Haiti

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. * * * The Canada Haiti Action Network is once again expressing its grave concerns about exclusionary elections in Haiti.
Cap Haitien, Haiti’s second largest city, was awakened by demonstrations on November 15 against the United Nation’s occupation force, Minustah, which is accused of being responsible for starting the cholera epidemic in Haiti. Shortly after 6am, thousands of angry demonstrators took to the streets in the city, where cholera has killed more than 200 people. Demonstrators also denounced the Haitian government’s mismanagement of the epidemic.
An outbreak of cholera has been documented in the area surrounding the lower Artibonite region of Haiti. There had been more than 2000 cases of acute watery diarrhea and 160 deaths reported by October 22. Cholera is an acute diarrheal illness spread by drinking water containing the organism Vibrio cholera. Symptoms typically develop between one and five days after drinking water contaminated by the human feces of persons infected with the cholera bacteria.
A report by the government of Cuba, posted to the United Nations Relief Web website, said representatives of the Union of South American nations (Unasur — which unites all South American countries), met via teleconference on October 25 and agreed to commence emergency medical shipments to the areas of Haiti affected by the cholera epidemic, CanadaHaitiAction reported. Ten countries took part in the conference: Argentina; Chile; Colombia; Peru, Venezuela; Bolivia; Uruguay; Paraguay; Brazil and Ecuador.
“Nothing! Nothing! We’ve seen nothing!”, chanted a crowd of internally displaced people (IDP) on October 6. They were pursuing former US president Bill Clinton from his photo-op in their squalid camp on his way to the third Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC) meeting in downtown Port-au-Prince. The crowd protesting against Clinton was from an IDP camp on the golf-course of the former Petionville Club, a bourgeois enclave created by US Marines when they first occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934.
Comparisons must be made between the impact of the September 5 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the quake that hit Haiti in January. In Haiti — with a population of about 9 million — about 250,000 people died in the earthquake. According to government figures, 200,000 were injured and 1 million were made homeless. Eight months later, disaster still grips people’s lives. Fortunately, but in staggering contrast, no lives were lost in New Zealand, although the earthquake was of a similar — but slightly more powerful — magnitude (7 on the Richter scale).
Below is an English translation of an open letter to the French government published in the August 16 French daily Liberation signed by a wide-range of writers and activists. Signatories include writers Tariq Ali, Eduardo Galeano and Naomi Klein, Filipino parliamentarian Walden Bello and US academic Noam Chomsky. The English statement, and the introduction below, are reprinted from The Bullet, where a full list of signatures can be found.
When police in Jamaica launched a bloody assault in May on poor neighbourhoods in the country’s capital city, news outlets in Canada responded with an ignorance and insensitivity that is all too common in their coverage of the Caribbean islands. As with Haiti, Jamaica is portrayed as incomprehensibly violent and not quite civilised.

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