|Third Senatorial Delegation|FOLLOW-UP LETTER BY AMBASSADOR PREEG|
Thank you for receiving our recent delegation of Haitian senators. Their discussions with you and other members of the Congress, as well as with senior officials at State, USAID, the World Bank, and elsewhere, greatly increased their understanding of international support for Haitian economic recovery from the earthquake, which is currently linked to the deeply troubled democratization process in Haiti. There was detailed discussion about the extensive fraud in the 2010 elections, the ongoing political impasse between President Martelly and the parliament, and the adverse impact this is having on implementation of aid projects in Haiti.
The Senators also asked that financial assistance for Haitian elections of senators and local officials, anticipated for late this year, be made contingent on electoral reforms to ensure free and fair elections. One immediate issue that concerns them deeply is that the continued impasse over selection of a prime minister is reportedly related to possible concessions to certain senators to permit them to be fraudulently reelected this year. It would thus be helpful if you could lend support to these concerns of the Haitian senators in your contacts with State and USAID.
This brings me to comment about the work the Haitian Democracy Project (HDP) has been doing as election observers in Haiti. HDP has had positive results from its election observer teams in six elections since 2006. We have trained and utilized Haitian observers, who speak Creole, the dominant language in Haiti. There has also been a small HDP management team from the United States, mostly Haitian-Americans. HDP had 112 observers in three provinces in the 2010–11 elections, at a cost of $16,750, or $150 per observer. By comparison, the OAS international observer teams provided 350 observers budgeted at $5.2 million, or $15,000 per observer. In other words, the OAS costs, per observer, were a hundred times larger than HDP costs!
As for the effectiveness of these observer teams in 2010, the OAS reported some irregularities but an overall acceptable result, while the HDP observers, based on detailed polling station counts, as shown in the attachment to this letter, concluded that there had been massive and decisive fraud, mostly in favor of candidates from the incumbent political party. In part as a result of the HDP report, a recount was made of the presidential election, the incumbent party candidate dropped to third place, Martelly rose to second place and went on to win a reasonably fair second round. Unfortunately, there was no recount of the parliamentary elections, which almost certainly resulted in numerous fraudulently elected members of the unpopular incumbent party, who are now at political deadlock with democratically-elected President Martelly.
This story, I believe, justifies a renewal of USAID financial support for HDP observers in the 2012 elections. We have submitted a proposal in two parts, for $40,639, and plan to submit a third part as a result of our conversations with the senators and others, including senior advisers to President Martelly. The first part is for $23,932, for election observer teams, to observe as we did in 2010-2011. The second part, for $16,707 is to do an in-depth assessment of the Haitian Provisional Electoral Council, which was the root cause of the 2010 electoral fraud, whereby the Council added hundreds of bogus votes mostly in favor of incumbent party candidates, which we checked against our polling station figures. Our proposed assessment would have recommendations to ensure independence and transparency in the Council’s proceedings, possibly including a role for election observers, as well as for a long delayed transition to a permanent Council, as provided by the Haitian constitution, if not this year, then soon thereafter.
The third part of our request would be to help organize and train additional Haitian observer teams by independent, civil society groups in Haiti. This surely should be the longer-term objective for election observers, by Haitians, and at far lower cost compared with international observers. Haiti might also serve as a model for what can be done in other least developed countries. We would plan to have a few such Haitian teams at the polling stations this year, and many more in the works for following elections. Thank you again for your deep interest in Haitian economic recovery and democratization. If there is anything further HDP can do to assist you, please let us know.
Ernest H. Preeg
Former American Ambassador to Haiti and
Chairman of the Haiti Democracy Project