Recent Feature Articles

By David Mcfadden, Associated Press, Feb. 20, 2017

Dozens of emaciated men with sunken cheeks and protruding ribs lie silently in an infirmary at Haiti’s largest prison, most too weak to stand. The corpse of an inmate who died miserably of malnutrition is shrouded beneath a plastic tarp.
 
Elsewhere, prisoners are crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in cellblocks so overcrowded they have to sleep in makeshift hammocks suspended from the ceiling or squeeze four to a bunk. New arrivals at Haiti’s National Penitentiary jostle for space on filthy floors where inmates on lockdown 22 hours a day are forced to defecate into plastic bags in the absence of latrines.
 
“Straight up: This is hell. Getting locked up in Haiti will drive you crazy if it doesn’t kill you first,” said Vangeliste Bazile, a homicide suspect who is among the about 80 percent of those incarcerated who have not been convicted of a crime but are held in prolonged pretrial detention waiting for their chance to see a judge.
Overcrowding, malnutrition and infectious diseases that flourish in jammed quarters have led to an upsurge of inmate deaths, including 21 at the Port-au-Prince penitentiary just last month. Those who monitor the country’s lockups are sounding an alarm about collapsing conditions.
 
“This is the worst rate of preventable deaths that I have encountered anywhere in the world,” said Dr. John May, a Florida physician who co-founded the nonprofit group Health Through Walls to improve health conditions in the Caribbean and several African nations.
 
Prisoners at the crumbling Port-au-Prince penitentiary flocked around a team of Associated Press journalists on a recent…
By Jake Johnston, Jacobin, Feb. 13, 2017

After more than a year of delays, Haiti finally elected a new president this past November. Jovenel Moïse — nicknamed the Banana Man — scored a first-round victory in a sprawling field of twenty-seven candidates, taking over 55 percent of the vote. The banana exporter, who has never held public office, was inaugurated on February 7.

The previous president, Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, seemingly plucked Moïse out of nowhere last year, making him the new face of the Haitian Bald-Headed Party (PHTK). Moïse’s win is an extraordinary achievement for a political neophyte, but it has one glaring problem: only 20 percent of Haiti’s voters showed up on election day. Moïse became president with less than 10 percent of registered voters ― only about 600,000 votes — supporting him.

Haiti stands as a stark reminder of the fragility of electoral democracy amid rising inequality and exclusion. After the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986, Haiti’s poor majority…

by Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, Feb. 8, 2017

Former auto parts salesman and banana exporter Jovenel Moïse, 48, became Haiti’s 58th president on Feb. 7, 2017, in ceremonies at the Parliament and a miniature model of the former National Palace, which was destroyed in the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake.

The President of Haiti’s Senate and Parliament’s National Assembly, Sen. Youri Latortue, whom the U.S. Embassy has described as a “Mafia boss,” “drug dealer,” and “poster-boy for political corruption,” draped the ceremonial Presidential sash on his close political confederate, who takes over from interim president Jocelerme Privert.

Indeed, the Parliament is dominated by senators and deputies from Moïse’s Haitian Bald Headed Party (PHTK) and other allied right-wing parties, making the Haitian government look very similar to that of the U.S. where another politically inexperienced businessman promising jobs, Donald Trump,  won power and has a Republican majority in Congress.

A number of the parliamentarians, including Latortue and Chamber of Deputies President Cholzer Chancy, have well-known criminal backgrounds, including some indictments and convictions. Indeed, one senator-elect – former soldier, police chief, and “rebel” leader Guy Philippe – could not make the ceremonies because he is being held on drug trafficking charges in a Miami jail cell, after having been arrested by Haitian police and turned over to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) on Jan. 5.

Moïse’s inaugural speech was tightly and professionally written (as one would expect from a candidate who spent $4 million for the expertise of the Madrid-based election-engineering firm Ostos & Sola), hitting all the usual notes.

By Jake Johnston, Center for Economic & Policy Research (CEPR), Feb. 7, 2017

Jovenel Moïse will be inaugurated as Haiti’s new president today as the country returns to constitutional order after a one-year extra-constitutional period of interim rule due to electoral delays.  Moïse had previously come in first in an October 2015 election, only to have the results thrown out due to fraud. Rerun in November 2016 under the interim government that replaced former president Michel Martelly, the elections had Moïse securing more than 50 percent of the vote, winning in the first round.

But serious questions continue to dog Moïse as he takes office. Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald reports:

Since his win, Moïse has been on a countrywide tour, celebrating his victory, endorsing candidates for the recently held local elections — and battling money-laundering suspicions.

Moïse has dismissed the suspicions as the work of political opponents. The probe began in 2013 under Martelly’s administration when the anti-financial crimes unit was tipped off about a suspicious bank transaction, the current head of the unit, Sonel Jean-François, has said.

Over the weekend, an investigative judge assigned to the case sent his findings to the government prosecutor, but the judge’s order has not been made public. Government prosecutor Danton Léger has yet to say whether he will dismiss the case, send it back to the judge for further review, or prosecute Moïse.

Should he seek to prosecute Moïse, Haiti could…

By Nicole Philips, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), Feb. 6, 2017

On the eve of President-elect Jovenel Moïse’s inauguration, a new report by international legal observers argues that Haiti’s democratic institutions are suffering a profound crisis of confidence. Low turnout, voter disenfranchisement and lingering concerns about fraud raise troubling questions about the breadth of the incoming president’s mandate, according to the report, entitled Haiti’s Unrepresentative Democracy: Disenfranchisement and Disillusionment in the November 20 Elections.

The report notes that despite many improvements in security and electoral administration over the 2015 elections, the 21 percent voter turnout represents the lowest participation rate for a national election in the Western Hemisphere since 1945. “Many Haitians did not vote, not because they did not want to, but because they were unable due to difficulties in obtaining electoral cards, registering to vote and finding their names on outdated electoral lists,” said attorney Nicole Phillips, delegation leader and co-author of the report.

The report documents how many would-be voters were disenfranchised on November 20, due to pervasive errors on electoral lists, difficulties accessing identity cards, and lack of voter education. Haitian electoral authorities also failed to take adequate measures against fraudulent voting. Prior to the election, the head of the National Identification Office (ONI) …

By Jacques Nési, Haiti Liberté, Feb. 1, 2017

The influence of what is called, with deceptive ease, the "international community" determines Haitians’ present and future, largely due to the deficit of national sovereignty and legitimacy that taints the Haitian authorities which act as intermediaries. This “international community” supposedly accompanies Haiti on its quest for democracy, sharing her concerns and uncertainties. But its overbearing influence is troubling. Is it not a little contradictory for Haiti, supposedly under the control of United Nations troops, to think about defining its own foreign policy? Is it not a phony posture, in this context of moral decay, to talk about formulating a foreign policy that takes into account Haiti’s interests and aspirations?

Could this be nationalism? For a country which is completely financially dependent on the “international community,” wouldn’t it be utopian obstinacy for Haiti to think of forging new relations with it? Would Haitian authorities be ungrateful to think of solving their people’s  problems by insisting on a sovereign and autonomous approach?

Haitian nationalism, although in crisis, exists; it has always asserted itself despite the preponderance of the "international community." Like Haiti, the “international community” talks about the values of freedom, equality, and independence throughout the world and in international fora. But the burdensome influence of the "international community" erodes any capacity for endogenous development. Haiti grows nostalgic for its status as a pioneering state with a reputation for defending the oppressed.

The "international community," which is guided by powerful nation-states, gives itself the right to impose its notion of democracy on societies. It pretends to be committed to restoring the rule of law through using the…

By TeleSUR, Jan. 27, 2017

Bolivian President Evo Morales called on Mexico to look southward and help strengthen Latin American integration, in the wake of various announcements from U.S. President Donald Trump targeting Mexico as well as migrants and refugees in the United States.

"I call on our Mexican brothers to look more towards the south, to jointly build unity based on our (shared) Latin American and Caribbean heritage," Morales posted on Twitter.

The message comes just hours after Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto canceled an upcoming meeting with his U.S. counterpart after Trump announced that the imminent building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, with White House officials adding that Mexico would pay for it "one way or another."

The order was signed as two high-level Mexican envoys were in Washington to prepare for the two leaders' meeting. Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order to "build a large physical barrier on the southern border."

The newly-minted U.S. leader said the wall is needed to keep out illegal migration and drug trafficking, though critics say the barrier will further separate families and experts say it would not solve those problems.

The Union of South American Nations, or UNASUR, also blasted Trump's announcements.

In a statement, UNASUR Secretary General Ernesto Samper rejected the "humiliating" imposition for Mexicans.

"I express my rejection of the defiant decision adopted by the new president of the United States to impose on the Mexican people the humiliating obligation of paying, and the even more humiliating wall intended to be built to physically separate the United States and Canada from Mexico and Latin America," Samper said.

On Thursday, Trump also floated the idea of slapping a 20-per cent tax on…

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, Jan. 24, 2017

A Haitian judge is investigating a report by the government’s financial crimes unit indicating that incoming President Jovenel Moïse may have laundered millions of dollars through at least one local bank, and a separate claim that he received special treatment to obtain thousands of dollars in business loans.

Just two weeks before Moïse, 48, is set to be sworn in on Feb. 7, Judge Brédy Fabien has begun hearing testimony “that it is possible Mr. Jovenel Moïse manipulated funds that have nothing to do with his businesses,” according to a 68-page report by Haiti’s Central Financial Intelligence Unit.

The investigation was initiated in 2013 after a bank contacted the financial crimes unit about suspicious transactions, said Sonel Jean-François, head of the unit that investigates money laundering. The administrative report was first leaked in the fall during Haiti’s presidential campaign.

Moïse, a banana farmer and auto parts dealer who campaigned on rooting out corruption and strengthening Haitian government watchdogs like the financial crimes unit, has repeatedly dismissed the money-laundering suspicions.

“This is purely a political battle, and it has nothing to do with the truth,” he told the Miami Herald Tuesday, in between campaign stops for Sunday’s countrywide local elections.

According to two sources close to the probe, the judge is investigating information supplied by the financial crimes unit, which looked at 14 bank accounts held by Moïse, his wife and his businesses.

The investigation, covering 2007 through 2013, is…

By Catherine Charlemagne, Haiti Liberté, Jan. 18, 2016

Humans, unlike other animals, possess what philosophers call reason. Without entering into philosophical analysis - that is not the purpose of this chronicle at this point in the Haitian electoral process - it is now urgent that all people endowed with this faculty use their common sense.

Using reason, let’s examine the final results of the Nov. 20, 2016 general elections, results which were challenged by the three main presidential candidates and some candidates for seats in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.

The presidential candidates – Dr. Maryse Narcisse of Fanmi Lavalas, Jude Célestin of LAPEH, and Moïse Jean-Charles of the Pitit Dessalines Platform – began protesting even before the results were published, giving a first round victory to their competitor, Jovenel Moïse of the Haitian Bald Headed Party (PHTK). But there was not just one election that day. There were also partial legislative elections (senators and deputies) and municipal races.

In principle, we should begin to challenge when we have in our possession all the results. But in Haiti, politicians live by different rules. They challenge first, then see what happens later.

Recent history encouraged adopting this approach. A verification commission found that the 2015 presidential elections were fraudulent. Therefore, in 2016, the three protesting presidential candidates immediately suspected fraud.

After the preliminary results were released, the three runners-up brought the matter before the Electoral Courts. They contended that there was massive fraud, resulting in an “electoral coup.” They demanded proper verification, which is legitimate, otherwise their competitor would win the election dishonestly.

But in the meantime, the results of other races were released. They revealed a…

By Jake Johnston, Center for Economic & Policy Research (CEPR), Jan. 12, 2017

To mark the 7th anniversary of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, a number of organizations belonging to the Haiti Advocacy Working Group released the following statement. For a full list of sponsoring organizations, click here

January 12, 2017 – Washington, DC –  On the seventh anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, human rights groups, faith-based organizations, policy institutes and humanitarian organizations would like to honor those who lost their lives in the earthquake, as well as those who lost their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. Haiti’s vulnerability to natural disasters is the result of human policies, which can be changed. As the election crisis comes to an end, and President-elect Jovenel Moise is set to take office on February 7, 2017, there’s a unique opportunity for sustained change now.

 

January 12, 2010 Earthquake

The earthquake and the more than 59 aftershocks that followed took the lives of an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 people, displaced 1,300,000, and directly affected 3,000,000. Despite the billions in aid offered, thousands remain homeless. As of September 2016, the International Migration Organization (IOM) estimated 55,000 people remain in spontaneous or organized camps. For hundreds of thousands of other Haitians “…