Michel Martelly

Dieu Nalio Chery / AP via Miami Herald

COMMENTARY

Thirty years ago this week, Haiti had no president.

The country’s chubby churl of a dictator, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, had just been ousted and flown into exile with his Cruella de Vil wife. He left a power vacuum, but in those heady days hope ruled Haiti – a faith that democracy would emerge in his blood-stained wake.

But this week, Haiti has no president.

Dieu Naleio Chery / AP via Miami Herald

This afternoon Haiti once again postponed its presidential runoff election.

The vote – originally slated for last month – was going to be held on Sunday. But Haitian election officials said they canceled it because it was too hazardous. Street protests have gotten violent in recent days, with demonstrators condemning what they call a fraudulent and incompetent electoral process.

You didn’t miss Haiti’s presidential runoff election on Dec. 27. It was postponed amid accusations that the first round of voting in October was marred by voter fraud and bungling by poll workers.

In other words, just another Haitian election.

Now the runoff will be held Jan. 24 – only two weeks before Haiti’s constitution says a new president must be sworn in on Feb. 7. But given the political swamp Haiti is mired in these days, the odds of an inauguration happening by that date look 50-50 at best.

David Gilkey / NPR

OPINION

Last week I slammed the Dominican Republic for risking its global image with an immigration policy that has unjustly made hundreds of thousands of Haitian-Dominicans targets for deportation.

Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald

Yesterday’s resignation of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe was supposed to help end Haiti’s long and sometimes violent political crisis. Don’t get your hopes up.

Most Haitians weren’t even awake when Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe’s taped resignation speech was televised at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. The government blamed technical difficulties for the delay.

haiti.usembassy.gov

Right after Haiti’s catastrophic 2010 earthquake, which killed more than 200,000 people, I rode in a U.S. Army helicopter ferrying food and medical supplies into demolished Port-au-Prince neighborhoods.

As we descended near the suburb of Pétionville, and as corpses became visible amid the ruins and campfire smoke billowed up in our faces, the pilot said he couldn’t put us down. Too many people were running to the landing spot, and they risked being killed by the chopper rotors.

    

When Michel Martelly was elected President of Haiti in 2011, expectations for his performance as a head of state were fairly low. And in many respects, unfortunately, he’s met them.