Presidential candidate Jude Celestin speaks during a debate in Port-au-Prince on Sept. 20. (Andres Martinez Casares/Reuters)
AN ENORMOUS spike in the number of Haitian migrants crossing into the United States from Mexico over the past year prompted the Obama administration this month to order a sudden policy reversal and served as a reminder of the dysfunction and despair driving people from the hemisphere’s poorest nation.
Better prospects in Haiti depend on political stability, which is at a make-or-break juncture. With a redo, scheduled Oct. 9, of last year’s failed, allegedly fraud-ridden presidential vote, Haiti has a chance to regain a measure of prosperity following years of mismanagement and suffering. It must seize that chance.
A devastating earthquake in 2010 led U.S. officials to adopt a lenient stance toward Haitian migrants without visas, who have been granted admission and temporary work permits on the grounds that conditions in Haiti were so dire. The administration abruptly reversed course this month after more than 5,000 Haitians, many of whom had undertaken an odyssey through South and Central America, were processed through the San Ysidro Port of Entry near San Diego since last October. Just 339 Haitians crossed there in all of fiscal 2015.
The stated rationale of U.S. officials was that conditions in Haiti had improved. That’s a stretch. While most of the 1.5 million people displaced by the earthquake have been resettled, economic growth is all but nonexistent. Investment is sluggish, and a drought has contributed to food shortages.
In fact, the administration could ill afford another migrant crisis; hence the change in policy on Haitian migrants. For a more durable solution, what is needed as a first step is a fair and transparent election in Haiti, whose political history offers few such examples.
The most recent vote, last October, was seen by most Haitians as riddled with fraud, including “zombie voters,” multiple voting and other irregularities. U.S. officials, who provided most of the election funding, deemed it good enough; so did some European observers. That just reinforced the widespread view in Haiti that Washington was in bed with the then-ruling party, whose candidate finished first despite being a political novice.
Following months of postponements and squabbles, the results of that vote were annulled and the runoff, originally scheduled for January, was canceled. The question now is whether the rerun, set for a week from Sunday and funded this time by Haiti without international help, will be an improvement.
There are encouraging signs, including an electoral council that has undertaken more training for poll workers and supervisors and, it is to be hoped, arranged for indelible ink to verify voting; the ink used last year washed off.
Haitians deserve better elections and a legitimate government. The term of the current, caretaker president, Jocelerme Privert, expired in June; he was supposed to serve just four months after the previous elected president left office in February with no successor chosen. Postponing any election is bad for democracy; holding another mismanaged one could be lethal.
Actually, most Haitians, along with the International Community thought the 2015 vote was a good one.
We are seeing a strange situation in which the losers have derailed the electoral process, in the hope of changing the results in the next round.
At the moment, if an election is actually held, the two candidates in the lead, are the same two that led the 2015 vote. The only difference is found in the fact Jovenel Moise has now increased his lead over Jude Celestin.
Provisional President Privert took power in January with the promise to complete the electoral process within 120 days.
He immediately set out to derail things and promised a Lavalas government, even though Lavalas is no longer popular and gained a mere 7% in the 2015 ballot.
Privert has loaded all key government positions with Lavalas militants.
The Electoral Council has a Lavalas militant in charge of tabulation.
Privert is now maneuvering to have Jovenel removed from the voting, leaving only Celestin and Narcisse.
Watch what happens.
Lavalas will steal the election or – THERE WILL BE NO ELECTION AND THINGS WILL SLIDE OVER THE ABYSSS.
WE VOTE FOR POSSIBILITY NUMBER TWO.