Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Current Events in Haiti

First off, (on a happy note) a nice video from Nicholas Kristof at the NY Times about SOIL in Haiti. Sasha is the woman in the video, co-founder of SOIL, and an amazing person. I was thrilled every minute I was able to spend with her.

Second: News on Haiti's Elections. News can be found from various sources, but many articles usually need to be read to piece together the full story. I will take a shot at outlining some of the key facts.

There was an election at the end of November 2010 for the Haitian president. The largest political party, Fanmi Lavalas, was not allowed to participate in either legislative (April 19, 2010) or presidential (Nov 28, 2010) elections. This is like barring either Republicans or Democrats from voting in the United States. Forty-five US Senators wrote to Sec. of State Clinton (in Oct 2010) urging her to put pressure on the Haitian Gov't (President Preval) to include Lavalas.

Turnout in the Nov. 28, 2010 presidential elections was something like 20% which is far below that of elections in which Lavalas was able to have candidates (i.e. 1990, 2000). Lavalas urged Haitians to boycott the elections.

Quoting from (Next two paragraphs)

Secretary of State Clinton met with Haitian President Preval on Feb 6, 2010. The day after, Preval announced that Lavalas would not be eligible to run in any elections. Fanmi Lavalas was contacted to meet on March 4, 2009 with a high profile delegation — UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon, [Former] Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter — but the meeting was cancelled. When Moon and Clinton did arrive the following week they avoided any meeting with Fanmi Lavalas with the assistance of the US Embassy staff. Lavalas then called for a boycott of the primary election.

The USA put $17 million into the primary [presidential election - since many parties and candidates can run they have a first election that narrows down the field to two people, then a second election to decide the president] and the UN plastered the Lavalas strongholds with posters warning the pro-democracy supporters that "more hunger and more violence" would be the result if the People of Haiti honored the Fanmi Lavalas boycott. Less than 3% of the electorate participated in the election. The US media spin was that the elections were a resounding "success for democracy."

The US is not pursuing democracy in Haiti. Simple truth. And it is a disastrous one.

I think the discrepancy between the 3% figure and the 20% figure for voting is explained by the difference between registered and unregistered voters. Of registered voters, only 20% participated. Taking into account the entire Haitian population, only 3% voted.

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