Why did the US intervene in Haiti?

Haiti: Préval leads in vote counting after presidential election

As the electoral authority announced on Friday night in Port-au-Prince, Préval received more than 60 percent of the votes in the districts counted so far. In second place among the 33 candidates was Leslie Manigat, also a former president of the Caribbean state, followed by Charles Baker.

The elections last Tuesday (February 7th) were recognized as successful by various international observers. According to the United Nations, they open "a new era for Haiti".

Chaotic but peaceful elections

Despite the deaths of at least four people and scuffles in front of some polling stations, Haitian media reported that the polls went well and smoothly. Chaos broke out in front of some polling stations, which opened with considerable delay.

According to the UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), more than 50 percent of the electorate cast their vote. "The election was very legitimate," said the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza.

The elections were secured by 7,500 soldiers, 1,700 police officers and several hundred civilian employees of the UN stabilization force. In addition, 1,500 election observers from all over the world and 600 international journalists followed the polls.

"We have done what is possible," said interim President Gerald Latortue after the election in view of the chaotic conditions. It was only in early January that the United Nations forced his government to hold the elections on February 7, which had been postponed several times.

Favorite and bringer of hope

Images that you know from Haiti

René Préval was considered the most promising presidential candidate even before the election. "Préval is a man with a great deal of political experience who is trusted by the population," emphasizes Jens Pössel, Haiti expert from Amnesty International (ai).

It is true that Préval refused to run under the banner of the Lavalas family, the party of ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Nevertheless, the 63-year-old is considered a straw man in Haiti. Préval has the sympathy of the numerous, in some cases extremely violent, Aristide supporters in the slums. In contrast to his former party colleague Aristide, however, Préval has so far stayed away from Haiti's multi-million dollar corruption swamp.

René Préval is considered the favorite in the presidential election

Aristide took office as the first democratic president of Haiti in 1990 to a storm of enthusiasm. In February 2004 he was driven from the country into exile in South Africa by armed rebel groups and under strong diplomatic pressure from the USA. For many residents, he is still the rightful President of Haiti today.

USA acted "cynically" and "short-sighted"

"Préval is Aristide's younger brother. If he is elected, he will definitely support Aristide's return to Haiti," said Bert Hoffmann, a political scientist from the Hamburg Institute for Ibero-American Customers. Ex-President Aristide could thus regain power and political influence in a roundabout way.

But that would be a shot across the US bow: "The US interference in removing Aristides was in principle a relatively cynical act: The US intervened in Haiti in fire-fighting fashion and then immediately forgot about the country," says Haiti expert Hoffmann . "There was and is no master plan for Haiti. This short-sightedness is now taking revenge."

Trust as a prerequisite for a new beginning

Jean-Bertrand Aristide (r.) And René Préval have been friends for many years

Hopefully the new President of Haiti will act more farsighted. Because: "The elections are only a first step. The real work only begins afterwards," says ai-man Pössel. There are many construction sites: from reducing the illiteracy rate to improving the infrastructure to combating the arms and drug trafficking.

The following applies: trust is everything. Without the trust of the people, the future President of Haiti is doomed to failure from the outset. "And trust can only be created through action: the new president must above all punish human rights violations, fight rampant corruption and implement a clear disarmament program," explains Pössel. Haiti is still one of the most small arms countries in the world.

Haiti expert Hoffmann, on the other hand, sees the most important task of a future president in the depolarization of the Haitian population, which is divided between supporters and opponents of Aristide.

UN troops also have to face their responsibilities

Especially in Port-au-Prince, the blue helmets do not always manage to keep things tidy

But for a peaceful new beginning to succeed, the international community must also get involved: "It would be fatal if the UN stabilization force MINUSTAH flees the country hastily after the election. They have to be patient to manage an orderly withdrawal," demands Hoffmann . The presence of the blue helmets was not a panacea against violence in the past. In some quarters of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, such as the infamous Cité Soleil, war-like conditions still prevail.

Ultimately, the Haitians, the poorest people on the American continent, have no choice but to hope that Préval is right with his pithy words: "I will be the president who will bring peace to the country."