Friday, February 4, 2011

A taste of honesty

The official results of the presidential election recount were due to be announced on February 2nd. Most businesses closed early in anticipation, shopowners boarded up their windows, and parents picked their kids up early from school. The UN and the Haitian police were on the streets in full force. But when I went to bed at 10pm, the announcement still had not been made.

On Thursday morning, I had an early appointment at the Embassy with a medical visa patient named Bethsarida. I was pretty nervous that the announcement would be made while we were out, that the streets would explode in violent rioting, and I would never make it home to the Shoebox. Fortunately, I walked out of the Embassy at 10am to utter normalcy and commented to my hired driver, Eres, that it was a shame that they didn't just get it over with and tell us who the final 2 candidates were. "Oh," he shrugged. "They just did."

They made the election announcement and no one is rioting??! Impossible.

When round one of the elections was publicized, the winners were supposedly Madame Manigat and Jude Celestin. But leaks from the inside told the real story: Sweet Mickie Tet Kale Martelly had actually beat Celestin, and the current government, who is responsible to choose the election committee, was cheating to keep Celestin, their preferred candidate, in the running. Hence the angry riots of December when the people discovered that their votes had mysteriously been counted towards Celestin. A recount was demanded by Martelly and others and was backed by the international community, to the displeasure of the government. This billboard has popped up here and there in the city, depicting puppeteers from the US, France, Canada and the European Union directing the election.

So with the populace hating Celestin and rooting for Martelly, there was only way that the city could be riot-free after the announcement: Jude Celestin must have done the honest thing and stepped out.

Amazingly, incredibly, remarkably, miraculously, that is exactly what happened. Celestin is out of the race and we now move towards a second round of elections in March that will be between the true winners, Madame Manigat and Michel Martelly.

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