A young man stands on a busy street corner in the Haitian capital wearing the campaign logo of one presidential candidate on his sweat-soaked T-shirt, the name of another emblazoned on his sunglasses while he passes out flyers on behalf of a third. Jeanty Masier makes no pretense of actually caring about any of the candidates competing in Sunday’s first round of presidential elections, but he’s happy to support any of them — for a price. “I don’t know much about these political people. But they promised to pay me something, so I’m trying to do some work,” said Masier, a struggling 24-year-old resident of a hillside slum overlooking downtown Port-au-Prince, where the presidential palace stood until it pancaked in a devastating 2010 quake.
It’s campaign season again in Haiti, which means a frenzy of activity not just for the numerous politicians jockeying for power but also the droves of young slum residents like Masier who’ve never held any kind of steady job and are willing to do just about anything for meager reward.
For a few weeks at least, there’s the promise of regular money to be made as human billboards, protesters for hire or paid shills for candidates amid a national election that features 54 presidential candidates, only a handful of whom have even faint name recognition among the vast majority of the population.
Money floods political campaigns in countries around the globe, but Haiti’s flourishing if small-scale election economy is particularly striking for the country’s extensive poverty and the sheer numbers of jobless young people who have to hustle to eke out a living.
Full Article: Haiti’s small-scale election economy in full swing.