Gov't-backed candidate out of Haiti's election

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haitian electoral officials dropped the government-backed candidate from the upcoming presidential runoff on Thursday, ending a standoff with the U.S. and other international powers over the results of a first-round of voting that was marred by fraud and disorganization.

The electoral commission said the March 20 runoff will match former first lady Mirlande Manigat against Michel Martelly, a carnival singer known as "Sweet Micky." The announcement, which came after dawn following more than 13 hours of deliberations, means government-backed candidate Jude Celestin is out of the race.

Hillary Clinton visits Haiti, reassures US commitment to aid

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The United States has no plans to halt aid to earthquake-ravaged Haiti in spite of a crisis over who will be the nation's next leader but does insist that the president's chosen successor be dropped from the race, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday.

Clinton arrived Sunday in the impoverished Caribbean nation for a brief visit. She met with President Rene Preval and earlier met with each of the three candidates jockeying to replace him.

Only two candidates can go on to the delayed second round, now scheduled for March 20. The U.S. is backing an Organization of American States recommendation that the candidate from Preval's party, government construction official Jude Celestin, should be left out in favor of populist rival Michel Martelly.

The top U.S. official at the United Nations, Susan Rice, said recently that "sustained support" from the United States required the OAS recommendations be implemented. Many Haitian officials, including leaders of Preval's Unity party and Martelly, interpreted that to mean the U.S. was threatening an embargo and cutting off aid.

Governor Patrick plans to dispatch National Guard unit to Haiti

Gov. Patrick to deploy National Guard unit to Haiti: The governor, left, made the announcement at a Jan. 30 ceremony. Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry is shown at right. Photo courtesy Governor's Office.Gov. Patrick to deploy National Guard unit to Haiti: The governor, left, made the announcement at a Jan. 30 ceremony. Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry is shown at right. Photo courtesy Governor's Office.

(Update 6:20 p.m.) — Governor Deval Patrick has ordered elements of the Massachusetts National Guard to prepare for an April deployment to Haiti. The 125th Quartermaster battalion out of Worcester, along with the 220th Quartermaster detachment from Bridgewater, will assist in humanitarian efforts, mainly water filtration. More than 100 service people from the Massachusetts National Guard will take part in the deployment. More details on the deployment are expected soon.

Patrick's surprise announcement came during a noontime event in the State House, where he issued a proclamation to establish a statewide Haiti remembrance month to commemorate the one year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti. The governor was joined by State Representative Linda Dorcena Forry and other leaders from the Haitian community.

Inadequate cholera response in Haiti largely because of failed aid structure

Haiti - The country is small and accessible and, following last January's earthquake, it hosts one of the largest and best-funded international aid deployments in the world. An estimated 12,000 non-governmental organizations are there. Why then, have over 4,000 people died of cholera, a disease that's easily treated and controlled?

I recently went to Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, and found my Doctors Without Borders (MSF) colleagues overwhelmed, having already treated more than 75,000 cholera cases. We and a brigade of Cuban doctors were doing our best to treat hundreds of patients every day, but few other agencies seemed to be implementing critical cholera control measures, such as chlorinated water distribution and waste management. In the year since the quake, little has been done to improve sanitation across the country, allowing cholera to spread at a dizzying pace.

US revokes visas to pressure Preval on election

PORT-AU-PRINCE — The U.S. State Department said Friday it revoked the visas of about a dozen Haitian officials, increasing pressure on the government to drop its favored candidate from the presidential runoff in favor of a popular contender who is warning of renewed protests if he is not on the ballot.

Revoking visas that let prominent Haitians enter the United States is the latest step in an escalating effort to persuade Haiti's government to accept international monitors' finding that Michel Martelly rightfully belongs on the second-round ballot

Lawyer: Haiti mum on Aristide passport request

Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide: Hopes to return to Haiti in "coming days" (AP photo)Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide: Hopes to return to Haiti in "coming days" (AP photo)A former lawyer for ex-Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide says the ousted leader has applied for a Haitian passport but has never heard back from his homeland's government. The head of the Boston-based Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti says Aristide has repeatedly requested a Haitian passport. Brian Concannon said that President Rene Preval's government ``simply refuses to respond'' to Aristide's requests.

Aristide's current Miami attorney Ira Kurzban says Aristide wants to come back to Haiti. In a statement issued through Kurzban on Thursday, Aristide said, "As far as I am concerned, I am ready. Once again I express my readiness to leave today, tomorrow, at any time. The purpose is very clear: To contribute to serving my Haitian sisters and brothers as a simple citizen in the field of education."

Aristide added that he hoped to "make that happen in the next coming days."

Local reaction to Duvalier’s return largely negative

Jean-Claude Duvalier: Led away by Haitian police on Jan. 18. AP photo/Ramon EspinosaJean-Claude Duvalier: Led away by Haitian police on Jan. 18. AP photo/Ramon EspinosaJean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier’s return to Haiti last Sunday — after 25 years in exile — has prompted strong reactions from Boston’s Haitian community and their elected leaders. Many have called for his arrest and prosecution for the numerous crimes committed and millions in public funds stolen under his regime from 1971-1986.

Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, was not available to comment today personally, but offered comment through a spokesman.

“The Senator’s following the situation very closely and is deeply concerned that Duvalier’s return will aggravate the already-serious tensions, particularly at the moment that the electoral council reportedly has rejected the OAS’s proposed solution to the impasse over who will be in the runoff,” said Frederick Jones, a spokesman for Kerry’s office. “The situation is fluid and dangerous, and the Senator is working hard to support the Administration’s efforts to promote a fair political resolution and help Haiti get back to the task of national rebuilding.”

'Baby Doc' Duvalier returns to Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, a once feared and reviled dictator who was ousted in a popular uprising nearly 25 years ago, has made a stunning return to Haiti, raising concerns he could complicate efforts to solve a political crisis and the stalled reconstruction from last year's devastating earthquake.

Duvalier's arrival at the airport Sunday was as mysterious as it was unexpected. He greeted a crowd of several hundred cheering supporters but did not say why he chose this tumultuous period to suddenly reappear from his exile in France — or what he intended to do while back in Haiti.

"I'm not here for politics," Duvalier told Radio Caraibes. "I'm here for the reconstruction of Haiti."

Would-be Haitian contractors miss out on aid

In a Port au Prince warehouse loaded with tarps, plywood, corrugated roofing, nails and other building supplies, company owner Patrick Brun says he had hoped to get contracts from the billions of dollars in international aid promised to Haiti.

His 40-year-old company, Chabuma S.A., sells cement blocks, doors, sand bags and other materials for international companies. But what he wants is a more significant role in his country's recovery, which is why he says he keeps bidding — without success — for U.S. government contracts.


Subscribe to Boston Haitian Reporter RSS