Haiti

US officials in Haiti warned that the Haitian government would be unable to handle a catastrophic earthquake five years before a devastating tremor ended up destroying large swathes of the Haitian capital and surrounding towns, killing tens of thousands and destroying hundreds of buildings.

The information was revealed in a secret US cable obtained by the media organisation WikiLeaks.

Disaster capitalists flocked to Haiti in a “gold rush” for contracts to rebuild the country after the January 12, 2010 earthquake, wrote the current US ambassador Kenneth Merten in a secret Febuary 1, 2010 cable obtained by WikiLeaks and reviewed by Haiti Liberte.

“THE GOLD RUSH IS ON!” Merten headlined a section of his 6pm situation report ― or Sitrep ― back to Washington.

The United States embassy in Haiti worked closely with factory owners contracted by Levi's, Hanes, and Fruit of the Loom to aggressively block a paltry minimum wage rise for Haitian assembly zone workers.

The moves to block a wage rise for the lowest paid in the western hemisphere were revealed by secret US State Department cables obtained by Haiti Liberte and The Nation magazine.

The factory owners refused to pay $0.62 an hour, or $5 per eight-hour day, as mandated by a measure unanimously passed by Haiti’s parliament in June 2009.

Haiti finds itself with a president-elect with ties to the extreme right — thanks to a concerted effort by foreign powers to continue thwarting the social justice aspirations of the Haitian people.

President-elect Michel Martelly is closely associated with the forces that overthrew elected governments in 1991 and 2004.

He told Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio’s The Current on April 7 that Haiti has been “going in the wrong direction for the last 25 years”.

“Haiti’s infamous dictator ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier, returned to his country this week, while the country's first elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is kept out”, Mark Weisbrot wrote in the January 20 Huffington Post.

“These two facts really say everything about Washington’s policy toward Haiti, and our government's respect for democracy in that country and in the region.”

In the lead-up to the one-year anniversary of Haiti’s January 12, 2010 earthquake, a brutally frank account of the plight of its people was delivered by a highly placed diplomat.

Ricardo Seitenfus, the representative to Haiti of the Organization of American States, delivered a hard-hitting assessment of the foreign role in that country in an interview in the December 20 Swiss daily Le Temps.

Seitenfus, a Brazilian, was immediately recalled from his posting.

Of all the commentaries and interviews coinciding with the anniversary of Haiti’s earthquake, none are likely to exceed in significance the interview granted by OAS Representative to Haiti, Ricardo Seitenfus, to the Swiss daily Le Temps on December 20.

Those who counselled against holding a national election in Haiti in the midst of a catastrophic humanitarian crisis will take no comfort in the debacle it became.

Our thoughts rest squarely with the tens of thousands of people afflicted with cholera, or the hundreds of thousands of earthquake victims still without shelter, clean water and hope. How much suffering could have been alleviated with the tens of million of dollars spent on a wasted electoral exercise?

Haiti's November 28 election was marred by widespread fraud. Despite the call of all the leading candidates but one to cancel the exercise, officials with the UN Security Council mission as well as the United States, Canada and Europe are voicing satisfaction with the result and urging the country’s electoral commission to press ahead with a second-round runoff vote in January.

The statement below was released on November 3 by the Canada Haiti Action Network in preparation for Haiti’s November 28 elections. For more information, visit . To contact CHAN, email canadahaiti@gmail.com.

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The Canada Haiti Action Network is once again expressing its grave concerns about exclusionary elections in Haiti.

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