Today, Haiti goes to the polls in an election that has been fraught with controversy and affected by the ongoing cholera epidemic. With the country's most popular political party being barred from contesting, some bloggers can't help but feel that today's process is really more of a “selection” than an election.
In the days leading up to today's polls, bloggers were praying for a peaceful election process, with HAITI, Land of Freedom reporting that churches were holding prayer vigils “on the eve on undemocratic elections”:
When Haitians refuse to swallow undemocratic elections and demonstrate in the street to demand that democratic elections, the mainstream media in the US, Europe, Haiti, Canada and so, portray them as rioters. The ironic thing is, these media refuse to agree that Haitian people are people of faith…and when the uncertainties come on the way, they use different tools like pacific protestations, religious, including Vodou ceremonies to pray their God to ask for direction.
It must be noticed, churches holding prayers prior to the elections are a new form for people to say ‘God we don’t know where we are going. We don’t know what to do. Please, help us.’ That was why the first time many churches whether Protestant of Catholic holding special prayers for elections. It is obvious that the Nov. 28 elections are bias and fraudulent –if they are not, perhaps, only the CEP, Haitian government and UN can see it.
This is Saturday and things are quiet in Port-au-Prince.
Almost too quiet.
A Haitian Hearts patient braved her way across the capital this morning to pick up her heart medications. She said there is little traffic, no road blocks, and not near as many people in the streets as a usual Saturday. She was clearly nervous and wanted to get back on the streets to get home.
I am at a guest house several miles from Cite Soleil.
When I asked our cook today if she was going to vote tomorrow, she smiled and shook her head no. She said there would be ‘trop dezod’, which means she thinks there will be too much violence in the streets tomorrow.
A 31 year old chauffer from the Fontamara zone of Port-au-Prince told me today that he would not vote either because it is dangerous to vote and he is simply not interested.
Bloggers, however, are very interested in monitoring the situation and judging from this post by Haiti Libre, the process has not been going smoothly:
Several polling stations began opening in cities with almost an hour late.
Around 7:00am, only 20 people were waiting in front of a polling station in Cap-Haitien.
A Delmas 32, representatives of Martelly were prohibited from entering in the polling station.
At Petionville at the polling stations located in the Ecole Saint-Francois-Xavier there is no voter for now.
Cayes Jacmel: Polling station of the Ecole Mercier supporters of political parties prevent voters from voting . Still at Les Cayes the polling station of lycée Philippe Guerrier does not work. There are 5 representatives per polling station, there are political parties which did not have representatives in the offices.
7:00am : Fort-Liberte – Externa St-Joseph an hour after opening, observers arrive finally reach the voting center, 1 hour later…
In Desdunes – Ecole Pelerin de Bethesda, tires are burning in front of the polling station.
Le Coin de Pierre [FR] links to a website that is streaming information and regular updates on the elections. Netizens have also been expressing their thoughts about the elections at this (apparently) government-run site [FR]. At this point, though, the final outcome is impossible to predict.
Twitter is a good way to keep track of developments, though, under the hashtag #haitielections:
@wvisionhaiti: #HaitiElections. President Rene Preval just cast his ballot and is now answering questions from local and international journalists
@RAMHaiti has also been quite vocal, especially when it comes to the issue of governance:
Haitian journalist @carelpedre‘s tweets have also been interesting:
“Maguoy” is the Haitian Creole word for “fraud”. Diaspora blogger From New York City to Haiti sums it up this way:
A lot of the people are asking to postpone or boycott the upcoming elections. BIG mistake! On the contrary we as a nation should try to get rid of Preval’s government as swiftly as possible AND make sure that Preval’s Mini-Me Jude (TiJid) Celestin does not win the election. I have been ambivalent about Preval ever since he came to power. To me, he was there with his big lethargic government, not doing anything to move the country forward but not doing anything period.
The government is now non-existent; all the decisions are being made by the NGOs that mostly know nothing of Haiti’s background and social history. Presently more than a thousand Haitian people have died from cholera. People should not die of cholera! Preval’s government should not only be accused of negligence but homicidal negligence. Yet his arrogance astounds me, instead of sharpening his Samurai sword for his last act of dignity, he is asking the population to vote for stability and continuity. This comedy is too much to handle, the actors are not even trying to play the part. So as election day arrives, go out and vote, go vote in flocks…we need to put this shameful, embarrassing, pitiful, disgraceful and denigrating chapter in every Haitian’s life behind us.
Global Voices will continue to monitor developments. See our Liveblog of citizen media on the Haitian elections.