Saturday, September 25, 2010

Haiti Catastrophe Continues

Five dead as storm hits Haiti camps 

Press Association, Saturday September 25 2010

A freak storm has blasted through Haiti's capital, killing at least five earthquake survivors as it tore down trees, billboards and tent homes, authorities said.
Three adults and two children were killed in the tarp, tent and shack camps that still dominate Port-au-Prince more than eight months after the January 12 earthquake, civil protection head Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste told the Associated Press. Several more were injured.
"We are investigating to see how many tents and camps were damaged," Ms Jean-Baptiste said.
The storm passed through the mountain-ringed bowl of the Haitian capital, exposing rubble-filled neighbourhoods to wind and rain at levels far below a sustained tropical storm. But that was enough to provoke panic and chaos, especially in encampments still home to more than 1.3 million people.
Gales sent tarps and poles flying, threw tin roofs into the sky and opened family shacks to falling rain. Wind rattled walls and windows of standing buildings with a clamour reminiscent of the quake itself.
"It was just a storm. Just a wind put us in a corner!" said Bresil Vignion, standing in the wreckage of his family's tin shack in a camp along the Canape-Vert road. "Tonight we don't know where we are going to sleep."
Reports of storm damage and deaths were slow to filter in as mobile phone reception remained degraded hours after the storm passed.
The sudden storm was not associated with any tropical system, Michael Lowry of the US National Hurricane Centre told AP. Meteorologists saw only a low-pressure system move across the Greater Antilles.
But for those living in this ravaged city, where reconstruction has barely begun, it was a forceful reminder of the danger still posed to a vulnerable country by an active Atlantic hurricane season months from being over.
"After what happened today, we hope we don't get a second one like it," said Patricia Pierre-Saint, a 47-year-old phone-card vendor who lost her home, child and husband in the quake.
Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2010, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Zombies of Haiti (video)

How to Make a Zombie, Haiti-Style

Lee Speigel
Lee Speigel Contributor
(Sept. 21) -- The undead are all around us, and have been for decades.

Zombies are in our mass consciousness, invading art, literature, entertainment and even education. But at the heart of this fear-mongering revolution is a single question: Is it all pure fiction, or are there in fact real zombies?

That depends on your definition of the word "zombie."
'Night of the Living Dead'
Everett Collection
Zombies invade a rural area in the 1968 classic "Night of the Living Dead."

For filmmakers in Hollywood, zombies are half-dead figures that lumber toward you with arms outstretched, stinking of rotting flesh. But in Haiti, could zombies be unfortunate victims who have been forced into slavery while under the influence of highly potent drugs?

While movies depict zombies as flesh eaters who spread their affliction like an illness, the voodoo culture and religion of Haiti has its own recipes for making a zombie -- a term derived from the word "Nzambi," meaning "spirit of a dead person" to the Bacongo people of Angola.

A leading theory holds that a voodoo priest, or bokor, is able to concoct a poison that can render a victim weak and appear dead.

"It's not what we see in Hollywood, of course. Strictly speaking, a zombie is a reanimated corpse that's been brought back to life to serve as a slave for a voodoo priest or priestess," said Brad Steiger, one of the most prolific authors of books dealing with unexplained phenomena.

In his recent book, "Real Zombies, the Living Dead and Creatures of the Apocalypse" (Visible Ink Press), Steiger explores the history of reported zombies in the real world.

"I have an account of a man from Miami who went to Haiti and was dancing with a very lovely Haitian lady, and he felt a little prick on his arm and didn't think anything of it. Next thing he knew, he woke up, was still in his suit and tie, but he was soiled and dirty and was holding a hoe in somebody's field.

"But he regained consciousness and managed to make it back to Miami. But this sort of thing still goes on with unscrupulous priests and priestesses. Generally, we're talking about a religion that is followed by 80 million people worldwide."

One man who took a "hands on" approach to the zombie culture is anthropologist Wade Davis. In 1982, Davis infiltrated the secret societies of Haitian voodoo, resulting in his 1985 eye-opening, international best-selling book (and subsequent movie) "The Serpent and the Rainbow" (Random House).

Davis investigated the most famous documented case of a reported real-world zombie, Clairvius Narcisse, who, in 1962, was pronounced dead in a Haitian hospital and later buried.

After 18 years, Narcisse showed up alive and told his story of having been drugged, buried, removed from a grave and put into slavery on a plantation with other men who allegedly shared the same fate.

"We have this case of Narcisse. From all scientific evidence, he was dead, and he came back into the realm of the living," Davis told AOL News. "Precisely because the scientists involved didn't believe in magic, there had to be a material explanation."

Davis explains that the Narcisse incident drew the attention of researchers back to "a series of reports found throughout the popular and academic literature of the reputed existence of a folk poison said to bring on a state of apparent death so profound that it could fool a physician."

Haitian bokors eventually gave Davis samples of the "zombie poison," which led him to zero in on a drug called tetrodotoxin -- the often deadly poison of a puffer fish.

Zombie painting
Image by Ricardo Pustanio
This painting depicts a Haitian zombie, based on numerous accounts of people being turned into mindless slaves by voodoo priests.
"Tetrodotoxin turns out to be a very big molecule that blocks sodium channels in the nerves, bringing on peripheral paralysis, dramatically low metabolic rates and yet consciousness is retained until the moment of death," said Davis.

After a bokor has placed the tetrodotoxin into someone's body, and that person is pronounced dead and subsequently buried, the bokor reportedly unearths the body and applies a chemical paste to keep the unfortunate victim in a zombified, trancelike state.

Presumably, this "undead" person is then used as the bokor's slave labor.

Davis suggests it makes sense that some unscrupulous priests in Haiti would take advantage of such a poison.

"They identified in their environment a natural product -- in this case, a fish -- that had the capability of bringing on a state of apparent death.

"When I collected samples of the poison at several locations and found that these fish were the one consistent ingredient, it struck me that there was really something going on here."

That said, Davis doesn't believe there's an assembly line creating zombies in Haiti.

"What I always suggested in my work was that zombies, as an idea, by definition, exist in Haiti.

"All religion is defined by how people deal with the finality of death and the mystery of what lies beyond," said Davis. "Any phenomenon that walks that line and dances along that edge between life and death is fascinating to us."

Kim Paffenroth, a professor of religious studies at Iona College in Rochester, N.Y., has a slightly different perspective on the religious significance of zombies.

"I was 12 years old when the first 'Dawn of the Dead' film came out, so I had that adolescent male fascination with these things," said Paffenroth, the author of several books on the Bible and theology, including "Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth" (Baylor University Press).

"And when, as an adult, I became interested in religious studies, I started looking at how the darker Christian themes of sin and evil are expressed in literature, art, film and television, and then the zombie stuff sort of made sense to me in a new way."

Paffenroth has an interesting take on why many people believe that zombies (among other ghouls, like vampires) signal a coming Armageddon to our world.

"It's a pretty perennial fear of the fragile nature of civilization. Every time there's an oil spill or a stock market crash, people get anxious, and, if anything, I think these more supernatural ways of dealing with it are a little safer outlet."

Paffenroth sees zombie films as a kind of heavy-handed critique of American society.

"I now realize, as I look at some of the fans out there, they look at zombie movies and they see the message as: 'Well, I need to own more guns, because then I'll be safe.' I can see where, on the surface, that's what the movies are saying, but it's kind of a really literal way to read it."

In his investigations, Steiger has come up with a theory about why zombies are generally depicted in end-of-the-world scenarios.

"A lot of people think the Apocalypse is just around the corner and many of us have been brought up to believe that the dead will raise from their graves on Judgment Day, which is why I think the zombie has reached this incredible surge."

Agree or disagree, it's undeniable that zombies are in the midst of a resurgence, the likes of which hasn't been seen since they emerged from the ground in George Romero's classic 1968 black-and-white thriller "Night of the Living Dead."

Sponsored Links
Whether they're starring in the popular 3-D "Resident Evil: Afterlife" film, playing the lead roles in AMC's upcoming series "The Walking Dead" or even fighting for the right of free speech, zombies are definitely in vogue.

And while there are some who speculate that a real zombie outbreak on Earth would be doomed to failure, there's at least marginal evidence that some form of zombie-ism exists and is taken seriously in Haiti (not to mention the creative minds of filmmakers).

So, the next time you find yourself alone in a field or a dark alley, it would probably be prudent to look over your shoulder -- you never know when you'll be menaced by something that's fairly easy to outrun.
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Life In Devastated Haiti

Life In Devastated Haiti
By Stephen Lendman

Nine months after the January 12 earthquake, Haitians still have little relief. Over one and a half million left homeless continue struggling to survive, despite billions in aid raised or pledged. It's for development, predatory NGOs, not them. That's the problem, and they suffering as a result, little media attention paid to their plight.
On September 15, Los Angeles Times writer Joe Mozingo headlined, "No plan in sight for Haiti's homeless," saying:
Where to put them is contentious, reconstruction "hang(ing) on the potentially explosive issue" of who owns the land. For example, pre-quake, tenant farmers used to plant corn and sugar cane on a wealthy family's 20-acre parcel "below the city's main transmission lines of the Delmas 33 road."
"Now an estimated 25,000 people call it home," living in one of many temporary camps, poorly protected against heavy rain, severe weather or hurricanes. When security men try to evict them, they're chased off with "rocks, sticks and machetes."
"It's not like we're comfortable here," says Katlyne Camean. "Last night when it rained, I filled three buckets of water from my house. But no one is telling us where they want us to go. I don't want to go somewhere worse."
They're pitted against an indifferent government, woefully little aid, and conditions unacceptable for anyone, including inadequate food, poor sanitation, little safe drinking water, weather-beaten makeshift shelters, too little of everything needed, no resolution of their homelessness, and the world community turning a blind eye to their plight.
Rubble is everywhere, only 2% of it removed. On September 11, AP's Tamara Lush reported that Port-au-Prince is strewn with "cracked slabs, busted-up cinder blocks, half-destroyed buildings," demolished homes, and "pulverized concrete" on streets and sidewalks. "By some estimates, the quake left about 33 million cubic yards of debris in Port-au-Prince - more than seven times the amount of concrete" used for Hoover Dam.
Overall, it's little different from nine months ago, authorities offering excuses that don't hold water, including little heavy equipment, problems navigating some roads, and few dump sites to put rubble collected.
There's no master plan, says Eric Overvest, the UN Development Program's country director. Also, no one's in charge, Haitian architect Leslie Voltaire saying:
"Everybody is passing the blame on why things haven't happened yet. There should be one person in charge. Resettlement has not even begun yet, and it can't until the city has been cleared."
Allocating funding for other purposes and bureaucratic delays complicate things. Most of all, it's Haiti, the hemisphere's poorest country, exploited ruthlessly for centuries. If a comparable quake struck San Francisco, restoration would begin at once. It takes time, money and commitment, available to well-off White communities, not poor Black ones.
Katrina-ravaged New Orleans residents understand, facing dire conditions five years later, those in Black communities on their own like millions of other poor Americans unaffected by natural disasters. In many respects, their lives are little different, given little aid during dire economic times.
Refugee International (RI) on Haiti
RI "advocates for lifesaving assistance and protection for displaced people and promotes solutions to displacement crises." Its challenge is helping 41 million world refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs), living in limbo without citizenship rights.
Emilie Parry and Melanie Teff just returned from Haiti after conducting RI's second field assessment "of the humanitarian response and related protection issues..."
Parry's September 13 article titled, "Haiti: Emergency Paralysis" describes what she calls:
Haitians "caught up in a protracted state of emergency. In the way that a spinal cord injury's paralysis leads to bedsores, atrophy, and skin rot in the patient, the (poor) humanitarian response in Haiti feels paralyzed. The local community networks and linkages are atrophying, the spontaneous camps are developing bedsores, and the momentum, the window of opportunity within this emergency, may be turning to rot."
Why? Because of world indifference. Planned reconstruction is for profit, leaving poor Haitians on their own to survive, the world community indifferent to their plight.
RI spent time in Haiti shortly after the quake, reporting on March 2 "From the Ground Up," explaining the toll on survivors, their desperate need for everything, including "food, water, shelter and protection from abuse and exploitation." They need an enormous amount of humanitarian aid. It's pledged but not provided.
RI recommended linking humanitarian efforts to Haiti's civil society network, comprised of grassroots community-based organizations plus the well-established internal NGOs. Most, however, are more self-serving than for poor Haitians, a topic a previous article addressed, accessed through the following link:
RI said few needs so far were addressed, including little or no "coordination and communication between Haitian civil society and UN and international NGOs...." Grassroots locals were mostly shut out to give corporate and well-connected NGOs free reign to profit from the vast human misery.
Locals had "a hard time accessing meetings at the UN compound in Port-au-Prince" to be part of a coordinated response. RI also interviewed displaced Haitians "who expressed concern about security," especially women and children vulnerable to rape other violence, and abuse. Then and now, they also lacked minimal amounts of everything, RI saying:
"Most people who lost their homes sleep under makeshift dwellings of sheets and sticks providing little protection from rain," and none from hurricanes. "The sanitation in the camps does not meet minimal international standards. The need for shelter poses immense logistical challenges....intrinsically linked to land ownership and property rights," an issue the Preval government is doing nothing to resolve.
Affected Haitians then and now need everything they're not getting, receiving pathetically little of the pledged aid. "By all accounts, the leadership of the humanitarian country team is ineffectual. Following the earthquake, it took three weeks for the Humanitarian Coordinator to call a meeting with aid organizations."
Damage to affected and surrounding areas "have far-reaching implications that go beyond" reconstructing Port-au-Prince. The entire country needs help, mostly for its deeply impoverished, neglected and exploited people, the quake affected ones desperate for help, so far not forthcoming.
In her September 13 article, Parry said:
" every part, semi-open space or crossroads in Port-au-Prince and the environs, we see a gathering of quake-displaced persons, make-shift lean-tos (few donated), tents....packed closely together, filling every space. There are no latrines, no showers, no (minimal) SPHERE standards observed, and no communications with international or local agencies responding to the emergency."
Chaotic conditions have risen to "extreme heights." Everything needed is in short supply or not provided. Security is lacking, forcing women to sleep in shifts to protect them and others from rape and abuse. The problem for thousands of unaccompanied children is enormous.
Present day Haiti is like January's, except for "the overwhelming stench of sewage and garbage," and the toll on Haitians after months of neglect.
"Children and adults have developed skin rashes and infections due to the poor water and sanitary conditions in the camps. The tents and lean-tos are tattered and torn; hundreds blew away in the recent storms, none remain dry (when it) rains, and it is the middle of hurricane season."
Across the city and surrounding areas, grassroots networks "are weakening," without enough resources, support, or ability to work with established NGOs or world humanitarian organizations.
Of the 1,000 - 1,300 camps, only six are policed by UNPOL/MINISTAH - there but doing little besides writing up incidences of rapes, other crimes, and botched "street abortions" for girls as young as 10.
Camp Coordination and Management, under the leadership of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) "is a confused and contradictory mess, with an overwhelming number of cases where local camp groups have no idea" who's in charge or what needs to be done to help.
"The numbers in the camps have grown," some displaced people having returned to Port-au-Prince from rural areas. Nothing is being done to help them. Little coordinated aid is provided, many camp residents saying "they feel they are being left to rot, left in the camps to die."
Scheduled November Elections
On November 28, first round legislative and presidential elections will be held. Democracy, however, will be absent because the nation's most popular party, Fanmi Lavalas, and 13 others are excluded, the system rigged to "elect" Washington friendly candidates.
Lawyer Ira Kurzban, an immigration and employment law expert and former legal counsel to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, calls the process "unfair, unconstitutional and undemocratic."
Haitians know a charade is planned. Many will opt out, their choice in April 2009 for the sham process to fill 12 open Senate seats that saw an estimated 5 - 10% turnout. Why bother this time when virtually no one running gives a damn about ordinary Haitians. It makes a mockery of real elections - illegitimate, farcical, and little more than bad theater. Nonetheless, unless the fluid date is changed, it'll be hailed as democracy in action. Millions of Haitians know better.
A Final Comment
Haiti remains in emergency. For growing numbers, aid is "too little, too late." It presents an enormous challenge for those who care, to "do better, in order to support the possibility of hope, the possibility of recovery, and the opportunity to build back better."
So far, it's planned only for the privileged, ordinary Haitians are on their own to survive. Other generations faced it earlier for centuries, helped only by the brief interregnum under Aristide, why millions in the country so badly want him back. His presence alone would make a world of difference, helping and providing many with what's now fading - hope.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Former Haiti president Aristide ready to return

The Return of Aristide

 The kidnapping and exile of the duly elected President of Haiti Jean-
Bertrand Aristide may rank as the most blatant crime of the last century. Could you imagine the President of the United States kidnapped and exiled in a foreign country and told that he would be shot on sight if he dared to return to comfort those who elected him during the greatest earthquake on record? That is part of the tragedy of Haiti. Part of what it will take to restore Haiti is the return of Aristide.

Johann Hari: Suffocating the poor: a modern parable

They democratically elected a president to stand up to the rich and multinational corporations - so our governments have him kidnapped

Today, I want to tell you the story of how our governments have been torturing and tormenting an island in the Caribbean – but it is a much bigger story than that. It's a parable explaining one of the main reasons how and why, across the world, the poor are kept poor, so the rich can be kept rich. If you grasp this situation, you will see some of the ugliest forces in the world laid out before you – so we can figure out how to stop them.
The rubble-strewn island of Haiti is now in the middle of an election campaign that will climax this November. So far, the world has noticed it solely because the Haitian-American musician Wyclef Jean wanted to run for President, only to be blocked because he hasn't lived in the country since he was a kid. But there is a much bigger hole in the election: the most popular politician in Haiti by far, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He's not there because, after winning a landslide election, he followed the will of the Haitian people who demanded he take on the multinational corporations and redistribute enough money that their children wouldn't starve – so our governments had him kidnapped him at gunpoint and refuse to let him back.
But we have to start a little earlier if this is going to make sense. For over two centuries, Haiti has been effectively controlled from outside. The French enslaved the entire island in the eighteenth century and worked much of the population to death, turning it into the sugar and coffee plantation for the world. By this century, Western governments were arming, funding and fuelling the psychopathic dictatorship of the Duvalier family – who slaughtered 50,000 people – supposedly because they were "our friends" in the fight against communism.
All this left Haiti the most unequal country in the world. A tiny elite lives in vast villas in the hills, while below and all around them, the overwhelming majority of the population live in tiny tin shacks with no water or electricity, crammed six-to-a-room. Just 1 per cent own 50 per cent of the wealth and 75 per cent of the arable land. Once the Haitian people were finally able to rise up in 1986 to demand democracy, they obviously wanted the country's wealth to be shared more fairly. They began to organize into a political movement called Lavalas – the flood – to demand higher wages and higher taxes on the rich to build schools and hospitals and subsidies for the half-starved poor. This panicked the elite.
And nobody panicked them more than a thin, softly-spoken, intellectual slum-priest named Aristide who found himself at the crest of this wave. He was born into a bitingly poor family and became a brilliant student. As a priest he soon became one of the leading exponents of Liberation Theology, the left-wing Catholicism that says people shouldn't wait passively for justice in the Kingdom of Heaven, but must demand it here and now. (The current Pope tried desperately to stamp out this "heresy".) Aristide explained: "The rich of my country, a tiny percentage, sit at a vast table overflowing with good food, while the rest of my countrymen are crowded under that table, hunched in the dirt and starving. One day the people under the table will rise up in righteousness."
On this platform, he was elected in 1990 in a landslide in the country's first free and fair election, taking 64 per cent of the vote. He kept his promise to the Haitian people: he increased the minimum wage from 38 cents a day to $1, demanding the multinational corporations pay a less insulting wage. He trebled the number of free secondary schools. He disbanded the murderous national army that had terrorized the population. Even the International Monetary Fund had to admit that over the Aristide period and just after, Haiti's Human Poverty Indicator – a measure of how likely your kids are to die, starve or go uneducated – dropped dramatically from 46.2 per cent to 31.8 per cent.
But why would foreign governments care about a small country, the poorest in the Western hemisphere, with only ten million inhabitants? Ira Kurzban, an American lawyer based in Haiti, explains: "Aristide represented a threat to [foreign powers] because he spoke for the 85 per cent of his population who had never been heard. If that can happen in Haiti, it can happen anywhere, including in countries where the [US and Europe] have huge economic interests and extract natural resources. They don't want real popular democracies to spread because they know it will confront US economic interests." Oxfam called this phenomenon "the threat of a good example."
So after Haiti had experienced seven months of democracy, the US toppled Aristide. Ordinary Haitians surrounded his home
In 1994, the Clinton administration agreed to return Aristide to power – provided he castrate his own political program and ignore the demands of his people. They made him agree to privatize almost everything, freeze wages, and sack half the civil service. Through gritted teeth, he agreed, and for the remainder of his time in office tried to smuggle through what little progress he could. He was re-elected in an even bigger landslide in 2000 – but even his tiny shuffles towards redistribution were too much. The US and French governments had Aristide kidnapped at gunpoint and dumped him in the Central African Republic. They said he was a "dictator", even though the last Gallup poll in a free Haiti found 60 per cent supported him, compared to just 3 per cent backing the alternative imposed on the country by the US.
The human rights situation in Haiti then dramatically deteriorated, with a massive campaign of terror and repression. The Lavalas Party was banned from running again, with most of the country's democracy activists jailed. There were huge military assaults on the slums which demanded Aristide's return. A US Army Psychological Operations official explained the mission was to ensure Haitians "don't get the idea they can do whatever they want."
The next President, Rene Preval, learned his lesson: he has done everything he was told to by corporations and governments, privatizing the last remaining scraps owned by the state, and using tear gas to break up strikes for higher wages. The Haitian people rejected the whole rigged electoral process, with turn-out falling to just 11 per cent. Today, Aristide is a broken man, living in exile in South Africa, studying for a PhD in linguistics, banned from going home.
This is part of a plain pattern. When poor countries get uppity and tried to ask for basic justice, our governments have toppled them, from Iran wanting to control its own oil in 1953 to Honduras wanting its workers to be treated decently in 2009. You don't have to overthrow many to terrify the rest.
It doesn't have to be this way. This is not the will of the people, in the US or Europe: on the contrary, ordinary citizens are horrified when the propaganda is stripped away and they see the truth. It only happens because a tiny wealthy elite dominates our foreign policy, and uses it to serve their purposes – low wages and control of other people's economies and resources. The people of Haiti, who have nothing, were bold and brave enough to campaign and organize to take power back from their undemocratic elites. Are we?
For further reading
Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment by Peter Hallward (Verso, 2007)

Friday, July 16, 2010

ZERO: Percent of Pledged US Aid to Haiti That Has Been Given

The US has some things in common with the other nations who have pledged to help Haiti in the wake of the January 12th Earthquake that has left more than 300,000 dead and millions homeless and destitute with no jobs, food, shelter, health care or much hope for a better future. What, pray tell, is that? Despite all the big talk and big crocodile tears, the US has delivered zero dollars, zip, nada! Empty promises don't fill empty stomachs. This is even worse when one looks into the possibility that the quake itself was manufactured by the US military to take down the Haitian government and to seize the newly discovered oil, gold and other riches in Haiti. Not to mention Obama's 'Special Envoy to Haiti', the corrupt Bill Clinton, who has angled his way into control of the Haitian telephone system.

Well, a 3.7 magnitude quake just hit Washington today.

Maybe somebody is playing tit for tat.

Here are several videos on the situation in Haiti:

(CNN) -- Six months after a devastating earthT1quake struck Haiti, most governments that promised money to help rebuild the country have not delivered any funds at all, a CNN investigation has found.
Donors promised $5.3 billion at an aid conference in March, about two months after the earthquake -- but less than 2 percent of that money has been handed over so far to the United Nations-backed body set up to handle it.
Only four countries have paid anything at all: Brazil, Norway, Estonia and Australia.
The United States pledged $1.15 billion. It has paid nothing, with the money tied up in the congressional appropriations process.
Venezuela promised even more -- $1.32 billion. It has also paid nothing, although it has written off some of Haiti's debt.
Former President Bill Clinton, a U.N. special envoy for Haiti, said he plans to put pressure on governments that have been slow to deliver on their promises.
"I'm going to call all those governments and say, the ones who said they'll give money to support the Haitian government, I want to try to get them to give the money, and I'm trying to get the others to give me a schedule for when they'll release it," Clinton told CNN's Anderson Cooper earlier this week.
He said the worldwide economic crisis was at least partly to blame.
Accidents and Disasters
"I think that they're all having economic trouble, and they want to hold their money as long as possible," Clinton said.
Altogether, about $506 million has been disbursed to Haiti since the donors' conference in March, said Jehane Sedky of the U.N. Development Program.
That's about 9 percent of the money that was pledged. But about $200 million was money that had been in the pipeline for aid work before the earthquake, and about another $200 million went directly to the government of Haiti to help it get back on its feet, Sedky explained.
That has left the commission with about $90 million in donations since the conference, Sedky said.
There is some dispute about the World Bank's contribution
The bank says it has made available $479 million dollars, and of that $56.6 million has "already been used" for different government-led projects. The World Bank says that this money was provided directly to the Haitian government and did not go into the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission.
CNN compiled the information for this report by reviewing commission figures and surveying the donors that had made pledges to determine the disposition of those pledges.
Spain, France and Canada are also among the countries that have not yet followed through on their pledges, CNN found.
No countries told CNN they do not plan to deliver the money eventually.
The pledges are for fiscal year 2010-2011, so the donors have until the middle of next year to get the funds to the Haiti recovery commission, Sedky said.
U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said Wednesday that aid delivery to Haiti is going relatively well compared to other disaster relief efforts the world body has been involved in.
"Compared with other disasters, coordination systems in Haiti have actually functioned reasonably well," he said, adding that there was no requirement for aid efforts to work within systems.
"But within that constraint, what we've been trying to do is coordinate the aid responses as best as we can, and we are trying to provide food as quickly as possible," he said.
Some charities, meanwhile, are spending money as fast as they get it, while others are planning long-term projects.
Doctors Without Borders -- primarily a disaster-relief organization -- has received $112 million and spent $65 million, it says. The group plans to spend more than $109 million by the end of the year, spokesman Michael Goldfarb told CNN.
The Red Cross has spent $148 million of the $468 million it has taken in, and is holding some money in reserve for more permanent projects such as shelter and water.
Private money has also come in from the Clinton Foundation, from Mexican telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim Helu and Canadian mining investor Frank Giustra, but that's not part of the $5.3 billion pledged by countries at the conference in March.
The January 12 quake left more than 220,000 dead, 300,000-plus injured and more than 1 million homeless. According to recent U.N. reports, the quake destroyed 60 percent of government infrastructure and left more than 180,000 homes uninhabitable.
Six months later, more than 1.5 million remain in overcrowded displacement camps.
According to the United Nations, 1,300 camping sites and 11,000 latrines have been built, and thousands of kilos of food and humanitarian resources have been delivered to those in need.
CNN'S Richard Roth at the United Nations contributed to this report.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Heavy Rain Destroys Haitian Camp (video)

Six months after the devastating Haitian earthquake that evidence shows was man-made, life for most people in Haiti is still a nightmare. Here is what happens in a tent city when a sudden storm arises.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Haitian Disaster Aid Disaster

The following article details the disaster on top of the disaster - the failure of the nations of the World to adequately deliver promised aid to the people of Haiti. As Haiti has faded off the headlines, so has the commitment to provide life-saving aid. The worst offenders seem to be the largest governmental donors. They are using aid schemes that basically route all aid back to themselves through multinational corporations who are making a literal killing at the expense of Haiti. Read the details here.

Disaster Aid, or Aid Disaster?

The international community (here referring to nations and international organizations) has pledged or given $9.9 billion in relief and reconstruction aid to Haiti, since the earthquake on January 12, 2010. Citizens and non-profit agencies of foreign countries have provided billions more. The aid is many times the size of Haiti's annual budget, which was $1.97 billion for the 2009-10 fiscal year. [1]If one looks close to the ground, in certain refugee camps and community organizations, one can see the donations of citizens and non-profits at work, supplying tents, food and medical aid. A handful of progressive foundations are funding community, peasant and advocacy organizations as they work for an alternative rebuilding process, based on economic justice and the fulfillment of social needs. Social assistance and rebuilding projects are working best when communities are engaged in the planning and implementation.Yet, for the most part, the impact of the dollars is imperceptible. Where is it going?Much of the aid pledged has not yet arrived, and may never. A lot of it has gone straight back to donor nations, as with the $.40 on every US government aid dollar that paid for the US military presence in Haiti for, at least, the first two months after the quake. [2] Untold dollars more go to US firms, like the agribusiness corporations whose surplus rice is being purchased by USAID to deliver as aid. Then there are fees and expenses paid to a small army of consultants working for foreign governments and international agencies. Many UN consultants, for example, slept until mid-March in a luxury cruise ship (the Love Boat), which the UN rented. Then, there is graft, corruption and poor planning, all of which further redirects aid dollars away from desperate earthquake survivors, up to 1.9 million of whom are left homeless, hungry and wet in tents during the rainy season.
What would Haitians like to see happen with the aid? We asked for opinions; here are a few.Christine Miradieu is an unemployed mother of nine who lost her husband, one of her children, and her home in the earthquake. She now lives with six of her children in two tents in a field outside of the town of Gressier. They tell me the international community gave $2 million dollars in aid. Where is it? [We suggest the figure is actually $9.9 billion.]What? [Turns to her family behind her.] You hear? Nine point nine billion in aid. Now, who's getting that? We haven't seen any of it.Lucien St. Louis is an agronomist by training who worked for many years with farmers through the Ministry of Agriculture. Now, he is employed by a European NGO, helping to direct disaster responses in several earthquake-impacted towns to those who most need them.
First, we want to say how much we appreciate all the citizens of the world who have paid attention to Haiti after January 12 and who have given whatever they could, whether money or solidarity. They make us know we're not alone in this fight to reclaim our lives and rebuild our country.This aid could be a marvelous thing, giving us the assistance we need to get back on our feet. It could help us build a different country, a country where everyone is recognized as a human being, a country where all children go to school, and no one dies for lack of decent medical care. It could help strengthen peasant agriculture, so farmers could stay in the countryside, where they could have work and feed the nation, instead of having to migrate to Port-au-Prince. It could help women do marketing and form cooperatives, so they could have an income for their family. It could provide decent housing for all, especially those who lost their homes in the earthquake, in communities that are close to all the services people need to live. It could strengthen the people's institutions that are trying to build a new society and economy.We haven't seen any of this yet. But, we're going to keep on fighting for it.Ghislene Deloné (a pseudonym used at her request) is a health promoter at the clinic of the Center for the Promotion of Women Workers (CPFO). Prior to this job, she worked for eleven years as a seamstress in a multinational textile factory.
Now, we have the international community which came to Haiti, which is helping workers and CPFO get medicines. They're distributing medicines; they're doing free exams for the women at CPFO. Workers can now come and get the medical care they need, without having to pay anything. We are satisfied.Marlène Jean-Pierre lives in Cité Soleil. She is a student in civil engineering and an organizer with women's and youth grassroots groups in Cité Soleil.
We don't need more than social support. We need collaboration with all the foreign citizens who want to come help us Haitians, who want to give their support. We don't need money coming into the country to create huge projects to bring about change, no. When that money comes, the population itself doesn't receive it. It doesn't ever get to the community. They should find people within the community and divide it among them. But, the foreigners who came after the earthquake, they don't know a single person. They come to this country and want to take action. They say, "I've brought you water! I've brought you food! Look at all I've brought for you!" But, they don't know who to contact. So, they work through the government, or else, they choose someone to work with them, and that person gets to direct the aid whatever way they want. But, with someone who knows the country well, that work would be better supervised, they'd be able to see that the population is really receiving the aid directly. We know there are billions of dollars coming to the NGOs now. It's from that money the NGOs are paying their employees, that they're buying gas for their cars; it's with that money that they're paying for their own security. The only thing we ask is that, whatever is left for us, that the work they do with it is done well. That's all we ask for.Carolle Pierre-Paul Jacob is a coordinator of Solidarity Among Haitian Women (SOFA). Among other things, SOFA provides health care and anti-violence support to women now living in refugee camps.
This is an international parade. The aid has been given in total chaos. The way it's been run represents economic and political domination. It's being done in a context where the symbols of state power are gone, and the government is basically nonexistent. There are lots of ways we could have taken advantage of this moment, to create a minimum of social, economic, and political transformation. But, we haven't had that chance, because of the domination of the foreigners.Josette Pérard is the director of Fon Lambi, the Haitian-run branch of the Lambi Fund of Haiti. Josette has a long history of providing funding and technical support to women and peasant groups in Haiti and, prior to that, in the Congo.
The people want another system, so they can be treated as citizens in a country that belongs to them. They want their rights as human beings to be respected. But, with all the aid and programs, they're treating people like children. It's not possible. Who knows better than the people? They want to make decisions with themselves; they don't want anyone to make those decisions for them.What plan does the country have five months after the earthquake? People can't sit in the mud in the camps all day; they can't live like that. Now, they're kicking people out of the tents to send them to other tents, without water or shade. There are no changes. The government is totally irresponsible.We're very happy that people are coming to help us, but there is no one to sit down with them to coordinate. This is because the state is inexistent. It doesn't take its responsibility. People are saying, "Here's what we need in the way of aid; here's what we want to happen so we can have results." But, each group comes up with its own program for reconstruction. If no one sits down together and comes up with one coordinated program, will there be one? What makes me most angry is to see people sitting under the hot sun to get a half-sack of rice and a bottle of oil. Where are they going to cook food? They don't have a stove to cook food with, and they can't eat rice and oil only. They're saying that aid recipients are selling the food, in order to buy a piece of bread with peanut butter, because they don't have any way to cook the rice. People are very dissatisfied. For weeks, there have been demonstrations in the streets against Préval.Presto Deroncil has lived in Cité Soleil since 1977, where he is an informal (unelected) community leader.
Cité Soleil is a place where lots of money is spent, but nothing ever happens. It's the place where everyone comes to make money, to get rich. After January 12, it got even worse. After January 12, everyone mobilized, the international community mobilized. Me, I thought that things were finally going to change. No way! I see things getting more difficult. I see there's a lot of food distribution happening. At the beginning, it went well, but after a while things started getting looser, people started making money off it. What hurts the most is that people from Cité Soleil have been working to have political representation, to have people who will represent them in the government. But, now, it's those same people who are making a business [out of aid]. Imagine, really imagine - when a person is the leader in a community, there are a lot of things that person shouldn't do. But, there are people who take those cards [aid vouchers] and make a fortune with them. They buy cars with them; they buy motorcycles. Something that was meant to help the people, and now they're selling them. I think this has to change.People are sleeping in the mud; they're sleeping in garbage. When it rains, they don't have anywhere to sleep. I think that the most important thing now is a public housing project within Cité Soleil. I think that everyone, the international community that wants to help Cité Soleil, they must sit with the community leaders, with the population of this community. First off, they should listen to people, so that they know what they should work on. We know what we need.Jacqueline Cherilus is a fourth-year medical student at Université Lumière in Port-au-Prince. On January 12, her school collapsed, killing many of her professors and classmates. Her home was damaged, and now she and her family sleep under a tarp, because they are afraid to be inside.
Americans and everyone who've sent tents, we're tired of that stuff, those same tents and tarps. We need construction. You see how strong the rains are becoming? Tents can't resist that rain. How long can we live in tents and tarps? You can't live for two or three years under a tarp. We need houses. We're going to have hurricanes soon and flooding. The aid is poorly organized and poorly divided. There are lots of people who don't receive anything. To have real aid, we need social change. Right now, they're just giving us tarps, tents, and food. We need health care. You see, in Briztou [a tent community in Pétion-ville] they only have one doctor for 25,000 people? And, there's no educational reform. Children are still paying to go to school. Like my little brother, who still has to pay. How can other children, the ones who lost their parents in the earthquake, pay for school?
1] Matthew Bigg, "UPDATE 2-Haiti GDP to shrink but govt says revenue recovering," Reuters, March 4,[2] Jonathan Katz, "Billions for Haiti, A Criticism for Every Dollar," Associated Press, March 5, 2010. Sources taken from USAID and the U.N. See

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Micro Lending Helps Haitian Women (video)

Able to quickly reach a well-developed network of women throughout the country, an alternative banking system performs while the Haitian economy is in shambles.
A micro-credit program and banking system for more than 200,000 women in Haiti has come to the rescue of the overall economy in the wake of the devastating earthquake.
At a time when Haitian commercial banks remain closed, Fonkoze, the Haitian branch of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, mobilized over one weekend to get funds to its members in rural towns as well as Port-au-Prince.
Between 2 a.m. and 2 p.m., last Saturday, January 23, Fonkoze brought in two million dollars in cash from their U.S. bank and distributed it by helicopters to regional offices in the most remote parts of the country.
That got money flowing again. The cash came from Haitians working abroad who had sent funds — called remittances — to their relatives.
Also known as Haiti’s, “Alternative Bank for the Organized Poor,” Fonkoze found a way to get money to its members through the 34 of its 41 branch offices still open after the earthquake. It had a lot of help in high places: the U.S. Secretary of State, top Treasury and Defense Department officials, the Federal Reserve, the Agency for International Development, the United Nations, the Inter-American Development Bank and more.
The operation read like a cloak-and-dagger saga. Anne Hastings, the CEO of Fonkoze Financial Services, was point person on shaping the unorthodox solution. It involved many conference calls to Washington, New York and Miami, as well as intricate strategies with managers on the ground in Haiti who would get the money to the women.
By Friday, January 22, the plan was ready. Remittances from U.S.-based Haitians deposited in Fonkoze’s accounts at City National Bank of New Jersey were sent to JP Morgan Chase in Miami, converted into cash — and packed in office supply boxes. An armored vehicle then transferred the boxes to Homestead Air Force Base.
A C-17 plane, diverted from Langley Air Force Base, landed at Homestead at 3 a.m. Saturday, took on the camouflaged cargo of cash, and flew to Haiti, where the major airport at Port-au-Prince has been under U.S. military control since the earthquake.
Once there, Hastings and two other Fonkoze executives inspected the cash cargo — and called the Pentagon to say so far, so good. Under a military escort, the Fonkoze vehicle loaded with the boxes of cash awaited the two helicopters that could fly the money to 10 designated drop-off locations.
Fonkoze’s Jean-Guy Noel rode with the helicopters as they began deliveries before dawn. Seven hours later, all the cash had been delivered and the helicopters were back in Port-au-Prince. By early afternoon, the cash had been distributed to the 34 Fonkoze branches. Almost immediately, the Fonkoze managers began giving Fonkoze members cash from their relatives, a financial lifeline at a time when the formal banking system is in shambles and remittances sent through it from overseas Haitians remain locked up.
Jennifer Harris, a member of the policy staff of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a memo to Pentagon officials released by Fonkoze, spelled out the implications of the combined State-Defense operation.
“Fonkoze has by far the deepest reach into the country’s rural poor, a remittance network that would take years to recreate from scratch. As people continue to migrate from Port-au-Prince, Fonkoze’s branch network will become even more essential,” she said. “Perhaps most important, unlike the commercial banks, Fonkoze has re-opened many of its branches and has continued to pay out remittances using its cash on hand.”
In essence, she said, the unconventional operation “may well have stabilized the banking system for the country’s most vulnerable population.”
Fonkoze has been operating in Haiti for 15 years. Ninety-nine percent of its members are women. By midweek, it expects all but three of its branches to be open. In the heavily damaged capital city, Fonkoze managers set up shop at a makeshift office in the courtyard next to its damaged headquarters—as hundreds of Haitians lined up to get the money due them.
In addition to micro-lending programs, Fonkoze sponsors major literacy, health care and micro-insurance programs. Its remittances and savings accounts serve more than 200,000 people, making it a significant part of the country’s financial system. Relatives of Fonkoze members working abroad use its conduits to send back money — “that taxi driver in New York City who wants to send fifty dollars to his mother,” says Leigh Carter, Fonkoze USA fundraiser — amounting to $57.7 million last year.
It also serves as a vendor for three other remittance services that still operate after the earthquake: MoneyGram, CAM and Unitransfer. The process is a lifeline for a country where, in 2007, 79 percent of Haitians lived on less than $2 a day and 55 percent lived on half that.
Fonkoze’s micro-lending program has four different levels. The first step is for the poorest of the poor and may involve home repairs and health care, as well as building the confidence of the women as they plan to start a micro-enterprise. Next the women may qualify for small loans — perhaps only $25 — with a short repayment period, while they enroll in literacy classes. In Haiti, more than 50 percent of people are illiterate.
The third level is the core: a “solidarity” group in which friends take out loans together, then morph into credit centers of 30 to 40 women. These women can start out borrowing $75, but if they prosper they can borrow up to $1,300 for six months.
The fourth level focuses on business development. Some women in this group borrow up to $25,000 and are being nurtured to become part of the formal economy, creating jobs in rural areas where there are few employment opportunities.
It isn’t the first time that a micro-lending network of mostly women has taken a lead role in helping rebuild a country’s economy after a natural disaster. In Poland, after a devastating flood in the mid-1990s, the U.S.-backed Fundusz Mikro became the conduit for credit to small businesses, ultimately funneling more than $10 million to rebuild when the central government proved inept and also tone-deaf to the challenge.
Leigh Carter, who broke several vertebrae in her back getting out of the Fonkoze headquarters building during the earthquake and was airlifted out days later, is back at work in Washington. She says multinational economic and financial leaders already are talking to Fonkoze about ways to use their extensive network of micro-lending programs for programs to rebuild the Haitian economic base.
“People are coming to us saying ‘you need to expand your capacity,’” she said.
But first things first: the immediate priority had to be getting cash to its members, throughout Haiti, from their friends and relatives abroad, which in itself expands members ability to survive and rebuild.

Fonkoze has had strong success working with microfinance programs to improve lives of suffering women and their families. This program, Chemen Lavi Miyo, which means “Pathway to a Better Life” in Haitian creole, is testing a new approach to helping those living in extreme poverty to transition into a sustainable way of life. This highly structured and intensive program combines livelihoods and basic support with training and financial management so that at the end of just 18 months, participants will be equipped with the skills and a business plan to move themselves out of poverty. “What we want to demonstrate,” says Anne Hastings, director of the program, is that there is a “proven, replicable, methodology for accompanying people as they struggle to make their way out of these conditions into a …decent standard of living.” Fonkoze is now leading microfinance programs that will help rebuild Port-au-Prince since the devastating 10 January, 2010 earthquake that hit the capital and outlying areas.

For more information on this topic:
“A graduation pathway for Haiti’s poorest – Lessons learnt from Fonkoze,” Karishma Huda and Anton Simanowitz – The Mastercard Foundation, 29 September, 2009 “The Haiti Earthquake: How microfinance is helping,” – CGAP – Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, World Bank Publications, 27 January, 2010 “Reimagining Microfinance,” Alex Counts, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Stanford Graduate School of Business, 13 May, 2008 “Gender and Microlending – Diveristy of Experience,” – Critical Half / Annual Journal 2004, Women for Women International

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Monsanto Attacks Haiti With GMO Seeds!

How shall I oppress thee? Let me count the ways...America, her allies and the corporations who rule her, are forever finding new ways to destroy Haiti and her people. For two hundred years they have frustrated the desire of the Haitian people to be fully independent and free. Now with high tech seeds, a new form of oppression is set loose on Haiti. It means the total subservience of Haiti to Monsanto for the ability to grow crops to feed herself. Monsanto, not Haiti, will determine what will grow and how it will be done, and who will profit from Haiti's agriculture. Read about it here and learn what needs to be done.

Monsanto, Haiti's "New Earthquake"

"A new earthquake" is what Haitian peasant farmer leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) called the news that Monsanto will be dumping 60,000 seed sacks (475 tons) of hybrid corn seeds and vegetable seeds on Haiti, seeds doused with highly toxic fungicides such as thiram, known to be extremely dangerous to farm workers. Hybrid seeds, like GMO seeds (in contrast to Creole heirloom or organic seeds) require lots of water, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides. In addition if a small farmer tries to save hybrid seeds after harvest, hybrid seeds usually do not "breed true" or grow very well in the second season, forcing the now-indentured peasant to buy seeds from Monsanto or one of the other hybrid/GMO seed monopolies in perpetuity. Monsanto wanted initially to dump GMO seeds on Haiti, but even the corrupt Haitian government knew that this would spark a rebellion, so Monsanto cleverly decided to dump hybrid seeds instead. The Haitian small farmers organization has committed to burning Monsanto's seeds, and has called for a march to protest the corporation's presence in Haiti on June 4, for World Environment Day.

Read More

Learn more on
OCA's Millions Against Monsanto campaign page.

Alert of the Week

Monsanto's Poison Pills for Haiti
Take Action in Solidarity with Haitian Farmers Who Vow to Burn Monsanto's Toxic Fungicide-Coated Hybrid Seeds

Since gaining their independence from France more than 200 years ago in a bloody slave uprising, Haitian farmers have wisely protected their seeds and nurtured native crop varieties. They know that true food security is maintained by farmers who save, trade and breed indigenous seeds using traditional organic methods.

As Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, the Executive Director of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP), wrote earlier this year, "We need to establish seed banks and have silos where we can store our Creole seeds. Local, organic seeds are the basis of food sovereignty. It's urgent that Haitians buy local seeds. ... What's the danger we face today? It's that food aid from USAID and others is getting dumped in the country."

USAID and Monsanto have a poison pill for Haiti, designed to the make the island nation into a slave colony once again, except this time they won't be slaves for France, but rather for Monsanto and corporate agribusiness. Join the Haitian people and the growing global movement of Millions Against Monsanto.

Take Action

You can
donate to the distribution of local, organic seeds within Haiti here.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Imperial Plunder of Haiti

What is taking place now in Haiti? This article which is a collection of articles seems to paint a dismal picture of the hyenas and jackals moving in to rip apart the carcass of a devastated country which has struggled for 500 years to survive. The international 'aid' community is moving in for the kill as if the quake were not bad enough. According to some reports the major food market in Port au Prince has been burnt down by the government in retaliation for refusing to go along with a scheme to sell aid items on the black market. Thousands are being forcibly removed from tent encampments with no where to go, or moved to UN camps with no facilities.
The nightmare continues.

Preparing Haiti For Exploitation And Plunder
By Stephen Lendman
Over 15 weeks post-quake, Haiti's imperial takeover is proceeding. It began straightaway after the calamity, Haitians victimized by denied aid, appalling repression, and now dispossession of their land, homes, and communities. More on that below.
On April 16, The New York Times carried Reuters and AP reports stating Haiti's parliament approved the participation of foreign investors to rebuild the country, meaning, of course, seize, occupy, own, control, and colonize it for profit, using Haitians as exploited serfs.
AP stated:
"Haiti's soon-to-expire parliament has approved the creation of (an Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission - IHRC) co-chaired by former US President Bill Clinton to oversee billions in post-quake reconstruction aid, the Ministry of Communications said Friday (April 16)."
The vote also extended Haiti's state of emergency for 18 months, leaving the Rene Preval-Jean-Max Bellerive government in charge, effectively a dictatorship like Preval instituted in 1999 by not renewing parliament and ruling by decree pending new elections.
Reuters explained that a March 31 "donors" conference established the IHRC to oversee their investment, Preval to have nominal veto power over commission decisions. In fact, he'll rubber stamp what Washington and corporate interests dictate, supervised by the World Bank, a longstanding imperial tool.
Preval asked, "Do we lose our sovereignty because of the creation of this commission? I think the answer is no."
Except for the Aristide years (1991, 1994 - 96, and 2001 -2004), early in Preval's first term (1996 - 2001), and its brief 1804 liberation, Haiti lacked sovereignty throughout its history. Post-quake, it has even less, its people more than ever in jeopardy with imperial plans to gravely harm them, perhaps exterminate hundreds of thousands through neglect or other means.
Laying Imperial Plans
On March 10, prior to the March 31 "donors" conference, Preval was received at the White House, held a joint press conference, ignored the plight of his people, yet Obama thanked him for "showing great courage and determination," when, in fact, he's been largely invisible, and to date has done nothing to engage Haitians directly, including in their makeshift camps the way Jean-Bertrand Aristide would have done straightaway, with a hands-on approach for long hours daily.
Preval prefers White House photo-ops in deference to power and privilege, increasing, not alleviating his peoples' suffering.
The Predators Ball - Nations Gather in New York for Their Share
The web site announced the:
"International Donors' Conference Toward a New Future for Haiti" explaining:
"The United States and the United Nations (UN), in cooperation with the Government of Haiti, and with the support Brazil, Canada, the European Union, France, and Spain co-hosted" the conference and received "over US $5 billion pledged for Haiti's recovery" - around $1 billion promised by Washington, less than the EU's $1.7 billion and Venezuela's $1.3 billion. In total, however, it's a fraction of what Haitians need, and "redevelopment" won't reach them as it's earmarked for profit-making ventures, not poverty-stricken neighborhoods and essential infrastructure to support them.
A recovery and development roadmap outlined short and longer-term priorities, with participating countries lining up for their take, the lion's share, of course for America, then France and Canada, and what they have in mind is more sweatshops, gentrified elite areas, expanded tourism, free trade zones, and the grand prize - exploiting Haiti's resources, including what's believed to be abundant untapped oil reserves, what US oil giants made plans for decades ago. They intend deep water ports, refineries, and other facilities to fully exploit the treasure, not mentioned in major media reports, now largely silent on Haiti and its long-suffering people.
Ahead of the conference on March 27, a New York Times editorial headlined, "Making Haiti Whole," endorsed it, saying:
It marks "the beginning of the long, slow birth of a new Haiti. Representative of the Haitian government, the United States and other nations and aid organizations will be discussing large, ambitious, farsighted plans," far different ones from what The Times suggests.
On April 28, Reuters headlined, "Lawmakers agree on trade bill to help Haiti," saying:
"Top US lawmakers said on Wednesday they have reached a bipartisan deal to help Haiti rebuild its earthquake-shattered economy by opening the US market to more Haitian clothing and textiles" - to be produced in rebuilt sweatshops, where workers are treated like slaves, not human beings. They pay starvation wages, no benefits, and no overtime for up to 70 hours a week in harsh or hazardous environments. They're inhumane workplaces, dimly lit in stifling heat, with no way to organize for redress or avoid being fired if complain.
Yet according to Congressman Charles Rangel (representing his black Harlem constituents):
"The Haitian garment sector, Haiti's flagship industry, was making important strides prior to the earthquake and helping the country's economy establish a stable foothold. With this legislation, we will help to get the garment sector and Haiti's economy back on that critical trajectory," mindless of how it affects exploited workers.
Mindless also of's April 27 report headlined, "Preval Instigated Fire rips through major Haitian market," saying:
"A large incendiary fire" destroyed much of Port-au-Prince's main public market, Marche du Port, affecting hundreds of stalls and two surrounding blocks. UN Blue Helmets (MINUSTAH) were notably absent. Firefighters had inadequate resources, and shopkeepers rushed to save what they could.
One seller, Pierre Elian, said:
"The front of the market place is already burned down. We don't know if the area where we kept our merchandise is also burning, because they won't let us go near it."
Merchants blamed Preval-controlled instigators, saying "recognized gang members were seen pouring gasoline over material to" ignite the blaze - as "political pressure against the poor" who need the food and merchandise to survive.
Patrick Servius, who lost his clothing business, said:
"Preval is angry with us for our refusal to sell relief supplies in our places. These are (donated goods) for the earthquake victims, not for Preval's profits. Now we pay for our patriotism."
They'll soon know what else Preval has in mind. More on that below.
The Next Shoe to Drop - Forced Relocations
On April 7, the Haiti Response Coalition (HRC, a network of urban and rural civil society groups) issued an alert saying:
An encampment of 11,000 Haitians on Saint Louis de Gonzague school land face forced displacement. They've "been offered a plot of land that will hold 500 in a different location. No regard has been given to the fact that the majority of the 11,000 will end up in the street," or that mass forced relocations are coming next.
On April 12, AFP headlined, "Haiti evacuates quake victims camp, faces critics," saying:
"....authorities ramped up moves to forcibly evacuate dozens of tent cities across the capital....After evicting some 7,000 people at the weekend (from the national stadium), the government began the forced removal of a further 10,000" from camps around the city, early steps preceding mass numbers to follow, ahead of preparing the area for redevelopment.
One camp member said he was given a week to leave for Tabarre Issa, a UN camp where there are "No toilets, no showers....there's nothing there."
On April 11, Reuters reported that "Haiti starts moving quake victims to safer refuge," saying:
"Haiti's government and foreign aid agencies started an move thousands of earthquake survivors," on the pretext of sending them to safer areas ahead of seasonal rains that cause flooding.
On April 29, Los Angeles Times writer Ken Ellingwood headlined, "Tensions rise over Haiti tent camps," saying:
Tensions are "playing out at stadiums, in churchyards and factory lots, almost anywhere there is enough land to pitch a tent. (Authorities face) the tricky task of balancing the needs of more than a million homeless with the urge of many others to resume a more normal life," ignoring the real "urge" for imperial plunder.
Haiti's constitution recognizes the rights of all citizens to "decent housing, education, food and social security."
The "United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement....reflect and are consistent with international human rights law and international humanitarian law." They:
-- assure "full equality, the same rights and freedoms under international and domestic law as do other persons in their country. They shall not be discriminated against in the enjoyment of any rights and freedoms on the ground that they are internally displaced;
-- shall be observed by all authorities....;
-- (assure) protection and humanitarian assistance from these authorities....without discrimination of any kind....;
-- (guarantee) "the right to be protected against forcible return to or resettlement in any place where their life, safety, liberty, and/or health would be at risk," among other provisions, 30 in all recognizing the needs of displaced people when they're most vulnerable.
TransArica Forum Alert
On April 12, issued a memorandum headlined "Forced IDP Relocations," saying:
"Throughout our network of contacts (on the ground in Haiti), we received a report of a forceful removal of an IDP camp in Caradeux Delas 75, Port-au-Prince. The exact number affected isn't yet known....all reported a complete lack of water sources....and no food distributions.
The Refugee Camp community members reported that they did not receive warning before the large Conseil Nationale Equipements (CNE) bulldozers and graters came to their community with Haitian National Police escorts late on Sunday evening (April 4)....threaten(ing) the families with violence if they did not leave their home immediately."
Batons were used, firearms discharged in the air, and their homes were destroyed, by officers, then bulldozers. The process continued for three days and nights. Where those displaced were sent isn't known. The only answer given was they're "now living on the streets."
Around 1.2 million Haitians remain in makeshift tent cities throughout Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas with little aid or concern for their welfare or safety. Now in preparation for redevelopment, hundreds of thousands, perhaps all, will be ordered to move or be forcibly displaced to even grimmer locations, on their own, with little beyond their own ingenuity to survive.
This is Washington's imperial plan, being implemented for exploitation and plunder. This writer's previous article explained Haiti is no stranger to adversity and anguish, having endured over 500 years of oppression, slavery, despotism, colonization, reparations, embargoes, sanctions, extreme poverty, starvation, unrepayable debt, and calamities like the January 12 quake killing around 300,000, destroying their homes and belongings, and leaving them vulnerable to imperial plunder of their land, resources and lives - again, on their own, out of luck, and out of major media focus that ignores the greater disaster awaiting them, and the trashing of their human rights and freedoms.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.