Haiti’s On Their Mind

Haitian President President Michel Martelly
Haitian President President Michel Martelly is under pressure to hold elections soon.

By Nan Staff Writer

 News Americas, Miami, Fl, Fri. April 11, 2014: Three U.S. Congressmembers, back from a bipartisan congressional delegation trip to Haiti, are calling on the government there to hold elections there soon.

CongressmembersMario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Frederica Wilson said the Haitian government is more than two years behind on holding elections for the Senate, local municipal councils, mayors, town delegates, and other posts.

“We commend all parties, including the Catholic Church, for working together to get consensus on a positive path forward for elections to be held in October. We urge the Haitian Senate to now swiftly pass the necessary elections legislation,” the three, writing in the Miami Herald on their trip, said.

Balloting in Haiti is scheduled for Oct. 24 but several changes to the country’s electoral laws need to be made. On Monday, Haitian President Michel Martelly sent an amended electoral law to the Senate and lower chamber of deputies as part of a package of laws to be voted on. Senate President Simon Desras said while be believes the new law will pass, he still doubts the executive has the political will to stage the balloting, scheduled for Oct. 24.

The lawmakers also insisted that more actions are needed to root out corruption and improve transparency and accountability in Haiti.

This they say is necessary to help attract more private sector investment in order to improve the Haitian economy and create more educational opportunities that lead to jobs need to be created to foster economic development.

Diaz-Balart, Ros-Lehtinen and Wilson also described as “discouraging” the fact that US Agency, USAID, has decreased the projected number of houses built in Haiti, which resulted in less people being helped and that a majority of the funds for Haiti had not been disbursed.

“USAID spent years studying if we could build a port in northern Haiti, but instead now, it will be looking at making infrastructure improvements at the existing port in Cap-Haitien,” the lawmakers said. “We commend the new change of strategy, but unfortunately, we lost many years in the process.”

The visit came more than four years since the worst natural disaster in recent memory occurred in Haiti—the Haiti Earthquake of 2010. Despite heavy investment in Haiti, many projected goals have not been met and the Michelle Martelly government continues to face challenges resulting from the earthquake and other natural disasters, with droughts causing food shortages in the northwestern part of the country.