Monday, December 31, 2012

Montreal: Screening of “Haiti: Where Did the Money Go” and “Baseball In the Time of Cholera”

by Canada Haiti Action Network

Cinema Politica Concordia is hosting the screening of two outstanding films, “Haiti: Where Did the Money Go” and “Baseball In the Time of Cholera” on Mon., Jan. 21, 2013 at 7:00 pm in Room H-110, 1455 de Maisonneuve W., Montreal, Canada. The showings will be followed by a panel discussion. The panelists are to be announced.

            In the United States alone, half of all households gave a total of $1.4 billion to charities after the January 2010 earthquake, yet almost two years later more than half a million people still lived in squalid camps. Only a few had access to drinking water. Sanitation was woefully inadequate. Malnutrition and cholera were on the rise. What happened?

Accord to Break Electoral Council Stand-Off between Martelly and Parliament Appears “Stillborn”

by Isabelle L. Papillon (Haiti Liberte)

Poor governance, disregard of Haiti’s laws, a tendency to ride roughshod over other institutions and branches of government, and a lack of a spirit of compromise from the right-wing regime headed by President Joseph Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Salvador Lamothe, with the support of the U.S., France, and Canada, have plunged Haiti for months into a political crisis.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How a World Bank “success” undermines Haitian democracy

by Haiti Grassroots Watch (Haiti Liberte)

A $61 million, eight-year World Bank community development project implemented across half of Haiti has successfully repaired roads, built schools, and distributed livestock. However, the Project for Participatory Community Development (PRODEP) – Projet de développement communautaire participatif  –  has also undermined an already weak state, damaged Haiti’s “social tissue,” carried out what could be called “social and political reengineering,” and raised questions of waste and corruption.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

UN Gives Journalism Prize to Investigation Exposing UN Responsibility for Cholera – And Still Won’t Accept Responsibility

by Dan Beeton and Jake Johnson (CEPR)

Tonight, in a ceremony presided over by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, BBC correspondent Mark Doyle and producer Piers Scholfield will be presented with an award from the U.N. Correspondents Association (UNCA). The award, one of many to be handed out, is described by the UNCA as being for “the best coverage of the United Nations and its agencies.” Certainly by “best” they do not mean the most flattering. The BBC radio documentary that earned Scholfield and Doyle the prize was an investigation into the source of the cholera outbreak in Haiti, which over the past two years has killed over 7,800 and sickened over 625,000. A host of scientific evidence, as well as on the ground reporting, including by Doyle and Scholfield, has pinpointed a U.N. military base as the source of the outbreak.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

UN Responds to Cholera Crisis in Haiti with Repackaged Aid

by Roger Annis (Haiti Liberte)

In a short ceremony in New York on Dec. 11, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced what appeared to be an important nod to international grassroots pressure to fund a universal treatment and prevention program for cholera in Haiti. He said that  $215 million from bilateral and multilateral donors and $23.5 million from the UN’s own coffers were being pledged to a plan by the governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic to limit the spread of cholera and eventually eliminate the disease from the island that the two countries share.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

More Pressure Necessary to Get Desperately Needed Clean Water to Haiti

by Mark Weisbrot (for Al Jazeera English)

More than two years and nearly 7,800 deaths after U.N. troops brought the dread disease of cholera to Haiti, a plan has finally been put forward to do something to get rid of it.  While we are still a long way from implementation, there are important lessons to be learned from this experience.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Kidnapping of Maryse Cinéus

Her Family Says They Now Live in Fear

by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

Four men, including a policeman, kidnapped Maryse Cinéus, 36, from her home in Croix des Bouquets on May 12, 2012, according to her family. The business woman is presumed to be dead.

Uprising in Jérémie

by Isabelle L Papillon (Haiti Liberte)

Violent protests shook the southwestern city of Jérémie for four consecutive days from Nov. 27  to Nov. 30. The town’s angry population blocked the vehicles of the Brazilian construction company Construtora OAS, which was contracted under the administration of René Préval (2006-2010) to build 70 kilometers of road linking Jérémie with the southern city of Aux Cayes. The US$95 million road project, for the leg from Jérémie to Camp Perrin, was financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Canadian government.

SOA Watch: We’re Still there Until the School of Americas Is Closed

by Wadner Pierre (originally published by The Maroon)
For the first time in two years, a group of Loyola students traveled to a US military- sponsored school in 

Fort Benning, Ga. to protest the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests and their two workers.

It has been 23 years since six Jesuit priests and their two workers were murdered at the Creighton University 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Mystery Still Surrounds Young Man’s Death

by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

Shots rang out during a demonstration on Nov. 16 on Rue Oswald Durand near the Economy and Finance Ministry Annex, in front of the State University’s Law School.

            Afterwards, Daniel Stanley Florestal, 19, lay dead. His body is still lying in the state hospital’s morgue.

New Arrest in the Brandt Kidnapping Case

by Thomas Péralte (Haiti Liberte)

Haitian authorities have captured another alleged member of the kidnapping ring headed by Haitian elite businessman Clifford Brandt. Haitian immigration officers arrested Mathurin Kerwens Jacques at the border town of Malpasse on Nov. 20 as he tried to cross into the Dominican Republic. Jacques was taken to the Central Directorate of the Judicial Police (DCPJ) in Port-au-Prince.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

La reconstitution de l’armée ferait repartir Haïti 30 ans en arrière.

Par Jeb Sprague - Le Grand Soir

Le Gouvernement haïtien prépare le retour de l’armée haïtienne, pourtant dissoute, qui a été une institution coupable de nombreux crimes perpétrés dans le pays. Au même moment, des unités spéciales de la police ont été utilisées pour chasser les victimes du tremblement de terre hors des campements de fortune.

Alors que la société civile et les organisations populaires d’Haïti mènent une campagne contre un éventuel retour de l’ère de la répression duvaliériste, les citoyens américains, dominicains, et français devraient être mis au courant de l’appui historique que leur gouvernement a donné aux forces armées militaires et paramilitaires haïtiennes, ainsi qu’aux forces de sécurité.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Who is Really Leading Reconstruction Efforts in Haiti?

By: Haiti Relief & Reconstruction Watch, Center for Economic and Policy Research

After decades of bypassing the Haitian government in the provision of aid, after the 2010 earthquake there was an acknowledgment by international NGOs and donors that this time had to be different. The sentiment was summed up well by Nigel Fisher, the deputy special representative for MINUSTAH in Haiti when he told The Nation: “Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people are here delivering aid, but they are doing functions that should be done by the Haitians…You cannot complain about failures of the Haitian state if you don’t support it to grow stronger. For decades, we have not invested in that very much.”

            And yet, as HRRW and others have documented time and time again, just as in the past, the Haitian government, civil society and businesses were largely bypassed again. Less than one percent (PDF) of humanitarian aid went to the Haitian government or Haitian organizations in the 18 months after the earthquake. Just over one percent of the $450 million or so in USAID contracts have gone to Haitian firms. Furthermore, there have been consistent complaints from government officials that they are not consulted by international partners. Nevertheless, donors continue to tout the “Haitian-led” reconstruction effort. Another quote from Kathie Klarreich and Linda Polman’s recent Nation article makes it clear this is nothing more than rhetoric:

Hurricane Sandy is another blow to Haiti

by Roger Annis (for Haiti Liberte)

Hurricane Sandy struck another heavy blow to Haiti on Oct. 23 and 24, 2012. At least 54 people died, and dozens more are missing. Several tens of thousands of people were flooded out of their homes or earthquake survivor camps.

            There are some 370,000 people stuck in appalling conditions in the camps while hundreds of thousands more have gone back to damaged homes or whatever other inadequate shelter they can find.

Canada’s media reports, and doesn’t report, on Sandy in Haiti

The Montreal daily La Presse assigned Gabrielle Duchaine to report from Haiti in the aftermath of the hurricane. Her reporting was the most substantive to appear in Canada. She wrote two informative articles on the difficult conditions she observed in the south of Haiti where Hurricane Sandy struck hardest, including dealing a severe blow to food production.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Assassinated Cop Led Kidnapping Ring from Pernier Police Station

Police officials never moved against him despite kidnapping victim’s complaint

by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

Heavily armed assailants gunned down Police Division Inspector Yves Michel Bellefleur in a hail of bullets on the morning of Fri., Nov. 9 near the Gérald Bataille circle in Tabarre.

            A police spokesman and some media have presented the killing as a response from criminals to the Oct. 22 arrest of prominent Haitian businessman Clifford Brandt and several others – including policemen and ex-policemen – for kidnapping.

            However, a former police official told Haïti Liberté that Inspector Bellefleur was in fact working with Clifford Brandt’s criminal organization and led a kidnapping ring based in the police station of Pernier, which, not coincidentally, is the same neighborhood that Clifford Brandt’s abductees, Coralie and Nicolas Moscoso, were found and freed (see Haïti Liberté, Oct. 31, 2012).

Thursday, November 15, 2012

MINUSTAH and RNDDH Have a Great Deal for Which They Should Answer

By: Joe Emersberger, Jeb Sprague, and Wadner Pierre - HaitiAnalysis

Dan Beeton, over at CEPR’s very useful Haiti blog, reported that

A new human rights report reaffirms the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti’s (MINUSTAH) responsibility for causing the cholera epidemic that has now killed over 7,600 and infected over 600,000.

There is no doubt that much of the report’s depiction of Haiti’s present human rights situation rings very true. Unfortunately, there is an appalling gap in the recent history that the report provides to explain why Haiti is in its present state. There is no mention in the report of the 2004 coup that ousted Haiti’s democratically elected government. There is no mention of the violent repression under the UN installed Latortue dictatorship that followed the coup -  at least 4000 political murders (overwhelmingly of partisans of the ousted government) according to study published in the Lancet medical journal. Numerous human rights studies (such as those published through the Miami University of School of Law, Harvard, the National Lawyers Guild, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, the Association des Universitaires Motivés pour une Haiti de Droits, the organization Human Rights Accompaniment In Haiti, and (belatedly) Amnesty International) further documented the greatly heightened political violence that took place during the post-coup period.  

It is not difficult to figure out why the report could not deal honestly with the 2004 coup or its consequences. One of the organizations responsible for authoring the report – RNDDH (formerly NCHR-Haiti) – was, quite literally, the official human rights group of the Latortue dictatorship. Immigration attorney Thomas Griffin reported in 2004:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The United Nations must cure Haiti of the cholera epidemic it caused

By: Mark Weisbrot - UK Guardian

Before Hurricane Sandy slammed into the east coast of the United States, it killed 54 people in Haiti and left tens of thousands more homeless. Haiti is especially vulnerable because of its poor infrastructure and environmental destruction, so people die there – as they did during the  earthquake in January 2010 – in greater numbers than they would in other countries subject to the same natural disasters.

But there is one disaster that was brought to Haiti directly by people, not by nature. It was not caused by shifting tectonic plates or extreme weather (or climate change). That disaster is the cholera epidemic that struck Haiti two years ago. Most people I talk to don't even know that United Nations troops brought this deadly disease to Haiti in October of 2010. There hadn't been anycholera in Haiti for at least 100 years, if ever, until some UN troops from South Asia dumped human waste into a tributary of the country's main water supply. Since then, more than 7,600 Haitians have died and over 600,000 have gotten sick.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Reconstituir al ejército hará que Haití revierta a un pasado de 30 años atrás

Por Jeb Sprague - La República

El gobierno Haitiano está haciendo planes para reconstituir al disuelto ejército, una institución responsable de muchos de los peores crímenes cometidos en la historia del país. Al mismo tiempo, el gobierno ha movilizado policías especiales para sacar de sus campamentos a los damnificados por el terremoto de 2010.

Mientras que la sociedad civil y las organizaciones populares en Haití están haciendo campañas en contra de un retorno a la época represiva de la dictadura  duvalierista, los ciudadanos de Estados Unidos y la Repùblica Dominicana debemos ser conscientes de la larga historia de apoyo que han dado nuestros gobiernos a los militares y paramilitares de Haití.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Haiti's hunger games: Disastrous food policy bites hands that feed

by Phillip Wearne, Haiti Briefing

One màmit (5.75lb tin) of rice? 150 Haitian Gourdes (about $3.57), up 50% since July. Corn meal? At 100 Gourdes per màmit, that has doubled in the past year. Beans? Well, they are only 210 Gourdes, a mere 40% increase.

            It is a measure of the scale of the food price crisis that Haitians are now using the word goudougoudou – their imitation of the sound of ground rumbling in the 2010 earthquake – to denote hunger pains. Soaring food prices mean the hungriest country in the Americas is getting hungrier.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

“Border of Lights” Marks Massacre Anniversary

by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

Some 200 people gathered in the border town of Dajabón, in northwestern Dominican Republic, from October 4-6 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the “Parsley Massacre” in 1937, when Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered the slaughter of some 20,000 Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent in an ethnic cleansing along the Dominican-Haitian border. The massacre took place over the course of about five days.

            The three-day event marking the bloodshed was entitled “Borders of Light.”

Arrest of Brandt for kidnapping explodes myths

Police Chief Orélus seeks to remove “bad seeds” on force

by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

On Oct. 22, the Haitian National Police (PNH) arrested Clifford Brandt, the scion of a prominent Haitian bourgeois family, on charges of leading a kidnapping ring which includes other wealthy Haitians as well as policemen and former policemen. The ring allegedly kidnapped Coralie and Nicolas Moscoso, aged 23 and 24 respectively, the children of another bourgeois family, for a ransom of $2.5 million. Brandt led the police to the two bound and blindfolded abductees in a house in the Pernier section of the capital. The Moscoso kids were then freed.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Haiti's excluded majority opposes army's re-creation

By: Jeb Sprague - Jamaica Observer
[The entire version of the shortened article published in the Jamaica Observer is published below.]

FOLLOWING the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010, the country's small right wing has had a political comeback. As with the shocking return of former dictator Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier i
n early-2011 (who remains unaccountable for his crimes), through a controversial and very poorly attended election, musician Michel Martelly, a longtime Duvalierist, was able to woo a small part of the population as an “outsider” candidate.
Since the 2004 coup d’état in Haiti, there has been a clear rollback of the slow but positive reforms that had been undertaken by Haiti's popularly elected governments. Judicial rulings that had held accountable some of the country's most violent criminals were overturned. As we now know through WikiLeaks, 400 paramilitaries were integrated into Haiti's revamped post-coup police force. A UN force has also remained in the country since mid-2004.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

For-Profit Folly in Haiti: Development-Industrial Complex Can't Deliver Reconstruction After Earthquake

by Jake Johnston, Center for Economic and Policy Research

Over the past few decades, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has seen its staff level drop significantly at the same time as the amount of money under its discretion has rapidly increased. Over this time, USAID has stepped up its reliance on for-profit contractors to fill the void. The result, as Hillary Clinton stated in her confirmation hearing (USAID is part of the State Department), is that USAID has “turned into more of a contracting agency than an operational agency with the ability to deliver.”

To be sure, there are efforts are underway to slowly fix this. In the meantime, the status quo reigns, with perhaps nowhere serving as a better example of the pitfalls than Haiti. Since the devastating earthquake in January 2010, USAID has awarded some $450 million in contracts – with 70 percent of them going to DC-area contractors, the so-called “beltway bandits”. The largest USAID contractor in Haiti (and the world, for that matter), Chemonics has received some $177 million of this total. With such a large amount of resources going to one company, you might expect there to be vigilant oversight and strict guidelines. Unfortunately, you would be mistaken.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Demonstration, Delegation, and Community Meeting Demand UN Troops Leave Haiti

by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

Despite cold weather, over 100 people protested in Ralph Bunche Park in front of the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan on Oct. 12 as the Security Council renewed the mandate of UN troops in Haiti for one more year.

            The day before, a 10-person international delegation led by Haitian Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles met with UN officials to argue against renewal of the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti, known by its acronym MINUSTAH (see accompanying article). After the meeting, the delegation reported what was said at the encounter to the Haitian community at the offices of Haiti Liberte newspaper in Brooklyn.

Two years after the outbreak of cholera in Haiti, access to clean water and sanitation is desperately needed

Open Letter to US Officials by various authors (published by Haiti Liberte)

Oct. 22, 2012, Washington, D.C. – On the second anniversary of the outbreak of the cholera epidemic in Haiti, human rights groups, faith-based organizations, policy institutes, and humanitarian organizations renew their call for the United Nations and U.S. government to help Haiti install the clean water and sanitation infrastructure necessary to control the ongoing epidemic.

            The cholera epidemic in Haiti has received less U.S. attention during the presidential campaign season, but it remains a critical problem for this Caribbean neighbor that is not being adequately addressed and is undermining broader aid efforts.  Last month, 260 new cholera cases were reported daily, and 2-3 children died a day.  Since the epidemic broke out in October 2010, 7,564 Haitians have reportedly died from cholera and some 600,000 persons (6% of the Haitian population) have been infected. The number is undoubtedly much higher, as cases in more remote areas are often unreported. As the World Health Organization has stated, those without access to safe drinking water, proper sanitation, and hygiene constitute the majority of cholera cases.

Haiti’s Institutional Crisis Deepens

by Isabelle L. Papillon (Haiti Liberte)

Seventeen months after President Michel Martelly became Haiti’s head of state with Washington’s backing, Haiti is plunged into a downward spiral of institutional and political crisis. This crisis traces its roots to Martelly’s illegal publication of amendments to Haiti’s 1987 Constitution earlier this year and his illegal appointment of judges to Haiti’s Supreme Court.

            Article 289 of the amended 1987 Constitution calls for a Provisional Electoral Council until a Permanent Electoral Council can be formed, as provided for in Article 192.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Has the Mobilization against Martelly Reached a Point of No Return?

by Yves Pierre-Louis (Haiti Liberte)

Workers, peasants, teachers, and the unemployed continued their protests across Haiti this week. Both in the capital, Port-au-Prince, as well as in many provincial towns, Haitians are rising up in growing numbers against President Michel Martelly, while repression claims a growing toll of dead and wounded.

            Large crowds are now calling on President Martelly to step down, accusing his government of embezzlement, waste, corruption, nepotism, drug trafficking, lying, bluffing, and failure to keep its promises.

            Like a spreading wildfire, people took to the streets in Gonaïves, Nippes, Jérémie, Les Cayes, Petit Goâve, Trou-du-Nord, Fort-Liberté, Belladère, and Port-au-Prince, protesting the high cost of living and unemployment while demanding decent salaries, observance of a scheduled minimum wage hike, job creation, as well as electricity, potable water, river clean-up, and the building and repair of infrastructure.

            Port-au-Prince had two major demonstrations. The first, on Tue. Oct. 2, was organized by the Movement for the Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity of Haitians (MOLEGHAF), a grassroots organization based in the capital’s Fort National neighborhood. Hundreds of MOLEGHAF’s activists, supporters, and sympathizers marched through the city before rallying, as they regularly do, outside the offices of the Social Affairs Ministry to demand improvement of the horrific living conditions in most of the capital’s poor neighborhoods.

            The second demonstration, on Fri., Oct. 5, was carried out by unions of workers and teachers to mark World Teachers' Day and the World Day for Decent Work (Oct. 7). Workers and teachers called for compliance with the 2009 law that, as of Oct. 1, sets the minimum daily wage at 300 gourdes ($7.12). They also demanded jobs with decent wages, the payment of salary arrears to teachers, and the hiring of all graduates of the State Teachers College (École Normale Supérieure) and the Training Center for Basic School (CEFEF), among other institutions. The demonstrators asked for a base monthly salary of 50,000 gourdes ($1,186) and other benefits for teachers, the publication of a law setting tuitions and regulating teachers’ status, allocating 34% of the Haitian budget to education, and generally improving working conditions.

            Meanwhile, on Oct. 4 in Petit Goâve, in the locality of Barette, the population demonstrated when President Martelly inaugurated 1 km of road funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Presidential security guards retaliated with tear gas, which killed an octogenarian as well as some animals. The guards also clubbed protesters and burned motorcycles.

            In Belladère, on Oct. 8 demonstrators rallied to demand the restoration of electricity in the area, but a man opened fire on them, wounding four people.

            The same day, in Fort Liberté, people demonstrated to demand a shipping port for their coastal town. But the city’s hard-line mayor quickly deployed the police who dispersed the crowd with tear-gas and shots in the air. In the ensuing melee, a bystander was killed, shot in the back.

            More large protests are planned for Port-au-Prince on Oct. 14 and for Cap-Haïtien on Oct. 17. Other actions are planned for provincial towns.

            Despite eight years of military occupation by foreign forces, the imperialists seem unable to prevent the breakdown of the right-wing neo-Duvalierist regime they installed through an illegal election in March 2011. It is collapsing under the weight of its own hedonism, arrogance, and corruption.

The Oct. 5 march of teachers and other workers in Port-au-Prince. “Workers should have good conditions” said the sign, in Kreyòl, of one protestor.

Photo by Haïti Liberté

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Belen Fernandez Reviews the New Book: Paramilitarism and the assault on democracy in Haiti - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

By: Belen Fernandez - Al Jazeera 

In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, certain media outlets painted a picture of a country overrun by looters and at the mercy of gang members and other criminals, including thousands of prisoners jolted free by the quake.

Relevant details were ignored, such as the contention by prominent Haitian human rights attorney Mario Joseph that 80 per cent of said prisoners had never been charged. The media effort perhaps aided in rendering less incongruous in the eyes of the international public the deployment of a sizeable US military force to deal with quake-affected people who did not seemingly require military attention.

A Reuters dispatch from one week after the disaster - which reported "marauding looters", "scavengers and looters swarm[ing] over damaged stores", "increasingly lawless streets" and "[h]eavily armed gang members" - offered the following plea from policeman Dorsainvil Robenson:

"Haiti needs help ... the Americans are welcome here. But where are they? We need them here on the street with us."

The whereabouts of the ever-elusive Americans are of course hinted at two paragraphs later, when we learn that "the White House said more than 11,000 US military personnel are on the ground, on ships offshore or en route". Elsewhere, French Co-operation Minister Alain Joyandet was quoted as commenting in reference to seemingly skewed US priorities: "This is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti". As foreign military monopolised the Port-au-Prince airport, teams of paramedics and first responders were delayed in the critical hours immediately following the earthquake.

Subscribers to the fantasy that the US is somehow qualified to counteract violence and install order in the Caribbean nation would do well to peruse a new book entitled Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti, in which author Jeb Sprague masterfully documents - among other topics - the detrimental role of US and fellow international actors in Haitian history.

Offering new evidence obtained through interviews and a massive amount of formerly classified US government documents, the book clarifies how Haiti's post-quake reconstruction rests on a foundation of total impunity achieved by the country's most brutal paramilitaries and their financiers.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Martelly Protested at Brooklyn College

By Kim Ives - Haiti Liberte

Haitians in New York joined their brothers and sisters marching in anti-government demonstrations across Haiti when President Michel Martelly headlined a rally at the Brooklyn College auditorium on Sep. 26 after speaking earlier in the day at the United Nations General Assembly.

Hundreds of Haitians marched a half mile down Nostrand Avenue through the rain from Radio Panou to Brooklyn College. There they jammed onto the sidewalk across from an entrance to Brooklyn College, where Martelly’s supporters waited on line for hours to get into the event.

“Down with Martelly,” the protestors chanted. “Down with corruption! Down with illegality!”

The demonstrators denounced a tax that Martelly has levied on money transfers and phone calls to Haiti. The tax is illegal because it has not been ratified by, or even presented to, Haiti’s Parliament.

“It’s been a while since Haitians have turned out in the streets like this. I’m very satisfied with the response of the community which has poured out to denounce Martelly as a thief,” said Marlène Jean-Noel, a longtime leader of the Fanmi Lavalas in New York. “One month after he came to power, Martelly put a $1.50 tax on every money transfer Haitians send back to their families in Haiti. He also put a 5 cents per minute tax on phone calls. You can’t call Haiti anymore. When you do, your calling card finishes almost immediately. And what does he do with the money? He gives it to his wife and his son to do baloney projects. Meanwhile, the Haitian masses are dying of hunger.”

The Mobilization Against Martelly Grows

By Isabelle Papillon - Haiti Liberte

For the second consecutive week, thousands of people of all ages and walks of life took to the streets of Cap Haïtien, Haiti’s second largest city, on Sep. 21 to protest against President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.

They denounced high-level corruption, the high cost of living, Martelly’s “hijacking” of the electoral council, and government attempts to evict peasants from plots of land on which they have lived and farmed for almost two centuries.

After rallying at the Samarie roundabout in the morning, thousands of people from Cité Lescot, La Fossette and other Cap-Haïtien neighborhoods marched through the city, rallying in front of the central government’s offices, known as the Delegation of the North, and at the Courthouse. In front of the Delegation’s offices, pro-Martelly partisans hiding inside the government building threw rocks at the protesters. The demonstrators threw rocks back at them. The Haitian National Police (PNH) and UN occupying troops (MINUSTAH) fired tear-gas canisters to disperse the protesters, with only partial success.

When they met the marchers, some people were seen to theatrically take off their pink bracelets, meant to signify allegiance with the government, and throw them on the ground.

"Martelly, Martelly, pèp Nò a pap jwe," the demonstrators shouted. (The people of the North do not 
play around.) "We do not want imported rice, we want to work," they chanted.  "We want to live in peace in our country."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Anti-Martelly Uprisings Sweep Haiti

By: Yves Pierre-Louis & Kim Ives - Haiti Liberte

Demonstrations erupted across Haiti this past week as deep-seated anger against the government of President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe is now surging into the streets on a daily basis. Marches, picket lines, a mock tribunal, and a general strike were among the different actions which took place in six out of Haiti’s 10 geographic departments, a new high-water mark for anti-government protests.

            Peasants, small merchants, store owners, slum dwellers, teachers, unions, laid off state enterprise employees, and the unemployed were among the different sectors protesting against government indifference, corruption, insecurity, the high cost of living, environmental degradation, and, above all, Martelly’s broken promises.

            On Sep. 12, in the northern city of Cap-Haïtien, thousands took to the streets, called out by 20 popular organizations and outspoken opposition Senator Moïse Jean-Charles. The demonstrators marched through the city, stopping in front of different government offices along the way. They accused Martelly of implementing a policy of "mètdam, pike devan" (bluff and headlong programs) based on lies, concocting illegal taxes and shell-game programs to benefit his friends and family, the Haitian oligarchy, and imperialist powers. Marchers accused the president of being in cahoots with several big landowners, called "grandon" in Haiti. Particularly around the northern town of Milot, where Sen. Jean-Charles hails from and was once mayor, the government and "grandon" are trying to evict peasants from land they have occupied for decades.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Reviving Haiti’s army would harm democracy

By: Jeb Sprague - Miami Herlad Op-ed 

Sep 12, 2012

Haiti’s government is making plans to revive the country’s disbanded army, an institution guilty of many of the worst crimes ever perpetrated in the country. At the same time, special police units have been used to drive earthquake victims out of camps.

While civil society and grassroots organizations in Haiti are campaigning against a return to the era of Duvalierist repression, people in the United States should be made aware of our government’s long history with that country’s military and security forces.

It started with the formation of Haiti’s modern military under the U.S. occupation between 1915-1934. The U.S. left only after ensuring the military could be relied on to continue the occupation by proxy. In the early 1960s, U.S. Marines trained the Tonton Macoutes, the dreaded paramilitary force of then dictator Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier.

When Duvalier’s son, Jean-Claude, took over in 1971, former U.S. marine instructors trained and equipped a brutal army corps called the Leopards. The instructors worked for a Miami company under CIA contract and U.S. State Department oversight.

The country’s worst human-rights abusers were driven underground with the inauguration of Haiti’s first democratically elected government in February 1991.

Only seven months later, however, military forces in the country ousted the country’s elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. A new paramilitary organization, the FRAPH, launched a wave of terror.

After years of grassroots pressure on the United States and the United Nations to act, Haiti’s democracy was restored in 1994. The country’s army (entwined with the paramilitaries) was disbanded and judicial processes began. Yet U.S. diplomats pressured for the inclusion of some former Haitian military into important positions in the country’s new police force. As Human Rights Watch pointed out in a report at the time, the United States used sectors of Haiti’s revamped security forces against the country’s left-leaning grassroots movement.

By 2000, a group of former soldiers known as the “Ecuadorians” (a group of cadets who had received training in Quito, Ecuador, benefiting from close relations with the United States) demonstrated how U.S. influence on Haiti’s security forces, far from reforming them, had had the opposite effect. In late 2000, this group launched a paramilitary war of attrition on Haiti.

Over time, others joined in support, including some of Haiti’s wealthiest textile factory owners, neo-Duvalierists, a handful of disloyal Haitian government officials, a clique within the Dominican foreign ministry and army, and very likely some kind of support from U.S. and French intelligence agencies — as recently revealed through Freedom Of Information Act documents and interviews with participants.

Using the Dominican Republic as a base, paramilitaries were able to ramp up their murderous operations and, by 2004, played a key role in the coup that ousted Aristide’s second government.

Shortly afterwards, 400 members of the paramilitary force were inserted into a revamped police under close U.S., U.N. and OAS supervision. We now know this also from U.S. Embassy cables revealed through WikiLeaks.

In these cables there is some unease expressed by the U.S. Embassy about the paramilitaries — but never was the basic policy questioned: that men who had perpetrated grave abuses and helped overthrow an elected government could be made into police officers rather than be held accountable for their crimes.

Following the 2010 earthquake and the controversial 2011 election of President Michel Martelly, a campaign has been launched to recreate the country’s army. France has offered to help finance it, while Brazil and Ecuador have offered to help with training.

Congress needs to increase its financial oversight of aid to Haiti making sure that the money appropriated for foreign relations goes to building, not undermining democracy, and justice, not impunity for Duvalierist criminals and their allies. It’s high time that U.S. citizens hold their own officials accountable for their actions in Haiti.

Jeb Sprague is the author of the new book, “Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti.” He is scheduled to speak at Books and Books in Miami on Sept. 27.

Haitian activist tours U.S. demanding housing rights for the country’s 400,000 displaced

By Alexis Erkert - Haiti Liberte

(September 11, 2012) Housing activist Reyneld Sanon is beginning a tour to key cities in the United States. The tour will raise awareness about Under Tents, the international campaign for housing rights in Haiti.  The campaign is a joint initiative of Haitian grassroots groups and more than 30 international organizations that are demanding a solution for Haiti’s homeless.

            The January 2010 earthquake killed an estimated 300,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless.  In its wake, survivors spontaneously created more than a thousand temporary encampments throughout Port-au-Prince.  There has been no long-term planning for a solution to the country’s housing crisis, and the Government of Haiti has no comprehensive plan to relocate the majority of people into safe, permanent homes.  Indeed, fewer than 6,000 houses have been constructed since the earthquake. Nearly 400,000 Haitians are still living in displacement camps, where they face high rates of gender-based and other violence, forced evictions, lack of clean water and toilets, and cholera.

            “People simply want a space where they can live like human beings,” said Sanon. 

The National Palace, a Den of Corruption

By Yves Pierre-Louis - Haiti Liberte

A string of corruption scandals are erupting at Haiti’s Presidential Palace, directly involving President Martelly and his wife Sophia Saint-Rémy Martelly, and his son, Olivier Martelly. The president is evidently trying to legalize a culture of bribery that takes several forms: nepotism, embezzlement, bribery and offers of all kinds, either involving his family or to get favors from established authorities in return for performing criminal acts.

Following a legal suit filed by lawyer Newton Saint-Juste against wife Sophia Martelly and son Olivier Martelly, two presidential decrees were published in Le Moniteur, the official government journal.

The first, dated Jan. 24, 2012, Supplement No. 10, established the National Commission for the Fight against Hunger and Malnutrition (COLFAM) and the program "Aba grangou" (Down with Hunger!). Both projects are directed by Sophia Saint-Rémy Martelly, are valued at hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars, and are included in a resolution adopted by the Council of Ministers. The second decree dated Jun. 15, 2012, in Le Moniteur No. 94, creating the Commission to Support the Coordination of Infrastructures for Sports and the Accompaniment of Haitian Youth (CACISAJH) run by his son Olivier Martelly. In both cases, these are projects with which the Social Affairs Ministry and the Youth and Sports Ministry respectively should deal.

A legal brief filed by lawyer Newton Saint-Juste seeks an injunction to immediately stop President Martelly’s decrees because they are "contrary to the Constitution, laws and general principles of law, and constitute attempts to undermine the stability of republican institutions and a duplication which serves as an excuse to squander the scarce funds in the public treasury belonging to all Haitians," he wrote. The summons was served on President Martelly. Saint-Juste also denounced the nepotism of these acts.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Lack of Press Freedom Shields “Reporters Without Borders” From Exposure

By Joe Emersberger - HaitiAnalysis

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the press freedom watchdog, is a fraud. You can find people who say this in small non-corporate outlets, and who provide slam dunk evidence for that harsh assessment.

However, the corporate media in English speaking countries has been routinely citing RSF’s Press Freedom Index as if it were irrefutable evidence that the Correa government in Ecuador  (and even more so the Chavez government in Venezuela) has been “cracking down” on press freedom.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

On the Transformed Existence of Dead Haitian Artists

By André Juste - Haiti Liberte

It’s late night. Trying to make some sense of the death of three artists-compatriots, I plop down on my studio’s sofa and pour myself a finger or two from a bottle of Barbancourt.  Rum, I’ve suspected for some time, doesn’t quite agree with me, but a friend had left a half-empty bottle on my tap-tap-colored bar. I pour from my glass a trickle onto the floor, a self-consciously learned gesture I’ve tried out a few times before.

           Frank Robuste has died. His early work, especially a forceful depiction of a rara dancer, had caught my eyes over 30 years ago. I would encounter him in progressive circles a few times since I first saw his fiery painting and even attended an informal display of his art at a mutual friend’s apartment. We would remain mostly cordial to each other. His paintings had devolved into this voguish, stylized cubism that harks back (by way of Bernard Wah’s curvilinear approach and Wilson Bigaud’s more sober “Conflict and Tension”) to modernist Cuban shows in mid-forties Haiti. More recently, he would regale me with some scintillating tidbits and quite bold observations about various personalities on the Haitian art scene, including his own brother Valcin II, who died before him. (Robuste discounted the supposed risks that his more well-known brother took for his political themes during the repressive days of Duvalierism. He had, allegedly, some tacit  tonton macoute  support — although, in truth, the razzle-dazzle of  his  cubist style might well have been protection enough.)

Tropical Storm Isaac: Victims Fault Government for Not Enough “Concrete Action”

By Yves Pierre-Louis - Haiti Liberte

After the passage of Tropical Storm Isaac through Haiti from Fri., Aug. 24 to Sat., Aug. 25, 2012, Haitian authorities gave a preliminary damage report at a press conference on Mon., Aug. 27.

            According to the authorities of the Civil Protection Office (OPC), the two departments most affected by the storm were the West and the South East, where the balance sheet amounted to 19 dead, more than 300 houses destroyed, 15,812 displaced, and hundreds of houses damaged. Agriculture, roads, and electricity networks were also hit hard. (Reports on Aug. 28 said the death toll had risen to 24.)

            Isaac also plunged Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, into a total blackout, with all 32 power grids knocked out. Dukens Raphael, the Deputy Director General of the state power company Electricity of Haiti (EDH), announced that workmen were working hard to repair the damaged electrical network, with 11 grids already back up by Tuesday.

            In terms of prevention, the central government sent each of nine departmental delegations two million gourdes (US$47,500), while the delegation of the West department received five million gourdes (US$118,900), according to Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. Nonetheless, there were many cries of help from various parts of the country after the storm.

            Appeals for assistance came from La Saline, downtown Port-au-Prince, Kenscoff, Tabarre, Canapé Vert, and other places. In the giant slum of Cité Soleil, the polluted grey river running though it overflowed and flooded many houses, while the roofs of many others were blown away Friday night. The population of Cité Soleil is desperate.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Haiti: Un livre expose le rôle violent des paramilitaires

par Judith Scherr

OAKLAND, Californie , 22 août (IPS) - L'armée brutale d'Haïti a été dissoute en 1995, mais les paramilitaires armés et en uniforme, sans aucune affiliation avec le gouvernement, occupent aujourd'hui les anciennes bases militaires.

Le président Michel Martelly, qui a promis de rétablir l'armée, n'a pas appelé la police ou les casques bleus pour déloger ces soldats ad hoc. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Crisis Group report on MINUSTAH is a whitewash, not remedy, for Haiti’s ills

by Roger Annis and Kevin Edmonds (Haiti Liberte)

The think-tank International Crisis Group (ICG) issued a 28-page report on the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH) on Aug. 2, 2012. Entitled “Towards a Post-MINUSTAH Haiti: Making An Effective Transition,” the report’s central recommendation is that the military occupation regime should remain in Haiti for at least another five years.
            This is the sixth report the ICG has produced on Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake. The organization has shown a capacity for frank and unbiased opinion. Its study on shelter and housing issued in June 2011, for example, criticized the Haitian government and its international sponsors for utterly failing to meet the desperate housing needs of Haitians.
            In this latest report, however, the group accepts without question the presence of MINUSTAH and its claim to have the best interests of Haitians at heart. The report amounts to a political whitewash that misrepresents the political circumstances that brought the mission to Haiti in 2004 and has kept it there ever since.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Exposes Violent Role of Paramilitaries in Haiti

 OAKLAND, California, Aug 16 2012 (IPS) - Haiti’s brutal army was disbanded in 1995, yet armed and uniformed paramilitaries, with no government affiliation, occupy former army bases today.
President Michel Martelly, who has promised to restore the army, has not called on police or U.N. troops to dislodge these ad-hoc soldiers.
Given the army’s history of violent opposition to democracy, Martelly’s plan to renew the army “can only lead to more suffering”, says Jeb Sprague in his forthcoming book “Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti”, to be released mid August by Monthly Review Press.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lamothe Ousts Mayard-Paul! What is the struggle behind the scene?

by Thomas Péralte (Haiti Liberte)

As was customary during the Duvalier years, fierce power struggles between the strong-men (and women) in the Martelly regime have begun.
            In a cabinet shuffle announced on August 6, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe has eliminated his rival Thierry Mayard-Paul as Interior Minister.
            Mayard-Paul represented the more "makout" wing of the neo-Duvalierist regime, as opposed the more "bourgeois" sector, whose leader is Lamothe. [“Makout” is a reference to the Tontons Macoutes, the armed force which defended Duvalierist power.]
            The fight recalls the endless conflicts between "dinosaurs" and "technocrats" throughout the 15-year regime of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier (1971-1986).

A Record of Police Crime Cover-Ups: After Seven Years, Will Mario Andrésol Stay On as Haiti’s Police Chief?

by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

FLASH: Just hours after this article was published on the morning of Aug. 15, the National Palace announced that Godson Orélus would replace Mario Andrésol as Haiti's Police Chief. To understand why, read on.
Mario Andrésol is one of Haiti’s most powerful men. He heads Haiti’s only official armed force, the 11,000-member Haitian National Police (PNH). The force is officially an autonomous civilian body; its chief, called the Director General, is nominated by the president, then ratified by the Parliament.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

UN Should Get Rid of Cholera Epidemic That It Brought to Haiti

Mark Weisbrot  (CEPR)

Haitians have had a long and arduous struggle just to achieve the rights that most people in the rest of the hemisphere have enjoyed. From the revolution of Haitian slaves that won independence from the French in 1804, through the U.S. occupation (1915-1934), the Duvalier family dictatorship (1957-1986), and the last 20 years of devastating foreign intervention, the “international community” just hasn’t seen Haitians as having the same basic human rights as people in other countries. 
They still don’t, perhaps because Haitians are too poor and black.  While the horrific earthquake of January 2010 brought international sympathy and aid – much more pledged than delivered – it didn’t bring a change of attitude toward Haiti.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Churches, NGOs, US Congresspersons Demand Action For Clean Water and Cholera Accountability

by Roger Annis (Haiti Liberte)

A broad coalition of religious, human rights, and non-governmental organizations has come together in the United States to demand that the United Nations political/military mission in Haiti, and the governments supporting it, take responsibility for the disastrous cholera epidemic brought to Haiti in October 2010.

The group’s concerns are backed by an open letter signed by 104 members of the U.S. Congress. The letter, dated Jul. 18, 2012, is addressed to Susan Rice, the U.S. representative to the UN Security Council. It demands that the UN take the lead in addressing its culpability for the epidemic by facilitating the construction of clean water facilities.

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