Recent Feature Articles

By New York Times Editorial Board, New York Times, March 21, 2017

Today’s lesson in evading moral responsibility comes to us from the United Nations. The organization says it is terribly concerned about the cholera epidemic in Haiti and wishes to eliminate it. But it has not figured out when and how this is going to happen, and with what money.

The “who” and “why” are well known. The United Nations has the duty to end the cholera crisis because the United Nations caused it. The disease was unknown in modern Haiti until peacekeepers, from Nepal, introduced it. They let their raw sewage flow into a river that people use for drinking water. That was in 2010. Cholera has since killed more than 9,000 Haitians and sickened 800,000 others.

The United Nations has spent nearly all that time trying to avoid blame. Only last December did it apologize and promise to make things right. The secretary-general at the time, Ban Ki-moon, promised strenuous efforts, called the “New Approach,” to eradicate…

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, March 17, 2017

It’s time for the United Nations’ 2,300 blue-helmet soldiers in Haiti to head home after 13 years, the head of the world body recommended in a report to the U.N. Security Council this week.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said that the peacekeeping operation in Haiti should close by Oct. 15. Guterres made the recommendation in a 37-page U.N. report obtained by the Miami Herald.

“The military component should undergo a staggered but complete withdrawal of the 2,370 personnel,” Guterres said of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, which is more commonly known by its French acronym, MINUSTAH.

Guterres’ recommendation comes as President Donald Trump seeks to significantly cut the United States’ U.N. contribution with a particular focus on reductions in peacekeeping, environment and development. At the same time, the Trump administration is proposing to slash funding for the U.S. Agency for International Development, Haiti’s biggest donor.

As part of the phasing out of MINUSTAH after more than a decade in Haiti, Guterres is recommending that the $346 million mission “be extended for a final period of six months” after its current mandate expires on April 15. The U.N. Security Council is expected to debate Guterres’ recommendations — including the future role of the United Nations in Haiti — on April 11.

While Security Council members all agree on the draw-down, there is disagreement on the future of the U.N.’s presence in Haiti. Guterres is recommending that a smaller mission replace MINUSTAH to focus on police development and the country’s dysfunctional judiciary.

The move had been expected since last month, when U.N. Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous visited Haiti and …

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, March 15, 2017

“What goes around, comes around,” says the proverb, and former Haitian “rebel” leader Guy Philippe must be pondering this karmic truth as he languishes in his Miami, FL jail cell.

In February 2004, he played a key role in helping U.S. Special Forces kidnap then President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from Haiti and whisk him off to a seven year exile in Africa. Today, Philippe claims, through his lawyer, that U.S. government agents illegally kidnapped him from Haiti on Jan. 5, 2017 and, with “shocking and outrageous” conduct, flew him to Florida to stand trial because he has “too much information” about Washington’s overthrow of Aristide.

In November 2005 (21 months after the coup against Aristide), a U.S. grand jury issued a three count indictment against Philippe for drug trafficking and money laundering between 1997 and 2001. After his arrest in Haiti and transport to Miami, Philippe pled not guilty to the charges through his Hollywood, FL-based lawyer, Zeljka Bozanic. On Feb. 28, 2017, she  filed with U.S. District Court in Miami two motions to dismiss and one motion to abate (temporarily suspend) the case against Philippe.

One motion to dismiss argues that the U.S. took too long to arrest Philippe, 49, since the 2005 indictment. “[T]here was and has been no activity whatsoever and no effort by the United States to bring Mr. Philippe to trial until the Defendant’s kidnapping on Jan. 5, 2017,” Bozanic argues.                                                                                                          

Whether through ignorance or dishonesty, this assertion is patently untrue, since agents of Haiti’s Anti-Drug Trafficking Brigade (BLTS) and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) made at least two highly-publicized joint…

By Ken Karuri, Africa News, March 10, 2017

The United Nations is considering new measures to eradicate growing sexual abuse by its peacekeepers, including freezing payments to the countries of origin of the perpetrators.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday in an annual report that the number of cases of sexual exploitation or abuse involving peacekeepers and civilians employed in UN missions had jumped to 145 in 2016, compared with 99 the previous year.

The increase, according to the report, is explained by the fact that more victims are speaking out. The secretary general said that the reports in 2016 had emanated from 311 people, mainly women and minors.

Mr Guterres suggested retaining funding for countries of origin that would not investigate their accused soldiers deployed in peacekeeping missions within a “reasonable time”.

The funds would then be redirected to a fund for victims.

This measure already exists on an individual basis when an employee is involved. UN officials said at a press conference that US $ 49,000 had already been retained.

Mr. Guterres’ proposal would seek to widen this blocking of funds to a whole contingent when one of its own is accused.

The international organization has been shaken by a wave of accusations of sexual abuse perpetrated by UN peacekeepers deployed on civilian protection missions.

‘Not enough pressure’

Guterres, who assumed command of the UN in January, acknowledged that the organization “continues to face the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse, despite significant efforts over the past several years to address it “.

The largest number of cases have been recorded in four missions: Minusca in the Central African Republic, Monusco in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Minustah in Haiti and Minuss…

By Travis Ross, CHAN co-editor, March 12, 2017

A recent article by David McFadden of the Associated Press reports that the UN's military occupation force in Haiti known as MINUSTAH will "downsized in the near future". The UN plans to send 2,358 soldiers from 19 contributing countries over the next few months, according to the article. 

This comes as welcome news to Haitians, who have been demanding that MINUSTAH leave Haiti for over a decade. Despite McFadden's claims that MINUSTAH has "provided the only real security", the majority of Haitians have a different view of MINUSTAH's role in their country. 

Since arriving, MINUSTAH soldiers have been accused of multiple human rights abuses, including rape, child molestation, and murder. 

 

MINUSTAH is also responsible for the cholera outbreak that has killed over 8,500 Haitians and sickened more than 700,000 Haitians. Ban Ki-Moon, the ex Secretary-General of the UN, only recently took responsibility for the outbreak before retiring. The apology came years after scientists established that the cholera strain came from UN soldiers who dumped their waste into the Arbonite river, a waterway frequented by Haitians. 

McFadden's article has many inacurate statements. He describes MINUSTAH as a "peacekeeping force" brought to Haiti to "stabilize" the country after a "rebellion" that removed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power in 2004. MINUSTAH was…

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, March 3, 2017

The evening before he died, two-time Haitian President René Garcia Préval, who led Haiti during food riots and its worst natural disaster, called his wife, Elisabeth, who was visiting Coral Gables. He had just returned from paying his respects after the passing of a friend, and had discovered a new restaurant, he told her.

Préval, who had come to prefer the quiet of home to public restaurants in his post-presidency years, was excited about his new Italian find, and he couldn’t wait to take his wife there, Elisabeth Delatour Préval said to the Miami Herald.

On Friday, she remembered the conversation: “He asked, when am I coming home?”

Préval died Friday at their home in Laboule, a neighborhood in the hills of Port-au-Prince. He was 74. The cause of death has not been confirmed but friends close to him, many of whom gathered at the hospital where his body lay on a metal gurney, say it was likely the result of a heart attack.

“I refused to believe it. I cannot believe it,” said Delatour Préval, who was in Coral Gables when her husband died, though she had spoken to him three times Friday morning. “He was in excellent humor.”

Préval’s unexpected death shocked not just family and friends but also a broken nation that believed he still had unfinished business. And it came as Haitians and historians are still trying to define his role in history. Through two presidential terms, 1996-2001 and 2006-2011, Préval brought a steady hand to Haiti in some of its most difficult periods.

Though he was criticized for his handling of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake and for failing to strengthen political institutions, he was lauded in his second term for stepping out of the shadow of his former political mentor, ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and bringing back…

By Carol Gunesburg & Ronald Cesar, VOA News, March 2, 2017

Late last year, the United Nations vowed to intensify the fight against a deadly cholera outbreak its peacekeepers inadvertently carried to Haiti.

To date, however, the UN has raised just a small fraction of the estimated $400 million needed over the next two years to wage that campaign, according to a letter from the new secretary-general.

“The voluntary contributions that have been received are not yet sufficient and constitute only 2 percent of the amount," Antonio Guterres wrote in the letter sent last week to permanent representatives of the international body.

That would mean about $8 million. The letter said that as of February 8, five member states -- Chile, France, India, Liechtenstein and South Korea -- collectively had pledged almost $2 million to a U.N. multi-partner trust fund. Outside of that fund, Japan has promised $2.6 million and Canada has committed about $6 million.

Guterres’ letter asks all member states to notify him by March 6 of their intentions to help finance the campaign.

Separately, the U.S. government committed $2.9 billion to recovery and reconstruction efforts after a devastating quake in early 2010.

U.N. peacekeepers arriving from Nepal are believed to have caused Haiti’s current epidemic, which broke out near a U.N. base in October of that year. Since then, more than 788,000 people have been diagnosed with the infectious disease and at least 9,000 have died.

Last December, then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon apologized to Haiti’s people, on behalf of the United Nations, “for the loss of life and suffering caused by the country’s cholera epidemic.”

Ban, speaking at an informal General Assembly meeting then, added, “Eliminating cholera from Haiti, and living up to our moral…

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, March 1, 2017

Borrowing a practice used by the new U.S. President Donald Trump, Haiti’s new president Jovenel Moïse announced his choice for prime minister via Twitter on the evening of Feb. 22, 2017.

“After a second series of consultations with the presidents of the two chambers, I’ve made a choice of Dr. Jack Guy Lafontant as Prime Minister,” he tweeted in French.

Jovenel Moïse was exasperated after days of wrangling with his putative allies in Parliament, who were jostling and lobbying for various rival candidates, in particular House of Deputies president Cholzer Chancy, a reputed drug trafficker. The in-fighting was intense. The president ultimately decided to choose his own doctor (and that of his wife and father), whom he had been considering for the post of Health Minister.

“Jovenel finally got fed up and decided to choose his own man,” said Dr. Michel José Charles, a New York-based Haitian gastroenterologist who has known the prime minister pick for decades. Dr. Lafontant was a supporter of Jovenel Moïse since he launched his presidential campaign under the banner of the Haitian Bald Headed Party (PHTK) in 2015.

Described by several who know him as soft-spoken, serious, and honest, Dr. Lafontant, 55, is a gastroenterologist who trained in Haiti and Martinique but, as a matter of principle, has always worked in Haiti. In addition to being a well-respected doctor in Port-au-Prince, he is also a medical school professor and hospital administrator. He was the general director of the St. Croix Hospital in Léogâne (as well as the founder of its radio station) and member of the American College of Gastroenterology and the Haitian Medical Association, of which he was once treasurer.

Politically, Dr. Lafontant is the leader of the Democratic Movement for the Liberation of Haiti -…

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, Feb. 22, 2017

An obscure physician who heads the Petionville Rotary Club has been designated as Haiti’s next prime minister by President Jovenel Moïse. Dr. Jack Guy Lafontant, a gastroenterologist and member of the American College of Physicians, confirmed to the Miami Herald that he had been tapped and was “awaiting official confirmation.”

That confirmation came after Lafontant’s name was published Thursday in the country’s official publication, Le Moniteur. Now he must convince both chambers of Parliament thatwith his cabinet and political program, he’s the right man for the job.

The choice of Lafontant, 55, came as a surprise to Haitian political watchers and lawmakers. One of them, Sen. Jacques Sauveur Jean, a member of Moïse’s ruling PHTK party, told Magik 9 radio station that he only learned of the news Thursday morning and had no idea who Lafontant was or what he looked like.

Moïse chose Lafontant after two meetings with parliamentarians including an hours-long session on Wednesday with about 40 deputies at the presidential palace. Moïse had hoped to find a consensus for his No. 2, and at one point floated the name of insurance company owner Olivier Barrau. Barrau, however, was rejected by lawmakers, sources close to the negotiations said.

While Barrau’s name had been circulating for weeks as potential prime minister, along with that of Lower Chamber of Deputies President Cholzer Chancy, Lafontant’s had not.

A member of the American College of Gastroenterology and the Haitian Medical Association, Lafontant is a close friend of Moïse and a staunch supporter of the president from the start of his presidential bid. While he heads a small political party, the Democratic Movement of Haiti-Democratic Rally of Haiti (MODELH-PRDH),…

By Marc-Arthur Fils-Aimé, Haiti Liberté, Feb. 22, 2017

Haiti’s Nov. 20, 2016 elections did not live up to expectations. There was great hope that they would enable the country would emerge from its ever-deepening crisis. Instead, the elections were fraught with fraud and irregularities, sometimes similar but often different from that seen in 2015.

Electoral participation was only about 20%, enabling neo-liberal political parties without a proven program to seize power. Many of those elected are rumored to be drug traffickers, smugglers, and perpetrators of other heinous acts, thus depriving them of legitimacy and respect. The nation will suffer for at least the next four or five years.

The new Provisional Electoral Council did not revolutionize the electoral system

In terms of organization, the 2016 elections were not a break with those of 2015, especially with an electoral system which has discrete ways to facilitate or eliminate any candidate at any level. The new Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) of 2016 was chaired by Mr. Léopold Berlanger, historically a close ally of Washington. Despite the progressive credentials of a small minority of its nine members, as an institution, the CEP did not revolutionize the electoral system, as it should have. On the contrary, it legitimized many of the reprehensible acts orchestrated by its predecessor.

Relentless public outcry and demonstrations had forced the 2015 CEP to discontinue the fraudulent elections then in progress. This led to the 2015 CEP’s dissolution. The new CEP removed some members of the communal or departmental electoral offices (BEC, BED) and replaced them with better trained and possibly better intended people, but this did not have a significant impact on improving the flawed electoral system, now more than a decade old. The illusion that these elections…