Recent Feature Articles

By Dady Chery, Haiti Chery, Nov. 29, 2016

The members of Haiti’s Interim Electoral Commission (CEP) tentatively showed their faces around 11 p.m. on Monday, November 28 to announce the preliminary results of the November 20 election. They had dodged the press since 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The hiccup was that they had needed more than seven hours to pressure one of their own four refractory members to sign off on the elections. First, CEP Director, Leopold Berlanger, apologized, not for the CEP’s rigged elections, but for his tardiness. Next, as a preliminary sedative, the CEP explained its computation methods before it delivered its cooked results.

More than a week of furious computations on slightly more than a million ballots had produced the result that PHTK’s Jovenel Moise had supposedly won 595,430 votes for 55.67 percent of the total; LAPEH’s Jude Celestin had got 208,837 votes for 19.52 percent of the total; Pitit Desalin’s Moise Jean Charles had got 118,142 votes for 11.04 percent of the total; and Fanmi Lavalas had won 96,121 votes for 8.99 percent of the total.

Today, as Haitians head to the polls, IJDH's Nicole Phillips (@BuddhistLawyer) and CEPR's Jake Johnston (@JakobJohnston), who are in Haiti with delegates from the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humainsand the National Lawyers Guild, will be providing reports throughout the day. The delegation will observe polling places throughout country, with a focus on the South and Grand’Anse Departments, which were devastated by Hurricane Matthew on October 3-4. The difficult conditions caused by the storm have called into question whether voters in these regions will be able to exercise their right to vote as protected by Haitian and international law.

By Jake Johnston, Center for Economic & Policy Research (CEPR), Nov. 16, 2016

In a crowded field of 54 presidential candidates, the top two finishers in last year’s elections were Jovenel Moïse (PHTK) and Jude Celestin (LAPEH). Third and fourth were Moïse Jean-Charles (Platfom Pitit Dessalines) and Maryse Narcisse (Fanmi Lavalas). Although the earlier vote was plagued by fraud and irregularities and the results were eventually discarded, the top four finishers on October 25, 2015 are expected to lead the pack of 27 candidates participating on Sunday, November 20. Here is a closer look at the principal candidates heading into this weekend’s election:

By Jake Johnston, Center for Economic & Policy Research (CEPR), Nov. 15, 2016

Less than a week from now, on November 20, Haiti heads to the polls to choose a new president as well as dozens of legislative seats. The electoral process started in 2015 but has been repeatedly delayed and postponed due to post-election protests, candidates’ boycotts, and more recently Hurricane Matthew. The results of last October’s first-round presidential election were thrown out on the recommendation of an independent investigative commission that identified significant levels of fraud and other irregularities. Below is a timeline that traces the major events of Haiti’s extended electoral saga:

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, Nov. 16, 2016

Only six weeks ago, Category 4 Hurricane Matthew ravaged Haiti’s southern peninsula, leaving close to 600 people dead, thousands of homes destroyed, bridges and roads washed out, and over one million people in great distress. Ten days ago, another storm dumped a foot of rain in 48 hours on Haiti’s north, causing massive, destructive flooding in Cap Haïtien and at least 10 deaths.

Haiti’s verdant south provides much of the country’s food, but now “tens of thousands of acres of crop land and millions of fruit trees have been destroyed," said Ann Lee, the chief executive of J/P HRO, the humanitarian relief NGO founded by actor Sean Penn after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake.

This has raised the specter of famine. "If we don't manage to re-launch agriculture in three to four months, we'll find ourselves with a major food crisis," Haiti’s interim President Jocelerme told the BBC. "Our projection is that we need between $25 million and $30 million to resolve the farming issue. Right now we have $2.5 million."

It is in this catastrophic context that Haiti is rushing to hold elections on Sun., Nov. 20, despite the almost certain exclusion of thousands of storm victims. Run-offs are scheduled for Jan. 29, 2017.

By Mark Schuller, Counter Punch, Nov. 7, 2016

I returned from my shortest trip to Haiti last week, back to DeKalb, Illinois, an agribusiness hub, hosting Nestle and Monsanto processing plants. Most cornfields have been harvested. The Cubs won the world series for the first time in 108 years. Another of Illinois’ home grown, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has an 84% likelihood of being elected the U.S. first female president in a couple of days, per the New York Times.

Meanwhile Haiti is all but forgotten. A month ago, Hurricane Matthew ripped through Haiti. News from the assessment was slow to arrive.

In terms of loss of human life, this disaster was thankfully far less deadly than the earthquake on January 12, 2010, almost seven years ago now.

However, in terms of material damage – over 80 percent of houses destroyed, livestock, a season’s crops, not to mention trees dead – Hurricane Matthew is proving very devastating. This is to say nothing of urgent public health concerns like hunger and a spike in cholera, a disease U.N. troops brought to Haiti in 2010.

By Milo Milfort, Haiti Liberté, Nov. 9, 2016

At the beginning of October 2016, Hurricane Matthew ripped through three of Haiti’s southern departments (Nippes, South, and Grand'Anse), causing terrible destruction. Along with infectious diseases, such as cholera, hunger has spiked in the aftermath.

"The people are desperate, their plantations destroyed and difficult to access. Hunger is at the door." This was the cry for help of the residents of Counoubois, a rural section of Chambelan in the Grand'Anse region that went viral on social media networks for several days after Hurricane Matthew passed through.

Grand'Anse is Haiti’s bread-basket, but now its agriculture is more than 80% destroyed. In other regions, food stores have suffered serious damage, and the availability of local produce is reduced. Livestock has been lost in some areas, fishing is paralyzed, all subsistence crops have been lost, and fruit trees have been severely damaged. Matthew left at least 546 dead, 128 missing, and 2.1 million victims throughout the country, according to Haitian authorities.

By Ana S. Ayala, Institute for National & Global Health Law, Nov. 3, 2016

With only two months left in office, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced a $400 million plan to eradicate cholera in Haiti, known as the Haiti Cholera Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF). Close to 10,000 people have died and around 800,000 people have been infected in Haiti as a result of a cholera epidemic introduced by U.N. peacekeepers in 2010 in the wake of the earthquake that devastated the country. The United Nations surprised the world with its refusal to apologize to the Haitian people and admit legal responsibility for failing to properly screen its peacekeepers from illnesses. The argument? Legal immunity from lawsuits in national courts, a stance that the U.N. continues to hold onto despite the serious criticism that the organization has received since the epidemic started.

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, Nov. 2, 2016

A letter from Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to interim President Jocelerme Privert suggests that the first round of do-over presidential elections as well as several legislative run-offs might not take place on Nov. 20 as currently planned.

In the Oct. 27, 2016 letter, which was obtained by the Haitian daily Le Nouvelliste, CEP chief Léopold Berlanger gives Privert’s government ten days to repair 280 voting centers, make passable the roads leading to 161 others, and provide potentially tens of thousands of voter identification cards to people who lost them due to Hurricane Matthew.

About 40 of the would-be voting centers – mostly schools – are being used to temporarily house people made homeless when Hurricane Matthew passed over the tip of Haiti’s southern peninsula on Oct. 4, devastating the geographic departments of the South, Grand-Anse, and Nippes.

By Somini Sengupta & Jonathan M. Katz, New York Times, Oct. 24, 2016

Ever since United Nations peacekeepers introduced a devastating cholera epidemic to Haiti in 2010, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has insisted that the global body is immune from legal claims. In the past few months, he has acknowledged a “moral responsibility” for the epidemic, but he has stopped short of saying sorry.

Now, with barely two months left in his term, Mr. Ban’s administration is scrambling to compensate, for the first time, those who have suffered, with a plan to give them or their communities cash payments from a proposed $400 million cholera response package. He also wants to make good on an unfulfilled promise to eradicate cholera from Haiti as the disease continues to claim lives.

But the United Nations does not have the money it needs for the proposed package, and is facing criticism that it is still avoiding legal culpability for one of the worst calamities to ever befall Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country.

Roughly 9,500 Haitians have died from cholera — some researchers say the toll could be far greater — and hundreds of thousands have been sickened. The disease has surged in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

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