January 8, 2011
Dear Seattle Times Opinion section and Mr Hal Bernton,
Today I read your article on the elections in Haiti, titled "A year after the earthquake, disputed Haitian election adds to uncertainty over Haiti's future": http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2013885387_haitielection9m.html. I am writing to suggest some information that could strengthen the piece.
For example, your article claims that Michel Martelly has a "loyal following among many of the nation's poor." This claim does not hold up to either the observation of most people that I have spoken with who are on the ground in Haiti, nor does it hold up to the recent report issued by CEPR that breaks down the number of votes in the recent "election": http://www.cepr.net/index.php/publications/reports/haitis-fatally-flawed-election.
Extremely poor people make up the vast majority of the population in Haiti and by looking at the CEPR report it is clear that the vast majority did not take part in this election. Michel Martelly is believed to have received a vote that amounts to 4.3 percent of the country's total population. How does that amount translate into massive support among the poor?
My recent article on the campaign of Michel Martelly and his pro-Haitian military / anti-democracy roots provides further context on Martelly and his bid for the presidency: http://www.canadahaitiaction.ca/content/michel-martelly-rightist-and-coup-supporter. I also point you to a recent op-ed in the Miami Herald that makes a solid argument on fixing these elections so that the poor majority is respected and has a role in the development of the country: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/01/03/1997854/hold-new-open-fair-elections.html.
I hope you will continue to investigate these issues.
Sociology Department, Social Sciences and Media Studies Bldg.
University of California Santa Barbara,
Ph (805) 886-0429 Fax (805) 893-3324 email: jhsprague[at] umail.ucsb.edu university
web page: http://www.uweb.ucsb.edu/~jhsprague/