[News] Haiti Elections: A Sham in the Time of Cholera

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Nov 30 11:25:03 EST 2010

Published on Monday, November 29, 2010 by 

Haiti Elections: A Sham in the Time of Cholera

by Isabel MacDonald

In the midst of a cholera epidemic that has 
a reported 1,300 Haitians, the U.S., Canada and 
the United Nations insisted that Haiti's 
elections go ahead yesterday, as scheduled.

However elections might not be the most accurate 
term for the process by which a new Haitian 
president and lawmakers will be selected at the polls.

The ruling party's 
electoral council has banned the most popular 
Haitian political party, Fanmi Lavalas (FL), from 
the presidential election. FL leader Jean 
Bertrand Aristide, who was elected as Haiti's 
president in 2000, has been exiled in Africa 
since a coup d'etat in 2004, when he was removed 
by the U.S., 
the words of Donald Rumsfeld, not to "come back into the hemisphere."

Meanwhile, the 
<http://ijdh.org/archives/15477>Institute for 
Justice & Democracy in Haiti is warning that the 
presence of troops from the UN "stabilization" 
mission in Haiti (also known as MINUSTAH) at 
polling stations "is more likely to trigger violence than prevent it."

UN troops and Haitian National Police killed two 
demonstrators at anti-MINUSTAH protests in the 
city of Cap Haitien on November 15 and 16. And 
over the following two days, they tear-gassed 
Haitians participating in a march in 
Port-au-Prince, which as 
<http://www.haitiliberte.com/>journalist Kim Ives 
reported for Haiti Liberte, "seriously sickened 
many women and children in the tent camps on the 
Champ de Mars in front of the collapsed National Palace."

Calls for the withdrawal of the UN troops have 
amidst accusations that UN soldiers' fecal 
matter, dumped into a waterway that feeds into 
Haiti's Artibonite river, was the likely source of the cholera.

Prior to last month, there had never been a 
documented case of cholera in Haiti, and as late 
as March the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and 
Prevention (CDC) was 
that the illness was "extremely unlikely" to 
occur in Haiti. Today, the 
Health Organization is projecting that 200,000 
people may be infected within a year, and that "we may have 10,000 dead."

On October 27, 
Press reporter Jonathan Katz broke the story of 
the suspected source of the cholera--an 
overflowing septic tank behind a UN base housing 
the Nepalese peacekeeping troops, who had arrived 
in Haiti just after a summer of cholera outbreaks in Nepal.

After visiting the site of the UN base, Katz 
a tank was clearly overflowing. The back of the 
base smelled like a toilet had exploded. Reeking, 
dark liquid flowed out of a broken pipe, toward 
the river, from next to what the soldiers said 
were latrines. U.N. military police were taking 
samples in clear jars with sky-blue U.N. lids, clearly horrified.

At the shovel-dug waste pits across the street 
sat yellow-brown pools of feces where ducks and 
pigs swam in the overflow. The path to the river ran straight downhill.

According to Harvard University microbiology 
chair John Mekalanos, the cholera "very much 
likely did come either with peacekeepers or other 
relief personnel." "I don't see there is any way 
to avoid the conclusion that an unfortunate and 
presumably accidental introduction of the 
organism occurred," 
recently told AP.

However the cholera epidemic sweeping the country 
raises a bigger question about the role of 
countries such as the U.S., Canada and France, 
that have boasted for years about all the "aid" they've provided to Haiti.

I mean, with all this international "help," why 
on earth doesn't Haiti have the basic 
infrastructure that could have prevented the cholera outbreak?

Independent journalist 
Doucet recently offered some very relevant 
context in a commentary for the Guardian, pointing out that
A decade ago, money was in place to address the 
country's failing water system. In 2000, a $54m 
(£34m) loan from the Inter-American Development 
Bank (IDB) should have given the Haitian 
government means to rehabilitate its urban and rural water systems."

However, "US foreign policy objectives of 
destabilising the democratically elected Aristide 
government got in the way," Doucet stated.

In a 2004 article for the London Review of Books, 
Harvard medical professor Paul Farmer, who is now 
the UN's Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti, 
that "Haitian and American sources have confirmed 
to me that the US asked the bank to block the loans."

At a UN donors' conference in March 2010, the 
international community promised 
billion to rebuild Haiti after the January 12 
earthquake. (A sum that is considerably less than 
of billions of dollars Haiti is owed for the 
debts that have been extorted from Haitians by 
Western governments and financial institutions since 1825.)

Nearly eight months after these pledges, an 
million people are still living under tarps in unsafe makeshift camps.

MINUSTAH recently issued a statement calling the 
organizers of recent protests in Haiti 
enemies of stability and democracy."

But protest seems the most reasonable response to the present situation.

Not least for those of us whose governments 
promised a bright future for a 
Haiti" just nine months ago.

Isabel MacDonald is a Montreal-based freelance 
journalist. She can be reached at 
isabelmacdonald1 at gmail.co. Follow her on 
Twitter: <http://www.twitter.com/isabelmacdo>www.twitter.com/isabelmacdo

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