Friday, December 24, 2010

The Denial of Self Determination: The International Community in Haiti

Originally Posted on: America Latin en Movimiento

Posted on: December 24th, 2010

Link to Original: http://alainet.org/active/43412



The Denial of Self Determination: The International Community in Haiti
By: Kevin Edmonds
Alainet.org
December 24th, 2010


The Denial of Self Determination: Haiti and the International Community

Haitians’ battle for sovereignty and social justice is more than 200 years old

By Kevin Edmonds

Originally published in Spanish in America Latina en Movimiento (Latin America in Motion), December 2010 issue, http://alainet.org/publica/alai461.pdf.

Author's Translation:

If any nation in the history of humanity has been terrorized by the naked brutality and hypocritical logic of modernity, it has been Haiti. One would assume that the Haitian Revolution in 1804 would be looked upon as a pivotal moment which helped to shape the ideas of freedom, equality and justice. This was not the case. Since it’s independence in 1804, Haiti has been the victim of both history and hypocrisy. The the small nation that fought for the freedom, dignity and justice has been met with a nightmarish hell of slavery, genocide, racism, isolation, extreme oppression and economic terrorism exercised in the name of modern civilization that has not disappeared in the 500 years since Christopher Columbus first landed on the island. The recent turmoil surrounding the Haitian elections on November 28th must be seen as an extension of international determination in undermining the Haitian people’s right to self determination.

During the 18th century, Haiti, then known as Saint Domingue, became France’s most valuable colonial possession. By the mid 1700’s, Saint Domingue became the most lucrative colony in the world, producing more wealth than the 13 colonies of what would eventually become the United States of America[1]. This relationship of exploitation would continue until 1791, when a slave uprising led by Toussaint L’Ouverture began. A thirteen-year war led Haiti to become the second independent country in the hemisphere, and the first black republic in the world.

In response to the newly established republic, the international powers of France, the United States, England and Holland put aside their colonial rivalries and were determined to strangle this revolution in its infancy, as it had the potential to bring down the whole system of slavery and colonialism. Haiti would not be allowed to become a success, as it would turn the racist, capitalist global order on its head. The only way Haiti could exist was if it was turned into the basket case of the hemisphere. The “failed state” of Haiti that we read about today has been consciously constructed over 200 years by the world’s industrial powers. France and the United States played a particularly aggressive role in bleeding Haiti to death financially.

Facing extreme isolation, and with a French warfleet sitting offshore, Haiti agreed in 1825 to take out a loan from a designated French bank and pay compensation to French plantation owners for their loss of “property,” including the freed slaves. In exchange, Haiti won diplomatic recognition from France. (It would take another 40 years before the U.S. would do likewise. In effect, Haiti was paying twice for it’s freedom; one time with blood, the second with money. The amount of the debt totalled $150,000,000 Francs. Today, that amount would equal $21 billion dollars[2]. No mention was ever given to the fact that the land and people were both stolen to begin with.

If the economic stranglehold imposed by the international community was not enough, Haiti happened to be the leading target of US intervention in the 20th century. The United States was determined to make sure that Haiti’s economy complemented their own. Haiti was to engage in export agriculture, producing coffee, sugar, cotton and tobacco for American consumption. The US invasion of 1915 brought back slavery to Haiti in all but name and rewrote the Haitian constitution of 1804, giving US corporations free rein.

Haiti may have been the first nation to escape colonialism through revolution, but Haiti also became the first “third world” nation in the traditional sense, as they were poor and overburdened with debt. The Haitian government could not build schools, hospitals or roads because nearly all of the available money went to pay France. In 1915, for example, 80% of government revenues went to debt service[3]. Haiti did not finish paying the loans that financed the debt until 1947[4]. Over a century after the global slave trade was recognized and eliminated as the evil it was, the Haitians were still paying their ancestors’ masters for their freedom.[5]

As Haiti was in a desperate financial position due to economic blackmail, the United States saw it as a potentially dangerous hotspot for “communist subversion.” Under the dictatorship of the Duvalier family dynasty (1957-1986), notable public assets such as the railroads, public utilities and the Haitian National Bank were auctioned off to Citibank and the Haitian Corporation of America for next to nothing.[6] When Jean Claude Duvalier was forced into exile in 1986, he reportedly landed in the French Cote d’Azur with a comfortable net worth of $1.6 billion.[7]

It was this debt riddled framework of the new global economic order, fighting against the unjust demands of the IMF, World Bank and the United States, that led a Roman Catholic Priest named Jean Bertrand Aristide to become Haiti’s first democratically elected president,in 1990. Aristide’s grassroots support among the poor of Haiti led to his landslide victory with[RA1] 67% of the vote[8].

Aristide led calls against further rounds of privatization of the Haitian economy. These concerns did not sit well with the United States or France resulting in a coup in September 1991. Due[RA2] to international as well as internal pressure, the Clinton administration helped facilitate the restoration of Aristide, but[RA3] he was not allowed to complete his full 5 year term. In[RA4] 2000, Aristide was elected once again, with 91.8% of the vote[9].

The international powers instituted an embargo of aid and development loans against the newly elected government. Aid funding was instead shifted to NGO’s, many of which were, or became, hostile to the government, and organizations like the Group of 184 which were controlled by Haiti’s elite but masqueraded as being a part of Haitian civil society. Much of the money went into funding what were little more than anti-Aristide militias – known as “democracy enhancement groups”, who would replace the disbanded Haitian army as a tool of the rich.[10] In[RA5] February 2004, Aristide was overthrown again, after advocating for the reparation of Haiti’s odious $21 billion debt to France, by paramilitaries from the former army (disbanded by Aristide in 1995) with key backing from U.S., French and Canadian military forces. He was forced into exile. The nation was ripe once again for the picking by U.S. and other corporations[RA6] .

According to Peter Hallward “the period that began with the military coup of September 1991 is best described as one of the most prolonged and intense periods of counter-revolution anywhere in the world. For the last 20 years, the most powerful political and economic interests in and around Haiti have waged a systematic campaign designed to stifle the popular movement and deprive it of its principal weapons, resources and leaders.”[11]

The devastating earthquake on January 12th and the tragic aftermath is being used as a backdrop of excuses to mask the engineered irregularities of the recent election. The November 28th election is the most recent step in the international community’s attempt to stifle the demands of self determination by the Haitian people. Fanmi Lavalas, founded by Aristide and his colleagues in 1997 and arguably the nation’s most popular political party, has been banned in every election since the overthrow of Aristide in 2004. The exclusion of Lavalas continued into the November 28th elections based on the party failing to meet last minute technicalities invented by Haiti’s highly controversial (including non-constitutional) Provisional Electoral Council – heavily influenced by current President Rene Preval. Fanmi Lavalas and 14 other political parties were excluded from participating in the November 28th elections without any transparent reasoning.

Ignoring reports highlighting the irregularities of the November 28th election from civil society organizations both domestically and abroad, the international community continued to support and finance the highly flawed process. As early as June, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti issued a comprehensive report titled The International Community Should Pressure the Haitian Government for Free and Fair Elections (http://ijdh.org/archives/13138) but the international community did not pay attention to the warnings of political turmoil resulting from their backing of highly flawed elections.

The reasoning behind such vehement support for Haiti’s current flawed elections is simple. There is over $10 billion in reconstruction contracts waiting to be awarded[12], an amount too large to be trusted to any independent, or heaven forbid progressive, candidate who would channel the money into the building of much needed public services and infrastructure to serve the Haitian people. What the international community expects from these elections is a president who will rubber stamp any of their self serving development projects. An article in the Washington Post titled, “Would-be Haitian Contractors Miss out on Aid,” further demonstrates the self serving nature of aid to Haiti. It states that of every $100 of US contracts, only $1.60 makes it into the hands of Haitian contractors.[13]

There must be a movement away from the further “NGOization” of the nation, and a strong movement towards the development of public institutions which will serve the most poor and vulnerable. Public health, education and water systems should be priorities for any reconstruction effort – however the plans outlined by the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Committee (chaired by William Clinton) simply call for more of the same failed policies which have devastated Haiti. The IHRC is intent in enforcing policies which will turn Haiti into a protectorate of offshore slavery for American garment manufacturing corporations.[14]

The engineered collapse of the Haiti through both economic and political action offers an important example of how power shapes relations to the benefit of the stronger party through both conditionalities and military intervention. Haiti stands as a devastating example of what is wrong with the current economic order. Haiti has paid the costs over and over again, simply for its people wanting to exercise their right to self determination – whether through rebellion against slavery and colonialism, or through the demands to participate in a free and fair election. All the Haitian people have demanded is freedom and respect – and they have been punished without an equal for these demands ever since.

Kevin Edmonds is a freelance journalist and graduate student at McMaster University’s Globalization Institute in Hamilton, Ontario. He took part in an informal election observation mission with several Haitian grassroots organizations in November, 2010.

Notes:

[1] Bellegarde-Smith, Patrick. “The Context of Haitian Development and Underdevelopment”. In Haiti: The Breached Citadel. (Canadian Scholars Press, 2004.)

[2] “Building on the foundation of democracy: an overview of the first two years of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's presidency”, February 7 2001-February 7 2003 Embassy of the Republic of Haiti in Washington D.C., 2003

[3] Farmer, Paul. “Haiti: Short and Bitter Lives.” Le Monde Diplomatique. June 2003.

[4] Regan, Jane. “Haiti: In bondage to history?” NACLA Report of the Caribbean, Feb. 2005, Vol.38, No. 4

[5] Phillips, Anthony. “Haiti Needs Justice, Not Charity.” The South Florida Sun-Sentinel. July 24th, 2006

[6] Miles, Melinda. Let Haiti Live: Unjust US Policies Towards it’s Oldest Neighbour. (New York, Educa Vision, 2004).

[7] Lundahl, Mats. “History as an Obstacle to Change: The Case of Haiti.” The Journal of InterAmerican Studies and World Affairs. Vol. 31. No 1. 1989.

[8] Farmer, Paul. Getting Haiti Right This Time: The U.S. and the Coup. (Monroe, Common Courage Press, 2004).

[9] Eberstadt, Nicholas. Haiti in Extremis, The Weekly Standard, Oct 9th, 2006, Volume 12, Issue 6, pg. 23

[10] Griffin, Thomas M. and Irwin P. Stokzky. Haiti: Human Rights Investigation: November 11th – 21st, 2004. (Center for the Study of Human Rights, The University of Miami Law School, January 2005)

[11] Hallward, Peter. Haiti 2010: Exploiting Disaster.

[12] Kim Ives. International Donors Conference at the UN: For $10 Billion of Promises Haiti Surrenders it’s Sovereignty. Haiti Liberte. April 12th, 2010. Available Online: http://www.haitianalysis.com/2010/4/20/international-donors-conference-at-the-un-for-10-billion-of-promises-haiti-surrenders-its-sovereignty

[13] Mendoza, Martha. Would be Haitian Contractors Miss out on Aid. Washington Post. December 13th, 2010. Available Online: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/12/AR2010121201566.html

[14] Maxwell, John. Shameless and Graceless. The Jamaica Observer. February 14th, 2010. Available Online: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Maxwell-Feb-14

Friday, December 3, 2010

Photo Essay: Haiti’s Presidential Elections

Originally posted on: NACLA.org

Posted on: December 7th, 2010

Original link: https://nacla.org/node/6837



Haiti's Presidential Elections
By: Kevin Edmonds
NACLA.org
Dec 7 2010

On November 28, I took part in an informal electoral observation delegation to Haiti, observing the election with one of six teams made up of Haitian grassroots organizations, lawyers, and journalists.1 Nineteen political candidates were running for president in an election that many considered one of the most important in the tormented nation’s history. A majority of Haitians still live in turmoil after the January 12 earthquake, and there exists a great deal of uncertainty concerning the billions pledged for its reconstruction. Each team’s objective was to witness the electoral process unfold in a number of targeted polling stations in the cities of Port-au-Prince, Jacmel, and Gros Morne, and to document any irregularities. We witnessed widespread disorganization, as the majority of voters were turned away after their arrival at the voting stations because their names did not appear on the voting register. Other voting stations opened late, and still others did not have any ballots. The voting process was already fraught with issues such as the unconstitutional exclusion of 15 political parties, the controversial makeup of the Haitian Provisional Electoral Council, and the trouble the Office of National Identification had in replacing hundreds of thousands of voter registration cards lost during the earthquake.

Walking around the streets of Port-au-Prince, political graffiti is seen everywhere. This particular wall says “Down with Preval” (the Haitian President), “Down with MINUSTAH = Cholera” (MINUSTAH is the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti), “(expletive) MINUSTAH go”, and reiterates a popular demand by laid-off public sector workers to be paid their 36 months of back pay.

On election day, the presence of MINUSTAH on every corner of Port-au-Prince gave it the atmosphere of a city under siege, rather than the capital of a nation embarking on a free and fair election.

At the Lycee Fritz Pierre Louis, ballots for the deputy position had not been delivered as of 11:00 a.m. (five hours into the voting process). Many of the voters we approached were unable to vote because their names did not appear on the voting register. It was later learned that 5,500 registered voters were unable to cast their ballot at this voting station. Nationally, this dynamic was corroborated by an Organization of American States (OAS) - Caribbean Community (CARICOM) joint mission, which observed that “the election was marred because many people were blocked from voting by rampant disorganization.”

As expected, many voters expressed their frustration of being turned away under the ever-present eyes of MINUSTAH troops, Haitian National Police, or private security forces. Several of the voters told us that they saw the names of dead relatives and friends on the voting register.

As voters went to cast their vote at the Ecole National Esther Beaubrun Honorat (first photo above), they had to walk past the corpse of a cholera victim who had died two days earlier (second photo above). Several voters commented that the money spent on the election should have been put towards fighting the cholera epidemic. On the other side of the wall is the Haitian University hospital (Hopital de l’Universite d’etat d’Haiti).

Outside the Stade Sylvio Cator, another voter was turned away despite being told to vote at this location by the Provisional Electoral Council’s (CEP) hotline. Many people had walked to five or more voting centers to try to cast their vote but were unsuccessful.

At the Lycee Fimem, there was more of the same. Voters did not appear on the registers and were turned away from participating in the election. By this time in the early afternoon the frustrations of the voters were starting to boil over. It was becoming clearer as the day went on that this election might not have the required amount of voters to be considered legitimate if the irregularities we witnessed were occurring nationally. The election results have not been released as of this writing.

At the Lycee Fimem, our team asked to look at the election registers, out of the 1,800 potential voters on four of the registers viewed only 162 had cast their vote as of 1:30 p.m. At roughly 3:15 p.m., 12 of the 19 presidential candidates called the election an exercise of “massive fraud” and urged their supporters to take to the streets in protest.

There were serious irregularities at all of the seven stations visited by our team around central Port-au-Prince. The other teams in the observation mission also reported issues that included voter registration problems, lack of ballots at stations, untrained staff, dead citizens appearing on the voting registers, and a total failure of the Electoral Council’s information hotline. Evidence suggests that these issues were occurring at a national level, which would bring the legitimacy of these elections into serious question. However, several international organizations that financed and supported the elections validated the process.

While recognizing the irregularities documented in our observations, the OAS/CARICOM declaration went on to endorse the very questionable process stating: “Based on its observations in the eleven electoral departments, the Joint Mission does not believe that these irregularities, serious as they were, necessarily invalidated the process.”

The head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, Edmund Mulet commented that the elections were "going well" and that “the decision of the people will be respected. There are some small administrative problems, but no big problem that is going to reduce participation.”

Melinda Miles, director of the Let Haiti Live project at TransAfrica Forum observed "when the protest was over, people went back to the tarps they call home to sleep with empty stomachs." Miles went on to say: "These elections were hardly the vehicle to bring a true democratic change to the country, but the widespread fraud and disenfranchisement of Haitian voters is no cause for celebration. Nor can the future government of Haiti be decided by a rally in the streets of the capital; it should reflect the will of the majority of Haitians."

Our observation group will issue a report in the coming weeks.


Kevin Edmonds is a NACLA Research Associate.


1. Members of the Observation Teams included representatives of: Let Haiti Live , TransAfrica Forum, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, Center for Economic and Policy Research, International Action Ties, Louisiana Justice Institute, Kledev Bri Kouri Nouvèl Gaye and the Asosyasyon Vwazen Solino, The Neighborhood Association of Solino. It was also a collective organizational effort, not organized from a single group of people.

Shame on CARICOM: Abandoning Haiti in a Time of Crisis

Originally posted on: The Trinidad and Tobago Review

Posted on: December 3rd, 2010

Original link: http://www.tntreview.com/?s=kevin+edmonds&x=18&y=15&=Go


Shame on CARICOM: Abandoning Haiti in a Time of Crisis
By: Kevin Edmonds

Trinidad and Tobago Review
December 3rd, 2010


A police officer pushes voters against a wall covered with posters depicting presidential candidate Jude Celestin during general elections in Port-au-Prince last week. —Photo: AP

On Sunday evening, the international community was confronted with the epic failure of the Haitian elections under allegations of widespread fraud and voting irregularities. That same evening, Eduard Mulet, the head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti expressed “their deep concern at the numerous incidents that marred the elections.”

The next day however, the first instances of backtracking and damage control began to trickle out through the release of a joint statement by CARICOM and the Organization of American States which read that “Based on its observations in the eleven electoral departments, the Joint Mission does not believe that these irregularities, serious as they were, necessarily invalidated the process.”

On Sunday morning, starting at 6am (when polling stations were supposed to open) I took part in an informal election monitoring exercise with one of six teams made up of Haitian grassroots organizations, lawyers and journalists. Each team’s objective was to witness the electoral process unfold across numerous targeted polling stations in Port au Prince, Jacmel and Gros Morne and document any irregularities.

Going in, the team already had a solid understanding of the already existing irregularities of the election – based on the exclusion of 15 political parties, the controversial nature of the Rene Preval handpicked Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), and the noted difficulties of the Office of National Identification (ONI) in replacing the hundreds of thousands of voter registration cards lost in the January 12th earthquake. All of these irregularities pointed to a fixed election financed and supported by the international community; however, despite the exclusion of political candidates, the terrible organization and general chaos at the polling stations further marginalized the voters who had turned out to cast their vote.

At each of the seven voting stations we visited in central Port au Prince, we talked with large groups of voters who were frustrated, angry and disappointed that their names were not on the voter registration lists – while those of their deceased relatives and neighbours were eligible. At one polling station, Lycee Fritz Pierre Louis, not only were hundreds of voters not on the list, the station had yet to receive any ballots as of 10am – four hours into the voting process. Outside of the gate, voters repeatedly complained to me “Non Mwen Se Pa La” (my name is not there).

Starting at 1:30pm we began to ask if we would examine the voting registries to see how many people had voted. The CEP volunteers obliged, showing us registers which documented between 4-10% of the population had cast their ballot successfully. From the monitoring of the seven selected polling stations, we witnessed only one international observer from the European Union at the Lycee Toussaint L’Ouverture. At none of the seven stations visited were any representatives of the OAS or CARICOM delegation present, giving much credence to their ignorance such widespread irregularities.

The fact that the international community, including CARICOM and the OAS have released a statement endorsing the election (despite some small irregularities) completely dismisses the outright farce that was the Haitian election on November 28th. In a report released by the OAS and CARICOM on November 29th, the report blames “the toxic atmosphere created by the allegations of massive fraud” as to why there was so much disorganization – rather than the widespread existence and practice of electoral fraud itself. The Haitian Provisional Electoral Council also came out on the evening of the election and stated that there were only problems at 56 of the 1500 polling stations in Haiti. What this means, is that by sheer bad luck – that out of the seven stations we visited, in addition to the 45 stations the other teams had visited throughout Port au Prince, Jacmel and Gros Morne - we had only visited those stations which encountered serious irregularities. What are the odds?

On the ground, observing the Haitian people there was an extremely low turnout – definitely not enough to give any semblance of legitimacy to this already rigged election. The only conclusion that can be reached is that CARICOM and the OAS are falling on their swords to protect the interests of the wider international community who wishes to have a government favourable to their self serving development and investment initiatives.

Without a doubt the acceptance of these deeply flawed elections as legitimate by CARICOM seriously jeopardizes the organization’s future relationship with Haiti. It also demonstrates how the organizations “commitment to democratic principles” hypocritically did not extend to Haiti during such critical elections whereby the winner of the election will be responsible for the colossal task of rebuilding the after the January 12th earthquake and the ongoing cholera epidemic.

The actions of CARICOM and the international community in rubber stamping this election proves that the demands of the Haitian people for democracy and self determination are not important enough to be valued, and the endorsement of this election is the ultimate betrayal of the Haitian people. This betrayal at such a critical moment in Haiti’s history adds CARICOM to the list of the devastated nation’s antagonists who are leading it towards a dangerous political crisis which we all know the people of Haiti do not need nor deserve. Looking at the organization’s response, this can only make one wonder, when the Haitian people have friends like the CARICOM, who needs enemies?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Don’t blame Haitians for election fiasco

Originally posted on: The Toronto Star

Posted on:

Original link: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/article/899382--don-t-blame-haitians-for-election-fiasco


Don't Blame Haitians for Election Fiasco
By: Roger Annis and Kevin Edmonds
The Toronto Star
December 1st, 2010


A child holds an unmarked ballot, one of thousand left on the floor of a polling station in Port-au-Prince.

A child holds an unmarked ballot, one of thousand left on the floor of a polling station in Port-au-Prince.

Ramon Espinosa/AP
Roger Annis and Kevin Edmonds

Those who counselled against holding a national election in Haiti in the midst of a catastrophic humanitarian crisis will take no comfort in the debacle it became. Our thoughts rest squarely with the tens of thousands of people afflicted with cholera, and the hundreds of thousands of earthquake victims still without shelter, clean water and hope. How much suffering could have been alleviated with the tens of million of dollars spent on a wasted electoral exercise?

The image of the brave and resilient Haitian people will inevitably be stained by what the world has witnessed. Haiti, we are told by so many uninformed commentators, is hopelessly rife with “corruption,” “fraud” and “violence.” But that’s not correct and it’s not fair.

Yes, there was no shortage of electoral fraud on display on Nov. 28. But it’s not true that this is the hallmark of elections in Haiti. The country has held four successful presidential elections in the past 20 years.

To achieve the first of those, in 1990, the people sacrificed greatly in a difficult and bloody four-year battle against the country’s wealthy elite. The latter sought to recover what was lost with the overthrow of the Duvalier tyranny in 1986 by transferring political rule to the ousted dictator’s army. Ultimately, that failed. But not without a high human toll. No one knows more the value of a free and fair election than ordinary Haitian people themselves.

The current election was imposed on Haiti, courtesy of Washington, Ottawa, Paris and the UN Security Council. The dust had barely settled from the earthquake when they began to press for it. They footed the bill, to the tune of at least $25 million. They are the ones to be held accountable, for there was no shortage of voices in Haiti and abroad crying foul and calling for a different political course.

Why were these voices not heeded? Sadly, Nov. 28 was the latest step in a long and protracted effort by Haiti’s elite and the wealthy powers of the world to disenfranchise the Haitian people and strip them of their national sovereignty.

Following 10 years punctuated by a military coup and incessant foreign interference, the disenfranchisement effort resumed in earnest following the election in 2000 of a government of social reform, headed by president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The elite opposition boycotted the election, but to little avail. The people voted overwhelmingly for Aristide. His party, Fanmi Lavalas, won 72 of 83 parliamentary seats.

Impartial observers declared the election fair. But the opposition called for a boycott of aid and assistance to the government, the opening shot in a protracted drive to overthrow it. The U.S., Canada and Europe obliged, pressuring international financial institutions to withhold aid funding. One of the victims of the aid embargo, as documented by Partners in Health in a comprehensive study in 2008, “The Denial of the Right to Water in Haiti,” was a government plan to build water treatment facilities in the very Artibonite region where cholera broke out.

Four years later, the elected government was overthrown in a bloody paramilitary assault that received political as well as military backing from the U.S., Canada and France. The much-hated UN Security Council mission called MINUSTAH was created in May of that year.

In the 2006 election, a clumsy effort was made to steal the result from the presidential candidate favoured by the popular majority, René Préval. The people accepted him, reluctantly, as a stand-in for Fanmi Lavalas because the party’s leaders were either in exile (Aristide) or in prison (Jean Juste, Auguste, Neptune, many others).

But even mild-mannered Préval was too much for the elite to stomach. They tried, but failed, to block his election. Regretfully, he became the pliant president they wished for, holding down, for example, the factory minimum wage, and failing to aggressively apply the laws of eminent domain against specious landowners following the earthquake so that temporary shelter could be constructed more rapidly.

In 2009, the Préval-appointed electoral council issued its first formal ban against Fanmi Lavalas participation in elections, in the partial senate election that took place in April and June. As a result, voter turnout was less than 5 per cent. The council repeated that ban in the election that was supposed to take place in February 2010 and rolled that decision forward to apply to this latest one.

So how can Haiti recover from this foreign-sponsored electoral disaster?

First, as if it needs stating, the candidates calling for the election to be cancelled should be heeded. As well, a new Provisional Electoral Council needs to be formed. Haitians have been demanding this in countless demonstrations over the past seven months; those candidates now crying foul are doing so late in the game.

Second, the foreign powers in Haiti should respect the sovereign will of the country and its institutions in the reconstruction effort. Haitians need social cohesion and a rights-based plan for national recovery. Foreign assistance could help such a process by cooperating with Haitian authorities and bending over backwards to assist the creation of public services and other social institutions that strengthen Haitian capacity.

Third, MINUSTAH needs to prepare an orderly departure from the country. It was already reviled by many Haitians as symbolizing the loss of sovereignty in 2004; now it stands accused of being the likely source of the cholera outbreak, via its Nepalese contingent, and of backing a fraudulent and undemocratic election.

Finally, and above all, the humanitarian crisis requires urgent attention and much more resources. Notwithstanding the sacrifices and heroism of so many Haitians and their allies, the international aid effort has proven flawed and insufficient. A renewed influx of resources and commitment is required.

Kevin Edmonds is a freelance journalist and graduate student at McMaster University’s Globalization Institute. Roger Annis is a coordinator of the Canada Haiti Action Network. He lives in Vancouver.