- Haiti Main Page
- Unrest Stifles Development
- Despite Intervention, Haiti's Infrastructure Remains in Tatters
- Political Turmoil Continues
- Devastating Earthquake Exposes Weaknesses in Infrastructure
- Former Dictator Returns to Haiti Where He Passes Away Three Years Later
- President Martelly Struggles to Form Government
- Prime Minister Resigns, Causing More Political Chaos
- Years After Earthquake, Haiti Still Struggles to Recover
Devastating Earthquake Exposes Weaknesses in Infrastructure
The beleaguered country was dealt a catastrophic blow in January 2010 when a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, the country's capital. It was region's worst earthquake in 200 years. The quake leveled many sections of the city, destroying government buildings, foreign aid offices, and countless slums. Assessing the scope of the devastation, Prime Minister Préval said, "Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed." He called the death toll "unimaginable." Fatalities were reported to be around 230,000 by early February.
Since then the numbers have been revised. According to a draft report commissioned for the United States Agency for International Development, the number of fatalities were between 46,000 and 85,000 people. The United Nations mission in Haiti was destroyed, 16 members of the UN peacekeeping force in Haiti were killed, and hundreds of UN employees were missing. International aid poured in, and the scope of the damage caused by the quake highlighted the urgent need to improve Haiti's crumbling infrastructure and lift it out of endemic poverty—the country is the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.
Already a victim of regular hurricanes, this earthquake-devastated country quickly faced another challenge: cholera. In November, the Haitian government said that the death toll had reached 1,034, with 16,799 people treated for cholera or symptoms of the disease.
The country was thrust into further disarray following November's presidential election. There were widespread allegations of irregularities, such as ballot-box stuffing, people casting multiple votes, discarded ballots, vandalized polling stations, and voter intimidation. Opposition candidates called for a revote, but their requests were rebuffed. On December 7 2010, the country's electoral commission announced that Mirlande Manigat, the top vote getter, and Jude Célestin, the hand-picked candidate of Pré val, would face off in the second round of voting. These results seem to contradict what election observers conducting exit polls had expected. Michel Martelly, a popular singer, was a favorite among the urban poor and early results had him coming in second, behind Manigat. The results set off protests throughout Haiti.
In a leaked report reviewing the November 2010 presidential election, the Organization of American States found that Michel Martelly, a popular musician, had obtained more votes than Jude Celestin, the candidate of the outgoing government. The report said that Martelly, not Celestin, should face Mirlande Manigat, a former first lady, in the March 2011 run-off election. Following strong pressure from the United States, a member of the ruling party said its candidate, Jude Celestin, would withdraw from a run-off election for the presidency. Celestin's withdrawal was seen as a sign of the end of Haiti's political impasse.
In April 2011, it was announced that Martelly, also known as Sweet Mickey or Tet Kale (bald head), won the run-off election against Manigat in a landslide, receiving 68% of the vote. Martelly took office the following month and named Daniel Gerard Rouzier, a U.S. educated businessman, as Prime Minister. The new government continued to deal with the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake, including an ongoing cholera outbreak and the 66,000 Haitians still living in tent cities.