mercredi 11 novembre 2015


Hip-hop is the number-one exported culture in the United States," DJ EFN claims. "It can connect us and bring down any barriers in between."
"It's like Anthony Bourdain for hip-hop."
As a vet of the 305 rap scene who, along with fellow local rapper Garcia and the Crazy Hood Film Academy, has documented the underground hip-hop scene in Cuba, Peru, and most recently Haiti through his award-winning series, Coming Home — which landed him and his crew a sweet deal with Revolt TV — EFN knows a thing or two about the genre.
"When we do films, we tend to go into shady areas," he explains. "I'm trying to prove hip-hop is a common language and we're like a light that brings people together."
What began as a simple curiosity has taken the Cuban-American DJ on a hip-hop journey around the globe. And it all began with a visit to the motherland.
"For a very long time, even growing up, I wanted to go to Cuba," he admits. "What my family and parents saw — I felt I needed to go now. That was in 2012. I met another person who was also Cuban-American. I had never really been into the Spanish side of things, but he had already gone twice and told me about the hip-hop artists and vibrant scene down there.
"So I was like, if I went to Cuba, I wanted to have a cultural, like-minded exchange," he says. "I told Garcia: 'Hey, let's go and record our experience.' I told my friends, who weren't even Cuban, and they were like, 'Yeah, let's go.' It was all very amateur stuff."
Just like that, Coming Home: Cuba was born. Upon his return to the Magic City, EFN and his boys put the film together and screened it locally. Soon enough, EFN's debut production was showcased at film festivals — where it won several awards — before being picked up by Revolt, the television network owned by rapper and entrepreneur Sean Combs (AKA Diddy).
"It really went in a direction I didn't expect. People who weren't Cuban started gravitating towards the film. It's like Anthony Bourdain for hip-hop," he laughs.
Much like Bourdain, EFN brings people to unlikely places, exposing them to different cultures, but in this case through the eyes of hip-hop rather than food.
Although EFN wandered through the "shady" areas of Cuba and Peru, his familiarity with the language made it easier to navigate through those countries. In Haiti, though, the language barrier — which EFN says was "the biggest difference for [him and his crew] as filmmakers" — was real.
But the greatest struggle wasn't communicating — it was finding a way to get into Cité Soleil, Haiti's most dangerous city, which EFN says is completely self-governed.
"When we got [to Haiti], people were telling us not to go, that it wouldn't be safe," he recalls. "But we just had to do certain things differently. We had to meet the neighborhood gangster, and we had to promise that we would only film the artists and not venture into anything else.
"The first day or two [of the filming process] are really slow," he explains. "People are hesitant because they're used to people filming them and exploiting them, but we're not going in as filmmakers. I'm a DJ. Garcia is a rapper. We're going as artists."
Though EFN admits his guard was up when he arrived in Haiti, he's learned to just "submit to the moment."
"Let's just be genuine with these people," EFN says is his mentality, "so that they see we're here just to interact with them and have a cultural exchange."
And in doing so, EFN and the Crazy Hood crew have been able to see firsthand the impact hip-hop has had worldwide.
"One thing I found in Haiti is that they really are trying to carve an identity for themselves," he says. "They're infusing their culture and talking about their stuff and want people to be proud of Kreyol rap. That's what I found fascinating: They're not just taking on American hip-hop — they're taking it and making it their own."
And, sure, hip-hop was born in the United States, but in many ways, Haiti's use of the genre is more authentic than our own, according to EFN.
“[Haitians are] using hip-hop a lot for what hip-hop was used for in the ‘80s and ‘90s here,” EFN compares. “They’re not doing it for the money, so they really are using it as a way to express themselves. They told us we in the U.S. lost the essence of hip-hop. We no longer live the hip-hop culture. It’s just a business now. For them, it’s just art and a creative platform, and they’re looking at us like, ‘You guys lost it.'”
EFN isn't stopping with Coming Home: Haiti. The music junkie is already mapping out his next film, Coming Home: Vietnam. While hip-hop certainly isn’t the first thought that comes to mind when one thinks of Vietnam, the film, which is set to be released sometime next year, focuses more on the B-boy and B-girl aspect of Vietnam's culture.
“I wanna show people in the U.S. that hip-hop is a global phenomenon,” EFN says. “It’s our number-one exported culture. I want to ask people, ‘Should we be responsible for making sure we get the right message out to the world or should we not?’"
Coming Home: Haiti, airing on Revolt TV. Check revolt.tv for listings. The complete Coming Home series can be purchased at crazyhood.bigcartel.com.

U.S. Political Intervention in Haiti Has Caused Instability and Aid Efforts Have Largely Failed

Mark Weisbrot
Co-director, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Washington, D.C.
When a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, killing more than 200,000 people, former President Bill Clinton said that the reconstruction would provide an opportunity to "build back better." Some $9.6 billion was pledged by the international community, including the U.S. government. But nearly six years later, although about $7.6 billion has been disbursed, there is not much to show for it.
Hundreds of thousands of Haitians displaced by the earthquake remain without adequate shelter. USAID, the U.S. State Department's development agency, pledged to build 15,000 homes but has so far only delivered 900. Most U.S. taxpayers' money, it seems, didn't get outside of the Beltway. Of USAID contracts, for example, more than 50 percent of payments went to contractors in the Washington, D.C. area, while only 1 percent went directly to Haitian companies or organizations. Everyone worries about money being potentially lost to corruption in the Haitian government, and so just a small fraction of the billions pledged went to desperately needed budget support. But the large-scale corruption, fed by lack of accountability, is much closer to home.
Haiti needs a government that can collect taxes, especially from the rich elite and companies that can pay them, and provide necessary services. This should have been the target of "building back better," rather than foreign contractors. But the U.S government has never shown much interest in building a democratic, legitimate government in Haiti; quite the opposite in fact. In 1991, Haiti's first democratically elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, was overthrown in a military coup. It was later determined that leaders of the coup had been paid by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. In 2004, Aristide was deposed again through a multi-year effort by Washington, who took him out of the country and into forced exile for seven years.
In 2011, Washington intervened once again by arranging for the Organization of American States (OAS) to reverse the first round results of Haiti's presidential elections. This was done without a recount or even a statistical test of the sample of ballots examined, and independent research showed that there was no statistical basis for the decision.
Now we are witnessing a potential repeat of the 2010-2011 elections. The legislative elections in August were plagued by fraud and violence, with only 18 percent of eligible voters participating and more than 20 percent of the ballots lost.
On October 25, the first round of presidential elections was held, and although the violence was limited and voter turnout marginally higher, observers have raised serious questions about whether massive fraud occurred. Over 900,000 party monitors were given credentials that may have allowed them to vote at multiple voting centers. A black market in these passes was created, and with only an estimated 1.6 million total votes cast, it is easy to imagine the election being bought by the party with the biggest bankroll.
The votes are still being counted, and it remains to be seen if the authorities will try or even be able to screen for fraud. And will the U.S. and its allies, who are paying for the elections, simply accept the result - as in the past - if their side wins?
In 1995, members of Congress led by the Congressional Black Caucus forced President Clinton to reverse the military coup that his predecessor's administration had sponsored, temporarily returning democracy to Haiti. Members of the current Congress have written numerous letters to President Obama and lobbied the administration, even passing legislation, demanding accountability and a change of course that will allow for Haiti to have democratic, clean elections for a legitimate, functioning government. They will have to step up the pressure, as they did in the early 1990s, if they are to have an impact.
This article was distributed by Tribune Content Agency on November 5, 2015 and published by the Miami Herald and other newspapers.

Social Entrepreneurs Risk Lives For Charcoal In Haiti

Devin Thorpe
To tell the story of the social venture Carbon Roots, we have to go back to the Haiti earthquake.
Lyle Sorensen is an orthopedic surgeon who came to Haiti to volunteer for a month immediately following the January 12, 2010 earthquake.
While here, he was a presented with a rare case of tuberculosis of the spine, something he could not treat in Haiti. He reached out to colleagues and friends in the U.S. for help and Julia Helstrom Coupet, whose husband Mendel Coupet is Haitian, made arrangements to treat the boy, Netus Madiode, in Philadelphia. He had two major surgeries and was essentially cured. Once a paraplegic, the boy was able to play soccer again. While the boy was being treated, Lyle visited Philadelphia from Seattle and his son, Eric Sorensen, who was living in New York joined them.
The younger Sorensen had been doing some research on “biochar” a sort of soil amendment made from charcoal made from agricultural waste. Coupet was very excited about the implications of using biochar in Haiti and invited Eric to come down and visit his family in a remote village in the central part of Haiti.
Sorensen and his partners Hannah Erickson, who last year also became his wife, and Ryan Delaney, went to Haiti later that year for their first visit. They were successful in producing some biochar and even in showing the locals that the biochar increased crop yields. They set up a nonprofit entity to help fund their work and continued working with regular visits to get Haitians to use the charcoal as a soil amendment.
Following the earthquake, a cholera epidemic broke out. Approximately 700,000 people got cholera and 9,000 people died. Sorensen got sick while visiting a remote village in central Haiti. After five days of severe diarrhea, he and Delaney hiked out, got back in their car and drove to Port-au-Prince to a hospital where he was diagnosed with cholera and treated.
Delaney, reflecting on nearly six years of work in Haiti, told me yesterday that the biggest lesson he’s learned is to “learn to think like a Haitian.” He’s referring to the insights that the founders were slow to accept.
The locals kept asking if they couldn’t burn the charcoal made from the agricultural waste instead of using it as a fertilizer. For many months, the trio persisted in their efforts to get Haitians excited about this plentiful fertilizer that would also be carbon negative.
Ultimately, they saw the light. They began to appreciate that the vast majority of Haitians cooked with charcoal, meaning that this is a huge business. So, with a pivot as big as the market, the three founders shifted from producing biochar to producing charcoal made from agricultural waste.
To get excited about this, the trio of founders began to appreciate some significant environmental benefits to their charcoal. First and foremost, they wouldn’t be cutting down trees. Deforestation in Haiti is such a problem that making charcoal from wood is illegal, despite the fact that the entire country uses wood-based charcoal to cook every meal.
Deforestation isn’t an abstract concept in Haiti, they tell me. Given that deforestation contributes to landslides that kill people, Haitians view deforestation as real and present danger.
By using agricultural waste, they realized they could do a lot to protect the most critical aspect of Haiti’s environment.
They moved the base of operations from the agricultural region in the more remote center of the country, to Cap Haitien, the largest city on the northern coast of Haiti and formed the company, Carbon Roots. Delaney moved permanently to Haiti at this point. Sorensen continues to spend about 25 percent of his time in Haiti.
Shortly after the move, Delaney was invited by a social enterprise in Cusco, Peru to come do some consulting. Although he realized he was not feeling well when he got on the plane, he left Cap Haitien for Port-au-Prince bound for Miami, then on to Lima and finally to Cusco. By the time he arrived, he was delirious with fever. He checked into his hotel but quickly recognized he would need some medication.
He stumbled into a hospital hoping to get some medication for malaria, thinking that was what he had. They quickly diagnosed him with Typhoid and admitted him with a fever of 104.5. Before he recovered, he developed pneumonia and spent five days in the hospital there, for which he was charged $400, after being told, it would be “kind of expensive,” he says. He noted that he’s glad he went to Cusco because he’s sure he got better treatment there than he could have received in Haiti.
In Cap Haitien, they began making charcoal at scale. Today, the company produces five tons of charcoal every day in 200 small kilns, converted barrels. They are the largest producer of charcoal in the country and likely the only one producing legal charcoal. They sell the product under the brand name Chabon Boul,
Customers tell them that their charcoal is better than other charcoal on the market, that it lights faster, lasts longer and burns more evenly.
Last year, MIT did in-home testing of their charcoal and noted that it is much cleaner burning, with 29 percent less CO2 and 39 percent less particulate matter than wood-based charcoal. They, too, noted that it is more thermally efficient.
It also works well in modern, clean-burning cookstoves.
To date, Carbon Roots has survived almost entirely off grants. They received early, small grants from Arizona State University where Delaney earned a master’s degree in sustainability. The also received a grant from Halloran Philanthropies.
Much of their money has come from US AID’s DIV program for Development Innovation Ventures. The program provides grants in three stages up to $150,000, $1.5 million and $15 million respectively.
Sorensen and Delaney would like to quickly triple their capacity. To do so, they want to buy and install some much more sophisticated and expensive production equipment. They say they need $800,000 to $900,000 for the equipment, which will come from Viet Nam.
The new technology would have significantly lower emissions than their current production process. To create charcoal you create a controlled burn of the material, carefully managing the oxygen to prevent a full burn. The partially burned material, which can be burned again, is charcoal. The fully burned material is ash, they explained.
The new equipment will capture and use the waste heat to dry the raw agricultural waste before it is burned and then will essentially bake the briquettes to harden them, a process that takes days on drying racks today. The new process will also allow them to produce some electricity that will power some of their equipment.
One of the goals the founders have is to create employment for Haitians. They now have 50 permanent employees on working on production. In addition, they employee about 45 workers as day laborers. Finally, they have about 30 women engaged in their new retail distribution system.
Sorensen reminded me, however, that while their goal is to create employment, “this isn’t a jobs program. We have to be efficient.” They are serious about creating jobs for locals. The two are the only expats on the team; all of the other employees are local hires.
Their new retail distribution model will help them employ more people. The model will create what they will call boutiques where women will come in the morning to get charcoal to sell. They will take the charcoal on consignment and will borrow a wheel barrow from the boutique. They will leave their national ID card as collateral. Some women work a route, delivering the charcoal. Others stake out a spot in their neighborhood where passersby will purchase the charcoal. In either case, they return the wheel barrow to the shop at the end of the day and pay for the charcoal they took in the morning. Typically, the women will pocket $13 for a day’s work. With about 70 percent of Haitians living on less than $2 and 50 percent living on less than $1, the profit represents good wages—especially given that they don’t need to buy any inventory up front.
Carbon Roots was selected as part of the Global Social Benefit Institute (BSBI) at Santa Clara University I’ve written about here. Sorensen credits the experience with helping them to put the final pieces together.
Within eight years, the founders hope to have about 25 percent of the charcoal market in Haiti, a market of about $300 million annually. They are excited about the environmental impact that will have on the countryside.
These guys exemplify a “do whatever it takes” attitude. Given the risks they’ve taken, the sacrifices they’ve made in their personal situations, the opportunity costs they refuse to think about, I must say, Delaney and Sorensen are some of the most impressive entrepreneurs I’ve ever met.

AP PHOTOS: Cockfighting Is Popular Pastime in Poor Haiti

Cockfighting lives on in Haiti, where weekly fights draw crowds of men, hungry for the drama and the promise of a big payout.
The centuries-old sport, pitting two roosters against each other in a fight often to the death, is vilified in the U.S., where it is illegal. But it's a popular pastime for Haitians, especially in the slums and rural areas of the hemisphere's poorest nation.
Aficionados defend it as part of the island's culture.
At the Route Freres cockfighting arena in Petionville, makeshift rooster cages have signs in French: "If you need people's respect, you first need to respect yourself."
At the Morne Hercule arena men shout out bets and flash cash as roosters prepare to fight.
Cockfighting fits into a gambling culture that includes fighting bulls and "borlettes," gaudily painted outlets that play on New York State Lottery numbers. For people living on less than $2 dollars a day, as most Haitians do, the chance to win money betting on cockfights or the lottery is one of the main attractions.

The Real Deal: How the U.S. broke Haiti

There is very little debate that the United States of America is the military and economic juggernaut of the world. In order to achieve that status, the U.S. has had to exploit many smaller nations. One nation that has suffered severely from U.S. intervention is the tiny Caribbean state of Haiti. You may remember hearing about Haiti recently as a massive earthquake killed thousands back in 2010. You may have asked back then, why are the people of Haiti suffering so much? Why are they so poor? Well, the United States is partially to blame.
It is hard to sum up the history of Haiti, so I will try my best to keep it short. Haiti first became an independent nation from France in 1804 after a brutal 13 year civil war. It was the second republic in the Western Hemisphere (after the U.S.) and was the world’s only successful slave rebellion. Due to the fact that the country was run by former slaves, it became ostracized in the international community which was dominated by Europeans. Haiti fell under the control of a number of crooked presidents and government overthrows were a semi-common occurrence. In 1915 the U.S. occupied Haiti and essentially installed a puppet government. The U.S. occupation ended in 1934, and left the nation in shambles. In 1957 Francois Duvalier took control of Haiti and initiated the most brutal dictatorship the country had ever seen. He and his successor, his son Jean-Claude, were responsible of thousands of murders carried out by a secret police unit. The Duvalier regime had complete U.S. backing, due to its anti-communist stance.
After the Duvalier’s were overthrown, the people of Haiti were finally free to have their first democratic election. 63% of the Haitian people supported political new comer Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a priest who promised reform and to help the countries poor. Unfortunately Aristide was not liked by the U.S., since he sought to increase the wages and living standards of everyday Haitians. This clashed with the interest of U.S. business which ran a number of sweat shops in Haiti. The U.S. would overthrow him not just once, but twice. Each time he was elected by an overwhelming majority of Haitians, and each time thousands of Haitians were slaughtered by forces that were financially supported by the U.S.
This massacre of innocents is a huge kick in the gut for those who truly believe in democracy. Each time Haitians voted for Aristide, the U.S. stood in the way. Now the U.S. is interfering again, and we could see more violence as a result.
Back in the 2010 presidential election in Haiti, the U.S. backed now President Michel Martelly. Martelly has picked a successor, Jovenel Moise. As of when this article was written Moise now stands against Jude Celestin, a politician under Aristide and an overall Aristide supporter. Martelly and Moise’s party, the Haitian Tèt Kale Party, has promised outright violence if Moise does not win. Martelly has also been using the Haitian police to assault voters who might support Celestin. Will the U.S. back Moise and his reign of violence, just has it has done before? Only time will tell, and it is our job to hold the U.S. accountable for fighting against popular democracy.

Haiti’s election: Hardly a victory for democracy

By Lauren Carasik
Haiti’s Oct. 25 election was largely free of the violence and chaos that marred the Aug. 9 first-round vote for legislative seats. Many international observers and the U.S. State Department have signaled satisfaction with the process, but the low voter turnout and mounting claims of fraud shows that the election was hardly a victory for democracy.
Just over a quarter of the country’s 5.8 million registered voters cast ballots, a dismal figure for a high-stakes election. That low was surpassed only by Haiti’s chaotic and widely boycotted 2010 election, when only 23 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot. In 2006, turnout was nearly 60 percent, in 2000 it was almost 80 percent, and more than half of voters cast a ballot in 1990. Many residents feared a repeat of the August election’s rampant violence and fraud they believed would render their trip to the polls futile at best and dangerous at worst. In that round, 13 percent of the centers suspended voting due to violence, voter intimidation and other procedural inconsistencies, which was widely attributed to incumbent president Michel Martelly’s ruling party and its allies.
With all the misery in Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake, the enduring harm to its flawed democracy has received scant attention. In the election held less than a year after the earthquake, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped orchestrate an intervention by the Organization of American States that arbitrarily overturned the election results, placing now President Michel Martelly in the runoff instead of the candidate backed by outgoing President Rene Preval. Since winning the second round election in 2011 with less than 17 percent of the electorate, Martelly has consolidated his power, ruling by decree since the legislature was dissolved in January 2015, after his administration failed to schedule long overdue elections. Yet he continues to enjoy Washington’s unconditional support, despite a lack of democratic checks and balances that would never be tolerated at home. Unsurprisingly, Martelly’s hand-picked successor Jovenel Moise topped the preliminary count announced on November 5, and will enter a runoff election with the runner up Jude Célestin on December 27.
Washington is invested in the election’s outcome this time around as well, both politically and financially. It has contributed $30 million to the current cycle, supposedly to maintain stability, and the State Department seems intent on painting an upbeat picture of the election. But almost immediately, groups of observers decried “systematic, massive fraud,” including vote buying and ballot stuffing. The Caribbean Community electoral observation mission identified procedural impediments to a fair outcome, including improper conditions at polling stations that compromised voter privacy, irregularities in procedures, and inadequate legislative directives.
Among the most damaging charges is that many of the more than 916,000 accreditation cards issued to political party monitors were sold for between $3 and $30. With 128 political parties backing candidates, a number of which critics say serve as proxies for the administration, smaller parties were unlikely to have the capacity to turn out monitors at each of the country’s 13,000-plus polling stations, making those credentials readily available for sale. Parties with a greater resource advantage were also in a better position to purchase the monitor cards. Given the turnout, more than half the votes may have been cast by either a party monitor or an election observer. Critics worry about the integrity of the vote tabulation process as well.
Whoever wins the presidency will face the daunting task of strengthening the country’s economy and civil society institutions. Haiti is still reeling from the earthquake, and the cholera epidemic brought to Haiti by UN troops ten months later. Searing exposes from ProPublica and NPR revealed gross mismanagement in the American Red Cross’s relief efforts, but it was hardly alone in squandering desperately needed resources donors intended to help rebuild the country: Many other post-quake international aid failures, including those overseen by Washington, have been well-documented by the Center for Economic and Policy Research’s Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog.
Haiti’s post-earthquake instability has been exacerbated by the fragility of its democracy. That this election went forward without mayhem is progress. But the last thing Haiti needs is another president whose legitimacy is in doubt. Haiti’s past troubles should not condemn it to low expectations: it deserves a robust democracy based on clean, credible and transparent elections that inspires confidence and represents the full participation of its voters, not just the absence of violence and electoral chaos. Washington should support nothing less.
Carasik is a clinical professor of law and the director of the international human rights clinic at the Western New England University School of Law.


Haiti: US interference wins elections

By Kevin Moran and Azadeh Shahshahani Haiti’s sham election on Aug. 9, 2015 was characterized by extremely low voter turnout, with just 18 percent of registered voters going to the polls. Additionally, 23 percent of all votes were never counted, due to fraud and violence on Election Day. By comparison, in the deeply flawed 2010 election, the number of uncounted tally sheets was 12 percent. The Martelly government, his PHTK party, and the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) nevertheless declared the electoral process to be broadly satisfactory and minimized the extent of irregularities. The West, led by the U.S., also blessed this outcome. ADVERTISEMENT In the opinion of the U.S. ambassador to Haiti, Pamela Ann White, results of the first round of legislative elections were acceptable, even if there was violence and irregularities. The widespread knowledge that the U.S. and the West would put their stamp of approval on the process, no matter how flawed, opened the door to the irregularities that plagued Election Day. According to a published report: “A Haitian observation mission led by a network of human rights organizations (RNDDH), which had more than 15 times the number of observers as the OAS and the EU, denounced the process as an assault on democracy…."Be wary of anyone saying that everything went well," the group warned.” The security lapses, violence, disorganization, and irregularities of the August 9 Haitian elections had been preordained by the U.S. subversion of these long overdue elections. The result has been further destabilization of Haiti.
The history of Haiti is marked by the heavy-handed intervention of the U.S. This includes the 19-year occupation of the country by U.S. Marines in the early 20th century and the U.S.-backed coup in 2004 that overthrew Jean Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s first democratically elected president. Haiti has been occupied by U.S.-backed U.N. soldiers for more than a decade.
The Haitian government has been further destabilized by U.S. political interference. After Jean Bertrand Aristide was re-elected President in 2000 (by 90 percent of the vote), the U.S. imposed a development assistance embargo on Haiti, holding up over $200,000,000 in aid. The U.S. government financed Haitian organizations that were working to undermine and overthrow the Haitian government. On February 29, 2004, Aristide was forcibly removed and sent to exile in Africa on a U.S. government plane. The U.S. replaced the constitutional government with an unelected prime minister flown in from Florida.
The U.S. undermined Haiti’s democracy by providing political and financial support to unlawful parliamentary elections in Haiti held in April and June 2009. The 2009 elections illegally excluded several political parties, including Haiti’s largest political party, Fanmi Lavalas. The impact was equivalent to holding a U.S. election without either the Republican or Democrat party participating.
Illegitimate elections in 2010, contaminated by a corrupt electoral council, illegal exclusion of political parties, ballot-stuffing, and an arbitrary revision of the results set Haiti on its way to its current political crisis. A month before the 2010 elections, 45 members of the U.S. Congress warned Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that supporting flawed elections “will come back to haunt the international community” by generating unrest and threatening the implementation of earthquake reconstruction projects.
The U.S. government ignored these warnings and provided the majority of the funding for those elections, directly contributing to the current crisis.
Ricardo Seitenfus, a respected Brazilian professor of international relations, had been working as a special representative of the OAS in Haiti since 2008. After observing the 2010 electoral process, Seitenfus criticized international meddling in Haiti. He was abruptly ousted on Christmas Day 2010.
Seitenfus takes a long view of the electoral crisis that he witnessed in 2010. In his account, Haiti’s tragedy began over two centuries ago in 1804, when the country committed what Seitenfus terms its “original sin,” an unpardonable act of lèse-majesté: it became the first (and only) independent nation to emerge from a slave rebellion. “The Haitian revolutionary model scared the colonialists and racist Great Powers,” Seitenfus writes. “France demanded heavy financial compensation from the new republic as a condition of its honoring Haiti’s nationhood. Haiti has been isolated and manipulated on the international scene ever since.”
The U.S. State Department affirmed its continued support for Martelly earlier this year. A day before the Jan. 12, 2015 deadline to extend the terms of the legislators until new elections are held, the U.S. Embassy released a statement indicating the U.S. would work with Martelly, even if he ruled by decree. Hours before the legislative branch shut down, White appeared in Parliament. Many saw that as interference in favor of Martelly and encouraged opposition senators not to show up.
Progress in earthquake reconstruction, stabilizing Haiti’s democracy, and ending poverty will only be possible if the upcoming elections in Haiti are fair, inclusive, and conducted without U.S. and Western interference.
To overcome the mistakes of the past, the U.S. also must adopt a human rights-based response to the Haitian people and stop interfering in their struggling democracy. It will also have to reckon with this question: is the United States’ disregard for the human rights of the people of Haiti influenced by a lingering racist reaction to the first and only formation of a nation by former African slaves?
Moran is a human rights activist based in Atlanta and chair of a U.S. Human Rights Network working group. Shahshahani is a human rights attorney based in Atlanta and president of the National Lawyers Guild. The authors went to Haiti in July 2015 on a human rights delegation.

Making A Family: South Windsor Teacher Adopts Haitian Siblings Including Soccer Standout

SOUTH WINDSOR — At the orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where South Windsor junior Daniel Eddy and his sisters Edeline and Shelove lived, the electricity came and went. On Barbara Eddy's final night at the orphanage during a mission trip in 2010, the lights stayed on.
"You could never count on there being electricity, but there was electricity that night," Eddy, a high school English teacher, said Saturday, remembering the night her life and the lives of the three siblings would change forever.
"Edeline came out and she threw her arm around me, and I started to cry, because there was electricity, and I could see her. In the dark, I was just looking at this girl, thinking, 'Who would ever adopt teenage girls?' In the light, she came out, threw her arms around me and I started to cry because I knew I was supposed to adopt [Daniel and his sisters]."
Eddy, who had visited the orphanage with her church, spent the next three years trying to adopt Daniel, Shelove and Edeline — three teenagers who had spent the previous decade in two orphanages in Haiti.
It was an exhaustive process that included three lawyers, countless hours and money, and the ultimate decision to add more three more children at the age of 51. But on Aug. 26, 2013, the four arrived in America together.
I just wanted them to have a better life, and they got it. It was a long, hard fight.
- Barbara Eddy
"My life is so much richer now," Eddy said. "Single woman, high school teacher pay, I can't provide them a lot. My goal was to give them opportunities that they would never have if they stayed in Haiti. I knew if they got here they could get an education and have a much better chance in life."
Eddy, who also has two biological children, ages 31 and 30, had lived in New Britain but bought a house and moved to South Windsor, where she teaches English at the high school. Edeline, 17, attends the Gengras Center School. Shelove, 14, is a freshman at South Windsor High.
Getting the children here was not without its hurdles. Among other things, she had to prove that their parents had sent them to the first orphanage and that meant tracking down the orphanage director. She finally did.
"I just wanted them to have a better life, and they got it," Eddy said."It was a long, hard fight."
In just one season of varsity soccer, which also is his last because of CIAC rules (although he's a junior, Daniel is 19 and can't play past that age), he has emerged as a crucial figure in the Bobcats' bid to win their first state title since 1979. He has three goals; the team is 14-3-1.
"He just wants to be successful," South Windsor coach Pete Lepak said. "Daniel is a resilient person, you can see it on the soccer field, you can see it with his studies, you can see it with how much he cares about everything he does."
He is typically one of the first players to come into the game off the bench and gives star forwards Dexter Tenn and Nick Heckt crucial rests. Last season he played junior varsity.
The organized soccer fields of Connecticut are far from the stone-ridden fields of Daniel's youth. As a young boy, he made soccer balls any way he could, taping together whatever he could find to form what loosely could be called a ball.
"It is a great game, it is part of the culture," he said. "We'd pretty much organize our own games and play for fun."
His passion for the game shows on the high school fields. He often is one of the fastest and he plays with flair and creativity.
A Tough Road
When he was 7, Daniel was moved with his sisters from his home in rural Haiti, where his mother and father are farmers, to a nearby orphanage. An older brother had already been sent to the orphanage, he said. There were eight children in the family and an orphanage gave Daniel and his siblings a chance at a better life.
"When I was with my family, I didn't go to school," said Daniel. "I wanted an education. … My parents didn't know how to read and write."
One of the poorest countries in the world, Haiti's long-standing issues are poverty, hunger and lack of education.
At the orphanage, the children were able to get food and study. If they had stayed at home, they likely never would have learned to read or write.
At the orphanage, Daniel became one of the first in his family to learn both. He also learned how to play drums.
"It was tough, but I'd see my parents every Friday," he said. "It would take three or four hours to walk to [my home]."
The orphanage had its challenges, too.
"Sometime I got whipped, but I said I wanted to leave that orphanage only when God gave me what I needed," Daniel said. "I thought education was great. Without education, you are nothing. I had faith in God and I was praying. And that's how I got through it."
About a month after an earthquake struck on Jan. 12, 2010, killing more than 160,000 and displacing close to 1.5 million people, Daniel and his sisters were moved from the first orphanage to the second in Port-au-Prince. Daniel said he had been cooking food in the first orphanage when the earthquake occurred. He felt nothing where he was, but saw people running and talking in the village, and word had spread quickly about what happened.
Six months later, Eddy arrived in Haiti for the first time. She said she had no plans of adopting. But that quickly changed.
"I was definitely called to adopt," she said. "Most people might not understand that, but I truly feel like I was."
In the beginning, Daniel never smiled at Barbara because his teeth were in such rough shape. She said he smiled with his eyes, but since he's been to the dentist and now wears braces, she said, he smiles often.
"She gave me my smile," he said.