HAITI CRISIS: A FRIENDLY WARNING
(Toronto Star) -
The world has nothing but sympathy for Haiti’s 10 million people, stricken by an earthquake and cholera. Canada alone has pledged $1 billion in help. But patience is running out with Haiti’s fractious elite, their rapacious winner-take-all politics amid human tragedy, and their seeming inability to provide the leadership the country needs.
That was the blunt message delivered, with some exasperation, by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon at their meeting in Wakefield, Que., on Monday. Cannon warned that “the international community cannot do everything.” And Clinton cited “growing frustration” in the U.S. Congress.
Nearly a year after the earthquake that killed 250,000 and left more than a million homeless, “there hasn’t been the kind of coordinated, coherent response from the government of Haiti that is called for,” Clinton said. “We expect more, and we’re looking for more.” Indeed, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy (a friend of Haiti) recently urged a freeze on aid to the Haitian government and the denial of travel visas to top officials in order to prod them to resolve the crisis triggered by the tainted Nov. 28 presidential election.
Amid claims of fraud, President René Préval’s protégé, Jude Célestin, narrowly managed to squeak into second place, behind law professor Mirlande Manigat. That left popular singer Michel Martelly out of the Jan. 16 runoff. Many feel cheated by the result.
Efforts to patch over the crisis with a recount or reappraisal appear to be going nowhere. The cleanest option would be to rerun the presidential race, with all 19 candidates. Alternatively, the Jan. 16 runoff could be turned into a three-way race with Celestin, Manigat, and Martelly on the ballot.
Ultimately, Haitians themselves must rescue the credibility of this election. That requires a political class that is prepared to put the nation’s needs first, before their own interests.