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Dominican Republic: Will Danilo Medina Get Out Under Leonel Fernandez’s Shadow?

ECONOMIC storms have battered the Caribbean of late, blowing away the tourists and remittances on which most islands depend. Most of the region has barely seen any growth since 2009. Several governments have been washed away by the slump: in the past six months unhappy voters have kicked out the ruling parties in Jamaica and the Bahamas. But the sun still shines in the Dominican Republic, where growth has continued at over 5% a year. On May 20th Dominicans duly rewarded the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD). But only just: Danilo Medina, its presidential candidate, won 51% of the vote, amid allegations of fraud.

Mr Medina faced a weak opponent in Hipólito Mejía of the Dominican Revolution Party, who campaigned under the enigmatic slogan “Here’s Daddy”. Mr Mejía mishandled a banking crisis when he was president between 2000 and 2004. He cried fraud this week. Observers from the Organisation of American States certified the election result but confirmed reports of vote-buying. Participación Ciudadana, a local NGO, says that both main parties offered between 500 and 2,500 pesos ($13 to $65) to buy people’s voting cards. No one knows the scale of the fraud, but the electoral authorities received 400,000 applications for duplicate cards in the weeks before the poll. The government’s vote-buying appeared greatly to exceed that of the opposition, claims Francisco Álvarez of Participación Ciudadana.

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Haitian Embassy in Kingston Closed Down

A diplomatic row between Haiti and Jamaica, 161 kilometres away from each other in the Caribbean Sea, could be brewing after Haiti closed its embassy here two weeks ago and withdrew its diplomatic agents.

In a December 2011 letter from Haiti’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs advising its Jamaican counterpart of the March 30 pull out, the Frenchspeaking nation cited “non-reciprocity” as one of two reasons for its decision.

It was referring to the fact that while it has operated an embassy in Jamaica for over 30 years, Jamaica has never established a corresponding mission in Haiti and only operates an honorary consulate, the functions of which are not as broad as an embassy’s. In interviews with the Jamaica Observer, the Jamaican authorities sought to downplay that fact.

At a farewell reception for Haitian Chargé d’Affaires Max Alcé, hosted by the dean of the diplomatic corps in St Andrew last Tuesday night, state minister of foreign affairs Arnaldo Brown told the Sunday Observer he knew nothing of the non-reciprocity claim.

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Haiti Telecommunication Company Involved In Money-laundering Scheme In Miami

When Patrick Joseph, the former head of Haiti’s state-owned telephone company, steps into a federal courtroom in downtown Miami on April 17, the future of Haiti’s former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, may take a decisive turn toward an American prison cell.

Security will be tight, especially since Joseph’s elderly father, the former head of Haiti’s central bank, was shot dead in Haiti last week. Two gunmen on motorcycles shot Venel Joseph as he was driving home, shortly after it became known his son was cooperating with an investigation of Aristide in Miami.

At his upcoming court date, Joseph, 50, will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez in a sweeping federal investigation of systematic corruption at the highest levels of the Haitian government during the Aristide administration. Both Joseph and his late father were named to their government posts by Aristide.

Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest who remains popular among Haiti’s poor, was first elected president of Haiti in 1991 and after a tumultuous on-and-off tenure, was finally ousted from power in a 2004 coup. He returned to Haiti last March after a seven-year exile in South Africa.

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Sean Penn’s Work In Haiti Gets Him Honored

Actor Sean Penn is being honored by a group of Nobel laureates for his relief work in Haiti following the country’s devastating January 2010 earthquake.

Penn is to receive the 2012 Peace Summit Award at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. The event will be held in Chicago next month and is expected to draw such luminaries as Poland’s Lech Walesa and the Dalai Lama.

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Haiti Prime Minister Garry Conille Succumbed To The Pressure And Sent In His Resignation

Haiti Prime Minister Garry Conille has resigned from office, giving in to political pressure from President Michel Martelly to step down.

Conille sent a letter to Martelly shortly after 10 a.m. Friday, almost an hour before he was supposed to meet with the president and ministers at the National Palace, several sources confirmed.

The National Palace issued a press release just before 2 p.m. confirming the resignation, saying Martelly will address the nation at 7 p.m. Friday.

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Haitian Quake Survivor Helps Others To Get In Their Feet, Literally

More than two years after the deadly earthquake in Haiti, the long road to recovery continues for those who are injured. CBS News correspondent Whit Johnson has this example of one victim now making a difference in that island nation.

Her right leg broken and her left mangled beyond repair. Three days after the earthquake Shelove Julmiste was told it would have to be amputated.

“She was crying all day and night,” a translator said, speaking for Julmiste. “She was afraid she wouldn’t walk anymore.”

Today she’s not only walking, but Shelove is helping run the country’s first organized rehabilitation program and showing other disabled Haitians how to get back on their feet.

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Decision to Drop Duvalier’s Charges of Crimes Against Humanity Provokes Clamors of Injustice

NEW YORK, Tuesday, January 31, 2012—A Haitian court’s decision to drop charges of crimes against humanity against former president Jean-Claude Duvalier is a blow to the victims of his brutal dictatorship and sends a disturbing signal that the country cannot fulfill its basic legal obligations, the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) said today.

“Haiti has a responsibility under both its own criminal code and international law to investigate all allegations of grave human rights abuses and bring their perpetrators to justice,” said Paul Seils, vice president of ICTJ.

The court confirmed Duvalier will face charges relating to corruption and embezzlement that took place during his 15 year presidency, but has thrown out allegations he is also guilty of crimes against humanity—including torture, disappearances, and extrajudicial killings.

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Carnival 2012

Carnival 2012


Duvalier Is going To Trial For Corruption

A 20-page ruling on the charges was delivered to the government prosecutor’s office on Monday, Carves Jean, the judge responsible for investigating the case, told Reuters.

It does not include charges for the murders, disappearances, torture and other rights abuses allegedly committed during Duvalier’s rule, Jean said.

“I did not find enough legal grounds to keep human rights charges and crimes against humanity against him,” he said. “Now my job is over. The case is no longer in my hands.”

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Kickstater Gifts and Production Stills