Mass. police to join immigration checks program

BOSTON—The Massachusetts State Police will participate in a federal program that automatically checks the immigration status of those who are arrested, the state's top state public safety official announced Friday.

In a statement, Public Safety Secretary Mary Beth Heffernan said the state will formally join a program called Secure Communities after months of deliberating by state officials.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement program allows arrestees' fingerprint information to be checked against FBI criminal history records and biometrics-based immigration records kept by the Department of Homeland Security. But the program has drawn fire from some Massachusetts-based immigrant advocacy groups who say it discourages legal and illegal immigrants from cooperating with police. Read more

Haiti election results could be delayed for weeks

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ The Organization of American States has asked Haitian President Rene Preval to delay announcing election results until an international panel of experts can review the vote, officials said Saturday.

Final results from the Nov. 28 first round _ showing which of the top three quarreling candidates would go on to a January runoff - were expected Monday.

Holding off an announcement would postpone conflicts between supporters, which resulted in riots and deadly clashes this month. But the panel of up to five electoral, legal and information-technology experts has not even been formed, and waiting for its review could drag into the new year. Read more

Study: Haiti Cholera traced to South Asian origin

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Scientists reported Thursday the strongest evidence yet that a cholera outbreak that has killed more than 2,000 people in Haiti can be traced to South Asia. The analysis fits with, but does not prove, the controversial idea that the disease came from U.N. troops dispatched from that region. Read more

Celebrate the Season with Haitian flavors

Marie Ruth Auguste: Let's talk turkey... and Soup Joumou!Marie Ruth Auguste: Let's talk turkey... and Soup Joumou!As the saying goes, ‘Tis the season to cook, eat and be merry!

That’s exactly what my husband and I decided to do last weekend after two previous weeks of long hours at work and “sleep only” hours at home. It’s his favorite holiday of the season and after plans of going back “home” to Boston went “bust”, we decided to drive up to northern California to visit a childhood friend and her family (shout out to, “Lolo Bug”.)

As we’re accustomed to doing most of the time during the holidays, we spent a lot of our time on the drive to Palo Alto, talking and reminiscing about the days growing up as kids and all of the “house hopping” we would do on Thanksgiving Day. We naturally started talking about who made the best turkey; I would say it was me and he would say it was his sister, (we all know it was me, but I’ve got to give his sister credit, her turkey was always really spicy)! Read more

Voices of Haiti: Revolution in Post-Quake Haiti

“If this happened in my district, they would have been rioting already.”
Congressman Bobby Rush (Chicago, IL), nine days after the earthquake

It has been eleven months now since the earthquake destroyed much of Port-au-Prince. We’ve heard the statistics repeated into infinity: more than 1.5 million people are still homeless, living under tarps and bed sheets. Add to this a six-year foreign military occupation that most recently has been accused of bringing a deadly cholera epidemic to the country, and widespread awareness that although hundreds of millions were donated to help earthquake survivors practically nothing has changed in the concrete living conditions of said survivors, and it is truly impressive how patient and peaceful Haitians have been. Read more

Cholera, fraudulent elections, and de facto occupation

Patrick SylvainPatrick SylvainOn January 19th, when Haitian president René Préval was asked by Juliana Ruhfus of Al Jazeera who was in charge of Haiti, he sarcastically replied, “the President of this country, if I remember correctly, his name is René Préval, and he is standing in front of you.” Read more

Voices of Haiti: In Pursuit of the Undemocratic

Down with Selection, Long Live Election: A sign at a Dec. 5 protest in Port-au-Prince. Photo by Bri Kouri Nowel GayeDown with Selection, Long Live Election: A sign at a Dec. 5 protest in Port-au-Prince. Photo by Bri Kouri Nowel Gaye“Have you chosen me a good government, Blan?”-sarcastic question posed by a Haitian voter to a foreign election monitor at a polling station in Port-Au-Prince.

While $26 million was spent on Haiti’s November 28 elections, a great deal more is at stake for international business. Over $9 billion in reconstruction contracts will be up for grabs, and the government selected could possibly have influence on the foreign dominated Haiti Interim Reconstruction Committee (HIRC), which is tasked with determining the path of Haiti’s development. Read more

Editorial: CEP must open books, revisit election results

BHR 12-10 front pageBHR 12-10 front pageOn Tuesday night, the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced the preliminary results from the November 28 elections in Haiti. President Rene Preval’s party Inite (Unity) won the majority of seats in parliament. Of the presidential candidates, former first lady Mirlande Manigat placed first – with 31.37% of the vote while Jude Celestin, the Inite party candidate came in second with 22.48%.

So, we are set for a runoff between Manigat and Celestin scheduled for January 16th. But wait, not so fast. Famed musician Michel Martelly received 21.84% of the vote – a very close third, roughly 6000 votes behind. Martelly is appealing the results and many of his supporters have taken to the streets to protest what they’ve dubbed “The Selection”.

Reports of massive demonstrations, fraught by opportunistic violence, are pouring in. Some people are passionately protesting for their right to fair elections – while others are reportedly burning the headquarters of the Inite party and even the homes of rural politicians. The chaos many predicted and feared would come of an ill-run and possible fraudulent election seems to be coming to pass in the hours after the CEP announcement. Read more

Sen. Kerry: Disputed election could "destabilize" Haiti

Sen. John KerrySen. John KerrySen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, issued the following statement to the Boston Haitian Reporter on Thursday regarding the ongoing crisis surrounding Haiti's disputed presidential election:

"I urge the government of Haiti and the provisional electoral council (CEP) to address allegations and complaints about voting irregularities, some of which have already been verified. Failure to resolve these disputes before the runoff election scheduled for January 16 runs the risk of undermining legitimacy and confidence in the entire electoral process. It could also lead to more violence, which will only further destabilize and weaken a country that is already suffering in so many ways.”

Haiti's electoral council said Thursday that it will recount the ballots in the country's disputed presidential election, according to the Associated Press. The U.S. Embassy has said the preliminary results appeared to conflict with observers who monitored the initial count. Read more

Martelly launches legal challenge to disputed election results

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A popular singer vowed to legally challenge election results that narrowly ousted him from Haiti's presidential race, while his supporters barricaded streets and set fires in violence that threatened the fragile stability that followed a devastating Jan. 12 earthquake.

Michel ``Sweet Micky'' Martelly urged his backers on Wednesday to nonviolently protest results from Nov. 28 presidential elections that demonstrators say were rigged. His campaign manager later said they would formally challenge the tallies released late Tuesday to Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council. Read more

Furious protests greet election results

Flawed elections lead to political upheaval

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ Haitians entered election day hoping for the best. Within hours, ballot boxes were ripped to pieces, protesters were on the streets and nearly every presidential hopeful was united against the government.

Add it to Haiti's list: Already reeling from a catastrophic earthquake, one of the world's poorest economies, storms, a deadly cholera epidemic and unrest over U.N. peacekeepers, the Caribbean nation could now be on the edge of full-on political turmoil.

The chaos in Sunday's voting united most of the top presidential candidates against the president's heir apparent - Jude Celestin, head of the state-run construction company and beneficiary of a well-financed campaign. Read more

Election in Haiti beset by cholera, confusion

Election 2010: A Haitian voter defends her right to vote to MINUSTAH. Photo by Mark SnyderElection 2010: A Haitian voter defends her right to vote to MINUSTAH. Photo by Mark Snyder

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ The ballot is as crowded as the earthquake-ravaged capital itself, and a collapsed presidential palace is the prize. The voter rolls are filled with the dead, and living citizens are still struggling to figure out if and where they can vote while worrying about political violence and a spreading cholera epidemic.

It's Election Sunday in post-quake Haiti.

Some polls began opening in major cities nearly 50 minutes after the 6 a.m. scheduled time. Only 20 people were waiting when a central voting station opened in Cap-Haitien, a slow start in a largely rural country where people tend to be early risers. Read more

Thousands of Immigrants on track to lose health care

Nearly 23,000 Massachusetts residents – legal immigrants who have been in the country for fewer than five years – are scheduled to lose their health insurance before the New Year, and lawmakers are keeping silent about whether they’ll intervene.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo has declined repeated requests for comment on the matter, and Sen. Richard Moore, co-chair of the Health Care Financing Committee, also declined comment Tuesday. Read more

US officials discuss latest response to Cholera outbreak

The White House today issued a transcript of an on-the-record briefing held by officials at the US State Department to offer the latest information about the ongoing cholera epidemic in Haiti that has — so far— killed more than 1,100 people. Read more

Voices of Haiti: Foreign Aid and Cholera

Cholera Prevention: A sound-truck spreads the word about dangers of cholera earlier this month. Image courtesy of Let Haiti LiveCholera Prevention: A sound-truck spreads the word about dangers of cholera earlier this month. Image courtesy of Let Haiti Live(Port-au-Prince)— No one was surprised to hear that Haiti is confronting an epidemic of cholera, because to date, neither the government nor the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been successfully executing programs to help the population in Haiti. The cholera epidemic is a clear sign of failure and evidence of the way the United Nations system and NGOs function – or rather don’t function.

It was already well known that the Government of Haiti lacks adequate resources and has more interest in holding elections than in the lives of the people, but now we are beginning to see the stark contradiction between the mission statements of the international humanitarian community and their actions. Read more

Manigat campaigns in Boston in bid for Haiti’s presidency

On Saturday, October 23rd, Mirlande Manigat visited Boston as part of a tour of the Haitian Diaspora. The Haitian presidential candidate spoke for over an hour and answered several questions from a crowded room of 200 at Centre Belleville in Dorchester. Manigat turned 70 on November 3rd, holds a doctorate from the Sorbonne in France and is the co-founder of political party: RDNP (Rassemblement Des Democrates Nationaux Progressistes). She is currently a professor at Quisqueya University in Haiti.
One of the first questions she answered was why she is running to become the next president of Haiti. Read more

On the Trail with Michel Martelly: From Sweet Micky to Presidential Contender

Martelly campaigns in BostonMartelly campaigns in BostonWe know him best as “Sweet Micky”, a talented musician whose wild stage antics brought an element of shock to Haitian entertainment. In the late 1980s, he started out as any one of a number of notable Haitian talents and went simply by his name, Michel Martelly. Michel’s career began with the success of early releases with fun titles like, “Woule, Woule”, “Anba Rad La”, “The Sweetest” etc. However, real fame and international success came with the creation of a sub-identity “Sweet Micky”. It was the wild and uninhibited Micky that became a household name among Haitians. Sweet Micky’s irreverent style, controversial albums and frequent feuds with rival bands, made Michel Martelly wealthy and famous.

Martelly came into the Haitian music industry during turbulent times. In the early 1990s, the Island was in political free-fall after the ouster of the Duvalier regime. The populace had democratically elected a progressive yet controversial former priest, Jean Bertrand Aristide and within a year he was exiled by Haiti’s military. Haiti’s popular music Konpa, was struggling as a new generation preferred the sound of Zouk, which had its origins in Guadeloupe and Martinique. Michel Martelly’s act was one among a new generation of artists that met the challenge of Zouk by using technology to reduce the man-power it took to man live Konpa shows and moved its sound into the new digital format. Read more

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UN official: Resettlement program needed in Haiti

BOSTON (AP) — A United Nations refugee official says he hopes that a resettlement system develops soon to aid some Haitians who need protection and relocation.

Vincent Cochetel was recently appointed U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees' representative for the U.S. and the Caribbean. Cochetel was in Boston on Thursday, where he told The Associated Press that the Haitian resettlement system could help displaced earthquake victims who have recently become victims of sexual violence. Read more

Some US rebuilding money finally headed to Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE — The first portion of U.S. reconstruction money for Haiti is on its way more than seven months after it was promised to help the country rebuild from the Jan. 12 earthquake.

The U.S. government will transfer $120 million – about one-tenth of the total amount pledged – to the World Bank-run Haiti Reconstruction Fund in the next few days, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.

``Having completed the process as outlined in the appropriation, we are now moving aggressively to commit that money to Haiti's reconstruction,'' Crowley said. Read more

Two Haitian-American teens killed on Dorchester street

Two young men of Haitian descent were found shot to death on the same Dorchester street this week. Emmanuel Louissaint, 17, of Brockton was found shot to death outside of 64 Mascot Street on Sunday morning around 1 a.m. He had been shot once in the upper chest. Two days later, on Tuesday morning, police were called to the driveway of 63 Mascot Street— right across the street from the scene of the earlier murder— where they discovered the body of 19 year-old Nervin Charlot. He was also shot, but it is not yet clear if he was murdered in the same incident that claimed the life of Louissaint. If he was shot on Sunday, his body lay undiscovered for more than two days. Charlot's death has now been officially classified a homicide, making him the city's 66th murder victim of 2010 to date.
More details on these homicides are available at the Reporter's sister paper, the Dorchester Reporter. Read more

The Last Swing of the Pendulum

Patrick SylvainPatrick Sylvain“Let us learn together and laugh together and work together and pray together, confident that in the end we will triumph together in the right.” — Jimmy Carter, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1977

All republics that embrace democracy as a form of political governance are constantly faced with a daunting challenge. They must determine how best to appease the desires, and address the needs of the people, within the boundaries of the evolving state so that all groups can be brought into the political sphere. In other words, these states must consistently meet the demands of the citizenry. Read more

Strong voice in Mass, struggles persist in Haiti

The fall brings many things to the Haitian community. A local election in which Mattapan residents, a huge contingent of whom are of Haitian descent, proved themselves to be a force at the polls. Governor Deval Patrick won a second term. He’ll have a chance to fulfill a campaign pledge to develop a comprehensive housing strategy for thousands of displaced Haitians in the commonwealth. Carlos Henriquez, a dedicated community advocate, succeeds the first Haitian-American elected official in the state Marie St. Fleur, to represent the 5th Suffolk district. Read more

Haiti's Flawed Elections: They Told Us So

Voices from across the political spectrum in both Haiti and the United States, joined by human rights groups, and most importantly, Haitian voters—have warned both Haitian and U.S. government that the deeply flawed elections in Haiti currently scheduled for November 28 risk putting the country into turmoil and endangering our investment in reconstruction. But both the U.S. and Haitian Administrations refuse to listen.

This month’s elections may be the most important in Haitian history. Voters will choose the entire House of Deputies for four years, a President for five years, and one-third of the Senate for six years. These officials will have the responsibility of guiding Haiti’s reconstruction for at least four years, which will require making many hard, important decisions that will shape Haitian society for decades. Read more