For anyone who missed it, our press release from yesterday, in reaction to the CEP's decision, is below. What has received little attention so far is that not all CEP members signed the statement; in fact, it may be that only four out of eight actually did so. We will post more details and analysis as the information becomes available.
"Big Setback" for Haitian Democracy as U.S. Gets Its Way; Forces Runoff Elections Between Two Right-Wing Candidates, CEPR Co-Director Says
Second Round Will Be Between Candidates Who Received Around 6.4% and 4.5% Percent Support from Registered Voters in First Round, Respectively
Washington, D.C. - Haiti's democracy and national sovereignty were severely undermined today, Mark Weisbrot, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), said today, reacting to news that Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) had given in to external pressure and announced that government-backed candidate Jude Celestin will not proceed to the second round of elections.
"What a disgrace this is to the United States government: the richest country in the world has forced one of the poorest to change the results of its presidential election, literally under the threat of starvation," Weisbrot said. "Now two right-wing candidates, who received votes from around 6.4 and 4.5 percent of registered voters, respectively, will compete for the presidency, in another farcical 'election.'
"This is a big setback for democracy in Haiti. Far from fixing the problems with the first elections, this is simply an attempt to impose an illegitimate government on Haiti, and it will backfire," Weisbrot said.
"Washington also continues to try to keep former President Aristide, the country's first democratically elected president, out of the country. This is equally inexcusable and will also fail," Weisbrot also stated.
Read the rest here.
CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot writes in The Guardian (UK) today:
It didn’t get much attention in the media, but U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did something quite surprising on Sunday. After taping interviews on five big Sunday talk shows about Egypt, she then boarded a plane to Haiti. Yes, Haiti. The most impoverished country in the hemisphere, not exactly a “strategic ally” or a global player on the world’s political stage.
Inquiring minds might want to know why the United States’ top foreign policy official would have to go to Haiti in the midst of the worst crisis she has faced. The answer is that there is also a crisis in Haiti. And it is a crisis that – unlike the humanitarian crisis that Haiti has suffered since the earthquake last year – Washington really cares about.
Like the Egyptians, Haitians are calling for free and fair elections. But in this case Washington will not support free and fair elections, even nominally. Quite the opposite, in fact. For weeks now the U.S. government has been threatening the government of Haiti with various punishments if it refuses to reverse the results of the first round of its presidential elections. Washington wants Haiti to eliminate the government’s candidate and leave only two right-wing candidates to compete in the second round.
Just three weeks ago it looked like a done deal. The Organization of American States (OAS) “Expert Verification Mission” did a report on Haiti’s Nov. 28 presidential elections, and on Jan. 10 it was leaked to the press. The report recommended moving the government’s candidate, Jude Celestin, into third place by just 0.3 percent of the vote; leaving right-wing candidates Mirlande Manigat, a former first lady, and Michel Martelly, a popular musician, in first and second place, respectively. This was followed with various statements and threats from U.S. and French officials that Haiti must accept this change of result. U.S. officials strongly implied that aid to Haiti would be cut if the government didn’t do as told. It looked as if desperately poor Haiti would have to give in immediately.
The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Task Force on Foreign Policy and International Affairs has called on the US administration and the international community to support new elections in Haiti and states that, "the will of the people of Haiti was not, in good faith, represented. We believe that the recommendation of a new election should be included in the OAS report, and it should not be endorsed, in its entirety, as it currently stands." The full text of the just distributed CBC Task Force statement follows:
On Sunday, Hillary Clinton, speaking with Bob Schieffer of CBS's Face the Nation urged Egypt's authoritarian ruler, Hosni Mubarak, to begin the process for "free, fair, and credible elections." Protestors have taken to the streets for over a week calling for democratic change and for Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt with US support for nearly 30 years, to step down.
Yet on the same day that she made those comments Hillary Clinton also traveled to Haiti to discuss a different election, one that was not free, fair nor credible, but that she never the less supports. Clinton was not in Haiti to call for new elections, nor was she pressuring the government to make the necessary changes (reforming the CEP, allowing all political parties to participate) to ensure an actual free, fair and credible electoral process.
CEPR's paper, "Haiti's Fatally Flawed Election", which received significant media attention upon its release last month, has been updated and re-released with an accompanying data set that contains the totals from each tally sheet posted on the CEP's website. The data is easily sortable and search-able to allow users to analyze the preliminary results in any geographical sub set. Many election observers noted irregularities in specific voting centers or specific areas or the country. The data set would allow the observers to easily access the preliminary results from areas where they witnessed irregularities on election day. Additionally, the numbers in the paper have been updated to reflect the new, more complete, data set. In the graph below, the average number of votes for each of the top three candidates in each tally sheet is presented, broken down by department.
The statement does not state that Celestin is withdrawing. Nor does it say, as has been reported, that INITE “ is no longer supporting its presidential candidate,” rather, it is vague, suggesting that Celestin is welcome to withdraw -- but there is nothing in the communiqué itself that conveys that the party is requiring, or even pressuring him to do so.
Some reports have left out any mention of the communique’s explicit references to international pressure and “intimidation”, complaints against which form the central theme of the communiqué. The communiqué makes it quite clear that the decision to “agree to see [Celestin] withdraw his candidacy for president” is a reluctant one, which the party says it makes “because INITE does not want the people’s suffering to increase even more” – a credible response to implied threats of aid cutoffs. It is perhaps notable that the U.S. is widely rumored to have revoked the visas of one of the signers, Jean Joseph Moliere, as part of a pressure campaign on the Préval government and INITE.
Here is the full text of the communiqué, in English, followed by kreyol:
Today in the Huffington Post, Laura Flynn, writer, activist, and board member of the Aristide Foundation for Democracy, writes movingly about the "constant terror" of life under Jean-Claude Duvalier and the hope of many Haitians that Aristide will be allowed to return. Flynn writes:
To read the entire article, click here.
In the 1980s, when the armed forces of Jean-Claude Duvalier's regime set about exterminating "Haiti's Creole pigs", they would come to Haiti's rural villages, seize all of the "pigs", pile them up, one on top of the other, in large pits and set fire to them, burning them alive.
A Haitian friend recounted this story to me this week. It was an image that she could not get out of her head since Jean-Claude Duvalier returned to Haiti. Because that's what it was like for her, to watch Duvalier be greeted like a dignitary at the Port-au-Prince airport, and then escorted to his hotel by UN military forces -- like being burned alive.
In 1968, when my friend was 3 years old, members of Duvalier's Ton Ton Macoutes came to her home at 3 o'clock in the afternoon as her extended family shared a meal in the courtyard of their house in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Martissant. The Macoutes dragged her father and two of her uncles away. They then went to two other houses on her block, and took away all the men from those families as well. Her father and the other men in the neighborhood were members of MOP, the mass political party of Haitian populist leader Daniel Fignolé, which Duvalier wiped out, along with all other forces of opposition in the country.
A new report "Met Ko Veye Ko: Foreign Responsibility in the Failure to Protect against Cholera and Other Man-Made Disasters" by Mark Schuller, Ph.D, City University of New York and Faculte d'Ethnologie, takes an in depth look at camp conditions throughout Haiti. In their previous report, "Unstable Foundations" it was found after studying a random sample of 108 camps that "most of Haiti’s estimated 1.5 million IDPs lived in substandard conditions."
The new report, which uses the same 108 camp sample, aims to see how things have progressed in the two and half months since the outbreak of cholera. The problems remain severe:
To read the full report, click here.
Still using the random sample of 108 IDP camps from this summer, a team of three State University of Haiti stu-dents investigated 45 camps that lacked either water or toilets from the summer. The results show a minimum of progress: 37.6 percent instead of 40.5 percent still do not have water, and 25.8 instead of 30.3 percent of camps still do not have a toilet.
The cholera outbreak – combined with the continued lack of services – is a key factor in the rap-id depopulation of the IDP camps. According to the IOM only 810,000 remain as of January 7. One in four camps researchers visited disappeared since the last visit, eight because of IDPs’ fear of cholera, and three because of landowner pressure.
The previous study highlighted several gaps within the services. Given little progress since the outbreak, most of the patterns hold true. Camps with NGO management agencies are still far more likely to have needed services; this is increasingly evident. Municipality is still a factor in services, however there is some progress in Cité Soleil IDP camps because of a concerted effort led by the Haitian government. There is a slight difference in camps on private and public land.
All of this is to say that much more progress needs to be made, not only in the aid delivery but the coordination. NGOs need to be more transparent and accountable, and the ongoing political crisis stoked anew by the entrance of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier should not be an excuse for aid being delivered or life-saving water contracts renewed. As long as people are liv-ing under tents, especially during the outbreak of cholera, water and sanitation services are ab-solutely essential.
The controversy over the return of the infamous dictator, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, to Haiti, is in many ways a distraction. Certainly, it is important he stand trial for crimes against humanity, including the murder and torture of opponents.
But there is another crime being committed against Haiti right now: Foreign powers are trying to rob Haitians once again of their democratic rights. More than 200 years after Haiti liberated itself from slavery and from France, the rich countries still seem to have a great fear of Haitians governing themselves.
It was obvious from the beginning of the disaster one year ago, when the United States took control of the air traffic into Haiti and immediately filled up most of the available landing slots with planes carrying soldiers and military equipment.
Their great fear of looting and crime in the aftermath of the earthquake never materialized, but in the first week after the earthquake, many people lost lives and limbs that could have been saved, if doctors and medical equipment had been the priority.
Read the rest here.
The UN joined the chorus of international actors that are pressuring Haiti to accept their choice for presidential candidates. At a UN Security Council meeting today, Under-Secretary-General Alain Le Roy, told the room:
“Having officially received the report of the OAS technical mission, the CEP must now honour its commitment to fully take into account the report’s recommendations with a view to ensuring that the results of the elections truly reflect the will of the Haitian people,”
“Should the CEP decide otherwise, Haiti may well be faced with a constitutional crisis, with the possibility of considerable unrest and insecurity.”
At the same meeting, Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, went even further. AFP reports:
The United States told President Rene Preval on Thursday to pull his favored candidate out of Haiti's disputed presidential election race or risk losing US and international support.
"Sustained support from the international community, including the United States, will require a credible process that represents the will of the Haitian people," Rice told a UN Security Council debate on Haiti.
"We urge the Provisional Electoral Council to implement the OAS recommendations," Rice said, also calling for a "timely" timetable for the second round.
CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot wrote in The Guardian (UK) earlier this week on the pressure the international community is putting on Haiti to accept their choices for presidential candidates. Today, he wrote the following, distributed by McClatchy:
Haiti’s infamous dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier, returned to his country this week, while the country’s first elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is kept out. These two facts really say everything about Washington’s policy toward Haiti and our government’s respect for democracy in that country and in the region.Asked about the return of Duvalier, who had thousands tortured and murdered under his dictatorship, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, “this is a matter for the Government of Haiti and the people of Haiti.”
But when asked about Aristide returning, he said, “Haiti does not need, at this point, any more burdens.”
Wikileaks cables released in the last week show that Washington put pressure on Brazil, which is heading up the United Nations forces that are occupying Haiti, not only to keep Aristide out of the country but to keep him from having any political influence from exile.
Various journalists who have covered Haiti over the past year have published essays today with their thoughts, reflections, sentiments, and recollections. Notable among them is this one from the AP’s Jonathan Katz, who writes:
What is most distinct about this Jan. 12 — from the last and from all Haiti's 206 previous Jan. 12s — is that this one was supposed to be different.
If you live in basically any of the world's major economies, and a lot of minor ones, chances are that your government made a promise of money, commitment, speed, coordination and intent — not just to rebuild what was here before, but to help make it better.
But most of the money promised was not delivered, and most of the money delivered was not spent.
The underlying issues, the core problems that keep Haiti like this — poor governance, lack of institutions, lack of national leadership unimpeded by interference from abroad, a lack of even the most basic governing systems like tax collection, land registries or a census — were barely addressed, if at all.
On this Jan. 12, the aid groups and NGOs are flying in their bosses to tout very limited successes and ask for money to do it over again.
On the tragedy's one-year anniversary, it’s become clear that perhaps the only positive aspect of the past 12 months has been the exposure of the failures of the NGO aid system, and the international community's long-standing use of the country as a laboratory for cashing in on disaster – both of which have been wrecking havoc on this country since long before the earthquake.
Despite being home to the world’s highest density of NGOs per capita, Haiti is presently being ravaged by a cholera epidemic with an official death toll of some 3,500, with experts estimating the number of dead at twice as high.
More than a million people are still living in overcrowded camps under the same now-frayed tarps they received last January. A third of these camps still don’t have toilets, and most Haitians have no access to potable water.
The Washington Post posted an editorial last evening on Haiti’s elections (which is in today's print edition). Not surprisingly, the Post's editorial writers -- who in the recent past have praised the deceased Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and presented a “positive view of the Colombian government’s human rights record” despite major human rights scandals, including killings of thousands of civilians by the Colombian military – support the conclusions of the OAS Expert Mission’s report, which we found to be methodologically and statistically flawed and not conclusive.
The Post’s support for the OAS’ conclusions comes despite the fact that the writers have apparently not read the report. The editorial states:
The OAS report is expected to be publicly released this week. Diplomats and international aid officials who have seen it describe it as a careful work, based on a review of nearly a fifth of the more than 1 million ballots cast.
Nevertheless, the Post was ready to wholeheartedly endorse the integrity of the mission and its findings:
The OAS was invited by the government to sort out the electoral mess, and its report is based on an extensive sampling of ballots and statistical analysis by a team of specialists from the United States, France, Canada, Jamaica, Spain and Chile. Mr. Preval, who so far has said he knows nothing of the report, should embrace it clearly, audibly and publicly for the sake of stability and Haiti's long-term chances of recovery. To do otherwise would be to invite mayhem.
Shouldn’t President Preval take the time to determine whether the report is credible before quickly “embracing” it?
Of course readers of this blog knew the report was publicly available – on our site – yesterday, hours before the Post went to print with its editorial. Nor did the Post amend the article to note that the report is publicly available.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research has posted the full OAS election report on its website [PDF], and after analyzing the report, released the following press release. Also see Robert Naiman's analysis on the parallels between what the OAS is advocating for in Haiti and the Bush vs. Gore recount in 2000.
Washington, D.C.- The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) has analyzed the Expert Verification Mission's Final Report from the Organization of American States (OAS) on Haiti’s presidential elections, which has not been released to the public but is now available on the CEPR website here [PDF]. CEPR’s analysis found that the OAS report cannot help determine the outcome of the first round of Haiti’s election.
“This report can’t salvage an election that was illegitimate, where nearly three-quarters of the electorate didn’t vote, and where the vote count of the minority that did vote was severely compromised,” said Mark Weisbrot, CEPR Co-Director and co-author of the report, “Haiti’s Fatally Flawed Election.”
CEPR has been unable to find a presidential election in the Western Hemisphere, including Haiti, with such a low turnout, going back to 1947. Haiti’s parliamentary election of 2009, in which the country’s most popular political party was also banned, had a turnout of less than 10 percent.
The OAS report does confirm some of the most important conclusions from CEPR’s analysis of the elections, which was published on Sunday. For example, the OAS finds that 12 percent of the tally sheets were either not received by the Provisional Electoral Council or were quarantined – a much larger number of lost votes than the OAS or the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) had previously publicly acknowledged.
What is it about Haiti that makes the “international community” think they have the right to decide the country’s fate without the consent of the governed? Yes, Haiti is a poor country, but Haitians have fought very hard and lost many lives for the right to vote and elect a government.
Yet on November 28, nearly three-quarters of Haitians did not vote in the presidential and parliamentary elections. That is what we found when we went through 11,181 tally sheets from the election. This is a ridiculously low turnout for a presidential election.
Now the Organization of American States (OAS) has decided that the election should go to a runoff, finding that the top two finishers were former first lady Mirlande Manigat and the popular singer Michel Martelly. The OAS is proposing a runoff between presidential candidates who received about 6 and 4 percent, respectively, of the electorate's votes in the first round.
One reason that most Haitians did not vote is that the most popular political party in the country, Fanmi Lavalas, was arbitrarily excluded from the ballot. This was also done in April 2009, in parliamentary elections, and more than 90 percent of voters did not vote. By contrast, in the 2006 presidential elections, participation was 59.3 percent. And it has been higher in the past, even for the parliamentary (non-presidential) election in 2000.
Haitians have taken great risks to vote when there was political violence, and have been pragmatic about voting even when their first choice was not on the ballot (as in 1996 and 2006). But the majority won’t vote when they are denied their right to choose. This is the big story of the election that most of the major media have missed entirely.
Today we released the full report of our independent recount of vote tally sheets from Haiti’s November 28 presidential election. It found massive irregularities and errors in the vote tallies, including that 11.9 percent of tallies were not counted, while 8.4 percent were irregular. The report concludes that based on the numbers of irregularities, it is impossible to determine who should advance to a second round. If there is a second round, it will be based on arbitrary assumptions and/or exclusions.
“The amount of votes not counted or counted wrong in this election is huge – much larger than has been reported by either the Organization of American States or the Provisional Electoral Council,” CEPR Co-Director, and co-author of the report, Mark Weisbrot stated. “I don’t see how any professional observers could legitimately certify this election result.”
As the paper notes, the number of votes not counted actually is far more than has previously been stated by the OAS: “Nearly 4 percent of polling place tally sheets used to calculate the results were thrown out for alleged fraud at the tabulation center, [OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert] Ramdin said.”
The OAS is expected to announce the results of its recount as early as today, and Haitian Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive has reportedly said "his government was striving to leave a stable country for the next administration and will accept the results of the ...re-count that is expected to be completed in a few days." Meanwhile, the U.S. government signalled on Friday that it may support throwing out the November 28 election entirely depending in part on the OAS' conclusions:
Cheryl Mills, Hillary Rodham Clinton's chief of staff, said the U.S. is waiting for the 12-member election team from the Organization of American States to finish its report, expected next week. Mills said U.S. officials will evaluate any steps deemed necessary by the panel.
"If the OAS mission concludes that cancellation or redo ... needs to be considered, we obviously would be interested to understand how they came to those conclusions," Mills told reporters.
The U.S., then, "would want to review whether or not those conclusions were ones that we, too, could support," she added. "Those are the things we'd be willing to entertain, though I wouldn't be able to tell you what we are going to do until we know what they conclude."
Ahead of Wednesday’s one-year anniversary of the earthquake, NGO’s, international agencies, and media outlets are issuing various summaries of what has been (and has not been) accomplished over the past year in terms of relief and reconstruction. Here’s a sampling of some of what has been released so far. We will post more summaries in the coming days.
Assessing NGO Efforts:
The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Caroline Preston and Nicole Wallace reported yesterday that "In the year after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, Americans gave more than $1.4-billion to aid survivors and help the impoverished country rebuild, according to a Chronicle survey of 60 major relief organizations. Roughly 38 percent of that sum has been spent to provide recovery and rebuilding aid." They go on to say:
The share of Haiti donations that has been spent is roughly the same as the amount spent one year after the tsunamis. A year after Hurricane Katrina, charities had spent about 80 percent of donations.
But the percentage of funds spent in Haiti varies widely among organizations.
While a few charities have distributed all the money they raised, others have big sums still on hand. For example, by the end of November, the American Red Cross, in Washington, had committed $188-million of its $479-million in private donations. It expects to have committed $245-million by the one-year anniversary of the earthquake this month.
On Wednesday, the Disaster Accountability Project (DAP) issued a report entitled "One Year Followup Report on the Transparency of Relief Organizations Responding to the 2010 Haiti Earthquake"
seek[ing] to determine (1) Whether 196 organizations that solicited donations for Haiti disaster relief produced regular, factual reports on their activities; and, if so (2) How comprehensive, frequent, factual, and publicly accessible such reports were. (3) Determine how much money has been raised for Haiti relief, how much of that has been spent, and on what (i.e., healthcare, food, clean water, etc.).
The findings? According to DAP’s press release:
Ricardo Seitenfus, the Organization of American States' Special Representative in Haiti, seems to have lost his job after an interview in which he sharply criticized the role of MINUSTAH, and NGO’s, in Haiti (in a December 29 interview he said he had received no official word of his status).
The story of Seitenfus' controversial comments has gone all but completely unnoticed by the U.S. media, and one remark in particular has been completely ignored. In an interview with BBC Brasil, Seitenfus revealed that diplomats proposed Preval’s forced removal – a suggestion that Seitenfus says he found shocking (Google translation):
In addition, on November 28, election day, was discussed at the meeting of Core Group (donor countries, UN and OAS), something that seemed just creepy. Some representatives suggested that President Rene Preval should leave the country and we should think of an airplane for that. I heard it and was appalled.
The prime minister of Haiti, Jean-Max Bellerive, and soon arrived said he did not count on any solution to the margins of the Constitution and asked if the term of President Preval was being negotiated. It was a silence in the room.
Seitenfus seemed especially shocked by the reaction of his superiors at the OAS to this proposal of what would be a clear violation of the Inter-American Democratic Charter and of Haiti’s sovereignty (Google translation):
Beside me was [Albert Ramdin], deputy secretary of the OAS, ie I could not speak, as the OAS was being represented by him. But face to silence him and the rest, I asked to speak and remembered the existence of the Democratic Charter and that any discussion on the mandate of President Preval, to me it would be a coup. I was very surprised with the fact that Deputy Secretary of the OAS to remain silent before the possibility of shortening the term of a legitimately elected president.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research put out the following press release today:
Election Outcome In Doubt
WASHINGTON - December 30 - An independent recount and review of 11,171 tally sheets from Haiti’s November 28 election shows that the outcome of the election is indeterminate. The review, conducted by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), found massive irregularities and errors in the tally. A report detailing the recount’s findings, and methodology, will be made available next week.
“With so many irregularities, errors, and fraudulent vote totals, it is impossible to say what the results of this election really are,” said Mark Weisbrot, economist and CEPR Co-Director.
“If the Organization of American States certifies this election, this would be a political decision, having nothing to do with election monitoring,” said Weisbrot. “They would lose all credibility as a neutral election-monitoring organization.” Among the preliminary findings:
• While OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that “Nearly 4 percent of polling place tally sheets used to calculate the results were thrown out for alleged fraud at the tabulation center,” the actual number is closer to 12 percent. CEPR found that 11.9 percent (1,324) of the tally sheets were either never received by the CEP (Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council) or were quarantined by the CEP due to irregularities. These tally sheets added up to more than 15 percent of the total votes counted.
As we’ve described in other posts, U.S. State Department documents made available by Wikileaks demonstrate that international support for MINUSTAH is an important priority for the U.S. government. A new cable recently released by Wikileaks may help explain why: Latin American alliance with a U.S.-objective that “completely excludes [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chavez” (h/t Ansel Herz):
11. (C) An increasingly unifying theme that completely excludes Chavez, and isolates Venezuela among the militaries and security forces of the region, is participation in international and regional peacekeeping operations. The Southern Cone is doing very well in this area, with all countries active contributors to PKO missions worldwide. Argentina and Chile have even formed a combined peacekeeping brigade, which is expected to be available for deployment sometime in 2008. Uruguay is the highest per-capita contributor of PKO troops. We should make more GPOI funds available to Southern Cone countries to increase and strengthen their peacekeeping capabilities and cooperation.
The cable also suggests that MINUSTAH could be an opening foray into such U.S.-promoted multilateral operations “on a broader scale”:
Additionally, we should explore using the mechanism that the region's contributors to MINUSTAH (Haiti) have established to discuss ways of increasing peacekeeping cooperation on a broader scale.
If these documents accurately reflect U.S. government goals regarding the mission, then Brazilian leadership is perhaps especially desirable, considering the Brazil-Venezuela rivalry that some in the U.S. foreign policy community believe – despite much evidence to the contrary – and perhaps desire, to exist. While other cables reveal that the U.S. sees Brazil’s main motivation in leading the force to be proving its worth for a UN Security Council seat, another cable from September 2009 - just released - describes what could be another motive:
ARMY GENERAL SUGGESTS ARMY SOLDIERS HELP PACIFY FAVELAS
4. (U) During a September 18 seminar hosted by Brazilian development bank BNDES entitled "Opportunities for Favelas," Brazilian Army General Alvaro de Souza Pinheiro (retired) stated the Brazilian Army was prepared to cooperate with Rio de Janeiro state and municipal officials and police to occupy and maintain control of favelas (Note: Rio de Janeiro state currently maintains special police units -UPP - that are controlling five favelas. End Note). Citing the Brazilian army's role in United Nations Peacekeeping operations in Haiti, he said many officers and units were specifically trained and prepared to undertake operations related to public security and general policing in communities lacking state control.
One week after the earthquake, as three million survivors anxiously awaited water and other aid while the U.S. prioritized getting security teams in place first, Secretary Clinton sent a cable – made available by Wikileaks through The Guardian - to all U.S. embassies instructing diplomats to “push back” against “distorted” media coverage of the U.S. response to the quake:
I am deeply concerned by instances of inaccurate and unfavorable international media coverage of America's role and intentions in Haiti. This misinformation threatens to undermine the international partnership needed to help the people of Haiti, and to damage our international engagement across the range of issues. It is imperative to get the narrative right over the long term. Where you see ill-informed or distorted perspectives in your host country media, I direct you as Chief of Mission to personally contact media organizations at the highest possible level - owners, publishers, or others, as appropriate - to push back and insist on informed and responsible coverage of our actions and intentions, and to underscore the U.S. partnership with the Government of Haiti, the United Nations, and the world community. It is important that you and other members of your Embassy team engage opinion-makers in setting the record straight on America's commitment to assist the Haitian people and government in recovering from this disaster.
There were very serious problems with the U.S. effort that were not merely “distorted perspectives” or “misinformation”, however. The cable is dated the same day that Doctors Without Borders reported that one of its "plane[s] carrying 12 tons of medical equipment, including drugs, surgical supplies and two dialysis machines, was turned away three times from Port-au-Prince airport” in two days. The U.S., in control of the airports, also turned away other planes carrying relief supplies to Port-au-Prince and Jacmel. A USA Today report that day stated that the U.S. had only airlifted 70,000 bottles of water into Port-au-Prince in the week since the earthquake. NGO’s engaged in the relief effort at the time said "Right now the U.S. is blocking aid.”