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mercredi 27 avril 2016

La dangereuse ingérence américaine en Haïti

Publié le 26 avril 2016
Diplomates et politiques américains ne se lassent de multiplier les déclarations incendiaires au sujet d’Haïti. Et leur façon de vouloir perpétuer à tout prix le règne calamiteux de l’ex-président Michel Martelly, par dauphin interposé, manque de discrétion. La lourde artillerie diplomatique Les dernières déclarations du secrétaire d’État américain John Kerry, de l’ambassadeur américain en Haïti, Peter Mulrean, et la lettre des trois sénateurs républicains à l’encontre d’une indispensable vérification des résultats controversés des dernières élections présidentielles et législatives en Haïti, devraient provoquer une franche et unanime désapprobation dans l’opinion nationale et internationale.
Elles soulignent l’hypocrisie de Washington, qui inflige un camouflet à la chancelante démocratie haïtienne en écartant d’un revers de main les revendications de l’opposition politique de manière inexplicable. Sauf, bien sûr, à invoquer des motivations politiques et économiques, qui ne servent l’intérêt du peuple haïtien ni ses aspirations légitimes à une démocratie stable et consolidée.
En les écoutant, on doit se dire qu’ils ne manquent pas d’humour ces tuteurs américains, ou alors ils ont la mémoire bien sélective. Car n’était-ce pas avec leur répréhensible approbation que le président Michel Martelly a tardé quatre ans de son quinquennat avant d’être contraint d’organiser des «sélections» auxquelles il a voulu faire porter le nom d’élections ?
Aujourd’hui, au nom de quoi ces mêmes potentats américains s’arrogent-ils le droit de s’ingérer dans le débat public haïtien, et d’exiger des autorités de transition le respect pour l’ancien président Martelly de principes dont le mandat a été la négation même?
La légende électorale
Leur dernier sophisme consiste à faire croire que les élections sont l’hirondelle qui fera le printemps démocratique haïtien. Nous savons que ce n’est évidemment pas le cas. Si la réalité démocratique se mesurait à l’aune d’élections bâclées et truquées, Haïti arborerait fièrement aujourd’hui l’étiquette d’une des nations les plus démocratiques de la planète tout entière.
Haïti s’inscrit en faux contre cette légende démocratique, pure invention hollywoodienne, qui voudrait que la démocratie prodigue ses bienfaits dès l’instant où les scrutins renouvellent périodiquement les assemblées législatives et le pouvoir exécutif.
Si d’aventure leur venait l’idée de s’instruire sur la question et sur les ingrédients essentiels à la construction d’un État haïtien fonctionnel, ces « amis d’Haïti » pourraient consulter les ouvrages de plusieurs éminents chercheurs, publiés au cours des dernières années, qui ont bien documenté les limites de la démocratie électorale. Comme le fait remarquer Amartya Sen dans La démocratie des autres, « il est capital de se rendre clairement compte que la démocratie a des exigences qui transcendent l’urne électorale ».
En effet, pour Sen :« Les élections sont seulement un moyen [...] de rendre efficaces les discussions publiques, quand la possibilité de voter se combine à la possibilité de parler et d’écouter sans crainte. La force et la portée des élections dépendent de manière critique de la possibilité de l’existence d’un débat public ouvert [...].
Dans la perspective plus large du débat public, la démocratie doit accorder une place capitale à la garantie de la libre discussion, et à une interaction née de la délibération, à la fois dans la pensée et dans la pratique politiques, et cela, pas seulement grâce aux élections ou pour les élections.»
Autrement dit, bien plus que la ritualisation des élections, il importe de s’assurer qu’elles soient « justes et équitables ». Et, bien plus que les élections mêmes, ce qui importe davantage, a montré le politologue Fareed Zakaria dans son livre L’avenir de la liberté : la démocratie illibérale aux États-Unis et dans le monde, c’est « l’État de droit, la séparation des pouvoirs et la protection des libertés fondamentales de parole, de réunion, de religion et de propriété ».
Les principes républicains
Il est temps pour les élites dirigeantes haïtiennes de s’entendre à réaffirmer les principes fondateurs de notre République.
Et, en l’occurrence, rappeler que la direction politique du pays ne tire pas sa légitimité des États-Unis ou de quelque autre puissance étrangère, mais uniquement de la volonté populaire, exprimée souverainement à travers des élections acceptables. Cette légitimité, ils la tiennent par ailleurs surtout du fait de leur attachement aux lois et principes au fondement de la République.
Quant aux relations entre les pays, elles sont basées sur le principe westphalien de la non-ingérence, sauf en cas de raison humanitaire qui, dans ce cas, devrait être déclarée par les Nations unies.
Haïti devrait obtenir des États-Unis que leurs dirigeants et émissaires respectent ces principes et s’abstiennent de tout comportement subversif susceptible de déstabiliser le pays.
Il est temps que l’immixtion américaine croissante dans les affaires du pays cesse d’être admissible à nos yeux et aux yeux de ceux qui nous dirigent !
« C’est au gouvernement [haïtien] de décider », dit l’ambassadeur américain Peter Mulrean, en ce qui a trait à la Commission de vérification électorale largement réclamée.
On serait moins sceptique si, en 2010, son pays n’avait pas usé de son poids démesuré dans la balance des affaires haïtiennes pour imposer Michel Martelly à la présidence du pays au terme d’une élection entachée de fraudes avérées.
Échaudé, quoi de plus normal, peut-on se demander avec l’éditorialiste du journal québécois Le Devoir, Guy Taillefer, qu’aujourd’hui le peuple « refuse de se résigner à la mascarade électorale qui vise à porter non moins frauduleusement au pouvoir son successeur désigné, Jovenel Moïse ».
Du déjà vu ?
La politique étrangère erratique des États-Unis en Haïti a sérieusement fragilisé les acquis démocratiques de ces trente dernières années.
En 2004, l’administration du président George W. Bush a préféré financer la rébellion contre le président Jean-Bertrand Aristide, et dissuader l’opposition de négocier un accord politique à portée de main, qui aurait pu éviter au pays le chaos politique et le bain de sang consécutif dans la foulée du départ précipité en exil d’Aristide.
« Lorsque le secrétaire général par intérim de l’OEA, Luigi Einaudi (lui-même un ancien haut fonctionnaire du département d’État dans l’administration Reagan), a tenté de faciliter des négociations entre les dirigeants de l’opposition et le gouvernement d’Aristide à la résidence de l’ambassadeur des États-Unis, Washington a tué l’idée », rapportait en 2007 dans un article William M. LeoGrande de Washington University, citant lui-même un long article d’investigation du New York Times sur la question.
Cette politique contradictoire fait en sorte que les efforts pour promouvoir la paix politique deviennent « immensément plus difficiles », déplorait alors l’ancien ambassadeur américain à Port-au-Prince, Brian Dean Curran, cité dans l’article du New York Times (Walt Bogdanich et Jenny Nordberg, « Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Toward Chaos », January 29, 2006).
En 2010, c’était au tour du président René Préval d’apprendre à ses dépens l’amère leçon de cette dictature internationale dont les représentants, décomplexés, opèrent désormais de plus en plus à visière levée.
J’en ai rencontré un à l’Université de Montréal en 2013 alors que, invité à un séminaire sur les opérations de maintien de la paix de l’ONU, il en a profité pour parler du dénouement spectaculaire de la plus récente crise électorale en Haïti. Je me souviens encore de ses explications, l’air amusé, à un auditoire incrédule : « Moi et un autre ambassadeur à Port-au-Prince, il nous a suffi de cibler quelques proches de l’entourage du président Préval et de révoquer leur visa, pour que le président cède et se plie à nos exigences ».
Et de se réjouir : « certains protagonistes haïtiens impliqués dans la crise nous ont même suppliés, au bord des larmes, de ne pas toucher au visa de leurs épouse et enfants ».
Suivez-vous bien mon regard ?
Malheureusement, on en voit aujourd’hui de sinistres présages. Les dernières élections ont en effet ouvert la voie à un trafic d’influence similaire des puissances étrangères et montré à quel point il est nécessaire aujourd’hui qu’un nouveau projet politique national authentique émerge, qui visera, entre autres objectifs urgents, à rétablir le pays dans sa dignité.
La crise actuelle a aussi montré à quel point il est urgent pour les forces progressistes de coopérer, tant maintenant qu’après l’échéance électorale. Si nos politiciens et tous ceux qui se doivent de prendre une part active à la vie publique n’ont pas tiré la leçon d’hier, c’est le pays tout entier qui risque d’en pâtir.
Car nous nous retrouverions à coup sûr en proie à une crise encore plus profonde qui ne peut que mener à la catastrophe. Une catastrophe qui serait en partie engendrée par la « communauté internationale ».
Auteur : Par Roromme Chantal chantalro@hotmail.com
- See more at: http://lenouvelliste.com/lenouvelliste/article/158127/La-dangereuse-ingerence-americaine-en-Haiti#sthash.8K8utx3d.dpuf

lundi 25 avril 2016

Dumping peanuts on Haiti



 Posted by 
The people of Haiti deserve better agriculture solutions than extra peanuts from the American people.
When I was working in Haiti for Oxfam following the devastating earthquake in 2010, I became fond of mamba, the local version of peanut butter. It looks a lot like what we would buy here in the USA, but it’s less salty or sweet than the typical American spread. And before taking a big bite out of bread or cassava crackers spread with mamba, you will want to take a much more careful sample, because it’s usually spiced up with Scotch bonnet or habanero chili peppers. Once you get used to this nutty, spicy mix, it is definitely a taste worth acquiring.
The other great thing about mamba is that it is typically made from peanuts grown locally in Haiti.
So I was pretty shocked to read that the US Department of Agriculture is planning to dump 500 metric tons of packaged, dry-roasted peanuts on Haiti as part of its “Stocks for Food” program. This seems to be the offspring of the 1980s giveaway of USDA surplus cheese to food pantries and soup kitchens. It provides commodities that the US government has acquired through its domestic farm price and income support efforts to “feeding programs and food banks both domestically and overseas.”
The peanuts the USDA is shipping to Haiti will feed 140,000 malnourished school children in that country. While that may sound worthwhile, the use of imported peanuts stands in sharp contrast to the way the World Food Programme—with US government support—procures food for school meals from Haitian farmers. For example, WFP gets cheese and milk for 32,000 school children from Lèt Agogo, an initiative of Haitian dairy cooperatives that Oxfam has also supported.
This peanut fiasco sounds way too much like past uses of Haiti as a dumping ground for US agricultural surplus, something that has long concerned Oxfam. In the mid-1990s, the Haitian government acceded to pressure from the United States and others to drop its tariff on imported rice to nearly zero. This led to a flood of foreign rice into the Haitian market, mostly from the US. Haitian rice production plummeted. Bill Clinton, who as President encouraged this trade liberalization in Haiti, has more recently commented: “It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake…. I have to live every day with the consequences of the lost capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people, because of what I did.”
We don’t need Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack or President Obama to engage in similar mea culpas down the road. USDA calls the peanut project in Haiti a “prideful use of the nation’s commodities” to help needy people. But helping Haitian peanut farmers to boost their productivity and improve the quality of what they produce—as the US government’s Feed the Future Initiative is doing, along with the Clinton Foundation and Partners in Health—seems like a much better way to help reduce poverty and provide food for Haiti’s school children.
http://politicsofpoverty.oxfamamerica.org/2016/04/dumping-peanuts-on-haiti/

Rest in Power Toussaint L’Ouverture: Saluting Haiti’s triumph against colonialism

April 7th marks the passing of one of the greatest, most revered and most important figures of African and world history, Toussaint L’Ouverture one of the liberators of Haiti.
By 1801 Haiti, an island made up of half a million slaves, two-thirds of whom had been born in Africa, declared independence from European colonialists.
By April 7th 1803, Toussaint L’Ouverture died in a prison cell in the French Alps of cold and hunger, but not before his work had ensured the Haitian revolution would continue after he was gone, and that slavery would never again return to the Island.
From late 1803, after many years of fighting colonial powers the Africans in Haiti led by Jean-Jacque Dessalines freed the island from the clutches of the Europeans.
To this day, Haiti remains the only successful African revolt against slavery in the occupied European controlled colonies, and in doing so also became the first Black republic with its own constitution, adopting ideals espoused by the French revolution with a greater sincerity and vigor than even the French bourgeoisie themselves.
Today, the island remains one of the poorest countries in the world, as is the price often paid when daring to resist colonialism and occupation. Just look at Cuba today, for example.
Read more Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (L) shakes hands with Haiti's President Michel Martelly © Andres Martinez CasaresDemocracy denied: US turning Haiti into another vassal state
The Haitian revolution, which is not over, represents a tradition which is both important in historical terms and also in the modern context. The so-called free world, or the same system which was built by free labor and human capital extracted from slavery, still operates today on the same terms, exploiting countries to seize resources, ultimately to control capital.
When there is not a direct war for resources, today, more and more, we see ‘proxy wars’ played out in other people’s countries, with super powers jostling for position albeit with different agendas.
At one point in the 1790s Haiti was also a place which was being fought over by different colonial powers in the Caribbean, themselves at war with each other in Europe. A large chunk of the World’s sugar cane came from Haiti, and so even in a time of war, when hundreds of thousands of Haitians were fighting tens of thousands of European occupiers, Haiti was still among the most lucrative islands in the Caribbean to control.
And therein lies one of the keys to Toussaint’s genius; born a slave, but later able to free himself in his 40s, Toussaint was able to enjoy some of the benefits of the emerging privileged class in Haiti. Toussaint was educated, was an astute political analyst, and also a second to none military commander. It would be fair to say, that under Toussaint’s leadership, Africans in Haiti were able to organize and keep at bay several colonial powers at once for more than a decade. At different points Toussaint both sided with the French to fight other European powers in Haiti-and towards the end fought the French, as Napoleon attempted to force the island back into slavery following partial reforms achieved towards emancipation and freedom.
While there is a long tradition of resistance in the Caribbean of fighting colonialists tooth and nail, both from the slave ships and in the islands themselves, Haiti remains the only successful rebellion, able to rid its shores of those who had enslaved its population. The rebellion did not start in Haiti, but began the moment the first Africans were enslaved by the European merchants and capitalists in West Africa.
Toussaint and the other leading figures of African resistance in Haiti, or San Domingue as it was then known, did not spring up out of obscurity. The conditions which produced both the necessity for revolution, and the individuals and visionaries capable of leading it, were built up over several hundreds of years.
The brutal conditions suffered by slaves, which are unimaginable, built up over time a deep resentment. Writers like C.L.R. James, for example, describe in their works in detail, the sophisticated violence, humiliation, and dehumanization that Africans endured at the hands of Europeans in Haiti. The sick pseudo-science which dominated the day, a bit like the perverse modern form of ‘humanitarian intervention’, suggested that Africans were not human, and that therefore to control them as animals required a level of brutality which would both subdue them both physically and psychologically.
It stands to reason then, scientifically and rationally if nothing else, that it would ultimately take a force at least of equal measure from Africans in Haiti to free themselves from the clutches of slavery forever. And the first stages of emancipation in Haiti were indeed bloody, with Europeans being massacred indiscriminately as payback for years of suffering.
The resistance in a sense traced its roots back to Africa, and even by around 1750, there were literally thousands of Africans who had run away from the sugar plantations and were hiding in the hills and harder to access parts of the island. The Voodoo culture, songs of freedom, and determination to once again be free, had existed among the people for as long as they had been enslaved there.
By the time the French, who controlled Haiti, were preparing to do the unimaginable and behead their own King, and indeed anyone deemed disloyal to the class revolution in France, the conditions in Haiti had reached a point whereby the masses were fully ready to grasp the ideals of liberty and equality-more so than any European who had articulated them.
The call of the masses, including the emerging mixed race population of Haiti, to be given the rights of citizenship had achieved some success. Ironically, France caving in to some reforms, if for no other reason than to ensure Haiti did not fall into the hands of other colonial powers, meant that leading up to the complete expulsion of the remaining Europeans in 1804, Africans in Haiti had in a sense become the true French Republicans on the island fighting for France. When Napoleon set his sights on reversing this, the fear among Africans was that Haiti would revert back to slavery which became a catalyst for fighting the remaining French too.
The final defeat of the French in 1804, after Napoleon had sent thousands to reclaim the island, secured Haiti’s place in history as the first and last fully successful slave revolt. Haiti’s constitution and independence and even leadership, like any other, were not without its problems and contradictions.
But Toussaint, and the victory for Haiti, is an example of what is possible for the human spirit to achieve even in the face of insurmountable odds. It shows what Africans were truly capable of in the face of all of the racist pseudo-science of the day.
The revolution in Haiti has been largely ignored or forgotten by mainstream history - perhaps because as an example of resistance, it reflects what is possible in the face of the powers which rule the world today - this is dangerous for any ruling orthodoxy. When slavery is taught in schools, Haiti is rarely mentioned.
Neither for example is the island of St Thomas, which, according to many historians was liberated under the leadership of three women in 1793, and held for a year, before the Dutch eventually with the help of the other colonial powers restored the island to slavery.
Indeed colonization, occupation, oppression and political subjugation still continues today, and still continues largely for profit.
Gilbert Bellamy Decolonizing education: Rhodes must fall
Toussaint stands as a towering figure of resistance to this, but so too do the women and men who raised him, who taught him his history, so that, even in later life when the African uprising in Haiti began, he would not seek to protect his own privilege and status, but rather, would leave it all in a second to go and fight, lead, and ultimately die for his people.
The revolution in Haiti, stands as a beacon of human triumph but also played a huge role in the eventual abolition of slavery. The revolution was influenced by events in Paris, but Paris and the world were also shaped by events on the tiny island.
There are countless examples of resistance to colonialism throughout the world, but today on April 7th we must remember Toussaint, and also all those who fought and died in the fight for freedom and justice.
Toussaint and the revolution emerged as the inevitable consequence of slavery and repression, but also of the unique circumstances which developed in Haiti. Such circumstances were developed over time by Africans in Haiti, who like the oppressed people all over the world, refused to resign and give themselves up to their fate.
As the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass once noted “There is no progress without struggle” and perhaps this is true of Haiti.
But revolution and progress is bigger than one person, and as C.L.R. James once wrote “Toussaint did not make the revolution, the revolution made Toussaint.”
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT. Author:
Richard Sudan is a London-based writer, political activist, and performance poet. His writing has been published in many prominent publications, including the Independent, the Guardian, Huffington Post and Washington Spectator. He has been a guest speaker at events for different organizations ranging from the University of East London to the People's Assembly covering various topics. His opinion is that the mainstream media has a duty to challenge power, rather than to serve power. Richard has taught writing poetry for performance at Brunel University.
https://www.rt.com/op-edge/338798-haiti-slavery-toussaint-louverture/

mercredi 6 avril 2016

Élections en Haïti: encore de multiples obstacles

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haïti – Le président du nouveau conseil électoral en Haïti a affirmé, mardi, que l’organisation de neuf membres faisait face à de multiples obstacles à la conclusion d’un cycle électoral ayant débuté l’année dernière.

Léopold Berlanger a affirmé aux journalistes que les membres assermentés la semaine dernière héritaient d’une crise et ne pouvaient pas soumettre un nouveau calendrier électoral avant la résolution d’une série d’obstacles. Dans le cadre de leur évaluation, les nouveaux organisateurs électoraux tentent même de déterminer combien il reste d’argent pour tenir les élections, a-t-il précisé.

M. Berlanger a tant fait de cas des multiples obstacles qu’il semble impossible que le second tour — pour la présidence et pour une partie des membres de l’assemblée législative — se déroule ce mois-ci comme plusieurs avaient espéré.

Un accord politique négocié en février avait prévu un possible scrutin le 24 avril, mais ces jours-ci, il est difficile de trouver un analyste ou une figure politique croyant possible cet échéancier.
M. Berlanger a affirmé que toute vérification de résultats contestés des rondes électorales de 2015 devrait être autorisée par une «décision politique». Il a soutenu que les organisateurs électoraux ne pouvaient pas prendre la décision de vérifier les votes contestés par des factions politiques.

Sources: http://journalmetro.com/monde/943454/elections-en-haiti-encore-de-multiples-obstacles/

Haïti : vers un nouveau report sine die des élections présidentielle et législatives

La1ere.fr (avec AFP)
Publié le 06/04/2016 | 10:45, mis à jour le 06/04/2016 | 10:56
Le second tour de la présidentielle et des élections législatives haïtiennes, initialement prévus en décembre, ne pourront se tenir le 24 avril comme prévu, a laissé entendre le président du Conseil électoral provisoire mardi.
"On ne peut pas parler de calendrier électoral dans la phase où nous sommes", a déclaré Léopold Berlanger lors d'une conférence de presse tenue au siège du Conseil électoral provisoire (CEP) dans l'aire métropolitaine de Port-au-Prince.
Haïti est plongée dans une crise politique profonde depuis que le processus électoral a été suspendu en janvier, en raison des accusations de l'opposition dénonçant un "coup d'Etat électoral" fomenté par Michel Martelly, l'ancien président. Au premier tour du scrutin présidentiel, le 25 octobre, le candidat du pouvoir, Jovenel Moïse, avait recueilli 32,76% des voix, contre 25,29% pour Jude Célestin, qui a qualifié ces scores de "farce ridicule".
Accord de sortie de crise
En raison des reports successifs du second tour de la présidentielle, Michel Martelly a achevé son mandat le 7 février sans remettre le pouvoir à un successeur élu. Un accord de sortie de crise, signé entre le pouvoir exécutif et le Parlement, a permis l'élection de Jocelerme Privert, à l'époque président du Sénat, au poste de président provisoire, pour un mandat de trois mois. Cet accord indiquait également que les élections laissées en suspens seraient organisées le 24 avril.
Mais ce mardi, le président du CEP s'est défendu d'avoir à respecter cette échéance. "Comme Conseil électoral, nous ne sommes pas partie prenante de cet accord", a expliqué Léopold Berlanger. "Nous sommes une institution indépendante qui a un cadre donné par la constitution et la loi électorale : il est clairement dit que le conseil a l'autorité pour dire dans quel délai les élections peuvent avoir lieu", a-t-il ajouté.
Division de la classe politique
Pour sa première conférence depuis l'installation jeudi dernier du Conseil, Léopold Berlanger a par ailleurs sévèrement critiqué la division au sein de la classe politique qui paralyse le retour d'Haïti à l'ordre constitutionnel. Les résultats des élections municipales, tour unique qui s'est tenu le 25 octobre dernier, sont en effet contestés devant les tribunaux électoraux dans 81 des 140 communes du pays.
"C'est une situation grave car cela montre que le processus est malade", a dénoncé Léopold Berlanger. "Comment pouvez-vous avoir une élection pour laquelle deux tiers des postes sont contestés ?" s'interroge le président du CEP qui dénonce ceux enclins à la corruption. "Certains ont la perception que le contentieux est peut-être un moyen pour acheter et vendre une élection", a déclaré Léopold Berlanger.
En raison de l'important retard sur le calendrier électoral, une quarantaine de sièges parlementaires sont encore non pourvus et, depuis fin 2012, toutes les communes d'Haïti sont administrées par des agents intérimaires nommés sans consensus par Michel Martelly.
Sources: http://la1ere.francetvinfo.fr/haiti-vers-un-nouveau-report-sine-die-des-elections-presidentielle-et-legislatives-347435.html

Official: Numerous hurdles to concluding Haiti elections

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The head of Haiti's revamped electoral council said Tuesday that the nine-member body is facing numerous hurdles in concluding a troubled election cycle that began last year.
Council President Leopold Berlanger told reporters that organizers sworn in last week "inherited a crisis" and can't issue a new electoral calendar until a slew of challenges are resolved. As part of their evaluation, the new electoral organizers are even trying to determine how much money remains to hold elections, he said.
Berlanger ticked off so many challenges that it appeared there would be no way a twice-postponed presidential and partial legislative runoff to take place this month as hoped.
A political accord negotiated in February tentatively set the vote for April 24, but lately it has been hard to find any political figures or analysts who believe that date is possible.
Violent opposition protests and public suspicions of electoral fraud favoring former President Michel Martelly's chosen successor derailed a January runoff. It was first postponed in December.
On Tuesday, Berlanger said any verification of disputed results from electoral rounds last year would have to be authorized by a "political decision." He said Haiti's electoral organizers could not make a decision to verify votes disputed by political factions.

Sources: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/04/05/official-numerous-hurdles-to-concluding-haiti-elections.html

Haiti presidential runoff elections headed to another delay

New chief of elections council says process is broken
Presidential runoffs twice delayed
More than half of the 140 municipal elections in dispute

BY JACQUELINE CHARLES
jcharles@miamiherald.com
It’s not yet official, but the head of Haiti’s newly revamped Provisional Electoral Council made it clear Tuesday that the country’s repeatedly postponed final round, scheduled for the last Sunday of this month, won’t happen that day.

Léopold Berlanger, a media executive who was appointed president of the nine-member council after members were sworn in last week, said they couldn’t talk about an election calendar until they first figure out what’s ailing the nation’s electoral process.

He also punted on the politically thorny issue of a recount. Berlanger said the formation of a verification commission to address the allegations of “massive” fraud and determine who belongs in the second round “is a political decision” best left to others.

“You have to understand what malfunction [the electoral machinery] has, and what needs to be done to fix it before the second [round] can take off,” Berlanger said during the council’s first news conference. “After we determine that, we can continue with the electoral calendar.”

Initially scheduled for Dec. 27, Haiti’s final round to elect a president and complete parliament has twice been postponed after the opposition alleged multiple voting irregularities and ballot tampering.

THE JANUARY POSTPONEMENT FORCED PRESIDENT MICHEL MARTELLY TO DEPART OFFICE IN FEBRUARY WITHOUT AN ELECTED SUCCESSOR, AND A TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT TO STEP INTO THE POWER VACUUM.

The first delay in December was to allow a five-member electoral evaluation commission to address the fraud allegations while also recommending ways to safeguard the integrity of the runoff. The commission found egregious irregularities and a high presumption of fraud. It recommended various changes to the electoral process that it said were necessary in order for a second round to take place.
But those recommendations were never fully adopted.
 Citing that failure, as well as the dismissal of his own recommendations, opposition presidential candidate Jude Célestin declared his boycott of the race against government-backed candidate Jovenel Moïse. Days later, the elections were postponed for a second time as opposition supporters burned polling stations and voting materials, and reiterated their calls for verification of the results.

The January postponement forced President Michel Martelly to depart office a month later without an elected successor, and a transitional government stepped in to fill the power vacuum. Under a Feb. 5 political accord guiding the process, the runoffs were scheduled for April 24.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article70110512.html#storylink=cpy

mardi 5 avril 2016

Haitian Wages A meme that claims that the State Department under Hillary Clinton fought to keep Haiti's minimum wage from reaching $0.61 an hour is correct, but lacks context. ORIGIN:Haiti's relationship with the United States and Europe can most charitably be described as complicated. Haiti's earliest days were characterized by oppression and opposition: the country (once the French colony of St. Domingue) was born from a successful slave insurgency and declared its independence in 1804. This beginning characterized an often-antagonistic relationship between countries that profited handsomely from African slavery (such as the United States) and Haiti. Foremost among fears about Haiti was that slaves would learn successful uprisings were possible.
After Haiti formally declared its independence, the United States suspended all diplomatic and trade relationships with the country. While the U.S. eventually re-opened trading routes, America didn't recognize Haiti diplomatically for nearly sixty years after that. Other countries followed the United States' example (and France demanded millions of francs in reparations for its rebellion in exchange for recognizing Haiti as a sovereign nation) plunging Haiti into debt and an economic depression that lasted for years, from which the country never fully recovered.
Multiple invasions and economic and political tinkering followed, leaving Haiti in a turmoil of political instability and corruption, economic crisis, and a ravaged infrastructure, historically one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, despite its fertile land and ability to grow cash crops such as sugar.
Today, child labor and trafficking are endemic in Haiti, particularly in the country's manufacturing sector, which is outsourced to foreign companies (many of them contractors for American companies, such as Hanes, Dockers, and Fruit of the Loom). Even when they are not trafficked, laborers in Haiti's garment industry earn a pittance by the standards of other countries: the minimum wage was $0.24 (USD) an hour for many years.
In June 2009, the Haitian Parliament unanimously passed a law requiring that the minimum wage be raised to $0.61 an hour, or $5 a day. (The average cost of living is estimated to be the equivalent of about $23 a day.) This pay raise was staunchly opposed by foreign manufacturers who had set up shop in the country, and the United States Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development backed those manufacturers. After Haiti's government mandated the raise, the United States aggressively (and successfully) pushed Haiti's president to lower the minimum wage for garment workers to what factory owners were willing to pay: the equivalent of about $0.31 an hour (or $3 per eight-hour day).
In 2011, WikiLeaks released a set of previously-secret diplomatic cables. The American publication The Nation partnered with Haitian news organization Haïti Liberté to cover them, finding (among other things) how strongly the United States had opposed the minimum wage hike:
To resolve the impasse between the factory owners and Parliament, the State Department urged quick intervention by then Haitian President René Préval.
“A more visible and active engagement by Préval may be critical to resolving the issue of the minimum wage and its protest ‘spin-off’—or risk the political environment spiraling out of control,” argued US Ambassador Janet Sanderson in a June 10, 2009, cable back to Washington.
Two months later Préval negotiated a deal with Parliament to create a two-tiered minimum wage increase—one for the textile industry at about $3 per day and one for all other industrial and commercial sectors at about $5 per day.
Still the US Embassy wasn't pleased. A deputy chief of mission, David E. Lindwall, said the $5 per day minimum “did not take economic reality into account” but was a populist measure aimed at appealing to “the unemployed and underpaid masses.”
The Obama administration (and the Bush administration before it) had been closely monitoring the situation in the garment manufacturing sector for a long time. In 2006, Congress passed the HOPE bill (which stood for the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement) and provided duty-free entry to garments manufactured in Haiti for U.S. companies. That body also passed an updated version of the bill (HOPE II) in 2008, which mandated a framework for labor reform in factories. According to cables released by WikiLeaks, it was exactly these efforts that the United States claimed would be jeopardized by a higher minimum wage.
So it's true that the State Department (then led by Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State) strongly opposed a minimum wage increase in Haiti in 2009. However, the State Department's efforts did not occur in a political or economic vacuum, and Clinton wasn't the sole architect of efforts to quash a minimum wage hike (as the meme suggests). It was a concerted effort on the part of Haitian elites, factory owners, free trade proponents, U.S. politicians, economists, and American companies that kept the minimum wage so low, and to lay the blame squarely at the feet of any sitting Secretary of State would be an incomplete assessment, and thus inaccurate.
A law establishing a new minimum wage of $5.11 per workday ($0.64 an hour) was finally approved in 2014, which still fell far short of both the demanded raise by workers (to the equivalent of $11.36 per workday, or $1.42 per hour) and the recommended daily wage of $22.86.
SOURCES:
Alexander, Leslie. "A Pact with the Devil? The United States and the Fate of Modern Haiti." Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, Vol. 4, Issue 5. February 2011.
Coughlin, Dan and Ives, Kim. "Let Them Live on $3 a Day." The Nation. 1 June 2011.
Dubois, Laurent. "Haiti: The Aftershocks of History." Metropolitan Books: Henry Holt and Company, LLC. 2012.
"Milestones: 1784-1800: The United States and the Haitian Revolution." U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian.
TAGS:Minimum WageHaitiState Department
Brooke BinkowskiBrooke Binkowski
Brooke Binkowski is an award-winning journalist and researcher. She has written and produced for CNN, CBS, NPR, the Globe and Mail, AJ+, the Christian Science Monitor, and various other outlets. Brooke speaks two languages well and five languages very badly. She loves to travel, run, play music, and read, and is an avid saber fencer and an accordion enthusiast.
http://www.snopes.com/hillary-clinton-suppressed-haitis-minimum-wage/#

lundi 4 avril 2016

Truth and justice for Haiti

VICTIMS OF HAITI’S raging cholera epidemic got a glimmer of good news recently when a class-action lawsuit seeking recompense from the United Nations for its role in spreading the disease finally got a hearing in a New York courtroom. The three judges on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit panel asked tough questions of both sides — the US government is representing the United Nations — and fortunately seemed determined to focus less on diplomatic protocol and more on the hard reality outside the courtroom walls.
And it’s a hard reality, indeed. New evidence collected by Doctors Without Borders suggests that deaths from the epidemic that devastated Haiti after the 2010 earthquake could be much higher than the 9,200 toll recorded so far. The study, in the March edition of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, found that the surveillance systems in place at the onset of the epidemic weren’t adequate to provide “accurate and timely information.” In four communities, the study found, house-to-house surveys recorded nearly three times more cholera deaths in the first months after the outbreak began. That’s troubling news for a fragile country.
The lawsuit was brought by advocates because most scientists believe that a UN peacekeeping force brought the disease with them when they arrived to help the country rebuild after the quake. The often-fatal scourge is still burning through the population; some 770,000 Haitians have been sickened since late 2010.
The United Nations, citing immunity to claims of damage, has stonewalled and never acknowledged responsibility. There are reassuring signs that the international community is shaking off its torpor on the issue; at a meeting of the Security Council last month, New Zealand called on the United Nations to support those afflicted and to ensure that Haiti’s new government is not left alone with the consequences. Malaysia urged the UN secretariat to work with victims on possible compensation. According to Richard Knox of NPR, the United Nations has spent about $140 million on cholera control in Haiti — not nearly enough to make a dent in the epidemic. Even the United Nations’ own specially appointed experts reported to the body’s Human Rights Council that efforts to wipe out the disease have not taken hold, and recommended a commission on truth, justice, and redress for cholera victims.
This stirring of support is heartening, but US lawmakers and government agencies like the State Department should push for formation of such a commission now. They have a moral duty to lead the way, not follow — outside the courtroom walls.
https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2016/04/04/truth-and-justice-for-haiti/3IrQSPHVsnuzgc5OBIVaOM/story.html