Fair and Balanced Reporting Requested: Two letters to CBC Vancouver

Letter one:

Vancouver BC
April 11, 2011

To: CBC The Early Edition
Re: Your story on Haiti, April 5

Hello Early Edition,

We are writing to urge a better job in the political reporting on Haiti on your program. We refer, specifically, to your interview with Nigel Fisher, Deputy Special Envoy on Haiti to the Secretary General of the United Nations, on April 5 concerning the electoral exercise that has just concluded in Haiti.

Mr. Fisher presented a positive assessment of the staged election. Your host accepted this as good coin. But Haiti’s is a volatile political situation that is anything but that presented by Mr. Fisher. Few of the basic facts of the meaning and outcome of this ‘election’ and the related humanitarian crisis were aired.

Mr. Fisher acknowledged there was “quite a bit of fraud” in the first round of the staged election, held on November 28, 2010. CBC national reporters on the scene at the time, including Paul Hunter, David Common and David Gutnick, put it rather more frankly when they reported variously that the ‘election’ that day was a “sham” or a “complete fraud.”

He and others who defend the election would have us believe that a fraudulent first-round election could magically produce an acceptable result in a second round. But the rules of the electoral game were unchanged in the second round, so how could this be?

This electoral exercise is lacking in any credibility and legitimacy. Its overriding goal was to limit the choices available to the electorate to those candidates favored by the big powers, including Canada, that participated in the overthrow of Haiti’s elected government in 2004:
* This was an exclusionary political process. Haiti’s largest political party, the Fanmi Lavalas was ruled off the ballot by Haiti’s unconstitutional electoral commission.
* This was a process marked by disenfranchisement of the Haitian electorate. Voter registration was partial on November 28 and no additional registration was permitted following that date. Voting infrastructure on both election dates was limited and inaccessible to many and was marked by fraud and irregularities.
* This was a foreign-funded exercise. The United States, Canada and Europe funded the two-rounds of voting to the tune of at least $29 million.

Over the past ten years, the Haitian people have suffered a pattern of disenfranchisement and violation of national sovereignty, set into motion by the big powers of the world immediately following the last truly democratic election in Haiti, that of the year 2000. An aid and development embargo was imposed by the U.S., Europe and Canada against the government and party that won the election overwhelmingly, the Fanmi Lavalas of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. This was followed by the violent overthrow of that government in 2004 and the formal or de facto exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas from political life ever since.

November 28, 2010 and March 20, 2011 represent an electoral coup d’etat that continues this same policy of foreign interference and intervention.

Mr. Fisher is hopeful for Haiti’s political future, saying that it will “take time” for political parties to “establish roots.” But a United Nations Security Council military occupation regime has now been in place in Haiti for more than seven years. How much longer may Haitians expect to wait for Security Council-imposed “democratic roots” to take hold? And by what legal authority is the Security Council, The United States, Canada and Europe in Haiti in the first place?

Yours and other CBC reports last week have ignored Michel Martelly’s extreme-right political program and associations.[1] He supported the overthrow of elected government in 2004. He favors the reestablishment of a Haitian armed forces (the hated institution was abolished in 1995 by then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide). His “program” for the economic development of Haiti consists of promotion of foreign investment; in other words, it is the same old, failed policy of exploiting Haiti’s below-subsistence wage rates, dressed up for the gullible as something new.

Mr. Martelly has no political party, thus being accountable only to his coterie of financial backers and advisors. He acknowledges that his campaign costs–$1 million in the first round and $6 million in the second round–were largely covered by “friends” in the United States. He refuses to say who they are.[2] His campaign was run by the same Spanish public relations firm that managed the successful and highly controversial election to the presidency of Mexico by Felipe Calderon in 2006.

The Early Edition and CBC Vancouver should continue interview Mr. Nigel Fisher or others who share his project for Haiti. But your failure to air countering viewpoints constitutes is biased or unprofessional.

We will be forwarding further commentary on the Haiti electoral exercise to CBC in the coming days.

Roger Annis
Haiti Solidarity BC

cc: CBC National News

[1] http://www.canadahaitiaction.ca/content/michel-martelly-rightist-and-co…
[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/18/world/americas/18haiti.html

Letter two:

Vancouver BC
April 11, 2011

To: CBC The Early Edition
Re: Aid and reconstruction in Haiti: your story of April 5

Hello Early Edition,

In your interview with Nigel Fisher on April 5, he reports on “considerable rebuilding” taking place in Haiti. He says there are “less than half” the number of people still residing in survivor camps compared to one year ago; donor funds are “coming in on track”; and “significant investment” is coming into the country, including in agriculture.

This is inaccurate and misleading. Here is what an April 1 Associated Press report describes about shelter. Many similar reports are easily available to the interested researcher:

Large numbers of Haitians are leaving the dirty, overcrowded camps that sprang up after last year's earthquake, some lured away by financial incentives from officials and others forced out by landowners. Many more may be pushed out, with no safe place to go, just ahead of the rainy season that starts in May, the International Organization for Migration said in a report distributed Friday.

The overall camp population already has dropped by more than half in recent months, to an estimated 680,000, the IOM said, even though almost no new housing has been built and few repairs have been made to dwellings damaged by the magnitude-7.0 quake on Jan. 12, 2010.

Donor funds are not “on track.” Mr. Fisher’s office reported last month that only 37% of the development funds promised by the world for Haiti for the years 2010 and 2011 has been committed.[1] At this rate, Haiti will not receive anything close to the amount promised. Meanwhile, the funding that is arriving is inadequate and in many cases produces ineffective results.

There is little significant investment coming into the country. That which has been indicated, such as the recently-announced plans by South Korean investors to build a clothing assembly complex in the northeast of the country that will eventually employ 20,000 people, is very controversial among Haitians, for such jobs typically pay only the equivalent of US$3 (!) per day. The Haitian sweatshop owners to whom such foreign investors typically contract their work bitterly opposed a government proposal in 2008 to increase the daily, factory minimum wage to $5 per day.

Progressive Haitians hold that agricultural development is the key to the country’s future. The country’s food-growing capacity has been seriously degraded over the past years and decades by the aggressive food export policies of the world’s major food producers, notably the United States and Europe, and by the destructive food aid practices of international charities.

To date, Haiti’s government and people are receiving far too little assistance and cooperation in this area. In fact, Haitian peasants are having to fight off aggressive intervention that would simply repeat the same, failed policies of old. A very informative documentary on Haitian agriculture has just been issued by Grassroots Watch: http://haitigrassrootswatch.squarespace.com/6sem1eng.

Roger Annis
Haiti Solidarity BC
778 858 5179

[1] http://www.haitispecialenvoy.org/relief-and-recovery/international-assistance/