Haitians observe the first anniversary of the earthquake through song, prayer, and unity.

Haiti's National Cathedral on the anniversary of the earthquake. -Jacob Kushner

One year ago today, Evelyn Margron was trapped beneath her collapsed Port-au-Prince home, her right arm crushed under several pounds of concrete, her grandson pinned below. It was the day that a 7.0-magnitude earthquake transformed Haiti’s capital city and the surrounding area into rubble, eventually killing some 230,000 people. Margron was not one of the fatalities. The 56-year-old country director for the Dutch human-rights group ICCO was pulled from the rubble and eventually treated in the Dominican Republic for her crushed chest, broken arm, and collarbone. “The people who got me out of the rubble—I did not know them and they did not know me. But it happened so many times that night,” Margron says in a nod to the solidarity that Haitians say was the predominant mood of the day.

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Haiti: A bitter anniversary
Those who lived through the earthquake struggle to survive its aftermath

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Today, Haitians across the country will pause to remember the earthquake that devastated their nation exactly a year ago.

They will sing and pray in unison outside the ruins of Haiti’s national cathedral.

Some will gather to discuss the upcoming election; others will talk about the role the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has had in maintaining order; and others will discuss the reconstruction process.

But Islande Vilmeus will not be participating. While others choose to remember, the 30-year-old wants to forget – forget that her tonton, the uncle who raised her since her parents died at age 10, was among the about 300,000 who died in the earthquake.

She wants to forget that, two weeks ago, she returned from the market to find her 5-year-old son dead on the floor of her tent from an unknown cause. She said he might have been poisoned.

The boy’s body lies unclaimed at the local morgue since she can’t afford a funeral.

Vilmeus and her six other children survived the earthquake that brought their home crumbling to the ground. But they are not surviving its aftermath, she says, as she cradles her 10-month-old son Abraham who hasn’t eaten yet today.

Click HERE to read the full story as it appeared at Info Sur Hoy.

A girl sits in the doorway of one of the few structures in Port-au-Prince’s Fort National neighborhood that was not leveled by the earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010. No permanent shelters have been reconstructed in the area, forcing many residents to live in tents. (Jacob Kushner for Infosurhoy.com)
One year after the earthquake, more than a million Haitians remain displaced

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Nearly a year since a 7.0-magnitude earthquake destroyed the nation’s capital and surrounding areas, much work remains in the reconstruction process that’s way behind schedule.

More than a million remain displaced in unsanitary – and unsustainable – tent cities, many without consistent access to clean drinking water, according to the U.S. State Department.

The majority of buildings throughout Port-au-Prince are in the same collapsed state they were in after being pulverized on Jan. 12, 2010. Fewer than two million of the nine million cubic meters of rubble have been removed, and debris still clogs city streets, according to the U.S. State Department.

“I think there’s a general feeling – and we share this feeling – that the reconstruction is much slower than we had hoped,” said Eric Overvest, Haiti Country Director for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). “The first six months, all the attention went to humanitarian assistance, which was very necessary, but the change to development started very late.”

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Law professor Mirlande Manigat, 70, earned the most votes in the first round of the presidential election on Nov. 28. (Jacob Kushner for Infosurhoy.com)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Political tension is mounting in Haiti as candidates and voters await the final results from the November presidential election.

Controversy erupted as to which candidates will advance to the Jan. 16 runoff after thousands of voters were turned away from the polls during the first round of voting since their names did not appear on registries.

 

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti’s electoral council will allow candidates to re-appeal the preliminary results of the nation’s recent presidential election after its offer to re-tabulate votes was rejected by the two leading opposition candidates.

Candidates have until Dec. 15 to submit a new formal appeal.

Thousands of would-be voters were turned away from the polls on Nov. 28 because their names did not appear on voter registration lists, or because those displaced by Haiti’s Jan. 12 earthquake had not re-registered in their new voting locations.

Michel Martelly, an opposition candidate and renowned pop-singer, finished third behind President René Préval-endorsed candidate Jude Célestin by less than 1% of the vote, according to preliminary results.

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A boy waves the Haitian flag at the beginning of an anti-election demonstration on Dec. 4 in downtown Port-au-Prince. (Jacob Kushner for Infosurhoy.com)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Mirlande Manigat and Jude Célestin are the top vote-getters of Haiti’s troubled presidential election and will compete in a Jan. 16 runoff, according to preliminary results announced by Haiti’s electoral council (CEP) on Dec.7.

The winner will oversee the about US$10 billion pledged by international donors in post-earthquake reconstruction aid as Haiti’s next president, replacing René Préval.

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Demonstrators against the election results start fires in Port-au-Prince. -Jacob Kushner

Haiti’s election was supposed to further its democratic legacy by selecting a new president to lead the nation’s post-earthquake reconstruction. Instead, it’s become a huge distraction from that herculean task. Demonstrations are frequent: thousands of protesters have taken to the streets, chanting antigovernment slogans and setting fire to tires and barricades to protest the disputed results. All this is going on as the nation’s cholera epidemic continues to infect more than 1,000 people a day, and the 1.3 million Haitians still living in unsanitary tent camps since last January’s earthquake feel forgotten.

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP)- Frustrated presidential candidates led a march through Haiti’s capital Thursday to demand officials annul an election they say was tainted by fraud.

At least four of 19 candidates on Sunday’s ballot walked with hundreds of supporters to an electoral council office. They denounced electoral officials, President Rene Preval and the ruling Unity party’s candidate, state construction company chief Jude Celestin, chanting: “Prison for Preval, liberty for Haiti!”

“These were not elections. People were not allowed to vote and there was stuffing of the election boxes … We need democratic elections,” candidate Charles Henri-Baker, a factory owner, told The Associated Press.

The presidential hopefuls were part of a group of 12 candidates who called for voting to be canceled while polls were open, alleging the election was rigged in favor of Celestin.

Click HERE to read the full Associated Press story as it appeared at the Star Tribune.