An unkempt bookworm with an insatiable appetite for travel. Carrying with him three nationalities (French, American and Filipino), Fabien Ortiz has a foothold in three different continents and a solid interest in Africa. A political science and history graduate from McGill University in Canada, he has worked for newspapers and radios in France, the United States and Switzerland. He currently works in Washington D.C., an interesting vantage point from which to watch world affairs. And yet he already knows he will soon be setting sail to other destinations, dreamily describing his experiences, casting a critical glance on social and political trends, people and events.
The Other Afrik - Haiti - Corruption - Politics - Health - Disaster - Humanitarian
One year later, Haiti still reeling from the pain
Friday 7 January 2011 / by Fabien Ortiz, for the other afrik
The rubble has cleared off the streets but the problems remain. On January 12th, Haiti will be commemorating its first year anniversary since a devastating earthquake shook Port au Prince to its core and inflicted literal hell on its hapless inhabitants.
At a conference in New York in March 2010, donors promised the nation $5.3 billion over the next eighteen months. Haiti has benefited from international solidarity and reconstruction efforts are being made but optimism is difficult to come by, given that the country is mired in both an electoral crisis and a cholera outbreak.
Riots flared across the country after the announcement of the results of the November 27 elections. Irate voters have proclaimed that chaos rules and fraud is widespread. They feel that the government is surreptitiously pushing for the little known state construction chef Jude Celestin. A suspicion bolstered by the fact that a mere percentage point separates government favored Celestin (22.48%) from his runner up, locally famous musician Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly (slightly over 21%). As of now, preliminary results put Jude Celestin in a second-round run-off with former first lady Mirlande Manigat (31.37%) but a recount is still ongoing.
Haiti election officials say they will not be able to hold a presidential runoff –initially programmed for January 16th- until late February, as they await results from the country’s disputed first round that took place November 28th. Current president Rene Preval has indicated in a recent speech celebrating the country’s 207th anniversary that he may stay in power until May 14th to oversee the “completion of the electoral process”. Preoccupied by these developments, a group of 12 presidential candidates has demanded the annulment of these controversial elections, called for M. Preval’s departure and the establishment of a provisional government.
According to the World Bank, as of December 31st, Haitian authorities reported at least 148,787 total cholera cases, including 83,166 hospitalizations and 3,333 deaths. This outbreak rumored to have been caused by Nepalese humanitarian workers has further vented the flames of Haitian resentment toward foreigners. In a recent interview with the BBC, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive criticized international aid and resented the fact that NGOs, not the Haitian government, get the bulk of the aid/reconstruction money. “Until now we only received 20% of the money we should have received, and the money doesn’t go to us, it goes to the NGOs and the institutions, we are accused of corruption for money that we don’t receive”. Also speaking to the BBC, UN representative Nigel Foster explains that the cholera epidemic is almost “impossible to contain” because the disease has spread all over the country and is difficult to identify in its early stages. Rampant violence also impedes humanitarian workers from tending to the sickly.
In a recent editorial for the Haitian opposition paper Le Nouvelliste Erick Pierre, a Haitian economist, pleads that Haitians be left alone on January 12th, the morbid anniversary of their natural disaster, and that NGOs refrain from any loud public manifestations boasting their record over the past year. “We need this day to mourn our dead in peace and reflect upon what is happening to us”, he explains. We appreciate the help but we do not indulge in seeing the world watching us cry. He ends up by wishing us a happy new year and hopes we understand…
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