• The US Spent $33 Million on Haiti’s Scrapped Elections — Here is Where it Went

    Haiti’s electoral council announced yesterday that new first-round presidential elections would be held in October after a commission found widespread fraud and irregularities in the previous vote. The prospect of the new vote — to be held alongside dozens of parliamentary seats still up for grabs, has raised questions about how it could be funded. The previous elections — determined to be too marred by fraud and violence to count — cost upward of $100 million, with the bulk of the funding coming from international donors.

    But now, donors are balking. Last week the State Department’s Haiti Special Coordinator Ken Merten said that if elections are redone “from scratch” than it would put U.S. assistance in jeopardy. It “could also call into question whether the U.S. will be able to continue to support financially Haiti’s electoral process,” Merten added. In a separate interview, Merten explained:

    We still do not know what position we will adopt regarding our financial support. U.S. taxpayers have already spent more than $33 million and that is a lot. We can ask ourselves what was done with the money or what guarantees there are that the same thing will not happen again.

    So, what was done with the money? Could the same thing happen again?

    To begin with, that figure seems to include money allocated in 2012 – years before the electoral process began. Local and legislative elections, which former president Michel Martelly was constitutionally required to organize, failed to happen. A significant share of this early funding likely went to staffing and overhead costs as international organizations or grantees kept their Haiti programs running, despite the absence of elections. It’s also worth pointing out that many millions of that money never went to electoral authorities, but rather to U.S. programs in support of elections…

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  • Under new rules, an American couple finally has a word for Haitian child: daughter

    Story by Jacqueline Charles
    Dan Cruz holds 7-year-old Angelene while visiting the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince on Friday. He and wife Julie became the first American couple to adopt a Haitian child under the country’s new international regulations.

    The first time Dan and Julie Cruz met the little girl with the wide eyes and bright smile, she looked up, stretched out her arms and silently motioned to be picked up.

    “It was an awesome moment,” recalled Dan, 35, about meeting Angelene, who was abandoned by her parents before her fourth birthday, and can neither hear, speak nor sign. “It was more than we could have ever imagined; lots of tears.”

    The Cruzes encounter with then 5-year-old Angelene at a Port-au-Prince orphanage a year ago was among the steps in what U.S. and Haitian officials are now calling a moretransparent and predictable adoption process. It reached its culmination Friday as the family arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince to get Angelene’s travel documents.

    Instead of the old adoption visa, Angelene received an IH-3 Hague visa, signifying that Haiti had finally come into full compliance with the Hague Adoption Convention regulating international adoptions. Not only is 7-year-old Angelene the first Haitian adoptee to receive the special Hague visa — which will make her an automatic U.S. citizen as soon as her flight comes into U.S. airspace — but her new parents became the first Americans to adopt under the new inter-country regulations.

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