Originally published on BuzzFlash on November 27, 2010 by Bill Quigley and Nicole Phillips.
First, Haitian elections are supposed to choose their new President, the entire House of Deputies and one-third of the country’s Senate. But election authorities have illegally excluded all the candidates from the country’s most popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas – and other progressive candidates. Lavalas, the party of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has won many elections in Haiti – probably the reason it was excluded. If this were the US, this would be like holding elections just between the Tea Party and the GOP – and excluding all others. Few Haitians will respect the outcome of these elections.
Second, over 1.3 million Haitian survivors are struggling to raise their families in 1,300 tent refugee camps scattered around Port au Prince. The broken Haitian political system and the broken international NGO system have failed to provide Haitians with clean water, education, jobs, housing, and access to healthcare almost a year after the earthquake. Now cholera, a preventable and treatable disease, has taken the lives of over 1,600 people. Some are predicting that the infection could infect as many as 200,000 Haitians and claim 10,000 lives. Without legitimate leaders Haiti cannot hope to build a society which will address these tragedies.
Third, because the elections are not expected to produce real leaders, Haiti is experiencing serious protests on a daily basis. Protests have occurred in Port au Prince and Cap Haitien, where two people died in clashes with the authorities. In other protests, like a recent one in Port au Prince, demonstrators representing 14 Haitian grassroots groups try to stage peaceful protests. But when UN peace keeping forces arrived they drew their weapons on demonstrators. As the crowd fled for safety, the UN and Haitian police threw teargas canisters into the crowd and the nearby displacement camp, Champ de Mars. Residents were taken to the hospital with injuries from the teargas canisters. The media has wrongfully typecast the political demonstrations as “civil unrest” filled with angry, drunk rioters. No one mentions that much of the violence has been instigated by the law enforcement, not the demonstrators. Faux elections are not going to help deliver stability.
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