AS/COA Online - Haiti Uneasy after Electoral Outcome

Haiti was dealt another pair of blows this week, between news that a cholera outbreak could likely be traced back to UN peacekeepers and protests over election results. With no candidate winning the requisite majority of the vote, Haitians will choose their next president by casting ballots in a January 16 runoff. But some voters aren’t happy with the results from the November 28 election, which was tainted by fraud allegations; governing party candidate Jude Celestín edged out pop star Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly by less than a percentage point and will face former first lady Mirlande Manigat in the second round. The ruling party felt protesters’ wrath on Wednesday when its headquarters were set on fire. The December 7 election results coincided with news that a report leaked to the Associated Press linked UN peacekeepers from Nepal to a cholera outbreak that has, thus far, claimed 2,000 lives in Haiti.

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AS/COA Online - Haiti's Presidential Vote Mired in Controversy

Haitians won’t know the results of the November 28 presidential vote until next week, but even then the outcome may be shrouded in controversy. No fewer than 12 presidential candidates rejected the election as fraudulent while proceedings were described as chaotic and marked by inefficiency. Results are slated for December 7 at the earliest, with a final tally expected on December 20. Even if calls to cancel the election go unheeded, the results may not be decisive; a runoff would take place January 16 if no candidate wins the requisite 50-percent-plus-one portion of votes in the first round. Voters cast ballots not only for President René Préval’s successor, but also for 11 of 30 seats in the Senate and all 99 seats in the Chamber of Deputies to govern a country beset by a cholera outbreak and still dealing with the repercussions of January’s massive earthquake. Despite initial outcry, two leading candidates backed away from those opposing the election, suggesting they expected to face each other in a second round.

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AS/COA Online | UN Haiti Conference Exceeds Funding Expectations

Reconstruction in Haiti. (DoD photo: U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Joan E. Kretschmer)A UN donor conference aimed at raising funds to help rebuild a devastated Haiti showed that countries around the globe are willing to put their money where there mouth is. With more than 150 countries and organizations represented at the March 31 conference at the UN’s New York headquarters, pledging almost $10 billion in short and long-term aid. The $5.3 billion committed to help cover rebuilding costs for the next two years exceeded the Haitian government’s request by 1.4 billion. But some have made the point that it will take more than cash to reconstruct Haiti after the January 12 earthquake that claimed roughly 220,000 lives and ravaged infrastructure in Port-au-Prince. “You can have all the pledges in the world, but you must be able to implement,” said the Inter-American Development Bank’s Luis Alberto Moreno. 

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AS/COA Online - Exclusive Interview: General Fraser on Security in the Americas

“Our efforts are always focused on supporting the government, wherever the crisis happens.”

General Douglas M. Fraser, Commander of U.S. Southern Command, spoke with AS/COA Online’s Carin Zissis about supporting relief efforts in Chile and Haiti, the fight against illicit trafficking, Iran’s growing ties with Latin America, and weapons modernization in the Andes.

AS/COA: The Americas obviously experienced two massive earthquakes since the beginning of the year, first in Haiti and now in Chile. In each case, what are the top challenges in terms of operational responses from a U.S. perspective?

Gen. Fraser: I think there are a couple things to keep in mind. One is that every situation is different and every situation is unique, so you have to understand the situation as it exists. And getting accurate information early—and comprehensive information—is always a challenge. Our efforts are always focused on supporting the government, wherever the crisis happens. So we look to support the government and work at what they need, when they say they need it. That’s very much what we see happening in Chile.

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AS/COA Online | Haiti and the Dominican Republic Mend Fences

It may seem difficult to find an upshot to the massive natural disaster that hit Haiti last month. Yet the earthquake did lead to mended fences with the Dominican Republic. “The Dominicans were the first to arrive with help, with doctors, food, and aid,” says Alice Blanchet, a special advisor to Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive. “They were stellar.” Despite long-running tensions between Port-au-Prince and Santo Domingo, the disaster has drawn the neighbors closer together. As The Economist put it, the result is “[a] break in a history of mistrust.” But how long that break will last could be tested, particularly given recent changes in Dominican immigration policy.

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AS/COA Online | After the Earthquake: Healing Haiti

L.A. County Fire Department and Rescue team in Port-au-Prince. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Stumberg)In the week since a massive earthquake devastated Haiti, the world has been gripped by tragic news of chaos and death as well as hopeful rescue stories. Donors desperate to support relief efforts text and twitter information and ways to help. Even as a tense delay in food distribution continues while troops and aid workers arrive on the ground, questions arise over Haiti’s future—and who should help the country recover.

For those who have lost everything, help cannot come soon enough,” wrote UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki moon in an article penned after he visited Haiti over the weekend. On January 19, the UN Security Council backed his motion to send 3,500 additional UN peacekeepers to Haiti in the wake of the disaster, augmenting the 7,000-strong MINUSTAH forces already on the ground. Brazil has largest number of soldiers among the UN forces and will contribute to the increase by doubling its more than 1,250 troops there. Washington plans to bolster military forces by sending 10,000 U.S. troops within weeks.

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AS/COA Online - Haiti Sacks Prime Minister in Government Shake-Up

Last week, while Honduran leaders reached a deal to end a crisis brought on by the ousting of the president, another leader in the Americas found herself out of a job. In the early morning on October 30, senators in Haiti’s Congress elected to remove Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis from office, thereby dissolving the cabinet. Eighteen out of the country’s 29 senators voted for the prime minister’s dismissal following 10 hours of bitter debate and after several senators who supported her stormed out. President René Préval quickly appointed Planning Minister Max Bellerive as a replacement and the shake-up was met with relative calm in the streets of Port-of-Prince. But the ousting of Pierre-Louis, whose term marked a period of stability, could spark worry among investors and donors about ongoing instability.
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