bcholmes: (haiti)

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is considering building a hotel and conference center in Haiti on part of a $10.5 million property that it bought after the 2010 earthquake.

The hope is that profits could sustain the work of Haiti’s local Red Cross in the coming years, the head of the international group’s Haitian delegation said Monday.

[...]

The charity paid in a single payment, using funds donated by national Red Cross agencies for quake recovery. At the time, Haiti’s recovery was the largest operation in the organization’s history, with 3,000 people working here.

"Red Cross in Haiti considers building hotel, conference center in Caribbean nation", Washington Post

Uh-huh.

bcholmes: (haiti)

There's a bit of a brouhaha emerging regarding the reported deaths in the Haitian earthquake. Here's what's up. There's a guy, Tim Schwartz. He's been doing work in Haiti for some time, usually with NGOs of various stripes. He's written a book, Travesty in Haiti, that's self-published.

I'm kinda ambivalent about Travesty -- on the one hand, I think that its critique of aid models in Haiti are pretty much on target. On the other hand, I think that tends to paint the Haitian people as superstitious and untrustworthy. But in any event, Schwartz has contributed important things to the criticism of aid management in Haiti, and it would be wrong to consider him a toady of the power elites.

Schwartz was hired to write a report for USAID. Lots of things to say )

bcholmes: (haiti)

The House on Tuesday asked the Obama administration to come up with an accounting of how humanitarian and reconstruction aid is being spent in Haiti, which has been slow to recover from the devastating earthquake of more than a year ago despite an outpouring of U.S. and international assistance. "The unprecedented relief effort has given way to a sluggish, at best, reconstruction effort," said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., sponsor of the legislation calling on President Barack Obama to prepare a report within six months of the bill's enactment on the status of the aid campaign in Haiti, including the fight to combat an outbreak of cholera.

Some of the blame for the slow progress in Haiti has been put on the lack of coordination among foreign and Haiti relief groups, a destroyed infrastructure, absence of a viable Haitian government and corruption. But another factor, Lee said, is "the lack of urgency on the international community's part." She said that at an international donors' conference in March 2010, 58 donors pledged $5.5 billion to support Haiti's recovery efforts but as of March this year, only 37% of these funds have been disbursed. "This is unacceptable."

The Haitian government says 316,000 people were killed in the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck on Jan. 12, 2010. More than 1 million in a population of less than 10 million were displaced from their homes in the hemisphere's poorest nation.

"House seeks accounting of aid money to Haiti", Miami Herald, emphasis added

the Canada government's commitment to Haiti included $200 million in 2010 and a larger amount in 2011. Looking back, Canada only dispersed $77 million to Haiti relief efforts. And that number includes $33 million to international financial institutions for debt relief. Yeesh.

It's clear that the international community has been waiting for a more pliant local government. I guess we'll see if any real reconstruction begins now that Martelly is in charge.

bcholmes: (aristide)

Over the next few years, much of Haiti will be rebuilt and much of its economy restructured. In response to last year's earthquake an unprecedented amount of money has been promised for reconstruction. It's more important than ever before that Haiti be governed by an administration that reflects the true will and interests of its people, rather than the concerns of foreign governments and corporations.

In 2004, the US, France and Canada, in alliance with members of Haiti's business community and demobilised soldiers of the Haitian army, overthrew the last Haitian government to enjoy genuine popular support: the party that led this government, Fanmi Lavalas, was elected with around 75% of the vote. This past November, these same powers imposed and funded an illegitimate electoral process in Haiti, one that blocked the participation of Fanmi Lavalas. Only 23% of Haitian voters participated, scarcely a third of the proportion who voted in the last presidential election.

In recent weeks, the US and its proxies have brazenly interfered in the interpretation of this election's first round of results. The flawed November vote was not only inconclusive and unrepresentative, its outcome was also unlawful. If the second round of these elections goes ahead as planned on 20 March, it is now sure to result in the unconstitutional selection of a president with closer ties to the powers that sponsored and manipulated them than to the people meant to participate in them.

At the same time, the powers that dominate Haiti have facilitated the return of the former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier while discouraging the return of the twice-elected president (and Fanmi Lavalas leader) Jean-Bertrand Aristide. These powers, with their allies in the Haitian business community, have made it clear that they seek to delay Aristide's return until after 20 March. They will only allow Aristide to return after a suitably pliant new government has been installed, to preside over the imminent reconstruction process.

We the undersigned call on the Haitian government to make the security arrangements that will enable Aristide's immediate return, and we call on the international community to support rather than undermine these efforts. We call on the Haitian government to cancel the second-round vote scheduled for 20 March and to organise a new round of elections, without exclusions or interference, to take place as soon as possible.

Signed,
Marie-Célie Agnant, writer
Tariq Ali, writer
Andaiye, Red Thread, Guyana
Roger Annis, Canada Haiti Action Network
Reginald Antoine, PEVEP
Alain Badiou, Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris)
Brian Becker, National Co-ordination, Answer Coalition
Emile Wilnes Brumer, Mas Popilè Site Solèy
Jean-Claude Cajou, community activist
Sara Callaway, Women of Colour/Global Women's Strike, UK
Yves Camille, Haiti Liberté
Noam Chomsky, MIT
Ramsey Clark, former US attorney general
Brian Concannon, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
Dan Coughlin, executive director, Manhattan Neighborhood Network
Ezili Dantò, Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
Mike Davis, UC Riverside
Castro Desroches, SUNY
Rea Dol, SODUPEP
Berthony Dupont, Haiti Liberté
Ben Dupuy, Haiti Progrès & Parti Populaire National
Darren Ell, Montreal-Haiti Solidarity Committee
Joe Emersberger, writer
Yves Engler, writer
Anthony Fenton, journalist
Weiner Kerns Fleurimond, Haiti Liberté
Pierre L Florestal, Fanmi Lavalas - NY
Daniel Florival, Tèt Kole Oganizasyon Popilè yo
Sara Flounders, International Action Center
Laura Flynn, Aristide Foundation for Democracy board
Danny Glover, actor & activist, board chair, TransAfrica Forum
Leah Gordon, photographer and curator
Manu Goswami, NYU
Greg Grandin, NYU
Thomas Griffin, lawyer
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Peter Hallward, Kingston University London
Georges Honorat, Haiti Progrès
Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté
Selma James, Global Women's Strike, UK
Dr G Carlo Jean, retired public school teacher
Marlène Jean-Noel, Fanmi Lavalas Baz NY
Tony Jean-Thénor, Veye Yo
Frantz Jerome, Coalition Against Occupation and Sham Elections
Evelt Jeudi, Fanmi Lavalas Miami
Mario Joseph, Office of International Lawyers (BAI)
Farah Juste, representative of Fanmi Lavalas for Florida & the Bahamas
Michelle Karshan, Aristide Foundation for Democracy
Katharine Kean, film-maker
Ira Kurzban, Counsel for the Republic of Haiti from 1991-2004
Pierre Labossière, Haiti Action Committee
Ray Laforest, International Support Haiti Network
Frantz Latour, Haiti Liberté
Andrew Leak, University College London
Didier Leblanc, Haiti Liberté
Jacques Elie Leblanc, Haiti Liberté
Maude Leblanc, Haiti Progrès
Richard Ledes, film director
Nicole Lee, President, TransAfrica Forum
Nina López, Legal Action for Women, UK
Gardy Lumas, PEVEP
Isabel Macdonald, journalist
Albert Maysles, film-maker
Yves Mésidor, Mas Popilè Site Solèy
Johnny Michel, Mas Popilè Site Solèy
Melinda Miles, Let Haiti Live
Georges Mompremier, Fanmi Lavalas Baz NY
Fednel Monchery, Jeunesse pour la République (JPR)
Joia S. Mukherjee, Chief Medical Officer, Partners In Health
Nick Nesbitt, Princeton University
Harry Numa, community activist
Vanel Louis Paul, Mas Popilè Site Solèy
Gladys Timmer Phillpotts, Fanmi Lavalas Baz St Francis
Fritzner Pierre, radio host of Dyalog Popilè
Wadner Pierre, Haitianalysis.com
Yves Pierre-Louis, Tèt Kole Oganizasyon Popilè yo
Kevin Pina, Haiti Information Project
Margaret Prescod, Women of Colour/Global Women's Strike, US
Jackson Rateau, Haiti Liberté
Roosevelt René, engineer
Claude Ribbe, author and filmmaker
Corey Robin, Brooklyn College & CUNY
William Robinson, UCSB
Nicolas Rossier, film-maker
Robert Roth, Haiti Action Committee
Jean Saint-Vil, writer
Alina Sixto, Radio Fanmi Lavalas New York
Mark Snyder, International Action Ties
Jeb Sprague, UCSB
Irwin Stotzky, University of Miami Law School
Lucie Tondreau, community activist
Eddy Toussaint "Tontongi", Revi Tanbou
Harold Valentin, Oganizasyon Jen Salomon (OJESA)
Burt Wides, former counsel to Haiti's constitutional government; Special Counsel to President Carter for oversight of all US Intelligence agencies
Cécile Winter, Collectif politique sida en Afrique
Slavoj Žižek, University of Ljubljana

"Haiti needs the world's support", The Guardian (among other places)

































































































bcholmes: (haiti)

The Korean National Red Cross (KNRC) came under fire for its slack management of funds for the victims of the Haiti earthquake.

It has spent only 1.2 billion won ($1 million) or 12.8 percent of the 9.7 billion won in total donations raised so far though it has been nine months since the natural disaster took place, according to Rep. Kang Myung-soon of the Grand National Party.

Most of the money spent so far was used to cover the costs for activities by the medical teams, Kang said. During an audit by the National Assembly into the government-subsidized organization Tuesday, the improper use of donations was uncovered.

Of the total funds, 6.6 billion won has been sitting idly in two term deposit accounts, and only a negligible amount of money has been used to directly assist the Haiti victims.

Of the 1.2 billion won, only 675 million won has been used to benefit the victims firsthand through the international Red Cross, while the rest covered the airfare for the international Red Cross medical team, and other operational costs, she said.

The lawmaker also denounced the organization for providing high-end hotel lodging for the medical team in the Dominican Republic before they crossed the Haitian border. She claimed that they stayed at a pricey hotel and even consumed six bottles of soju at 10,000 won per bottle.

“They should have been more prudent in spending money collected through the goodwill of ordinary donators,” she said.

The Red Cross was also blamed for saving the leftover donations in the bank. Two accounts hold 3.3 billion won each. “Why would the Red Cross need to save it in a bank when there are people in need of assistance that the money could provide? The organization promised to spend the money by next year, but I seriously doubt that,” she said.

"Red Cross hit for improper use of Haiti donations", Korea Times

Say it ain't so!

bcholmes: (haiti)

This report presents findings from a five- month follow-up of 90 Haitian families displaced by the January 12, 2010 earthquake. The initial survey was conducted in six displacement camps in February 2010. The resulting report, Neglect in the Encampments: Haiti’s Second-Wave Humanitarian Disaster, was presented to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, D.C. on March 23, 2010.

A second survey conducted in July compared how living conditions in the camps measured against human rights standards set forth under the Haitian Constitution and international law on the treatment of displaced persons. Fifty- two of the original families were located and interviewed, yielding the following evidence of systematic human rights violations:

  • Food. 75% of families had someone go an entire day without eating in the past week and over 50% indicated that their children did not eat for an entire day
  • Clean Water. 44% of families primarily drank untreated water
  • Sanitary Environment. 27% of families defecated in a container, a plastic bag, or on open ground in the camps
  • Housing. 78% of families lived without enclosed shelter
  • Health. There were 245 independently listed health problems among 45 families
  • Protection From and During Displacement. 94% of families felt they could not return home while 48% had been threatened with forced eviction since the earthquake
  • Self-Sufficiency. 37% of families did not have a single family member with a full- time job, a part-time job, a cash-for-work arrangement, or self-employment

Our results indicate that aid has slowed and even stopped in each of the six camps surveyed, making life far worse for most of the families.

"'We've Been Forgotten': Conditions in Haiti's Displacement Camps Eight Months after the Earthquake", Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

bcholmes: (haiti)

I've heard a lot of statements that the beginning of the rainy season in Haiti will see the start of major protests.

The Huffington Post is reporting that the first large-scale protests since the earthquake have already begun.

bcholmes: (haiti)

Haiti's earthquake on 12 January this year has been a lucky business break for some. The transnational firm Monsanto is offering the country's farmers a deadly gift of 475 tonnes of genetically-modified (GM) seeds, along with associated fertiliser and pesticides, which will be handed out free by the WINNER project, with the backing of the US embassy in Haiti. More... )

Statement by
By Fr. JEAN-YVES URFIE
Member of the Holy Spirit Order
Former chemistry teacher at Collège Saint Martial, Port-au-Prince


Via a Haiti issues mailing list. I haven't been able to find an online source.

PostScript: Business Week has the skinny.

bcholmes: (haiti)

Peacekeeping officials warn that protests against post-quake living conditions could snowball into a potential security threat: "Yes I agree with this assessment because the longer it can take, it can develop into a social movement, and it's what we try to prevent," said Bernard Ouellete, UN military chief of staff in Haiti.

"UN increases estimate to 2.1 million IDPs in camps, from previous 1.3 million", Al-Jazeera

TOURISTAH

Apr. 19th, 2010 08:02 pm
bcholmes: (haiti)

It is this detachment from the people they are supposed to be trying to protect that infuriates Morse, who said MINUSTAH should just leave if they are not going to help the Haitian poor. "The UN mandate here is to keep the urban poor in check, that's their mandate here, their mandate is not to keep the elites from being corrupt, their mandate is not to keep the Haitian government from being corrupt," he said.

Richard Morse, owner of the Oloffson hotel and lead singer of the band, RAM

bcholmes: (haiti)

I spent most of yesterday at a conference about Haiti and the rebuilding, organized by Melanie Newton (man, she does some great stuff) and sponsored by U of T. My colleague, Niraj, articulated it well: in essence, the conference was an attempt to create a space for members of the Haitian diaspora in Toronto to come together and network and talk about the reconstruction. Toronto's Haitian diaspora is much smaller, and much more dispersed than the diaspora in, say, Montreal. The one downside to the conference was that it took place in the wilds of Scarborough at the ungodly hour of nine am.

(The event took place at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus, which is Way The Fuck Over There. Notice that they don't call it University of Scarborough because, hey, who would believe that Scarborough has a university?)

Jean St. Vil, an amazing Haiti activist -- I don't know him well, but I've met him a coupl'a times now, through the Canadian Haiti Action Network -- made some especially powerful points. He made a point that I've heard him make a few times: that the aid model in Haiti is, far more often than not, causing greater problems in the country. And that rather than talk about international aid, it's better to frame the conversation in terms of reparations. (On one of his slides he spelled out "REPAiRAcTIONS"). He said that the descendants of former slaves are always being counselled to "get over" the past, but the legacy of the past is still with us.

He also raised two other key provocative ideas. First, he tackled the idea that Haiti has had a long history of bad leaders. I like what I've heard Melanie (who teaches about the Haitian Revolution) say about this. While acknowledging that the Haitian revolution was far more visionary than either the French or American revolutions, she also recognizes that the earliest leaders were military commanders, and their agendas as leaders weren't always perfect. But, as Jean says, there's a tendency among non-Haitian scholars to write off as dictators important leaders like Dessalines, Pétion and Henri Christophe. Jean used an interesting example: he asked, why is it that Thomas Jefferson gets to be regarded as a great (and quotable) founding father and former president and the fact that he enslaved his own children is a little footnote that we're better off just not talking about. But when talking about a Haitian leader like Dessalines, it is important to write him off as a dictator.

There was another interesting point that he raised, specifically in the context of Haitian culture and gender equality. One woman -- Marlène Thélusma-Rémy, a Haitian sociologist and author on the topic of gender equality -- commented about systemic exclusion of women from reconstruction processes. Later, Jean seemed a bit dismissive about this idea, saying that it's evidence of the way that people accept the narrative of Haiti to assume that Haiti has 1950s attitudes about gender roles. He noted that Haiti had a female President long before the U.S. (even before Canada had a female Prime Minister). Jean asserted that a country like Canada could learn a lot from Haiti about gender equality.

Later, I got to see Marlène roll her eyes about this comment. Did Ertha Pascal-Trouillot have any real power, she asked? Was she ever elected? For Marlène, inequality was a fact. For my part, I don't think that these comments were as much in opposition as they might appear to be at first glance. For my part, I think the patriarchy can operate in different ways in different places. It's not like there's a linear path for this stuff. It's wrong to think that if there's inequality, that it must therefore look exactly like inequality looked here in Canada at some point in the past. That fallacy allows us to feel that we're just a bit farther down the feminist path than Haiti is, and we can help them out by sharing our great learning with them because we're more advanced.

I think Jean's comment is true: that Canada focuses a lot of attention on "teaching" Haitians about gender equality ('cause, hey, we're in that post-feminist period, right?). In fact, improving the lives of women was an explicit CIDA priority under the Martin government; under Harper, it's now about securing the future of children and youth ("think of the chil-drun!") It's all very "talk at"-, rather than "converse with"-sounding. And I think he's right: we seldom try to ponder what we might learn about gender equality from a place like Haiti.

My colleague, Martin, with whom I sometimes disagree, put it especially well: leftists are, generally, pro-feminist (although they'll often avoid using the 'F' word). And it's actually a scarily effective strategy to co-opt the left and entrench a particular narrative about Haiti if you can distract them with an issue like "the status of women." I think that's one of the ways that the left gets tongue tied on issues in the middle east, frinstance. You get wishy-washy positions like, "yeah, invasions are bad, but it is true that these countries don't treat their women well." It traps us in our need to categorize things in neat, binary ways. A thing is either good or bad. We're either on the side of the good guys, or the side of the enemy.

bcholmes: (haiti)

I haven't found an online source for this article, which came to me through some of the mailing lists I'm on:

When this article appears on the morning of March 31, the much ballyhooed "International Donors Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti" will be getting underway at UN Headquarters in Manhattan. While demonstrators in the street outside protest the continuing US and UN military occupation of Haiti, now over six years old, and the Haitian people's exclusion from deliberations on the country's reconstruction, dignitaries inside like UN Special Envoy to Haiti Bill Clinton, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and Haitian President René Préval will unveil a plan with lots of pomp and ceremony but which boils down to just one thing: Washington's take-over of the "new" Haiti.

Hyperbole? Unfortunately, no. The lead editorial in Sunday's New York Times, which generally articulates the thinking of the US power elite, lays it out clearly: "The plan envisions a multidonor trust fund managed by the World Bank that pools money for big projects and avoids wasteful redundancy. The Haitian Development Authority would approve the projects; outside auditors would oversee the spending." (Our emphasis added.)

Translation: the World Bank, not Haiti, will run the show, a council of foreigners (with a sprinkling of token Haitians) will rubberstamp directives, and other foreign overseers will supervise the Haitians carrying out the directives.

Although lots of international "friends of Haiti" will be involved in this circus, Washington is the ringleader, using handmaidens like Canada and the Dominican Republic. The meetings to prepare the ground for Mar. 31 were held in Montreal on Jan.25 and Santo Domingo on Mar. 15-17.

Préval has generally implemented Washington's austerity and privatization dictates, making him a US darling and the Haitian people's bogeyman. However, after the quake, he and his prime-minister made some imprudent complaints about being sidelined while the US and NGOs ham-fistedly directed relief and reconstruction efforts. Washington put him back in his place by calling him corrupt, a charge Préval called "arrogant." Despite such outbursts, Préval appears to be behaving again but still promoting the fiction that he's deciding things.

"Haiti is an independent government, an independent country and the government must say what must be done," he told Al Jazeera in a Mar. 29 interview when asked who was in charge in Haiti. "But the government doesn't have the financial means to do it. So we will have to speak to the donors so that they make available the funds for the government to do what it desires to do." As for the foreign experts which will dominate in the Haitian Development Authority, he explains that "a lot of our professionals are dead" and "we are leaning on the NGOs to help us to do what we need to do right now."

The centerpieces of the US, UN, and World Bank plan for Haiti are sweatshops and tourism. Of course there is lip-service paid to the concerns raised by Haitians about revitalizing agriculture and making the country self-sufficient in food again after 25 years of neo-liberal deconstruction. "Decentralization" is another key theme, but, done a certain way, this can also weaken and circumvent Haiti's central government, which Washington has sought to do since the Haitian people elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1990.

— Kim Ives, "UN Conference to Consummate U.S. Take-Over of Haiti", Haiti Liberte

bcholmes: (haiti)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Mar 30, 2010 (IPS) - On an empty road in Cite Militaire, an industrial zone across from the slums of Cite Soleil, a group of women are gathered around a single white sack of U.S. rice. The rice was handed out Monday morning at a food distribution by the Christian relief group World Vision.

According to witnesses, during the distribution U.N. peacekeeping troops sprayed tear gas on the crowd.

"Haitians know that's the way they act with us. They treat us like animals," said Lourette Elris, as she divided the rice amongst the women. "They gave us the food, we were on our way home, then the troops threw tear gas at us. We finished receiving the food, we weren't disorderly. "

Some 9,000 U.N. peacekeepers, known by the acronym MINUSTAH, have occupied Haiti since 2004, including 7,000 soldiers of which the majority are Brazilian. The mission has been dogged by accusations of human rights violations.

— Ansel Herz, HAITI: Looking More and More Like a War Zone

bcholmes: (haiti)

HAITI-MARCH 28, 2010

The medical team took the opportunity to work in another camp located about a mile from Matthew 25 on an open piece of land. The camp area looks to be many acres in size, but it was filled with tents so there was no space prespective from which to judge.

The land had been owned by the dictator Duvalier who had it laid out as a planned village, and had put in roads with curbs, but nothing else before he was deposed in 1986. No one with whom we spoke knew who has controlled this acreage, but there has been nothing built on it in all of this time.

The French Red Cross has gained control of it for the time being anyway, and it looks like it will be for quite a long time. They are building schools with two by four frames, and metal roofs. It was in one of these school frames that the medical clinic was set up using tarps for walls and ceiling

More... )

I think that Pat and Vivian were due to end their three-year trip to Haiti at the end of March, so I don't know how many more of these updates I'm gonna see.

bcholmes: (haiti)

The Trusteeship System was, by all accounts, successful. And even after the program became obsolete, a form of trusteeship was used in Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, and Cambodia -- places where the collapse of order necessitated help from the international community to perform the basic functions of a government.

Haiti -- an independent sovereign nation and a United Nations member -- would not be eligible for trusteeship. But, as in those other cases, the U.N. mission can be broadened to coordinate the various international actors currently working in Haiti.

Instead of the ad-hoc system currently in place -- the United States controls the airport, the United Nations controls food distribution, and other responsibilities are divided in a scattershot fashion -- a form of trusteeship would allow the UN to coordinate assistance in an orderly and transparent fashion.

Other international actors could then be tasked with specific roles -- ranging from security and governance to economic development and the coordination of international aid.

The goal is simple: Provide Haitians with a legitimate, functional state -- one capable of managing the day-to-day tasks of government and providing security, economic stability, and social services.

This won't work without the Haitian people and their elected leaders -- it must be done with them, not to them.

"Place Haiti under 'trusteeship'", Senator Chris Dodd (D)

Right. Because the UN operations in Haiti, to date, have worked out so well.

bcholmes: (haiti)

March 19, 2010

Every day emotions rise and fall. In the morning the activity in the house resembles a busy family, albiet a very large busy family. Breakfast is placed buffet style on the counter, and those ready to eat gather around the table for a short grace. A few take advantage of an empty bathroom. Others mix milk for the camp children. There always seems to be someone packing up to go somewhere: back home, to the countryside, to a mobile clinic, or the clinic nextdoor. The Haitian EMT, medical student, and pharmacist arrive. Cell phones ring, plans are made, dishes are washed. There is always some laughter, and teasing, quiet conversation, and continuing knocks on the bathroom doors. The morning mood of the house is usually upbeat, as the day begins.

The other day a woman in the camp went into labor. Everything was going along fine, and there was time to get her to the local hospital where she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Mom and son returned to camp on Wednesday, and much fuss was made over this little one.

More... )

bcholmes: (haiti)

What were the effects of the “militarization” of the relief aid by the US, amongst other countries – Canada and Japan sent hundreds of troops too, for instance? The American/Haitian activist Marguerite Laurent suggested on her blog that humanitarian aid was blocked in favor of military equipment after the US took over the Haitian airports in the first few days after the earth quake.
The militarization of the relief aid really delayed the distribution of food, water, and particularly medical aid. One of the effects was that in the first few days after the earthquake, five cargo planes of Doctors Without Borders were turned away and rerouted to the Dominican Republic. Partners In Help estimated that about 20,000 people died each day that aid was delayed.

Is the lack of security in Haiti an explanation for the heavy emphasis on sending in forces? Numerous media reports after the earthquake suggested that insecurity, rapes, and violence erupting during foreign aid handouts were mounting.
The images of insecurity in the media are not accurate at all. There are always security issues in any country. But what is remarkable is the discipline, the non-violence, the resilience, the creativity, and the cooperation that Haitians have exhibited in the face of this catastrophe. Even days and days and days after not receiving aid, the US and UN could not point to any major security issues.

If Haiti has not been as insecure as hinted at in the media, how can the massive military response of the US be explained?
The primary fear of the US was popular, political unrest. Haiti truly has a very politically conscious population which has never gone down easily. After the coup in 2004, thousands of people were killed and thousands more imprisoned and held without charges. Every member of the Lavalas government – from high level ministers to local officials – were removed from office. Others were forced into exile.

Still, there has never been an end to grass roots organizing. Labor unions protested the price of gas and the privatizing of the phone company. There were major demonstrations demanding Aristide’s return. Just recently, there was a very successful electoral boycott because the Haitian government denied Lavalas the right to participate in the election, even though it is the most popular political party in Haiti.

The US is still not comfortable with the popular movement in Haiti. You can see this in the continued banishment of former President Aristide from Haiti. While the Obama Administration has called on former Presidents Clinton and Bush – who was responsible for the 2004 coup – to help coordinate aid, it opposes the return of a former democratically elected president who wants to return as a private citizen to aid in the reconstruction efforts.

Surely, there must be other reasons to justify the militarization of the aid relief?
There is clearly a major geopolitical and economic interest in Haiti, most prominently by the US. There is a long history of US intervention in the area, including a direct US occupation from 1915-1934. This occupation created the Haitian military and led eventually to the Duvalier dictatorships. In 1991, the US overthrew Aristide and then again in 2004. So the US is clearly opposed to the social program of Lavalas and to its example in the Caribbean.

Haiti is also strategically located close to both Cuba and Venezuela. Haiti is rich in minerals, such as marble, uranium, iridium, and oil. Big corporations, such as the Royal Caribbean Lines, are creating a tourist center in the north which could have an enormous value for the tourist industry in the Caribbean area. And Haiti is looked at as a source of cheap labor. There is a long history of garment assembly in Haiti. Cherokee, Wal-Mart, Disney, and Major League Baseball all had relationships with Haiti. If the US plan for Haiti is implemented, the numbers of sweatshops in Port-au-Prince will surely increase.

— Johnny Van Hove, "Haiti: 'Disaster Capitalism on Steroids'"

bcholmes: (haiti)

Latest dispatches from Matthew 25 House:

THE CARPET BAGGERS ARE BUSY
MARCH 8, 2010

While studying about the American Civil War in elementary school I remember learning the term " Carpetbagger ", those people from the North who traveled to the South to make a profit from the devastation left by the war . Carrying their belongings in a satchel made from carpet material, they were given dubious title of "Carpetbaggers"

More... )


bcholmes: (haiti)

Haiti's reconstruction must be shaped by Haitian hands and priorities!

Statement of the Canada Haiti Action Network
February 28, 2010

In the wake of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, genuine solidarity for the people of Haiti has become even more critical. The loss of lives, the hundreds of thousands of sick and injured, the destruction of housing and infrastructure, all of these enormous problems constitute an unprecedented disaster in a country whose population is among the most vulnerable on the planet. This tragedy has provoked a strong reaction of compassion among millions of people around the world, all sharing a desire to help and to offer support for the urgent needs of the Haitian people.

More... )


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