Haiti response has often been strongly defensive.

In her introductory note, ARC President and CEO Gail McGovern writes that the organization has or is now spending all of the donations it has received for the Haiti earthquake response: “We have spent or made commitments to spend all $488 million of these donations for the Haiti earthquake for projects and programs impacting more than 4.5 million Haitians.” What should be the final breakdown, then, of the ARC’s original earthquake response spending is only slightly different than the percentages the ARC reported two years ago [PDF]: 35 percent for shelter, 15 percent for health (excluding cholera), 14 percent for emergency relief, 11 percent for disaster preparedness, 10 percent for livelihoods, and 5 percent for cholera (which, as we have noted, continues to be a major health emergency in Haiti, killing hundreds of people last year). Yet how exactly these funds have been used, and how effective they have been, is unclear from the update. “4.2 million people benefiting from hygiene promotion activities,” and “3.5 million people benefiting from cholera prevention and outbreak response services” are just two examples of big numbers that the ARC mentions in the report, but “benefiting” is undefined. Further, there is little information provided as to whether these millions of people continue to benefit, whether the ARC’s investments are sustainable, and how the Haitian beneficiaries of joint projects the ARC has engaged in with other groups are counted (and whether each organization working in collaboration on such projects also counts each “beneficiary” its respective impact assessments).

We contacted the Red Cross and they explained further. Where the update states: “the American Red Cross has helped 132,000 Haitians to live in safer conditions—ranging from providing temporary homes and rental subsidies to repaired and new homes,” the ARC explained:

The 132,000 shelter beneficiaries are tallied from a number of housing and neighborhood recovery projects, not all of which were explicitly described in our 5-year report. As is a standard practice in counting shelter beneficiaries of international development projects and disaster response operations, the American Red Cross uses a multiplier of five people to estimate the average size of a typical Haitian household. The 15,000 housing units mentioned in the report, therefore, have benefited about 75,000 people.

In addition to the 27,000 people who have benefited from rental subsidies, the following indicators also feed into the 132,000 figure:

  • Households provided with repaired or retrofitted shelters
  • Households reached as part of a relocation support program
  • Community members trained in proper construction techniques

As for your assumption that our shelter figure includes “tents, tarps, and other types of emergency shelter” that we distributed alongside the global Red Cross network in the earthquake’s immediate aftermath, it does not.  

As with all of the numbers that we report, we always take the most conservative counts possible in order to reduce the risk of double counting beneficiaries.

Regarding the “3.5 million people benefiting from cholera prevention and outbreak response services,” the ARC replied:

There are several facets to our cholera work, and those 3.5 million people are tallied from nine different projects including activities ranging from administering cholera vaccines to providing treatment for symptoms. Each of these projects counts beneficiaries differently due to the diversity of beneficiary engagement. For instance, one project trained cholera response teams which were deployed into 50 camps in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas in order to help train camp residents on proper sanitation practices and educate them on how stem the spread of the disease. Additionally, the project set up oral rehydration points
which offered clean water and oral rehydration salts to help treat patients suffering from the disease. This particular project counted each person engaged in the sanitation education and each person that received rehydration salts. As with all of the numbers that we report, we always take the most conservative counts possible in order to reduce the risk of double counting beneficiaries. 

About the 4.2 million people benefiting from hygiene promotion activities, the 551,000 people “covered by disaster preparedness and risk reduction activities,” or the 867,000 people “benefiting from community health services”? Here the ARC didn’t break things down much further, although they did note that multipliers are used in some calculations, such as “development of family emergency plans,” while stressing, again, that estimates are “conservative” to avoid “double counting beneficiaries”:

As you can imagine, each sector’s beneficiaries are counted differently – depending upon the type of beneficiary engagement and the nature of the program. For example, disaster preparedness programming is rolled out through a spectrum of inter-related activities (designed to work in tandem) including various levels of training and community sensitization, household response planning, school-based programs, micro-mitigation projects, etc. While training activities—like risk assessment trainings—generally count heads, activities such as development of family emergency plans use a multiplier based on average household size. Each activity counts beneficiaries in specific ways with the intention, as stated above, to take the most conservative counts possible in order to reduce the risk of double counting beneficiaries.

If we compare the ARC update with their 2013 report, we can further measure some of the Red Cross’ reported achievements. The 2015 update states: “To date, we have enabled the construction, upgrading or repair of more than 15,000 transitional and permanent homes, and have helped more than 27,000 people by subsidizing their rent.” This would mean 1,000 “transitional and permanent homes” in the past two years, and 7,000 more people helped through rent subsidization. As we noted in our “Haiti by the Numbers, Five Years Later” post last week, and as described in detail in new reports from Amnesty International and Action Aid [PDF], some 80,000 people made homeless by the quake continue to live in tent camps, and the number would be much higher were it not for forced evictions carried out over the past five years. One thousand “transitional and permanent homes” in two years is not a big number compared to the need. Further, it would be useful to know how many of these homes were “transitional” and how many were “permanent” – numbers that the ARC should be able to provide. We know that the international response as a whole has managed to produce only a small number of new, “permanent” homes – less than 10,000.

Likewise, two years ago, the ARC wrote: “the American Red Cross has also spent more than $50 million on projects that have improved access to clean water and sanitation for 545,000 people.” The five-year update reports that “556,000 people [have benefited] from access to improved water and sanitation.” This would mean just 11,000 more people over two years, apparently at no additional cost to the Red Cross (the update describes, for example, money spent on the construction of the Morne-à-Cabrit waste-water treatment plant), since the amount the ARC says it has spent in this area is actually a smaller figure than in 2013 (the ARC says this is because “As needs and priorities change, we occasionally shift committed funds to a sector with the most need”). But, in fact, it appears to be 11,000 in one year, since the ARC reported the same 556,000 figure last year – meaning no additional people “benefited” from “improved water and sanitation” over the last year, according to the ARC’s updates.

As the Red Cross itself notes, “cholera is mainly transmitted through water and poor sanitary conditions” and the U.N. Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported a year ago that just “64% of the total population (77% in urban areas, 48% in rural areas), have access to safe drinking water 13; 26% have access to improved sanitation (34% in urban areas, and 17% in rural areas).” “Improved water and sanitation” are important, pressing needs in Haiti; if the Red Cross is no longer able to “benefit” people in these areas because it no longer has funds to spend on such clear, urgent needs, perhaps it should consider a new funding appeal.

The Haiti response update isn’t the only case of Red Cross opacity regarding its expenses. A recent ProPublica and NPR investigation found that while McGovern has publicly claimed that the organization spends 91 cents of every dollar donated on services, this is not true. Reporters Jesse Eisinger and Justin Elliott of ProPublica, and Laura Sullivan of NPR, write: “After inquiries by ProPublica and NPR, the Red Cross removed the statement from its website.” (While the ARC may have removed the 91 cents “donated” statement elsewhere from its site, its claim that “91 cents of every dollar spent by the American Red Cross goes directly to humanitarian services and programs” was still included in its update and its January 6, 2015 press release on its Haiti work; see the ProPublica/NPR article for an explanation of why that, too, may be misleading.)

Eisinger, Elliott and Sullivan write:

The Red Cross said the claim was not “as clear as it could have been, and we are clarifying the language.”

The Red Cross declined repeated requests to say the actual percentage of donor dollars going to humanitarian services.

But the charity’s own financial statements show that overhead expenses are significantly more than what McGovern and other Red Cross officials have claimed.

In recent years, the Red Cross’ fundraising expenses alone have been as high as 26 cents of every donated dollar, nearly three times the nine cents in overhead claimed by McGovern. In the past five years, fundraising expenses have averaged 17 cents per donated dollar.

But even that understates matters. Once donated dollars are in Red Cross hands, the charity spends additional money on “management and general” expenses, which includes things like back office accounting. That means the portion of donated dollars going to overhead is even higher.

Just how high is impossible to know because the Red Cross doesn’t break down its spending on overhead and declined ProPublica and NPR’s request to do so.  

The questions raised by ProPublica and NPR have prompted Senator Charles Grassley to also demand answers from the ARC, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy has listed it as one of seven “non-profit groups to watch in 2015” because of its battered image.


 UPDATE, January 20, 2015, 12:05 p.m.: American Red Cross spokesperson Jenelle Eli sent HRRW the following response on January 20, 2015 (emphasis in the original):

The American Red Cross 5-year Haiti update provides an overview of our work in the country since January 2010. Rather than list the 100+ projects we’ve undertaken, the 8-page document offers a summary of how the American Red Cross has used generous donations to improve the lives of Haitians affected by the quake.

We are proud of our accomplishments in Haiti, while being keenly aware that there is still a lot of work to be done. That’s why we continue to invest in shelter, livelihoods, water & sanitation, disaster preparedness, health, and cholera treatment & prevention. We have fully committed and/or spent the funds allocated for Haiti, which doesn’t mean that the funds are “gone,” as articulated in Dan Beeton’s most recent blog post. Instead, it means that work continues and that, at this point, what is not yet spent is under contract or obligated for specific projects.

To date, more than 4.5 million Haitians have benefitted from donations to the American Red Cross. As the years pass, a decline in the number of new people benefiting from projects is to be expected. Why? Because many families benefit from our services day after day and year after year. For example, if a family received a toilet three years ago, they are still benefiting from that toilet – and they will continue to benefit from that toilet for decades. Likewise, if an amputee received services from a prosthetics clinic that we helped build in 2010, s/he is only counted once regardless of the number of times the clinic is visited.

It’s also important to understand that addressing the housing shortage in Haiti is not a matter of simply giving out more rental subsidies or building new homes. Haiti’s rental market is saturated and there is not land readily available for new housing developments where people actually want to live. Therefore, assumptions that rental subsidy or new housing numbers should have steadily increased are misguided. Instead, the American Red Cross has invested time, effort and funding jointly with other stakeholders in developing alternative durable housing options which include: camp transition projects, new settlements support, house retrofitting to increase safe rental stock, and integrated neighborhood renovations. These American Red Cross funded projects are contributing to steadily and permanently decreasing the number of people living camps.

Regarding lessons learned, there are many, including:

  1. Durable solutions take time. In the earthquake’s immediate aftermath, the global Red Cross network provided tarps and tents, life-saving medical care, food, water, and other temporary assistance. However, it was vital that we were able to ensure more permanent, durable solutions. Therefore, we undertook recovery projects that help make people more resilient to future disasters and health crises. The construction of medical facilities, the comprehensive rehabilitation of heavily affected neighborhoods, the integration of water and sanitation, livelihoods, risk reduction and community health activities take intensive consultation and negotiation with residents, local authorities, community-based organizations and other stakeholders.
  2. Choices must be made. There are many needs in Haiti and no organization can possibly address all of them. Therefore, the American Red Cross made choices to focus recovery programming on durable housing solutions, community health, cholera partnerships, livelihoods, youth and disaster risk reduction.
  3. Partnerships are extremely important. From small local community-based groups to large international organizations, it is essential to locate the best partners available. American Red Cross does not work alone in planning, implementing, and monitoring projects. Close collaboration with partners has been extremely valuable to maximizing efficient use of resources and ensuring technical rigor.

As American Red Cross’s work in the country continues, anyone interested in following its progress can get regular updates at redcross.org/Haiti.

(Updated January 20, 2015, 12:10 p.m. to include a response from the American Red Cross – see below.)

Two years ago, we noted that the American Red Cross’ (ARC) annual update on its response to the Haiti earthquake raised a number of questions, and seemed to provide less detailed information than earlier updates that the ARC had released. This year is little different: The ARC’s five-year update [PDF] is big on saying how many people have been “helped,” “reached” or are “benefiting” due to ARC activities, but few details are offered to explain exactly what this means. Since the ARC is far and away the top U.S. recipient [PDF] of funds for disaster response, and notably served as the go-to organization for millions of Americans who wanted to donate in the aftermath of the earthquake, transparency from the Red Cross is especially warranted.

The Red Cross’ update is overwhelmingly glowing and positive, and certainly the organization has had an impact through helping to build or repair hospitals and waste-water treatment facilities, among other concrete examples. While it may not be surprising for an organization to tout its achievements while downplaying (or ignoring) its shortcomings, considering past questions about its spending and documented problems with some of the ARC’s post-earthquake work in Haiti, an acknowledgment, at least, of “lessons learned” might not be out of place. Yet the ARC response to past criticism of its Haiti response has often been strongly defensive.

In her introductory note, ARC President and CEO Gail McGovern writes that the organization has or is now spending all of the donations it has received for the Haiti earthquake response: “We have spent or made commitments to spend all $488 million of these donations for the Haiti earthquake for projects and programs impacting more than 4.5 million Haitians.” What should be the final breakdown, then, of the ARC’s original earthquake response spending is only slightly different than the percentages the ARC reported two years ago [PDF]: 35 percent for shelter, 15 percent for health (excluding cholera), 14 percent for emergency relief, 11 percent for disaster preparedness, 10 percent for livelihoods, and 5 percent for cholera (which, as we have noted, continues to be a major health emergency in Haiti, killing hundreds of people last year). Yet how exactly these funds have been used, and how effective they have been, is unclear from the update. “4.2 million people benefiting from hygiene promotion activities,” and “3.5 million people benefiting from cholera prevention and outbreak response services” are just two examples of big numbers that the ARC mentions in the report, but “benefiting” is undefined. Further, there is little information provided as to whether these millions of people continue to benefit, whether the ARC’s investments are sustainable, and how the Haitian beneficiaries of joint projects the ARC has engaged in with other groups are counted (and whether each organization working in collaboration on such projects also counts each “beneficiary” its respective impact assessments).

We contacted the Red Cross and they explained further. Where the update states: “the American Red Cross has helped 132,000 Haitians to live in safer conditions—ranging from providing temporary homes and rental subsidies to repaired and new homes,” the ARC explained:

The 132,000 shelter beneficiaries are tallied from a number of housing and neighborhood recovery projects, not all of which were explicitly described in our 5-year report. As is a standard practice in counting shelter beneficiaries of international development projects and disaster response operations, the American Red Cross uses a multiplier of five people to estimate the average size of a typical Haitian household. The 15,000 housing units mentioned in the report, therefore, have benefited about 75,000 people.

In addition to the 27,000 people who have benefited from rental subsidies, the following indicators also feed into the 132,000 figure:

  • Households provided with repaired or retrofitted shelters
  • Households reached as part of a relocation support program
  • Community members trained in proper construction techniques

As for your assumption that our shelter figure includes “tents, tarps, and other types of emergency shelter” that we distributed alongside the global Red Cross network in the earthquake’s immediate aftermath, it does not.  

As with all of the numbers that we report, we always take the most conservative counts possible in order to reduce the risk of double counting beneficiaries.

Regarding the “3.5 million people benefiting from cholera prevention and outbreak response services,” the ARC replied:

There are several facets to our cholera work, and those 3.5 million people are tallied from nine different projects including activities ranging from administering cholera vaccines to providing treatment for symptoms. Each of these projects counts beneficiaries differently due to the diversity of beneficiary engagement. For instance, one project trained cholera response teams which were deployed into 50 camps in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas in order to help train camp residents on proper sanitation practices and educate them on how stem the spread of the disease. Additionally, the project set up oral rehydration points
which offered clean water and oral rehydration salts to help treat patients suffering from the disease. This particular project counted each person engaged in the sanitation education and each person that received rehydration salts. As with all of the numbers that we report, we always take the most conservative counts possible in order to reduce the risk of double counting beneficiaries. 

About the 4.2 million people benefiting from hygiene promotion activities, the 551,000 people “covered by disaster preparedness and risk reduction activities,” or the 867,000 people “benefiting from community health services”? Here the ARC didn’t break things down much further, although they did note that multipliers are used in some calculations, such as “development of family emergency plans,” while stressing, again, that estimates are “conservative” to avoid “double counting beneficiaries”:

As you can imagine, each sector’s beneficiaries are counted differently – depending upon the type of beneficiary engagement and the nature of the program. For example, disaster preparedness programming is rolled out through a spectrum of inter-related activities (designed to work in tandem) including various levels of training and community sensitization, household response planning, school-based programs, micro-mitigation projects, etc. While training activities—like risk assessment trainings—generally count heads, activities such as development of family emergency plans use a multiplier based on average household size. Each activity counts beneficiaries in specific ways with the intention, as stated above, to take the most conservative counts possible in order to reduce the risk of double counting beneficiaries.

If we compare the ARC update with their 2013 report, we can further measure some of the Red Cross’ reported achievements. The 2015 update states: “To date, we have enabled the construction, upgrading or repair of more than 15,000 transitional and permanent homes, and have helped more than 27,000 people by subsidizing their rent.” This would mean 1,000 “transitional and permanent homes” in the past two years, and 7,000 more people helped through rent subsidization. As we noted in our “Haiti by the Numbers, Five Years Later” post last week, and as described in detail in new reports from Amnesty International and Action Aid [PDF], some 80,000 people made homeless by the quake continue to live in tent camps, and the number would be much higher were it not for forced evictions carried out over the past five years. One thousand “transitional and permanent homes” in two years is not a big number compared to the need. Further, it would be useful to know how many of these homes were “transitional” and how many were “permanent” – numbers that the ARC should be able to provide. We know that the international response as a whole has managed to produce only a small number of new, “permanent” homes – less than 10,000.

Likewise, two years ago, the ARC wrote: “the American Red Cross has also spent more than $50 million on projects that have improved access to clean water and sanitation for 545,000 people.” The five-year update reports that “556,000 people [have benefited] from access to improved water and sanitation.” This would mean just 11,000 more people over two years, apparently at no additional cost to the Red Cross (the update describes, for example, money spent on the construction of the Morne-à-Cabrit waste-water treatment plant), since the amount the ARC says it has spent in this area is actually a smaller figure than in 2013 (the ARC says this is because “As needs and priorities change, we occasionally shift committed funds to a sector with the most need”). But, in fact, it appears to be 11,000 in one year, since the ARC reported the same 556,000 figure last year – meaning no additional people “benefited” from “improved water and sanitation” over the last year, according to the ARC’s updates.

As the Red Cross itself notes, “cholera is mainly transmitted through water and poor sanitary conditions” and the U.N. Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported a year ago that just “64% of the total population (77% in urban areas, 48% in rural areas), have access to safe drinking water 13; 26% have access to improved sanitation (34% in urban areas, and 17% in rural areas).” “Improved water and sanitation” are important, pressing needs in Haiti; if the Red Cross is no longer able to “benefit” people in these areas because it no longer has funds to spend on such clear, urgent needs, perhaps it should consider a new funding appeal.

The Haiti response update isn’t the only case of Red Cross opacity regarding its expenses. A recent ProPublica and NPR investigation found that while McGovern has publicly claimed that the organization spends 91 cents of every dollar donated on services, this is not true. Reporters Jesse Eisinger and Justin Elliott of ProPublica, and Laura Sullivan of NPR, write: “After inquiries by ProPublica and NPR, the Red Cross removed the statement from its website.” (While the ARC may have removed the 91 cents “donated” statement elsewhere from its site, its claim that “91 cents of every dollar spent by the American Red Cross goes directly to humanitarian services and programs” was still included in its update and its January 6, 2015 press release on its Haiti work; see the ProPublica/NPR article for an explanation of why that, too, may be misleading.)

Eisinger, Elliott and Sullivan write:

The Red Cross said the claim was not “as clear as it could have been, and we are clarifying the language.”

The Red Cross declined repeated requests to say the actual percentage of donor dollars going to humanitarian services.

But the charity’s own financial statements show that overhead expenses are significantly more than what McGovern and other Red Cross officials have claimed.

In recent years, the Red Cross’ fundraising expenses alone have been as high as 26 cents of every donated dollar, nearly three times the nine cents in overhead claimed by McGovern. In the past five years, fundraising expenses have averaged 17 cents per donated dollar.

But even that understates matters. Once donated dollars are in Red Cross hands, the charity spends additional money on “management and general” expenses, which includes things like back office accounting. That means the portion of donated dollars going to overhead is even higher.

Just how high is impossible to know because the Red Cross doesn’t break down its spending on overhead and declined ProPublica and NPR’s request to do so.  

The questions raised by ProPublica and NPR have prompted Senator Charles Grassley to also demand answers from the ARC, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy has listed it as one of seven “non-profit groups to watch in 2015” because of its battered image.


 UPDATE, January 20, 2015, 12:05 p.m.: American Red Cross spokesperson Jenelle Eli sent HRRW the following response on January 20, 2015 (emphasis in the original):

The American Red Cross 5-year Haiti update provides an overview of our work in the country since January 2010. Rather than list the 100+ projects we’ve undertaken, the 8-page document offers a summary of how the American Red Cross has used generous donations to improve the lives of Haitians affected by the quake.

We are proud of our accomplishments in Haiti, while being keenly aware that there is still a lot of work to be done. That’s why we continue to invest in shelter, livelihoods, water & sanitation, disaster preparedness, health, and cholera treatment & prevention. We have fully committed and/or spent the funds allocated for Haiti, which doesn’t mean that the funds are “gone,” as articulated in Dan Beeton’s most recent blog post. Instead, it means that work continues and that, at this point, what is not yet spent is under contract or obligated for specific projects.

To date, more than 4.5 million Haitians have benefitted from donations to the American Red Cross. As the years pass, a decline in the number of new people benefiting from projects is to be expected. Why? Because many families benefit from our services day after day and year after year. For example, if a family received a toilet three years ago, they are still benefiting from that toilet – and they will continue to benefit from that toilet for decades. Likewise, if an amputee received services from a prosthetics clinic that we helped build in 2010, s/he is only counted once regardless of the number of times the clinic is visited.

It’s also important to understand that addressing the housing shortage in Haiti is not a matter of simply giving out more rental subsidies or building new homes. Haiti’s rental market is saturated and there is not land readily available for new housing developments where people actually want to live. Therefore, assumptions that rental subsidy or new housing numbers should have steadily increased are misguided. Instead, the American Red Cross has invested time, effort and funding jointly with other stakeholders in developing alternative durable housing options which include: camp transition projects, new settlements support, house retrofitting to increase safe rental stock, and integrated neighborhood renovations. These American Red Cross funded projects are contributing to steadily and permanently decreasing the number of people living camps.

Regarding lessons learned, there are many, including:

  1. Durable solutions take time. In the earthquake’s immediate aftermath, the global Red Cross network provided tarps and tents, life-saving medical care, food, water, and other temporary assistance. However, it was vital that we were able to ensure more permanent, durable solutions. Therefore, we undertook recovery projects that help make people more resilient to future disasters and health crises. The construction of medical facilities, the comprehensive rehabilitation of heavily affected neighborhoods, the integration of water and sanitation, livelihoods, risk reduction and community health activities take intensive consultation and negotiation with residents, local authorities, community-based organizations and other stakeholders.
  2. Choices must be made. There are many needs in Haiti and no organization can possibly address all of them. Therefore, the American Red Cross made choices to focus recovery programming on durable housing solutions, community health, cholera partnerships, livelihoods, youth and disaster risk reduction.
  3. Partnerships are extremely important. From small local community-based groups to large international organizations, it is essential to locate the best partners available. American Red Cross does not work alone in planning, implementing, and monitoring projects. Close collaboration with partners has been extremely valuable to maximizing efficient use of resources and ensuring technical rigor.

As American Red Cross’s work in the country continues, anyone interested in following its progress can get regular updates at redcross.org/Haiti.

En français

 

(Note: A number of the links below are for PDF or Excel files.)

Number of people killed in the earthquake in 2010: over 217,300

Minimum number of Haitians killed by the U.N.–caused cholera epidemic: 8,774

Number of years it took after the introduction of cholera for the international community to hold a donor conference to raise funds for the cholera response: 4

Amount pledged for cholera eradication: $50 million

Amount needed: $2.2 billion

Number of years it would take to fully fund the cholera-eradication plan at current disbursement rate: 40

Number of Haitians who died from cholera through the first 8 months of 2014: 55

Number who have died since, coinciding with the start of the rainy season: 188

Number of new cholera cases in 2014, through August: 9,700

Projected number of cholera cases for all of 2014, after the United Nations reduced their estimate in September 2014: 15,000

Minimum number of new cholera cases since that announcement: 14,000 (through December 8)

Number of U.N. lawyers who were present during oral arguments in a federal court in New York to argue in favor of the U.N.’s immunity: 0

Number of members of the U.S. Congress who wrote to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last month urging the U.N. to respond justly to cholera claims: 77

Humanitarian funding appeal for 2014, by the United Nations: $157 million

Percent of appeal covered, as of December 30, 2014: 54 percent

Minimum amount raised by tax on international phone calls that is supposed to be allocated to the National Education Fund: $95.6 million

Number of students the Haitian government says have received free tuition as a result: 1.3 million

Estimated amount missing from the Education Fund in 2012: $26 million

Number of principals and other school officials arrested for fraudulently receiving benefits from National Education Fund: at least 29

Percent of school-age children in school in 2001: 78

Percent in 2012: 90

Number of years the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank have funded similar tuition waiver programs: 8

Poverty rate in 2012: 58.5 percent

Poverty rate in rural areas in 2012: 74.9 percent

Extreme poverty in rural Haiti in 2000: 38 percent

Extreme poverty in rural Haiti in 2012: 38 percent

Percent of income held by the richest 20 percent: 64

Percent of income held by the poorest 20 percent: Less than 1

Percent of Haitian workers who have a job yet earn less than the minimum wage: 60

Percent less that women earn as compared to men: 32

Percent by which per capita GDP is lower today than it was in 2000: 2.7

Dollar amount of textile exports to the United States in fiscal year 2012/13: $387.7 million

Percentage points of GDP growth these exports accounted for in that year: 0.32[i]

Percent of textile exports to the United States made with local goods: 0.6

Minimum amount committed by the Inter-American Development Bank and United States to the Caracol Industrial Park and related infrastructure: $482.9 million[ii]

Total amount of budget support to the Haitian government since the earthquake: $340.2 million

Number of jobs at the Caracol industrial park as of September 2014: 4,156

Estimated number of jobs that will be created, according to the U.S. State Department: 65,000

Estimated amount of tax revenue collected from Caracol’s largest tenant over first 15 years of operations: $0

Minimum amount spent by USAID on feasibility and other studies for a planned port in northern Haiti, which was never built: $4.25 million

Number of apparel factories with a union presence, before earthquake: 1

Share of apparel factories in Haiti where there is at least a partial union presence now: Over one-half

Minimum number of workers fired for apparent union activity, since 2011: 223[iii]

Number of people still living in tent camps, as of September 2014: 85,432

Percent decrease from its peak: 93.7

Share of this decrease that return programs (rental subsidy & other programs) were responsible for: 16.7 percent

Percent of remaining IDPs that are “not targeted” for return programs: 81.5

Number of individuals living in informal settlements on outskirts of Port-au-Prince, not counted in official displaced population, according to Haitian government: 300,000

Number of new homes built by international reconstruction efforts, as of October 2014: 9,032

Planned number of new homes originally to be built with USAID support: 15,000

Original planned cost of those new homes: $53 million

Current planned number of new homes to be built: 2,600

Actual cost: More than $90 million

Minimum cost for additional work on 750 houses in Caracol that were found to be built with substandard materials: $4.5 million

Number of projects financed by Venezuela’s Petrocaribe program: 268

Total projected cost: $1.7 billion

Share of Haitian government’s capital expenditure financed by Petrocaribe: 25 percent

Total debt cancellation for Haiti since 2010: $895 million

Total public debt, as percent of GDP, in fiscal year 2009/10: 13.0

Total public debt, as percent of GDP in fiscal year 2013/14: 19.8

Interest payments on external debt, as percent of GDP in fiscal year 2013/14: 0.1

Percent of total external public debt owed to Venezuela through Petrocaribe Initiative: 84.7

Total amount committed by international donors and NGOs since 2010, according to the Haitian government: $9.3 billion

Amount disbursed: $7.6 billion

Total number of projects funded by donors since 2010: 2,262

Total amount awarded in contracts and grants by USAID: $1.5 billion[iv]

Percent that went directly to Haitian organizations: 1[v]

Percent that went to firms located inside the beltway (DC, Maryland and Virginia): 56

USAID’s goal for local procurement in Haiti: 17 percent

Amount of USAID funds earmarked for local procurement in 2015: $5.5 million

Total amount awarded to Chemonics International, a for-profit development company, since the earthquake: $216 million[vi]

Performance bonus paid to Chemonics CEO Richard Dreiman last year: $2.5 million[vii]

Amount awarded directly to Haiti’s Ministry of Health (one of the only government institutions to receive direct funding) by the U.S. government: $170.9 million[viii]

Percent of children under five years suffering from chronic malnutrition, 2006: 29

Percent of children under five years suffering from chronic malnutrition, 2012: 22

Number of hospitals, out of 48 total, which were put out of service by the earthquake: 37

Minimum number of cities where health facilities have been renovated, with U.S. support: 9

Percent of Haitian government’s budget that went to health ministry in 2014: 5.3

Minimum number of sexual abuse allegations against the U.N. mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, since 2007: 94[ix]

Percent of total U.N. troops worldwide, stationed in Haiti: 7.2

Share of total worldwide sexual abuse allegations against U.N. troops that MINUSTAH has accounted for over the last 2 years: 1 in 4 [x]

Months that partial legislative and local elections have been delayed: 39 and counting

Number of “municipal agents” named by President Martelly to replace elected mayors whose terms expired in 2012: 130

Share of Senate seats currently empty due to lack of elections: One-third

Number of members of the 99-seat Chamber of Deputies whose terms expire on January 12, 2015: 99

Percent of parliament represented by women: 4

Number of environmental monitoring officers deployed in 2014, to protected areas: 150

Percent of land covered by forest: Less than 3

Number of seedlings planted between 2010 and 2014: 5.5 million



[i] Author’s calculation.

[ii] Calculation based on numbers from IADB productive infrastructure programs, GAO report from 2014, and a new $15 million commitment from the U.S.

[iii] Calculation based on numbers in reports from Better Work Haiti and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

[iv] Author’s calculations based on data from USAspending.gov and USAID.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Author’s calculation based on data from USAspending.gov.

[vii] From personal communication with Chemonics spokesperson.

[viii] Author’s calculation based on data from USAspending.gov.

[ix] Author’s calculation based on data from U.N. Conduct and Discipline Unit.

[x] Ibid.

En français

 

(Note: A number of the links below are for PDF or Excel files.)

Number of people killed in the earthquake in 2010: over 217,300

Minimum number of Haitians killed by the U.N.–caused cholera epidemic: 8,774

Number of years it took after the introduction of cholera for the international community to hold a donor conference to raise funds for the cholera response: 4

Amount pledged for cholera eradication: $50 million

Amount needed: $2.2 billion

Number of years it would take to fully fund the cholera-eradication plan at current disbursement rate: 40

Number of Haitians who died from cholera through the first 8 months of 2014: 55

Number who have died since, coinciding with the start of the rainy season: 188

Number of new cholera cases in 2014, through August: 9,700

Projected number of cholera cases for all of 2014, after the United Nations reduced their estimate in September 2014: 15,000

Minimum number of new cholera cases since that announcement: 14,000 (through December 8)

Number of U.N. lawyers who were present during oral arguments in a federal court in New York to argue in favor of the U.N.’s immunity: 0

Number of members of the U.S. Congress who wrote to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last month urging the U.N. to respond justly to cholera claims: 77

Humanitarian funding appeal for 2014, by the United Nations: $157 million

Percent of appeal covered, as of December 30, 2014: 54 percent

Minimum amount raised by tax on international phone calls that is supposed to be allocated to the National Education Fund: $95.6 million

Number of students the Haitian government says have received free tuition as a result: 1.3 million

Estimated amount missing from the Education Fund in 2012: $26 million

Number of principals and other school officials arrested for fraudulently receiving benefits from National Education Fund: at least 29

Percent of school-age children in school in 2001: 78

Percent in 2012: 90

Number of years the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank have funded similar tuition waiver programs: 8

Poverty rate in 2012: 58.5 percent

Poverty rate in rural areas in 2012: 74.9 percent

Extreme poverty in rural Haiti in 2000: 38 percent

Extreme poverty in rural Haiti in 2012: 38 percent

Percent of income held by the richest 20 percent: 64

Percent of income held by the poorest 20 percent: Less than 1

Percent of Haitian workers who have a job yet earn less than the minimum wage: 60

Percent less that women earn as compared to men: 32

Percent by which per capita GDP is lower today than it was in 2000: 2.7

Dollar amount of textile exports to the United States in fiscal year 2012/13: $387.7 million

Percentage points of GDP growth these exports accounted for in that year: 0.32[i]

Percent of textile exports to the United States made with local goods: 0.6

Minimum amount committed by the Inter-American Development Bank and United States to the Caracol Industrial Park and related infrastructure: $482.9 million[ii]

Total amount of budget support to the Haitian government since the earthquake: $340.2 million

Number of jobs at the Caracol industrial park as of September 2014: 4,156

Estimated number of jobs that will be created, according to the U.S. State Department: 65,000

Estimated amount of tax revenue collected from Caracol’s largest tenant over first 15 years of operations: $0

Minimum amount spent by USAID on feasibility and other studies for a planned port in northern Haiti, which was never built: $4.25 million

Number of apparel factories with a union presence, before earthquake: 1

Share of apparel factories in Haiti where there is at least a partial union presence now: Over one-half

Minimum number of workers fired for apparent union activity, since 2011: 223[iii]

Number of people still living in tent camps, as of September 2014: 85,432

Percent decrease from its peak: 93.7

Share of this decrease that return programs (rental subsidy & other programs) were responsible for: 16.7 percent

Percent of remaining IDPs that are “not targeted” for return programs: 81.5

Number of individuals living in informal settlements on outskirts of Port-au-Prince, not counted in official displaced population, according to Haitian government: 300,000

Number of new homes built by international reconstruction efforts, as of October 2014: 9,032

Planned number of new homes originally to be built with USAID support: 15,000

Original planned cost of those new homes: $53 million

Current planned number of new homes to be built: 2,600

Actual cost: More than $90 million

Minimum cost for additional work on 750 houses in Caracol that were found to be built with substandard materials: $4.5 million

Number of projects financed by Venezuela’s Petrocaribe program: 268

Total projected cost: $1.7 billion

Share of Haitian government’s capital expenditure financed by Petrocaribe: 25 percent

Total debt cancellation for Haiti since 2010: $895 million

Total public debt, as percent of GDP, in fiscal year 2009/10: 13.0

Total public debt, as percent of GDP in fiscal year 2013/14: 19.8

Interest payments on external debt, as percent of GDP in fiscal year 2013/14: 0.1

Percent of total external public debt owed to Venezuela through Petrocaribe Initiative: 84.7

Total amount committed by international donors and NGOs since 2010, according to the Haitian government: $9.3 billion

Amount disbursed: $7.6 billion

Total number of projects funded by donors since 2010: 2,262

Total amount awarded in contracts and grants by USAID: $1.5 billion[iv]

Percent that went directly to Haitian organizations: 1[v]

Percent that went to firms located inside the beltway (DC, Maryland and Virginia): 56

USAID’s goal for local procurement in Haiti: 17 percent

Amount of USAID funds earmarked for local procurement in 2015: $5.5 million

Total amount awarded to Chemonics International, a for-profit development company, since the earthquake: $216 million[vi]

Performance bonus paid to Chemonics CEO Richard Dreiman last year: $2.5 million[vii]

Amount awarded directly to Haiti’s Ministry of Health (one of the only government institutions to receive direct funding) by the U.S. government: $170.9 million[viii]

Percent of children under five years suffering from chronic malnutrition, 2006: 29

Percent of children under five years suffering from chronic malnutrition, 2012: 22

Number of hospitals, out of 48 total, which were put out of service by the earthquake: 37

Minimum number of cities where health facilities have been renovated, with U.S. support: 9

Percent of Haitian government’s budget that went to health ministry in 2014: 5.3

Minimum number of sexual abuse allegations against the U.N. mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, since 2007: 94[ix]

Percent of total U.N. troops worldwide, stationed in Haiti: 7.2

Share of total worldwide sexual abuse allegations against U.N. troops that MINUSTAH has accounted for over the last 2 years: 1 in 4 [x]

Months that partial legislative and local elections have been delayed: 39 and counting

Number of “municipal agents” named by President Martelly to replace elected mayors whose terms expired in 2012: 130

Share of Senate seats currently empty due to lack of elections: One-third

Number of members of the 99-seat Chamber of Deputies whose terms expire on January 12, 2015: 99

Percent of parliament represented by women: 4

Number of environmental monitoring officers deployed in 2014, to protected areas: 150

Percent of land covered by forest: Less than 3

Number of seedlings planted between 2010 and 2014: 5.5 million



[i] Author’s calculation.

[ii] Calculation based on numbers from IADB productive infrastructure programs, GAO report from 2014, and a new $15 million commitment from the U.S.

[iii] Calculation based on numbers in reports from Better Work Haiti and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

[iv] Author’s calculations based on data from USAspending.gov and USAID.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Author’s calculation based on data from USAspending.gov.

[vii] From personal communication with Chemonics spokesperson.

[viii] Author’s calculation based on data from USAspending.gov.

[ix] Author’s calculation based on data from U.N. Conduct and Discipline Unit.

[x] Ibid.

On October 23 Haiti’s cholera victims finally had their first court hearing regarding their suit against the UN.  However, no one from the UN showed up.  Since 2011, representatives of the victims have sought to obtain reparations from the UN given the overwhelming evidence that troops from the United Nations’ Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) were responsible for bringing cholera to the island.  As the UN has refused to receive the victims’ claims, human rights lawyers at the Haiti-based Bureau des Avocats Internationaux and U.S.-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, filed a lawsuit in U.S. courts.  After months of deliberations, the Southern Federal District Court of New York held a hearing on the question of whether the UN could enjoy immunity from prosecution when it had violated its treaty obligations to submit to alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.  While the victims’ legal representatives argued against UN immunity vis-à-vis the cholera claims, no UN representative appeared before the court and, instead, the U.S. Attorney General’s office presented arguments in defense of the UN.  The court’s decision on the immunity question is still pending.

Now, 77 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, led by senior Democrat John Conyers, have weighed in with a letter urging UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “to create a fair process to adjudicate the claims made by cholera victims that allows for the remediation of the affected communities.”

As the letter points out, thousands of Haitians have died since the cholera epidemic began in October 2010 – at least 8,774 [PDF] according to Haiti’s health ministry – and over 700,000 Haitians have become infected, putting a terrible burden on a country with no clean water infrastructure to speak of and few health professionals to help prevent and abate the epidemic. 

The letter lays out the reasons why the UN should be legally obliged to provide a settlement mechanism for the victims:

The Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations (CPIUN) mandates that the UN “provide for appropriate modes of settlement” of private law claims. The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) the UN signed with the Government of Haiti expands on this obligation by specifying that claims are to be heard and settled by a standing commission. The UN has formally recognized the importance of access to justice in its own Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy for Victims of Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law.

This isn’t the first time that Conyers and other members of Congress have publicly pressed the UN to do much more to address Haiti’s deadly cholera epidemic.  In July of 2012, Conyers and 103 other House representatives signed a letter calling for the UN to “act decisively” to control the epidemic.  This and other international pressure no doubt contributed to Ban Ki-moon eventually launching, with much fanfare, a “new initiative” to help fund a $2.2 billion cholera elimination plan for Haiti, involving the development of extensive drinking water and sanitation systems.  At the time, the Secretary-General proudly announced that $215 million of existing international donations had been earmarked for the plan but also noted that $500 million would be needed over the following two years to keep the plan advancing according to schedule.

After over a year had passed and no further funding for the cholera plan had materialized, Conyers and 64 of his House colleagues sent a letter to U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Power that noted that:

Current efforts by the UN to eradicate the cholera epidemic in Haiti are far from sufficient. In order for the UN to maintain its credibility around the world, it is imperative for it to acknowledge its legal responsibility and act now. This means fully funding the Cholera Elimination Plan and working to improve the water and sanitation infrastructure in Haiti.

Finally, a much-delayed “high-level” donor conference on cholera in Haiti was convened in October of 2014 in Washington, DC.  Presided over by both Ban Ki-moon and World Bank president Jim Kim, all of the major international donors to Haiti were present, but only the World Bank and the government of Japan stepped up to the plate, with the former committing $50 million and the latter $2.5 million.

In July of 2014, the UN Secretary-General visited Haiti and recognized that the UN had a “moral responsibility” to help Haiti and Haitians deal with cholera.  Yet, while the UN manages to find multilateral funding for its controversial Haiti “peacekeeping” mission to the tune of $500 to $700 million per year, the cholera elimination plan remains grossly underfunded and, meanwhile, the UN continues to block reparations for cholera victims’ families. 

Conyers and his colleagues end their latest letter to the UN with an impassioned plea: 

In the interests of securing justice for the victims and impacted communities as well as strengthening the UN’s leadership as a champion for human rights, we urge you to act immediately to establish a settlement mechanism through which victims and their families may seek relief and the country can move forward with the water and sanitation infrastructure it so desperately needs. Unless and until the UN honors the fundamental right to access justice, the issue of UN accountability in Haiti will remain.

On October 23 Haiti’s cholera victims finally had their first court hearing regarding their suit against the UN.  However, no one from the UN showed up.  Since 2011, representatives of the victims have sought to obtain reparations from the UN given the overwhelming evidence that troops from the United Nations’ Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) were responsible for bringing cholera to the island.  As the UN has refused to receive the victims’ claims, human rights lawyers at the Haiti-based Bureau des Avocats Internationaux and U.S.-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, filed a lawsuit in U.S. courts.  After months of deliberations, the Southern Federal District Court of New York held a hearing on the question of whether the UN could enjoy immunity from prosecution when it had violated its treaty obligations to submit to alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.  While the victims’ legal representatives argued against UN immunity vis-à-vis the cholera claims, no UN representative appeared before the court and, instead, the U.S. Attorney General’s office presented arguments in defense of the UN.  The court’s decision on the immunity question is still pending.

Now, 77 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, led by senior Democrat John Conyers, have weighed in with a letter urging UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “to create a fair process to adjudicate the claims made by cholera victims that allows for the remediation of the affected communities.”

As the letter points out, thousands of Haitians have died since the cholera epidemic began in October 2010 – at least 8,774 [PDF] according to Haiti’s health ministry – and over 700,000 Haitians have become infected, putting a terrible burden on a country with no clean water infrastructure to speak of and few health professionals to help prevent and abate the epidemic. 

The letter lays out the reasons why the UN should be legally obliged to provide a settlement mechanism for the victims:

The Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations (CPIUN) mandates that the UN “provide for appropriate modes of settlement” of private law claims. The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) the UN signed with the Government of Haiti expands on this obligation by specifying that claims are to be heard and settled by a standing commission. The UN has formally recognized the importance of access to justice in its own Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy for Victims of Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law.

This isn’t the first time that Conyers and other members of Congress have publicly pressed the UN to do much more to address Haiti’s deadly cholera epidemic.  In July of 2012, Conyers and 103 other House representatives signed a letter calling for the UN to “act decisively” to control the epidemic.  This and other international pressure no doubt contributed to Ban Ki-moon eventually launching, with much fanfare, a “new initiative” to help fund a $2.2 billion cholera elimination plan for Haiti, involving the development of extensive drinking water and sanitation systems.  At the time, the Secretary-General proudly announced that $215 million of existing international donations had been earmarked for the plan but also noted that $500 million would be needed over the following two years to keep the plan advancing according to schedule.

After over a year had passed and no further funding for the cholera plan had materialized, Conyers and 64 of his House colleagues sent a letter to U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Power that noted that:

Current efforts by the UN to eradicate the cholera epidemic in Haiti are far from sufficient. In order for the UN to maintain its credibility around the world, it is imperative for it to acknowledge its legal responsibility and act now. This means fully funding the Cholera Elimination Plan and working to improve the water and sanitation infrastructure in Haiti.

Finally, a much-delayed “high-level” donor conference on cholera in Haiti was convened in October of 2014 in Washington, DC.  Presided over by both Ban Ki-moon and World Bank president Jim Kim, all of the major international donors to Haiti were present, but only the World Bank and the government of Japan stepped up to the plate, with the former committing $50 million and the latter $2.5 million.

In July of 2014, the UN Secretary-General visited Haiti and recognized that the UN had a “moral responsibility” to help Haiti and Haitians deal with cholera.  Yet, while the UN manages to find multilateral funding for its controversial Haiti “peacekeeping” mission to the tune of $500 to $700 million per year, the cholera elimination plan remains grossly underfunded and, meanwhile, the UN continues to block reparations for cholera victims’ families. 

Conyers and his colleagues end their latest letter to the UN with an impassioned plea: 

In the interests of securing justice for the victims and impacted communities as well as strengthening the UN’s leadership as a champion for human rights, we urge you to act immediately to establish a settlement mechanism through which victims and their families may seek relief and the country can move forward with the water and sanitation infrastructure it so desperately needs. Unless and until the UN honors the fundamental right to access justice, the issue of UN accountability in Haiti will remain.

“The freedom to demonstrate and freedom of expression are rights guaranteed by international conventions, enshrined in the Haitian constitution and supported by the law,” Sandra Honoré, the head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), said last month following a week of protests across the country, which resulted in a number of reported deaths. Honoré added that the Haitian government must ensure that “offenders are prosecuted.” But Honoré may have an opportunity to lead by example after videos from Haitian media surfaced over the weekend showing a U.N. soldier firing a handgun in the direction of protesters. The video shows him discharge his weapon multiple times, then aggressively try to prevent a cameraman from filming him.

In a statement today, Amnesty International condemns this episode as well as injuries suffered the day before by protesters allegedly at the hands of the Haitian National Police. Protests calling for the resignation of both the president and prime minister have been occurring nationwide over the last month in response to the government’s failure to hold elections?—?now more than three years overdue. In an attempt to quell the unrest, Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe resigned Saturday night, after President Martelly signaled Friday that he would accept the recommendations of a presidential advisory committee, which had called for Lamothe’s ouster. U.S. State Department officials Thomas Shannon and Tom Adams were in Haiti last week, apparently helping pave the way for the resignation.

“The political climate in Haiti is getting tenser and tenser. It is imperative that the Haitian National Police and the MINUSTAH are able to cope with the situation in a way that ensure protection of human rights. People must be allowed to exercise their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, without fear of being shot at,” said Chiara Liguori, Caribbean researcher at Amnesty International.

MINUSTAH spokesperson Sophie Boutaud de la Combe did not respond to an e-mail request for comment, but in a statement released Friday, the U.N. stated they had “immediately opened an investigation to establish the facts,” and took the “allegation very seriously.” However, in past cases of abuse by MINUSTAH personnel, the body has failed to act swiftly or publicly in administering justice. During a press conference today, Inner City Press’ Matthew Russell Lee asked about the status of the investigation. The spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, responded that they were “continuing to look into it,” and that he did not want to “prejudge what the investigation shows.” He added that they would have to look into if the U.N. troop “felt threatened.” In its previous press statement, MINUSTAH had characterized the demonstrators as “violent.”

In October, when the U.N. Security Council extended MINUSTAH’s mandate by one year, the representative from Argentina, which contributes about 8 percent of the mission’s personnel, warned that U.N. troops could again be called out to repress demonstrations. The Argentine representative warned that given the lack of elections, tense political environment and the lack of capability from the Haitian National Police in keeping public order, that it:

could have unintended consequences and could force the international community to have to face an even more difficult and complex situation. In such circumstances Argentine troops could be called upon to perform duties beyond deterrence that are prohibited by law in our country. Therefore, my delegation believes it important to reiterate that the Argentine armed forces do not, and will not, perform repression activities, neither in Argentina nor abroad. They will therefore not carry out functions of that kind in Haiti.

Amnesty points out that over the last two years they have experienced an increasing number of complains of unnecessary or excessive use of force to disperse protests. “In a context in which demonstrations are likely to continue, both Haitian authorities and the MINUSTAH must show that they are committed to hold officers accountable for human rights violations and to prevent future abuses. A failure to do so would be reneging on the human rights obligations of the Haitian authorities and the MINUSTAH”, said Amnesty’s Chiara Liguori.

“The freedom to demonstrate and freedom of expression are rights guaranteed by international conventions, enshrined in the Haitian constitution and supported by the law,” Sandra Honoré, the head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), said last month following a week of protests across the country, which resulted in a number of reported deaths. Honoré added that the Haitian government must ensure that “offenders are prosecuted.” But Honoré may have an opportunity to lead by example after videos from Haitian media surfaced over the weekend showing a U.N. soldier firing a handgun in the direction of protesters. The video shows him discharge his weapon multiple times, then aggressively try to prevent a cameraman from filming him.

In a statement today, Amnesty International condemns this episode as well as injuries suffered the day before by protesters allegedly at the hands of the Haitian National Police. Protests calling for the resignation of both the president and prime minister have been occurring nationwide over the last month in response to the government’s failure to hold elections?—?now more than three years overdue. In an attempt to quell the unrest, Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe resigned Saturday night, after President Martelly signaled Friday that he would accept the recommendations of a presidential advisory committee, which had called for Lamothe’s ouster. U.S. State Department officials Thomas Shannon and Tom Adams were in Haiti last week, apparently helping pave the way for the resignation.

“The political climate in Haiti is getting tenser and tenser. It is imperative that the Haitian National Police and the MINUSTAH are able to cope with the situation in a way that ensure protection of human rights. People must be allowed to exercise their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, without fear of being shot at,” said Chiara Liguori, Caribbean researcher at Amnesty International.

MINUSTAH spokesperson Sophie Boutaud de la Combe did not respond to an e-mail request for comment, but in a statement released Friday, the U.N. stated they had “immediately opened an investigation to establish the facts,” and took the “allegation very seriously.” However, in past cases of abuse by MINUSTAH personnel, the body has failed to act swiftly or publicly in administering justice. During a press conference today, Inner City Press’ Matthew Russell Lee asked about the status of the investigation. The spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, responded that they were “continuing to look into it,” and that he did not want to “prejudge what the investigation shows.” He added that they would have to look into if the U.N. troop “felt threatened.” In its previous press statement, MINUSTAH had characterized the demonstrators as “violent.”

In October, when the U.N. Security Council extended MINUSTAH’s mandate by one year, the representative from Argentina, which contributes about 8 percent of the mission’s personnel, warned that U.N. troops could again be called out to repress demonstrations. The Argentine representative warned that given the lack of elections, tense political environment and the lack of capability from the Haitian National Police in keeping public order, that it:

could have unintended consequences and could force the international community to have to face an even more difficult and complex situation. In such circumstances Argentine troops could be called upon to perform duties beyond deterrence that are prohibited by law in our country. Therefore, my delegation believes it important to reiterate that the Argentine armed forces do not, and will not, perform repression activities, neither in Argentina nor abroad. They will therefore not carry out functions of that kind in Haiti.

Amnesty points out that over the last two years they have experienced an increasing number of complains of unnecessary or excessive use of force to disperse protests. “In a context in which demonstrations are likely to continue, both Haitian authorities and the MINUSTAH must show that they are committed to hold officers accountable for human rights violations and to prevent future abuses. A failure to do so would be reneging on the human rights obligations of the Haitian authorities and the MINUSTAH”, said Amnesty’s Chiara Liguori.

At a ceremony yesterday afternoon, an advisory committee handed their report over to Haitian President Michel Martelly, requesting the removal of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe among other actions aimed at resolving Haiti’s electoral crisis. Jacqueline Charles reports for the Miami Herald:

The 10-page report, penned by an 11-member presidential commission, sets a timetable for Lamothe’s resignation. It also recommends replacing the head of the country’s Supreme Court and members of the body charged with organizing long-delayed elections. Dozens who have been arbitrarily arrested and deemed by human rights groups to be political prisoners should be released, the report said.

The Herald released a copy of the report they had received, which is available here (PDF). The Haitian government and international community, mainly the United States and United Nations, have long blamed the electoral delay on opposition from the so-called “Group of Six” senators. With parliamentary terms set to expire January 12 and no solution to the electoral crisis, it appears as though the positions of both the government and international community are softening; however it might not be enough.

The advisory commission was created by President Martelly following a week of increasingly large demonstrations throughout Haiti, calling on the president and prime minister to resign and for the holding of elections. Martelly is expected to make a decision on the recommendations by the end of the week. The moves come as the U.S. has taken on an even more visible role in trying to break the electoral impasse.  

Just months after the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, had laid the blame squarely on Haiti’s opposition for the delays, current U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Pamela White met with some opposition political parties on December 2 (although reportedly not Famni Lavalas, a party that has consistently won all of the elections that it’s been allowed to participate in).  In a statement after the meeting, the U.S. embassy said that White was “extremely impressed with their analysis of the current political situation, dedication to Haiti’s future and willingness to truly negotiate for the betterment of their country.” An opposition leader, Jean André Victor, told the press after the meeting with White: “We told Mrs White in no uncertain terms that the current crisis is one of Haiti’s making, and it is up to Haiti to find a solution.”

But U.S. diplomatic efforts continue. Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste reported last night that Thomas Shannon, an advisor to Secretary of State John Kerry, arrived in Haiti yesterday and will be holding meetings with various political players in the country. A visit from Kerry himself has yet to be confirmed but has been widely expected in the coming days.

“They coddled Martelly far too long …though that finally seems to be changing,” Robert Maguire, a Haiti specialist at George Washington University, told Reuters. Yet U.S. Ambassador White has also voiced support for Martelly, telling Le Nouvelliste in an interview earlier this week that, “We believe he was elected for a certain period of time. He has to stay until his term ends.” Responding to questions regarding whether the U.S. had played a roll in trying to remove Lamothe as Prime Minister, White responded that, “it is not at all the United States’ decision if the Prime Minister stays or goes.”

While the commission’s recommendations address a number of opposition concerns, some key issues remain unaddressed. The report does not suggest extending the mandates of members of parliament, which would leave Martelly able to rule by decree come January 12, though the report does say Martelly should limit his decree powers only to laws surrounding the holding of elections. Further, the question of how both parliamentary and presidential elections will be held next year, either in two installments or as part of one large election, as the U.S. and U.N. prefer, remains unaddressed.

“The resolution of the crisis inevitably requires the forced or voluntary resignation of Martelly, the creation of a credible CEP, the release of political prisoners, the establishment of a provisional government and the holding of general elections in 2015. That’s it,” Andre Michel, a Haitian lawyer and opposition figure, told Jacqueline Charles of the Herald.

Though some political parties, including FUSION, the Organization of People in Struggle (OPL) and INITE have welcomed the advisory commission’s report, other parties have vowed to continue with planned street protests beginning this weekend.  The report’s recommendations included calling off planned protests to allow for dialogue.

“This is a rescue operation by the international community aimed at saving the mandate of President Martelly while Martelly is primarily responsible for the crisis,” Michel told the Herald. Nevertheless, the United States, at least publicly, remained optimistic on the prospects for a deal. “We believe Martelly is committed to making a deal, and we think they can make an agreement in time,” an anonymous State Department official told Reuters.

At a ceremony yesterday afternoon, an advisory committee handed their report over to Haitian President Michel Martelly, requesting the removal of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe among other actions aimed at resolving Haiti’s electoral crisis. Jacqueline Charles reports for the Miami Herald:

The 10-page report, penned by an 11-member presidential commission, sets a timetable for Lamothe’s resignation. It also recommends replacing the head of the country’s Supreme Court and members of the body charged with organizing long-delayed elections. Dozens who have been arbitrarily arrested and deemed by human rights groups to be political prisoners should be released, the report said.

The Herald released a copy of the report they had received, which is available here (PDF). The Haitian government and international community, mainly the United States and United Nations, have long blamed the electoral delay on opposition from the so-called “Group of Six” senators. With parliamentary terms set to expire January 12 and no solution to the electoral crisis, it appears as though the positions of both the government and international community are softening; however it might not be enough.

The advisory commission was created by President Martelly following a week of increasingly large demonstrations throughout Haiti, calling on the president and prime minister to resign and for the holding of elections. Martelly is expected to make a decision on the recommendations by the end of the week. The moves come as the U.S. has taken on an even more visible role in trying to break the electoral impasse.  

Just months after the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, had laid the blame squarely on Haiti’s opposition for the delays, current U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Pamela White met with some opposition political parties on December 2 (although reportedly not Famni Lavalas, a party that has consistently won all of the elections that it’s been allowed to participate in).  In a statement after the meeting, the U.S. embassy said that White was “extremely impressed with their analysis of the current political situation, dedication to Haiti’s future and willingness to truly negotiate for the betterment of their country.” An opposition leader, Jean André Victor, told the press after the meeting with White: “We told Mrs White in no uncertain terms that the current crisis is one of Haiti’s making, and it is up to Haiti to find a solution.”

But U.S. diplomatic efforts continue. Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste reported last night that Thomas Shannon, an advisor to Secretary of State John Kerry, arrived in Haiti yesterday and will be holding meetings with various political players in the country. A visit from Kerry himself has yet to be confirmed but has been widely expected in the coming days.

“They coddled Martelly far too long …though that finally seems to be changing,” Robert Maguire, a Haiti specialist at George Washington University, told Reuters. Yet U.S. Ambassador White has also voiced support for Martelly, telling Le Nouvelliste in an interview earlier this week that, “We believe he was elected for a certain period of time. He has to stay until his term ends.” Responding to questions regarding whether the U.S. had played a roll in trying to remove Lamothe as Prime Minister, White responded that, “it is not at all the United States’ decision if the Prime Minister stays or goes.”

While the commission’s recommendations address a number of opposition concerns, some key issues remain unaddressed. The report does not suggest extending the mandates of members of parliament, which would leave Martelly able to rule by decree come January 12, though the report does say Martelly should limit his decree powers only to laws surrounding the holding of elections. Further, the question of how both parliamentary and presidential elections will be held next year, either in two installments or as part of one large election, as the U.S. and U.N. prefer, remains unaddressed.

“The resolution of the crisis inevitably requires the forced or voluntary resignation of Martelly, the creation of a credible CEP, the release of political prisoners, the establishment of a provisional government and the holding of general elections in 2015. That’s it,” Andre Michel, a Haitian lawyer and opposition figure, told Jacqueline Charles of the Herald.

Though some political parties, including FUSION, the Organization of People in Struggle (OPL) and INITE have welcomed the advisory commission’s report, other parties have vowed to continue with planned street protests beginning this weekend.  The report’s recommendations included calling off planned protests to allow for dialogue.

“This is a rescue operation by the international community aimed at saving the mandate of President Martelly while Martelly is primarily responsible for the crisis,” Michel told the Herald. Nevertheless, the United States, at least publicly, remained optimistic on the prospects for a deal. “We believe Martelly is committed to making a deal, and we think they can make an agreement in time,” an anonymous State Department official told Reuters.

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