Letter to CBC "Q": Don't trivialize Haiti's political crisis

Vancouver BC
August 16, 2010

Hello CBC Q,

I was interested to listen to your interview today with Richard Benjamin on the subject of Wyclef Jean’s announced candidacy in the presidential election to take place in Haiti in November.

In the interview, Benjamin missed the two most important things that must be said about this election. One, it is a deeply flawed and undemocratic process because Haiti’s largest and most representative political party is excluded. The Provisional Electoral Council, which is hand-picked by the sitting President Rene Préval, has ruled the Fanmi Lavalas party of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide off the ballot. It did the same thing in partial national elections in 2009. Fanmi Lavalas is easily Haiti’s largest and most representative political party.

Two, Haiti is living through an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Hundreds of thousands of victims of the earthquake are still without shelter and without adequate provision of food, water, medical care and sanitation. There is no meaningful plan in place to rebuild what has been destroyed and create a better future. How will a flawed national election solve what has demonstrably become a failed national and international relief effort?

Your host can perhaps be forgiven for not knowing of the electoral exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas. He probably listens closely to CBC news, in which case he wouldn’t have a clue about this profoundly troubling fact of Haitian political reality. CBC News, like its government paymaster, treats Jean Bertrand Aristide, his leadership colleagues and their mass following as “yesterday’s news,” just as it treats the violent overthrow of Aristide and the other institutions of elected government in Haiti in 2004 as “old history,” not worthy of reporting nor reflection.

I listen closely to Q and I am unaware of a single story on Haiti on your program since the earthquake. As the plight of Haiti’s earthquake victims progressively dropped off the media screen, including the CBC’s, in March, April and onwards, and as the deeply troubling facts of the failed earthquake relief effort began to emerge, I noted how your regular media panel never selected “Haiti” as one of its “unreported stories” of the preceding week of news it examined.

Q selected a rather superficial story of a pop star candidate for political office to end its long silence on Haiti. But I believe that Haiti’s earthquake victims deserve better treatment than that. You can read a recent article that I wrote entitled “Canada’s Failed Aid to Haiti” here: http://www.canadahaitiaction.ca/content/canadas-failed-aid-haiti.

Roger Annis
Canada Haiti Action Network
778 858 5179