If only I (k)NEW(s)!


Earlier this week my friend Lisa at “Notes from Africa” suggested I begin periodic news updates about Haiti.  I thought that a fine idea, as most of Lisa’s are, so today I’m here to deliver news, of sorts.

“Why ‘of sorts’?” you might ask.

A reasonable question—

For here in Haiti, the fact remains, it’s hellaciously hard to get good news.  And by “good news” I mean accurate news.  More often than not, I’m misinformed, ill-informed, or not informed at all.  More often than not I’m confused.  More often than not I throw my hands in the air and exclaim in utter and complete newsless-ness, “C’est la vie, la vie.”  Indeed—whatever will be will be—cause I’m not gonna be able to change it and I’m sure as hell not gonna know about it ahead of time.

In Haiti I think we have accurate news about like we have free and fair elections—rarely, if at all.

But here goes.  Here you have—

Haiti’s Week in Review:

Earthquake anniversary

If you’ve been reading this blog, you should know that January 12th was the one year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, an event which, I hear, got significant coverage in the US and around the world.  (I know the national director for Sara’s NGO here in Haiti was interviewed on CNN the night before last.)

–At least 230,000 were killed.

–More than 300,000 were injured.

–Only 5% of rubble has been cleared in the last year.

–Still 1.3 million are homeless in and around Port-au-Prince.

A couple of great articles on the anniversary have appeared at Time.com this week.  I suggest you take a look at:

                “Who Failed on Haiti’s Recovery?”

                “Haiti’s Quake, One Year Later: It’s the Rubble, Stupid!”

 Cholera

Not as much in the headlines this week, but I heard in an interview on NPR this morning that we are officially in the epidemic phase of the disease. 

–The death toll as of yesterday was 3, 759 according to the Haitian Health Ministry.

–Officially 181,000 have been sickened to date.

For more news on the cholera outbreak I recommend an article from the Montreal Gazette:

                “Haiti cholera toll tops 3,750”

Haitian Presidential Elections

Here’s where things get complicated and more than a little fuzzy.  And here’s where I wish I knew a whole lot more, not only because it’s important to the democratic process, but also because, in purely practical and selfish terms, what happens here over the next several days will impact my life most significantly.

First a bit of background in case you’re new to this issue: 

–On November 28th Haiti held nationwide elections, with 18 candidates running for president.

–Ballot boxes arrived at polling places stuffed with votes for the candidate from the ruling political party and soon-to-be son-in-law of current Haitian president Preval—Jude Celestin—causing most of the other candidates to accuse the government of fraud.

–Rioting broke out when election results were announced a week later and the top two vote-getters were Mirlande Manigat and Celestin—excluding hugely popular musician candidate Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly from a run-off between the top 2 vote-getters on January 16th.

–Port-au-Prince streets calmed down when Preval’s government agreed to a recount of votes by the OAS (Organization of American States).

–The announced results of that recount have been delayed multiple times since December 20th, when they were originally to be made public, so the January 16th run-off has been delayed.

–Official results of that recount have yet to be announced.

However—and this is a big “however,” indeed—

–Monday results of that OAS recount were leaked to the press.  And BBC News reports that the OAS will recommend that the candidate from the ruling political party be disqualified from any run-off.  If this story interests you, check out the BBC piece,

                “OAS to give Haiti presidential election verdict.”               

 What does this all mean? 

There was actually some debate about this at a dinner party Sara and I hosted the other evening, but I will mention an idea discussed by folks who had just left a meeting with presidential candidate, Lesley Voltaire.

Our dinner guests mostly speculated which announced outcome would result in the most violence on the streets of Port-au-Prince and when that announcement might be made.  Some thought that announcement could come as early as last night, which didn’t happen, but was more likely on Sunday evening, January 16th.

Surprisingly to me, most agreed that more violence would result from Jude Celestin being left out of the run-off, since Preval’s government would pay protesters to take to the streets, despite the fact that few in the country actually support Celestin’s candidacy.  They said the omission of Martelly from the run-off would cause problems and likely riots, but fewer problems than Preval could pay the poor to incite on the streets.

So, there you have it, folks, the news from Port-au-Prince, as I know it.  Yes, I wish I  (k)NEW more—but I don’t.  We’ll just have to see what happens Sunday, whether an announcement is made then, and if so, who will be allowed to participate in a run-off.

The last time an announcement came, we were stuck in our house for 4 days because of city-wide violence.  For descriptions of that rioting and how it affected our lives you should click here and here  and here .

I’ll keep you posted———-

23 thoughts on “If only I (k)NEW(s)!

    • I’m glad you find it helpful–just wish I knew more and that I knew something more concrete. So much of what I “know” is someitmes only rumor and often what the government announces it will do turns out to not happen. It’s hard to know what’s accurate.
      Hugs from Haiti,
      Kathy

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  1. Pingback: If only I (k)NEW(s)! (via reinventing the event horizon) « Duke1959's Blog

  2. Thanks for the update. I still have major issues with the U.S. governments dealing with this situation. They send money and troops all over the world but a country that is close gets brushed aside. I also blame the U.S. Medai for its lack of international news as a whole.

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    • You and me both! The US relationship with Haiti is dysfuntional at best. And I agree, as well, that the US media does not offer enough international coverage. It’s sad that so often the US thinks it IS the world and is unable to get outside its own self-absorbtion.

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  3. Right now the media is hooked on the shooting in Arizona and the congresswoman who was shot. This garbage about now we are going to all nicer to each other. I wish that was the case but I suspect is not. Contrary to what people believe Foreign aid is a very small number is the Federal Budget. We protect Europe for reasons unknown. The idiot who runs North Korea in much more dangerous. Keep up the good work!

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    • I think you are so right to put “closer” in quotation marks, as often being “closer” means less perspective. I hate to say that, but often I feel like I’m in an information blackout, as we have no television and so much of what you “hear” locally turns out to be rumor. Kind of a weird feeling. That’s why I think Lisa’s idea about real news updates is such a good one. It turns out to be news available to anyone on the internet, but it’s a good resource to provide my readers–gives them easier access and helps balance the more personal perspectives I share.

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    • The more I think about it, Lisa, the more I think this was a brilliant idea! I explain this a bit in my response to Wendy’s comment above, if you want to take a look. So thanks to you, my friend–your perspecitves are so often SO valuable.

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    • I’m glad you found it helpful. I’d also like to know which parts you weren’t aware of. What parts of the story do you think the media is not telling? I’d also love to know what you’d like to read more about. I find, as in Lisa’s case, reader input is invaluable, and likewise your perspective as an academic is important to me.

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    • You know, I think that’s even happening more in the past couple of years, the years I’ve been mostly living outside the US. Because when I come home, I’m surprised by it more and more. I don’t know if the rate of change has increased or if I’ve just been away from it for too long to remember.

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    • Thanks, Renee. I think the problem with the media is they feel the need to offer explanations–rather than simply admitting they don’t know. So much of what happens herre seems to defy reason. It makes no sense, at least to me.

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  4. What a solemn reminder to be grateful for how good we have it here in the U.S. It’s easy to get bogged down thinking things have sunken so low, until you see how bad others have it elsewhere.

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  5. Kathryn-
    Thank you so much for your blog! It’s always refreshing to hear “real” news rather than the creatively twisted spin so often heard on the news networks.

    My husband and I have a library (opened doors the month prior to the earthquake) in Pilate, Haiti. One good, albeit small, thing that came out of the horrifying devastation caused by the earthquake was that we received more than 25,000 books from the Parliamant Foundation of Quebec because of how much media attention was given to Haiti in the aftermath. It is so sad to read how little things have changed, so I just thought I’d share a small glimmer of hope that came out of the rubble.

    If you ever find yourself in the Pilate area, we’d love for you to visit!

    ~ Dana
    http://www.universallearningcentre.org or http://www.ulc-haiti.org

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