Recent Feature Articles

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, April 28, 2016

Acknowledging the opposition by some Haitians and foreign diplomats to any recount of last year’s disputed elections, Haiti’s interim president on Thursday installed a five-member commission to help determine who should serve in parliament and who should head into a presidential runoff.

“The commission is indispensable to assure the credibility of the electoral process,” President Jocelerme Privert said during a ceremony at the National Palace.

The former head of the Haitian Senate, Privert was elected by a joint session of parliament on Feb. 14 to resume Haiti’s interrupted elections by April 24 and transfer power to a new president on May 14. But the failure to meet either of those deadlines has made him a target of criticism from foreign diplomats, the international community, the opposition, and former President Michel Martelly. Martelly, who did not hold one election during his four years in office, stepped down on Feb. 7 without an elected successor because of the disputed vote.

 
Haiti’s long-awaited, long-debated verification commission will soon see the light of day … maybe. “We have chosen the five members of the commission, a decree will be published shortly,” provisional President Jocelerme Privert told journalists during an April 20 press conference at the airport, shortly before leaving for a UN conference in New York. A verification commission has been a key demand of many civil society organizations, human rights figures and political parties, which for months have called for an investigation into electoral fraud. But the idea of verifying the vote has many powerful opponents, from former President Michel Martelly’s PHTK party and its allies in Parliament to the U.S. and other Core Group countries funding Haiti’s elections. And nearly a week after Privert’s announcement, the commission has still not been officially constituted.
 

By David McFadden, Associated Press, April 25, 2016

The three friends had spent the day stocking up on food in the Haitian capital when they left for their village, setting off on the 20-mile trip home by foot because the minibuses known as tap-taps weren't running after a bridge collapse. Their bodies were found the next morning in a ditch along the way. They had been beaten, stabbed and burned, and relatives who identified them in a morgue said their tongues were cut out in an apparent act of ritualistic savagery.

 
The women's family and friends suspect they were targeted because they were deaf in a country where experts say a pervasive stigma isolates people with disabilities such as deafness and can spark superstitions leading to horrific cruelty. Disabled women and girls are particularly vulnerable.
 
Due to cultural prejudices and the weakness of the justice system, past crimes against disabled citizens have been largely ignored. But the slayings of Jesula Gelin, Vanessa Previl and Monique Vincent have galvanized Haitians with disabilities and prompted rare public protests by their advocacy groups.

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, April 27, 2016

Haiti’s Provisional President Jocelerme Privert visited New York this past weekend to attend the Apr. 22 signing, by many heads of state and government, of the Paris Climate Agreement which was reached on Dec. 12, 2015. In addition to that ceremony at the United Nations General Assembly, President Privert held several other meetings with UN and other government officials, as well as with businessmen and Haitian doctors, among others. On Saturday, he also made a mostly unpublicized visit to Brooklyn’s Haitian community, where Haïti Liberté’s Kim Ives was granted an exclusive interview at Tonèl Restaurant. The interview was conducted in Kreyòl and has been translated into English.

By Rosa Freedman & Nicolas Lemay-Hémert, The Conversation, April 26, 2016

What happens when a humanitarian organisation meant to protect people instead causes them grave harm? That has long been the question where it comes to the UN’s peacekeeping operations. From sexual violence to looting, from deaths caused by drink-driving to property damage, a great many individuals have been harmed by peacekeepers, and the structures to provide protection and remedy range from threadbare to non-existent.

But it’s another thing altogether when the harm done is attributable not to individual peacekeepers, but to UN operations in general. Two of the gravest examples of this have occurred in recent years: the Haiti cholera epidemic, and the poisoning of Roma in displaced persons camps in Kosovo.

For years, there have been fights to secure justice for both sets of victims. But while Haiti’s struggle goes on, in the Kosovan case, it looks like a major breakthrough has been made.

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, April 23, 2016

Once more, Haiti is missing an election deadline Sunday — and will not have an elected president in office by May 14, the date stipulated in a Feb. 5 political accord to transfer power from the country’s current caretaker government to an elected one.

According to the political accord, Haiti’s 5.8 million voters should be heading to the ballot box. But a weeks-long political battle over the formation of the interim government, the late seating of a new elections body and the calls for a vote recount led to no official scheduling of the date by the Provisional Electoral Council, and no presidential decree officially calling voters to the polls.

“Today for the elections to happen you have to ask ‘Do the conditions exist?’ ” provisional President Jocelerme Privert told the Miami Herald during a visit to the United Nations where Haiti was among 175 countries Friday that signed the Paris climate agreement. He expects an elections calendar to be published by the end of May, he said.

By Mario Hernandez & Camille Chalmers, Libya 360, April 12, 2016

Mario Hernandes interviews Camille Chalmers. 

M.H.: Communication in Montevideo with the Haitian Human Rights activist, Camille Chalmers. I would like to know your comments on your country’s situation and what are your reasons for the visit to the Eastern Republic of Uruguay.

C.Ch.: We are going through a very difficult time in Haiti as a result of 12 years of occupation by the MINUSTAH forces, allegedly to maintain peace that has had a large negative effect.In this situation we are in the midst of an electoral crisis that led to popular movements of protest in Haiti against attempts to manipulate the election and block expression of a popular vote.

There have been two elections in 2015; the last on October 9 in which there was a democratic majority and reports and evaluations revealed they were totally fraudulent with gross manipulation, including cartoons of a ballot with only one candidate. This was because the second place winner refused to present himself considering it a total farce.

By Jake Johnston, Center for Economic & Policy Research (CEPR), April 14, 2016

Interim President Jocelerme Privert has announced his intention to move forward with the creation of an electoral verification commission. But the commission faces significant pushback from both international actors who provide the bulk of the funding for Haiti’s elections and Haitian politicians connected to former president Michel Martelly.

Responding to the “unanimous expression” of civil society and political leaders, Privert declared on Monday that a new round of consultations would be held this week, aimed at establishing common terms of reference and identifying potential members for a verification commission. The body, which has yet to be formally organized, would be tasked with reviewing previous election results and electoral court decisions before moving forward with the as-yet-unfinished electoral process. A verification process is necessary, Privert said, to establish confidence and encourage “players to trust the [electoral council] and to participate in the upcoming elections.”

By Ed Pilkington & Joe Sandler Clarke, The Guardian, April 14, 2016

The devastating Haiti cholera epidemic that has claimed thousands of lives and will cost more than $2bn to eradicate could have been prevented if the United Nations had used a basic health kit for a total of less than $2,000, scientists have found.

A team of Yale epidemiologists and lawyers has looked at how the cholera bacterium was introduced to Haiti by United Nations peacekeepers relocated there in the aftermath of its 2010 earthquake. Yale’s startling finding is that simple screening tests costing $2.54 each, combined with preventive antibiotics at less than $1 per peacekeeper, could have avoided one of the worst outbreaks of the deadly disease in modern history.

The Yale experts warn that the catastrophe in Haiti could be repeated as the UN appears to have failed to learn the lessons of its lack of preventive screening of peacekeepers. Some 150,000 UN peacekeepers are deployed from cholera-endemic countries each year but there is still no routine procedure to ensure they are free of the infection before being moved.

By Javiera Alarcon, Foreign Policy in Focus, April 4, 2016

They called it the Parsley Massacre.

Directed by the ruthless Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, soldiers rounded up thousands of people along the Dominican Republic’s borderlands with Haiti, demanding that they identify a sprig of parsley. The story goes that when French- and Creole-speaking Haitians failed to mimic the Spanish pronunciation, perejil, they were murdered. Estimates of the number killed range as high as 20,000 to 30,000.

The 1937 massacre is a haunting flashpoint in a long tradition of anti-Haitian politics — anti-haitanismo — on the eastern half of the island shared by the two countries. Now there’s a different kind of test for Dominicans of Haitian descent. And the price for failure is deportation.