Looking back at the recovery plans and billions of dollars the U.S. government spent on post-earthquake reconstruction in Haiti, much attention has been placed on a lack of transparency and follow-through on those plans. The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act, which became law in 2014, requires annual reporting on the investments and projects and how plans will adapt moving forward. The report, released in 2015, has been crucial for congressional oversight and reporting on U.S. government spending in Haiti.
Attention shifted over the summer when the government of the neighboring Dominican Republic began strictly enforcing laws that stripped many Dominicans of their citizenship because they were born to Haitian parents. This began an alarming migration crisis, with violence and intimidation driving many Haitian migrant workers and Dominicans of Haitian descent to head for the Haitian border.
The U.S. government has also given much attention to the political situation and developing electoral crisis of recent months. After five years without elections, the three rounds planned for August, October and December were essential for restoring democratic leadership in Haiti. The U.S. helped to fund the elections and has given much oversight to the process.
However, when observers in the first round of presidential elections in October reported high rates of fraud, the U.S. administration was silent. It will be critical in the coming weeks and months for the U.S. to uphold the need for free and fair elections in Haiti, support investigations of fraud and help the current electoral council in Haiti make adjustments for the forthcoming presidential runoff.
MCC’s advocacy throughout the year was coordinated with these crucial moments in mind. In March a week of events on Capitol Hill titled “Haiti for Whom?” drew attention to the inequality in Haitian society and the injustices of the development model being implemented by international actors.
In August the “Days of Prayer for the Displaced” campaign highlighted the plight of people fleeing the Dominican Republic and the humanitarian crisis at the Haitian border. It culminated in a petition sent to the Secretary of State, urging the U.S. to ensure the protection of stateless people and to use its strong relationships with both the Haitian and Dominican governments to foster dialogue and solutions to the ongoing crisis. In October, the Face|Justice campaign brought attention to the ongoing cholera crisis, seeking to raise the visibility and demands of victims and survivors.
Our work endeavors to bring the voices of our partners in Haiti to bear on these pressing issues and to continue to raise the importance of equality and human rights for all Haitians within U.S. policy and diplomacy towards Haiti. —Charissa Zehr