In addition to its recovery from a devastating earthquake and a cholera epidemic, the Caribbean island nation of Haiti is struggling with another challenge: protests that erupted after a presidential vote. Supporters of candidate Michel Martelly, who is also a famous singer, believe their candidate was wrongly eliminated from the final presidential vote that will take place in January. There have been widespread allegations of fraud in the Nov. 28 primary election.
After days of protests in which thousands of Haitians took to the streets of their capital, Port-au-Prince, the government announced it would re-tabulate the election results. The protests involved angry Haitians burning tires and buildings, including the ruling party headquarters, and clashing with local police and U.N. peacekeepers, who fired tear gas in response.
Current Haitian President Rene Preval called for peace, insisting the country had bigger things to worry about, such as the cholera epidemic. He added that medical workers attending to cholera patients were having a hard time reaching them because of the barricades erected by protesters.
"There is a feeling that Haiti is in a very fragile moment and on the edge, and that it would be extremely easy for one incident to turn things." - Deborah Sontag, New York Times reporter
"This is a shame. The people came out to vote for Michel Martelly. The government is an embarrassment to us. It is not acceptable." - Michel Martelly supporter
"Stop damaging public and private buildings. Stop attacking the people. I know we have an electoral crisis, but don't forget, we also gave a cholera epidemic. And, every day, ambulances must go and pick up the sick people. And those barricades are going to kill more people." - Haitian President Rene Preval
1. Where is Haiti?
2. What difficulties has Haiti faced in the past year?
3. What is voter fraud?
1. Why do people protest? Why do you think Haiti might be especially prone to protests at this time in its history?
2. Can you think of other countries or examples where voter fraud has been a problem?
3. Do you think elections in the U.S. are generally fair? How do U.S. officials make sure fraud doesn't happen?
4. What would you do if you suspected voter fraud in an election?