NACLA Report on the Americas, July 11, 2016
With billions of dollars in emergency relief and long-term reconstruction aid on the table, post-earthquake Haiti was supposed to provide an opportunity to “build back better,” as the focusgroup- friendly mantra went. After receiving an assist from then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Michel “Sweet Mickey” Martelly took office in 2011 and provided the new face to oversee reconstruction. Martelly crisscrossed the world—often with a large and expensive entourage in tow—selling a new image of Haiti as “open for business.” International hotel chains held red carpet inaugurations in the country; first a Best Western, then a Marriott. Walmart rolled out its own “Made in Haiti” t-shirts, sourced from a shiny new industrial park in the north of Haiti, far from the earthquake’s epicenter. And U.S. and international financial institutions gave out hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars in subsidies, all in an effort to lure more foreign companies to the Caribbean country.
But if the Martelly era “opened” Haiti for business, it closed the country off from democracy. For four years not a single election was held, despite the constitution requiring three. Martelly replaced local officials with political appointees. And by January 2015, when the terms of Haiti’s parliamentarians expired, the former pop singer had begun ruling without legislative oversight. An electoral process did finally begin in February of that year, but after high levels of violence, credible allegations of massive electoral fraud, and electoral boycotts from leading candidates, the election of a new Haitian president to replace Martelly remains stalled at the time of this article’s writing.
Read the rest of the article here at NACLA Report on the Americas.