Monday, November 15, 2010
Haiti: Cholera Killed Over 900 People -Hundreds Deceased Names Remain in the Electoral Lists
Haiti prepares to hold controversial elections, natural disasters and disease may force the Haitians authorities to reschedule the Presidential and Legislative Elections.
By Wadner Pierre
On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the western and southern parts of Haiti. Over 300,000 people perished, and more than a million were left homeless. This tragedy brought the world together to help Haiti in our time of need. Ordinary citizens from all over the world sent their US dollars and Euros etc, to aid Haitians.
Unfortunately, as it is always been, the money was mostly used to pay for the UN and major NGOs’ bureaucracies, instead of helping the victims of the earthquake. Haiti’s “allies” met and promised several billions of dollars for the reconstruction of the country. Ten months later, the majority of earthquake’s survivors continue to live under makeshift tents and tarps. In the middle of this tragedy combined with empty promises, Haitians have kept their hope alive, and will be forever united. Haitians continue to support each other in any way they can. The world has praised Haitians’ courage. Though the Haitian government shows its incapacity to govern the country, Haitians remain faithful to Haiti’s noble democratic heritage and are eager to vote to choose their leaders in fair, free, inclusive and democratic Presidential and Legislative Elections.
On October 24, 2010 Haitians were awakened with heartbreaking news- Cholera has caused hundreds of deaths amongst their population. On October 25, Haiti’s Health Ministry announced Cholera had already killed 259 people, and infected at least 3,345. The UN Mission in Haiti is accused of causing the widespread of Cholera disease. The UN has denied this accusation. Investigations have been launched to determine the cause of the rapid outbreak of Cholera amongst the vulnerable Haitian population. Over 200 cases of cholera have been confirmed in the Artibonite Department, most particularly among those who live across the Artibonite River.
Nepalese military hired a private company, Sanco Enterprises S.A. to clean the buried septic in their base. Due to the lack of administrative oversight, the company carelessly dumped the human waste in an area where the fecal matter can flow easily into the Artibonite River. Perhaps, sometimes the buried septic inside the military base can overflow as the Associated Press journalist, Jonathan M. Katz explained in his article. “A buried septic tank inside the fence was overflowing and the stench of excrement wafted in the air… Broken pipes jutting out from the back spewed liquid. One, positioned directly behind latrines, poured out a reeking black flow from frayed plastic pipe which dribbled down to the river where people were bathing,” wrote Katz.
People, who live along the river and those living few miles away from the river, use the water to drink, shower, wash their clothes and etc.
The widespread of the Cholera makes officials, scientist and people begin to ask question since there was no case of cholera discovered in Haiti before the arriving of the UN troops in the country, particularly the Nepalese.
The Senator of Artibonite, Youry Latortue demanded a serious investigation to determine the origin of Haitian Cholera outbreak. He said,” There must be a thorough investigation.” He mentioned that people who live in the Mirbalais area, where the Nepalese military base is located, are prepared to testify about what they saw. .“There are people who are willing to testify,” said Sen. Latortue. “We must fix responsibility and take action to prevent the disease spreading across the country," concluded Sen. Latortue. Another member of the Haitian National Assembly, Senator of the Department of Nippes, William Jeanty expressed his fear. He said that, “He doubly panicked for the 70% of the population that do not have access to potable –and the 80% that do their needs outside access of conventional toilets” reported Association Haitienne de Presse (Haitian Associated Press) AHP.
A report from the U.S Center for Diseases and Control stated that the cholera outbreak ravaging Haiti is commonly found in South Asia. Dr. Christopher Braden from the CDC said, “South Asia refers to the area around the Indian subcontinent - India, Pakistan and other countries including Nepal...The finding does not identify the source of the disease or say how it arrived in Haiti, but it eliminates other possibilities including a hypothesis that the strain might be related to a 1990s South American outbreak.”
Claire-Lise Chaignat, head of the World Health Organization's Global Task Force on Cholera Control said, “We are very surprised to see the epidemic in Haiti. We have never found cholera there before." Chaignat failed to say that there were no cases of Cholera reported in Haiti prior the newly arriving UN troops from Nepal in Haiti. After the CDC report, people began to speculate about what may have caused the rapid outbreak of cholera, most particularly in the Down Central Plateau and Down Artibonite regions of Haiti.
Agence Haitienne de Presse (Haitian Press Agency) reported that the inhabitants of the Down Central Plateau, and Down Artibonite regions, where most cases are reported, demanded the departure of Nepalese troops who are stationed in the region. Cholera has already killed over 300 people since its appearance on October 24. The Herald-Tribune reported that hundreds of protesters marched from the nearby city of Mirebalais to demand the Nepalese ‘peacekeepers’ be sent home.
Three weeks after the first cases discovered, cholera killed over 500, and hospitalized over 10,000 people. This week cholera has reaches in the Haiti’s capital and already killed over 50 people. “No places in the hospitals,” said a 26-year-old woman, Marie Jonat. The cholera may be able to cause more victims in Port-Au-Prince since the living conditions is worst than everywhere in the country. Over one million people have been living in the camps without the basic sanitarian protection in the aftermath of the Jan. 12 earthquake which killed over 300 000 people.
UN troops may be responsible for the outbreak of Cholera in Haiti. UN presence in Haiti has been seen as an occupying force, particularly amongst the partisans of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who do not cease to demand his return to Haiti from exile in South Africa.
Meanwhile, the battle against the upcoming-programmed Presidential and Legislative Elections continues. In a statement signed by two reminding members of the Fanmiy Lavalas’ Executive Cmmitee, Maryse Narcisse and former FL Parliamentary, Lionel Etienne, the party of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, reiterated its position to boycott the Nov. 28 General Elections. "The Lavalas Family declares that it will not participate in the Nov. 28 selection process, it is not supporting any candidate, it doesn't have anybody representing it, and it is not sending anybody to represent it, even under the table," said the statement. The statement also criticized the UN representative in Haiti Edmund Mulet for” having no respect for the Haitian people” –and President Rene Preval as an "ungrateful hypocritical regime which has come to bury the memory of our ancestors,” said the FL statement.
The names of people who died during the earthquake remain on the CEP’s electoral list. This breaking news was disclosed in a meeting in Washington by Chief of the Joint OAS-CARICOM Electoral Observation Mission in Haiti, Ambassador Colin Granderson. Many are asking the question. To whom the CEP is going to attribute the votes of the dead Haitians?
As Haiti desperately prepares to hold Presidential and Legislative Elections, Haitians feel insecure about their health with the presence of the UN troops in their regions. A growing number of Haitians believe UN troops are likely responsible for the deadly Cholera disease that has already killed over 300 people in the Haiti as thousands more suffer from the outbreak. Haitian voters seem to have little if any faith in the CEP to organize free, fair and democratic elections.
The CEP’s President, Gaillot Dorsinvil, is confident that the elections will take place. Ironically, he continues to ignore all the problems and mistakes the CEP has already made which undermine the legitimacy of these elections. “The fate of the elections is up to the government, and as far as the council was concerned, the vote was moving ahead as scheduled.” Dorsinvil told the Miami Herald.
Despite the major irregularities that entrenched the electoral process, and the natural disasters and epidemic that have devastated the country, the CEP and Preval’s administration refuse to take action in order to make the electoral process trustworthy, inclusive and democratic. Instead, both CEP and the Preval’s Administration are more likely willing to lead Haiti to ever historical non-transparent elections. With these ‘Elections’ take place, the struggle for a state of law and social justice in Haiti may remain uncertain or fragile under the President Preval and UN leadership.
Wadner Pierre is a Haitian photojournalist who currently resides in New Orleans, Louisiana. Wadner is also a 2010 Justice Revius Ortique, Jr. Louisiana Justice Institute Internship Award recipient. Originally from the city of Gonaives in Haiti, he regularly writes for the Inter Press Service (IPS) and Haiti Liberte. Wadner is a co-founder and frequent contributor to HaitiAnalysis.com, a media collective of young journalists. In 2007, he was a Project Censored Award recipient for his investigative journalism work on the impact of media and corruption in military policies.