[News] Haiti Elections: A Sham in the Time of Cholera
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."
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
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?
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
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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