If there is a silver lining in the catastrophic earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, 2010, it is that the country is once again a focus of international attention and concern. There are now many more journalists based there full-time than before the earthquake, with many more occasionally flying in. Some of them have produced detailed, thoughtful, and probing journalism on an array of important issues facing Haitians—most notably the failed relief and reconstruction efforts. But the coverage of Haiti’s recent elections shows that there are still important and contentious topics that the press has not investigated deeply, leaving out much crucial historical background.
Most English-language news media reported on the serious problems that plagued Haiti’s November 28 presidential and legislative elections—long lines, incomplete voter registries, record low voter turnout, violence, and chaos. But they barely mentioned the election’s biggest flaw: the arbitrary banning of more than a dozen political parties from the ballot—most notably Fanmi Lavalas, the country’s most popular party, which has won every election in which it has been allowed to participate.
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