Recent Feature Articles

By Sean Jacobs, The Guardian, Nov. 30, 2016

If Africa is a country, then Fidel Castro is one of our national heroes. This may come as a surprise to many oblivious of Africa’s postcolonial history and Castro’s role in it – especially the fate of white regimes and former Portuguese colonies in southern Africa.

In the west, Castro’s legacy is usually dismissed as an authoritarian, and Cuba as a one-party state with few freedoms. Despite the many achievements of Cuba under Castro (high quality public healthcare, as well as life expectancy, child immunisation and literacy systems parallel to those of first-world nations, and even surpassing the US), at various times the country became renowned for economic crisis, media repression, exiling and imprisoning dissidents, and discriminating against gays and people with AIDS.

Those things were a betrayal of the revolution, and it is important to acknowledge that. But history has absolved Castro when it comes to Cuba’s foreign policy, especially its Africa policy.

by Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, Nov. 30, 2016

The largest and most important percentage to emerge from Haiti’s Nov. 20, 2016 election is that 78.31% of the country’s 6.2 million eligible voters did not vote.

Some could not obtain their National Identification Card (CIN) or find their name on the long voter lists posted on the gates of huge voting centers. Others could not get to their assigned center because they live or work too far away, perhaps in another part of the country. In fact, the whole “voting center” system, which is different from that used in the 1990s when participation was much higher, has objectively suppressed the votes of many poor, itinerant Haitians.

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.