Still reeling from the earthquake, hurricane and cholera outbreak, Haiti has had to face fraudulent elections followed by protests. There’s ‘no resolution in sight, other than possibly to cancel the elections altogether,’ reports Sokari Ekine, in this week’s round-up of the African blogosphere.
I recently returned from Haiti and thus the country is still very much in my thoughts. Also next week will mark the one-year anniversary of the earthquake, which killed over 250,000 and destroyed much of Port-au-Prince (the official figure, but I suspect the real number is much higher). The repercussions are still being felt by 1.2 million displaced peoples living in make shift shacks and tents across the city, as well as those who have moved to the countryside or are still staying with friends and or relatives. Their lives have been made worse by the outbreak of cholera, which has so far claimed the lives of over 3,000 people (again this is the official figure) with possibly over 100,000 people who have had the illness. (See my article Haitian diary: survival in the time of cholera for more details on this).
In addition to the earthquake, hurricane and cholera, there have also been fraudulent elections followed by protests with no resolution in sight, other than possibly to cancel the elections altogether. A recent article from Haiti Libre reports that the CEP (electoral council) have said there cannot be a second round before February. I recall one of the major stories on Haitian radio were the elections in Ivory Coast and as one person said to me, ‘Well at least we don't have to deal with two presidents – as if one is not enough of a problem!’
Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela comments on the ‘recount and review’ of the 28 November elections which show massive irregularities – a fact that was apparent to most people even before the voting ended.
‘An independent recount and review of 11,171 tally sheets from Haiti’s 28 November election shows that the outcome of the election is indeterminate. The review, conducted by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), found massive irregularities and errors in the tally. A report detailing the recount’s findings, and methodology, will be made available next week.
‘“With so many irregularities, errors, and fraudulent vote totals, it is impossible to say what the results of this election really are,” said Mark Weisbrot, economist and CEPR Co-Director.
‘“If the Organization of American States certifies this election, this would be a political decision, having nothing to do with election monitoring,” said Weisbrot. “They would lose all credibility as a neutral election-monitoring organization.”’
Haiti, Land of Freedom, by Wadner Pierre, publishes an article on the impact of food aid on human rights in Haiti. The report entitled ‘Sak Vid Pa Kanpe’ which means ‘a sack cannot stand if empty’ refers to the idea that while food aid provides sustenance in the short term, in the long term it is damaging as it fails to provide food security and therefore ‘interferes with basic human rights’.
‘“The realization of the right to food requires more than temporary alleviation of hunger," the report says. It traces U.S. policy towards Haiti over the past several decades and concludes: "While coercing Haiti to nearly eliminate its import tariffs on rice, reduce investments in agriculture, and focus on a few crops for export, the United States gradually increased shipments of its own agricultural commodities to Haiti." ..............The result has been "a disastrous effect on Haitians' ability to produce food for domestic consumption and has created Haitian dependence on the importation of food." In 1986, Haiti produced 80% of the food it consumed. By 2008, that figure was 42%. In the wake of the earthquake and now the cholera outbreak, the gap between local agricultural production and imported aid is widening every more. ........Researchers for the report found that in the region of Hinche, food aid did fill important gaps in people's needs but did not eliminate hunger. Nearly 90% of people responding to the survey - and over 80% of their young children - had gone to sleep hungry in the month before the survey because there was not enough food...............Some 62% of surveyed aid recipients reported that they did not know how to prepare the food because it was unfamiliar while 11% of recipients received food that was inedible; 14% became ill from eating food aid.’
Ezili Danto reports on serial rapist and child molester, Douglas Perlitz, who was sentenced on 22 December to 20 years for sexual abuse of Haitian boys. Though this is an old post, it is an important one and very much worth mentioning. Perlitz founded the Project Pierre Toussaint which provided food, shelter and schooling to homeless boys in Cap Haitian. The abuse took place between 2001 and 2008.
‘This is a truly extraordinary ruling for the Haiti children - for the world's defenseless children living in countries where the wealthier, predatory U.S. sex-tourists hunt, heretofore with almost complete impunity.
‘Judge Arterton also said she read every letter sent. I think the maximum sentence reflected this. USGA, Krishna Patel was slamming! I mean really good in nailing her case! Doug Perlitz's lawyer rambled on, called the children the "scourge of the earth," “below dirt,” and said Haiti was so dark, pessimistic and negative, it contributed to Perlitz's downward spiral into abuse. The man was unnecessarily offensive.
‘It was a privilege and honor to thank the US government team and Rod Khattabi. A true pleasure. They did a spectacular job. It was heartbreaking listening to the children testimony. Six came up from Haiti along with two of the teachers who first listened to them and tried to stop Perlitz. True, true heroes - Margarette Joseph and Robinson Gedeus!!!’
The case is a reminder to be vigilant and insist on accountability in the operations of charities etc working in Haiti and even more so since the earthquake when hundreds if not thousands of NGOs of all shapes and sizes have descended on Haiti over the past 12 months. No doubt there are those who are doing good work but many remain questionable in their motives and actions.
Unfortunately I do not speak French and am therefore not familiar with bloggers from Cote d’Ivoire. However for those interested it’s worth following the Twitter hash tag #civ2010 and also Will Connors (@wconnors), a freelance journalist based in Nigeria who has been tweeting on the post- election violence and political stand-off.
The Egyptian Twitter-sphere has been providing readers with up-to-the-minute accounts of the New Year’s Day bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria and the subsequent street protests by Muslims and Christians coming together and the violent response by the Egyptian police. See hash tags #WeAllCopts and #Egypt, and worth a special mention @MAswad, @RamyRaoof, @Alaa, @Gsquare86, @waelabbas.
Arabaway Arabaway has a number of videos and photos reports protesting against the sectarian violence:
‘Brutal clashes took place today in Shubra, as police cracked down on Coptic protesters (joined by leftists and rights activists). There are around 15 activists kettled as I’m typing now, and at least five in police custody. The Coptic church had a disgraceful role as always today trying to persuade the youth not to protest or attack the regime. The church continues to be a diffuser of dissent. But it’s clear the militancy and resistance of the young Copts cannot be easily contained.’
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