Haiti News and Views

0

HAITI: Haiti will miss election deadline, no date for new president

15 Apr 2016      By: Joseph Guyler Delva     Reuters

PORT-AU-PRINCE, April 14 (Reuters) – Haiti will not meet a deadline to complete its presidential election by April 24, the top election official said on Thursday, without giving a new date to hold the already delayed vote in the impoverished Caribbean country.

The election was postponed in January after sometimes violent protests over allegations of fraud in the first round. An interim government has been running the country since the last president’s term ended in February.

“It is clear that the elections won’t take place on April 24, but we are still assessing the election machinery as we make decisions about the way forward,” the head of a newly appointed electoral council, Leopold Berlanger, told Reuters.

He said the delay, which comes after political battles over the formation of the interim government, meant that temporary President Jocelerme Privert would not hand over to an elected successor by May 14, as agreed in a cross-party deal to overcome the crisis.

“It is also clear that the fact that the elections won’t take place this month means it is impossible to have a new elected president by May 14,” Berlanger said.

The results of the first round in October put Jovenel Moise in first place and Jude Celestin in second for a runoff, but Celestin and several more of the 52 losing candidates rejected the outcome.

Before completing the process, the election council is overseeing a second evaluation of the results to test the claims of fraud and decide which candidates should take part.

Supporters of former president Michel Martelly and his favoured candidate, Moise, have protested in recent days, claiming Privert is dragging his feet so his allies can cling on to power. The protesters demand the election be held as soon as possible. (Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)

0

HAITI: Hillary Clinton and Haiti

 18 April 2016  Ricardo Seitenfus   TRANSCENDMS

hillary clinton

11 Apr 2016 – The Clintons’ high-profile interest in Haiti dates back almost all the way to their wedding in 1975. Shortly after their honeymoon in Acapulco, Bill and Hillary Clinton received an invitation from David Edwards — a friend and Citibank executive — to accompany him to Haiti.

Edwards’s motivation in getting the Clintons closer to Haiti was neither cultural nor humanitarian. The reason was Citibank’s long-standing financial interests in the country, which now go back over a century.

In 1909, the National City Bank of New York — Citibank — acquired a majority stake in the National Bank of Haiti,  an institution that had been under French control and which, since 1880, held the power to issue paper money and to serve as central bank for the Haitian treasury. In 1914, Roger Leslie Farnham — in charge of the Caribbean region at Citibank — pressed Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan for Washington to militarily intervene in Haiti in order to protect U.S. interests. One year later, 19 years of occupation would begin for the country.

It was only the beginning of U.S. meddling in the affairs of its poorer neighbor.

***

In April 2009, the State Department, under the leadership of Hillary Clinton, decided to completely change the nature of U.S. cooperation with Haiti.

Apparently tired with the lack of concrete results of U.S. aid, Hillary decided to align the policies of the State Department with the “smart power” doctrine proposed by the Clinton Foundation. From that moment on, following trends in philanthropy, the solutions of US assistance would be based solely on “evidence.” The idea, according to Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, “was that if we’re putting in the assistance, we need to know what the outcomes are going to be.”

The January 2010 earthquake was the long awaited opportunity to test this new policy.

Mills was no development expert, but her connection to the Clintons ran deep. A graduate of Stanford Law School, Mills had been the unofficial manager of Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign and Bill’s defense lawyer during his impeachment. Despite having no training or experience in development economics, Rolling Stone reported a few years back, Mills “was determined to figure out a new way of doing things that would be more effective, both for the U.S. and for Haiti.”

The idea was to transform Haiti into a Taiwan of the Caribbean, with maquiladoras, an apparel industry, tourism, and call centers. These would be the niche sectors that would guide the new cooperation framework.

In this plan, the particularities of Haiti itself didn’t matter much.

Yet more than hope, there was certainty that the country would eventually conform to the plans being imposed by the Harvard Business School technocrats. Haiti was to fit within the parameters of capitalist efficiency: “Is this going to be hard? Yes,” Hillary Clinton tearfully told The Miami Herald. “Do I think we can do it? Absolutely, I do.”

The volunteering amateurism of the Clintons was so far gone that Bill publicly declared in a speech in Port-au-Prince that he would make Haiti the first fully Wi-Fi-connected country on the planet.

For the desired policy changes to work within a diplomatic framework, the veneer of “democracy” needed to be maintained. Ergo, Clinton and Mills played a heavy role in Haiti’s contested 2010 elections.

BOID–the new Tonton Macoute

BOID–the new Tonton Macoute

I was present at a December 2010 meeting where the so-called “Core Group” of (initially the U.S., Canada, and France, but Brazil got a spot because of its role in the UN mission) plotted a coup against Haitian President René Préval, until then-Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive unexpectedly showed up. I intervened, citing the 2001 Inter-American Democratic Charter.

Legality and common sense had prevailed. But until when? My hopes were still alive and I did not notice that a common international front had formed; one that would decide Haiti’s electoral path.

After this failed attempt, the Core Group quickly came to realize the absurdity of attempting to depose Préval. Rewriting history, in the following days, several ambassadors, when asked about the topic, would shamelessly lie, denying its existence.

Finally, on Sunday, January 30, 2011, the unavoidable foreign actor in the recurring Haitian political crisis decided to put an end to the dispute. Hillary Clinton had arrived in Port-au-Prince.

The secretary of state had taken care to invite her colleagues, the foreign ministers from the other member-states of the Core Group, to accompany her in a delicate mission to Port-au-Prince. They all declined the gesture, alleging it would be impossible for them to fit the event in their agendas. However, this was not the reason for their refusal. Since the Haitian crisis had been detonated by the United States, even on the night of the election, it was Washington’s responsibility to resolve it.

After talking to several public figures, both Haitian and foreign, the head of the State Department knew that the last meeting before returning to Washington would be decisive. Préval awaited her in his simple office next to the ruins of the National Palace.

Former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide campaigns alongside Dr. Maryse Narcisse. (Daniel Morel)

Former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide campaigns alongside Dr. Maryse Narcisse. (Daniel Morel)

Bellerive and Cheryl Mills were also present during the meeting in question – images of which are presented in Raoul Peck’s documentary Fatal Assistance.

Hillary Clinton began the meeting saying she was not interested in who would, or would not go on to the second round. What brought her to Haiti and to Préval was to try to offer him her advice and hear the allegations of his old friend of many battles. What mattered to her was to see that Préval emerged exalted from the crisis. Nothing else. She claimed she had made no commitments to the other actors involved in the crisis or even with the three presidential candidates, only to Préval and his future. He had been a constant and loyal ally. Now he was in a delicate situation, for they were accusing him of acting as a petty dictator, imposing an unknown candidate who had no representation and was manipulable.

For the woman in charge of US diplomacy, it must have been during those moments of uncertainty and difficulties that true friends were found. It was for this reason that Hillary was there, as a friend of Préval and of Haiti, as she always had been.

Towards the end of the meeting, she asked Préval to make a last gesture in favor of harmony and understanding. It was to be a gesture that would lead him, once and for all, to a special place in the pantheon of Haiti’s history and the struggle for democracy in the continent. Préval replied with an emotive, albeit enigmatic smile. It was only him who knew that the crisis had reached its epilogue at that moment.

As she was leaving the house, Hillary invited Bellerive to accompany her. The prime minister asked Préval for authorization to do so and placed himself between the two women inside the armored truck that left in a convoy to the airport. Confident that she had obtained what she wanted, Hillary was concerned now with the result of the second round. Bellerive removed all traces of apprehension when he informed her that Michel Martelly was going to win easily. And so he did.

As she was heading toward the plane, Hillary made a comment to Bellerive about his family relationship with Martelly. He confirmed that they were distant cousins. Since they were both educated individuals and the game was already over, the secretary of state allowed herself to make a joke and asked: “You are relatives, but you don’t sing?” Bellerive replied, humorously: “Neither does he.”

Hillary confessed having heard Martelly sing some songs and could not agree more with Bellerive. Then, smiling, she left Haiti.

 

0

HAITI: 7 Articles To Read Uncovering Hillary Clinton’s Haiti Record

 

7459653478_a66f947bd6_z

Missing from the discussion of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s record has been her work in Haiti, where she blatantly manipulated and threatened Haitian government officials to control electoral outcomes. In that country, too, she and her husband have led the way in promoting a sweatshop-led development model.

Other Worlds has compiled a list of articles that take a closer look into Clinton’s work in Haiti and what her Presidency could portend for other nations. Take a closer look:

Clinton Emails Reveal “Behind the Doors Actions” of Private Sector and US Embassy in Haiti Elections

Recently released e-mails from Hillary Clinton’s private server reveal new details of how U.S. officials worked closely with the Haitian private sector as they forced Haitian authorities to change the results of the first round presidential elections in late 2010. The e-mails documenting these “behind the doors actions” were made public as part of an ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.

READ MORE

What Are We Missing About Haiti in the Hillary Emails?

The Fourth Estate is in foreclosure. The “who, what, where, when, and why” of traditional coverage is missing. A thorough analysis of what is redacted or completely missing in the Clinton emails is not forthcoming, and the real scandal resides in politically motivated reporting. It is time that the press wipe themselves clean of political bias and stop shouting about the paper tiger of wiped servers. To steal a quote from Hillary at the initial Benghazi hearing, “What difference does it make?”

READ MORE

A Look at Hillary (and Bill) Clinton’s Past in Haiti

Hillary Clinton might have some explaining to do before she can claim the top spot in the Democratic primary. Any pro-Hillary voters who prioritize moral plans for American foreign policy should probably look into the candidate’s past in Haiti.

READ MORE

The King and Queen of Haiti

Sunday, January 30, 2011. Two hundred thousand people occupied Egypt’s Tahrir Square, defying a military curfew to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. Tunisia’s authoritarian leader had just been overthrown, unleashing a wave of anti-government protests from Yemen to Syria to Morocco. South Sudan’s provisional president announced his people had voted overwhelmingly for independence, clearing the way for the breakup of Africa’s largest country. Yet as Hillary Clinton rushed to Andrews Air Force Base to catch her battered government-issue 727, the secretary of state was not headed to Cairo, Tunis or Juba. She was going to Haiti
READ MORE

Role of Hillary Clinton’s brother in Haiti gold mine raises eyebrows

Drive down the rutted dirt road a couple of miles to the guardhouse, then hike 15 minutes up to the overgrown hilltop, and there it is: a piece of 3 1/2 -inch-wide PVC pipe sticking out of the ground.

This is what, at least for the time being, a gold mine looks like.

It also has become a potentially problematic issue for Hillary Rodham Clinton as she considers a second presidential run, after it was revealed this month that in 2013, one of her brothers was added to the advisory board of the company that owns the mine.

READ MORE

Outsourcing Haiti

Across the country from Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, miles of decrepit pot-holed streets give way to a smooth roadway leading up to the gates of the Caracol Industrial Park, but no further. The fishing hamlet of Caracol, from which the park gets its name, lies around the bend down a bumpy dirt road. Four years after the earthquake that destroyed the country on January 12, 2010, the Caracol Industrial Park is the flagship reconstruction project of the international community in Haiti. Signs adorn nearby roads, mostly in English, declaring the region “Open for Business.” In a dusty field, hundreds of empty, brightly colored houses are under construction in neat rows. If all goes as hoped for by the enthusiastic backers of the industrial park, this area could be home to as many as 300,000 additional residents over the next decade.

READ MORE

WikiLeaks Haiti: Let Them Live on $3 a Day

Contractors for Fruit of the Loom, Hanes and Levi’s worked in close concert with the US Embassy when they aggressively moved to block a minimum wage increase for Haitian assembly zone workers, the lowest-paid in the hemisphere, according to secret State Department cables.

The factory owners told the Haitian Parliament that they were willing to give workers a 9-cents-per-hour pay increase to 31 cents per hour to make T-shirts, bras and underwear for US clothing giants like Dockers and Nautica.

But the factory owners refused to pay 62 cents per hour, or $5 per day, as a measure unanimously passed by the Haitian Parliament in June 2009 would have mandated. And they had the vigorous backing of the US Agency for International Development and the US Embassy when they took that stand.

READ MORE

0

Assoc Press highlights Haitian artists group covered in trainee’s film

The Atis Rezistans (Artists’ Resistance) is highlighted in the following Associated Press article.  CSFilm’s trainee Robenson Sanon produced Out of the Rubble on an artist in this group.  The film is part of the collection,  Owning Our Future-Haitian Perspectives in Film.

Haiti Artists Forge Int’l Reputation With Art Made of Junk

By DAVID MCFADDEN, ASSOCIATED PRESS, PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Apr 11, 2016

Amid a maze of car repair shops in Haiti’s gritty capital, Andre Eugene pitches a shredded tire he found atop a towering sculpture he built out of rusty engine parts, bed springs and other cast-off junk.

“This is what I do: I work with the garbage of the world,” says Eugene, assessing the largest sculpture displayed at the entrance of his studio and open-air museum off a crumbling street cutting through some of Port-au-Prince’s poorest neighborhoods.

The Haitian sculptor is a founding member of Atis Rezistans, a shifting collective of artists who recycle whatever useful scraps they can find to give a raw, physical shape to the spiritual world of Voodoo, or Vodou as the religion is known by Haitians, and weigh in on the country’s chronic political and economic troubles.

While Haiti’s established galleries were slow to warm to the scrap sculptors of the capital’s impoverished Grand Rue neighborhood, bustling with furniture-makers and other craftsmen, the artisans working with recycled materials have been embraced by a number of international art connoisseurs and academics.

Haiti Scrap Sculpture

Over the last decade, the work of Atis Rezistans has been exhibited in cities such as Paris, London, and Los Angeles. There are sculptures included in the permanent collections of museums, including the Frost Art Museum in Miami.

Haitian art has long had a reputation for imaginative richness, and wealthy international collectors including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and filmmaker Jonathan Demme sought out self-taught painters colorfully evoking the everyday lives of Haitians or depicting dreamlike scenes. And even though found-object creations have been part of the poor country’s art for decades, experts say there has been nothing like the in-your-face works of Atis Rezistans.

“Atis Rezistans takes an old practice in new directions, expanding the range of materials used and offering stunning new meanings for objects found in everyday life,” said Marcus Rediker, a collector of Haitian art and a distinguished professor of Atlantic history at the University of Pittsburgh.

The materials that form the sharp-edged sculptures include automotive fragments, carved wood pieces, broken TVs, discarded toys and even real human skulls collected at a cemetery of mausoleums where bones were scattered by grave robbers.

Many of their artworks are a nod to Baron Samedi, the Vodou god of the dead, and his rambunctious offspring, Gede. Others offer a kaleidoscope of jarring images out of a Mad Max movie: sculptures of faces with spikes; masked figures resembling shrouded corpses; broken baby dolls fused with computer motherboards.

But it’s not all darkness. There’s plenty of evidence of playfulness and irreverent theatricality, such as a skull-topped figure with a stethoscope, snake sculptures with scales of inlaid bottle caps and much frank sexual imagery.

Perhaps their most acclaimed collaborative creation has been a mashup of high art-meets-developing world called the “Ghetto Biennale.” Every two years, international artists come to the Grand Rue neighborhood in a kind of cross-cultural festival that leaves the door open for just about anything.

The Ghetto Biennale takes a form developed for European art fairs and radically subverts it, according to Anthony Bogues, a Brown University professor who co-curated a 2011 exhibition of Haitian art at the Providence, Rhode Island school.

“Art for them is not about the elite but rather recognizing that art is a language in which Haitispeaks to itself and the world,” Bogues said of Atis Rezistans.

Collaborations with overseas artists who come to Haiti have given younger members of the collective chances to tap into art networks across the globe, while international artists are stimulated by the Haitian group’s creative process.

“Their philosophy to turn trash into art, thus something seemingly worthless into something valuable, has inspired me,” said Alice Smeets, a Belgian artist who collaborated with members of Atis Rezistans to create staged photographs in Haitian slums that depict figures from tarot cards.

Eugene hopes that the praise gathered for the group he founded with Celeur Jean-Herard, who has since departed the collective, can now translate into enough earnings to upgrade his yard’s musty museum and improve the lives of members. and local youngsters dubbed “children of the resistance” who sculpt and paint.

Though he has traveled the world with his art, Eugene still lives in a small concrete shack next to his Grand Rue workshop and “Musee d’Art,” where many sculptures are caked with dust and swathed in cobwebs. Two turkeys and several cats were the only visitors one recent afternoon.

He calls Atis Rezistans a social “movement” that should expand opportunities for its artists.

“I don’t want to be famous,” Eugene said in his rain-slicked concrete yard in the poor neighborhood, shortly after returning to Haiti from an exhibit of a major piece in Milan. “Step by step, I am looking to make money so we can improve our situation here.”

———

David McFadden on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/dmcfadd

0

ON HAITI: As drought hammers countryside, many in Haiti go hungry

by David Mcfadden The Associated Press, 2 min read, original
dt.common.streams.StreamServer

This Feb. 20, 2016 photo shows the dry, cracked lakebed of Trou Caiman, in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti. A drought worsened by the El Nino weather phenomenon has driven Haitians who were already barely getting by on marginal farmland deeper into misery. An estimated 1.5 million people are going hungry as crop yields fall to lowest levels in 35 years in a country where two-thirds of people eke out a living from agriculture. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

“We get a little bit to eat and drink each day, but it’s never enough to get our strength back. I don’t know what to do anymore,” she said, her voice hoarse as she cradled her toddler twins, their hair brittle and taking on a yellowish tinge, a sign of malnutrition.

For the last three years, a punishing drought has driven Haitians who were already barely getting by on marginal farmland even deeper into misery. Last year’s crop yields were the worst in 35 years in a country where more than two-thirds of people eke out a living from agriculture, many using archaic hand tools.

Many Haitians routinely go to bed hungry, and are heartbreakingly accustomed to privation and natural disasters. But the cumulative impact of this drought is so severe that Haiti is facing “unprecedented food insecurity,” according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Over the last year, it’s worsened significantly with a strong El Nino weather phenomenon that’s been disrupting weather patterns across the globe, leaving many places in Latin America and the Caribbean stricken by drought. Cuba suffered its worst drought in over a century in 2015 and water rationing was ordered in Puerto Rico and elsewhere.

But few places are more vulnerable than Haiti, where 3.6 million of its 10.4 million people can’t afford the minimum daily calories, according to the U.N. World Food Program. Of those, 1.5 million are in urgent need of assistance, meaning they’re getting significantly less nutrition than what they need and are so underfed they become weak. That category of “severely food insecure” people has doubled in Haiti over the last six months, the agency said.

“This drought is a very dangerous situation. The pressures on people keep increasing,” said Haitian economist Kesner Pharel, noting that buying food makes up more than half of an average Haitian family’s budget.

Pharel said local agricultural production has contracted so severely over the last two years that 70 percent of the crops consumed in Haiti are now imported, up from roughly 50 percent in the past. With the local currency losing value, the cost of imports is rising, making everything pricier.

Officials say more rural families are being forced to join the decades-long exodus to cities. And diminishing calories means more children are vulnerable to infections like measles and any number of other diseases.

Wendy Bigham, country director of the U.N. World Food Program, said a growing number of farming families have been eating seed stock, seeking loans and selling items such as livestock and tools to get cash for food.

But “coping mechanisms such as reducing food consumption, selling assets and borrowing money are more and more difficult to sustain as the drought continues year after year,” she said.

In the wind-swept mountain town of Oriani in southeast Haiti, Joseph knows this all too well. About a year ago, her husband left to seek work in the neighboring Dominican Republic and he hasn’t returned since. She was forced to sell off her chickens and then her other meager possessions to buy food.

On a recent afternoon, Associated Press reporters met her at a town health clinic crowded with other women cradling children and waiting their turn to be seen. Her 2-year-old twins, Angelo and Angela, have missed developmental milestones such as taking their first steps or uttering their first words. On this day, she left with only deworming tablets because the facility was again out of nutrient-dense peanut butter.

At her family’s stone-and-timber shack, Joseph’s two older children, 10-year-old daughter Junel and 12-year-old son Stevenson, sprawled listlessly on a straw mat as her hungry twins tried to breastfeed. Joseph is so underfed and dehydrated that she can’t produce milk. “I only nurse them to comfort them,” she said.

To get emergency aid to people like Joseph and her children, the World Food Program is seeking $84 million in donations to distribute cash and food to roughly 1 million drought-affected Haitians. The U.S. has boosted its emergency aid to Haiti, awarding $11.6 million to nonprofits to address nutritional deficiencies for over 135,000 people.

The challenges of getting emergency food aid to struggling communities, even those accessible only by foot or donkey, is easier than finding elusive solutions to Haiti’s chronic hunger problems.

0

ON HAITI: Haiti Rises-A Time for Solidarity

22 February 2016, Nia Imara and Robert Roth – Haiti Action Committee
“Reflecting on struggles everywhere, we came to the conclusion that a people can’t be sovereign if they don’t have the right to vote. No people can retain their dignity if their vote does not count.”From a Statement Issued by 68 Haitian Grassroots Organizations, Jan 22, 2016

The voice of Haiti’s popular movement at this critical period in the country’s history has never been clearer.  For the past several months, since the discredited legislative and presidential elections of last August and October, mass, vibrant protests for the right to a free and fair vote and against foreign intervention have been a relentless force, in the face of heavily-armed and well-financed adversaries and mounting repression. The influx of articles and editorials in recent weeks by leading U.S. media outlets depicts the situation in Haiti as a confused, incomprehensible, morass of violence and dysfunction, with all sides being equally unreasonable in their demands. This misleading portrayal of Haitian politics and culture—indeed, of Haitian people—by American mainstream media is not new. Rather, it is a continuation of a historical pattern of obfuscating the underlying reasons for the grievances of Haiti’s mass movement, which has consistently denounced foreign intervention and the suppression of Haiti’s sovereignty.

The popular revolt in Haiti has forced the postponement of the January 24 presidential run-off election, to the dismay of the U.S. State Department and the current Haitian government of Michel Martelly, whose handpicked candidate had been declared the frontrunner.  And now, on February 7, it has forced the end of the rule of Martelly himself, who has had to step down rather than oversee the next stage of the electoral process.

These are major victories for the people’s movement in Haiti. But already there are signs that the next round will be just as difficult as the fight has been already.  The popular movement has made it clear that they have no interest in a top-down solution that excludes the participation and voices of the tens of thousands of Haitians who have risked their lives nearly every day in the fight for democracy.  They have raised the fundamental question: How can elections proceed to a second round if the first round was hopelessly illegitimate? How can elections move forward without a thorough investigation and repair of the fraud that already took place?  These are the critical issues being fought over today as Haitians celebrate the end of the Martelly dictatorship.

Background to the Revolt: Twelve Years Since the Coup, Twelve Years of Occupation

The revolt in Haiti has not emerged overnight. It is now almost twelve years since the U.S.-orchestrated coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and removed over 8,000 elected officials, and exiled, jailed, raped and murdered thousands of supporters of the Fanmi Lavalas Party.  The coup was enforced by a United Nations military occupation that still exists today.  It has been five years since Michel Martelly, a supporter of the brutal Duvalier dictatorships and their death squads, was selected as president; only 17% of eligible Haitian voters turned out in an election that excluded the most popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas. Hillary Clinton, then the U.S. Secretary of State, flew to Haiti to dictate to Haitian officials that Martelly be placed in the election runoff after initial results had left him only in third place. His U.S.-backed reign has featured one corruption scandal after another, intimidation of the judicial system, the return of death squads, torture of political prisoners, selling off of oil and mineral rights to foreign corporations, and rule by decree.

Haitians have had enough of this.  As they watched this latest election being stolen and a Martelly minion emerge as the leading vote getter, they took to the streets by the tens of thousands. As they saw ballot boxes burned and “observers” with 900,000 government-issued credentials vote over and over again, they declared the election an “electoral coup.” As they were turned away from one polling place after another, and told that they were not eligible to vote, they declared fraud.

While they joined the demonstrators in the streets, Fanmi Lavalas and its presidential candidate, Dr. Maryse Narcisse also filed a petition with the National Office of Electoral Litigation to challenge the results. All major opposition condemned the fraudulent elections and announced a boycott of the scheduled presidential run-off on January 24.  As the demonstrations grew in size and scope, the Haitian government responded with increasing violence.  Police fired into peaceful protests, and beat and tear-gassed those in the streets.  Much of this has been met with silence by the international media.

When it comes to Haiti, the United States’ homegrown illness—racism—is cast outward.  Just as the voting rights of Black people have been abused throughout American history, the US Government, through financial and diplomatic coercion, abuses the voting rights of Haitians.  Just as the basic human rights of Black people—decent education, housing, healthcare, physical safety—are regularly undermined here, the US Government has directly and indirectly made efforts to extinguish fundamental civil and human rights in Haiti.  Just as the State of Michigan forced the majority Black population of Flint to drink contaminated water while the EPA did nothing, so did United Nations troops dump their excrement into Haiti’s water supply with impunity, bringing cholera to the country with no reparations.  The U.S. Government—from the Bush Administrations, to the Clinton and Obama Administrations—have routinely demonstrated, as a matter of policy, that Black lives matter in Haiti as little as they do in America.

The State Department: Talking Democracy, Promoting Fraud

The U.S. role throughout the electoral crisis is as predictable as it was after the 2010 earthquake, when the State Department sent then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to handpick a well-known misogynist and supporter of the Duvalier dictatorship, Michel Martelly, for president.  With one hand, the U.S. State Department denounces the “violence” surrounding the elections, while the other hand has never ceased stoking the fires of electoral fraud and corruption.  With one face, the US State Department encourages fair, free elections and discourages voter intimidation; with the other, it upholds electoral fraud and threatens the leadership of Haiti’s most popular movement.

The U.S. State Department has been the chief promoter of both the Martelly government and the fraudulent elections that Haitians have called an “electoral coup.”  It has maintained its pro-Martelly stance despite the reports of independent human rights investigators that Martelly’s PHTK Party intimidated voters, stole ballots, burned ballot boxes and attempted to terrorize voters and suppress voter turnout in both the August 9 and October 25 legislative and presidential elections.

Now that the popular movement has finally brought these fraudulent elections to a temporary halt, the State Department has made its displeasure even more clear. On January 24, it issued a warning to demonstrators in Haiti against “electoral intimidation, destruction of property, and violence,” saying this runs “counter to Haiti’s democratic principles.”  This is the same racist and paternalistic tone it has always used in Haiti—from the time of Haiti’s Revolution, to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Haiti from 1915-1934, to the two coups that overthrew the democratically elected Aristide administrations in 1991 and 2004. This from the same State Department that was silent when peaceful protesters were killed, tear-gassed, beaten or arrested, or when Martelly’s agents terrorized voters and burned down polling places.

Hidden From The Headlines: Fanmi Lavalas and Dr. Maryse Narcisse

In addition, there has been near-silence about the remarkable campaign run by Fanmi Lavalas and its presidential candidate, Dr. Maryse Narcisse. A medical doctor and long-time Lavalas militant, Dr. Narcisse helped establish health clinics in rural communities. At the time of the 1991 coup, like many Aristide supporters, she went into the streets to protest the military and was briefly forced into hiding. When President Aristide was reelected in 2000, she joined his administration.  Exiled after the 2004 coup, she returned in 2006 to help rebuild Lavalas and continues to serve as Aristide’s spokesperson.  Day after day throughout this campaign, she has been in the streets with the people. Her campaign has emphasized “dignity”—that the Haitian people cannot be bought or sold, that, as President Aristide has said, “If we don’t protect our dignity, our dignity will escape us.”

The progressive achievements and agenda of Lavalas—setting up health clinics in poor urban and rural communities, advancing the fight against HIV/AIDS, promoting equality for women, literacy education for all Haitians, living wage employment, taxing the rich, and abolishing the Haitian Army—have made it the party of the poor majority in Haiti.  The organized collective of dozens of grassroots organizations that compose Fanmi Lavalas make it much different from the elite political parties we are familiar with in the U.S.  Fanmi Lavalas grew out of a nationwide mass movement to force out the American-backed dictator, Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, and to instill truly participatory democracy after years of rule by the elite and foreign intervention.  In 1986, after decades of sacrifice and struggle against repressive regimes, Haitians succeeded in forcing out Duvalier and bringing about the nation’s first democratic elections.  It was a hard-fought, hard-won victory when the great majority voted into presidential office Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1990.

Since then, the US organized two coup d’états against the Aristide administration, which again received an overwhelming mandate in 2000.  Following each coup—in 1991 and 2004—the US Government helped to install a military occupation to suppress resistance, namely, Lavalas.  In 1991, the US lent its support to paramilitary groups, many of whom were part of the Duvalier military—since disbanded by Lavalas—and the Haitian police.  In 2004, the US, with the support of France and Canada, threw its full weight behind the United Nations, which, in Haiti, is an occupying force, not a peacekeeping mission. Over the last 12 years, that occupation, known as MINUSTAH, has overseen the attempt to destroy Haiti’s popular movement.

Lavalas still has a target on its back. In an article published by Reuters on January 26, 2016 an unnamed Congressional source told the news agency that, “The Obama Administration would be worried if he [Aristide] were playing an important role. They’re not thrilled with Aristide’s forces coming back.”  This should be no surprise, given the leading role Lavalas has played in the democratic movement.  After all, in 2011, it was President Obama who made a phone call to South African President Jacob Zuma, warning him not to allow President Aristide and his family to board a South African plane and come back to Haiti. When Aristide returned, he was greeted by thousands of people at the airport and then at his home.  Once again, Haitians—and in this case the people of South Africa—did not obey.

What Next? A Time For Solidarity

During this campaign, Dr. Narcisse emerged as a formidable candidate.  If there is a full investigation of the last bogus election, as Lavalas and grassroots organizations are demanding, the abundance of popular support for Dr. Narcisse is certain to manifest in the ballot box.  If she ends up winning, she would be the first elected woman president in Haiti’s history.

That will only be possible if a transparent and credible process takes place over these next months.  The “electoral coup,” after all, stole votes from candidates who represented popular organizations and parties. Any new election that repeats this process will be a new form of theft. With U.S. officials already decrying the “violence” of demonstrators and warning against new protests, and reports circulating of “solutions” that leave out the representatives of the very grassroots organizations and parties that have been at the forefront of the fight for free and fair elections, this is a moment for vigilance in Haiti.  In their recent statement, 68 grassroots organizations in Haiti state their position very clearly:

We say NO, WE WILL NOT OBEY ILLEGITIMATE OFFICIALS. Self-defense is a legitimate universal law. Civil-Disobedience is an accepted universal right when a people confronts an illegal regime. The right to elect a government is universally accepted as a way for people to protect its existence. Today, confronted by the danger presented by local and international colonialists, the Haitian people have started a RESISTANCE FOR EXISTENCE movement. They ask for people to people solidarity from everywhere on the planet.”

We should heed their call.

__________________________________

Nia Imara is a member of Haiti Action Committee, a San Francisco Bay Area based organization.

Robert Roth is a co-founder of the Haiti Action Committee, and teaches high school in San Francisco.  The website of HAC is www.haitisolidarity.net

0

ON HAITI: Persistent drought threatens millions with hunger in Haiti – U.N.

news.trust.org, 1 min read, original

By Anastasia Moloney

BOGOTA, Feb 10 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Around 3.6 million people in Haiti are struggling to feed themselves as three consecutive years of drought have ruined harvests and raised food prices, worsening hunger among the poor, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) has said.

The poorest country in the Americas, Haiti cannot produce enough food for its 10.4 million people in normal times, and hundreds of thousands of Haitians rely on international food aid to survive.

Acute water shortages caused by prolonged drought, made worse by the El Nino weather phenomenon, have cut food supplies and hit subsistence farmers hard. Three out of four Haitians live on less than $2 a day.

“Without rain for the 2016 spring season, farmers will lose their fourth consecutive harvest on which they normally depend to feed their families,” Wendy Bigham, WFP’s deputy country director in Haiti, said in a statement late on Tuesday.

The main 2015 harvest fell below average, with losses of up to 70 percent in some places, the WFP said. “In some areas of Haiti, up to 70 percent of the population is facing hunger.”

A recent study by the Haitian government and the U.N. Children’s agency (UNICEF) found that “malnutrition rates are above emergency levels in several communes,” the WFP said.

The food crisis comes at a time of political uncertainty and social unrest after Michel Martelly stepped down as president last week without an elected successor, leaving a deeply divided country in the hands of a disputed interim government.

Nearly 500,000 schoolchildren across Haiti rely on school meals provided by the WFP for their daily meal, and school meals make up the largest food safety net in the country.

The WFP has distributed food aid, including rice, sugar, oil and salt, to 120,000 people in drought-hit areas since November.

It says it will expand its programe by providing food and cash to one million Haitians facing hunger to help them cope with rising food prices.

The agency provides 200,000 Haitians with cash in exchange for work on watershed management and soil conservation projects to improve agriculture.

The drought has gripped other parts of the Caribbean and Central America, particularly parts of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The current El Nino, which began in early 2015, is one of the strongest on record and has also caused widespread crop losses in countries ranging from Ethiopia to Papua New Guinea.

(Reporting by Anastasia Moloney, editing by Tim Pearce. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

0

ON HAITI: Haiti Has a President

newyorker.com, Feb. 17, 2016, 5 min read, original

What is going on in Haiti? Anyone hoping to follow its political twists and turns from abroad may be forgiven for feeling confused: the politics of the Caribbean republic of more than ten million—the western hemisphere’s poorest nation, and the only one in the Americas patrolled by U.N. peacekeepers—are both fiendishly complex and almost wholly dysfunctional.

After an entire week in which Haiti had no President, the country’s lawmakers held a special session that dragged on for twelve hours and ended, early Sunday morning, with sixty-two-year-old Jocelerme Privert, a former Senate leader and opponent of former President Michel Martelly, being chosen to fill the role on an interim basis. Privert will govern until April 24th, when new Presidential elections are to be held. If all goes according to plan—which is not at all certain—the winner will assume office three weeks later.

Haiti’s latest crisis came to a head on February 7th, when President Michel Martelly left office after serving five rocky years at its helm. In his leave-taking ceremony, he said: “I now declare Haiti officially to have a power vacuum.” It was a characteristically blunt quip from a man who, throughout his Presidency, spoke his mind, and invariably caused offense. Before his own turn in politics, Martelly was best known asSweet Micky, a ribald performer of a lively brand of dance music known as compas. He won office in disputed elections held after the devastating January, 2010, earthquake, which killed over two hundred thousand Haitians and destroyed thousands of buildings in the capital of Port-au-Prince.

Coming out of a long history of dictatorships, Haiti’s current constitution prohibits its Presidents from serving more than one consecutive term, and so, although he certainly did not wish to, Martelly was obliged to step down. In the first electoral runoff, last October, his anointed successor, Jovenal Moïse, a banana exporter who campaigned as the Banana Man, came out ahead. A second round of voting was postponed twice, and finally scheduled for January 24th, but Moïse’s chief rival, a veteran Martelly opponent named Jude Célestin, vociferously denounced the October polls as having been rigged and demanded that new elections be held.

Célestin gained the support of several other parties’ candidates, and their followers began holding angry street demonstrations to voice his demands. Thanks to the mounting threats of violence on the streets of Port-au-Prince, Célestin’s gambit to thwart the second round was, in the end, successful. Two days before polls were to open, Haiti’s electoral commission called it off indefinitely. (Somewhat ironically, Célestin lost his place in the second round of the 2011 election to Martelly, after inspectors from the Organization of American States determined that many of Célestin’s first-round votes had been fraudulently obtained.)

A few days before the second round was due to take place, Martelly, whom I profiled recently for the magazine, called to talk about his hopes and fears. He was clearly worried about the political confrontation brewing with Célestin. He denied the accusations of fraud and vote rigging, and said that the opposition politicians were trying to force the cancellation of the second round so that an interim government, one that they could control, would be installed. He said that their plan would “bring chaos to Haiti,” and that was an outcome that had to be avoided at all costs. He saw it as his job, he said, to “reassure everyone and keep the country safe.”

Things didn’t go as Martelly wished. On February 7th, there was no new President to succeed him, and he was forced to strike a last-minute deal with Haiti’s parlimentary leaders to form an interim government pending new elections—precisely the scenario he said he feared.

Martelly, a clever man who appeared to have learned how to game the Haitian system, seems to have been outfoxed by his opponents. His critics accused him of all manner of nefariousness—from protecting traffickers to enriching himself with bribes and kickbacks—and even his staunchest defenders, which included American officials, conceded privately that some of the charges might be true. In fact, very few Haitians involved in politics are free of allegations of criminal behavior. Widespread public suspicion of malfeasance on the part of Haiti’s public servants has become the norm. With Martelly’s exit from power, on the thirtieth anniversary of the end of the Duvalier family dictatorship, Haiti remains a deeply corrupt and unequal place.

As for Martelly himself, not only was he denied the chance to exit gracefully, with a successor in place (“If there is continuity, I can come back,” he told me before the election), but Haiti’s annual Carnival was postponed because of the crisis, and he was unable to end his Presidency by joining in the festivities, and to “boom it out,” as he said he wished to do.

Even before leaving office, however, Martelly signalled his return to his old persona of Sweet Micky by releasing a new song, with salacious lyrics that taunted some of his media critics, including a prominent Haitian radio journalist and human-rights activist, Liliane Pierre-Paul. The song is called “Give them the Banana.”

At Jocelerme Privert’s swearing-in ceremony on Sunday, few of Martelly’s allies were on hand. Instead, the celebrating crowd was dominated by his rivals in Fanmi Lavalas (“The Flood”), a left-wing party that was founded by Haiti’s two-time former President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Privert’s political mentor. Whatever else he is, Privert is certainly a change in style from Martelly, who so despised Aristide that he once famously offered to “kill [him] and stick a dick up his ass.” At his inauguration, Privert struck a dutifully conciliatory tone: “We should welcome the peaceful and inclusive nature of this new step in resolving the crisis. Our patience has been severely tested this past few days, but our tolerance has been reinforced,” he said. My Presidency should be part of the logic of the need to return to constitutional normality.”

If only the Presidential election were the end of Haiti’s problems. Last week, the U.N. World Food Program (W.F.P.) warned that 1.5 million Haitians are at risk from severe malnutrition; the number has doubled since September, due to a combination of prolonged drought, the climate phenomenon known as El Niño—and, of course, the conditions of extreme poverty in which the vast majority of the population lives. It is Haiti’s worst food crisis in fifteen years. In some parts of the countryside, farmers have experienced crop failures of as much as seventy per cent, and in one of the worst affected areas scores of children have starved to death. The W.F.P. has launched an appeal for eighty-four million dollars to help stave off the crisis.

If the past is anything to go on, the U.N. will only manage to raise part of that money. After the catastrophic 2010 earthquake, foreign governments and international donor agencies made pledges of over thirteen billion dollars, of which less than six hundred and fifty millionreached the Haitian government. Even before the earthquake and the inadequate aid allocations, however, Haiti was in a state of chaos, and in so many ways that it had become difficult, even for relief experts, to see how to fix it. Whoever becomes the nation’s next President will become, in effect, the caretaker of a large slum.

During our several encounters in Port-au-Prince, Martelly was rueful about his own lack of achievements. He had decided, however, that the ultimate solution to Haiti was an ambitious program to educate its people. Nearly half of all Haitians are illiterate, and that, he said, had to change. “We need to have another Haiti in twenty years. Look at Cuba, it’s got all those qualified people. We’re living the opposite experience.”

Sign up for the daily newsletter.Sign up for the daily newsletter: the best of The New Yorker every day.

0

HAITI: For US in Haiti, black votes don’t matter

america.aljazeera.com, by Mark Weisbrot @Markweisbrot, 3 min read, original

Journalists are taught in school to avoid euphemisms. When someone dies, they write that she “died” instead of “passed away.” But one euphemism that has become a fixture in U.S. news reporting is “the international community.” This is generally a substitute for the U.S. government, with or without some input from some of its allies.

Perhaps this is nowhere more true than in Haiti, where Washington has long exercised a veto over the country’s most important decisions. But last week the “international community” suffered a rare defeat when Haitians rejected Washington’s plans for a deeply flawed presidential runoff election to take place on Sunday, Jan. 24.

How did this happen? Basically, Haitians managed to put Washington in the situation of having to maintain that a runoff election with only one candidate, businessman Jovenel Moïse, would be legitimate, or postpone the election. As late as last Thursday, just three days before the election, U.S. officials were insisting that they would go forward even if the second candidate, engineer Jude Célestin, refused to participate. But he stuck to his boycott, and they backed down.

Célestin was also the candidate who finished second in the first round of Haiti’s 2010 presidential elections. But the “international community” had a different choice, and brought in an “expert” mission under the auspices of the Organization of American States to examine the results. Without a recount or even a statistical test of a ballot sample, it reversed the first-round results, eliminating Célestin and putting musician and businessman Michel Martelly into the runoff. Martelly went on to win the election and become president. Approaching the end of his five-year term, he is supporting Moïse as his replacement.

In last week’s events, it was not just the work of one person that forced Washington to back down. There were serious street demonstrations, condemnations from human rights organizations, religious leaders, business groups and the refusal of seven other presidential candidates from the first round to accept another episode of illegitimate elections. They had plenty of arguments and evidence on their side. In the first round of the presidential election, held on Oct. 25, local observers found massive irregularities and evidence of fraud. More than 900,000 observer credentials were distributed to political party representatives — effectively allowing them to vote multiple times. International reporters witnessed these passes being sold on the black market. In an election where only about 1.6 million people (26 percent of the electorate) voted, the legitimacy of the vote became doubtful.

Today’s electoral turmoil shows how much continuity there is with Haiti’s awful history.

It was even tougher to accept the election results after a commission appointed by Martelly found that only 8 percent of tally sheets that they examined were free from irregularities. The opposition did not all have the same demands but they wanted a new electoral council to lead the process and some reforms to make sure that the second round would be credible. Many observers have also demanded a serious examination of the first-round ballots to see if there was any basis for accepting the results.

No date for new elections has yet been set, and it remainsto be seen what will happen when Martelly’s term expires on Feb. 7.

The current fight for legitimate elections in Haiti is another episode of a long struggle for democracy that goes back to the U.S.-backed dictatorships of François and Jean-Claude Duvalier (1957-1986) and the overthrow of the country’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in 1991 and again in 2004 (with decisive support from Washington). And even further back, it is rooted in Haiti’s many conflicts with “the international community” since the country’s founding in 1804 from a slave rebellion, including its occupation by U.S. Marines from 1915 to 1934.

Today’s electoral turmoil shows how much continuity there is with this awful history. In a sense, the country remains occupied today by United Nations troops who were brought in not to help with reconstruction after the 2010 earthquake — as many people mistakenly believe — but six years earlier, to “keep order” after the constitutional government was overthrown, its officials jailed or forced into exile, and thousands of supporters killed.

It would be remiss not to mention the institutional racism that allows for such continuity. This is most painfully obvious in the response of “the international community” to a problem that they themselves created just five years ago: the cholera epidemic that has killed nearly 10,000 Haitians and infected hundreds of thousands more. Cholera had not been present in Haiti until some UN troops — not “aid workers” as some people allegeddumped their human feces into the country’s water supply in 2010. Yet they refuse to come up with the money that would be necessary to provide clean water and resolve the problem, even though they have spent much more than this on maintaining their military presence in the country.

It is hard to see such twisted priorities as other than a statement that “Black lives don’t matter.” As with the elections, and USAID reconstruction funds of which only 1.6 percent went to Haitian organizations and companies, it seems that even in dealing with a deadly disease caused by these foreign governments’ own gross negligence, power and control over the country are the first priorities.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera America’s editorial policy.

0

HAITI: Haiti Since the Earthquake

newyorker.com, by Jon Lee Anderson, original

Is the struggling country’s flamboyant President a savior or a rogue?

A few months ago, a crowd of curious onlookers gathered on a newly built highway overpass in downtown Port-au-Prince. It was a humid afternoon, too hot to linger outside, but Haiti’s President, Michel Martelly, was scheduled to appear, and any appearance by Martelly was bound to be entertaining. Before being elected President, in 2011, Martelly was Sweet Micky, an extroverted singer of the ebullient dance music called konpa. A popular and bawdy showman, he appears in one typical video clip in a night club, dancing for the camera in a red bra and a yellow sarong. At one point, he feigns masturbating a giant phallus, then hoists an imaginary breast and licks it.

At the overpass, jeeploads of riot police fanned out, and workmen set up a red carpet and a lectern with the Presidential seal on it. Martelly was coming to inaugurate the Delmas Viaduct, a four-lane bridge over a deep gully at the base of Delmas, a densely populated hillside neighborhood. As the crowd grew, a rara band, a squad of dreadlocked teen-agers, showed up to blow horns and beat drums. Martelly, who is fifty-four, arrived in a pink-and-white checked shirt worn untucked over black jeans. His shaved head gleaming, he cut a casually hip figure amid an entourage of plainclothes bodyguards and officials in suits. At the microphone, he spoke in guttural Creole, a French patois that is Haiti’s primary language. “This viaduct proves once again that together we can achieve great and beautiful things,” he said. “More than a dream, more than a project, this viaduct is now one of the symbols of Port-au-Prince.”

Martelly’s Presidency has been predicated on rebuilding. He took office a year after the January, 2010, earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, killing perhaps two hundred thousand people and leaving millions homeless. The disaster drew the world’s attention to Haiti’s long struggle—and, to some extent, offered a chance for a fresh start. In a survey of American voters, more than half reported donating to help repair the country; Bill Clinton, whose family foundation is deeply involved in Haiti, announced the hope that it could “build back better.” But Delmas, like much of Port-au-Prince, has been at best partly repaired. Even as the new overpass was unveiled, tens of thousands of residents were still displaced. As Martelly finishes his term in office, Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Some sixty per cent of its ten million citizens live in poverty. Nearly half are illiterate, and only one in four has access to a toilet.

Read the full New Yorker Article

 

 

0

ON DEVELOPMENT: The Negative Effects on Haiti of Too Much Foreign Aid

dailysignal.com, Commentary: James M. Roberts, Dec. 18, 2015, original
In Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, the wheels of economic progress grind forward slowly. In the case of a newly-rehabilitated flour mill in Port-au-Prince, however, those grinding gears can actually be seen and heard.For a nation struggling with hungry citizens thereopening of the Moulins d’Haiti (LMH) flour mill isn’t small potatoes. The mill was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake, and rebuilt at a cost exceeding $75 million by a consortium that includes U.S. companies, Seaboard Corp., and Continental Grain Co.

Now, in the years since the reopening of the mill, the price of flour has stabilized and supply has increased, meaning more, cheaper flour available to Haitians.

Meanwhile, Haiti struggles with the insidious and negative effects of what could fairly be labelled as “over-aid” from its developed friends, especially the United States. Since 2010, hundreds of millions of dollars and dozens of metric tons of food have poured into Haiti from the U.S. in an effort stave off life-threatening hunger in the disaster-weary nation.

However, as early as 2010 the Haitian government called for an end to current food aid. Despite the unpopularity of this in Haiti, this appeal has been echoed by outside organizations. Haitian farmers growing staple foods already face disadvantages in cost versus imports ofsubsidized rice from the U.S., and the massive quantities of food distributed by aid organizations have not made it any easier for Haiti to learn to support itself again.

So what are the bright spots in a situation that seems rife with complications?

First, the new LMH mill, which is nearly 25 percent more efficient than its predecessor. Despite difficult and possibly unfair competition from the Dominican Republic, the LMH mill is a true step towards solving the Haitian hunger problem.

A second bright spot can be found in an unassuming little Haitian fruit—the Francique mango—which is a Haitian delicacy as suitable for export as it is for helping to bridge the gap between the caloric deficits that many Haitians face daily.

Non-profits, in a refreshing move away from the “over-aid” model, are working with farmers to increasedomestic production and to expand overseas markets for the product. Some farmers have tripled production and last year it was found that, for the first time, Whole Foods was able to import over 50 percent more mangoes to U.S. supermarkets than it had originally planned.

Lastly, a shift can be observed in the aid model through which Haiti has been simultaneously supported but also stifled during the previous years.

Institutions such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank have instituted projects to develop the infrastructure and the capacity for Haitians to achieve sustainable long term, private-sector-led economic growth through the production of value-added and marketable products.

Nobel laureate, Harvard economist, and philosopher Amartya Sen once wrote: “the challenge is to respond to the plight of the hopelessly impoverished without neglecting to insist that help come in useful and productive forms.”

For our Haitian friends, that help must be multi-dimensional and not create the dependency that accompanies traditional foreign aid models.

To paraphrase the old Chinese axiom, Haitians must learn how to fish and not just be given cans of tuna.

The deeper truth is that most Haitians do know how to fish (in fact, many who escape that country’s deeply corrupt business environment become successful entrepreneurs). But back at home they need access to a boat – which for Haitians means securing greater property rights and rule of law at home while gaining greater access to world markets.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of James M. Roberts

James M. Roberts is the Research Fellow in Freedom and Growth at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for International Trade and Economics. Roberts’ primary responsibility is to produce the Index of Economic Freedom, an influential annual analysis of the economic climate of countries throughout the world.

0

HAITI: Will Washington Greenlight Another Coup in Haiti?

fpif.orgoriginal

(Photo: Haiti Innovation / Flickr)

In October, Haitians went to the polls in a critical election for nearly 5,000 political positions, including the presidency. The preliminary results named Jovenèl Moïse, a member of outgoing President Michel Martelly’s party, as the frontrunner — though by a small enough margin that a runoff vote is planned for December 27th.

Unfortunately, evidence of overwhelming fraud discredits these results. If the putsch is successful, Haiti could have yet another U.S.-backed president with a weak democratic mandate.

The United States has a long legacy of destructive intervention in Haiti — whether through direct military occupation, support for heinous dictators, facilitation of coups d’état, or manipulation of the electoral process.

The election of Martelly in 2010 was a case in point, illustrating the lengths that the United States — along with the Washington-dominated Organization of American States — is willing to go to ensure that only politicians who comply with the policy dictates of elite interests hold power in the western hemisphere’s poorest country. The flaws in that election were profound: The most popular political party was prohibited from participating, and there was widespread disenfranchisementand fraud.

After the 2010 vote, an OAS panel of international experts,lobbied by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself, intervened to move Martelly onto runoff elections, despite a lack of votes and an abundance of Haitian and international outcry. OAS Special Representative Ricardo Seitenfus described the maneuvers even then as a “silent coup d’état.”

Martelly went on to serve as a puppet for the interests of the international and Haitian elite, notably through his “Haiti is Open for Business” program, which promotes multinational investment in high-stakes extraction and development. Much of the land seized for these purposes has been taken from small farmers and other desperately resource-poor people.

The U.S. has provided Martelly enthusiastic support, with Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. UN ambassador Samantha Power, and U.S. ambassador to Haiti Pamela White all offering statements of support in moments of crisis. Yet Martelly’s government failed to hold even one of the numerous constitutionally mandated elections for parliamentary and local offices. Martelly’s unwillingness to organize votes led to the dissolution of parliament after every member’s term expired in January 2015, allowing him to rule by presidential decree ever since.

While the October elections were praised by the international press as comparatively calm, they were plagued with the same manipulation of years past. In addition to other forms of fraud and vote theft, out of the 1.6 million votes cast, over 900,000were entered not by normal citizen voters, but by people withpasses awarded by political party representatives. The Center for Economic and Policy Research reported that these passes were sold to the highest bidder for anywhere between $2 and $30.

The preliminary results of the presidential candidates that will move onto December’s runoff elections were released on November 4th. The only candidate that did not denounce the results was the first-place winner Jovenèl Moïse, the government’s preferred candidate and a key player in Haiti’s growing agribusiness industry with a large financial backing. Seven others have called for an investigation, and the Haitian people have regularly taken to the streets to protest yet another vote being stolen.

Nevertheless, the U.S. and OAS are standing by the declared results and have both released statements of support for the integrity of the elections.

0

HAITI, DEVELOPMENT: Ignoring the plight of the poor in Haiti

bostonglobe.com, Commentary by Louise C. Ivers, original

Haitian human rights activists and victims of cholera rallied last month in front of the of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Port-au-Prince.

As Haitianstake to the streets to protest the results of their recent presidential election, a quieter but more deadly battle continues throughout the country against the world’s largest cholera outbreak.

The toll is enormous, particularly for the poor. Although cholera is entirely preventable and completely treatable, five years after the disease appeared in Haiti for the first time in recorded history, 9,041 deaths have been registered, and more than 750,000 have been sickened in its grip. The real numbers are likely much higher.

By its nature, the disease is an inequitable attacker, a disease of poverty — it tends to strike hardest where access to toilets is limited or nonexistent, and where clean water is beyond financial reach. In the absence of public water systems, for many of Haiti’s poorest people, buying water purification tablets can only be done at the expense of buying food, or soap, or medicine, or school supplies. These are impossible choices. But unfortunately attention has waned to the point where progress has stalled, with devastating consequences. In 2014, more cases of cholera per population were registered in Haiti than in any other country reporting to the World Health Organization.

Those of us with incomes of more than one dollar a day are rarely affected by cholera, and the pharmaceutical industry sees little opportunity for profit in this market. Recent studies on the role of an oral cholera vaccine, Shanchol, have confirmed that it is safe, feasible, and effective in preventing cholera in Haiti (and in other countries), yet the vaccine’s manufacturer (Shantha Biotechnics, a Sanofi company) decreased production of the vaccine in 2015, instead of increasing it as they had promised to do. Epidemic cholera was eliminated from Europe and North America a century ago by investments in safe public water and sanitation systems, yet access to potable water has actually decreased in Haiti over the last 25 years, and only 19 percent of rural Haitians have access to basic sanitation. These collective failures have resulted in a protracted humanitarian crisis.

Colleagues in the Haitian government, nongovernmental organizations, and bilateral and multilateral agencies have the knowledge and the technical know-how to eliminate transmission of cholera in Haiti, and in doing so could save thousands of lives. However, they lack the funds and the vaccine needed to implement solutions. A 10-year plan to eliminate cholera from Haiti includes a call for major investments in water and sanitation, as well as in health care, hygiene education, and vaccination. Yet, the plan is still largely underfunded. The United Nations remains officially silent on the fact that members of its peacekeeping force inadvertently started the outbreak, and has not provided the kind of financial input toward solving the problem that is commensurate with the organization’s culpability.

The human and financial costs of this cholera outbreak are unacceptable. That cholera continues ravaging poor communities in Haiti and around the world is a shame on our society — one that we can and must do something about.

Louise C. Ivers is an infectious disease physician, senior health and policy advisor for Partners In Health and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Ivers served as clinical director for PIH in Haiti from 2008-2010 and chief of mission from 2010-2012.

0

HAITI, DEVELOPMENT: Could a Superfood Help Save Haiti’s Forests? [No!]

takepart.comoriginal

Haiti is the most impoverished country in the northern hemisphere, and trees, or the lack thereof, are part of the problem.

After centuries of agricultural exploitation and the population’s demand for charcoal and fuel wood, 98 percent of Haiti’s landscape is deforested, leaving the country vulnerable to environmental disasters. In 2008, four storms in quick succession resulted in flooding responsible for 800 deaths and $1 billion in damage. The massive earthquake that same year killed more than 220,000 people.

Numerous studies have supported the link between deforestation and poverty in the country. One hundred thousand children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition, less than half of households have access to safe water, and one-third of the women and children are anemic. Everyone from conservationists to actor Sean Penn sees trees as the answer. The question is, which trees?

Some believe the answer could be moringa, a native of the Himalayan foothills in northwestern India and the latest imported ingredient anointed with “It Superfood” status (see also: quinoa, acai, chia). The tree—called variously “the miracle tree,” “tree of life,” “mother’s best friend,” and the “never die tree”—can shoot from seed to 15-foot stature in the span of a year; flourishes in hot, dry subtropical climates; and can be put to use from root to pod. Nutritionally, moringa has more calcium than milk, more vitamin C than oranges, more vitamin A than carrots, more iron than spinach, more potassium than bananas, and just as much protein as eggs.

Could two of Haiti’s problems—deforestation and poverty—be solved by moringa?  It’s a potential solution floated by Oakland-based social enterprise company Kuli Kuli, in a partnership with the Clinton Foundation and a Haitian nonprofit, theSmallholder Farmers Alliance, to develop a new moringa supply chain in Haiti. That chain would result in Kuli Kuli’s newest product, a Soul Cycle–appropriate cousin to 5 Hour Energy called Moringa Green Energy Shots, to be sold nationwide at Whole Foods.

Chef José Andrés is in on the action, too. His nonprofit organization, World Central Kitchen, is working to improve nutrition in Haiti and other developing nations using moringa and is also promoting recipe competition on Instagram, using the hashtag #MoringaInspired.

Kuli Kuli has succeeded with this model before. In Ghana, the planting of 60,000 moringa trees has provided a sustainable livelihood for 500 women farmers for the past three years and enabled Kuli Kuli to launch its Moringa Superfood Bars in stores in the U.S. Kuli Kuli pays 30 percent over the market price, and it prepays for harvests to ensure that the crop remains sustainable.

But while its nutrition benefits are irrefutable, is mass-planting moringa the right reforestation tactic for Haiti? S. Blair Hedges, director of the Center for Biodiversity at Temple University, doesn’t think so.

“Although it is true that [Moringa oleifera] has benefits for humans (food, medicine), the major claim made, that Haiti would benefit by reforestation with this species, is misleading,” Hedges, whose work preserving Haitian flora and fauna has led to the discovery of several new species of Haitian frogs, wrote in an email.

“Moringa has been grown in Haiti for over 50 years and so is far from being an invasive species,” Kuli Kuli CEO Lisa Curtis told TakePart. “We’re not bringing anything new to the country; we’re simply working with smallholder women farmers to help them plant more moringa trees and develop an export market for value-added moringa powder.” The trees, she added, would be grown alongside limes, coffee, and other vegetable crops.

“It would put money in someone’s pocket but would not solve Haiti’s environmental problems or protect Haiti’s rich biodiversity,” Hedges said. That, he added, would require a more local solution.

“A forest full of native Haitian species would do much better in stopping erosion, protecting water resources, and providing food, shelter, and energy for the Haitian people,” he continued.

0

HAITI: Election – The Polls, Candidates, and Issues in the Presidential Election

as-coa.orgoriginal

With Haiti’s plethora of presidential candidates, polls show some aspirants rising to the top, though the frontrunner remains unclear. Two polls give different results of voters’ first choice among 54 candidates. The likeliest scenario? No candidate will get more than 50 percent of the vote on Election Day, October 25, and a runoff will take place December 27.

Who’s Leading the Polls?

A cellphone poll by Florida-based Integrated Communications and Research gives governing-party candidate Jovenel Moïse a 7.7 percentage-point lead over second-place candidate Jude Célestin. Meanwhile, an in-person poll by the Research Office in Computer Science and Economic and Social Development (known locally as BRIDES) puts Célestin ahead of Moïse by 18.4 points. That said, the surveys do agree on the third-place candidate: Senator Moïse Jean-Charles.

Who Are the Top 5 Candidates?

This election marks a second run for president by Jude Célestin of the Alternative League for Progress and Haitian Emancipation party, or LAPEH. Célestin ran in 2011 under the Unity Party of then-President René Préval, but dropped out when the Organization of American States contested the first-round of voting results, which originally put Célestin ahead of Michel Martelly, who eventually became president. With a Swiss education in mechanical engineering, Célestin took a job in the government’s road construction agency in 1997, becoming director in 2006 under Préval. Célestin is running on a campaign platform to boost job creation and fight government corruption. He has also voiced support for harmonious relations with the Dominican Republic.

Jovenel Moïse is the presidential candidate representing the current ruling Haitian Tèt Kale Party, or PHTK. Moïse is promisingto further the Martelly administration’s efforts on education and tourism. As head of Agritrans, Haiti’s first agricultural free zone dedicated to exporting bananas, Moïse is also a proponent of creating jobs and increasing exports through the agricultural sector. “In terms of arable land, we have nothing to envy of other producers at the level of the Caribbean,” he said. This summer, Haiti’s Departmental Electoral Office of Litigation (BCED) consideredaccusations that Moïse used a portion of Agritrans funds to finance his electoral campaign, but ultimately approved his candidacy in June. The presidential bid is Moïse’s first political race.

Presidential candidate and former Senator Moïse Jean-Charles has long been one of the Martelly government’s most vocal critics. Hefirst entered the Senate in 2009 as a representative of the country’s North department, where he served on the Foreign Affairs, Natural Resources and Rural Development, Finance, and Agricultural committees. He also won three terms as Milot mayor from 1994 to 2004. Though Jean-Charles represents the Pitit Desalin party, he was a mayor under the banner of Fanmi Lavalas—the party of Haiti’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

His campaign platform focuses on accelerating Haiti’s low growth rate and combating extreme poverty by investing in agriculture. Meanwhile, he’ll change the way funds from Venezuela’s Petrocaribe are distributed so that they are used for infrastructure projects, science and technology education, and police officers. He has also repeatedly called for the withdrawal of the UN’s Stabilization Mission in Haiti. Like Jovenel Moïse, Jean-Charlesfaced scrutiny from the BCED into his campaign finances.

Maryse Narcisse of Fanmi Lavalas is the only female presidential candidate in the race to rank among the five most popular candidates. A human rights advocate and a medical doctor who helped open clinics across Haitian communities, Narcisse has experienced a fair dose of political turbulence in her life. After Aristide’s 2004 overthrow and exile in South Africa, Narcisse sought asylum in Miami. Both returned to Haiti in 2007 and Aristide named Narcisse the official party spokesperson. Later that year, a group of armed men kidnapped Narcisse and a fellow party member, allegedly for political reasons. She was released three days later. Today, her campaign platform focuses on rule of law, education, and increasing national production, especially through the strengthening of small and medium businesses. Narcisse served in public office as general director for the Health Ministry during Aristide’s second administration, and has worked for the Permanent Mission of Haiti to the UN. The doctor also worked for the United States Agency for International Development, a point on her résumé that at least one other candidate has used against her, given controversy over international aid in Haiti.

Lawyer Jean-Henry Céant of the Renmen Ayiti (“Love Haiti”) party ran for 2010 and registered as one of the leading candidates per some polls at the time, enjoying Fanmi Lavalas support as Aristide’s notary. His campaign focuses on four constituencies: the Haitian diaspora, farmers, women, and young people. At a rally at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Céant called for amending the country’s 1987 constitution to include the Haitians living outside the country in political matters.

What Are Voters’ Top Concerns?

Without a doubt, Haitians are the most concerned about the economic situation in their country. Economic growth slowed from 4.2 percent in 2013 to 2.7 percent in 2014, affected, in part, by a devastating drought that slashed agricultural production. Though Haiti reduced the share of its population living in extreme povertyfrom 31 percent in 2000 to 24 percent in 2012, it remains the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. In 2011, the unemployment rate hit 40.6 percent, and stands at about 50 percent in urban areas,according to the UN’s World Food Program.

While health and water access are not such prominent voter issues, they nonetheless present challenges. A 2010 cholera outbreak, which killed 8,592 people and infected more than 700,000 through August 2014, continues to affect Haitians. Less than 50 percent of households have access to clean water. Haiti is also still recovering from a devastating 2010 earthquake, with damages amounting to some $8 billion in a country with a GDP of $8.7 billion and nearly 80,000 Haitians still living in tent cities five years later.

0

HAITI – Pre-election violence flaring up in Haiti slum – Cite Soleil

By DAVID McFADDEN and EVENS SANON, Associated Press, 10/19/2015

In this Oct. 17, 2015 photo, presidential candidate Moise Jean Charles, of the Platform Pitit Dessalines political party, is carried by supporters as he campaigns in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This year’s unprecedented three rounds of balloting will pick Haiti’s next president, two-thirds of the Senate, the entire Chamber of Deputies and local offices. The Oct. 25 vote is expected to clear the sprawling presidential field for a runoff Dec. 27 between the top two finishers. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Deadly pre-election violence has flared up in and around Haiti’s most notorious slum and resulted in the killings of two pregnant women and at least 13 other people in the densely-populated district of shacks, community organizers and politicians said Monday.

Related Stories

  1. Haiti voters grapple with packed field for presidency Associated Press

Official numbers of the slain around the mazelike network of Cite Soleil were hard to pin down. Spokespeople with the Haitian National Police and the U.N. mission in Haiti did not respond to Monday phone calls or said they did not immediately have specifics.

But Esau Bouchard, a government-appointed mayor in Cite Soleil, said at least 10 people were killed within the district’s boundaries over the last few days and others that he described as gangsters were gunned down in shootouts with police in an outskirts community known as Wharf Jeremie. He told Radio Solidarite that the violence appeared to be politically motivated.

According to Bouchard, authorities were trying to capture gang members creating mayhem “so we can create a secure climate for elections to happen” in the deeply impoverished ghetto of a few hundred thousand people. Some 2,000 people fled their homes out of fear starting Friday, but he said that a measure of order was gradually being restored.

The deadly violence in the long-troubled community on the edge of Port-au-Prince comes days ahead of national elections on Sunday when Haitians will vote in the first-round of presidential balloting and decide numerous legislative and local races. About a month ago, police said two officers were slain by gangsters in Cite Soleil.

Musician and social activist Gueldy Rene, who is from the Bwa Nef neighborhood where much of the violence was centered over the weekend, told The Associated Press that politically-aligned gangs were feuding over money distributed by political teams looking to dominate Sunday’s balloting in the vote-heavy district.

“This is Haiti politics. Some politician gives out money and now gangs are killing people over that money,” he said, complaining that police and U.N. troops were “sitting around listening to gunshots” at the height of the violence rather than trying to stop the bloodshed.

Jessica Hsu, country director for Haiti Communitere, a nonprofit that works with Cite Soleil residents, said the area’s struggling inhabitants were again being used as “pawns by politicians” engaged in electoral turf wars.

“In the context of Haitian elections, this is what happens every time here,” said Hsu, whose group has been working in Haiti since the country’s devastating 2010 earthquake.

___

David McFadden on Twitter: http://twitter.com/dmcfadd

0

HAITI, DEVELOPMENT – To find success in Haiti’s recovery, go local

devex.com, by Catherine Cheney21 September 2015, original
A roadside market in Haiti.  Photo by: Catherine Cheney / Devex

The release of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails surfaced a commanding perspective on U.S. development policy from a self-described “invisible soldier.” Chelsea Clinton, the former (and potentially future) first daughter and an emerging force at theClinton Foundation, pulled no punches in her assessment of the post-earthquake response in Haiti five years ago.

“To say I was profoundly disturbed by what I saw — and didn’t see — would be an understatement,” Chelsea wrote in a 2010 email to her parents, who have taken a special interest in the country ever since they honeymooned there. “Haitians want to help themselves and want the international community to help them help themselves.”

Her letter, written after four days in Haiti with Paul Farmer andPartners in Health, dives into the details of dysfunction she witnessed. She calls the United Nations and international NGO workers she came across, “anachronistic in their thinking at best and arrogant and incompetent at worst.”

Over the past five years, the media has continued to expose the large scale failure of aid to the country, asking just how the American Red Cross spent $500 million in donations for disaster relief, and exposing the role Nepalese U.N. peacekeepers played in causing the 2010 cholera epidemic that followed the earthquake.

“I guess while you’re there I’d challenge the assumption that the fundamental dynamic is outsiders trying to solve Haitian problems,” Jonathan Katz, author of “The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster,” wrote Devex during a trip to Haiti with Chelsea Clinton and a delegation of supporters in July. “More often, we are the problem. I’d look outside the development world completely and try to understand how Haitians manage to survive and deal with their own problems in spite of us — Clintons and all.”

On site visits and long drives between Port-au-Prince and the Central Plateau, Clinton Foundation staff members repeated the mantra that they are trying to work themselves out of a job. But their involvement in Haiti’s reconstruction is not likely to end anytime soon. The Clinton Global Initiative’s Haiti Action Network has made 100 Commitments to Action valued at $500 million when fully funded and implemented. Fortunately, as organizations like the Clinton Foundation have transitioned from disaster response to capacity building, they have sought to learn from past mistakes and built on their strengths.

From disaster response to job creation

“Problems really can be solved here, and we see them being solved,”Chelsea Clinton told Devex after visiting with women entrepreneurs in the Central Plateau, one of several stops on a tour highlighting the Clinton Foundation’s work with Haitian women. The view from the press bus windows put human faces to Haiti’s myriad challenges. The country is often called the “Republic of NGOs” because of the way the aid industry has become more powerful than the government itself. It is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, and in many places poverty and illiteracy seem more abundant than clean water and electricity.

But this makes the signs of resilience all the more powerful. While it was certainly in the Clinton Foundation staff’s interest that delegates and reporters see signs of progress, this trip did seem to leave Clinton more encouraged than disturbed. Some of her optimism about the role the international development community can play in Haiti seems to have returned in the interim between that first trip with Paul Farmer and her most recent one. Partnership with Haitians is what makes the difference in Clinton’s view.

“There are so many reasons to be optimistic,” she told Devex, adding that constant doom and gloom journalism reporting is “disrespectful to the amazing work that’s being done in Haiti by Haitians to solve their own challenges.”

Chelsea Clinton talks to Devex reporter Catherine Cheney about reasons for optimism in Haiti.Sabine Toussaint, senior program manager for the Clinton Foundation in Haiti, explained that the Clinton Foundation has returned to its original focus on sustainable job creation in Haiti after going into emergency relief mode following the earthquake.

“The Clinton foundation is uniquely placed. We are able to be the great convener because we have President Clinton,” she said, elaborating on how the Clinton Foundation gathers stakeholders to support its focus areas in Haiti: building capacity, bringing in investment, and empowering women entrepreneurs. “Just as we assessed ourselves and knew that disaster relief was not our forte, each individual organization should do an assessment of themselves and ask what are our strengths?”

As an operating foundation, most of the money the Clinton Foundation raises for projects around the world is used to operate programs, but given the unique needs for capacity building and job creation in Haiti, the staff there provides targeted grants. Throughout the trip, the foundation staff talked about how they want to support small and medium enterprises in ways that reduce, not grow, their dependence on external support. Take the fair trade manufacturer Caribbean Craft, which was devastated by the earthquake but now employs 400 artisans. There, Clinton Foundation delegates watched as mostly female employees turned recycled materials into artisan products, including papier-mache animal sculptures that Clinton Global Initiative members like West Elm will place in stores and catalogues.

Magalie Dresse, who founded Caribbean Craft, spoke with Devex about the value of the Clinton Foundation approach of supporting local entrepreneurs. “When an NGO gets free access to money, they don’t need to fight for any sales because everything is paid for,” she said, explaining how good intentions can have negative implications. “They can lower the cost of the item where it doesn’t even have any margin on it because it’s covered by a grant. Now you’re killing me as a producer, and I have no chance.”

Later, Yve-Car Momperousse, CEO of the beauty supply company Kreyól Essence, led Clinton Foundation delegates through a castor oil production facility in Mirebalais, Haiti, where women who once worked over open charcoal pits now work in the shade with uniforms and goggles thanks to Clinton Foundation support. “If you take a market based approach to solving these socially complex issues, development can be sustainable,” she said. “There are proven models and clear successes.”

Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods transforms waste into compost after responding to a need voiced by the local community for ecological sanitation. An entire tab of their website is devoted to what makes them different from the many organizations in Haiti tied with another, unproductive, kind of waste. They emphasize their cultural fluency, with 90 percent Haitian staff, and their social business model, with low barriers to entry and multiple sources of revenue.

“The art of the possible has a special meaning in Haiti,” Sally Yearwood, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Caribbean Central American Action, told Devex after joining the Clinton Foundation in Haiti. She wrote a newsletter for her readers reflecting on the trip and how struck she was by the many women she saw building a better future for themselves, their children, and therefore the country as a whole.

With devastation comes disruption

The 7.0-magnitude earthquake killed 300,000 people and left 1.5 million Haitians homeless. But with devastation came disruption — the kind of disruption that breeds new ideas. Many technologists have called Haiti’s earthquake “the big bang of digital disaster relief.”

Patrick Meier, a thought leader on humanitarian technology, captures in his book Digital Humanitarians how digital technologists used tools like text messaging and mobile mapping to aid collaboration. “It wasn’t the technology that caused us to help,” he said later in a talk at the PopTech conference. “What the technology allowed us to do was help manifest that humans want to go and help others who are suffering. So that technology actually made us more human by extending our emotions to actions.”

Following the earthquake, technologists gathered around the world for hackathons, developing new tools for crisis management in front of computer screens and pizza boxes. But hackathons like the one held four days after the earthquake from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. atDevHouse on Microsoft’s Silicon Valley Campus did not involve Haitians, so struggled to create lasting solutions to local needs. Flash forward to February 2013, when Haiti hosted its first hackathon.

Digital Democracy, an organization based in Oakland, California that works with marginalized communities to defend their rights through technology, helped organize the hackathon. It gathered Haitian technical students, members of the Haitian women’s organization KOFAVIV, and a mix of international software developers and designers who experienced for the first time local constraints like slow internet connections.

“This event has brought us back to a piece of Haitian culture, the ‘konbit,’ that we have largely left behind,” Richardson Ciguene, then a student studying databases and programming, said after spending three days building tools in support of a call center for survivors of gender-based violence.

“Konbit is a very significant concept in Haitian culture, and every Haitian knows what konbit means, because that was the way they survived the years after the revolution,” Emily Jacobi, executive director and founder of Digital Democracy, said of the Creole term for gathering, or coming together in solidarity in the face of adversity. “The effective earthquake responses I saw involved Haitians coming together in a konbit fashion.” In the Digital Democracy model of fully transitioning work to its local partners, Ciguene and other students went on to host the first official “Konbit Teknolojik” in June 2013, continuing the hackathon model without the direct involvement of an outside organization.

The disruption extends beyond the digital space. A bulletin from theWorld Health Organization on tuberculosis in the aftermath of the earthquake highlights the little known success story that the earthquake did not devastate basic health programs in Haiti. Given the interplay between HIV and tuberculosis, with HIV positive individuals more likely to get TB, the expectation was that breaks in the supply chain would lead to outbreaks of disease. But because of the dedication and collaboration of health workers, relief agencies, the patients themselves, and the government, the proportion of TB patients with HIV remained stable.

William Heisel, director of global engagement at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, sat down with Devex at the IHME offices in Seattle and showed visualizations of this promising health data on a screen suspended from the ceiling. “Overall, there’s a lot of hope in this paper, which makes me wonder if we’re on the verge of seeing a new phrase emerge as the thing you’re most likely to think of when you hear the word ‘Haiti,’” he wrote in a post responding to the WHO bulletin. “That phrase would be: ‘Rapid response.’”

Lauren Hashiguchi, a policy translation specialist at IHME who worked on the WHO study, first traveled to Haiti as a college undergraduate in 2009. Frustrated by the many unregulated medical missions she saw, she made a promise to herself that she would not return unless she had a master’s degree in public health and the opportunity to work with a Haitian organization. “After the earthquake I was very tempted to go back, but I realized I didn’t have valuable skills,” she told Devex. “I would just be a body in the way of actual aid work.”

When she did return in 2013, it was to work with GHESKIO, a health service and research organization. “External aid will never be rapid response,” Hashiguchi said, calling the best rapid responders people like “the physicians at GHESKIO … who trained in Canada and France and the U.S., who choose to come back to Haiti and work in difficult places and understand the population and their needs.”

Investing in Haiti’s future

One of the reasons GHESKIO has succeeded where other organizations have failed is its partnership with the Haitian government. Next month’s presidential elections in Haiti will be another test for those partnerships, and for the Haitian government’s commitment to leading the reconstruction effort.

“While it is important for Haiti’s international partners to continue to lend generous support to the country’s democratic process, it is equally crucial to recognize the work of the Government of Haiti in ensuring that its institutions can fully take charge of the elections,” Jessica Faieta, UNDP director for Latin America and the Caribbean,said at a gathering at U.N. headquarters.

Some outsiders aiming to do good in Haiti have cited corruption as the reason they circumvent the government. But their critics point to the money they spend on overhead costs. Foreigners driving new SUVs and living in gated neighborhoods are particularly conspicuous next to communities where people cram into decorated tap-tap buses that drive past shacks ready to slide down the hill.

“For too long, aid to Haiti has bypassed the government over a concern of poor governance and corruption,” Jake Johnston, the lead on the Center for Economic and Policy Research’s Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch, relayed to Devex. “Instead billions have been funneled to unaccountable NGOs and private actors. For most Haitians, the high overhead costs and salaries are just as corrupt.”

The parallel public delivery system is part of what has created voter apathy in Haiti. Johnston explained that it is not so much about who wins the election, but what the process is like, and whether the aid community will begin to work through the government and strengthen its capacity to provide services to its population.

Clinton called Haiti a good laboratory for development, and a range of new actors appear to agree, trying new approaches that might build out the list of successes.

TOMS, the shoe brand that has gotten a mix of good and bad press for its “one-for-one” model of aid, recently came under fire again for its “This is Haiti” campaign, which showed a bunch of models lounging and laughing in the Caribbean sun with only a few locals in sight. But TOMS is one of several companies that has invested in the country years after the earthquake, when Haiti’s place in international headlines is less secure.

At the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie announced that the company would be building a factory there in 2014. It was a major shift in approach, with the company pledging to produce a minimum of one-third of all the shoes it gives in the places where those shoes will be distributed.

Lisa Curtis, the founder and CEO of Kuli Kuli, talked with Devex over an assortment of her products at a coffee shop just beneath her Oakland, California, office. Kuli Kuli sources high quality moringa oleifera from women’s cooperatives in the developing world and sells the superfood in the form of bars, teas and protein powders.

The social enterprise recently announced a partnership with theSmallholder Farmers Alliance and the Clinton Foundation to develop moringa for export in Haiti. Curtis said the organization learned about the importance of working with local partners from its experience launching in Ghana. There, they work with Fair Harvest, an organization that shared the goal of empowering women farmers growing moringa and had just started to try to export the product to the United States.

Anecdotal successes lack the cohesion to reorient Haiti’s narrative around learning, partnership, and innovation. Outsiders can play a helpful role in building and strengthening connections between those who are driving solutions.

After visiting a peanut supply chain enterprise on the Clinton Foundation trip, delegate Alexis Miesen, who leads the social venture of Blue Marble Ice Cream, is planning on using those peanuts for ice cream toppings once her store opens in Port-au-Prince this fall. The Port-au-Prince location will employ survivors of sexual violence in a shop built from repurposed shipping containers outfitted with solar panels, thanks in part to support from the Clinton Foundation.

It was only by partnering with Haitian native Lionel Bernard that Miesen could know the power of opening her shop — Bel Rev — in Fontamara, in the northwest corner of Port-au-Prince. “The shop is being built in front of my house where I grew up in Haiti,” Bernard said in a conversation with Caribbean Life on the decision to build further down the hill in Port-au-Prince, versus higher up where the wealth is. “It’s almost like a little tree growing with so many different branches. That’s the love and the beauty that we’re getting out of it.”

Of course, while anyone familiar with the range of problems and solutions in Haiti acknowledges the need to listen to local needs and work with local partners, there are larger scale roadblocks to proven approaches like local procurement. “What we have seen is a shift in rhetoric, but that has yet to result in significant changes on the ground,” Johnston lamented, acknowledging that there are organizations doing good work, but emphasizing that fractured responses cannot change the big picture. “The problems of the aid industry are systemic and unless the root of the problem is addressed, it’s unlikely there will be a major change in how the industry operates.” Donor dollars are often far removed from the people on the ground who will supposedly benefit from that aid, which is part of the reason for new models of building local capacity.

Robert Maguire, professor of international affairs and director of the Latin American and Hemispheric Studies Program at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, explains how listening is key for successful development work in Haiti.“You go to Haiti and you’ll never go back, or you go to Haiti and you’re hooked,”  Leigh Carter, executive director of Fonkoze USA, the 501(c)3 that raises funds for Haiti’s leading microfinance institution, told Devex of the way the country pulled her in and kept her committed. “I really believe we have to put the future in the hands of Haitians.”

On flights from Haiti to the U.S., Carter said customs officers are constantly asking, “Where did all the money go?”

She finds herself holding up lines telling them the stories that do not make the headlines, the stories that suggest the international community can in fact play a positive role in Haiti.  But, echoing Dresse, Carter lamented the way so many people have started their own NGOs in Haiti rather than supporting community organizations and connecting them to the capacity they need.

“I would recommend people seek out Haitian institutions,” she said. “I don’t want to badmouth the big NGOs. But just because the Red Cross has the resources to go on CNN and accept donations via text doesn’t mean they’re doing the best job. Just be a smart philanthropist.”

The Haiti earthquake taught all those involved that navigating an emergency is as much about preparation as response. Gary Philoctete, senior vice president for Haiti operations and country director for JP/HRO, a relief organization founded by actor Sean Penn in response to the earthquake, said his team is realizing how preparation and contingency needs to be a part of their planning moving forward.

“For example, no matter how nice the house you build someone is, or how quickly you build it, the structure won’t take away the fear of that house falling down in a subsequent disaster, unless you engage the resident in understanding why and how the house is safer,” Philoctete explained to Devex. “Education is what puts a roof over someone’s head in that case, not just construction. Folks in Haiti understand sustainability better than anyone, because the fears can be so immediate. If we’re not planning for the next earthquake, as we build back from the last, our solutions won’t work for the people we serve.”

Clinton articulated it well in that note to mom and dad. Years after the earthquake, Haiti continues to need support, to recover from a recent history of devastation and prepare for what lies ahead. But the best way outsiders can learn from mistakes and build on strengths is by ascribing to a spirit of partnership that’s been there all along — the Haitian spirit of konbit.

This article was updated at 11:28 am.

Conflict in Context is a monthlong global conversation on conflict, transition and recovery hosted by Devex in partnership with Chemonics, Cordaid, Mercy Corps, OSCE andUSAID. We’ll decode the challenges and highlight the opportunities countries face while in crisis and what the development community is doing to respond. Visit the campaign site and join the conversation using#ConflictinContext.

0

HAITI, DEVELOPMENT: America’s Neo-Colonial Mandate: The Clinton Plan for Haiti.

globalresearch.ca, by Dady Chery, September 07, 2015, original

When news of Haiti died down in the mainstream media two months after the earthquake, things had not cooled down: quite the contrary, they had just started to simmer. A highly controversial State of Emergency Law had already been drafted and presented to Haiti’s Lower House for a vote.

This was a law to allow an Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), led by former US President William J. Clinton, to run the country for an 18-month State of Emergency. Haiti’s Lower House, a large majority of which belonged to President René Préval’s party, INITE, met for a vote on March 8, 2010. That meeting of the Members of Parliament (MP) was extremely contentious. Outside, a small group of protestors urged the legislators to vote no. At least 20 legislators walked out, hoping to break the quorum, and they declared the law to be unconstitutional. Others stayed and voted against the law at the start of the meeting, hoping to stall the proceedings. One legislator proposed an amendment that would have allowed a senatorial commission to oversee the IHRC. All their efforts failed. The deal had been made from the start. Forty-three MPs voted yes, 6 voted no, and 8 abstained.

How did all this come to pass? First, the Préval-led government had come from elections that had excluded Fanmi Lavalas and 14 other political parties. So this government was highly unrepresentative. Second, the most vocal opposition to the IHRC and the State of Emergency Law had come from those who had supported previous dictatorships. The great majority of the population categorically rejected this group, which demanded that the Haitian Armed Forces (Forces Armées d’Haiti, FAd’H) be re-established, MINUSTAH departs, and the Haitian Constitution and UN Charter be respected.

Their calls of protest fell on the deaf ears of a population well acquainted with their brutality. Finally, Préval’s government was considered to be a great embarrassment. Among other things, it had failed to account for its expenses during the first three months of 2010. Préval himself had campaigned for the State of Emergency Law, although the stated reason for this law was a need to circumvent the State’s corruption. In typical style, he had insisted that everyone dirties their hands along with him and the law be voted on by the entire Parliament. When criticized about dragging the country into the depths of dependency and handicapping the next administration, he shrugged and lapsed into absurdities like Haiti is “a weak state” but still “possesses its sovereignty.”

With the Lower House in the bag, the next obstacle was the Senate. During an April 8, 2010 meeting, the senators voted no to the State of Emergency Law and the IHRC. In advance of another vote on April 13, Préval held a press conference at which he pleaded with the senators not to “miss this chance.” Several demanded to know why he needed the Parliament to ratify a commission with a majority of foreigners.

They pointed out that he could take full responsibility for his miserable commission and establish it by presidential decree. Others, like Acluche Louis Jeune declared: “the president wants to dissolve the Parliament to give the occupier a free hand.” The April 13 vote was successfully blocked by the lack of a quorum. The Haitian Senate then numbered 25 because of two earthquake deaths. It needed a quorum of 16, but only 15 senators participated; two of those senators had showed up merely to snub the meeting.

Enter Michelle Obama on April 14, 2010. What did she do during her surprise visit to Haiti, besides draw fishes and compare them to the more advanced art of the Haitian elementary-school children? What inducements or threats did she bring to the Senate on behalf of the US? Might her statement of the innocent-sounding proverb “Little by little, the bird makes its nest” have been a sign that a deal was made for the occupation?

A late-night parliamentary session the next day did the trick. With barely a quorum of 16 senators, 13 voted for the State of Emergency Law, with all but one of the yes votes coming from INITE. One senator voted against the law, 2 abstained, and 9 stayed away from the meeting altogether. It was extraordinary that even this highly unrepresentative government had put up such a fight for sovereignty. Haiti would not be an easy conquest.

In the IHRC, which was Bill Clinton’s wet dream of a government and was to be led by him, a majority of foreigners had hoped to administer Haiti.

FOURTEEN INDIVIDUALS WOULD REPRESENT FOREIGN INTERESTS

Nine representatives who are major donors. They would be chosen by an IHRC administrative council. This was a strictly pay-to-play affair. To get a seat, a country or institution had to donate at least $100 million over a two-year period or erase debts worth at least $200 million. The original list of these donors included the US, European Union, France, Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), United Nations, and World Bank.

One representative of Caricom.
One representative of the Organization of American States (OAS).
One representative for all the other donors without a seat.
One representative of the non-governmental organizations (NGO) in Haiti.
One representative of the Haitian diaspora.

SEVEN UNELECTED INDIVIDUALS WOULD REPRESENT HAITI

Three representatives of the Haitian government, nominated respectively by the executive, judiciary, and local authorities. Jean-Max Bellerive, who was chosen by Clinton for this group, got a laughable equal billing with him. In October 2009, Bellerive had been foisted by the US on Préval as Prime Minister. President Préval himself would not actually be a member but would have symbolic veto rights.

One MP, to be chosen from a list submitted by the political parties in the Lower House.

One senator, to be chosen from a list submitted by the political parties in the Senate.

One union representative, designated by the union syndicates.

One business representative, nominated by the business community.

There is much to be learned from this affair about the leaders of supposed democratic countries. This is how they would run everything if they could. Consider the World Trade Organization (WTO). Watch closely and pray against natural disasters. The next pay-for-play commission might well be for your state or country.

Though the IHRC boasted of its plans to restore urban centers and build homes throughout Haiti, its real mission, also stated quite explicitly, was to proceed with privatizations, in particular the privatization of the sea and air ports of Port-au-Prince. The plans for sweatshops were there too, though not as explicit. Indeed, even as homeless Haitians were being bused one hour away to a desert to live, presumably because there was no room for them in the city, ground was being broken in town for new factories. The IHRC would additionally grant opportunities to foreign companies to invest in agriculture and tourism, which were euphemisms for land grab.

After much controversy in April 2010 about the 11 articles under which Bill Clinton’s IHRC would operate in the country, three new articles were appended to the organization’s charter without oversight. In Article 12, the IHRC gave itself the “full power to deliver proprietary titles and licenses for the construction of hospitals, power companies, ports, and other projects of economic development.” In a clear sign of power reversal, the Article called on Haiti’s ministries to work with the IHRC to accelerate its high-priority projects.

At the conclusion of its 18-month term, the IHRC would become an “Agency for the Development of Haiti,” with an indefinite mandate. So any democratically elected government in the future would find itself at the helm of an island nation, but without control of its ports, and therefore without the means to tax its imports and exports. Much of the country’s lands would be in foreign hands. The only way to raise revenue would be to go begging for aid funds. This had gone on for some time, but it would become institutionalized.

0

HAITI, DEVELOPMENT: The Clintons’ Haiti Screw-Up, As Told By Hillary’s Emails

politico.com, by Jonathan M. Katz, September 2, 2015, original
150902-katz-clintons-gty

It’s hard to find anyone these days who looks back on the U.S.-led response to the January 12, 2010, Haiti earthquake as a success, but it wasn’t always that way. Right after the disaster, even as neighborhoods lay in rubble, their people sweltering under tarps, the consensus—outside Haiti—was that America’s “compassionate invasion” (as TIME Magazine called it) had been “largely a success” (Los Angeles Times), offering further proof that “in critical moments of the history of mankind … the United States is, in fact, the indispensable nation” (Expresso, Portugal).

As the latest release of Hillary Clinton’s personal emails by the U.S. State Department Monday revealed, that perception was not an accident. “We waged a very successful campaign against the negative stories concerning our involvement in Haiti,” Judith McHale, the under-secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, wrote on February 26, 2010. A few weeks before, the public affairs chief had emailed newspaper quotations praising U.S. efforts in Haiti to Secretary Clinton with the note “Our Posts at work.” Clinton applauded. “That’s the result of your leadership and a new model of engagement w our own people,” she replied. “Onward!”

But one person even closer to the secretary of state was singing a different tune—very, very quietly. On February 22, after a four-day visit to the quake zone, Chelsea Clinton authored a seven-page memo which she addressed to “Dad, Mom,” and copied their chief aides. That informal report tells acontinuing story of the unique brands of power and intelligence wielded by the Clinton family in Haiti and around the world—and of the uniquely Clinton ways they often undermine themselves.

First off, there was the secrecy. The memo—by a Clinton, with a master’s in public health from Columbia University, pursuing a doctorate in international relations from Oxford and with a prominent role at her family’s foundation—would have obliterated the public narrative of helpful outsiders saving grateful earthquake survivors that her mother’s State Department was working so hard to promote. Instead, like so much of the inner workings of the Clintons’ vast network, it was kept secret, released only in an ongoing dump of some 35,000 emails from Hillary’s private server, in response to a Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit wrapped up in the politics of the 2016 presidential election.

Chelsea Clinton was blunt in her report, confident the recipients would respect her request in the memo’s introduction to remain an “invisible soldier.” She had first come to the quake zone six days after the disaster with her father and then-fiancé, Mark Mezvinsky. Now she was returning with the medical aid group Partners in Health, whose co-founder, Dr. Paul Farmer, was her father’s deputy in his Office of the UN Special Envoy for Haiti. What she saw profoundly disturbed her.

Five weeks after the earthquake, international responders were still in relief mode: U.S. soldiers roamed Port-au-Prince streets on alert for signs of social breakdown, while aid groups held daily coordination meetings inside a heavily guarded UN compound ordinary Haitian couldn’t enter. But Haitians had long since moved on into their own recovery mode, many in displacement camps they had set up themselves, as responders who rarely even spoke the language, Kreyòl, worked around them, oblivious to their efforts.

“The incompetence is mind numbing,” she told her parents. “The UN people I encountered were frequently out of touch … anachronistic in their thinking at best and arrogant and incompetent at worst.” “There is NO accountability in the UN system or international humanitarian system.” The weak Haitian government, which had lost buildings and staff in the disaster, had something of a plan, she noted. Yet because it had failed to articulate its wishes quickly enough, foreigners rushed forward with a “proliferation of ad hoc efforts by the UN and INGOs [international nongovernmental organizations] to ‘help,’ some of which have helped … some of which have hurt … and some which have not happened at all.”

The former first daughter recognized something that scores of other foreigners had missed: that Haitians were not just sitting around waiting for others to do the work. “Haitians in the settlements are very much organizing themselves … Fairly nuanced settlement governance structures have already developed,” she wrote, giving the example of camp home to 40,000 displaced quake survivors who had established a governing committee and a series of sub-committees overseeing security, sanitation, women’s needs and other issues.

“They wanted to help themselves, and they wanted reliability and accountability from their partners,” Chelsea Clinton wrote. But that help was not coming. The aid groups had ignored requests for T-shirts, flashlights and pay for the security committee, and the U.S. military had apparently passed on the committee’s back-up plan that they provide security themselves. “The settlements’ governing bodies—as they shared with me—are beginning to experience UN/INGO fatigue given how often they articulate their needs, willingness to work—and how little is coming their way.”

That analysis went beyond what some observers have taken years to understand, and many others still haven’t: that disaster survivors are best positioned to take charge of their own recovery, yet often get pushed aside by outside authorities who think, wrongly, that they know better. Her report also had more than an echo of the philosophy of her Partners in Health tour guides. More than five years later, her candor and force of insight impress experts. “I am struck by the direct tone and the level of detail,” says Vijaya Ramachandran, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development.

Jonathan M. Katz won the James Foley/Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism for his coverage of the 2010 Haiti earthquake and cholera epidemic, and the Overseas Press Club of America’s Cornelius Ryan Award for his book, The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster. He reported on the Clintons in Haiti for POLITICO on a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Follow him on Twitter @KatzOnEarth.

0

Haiti, Development: Chelsea Clinton, “Incompetence of the Haitian relief effort”

businessinsider.com, by Allan Smith, Insider, 

An email from Chelsea Clinton addressed to “Dad” and “Mom” became one of the more interesting nuggets within former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s State Department email release Monday.

In the 2010 email discussing the Haitian relief efforts following a massive earthquake, Chelsea wrote she was “profoundly disturbed” and “the incompetence was mind-numbing.”

Although the date of the message is not known, the seven-page memo ripping into the United Nations’ handling of the relief effort was written some time after Chelsea had spent four days in Haiti working as a part of the relief effort.

“If we do not quickly change the organization, management, accountability and delivery paradigm on the ground, we could quite conceivably confront tens of thousands of children’s deaths by diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid and other water-related diseases in the near future,” she wrote.

President Barack Obama had announced in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake that Bill Clinton, along with George W. Bush, would be tasked with leading the fundraising effort in conjunction with the United Nations.

At the time, Hillary made a visit to Haiti and assured Haitians that the US would assist in any way possible.

“We will be here today, tomorrow and for the time ahead,” she said.

Americans citizens donated $1.4 billion to recovery efforts in Haiti in the year following the earthquake, and the US government allocated $4 billion for the stricken country,according to NBC. The United Nations said that $13.4 billion had been set aside to spend on Haiti through 2020.

You can read the memo in its entirety here.

Read the original article on INSIDER. Copyright 2015. Follow INSIDER on Twitter.

Page 3 of 512345