Development & Education

Americans influence Haiti's election

This story is a part of

Human Needs

This story is a part of

Human Needs


Image from Haiti's 2006 election. (Image by Flickr user Robert Miller (cc:by))

This story was originally covered by PRI's The Takeaway. For more, listen to the audio above.

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The upcoming presidential election in Haiti may prove to be the most expensive in the country's history. Candidates are going to need about "20 million dollars to have a winning shot," estimates Jaqueline Charles, the Caribbean correspondent for the Miami Herald. In a country where per-capita GDP is around $1,300 per year, candidates are looking to the United States to help raise money.

An event for candidate Michel Martelly, also known as "Sweet Micky," was recently organized in Boston by Elda James. The idea behind the event, James told The Takeaway, was to present "him to the Haitian community in Boston to explain his platform and what he hopes he can achieve in Haiti -- or at least begin the work that is needed in Haiti." Some 9,000 people showed up.

Inside Haiti, people are still trying to recover from the recent earthquake and from the hurricanes that have devastated the country. "Things have become very expensive," Charles explains. The candidates are asking the Haitian community abroad to help with both fundraising and get-out-the-vote efforts.

Candidates hope Haitians abroad will "call their family members back here in Haiti, who might be apathetic" about the upcoming elections, according to Charles. Haitians in the country have gotten very cynical about the election process. Charles explains that many are questioning, "We keep going to vote, and where has it gotten us?" Candidates are hoping that reaching out to Haitians in the United States may help them break through that cynicism.

"The Takeaway" is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what's ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH. More at