Haiti Update - October 2015
by Vernon Giesbrecht
ELECTIONS / ELECTIONS
Politics Anyone? – I hope you don’t mind a little politics in this Update. While we in the U.S. “endure” what has become the presidential election process, Haiti is also in the midst of a series of elections, August – December. “Delay” is the operative word, as many of the required legislative elections have been delayed for four years, contributing to the frustration and violence that has characterized these last few months in the country. On August 9th, voter fraud, intimidation (many don’t read), and violence were reported. Thankfully, on October 25th, the polls were more peaceful with a strong police and U.N. presence. Even tentative results, however, won’t be known for 10 days and the final results at the end of November, with a possible run-off for president into December.
Too Many Choices – With a dizzying number of 54 presidential candidates in the race to succeed President Michel Martelly, and tens of thousands for other races, voter turn-out has been around 30%. The sheer numbers of candidates and years of broken promises by the government have fed voter apathy. Also, few places take longer for results to be released, said Kenneth Merten, Haiti’s former U.S. Ambassador. “It is by law that the Provisional Electoral Council members (approves candidates) are replaced every election cycle. A lot of learning that has been accrued through an election process seems to be lost.”
Exploitation – Cronyism, authoritarian rule, and corruption have constituted the history of government in Haiti. Sadly, these traits have filtered down to the people as well. With financial and social advantages remaining with the elite, large sectors of the populace have also adopted either a “get what I can, any way I can” attitude, or have given up, living lives of hopelessness and dependency. The situation is such a far cry from the founding motto: “In unity there is strength!”, Raymond Joseph commented in a recent interview. Joseph is the former Haitian Ambassador to the U.S. and a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. A Haitian citizen and a Christian, he studied at Moody Bible Institute, Wheaton College, and the University of Chicago, and undertook the first translation of the New Testament & Psalms into Haitian Creole. But at age 83, he still has hope for his country. While he reflects the same mission as Double Harvest - ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of people - his message to a new generation is: “You can live a good life without being corrupt.
Please pray for Haiti and for organizations like ours who are attempting to make a difference in the country through development, compassion and spiritual ministries. Your financial help makes it possible!