Aristide Returns to Haiti, Along With U.S. Deportees

The country limps toward recovery, while presidential election drama swirls in the air.

By Thoai Lu Mar 22, 2011

It’s been a quite a week in Haiti. Sunday’s presidential runoff stirred lots of anxiety, and some violence. Hip-hop performer Wyclef Jean, whose presidential bid was cut short last August, was shot in the hand in Port-au-Prince on Saturday, according to LA Times. And, most newsworthy, exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned to the country after seven years of exile in South Africa.

The former slum priest became Haiti’s first democratically elected president, but did not fully serve either of his terms. He was ousted the first time in a coup, then in February 2004, he fled a rebellion aboard a U.S. plane.

President Obama has expressed concern that the popular figure would cause unrest if he came back to Haiti before the March 20 election. South African Cabinet Minister Collins Chabane said, "We can’t hold him hostage if he wants to go."

Meanwhile, Jean has thrown his support behind pop performer Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly, who is currently competing with constitutional law expert Mirlande Manigat, a former First Lady of Haiti.  The Provisional Electoral Council will announce the preliminary results on March 31, and the final results will be confirmed on April 16. 

Haitians in the United States are still embroiled in the United States’ decision to resume deportations back to the ravaged country.  The New York Times video below details some of the challenges facing deportees who are returned to the country. U.S. resident, Wilkins Delabran, arrived to Haiti post-quake after an assault conviction. The 27-year-old thinks Haiti is like hell: "With no food, no water, no light, I don’t even know how to survive, I can’t even speak the language very well."

Haitian-American deportees not only face cultural and linguistic displacement in what is a strange land to them, but they are vulnerable to diseases like cholera, which has already killed a Haitian man named Wildrick Guerrier, Jamilah King noted last month.