Friday, April 18, 2014

New Report Details Persecution of Public and Private Sector Union Activists in Haiti

by CEPR's Relief and Reconstruction Blog

The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and its Haiti-based partner Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) have released a report outlining recent cases of persecution of organized workers in Haiti as well as Haitian government complicity in allowing illegal attacks against, and terminations of labor activists to occur without judicial consequences.  The report, titled “Haitian labor movement struggles as workers face increased anti-union persecution and wage suppression,” documents attacks and firings of union organizers by both public and private sector companies. 
In mid-December of 2013, garment workers staged a walkout and demonstrations to protest the low wages and subpar working conditions in Haiti’s garment factories.  As Better Work Haiti revealed in its 2013 Biannual Review of Haitian garment companies’ compliance with labor standards, only 25 percent of workers receive the minimum daily wage of 300 Haitian gourdes (equivalent to $6.81). They also found a 91 percent non-compliance rate with basic worker protection norms.  The BAI/IJDH report explains that on the third day of the December protests, “the Association of Haitian Industries locked out the workers, claiming they had to shut the factories for the security of their employees.”  In late December and January, IJDH/BAI documented “at least 36 terminations in seven factories throughout December and January in retaliation for the two-day protest, mostly of union representatives. The terminations continue.”
The report notes that union leaders at Electricity of Haiti (EDH) - Haiti’s biggest state-run enterprise – have also been illegally terminated and even physically attacked.   As BAI/IJDH describe,
On January 10, 2014, the leaders of SECEdH [Union of Employees of l’EDH] held a press conference at EDH, as they had countless times over the last several years. The purpose of the January 10 press conference was to allege mismanagement and corruption at EDH. At the last minute, EDH management refused to let journalists in the building, although they had given permission for the press conference the day before. SECEdH’s leaders joined journalists on the street outside EDH’s parking lot gate to convene the press conference. EDH security guards pushed down the metal gate onto the crowd, hitting SECEdH’s treasurer in the head and knocking him unconscious. The security guards stood by while the employee lay on the ground bleeding and witnesses urged them to help. Some journalists took the injured employee to the hospital in one of their vehicles. He was released from the hospital but suffers constant pain in his head, shoulders, arms, and back from the heavy gate falling on him.
The following week, SECEdH’s executive committee, including the injured officer, received letters of termination dated January 10, 2014.
The report goes on to describe government complicity with employer infractions of labor laws at the level of the judicial system, where “public and private employers enjoy impunity” and where workers continue to have extremely limited access to the justice system as “court fees and lawyers are too expensive for the poor to afford” and “proceedings are conducted in French, which most Haitians do not speak.”  Moreover, the Ministry of Labor as well as the Tripartite Commission for the Implementation of the HOPE agreement (which mandates garment factory compliance with international labor standards and Haitian labor law) have “backpedalled on the 2009 minimum wage law and issued public statements that support factory owners’ interpretations and non-compliance with the piece rate wage.”  The reports suggests that part of this backpedalling may be caused by President Michel Martelly’s efforts to promote increased international investment in Haitian sweatshops:
Making Haiti “open for business” was a core piece of President Michel Martelly’s election platform that has won him political and economic support from the U.S. government, despite low voter turnout and flawed elections in 2010 and 2011. Part of the Martelly administration’s strategy to attract foreign investment has been to keep wages low so that Haiti can be competitive with the global low-wage market. Haiti has the third lowest monthly wages in the apparel industry, surpassing only Cambodia and Bangladesh. This U.S.-backed “sweat shop” economic model is similar to the model in the 1970s and 1980s under former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Haiti Solidarity - New Issue - Volume One - Number Three

Please go and read the new issue of "Haiti Solidarity" here.  It includes a historical chronology of recent years events in Haiti, as well as a comparison of Haiti and Honduras, Caribbean solidarity information, and background on the continuing persecution of Fanmi Lavalas activists.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ile à Vache Under Siege


by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

The government of President Michel Martelly is literally sealing off the Haitian island of Ile à Vache, on which the residents are rising up against government plans to throw them off their land.
            On Mar. 11, Haïti Liberté journalists discovered in the southern city of Aux Cayes that agents of the Martelly government had paid off boat captains, who take people to the island, not to accept Haitian passengers.
            Meanwhile over 120 heavily armed officers of the Haitian National Police’s Departmental Unit for the Maintenance of Order (UDMO) and the Motorized Intervention Brigade (BIM) have been deployed to the island to uproot residents and control protests. Already 20 families have been dispossessed, according to the Organization of Ile-à-Vache Peasants (KOPI or Konbit peyizan Ilavach), which is leading the resistance on the island. Meanwhile, KOPI’s vice president, journalist/policeman Jean Maltunès Lamy, has been arrested and jailed in the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince, which is illegal since it is in a different department (West) than Ile à Vache (South).
            Following a May 10, 2013 presidential decree declaring the island was a “zone of public utility,” Martelly’s government has begun to implement its plan to kick peasants off their land and townspeople out of their homes and turn the entire island into a tourist resort.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Interview: Former OAS Diplomat Exposes the Crimes of the “International Community” in Haiti

Former OAS Diplomat Exposes the Crimes of the “International Community” in Haiti
In his new book, Ricardo Seitenful writes about the “electoral coup” which brought President Martelly to power, the UN’s “genocide by negligence” through importing cholera, and Venezuela’s “new paradigm” with PetroCaribe

(First of two parts)*

by Georgianne Nienaber and Dan Beeton (Haiti Liberte)

The title of Brazilian professor Ricardo Seitenfus’ book, HAITI: Dilemas e Fracassos Internacionais (“International Crossroads and Failures in Haiti,” published in Brazil by the Editora Unijui – Universite de Ijui– in the series Globalization and International Relations) appropriately opens with a reference to existentialist philosopher Albert Camus.
            Camus’ third great novel, The Fall, is a work of fiction in which the author makes the case that every living person is responsible for any atrocity that can be quantified or named. In the case of Haiti, the January 2010 earthquake set the final stage for what amounted to what Seitenfus says is an “international embezzlement” of the country.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ten Years After the Coup in Haiti, Democracy is Still Under Siege

by Dan Beeton (CEPR)


It has been 10 years since the February 29, 2004 coup d’etat that ousted the democratically-elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti. Paramilitary groups – including many former members of Haiti’s disbanded army and/or CIA-funded death squads – had engaged in a campaign of violence directed against supporters of the government, and the Haitian National Police (HNP), for years before. Supported by the Dominican government and advised by groups based in Washington, they unleashed a wave of terror, killing innocent civilians including children and women, assaulting and brutalizing others, and burning down police stations and other government buildings. In the end, however, these groups seem to have realized they could not mount a successful incursion into Port-au-Prince, and it was a U.S. plane that flew Aristide out of the country.

As CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot wrote after the coup, Washington also directed international financial institutions to withhold funds from the Aristide government (some of which were designated for potable water – their being withheld helping to create the conditions for the cholera epidemic several years later):
[T]he Administration has been working on toppling Aristide for the past three years, plunging the country into chaos in the process.
The major international financial institutions (IFI's) -- including the IMF, World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, supported the administration's destabilization efforts by cutting off hundreds of millions of dollars in credit to one of the most desperately poor countries in the world.
The pretext was a dispute over the election of seven senators of Aristide's party in 2001. Aristide offered every possible solution but it didn't matter. With Washington and the IFI's backing them, the opposition refused any agreement short of Aristide's resignation.
In the end, Aristide did not resign – although the Bush administration claimed he did. Aristide himself claimed instead that he was the victim of a “kidnapping in the service of a coup d’etat.” His account is verified by witnesses, as Randall Robinson has pointed out in his account of events related to the coup. Bundled onto a plane, he and First Lady Mildred Aristide were flown to an unknown destination, what turned out to be the Central African Republic.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Deadly Attack on the Croix-des-Bouquets Prison and Other Insecurity


by Thomas Péralte (Haiti Liberte)

Heavily armed bandits in a gray Daihatsu Terios without license plates fired on the civilian prison in Croix des Bouquets on Mon., Feb. 17, 2014 at around 8:00 p.m., killing a policeman, Sadrac Nicolas, an Agent 2 officer in the National Prison Administration (APENA).
            The attack occurred when Off. Nicolas approached the vehicle because it was parked in a dark area near the prison. The assailants opened fire on the policeman, who died at the scene, and also aimed bursts of fire at the prison.
            According to preliminary reports, the policeman’s gun was found at his side. An investigation was conducted by the forensic police, who quickly arrived at the scene. Already, several witnesses have been identified. No prisoner escaped, said the Secretary of State for Public Security, Reginald Delva, who also said that more than 750 prisoners are incarcerated in the prison.
            Businessman Clifford Brandt, the alleged leader of a powerful gang of kidnappers which was dismantled in October 2012, is among the inmates at this high security prison. Among the other prominent prisoners is Emane “Jacques” Jean-Louis, the owner of Sourire Rent a Car, who has been jailed at the prison since September 2013 on charges of money laundering. (Mr. Jean-Louis claims he was a victim of a police kidnapping in April 2012 and had filed a suit against the police.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Livesay [Haiti] Weblog: ...On Compassion

Livesay [Haiti] Weblog: ...On Compassion: This Valentine's Eve I am purposefully focusing on compassion rather than the February 14 hearts and cupids type of romantic love. ...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What the New DNI Threat Assessment Says about Haiti

by Dan Beeton (for CEPR)

The Office of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) released its “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community” [PDF] for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today. The assessment’s section on Haiti is longer this year, due to concerns that the DNI apparently has regarding what it sees as a need for an ongoing foreign military presence there, support for which is waning internationally. The assessment cites chronic factors such as poverty and “weak institutions” as reasons why foreign military intervention is still warranted:
Stability in Haiti will remain fragile due to extreme poverty and weak governing institutions.  Meaningful long-term reconstruction and development in Haiti will need to continue for many years.  Haiti remains vulnerable to setbacks in its reconstruction and development goals due to the possibility of natural disasters.  Food insecurity, although improving, also has the potential to be a destabilizing factor.  Periods of political gridlock have resulted due to distrust between President Michel Martelly, in office since May 2011, and opponents in Parliament.  Martelly is generally still popular, but politically organized protests, possibly violent, might occur before the elections, scheduled for 2014.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

New Charges in Dominique Case are meant to Draw Attention Away from Martelly's Narco Controversy

HaitiAnalysis

 Like other cases of political violence in Haiti, it is vital that the killers of Haitian journalist Jean Dominique (murdered in 2000) be brought to justice. Over the years though it is clear that the case has been politicized and exploited for political gain on different occasions. 
From what we have gathered the new charges related to the Jean Dominique case became known in December and do not implicate Aristide. The charges also appear to rely solely upon one account from a former security official who was implicated in drug trafficking and previously cut deals with the U.S. justice department to shorten his time in U.S. federal prison.

The story and the inaccurate way in which it has been covered has been pushed by Martelly's press agent Guy Delva. Guy Delva formerly worked for Reuters, but currently is a press agent for the Martelly regime. 


The timing of the court charges and the inaccurate way in which Delva has explained the court charges (picked up by Reuters and repeated uncritically and ad nauseum by groups like reporters sans frontiers and rightwing commentators) are meant to draw attention away from the growing crisis over the Martelly government's connections with the narco trade.  By this, I refer to the arrest in late 2013 of Martelly's close friend Daniel Evinks with two dozen kilos of marijuana. Since then Evinks has gone missing. The Martelly government does not want coverage of the missing narco trafficker/Martelly associate Daniel Evenks (sometimes spelled “Evinx”).

Flashpoints Radio Interviews on the new Charges in the Jean Dominique Case

Listen at 36 minutes & 40 seconds to an interview with Aristide's attorney Ira Kurzban on the new charges in the Jean Dominique case: http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/99376

Also listen to a discussion with documentarian Kevin Pina and IJDH attorney Brian Concannon about the new charges in the Dominique trial:

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sentinel: Police find car of missing Martelly Narco-Businessman Associate Daniel Evinx

GONAIVES, Haiti (sentinel.ht) - The whereabouts of businessman Daniel Evinx has been unknown since January 5. The vehicle of the close friend of President Michel Martelly, who was arrested in late 2013 for being in the possession of two dozen kilos of marijuana, was found at a gas station in Gonaïves over the weekend where he was last seen weeks ago.

Police Spokesman, Inspector Garry Desrosiers, in briefing the press said Daniel had left his vehicle at a gas station in Gonaives, Artibonite and had taken a motorcycle taxi to another destination but hadn't been seen since.
Evinx Daniel was a resident of Les Cayes and participated in the organizing of the first National Carnival outside of Port-au-Prince in 2012. This year the Martelly administration announced the Carnival would be in Gonaives.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Jean Dominique Case: Surrounded by Speculation

By Jacques Pierre Kolo

The double murder on Apr. 3, 2000 of journalist Jean Dominique and his radio station’s guardian Jean-Claude Louissaint resurfaced in the news this week after Joseph C. Guyler Delva, an advisor to the National Palace, announced on Fri., Jan. 17, 2014 the some findings of the investigative report of the case’s examining magistrate Yvikel Dabrézil.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Wikileaks Reveals Obama Administration's Role in Stifling Haitian Minimum Wage

American corporations like Hanes and Levi Strauss prefer to pay Haitians slave wages to sew their clothes.

by Rod Bastanmehr for Alternet


Strike another one for Wikileaks. The ever-controversial leaker of the world’s best-kept secrets has published a wire on The Nation that reveals the Obama Administration fought to keep the Haitian minimum wage to 31 cents an hour.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Haiti: Lack of political will allows ex-dictator Duvalier to escape justice

Amnesty International

A lack of political will and unacceptable court delays are allowing Haiti’s former “president-for-life,” Jean-Claude Duvalier, to escape justice for human rights violations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. 

The authorities re-opened a criminal case against the former Haitian dictator three years ago, shortly after he returned to the country on 16 January 2011, following a 25-year exile in France. He faced charges of serious human rights violations such as murder and torture of political opponents, and of corruption. But the case has stalled for almost a year. 
  
“It appears that the Haitian authorities have no intention of carrying out thorough investigations into Duvalier-era abuses,” said Javier Zúñiga, Amnesty International’s special adviser to regional programmes. 

Outsourcing Haiti: How Disaster Relief Became a Disaster of its Own

Jake Jonston
Boston Review, January 16, 2014
See article on original website

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.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Haiti Liberte: Drones and Slavery


by Peter Linebaugh (Haiti Liberte)

DroneAdventures.org is a Swiss “non-profit” organization that in April 2013 sent two representatives to Haiti to work with a couple “non-profits” called Open Street Map and International Organization for Migration. For six days with three drones and several lap-top computers these “drone adventurers” mapped 1) shanty towns in Port au Prince to count the number of tents as a first step in making a census and organizing “infrastructure,” 2) river beds to simulate water flow for future flood control, and 3) the University of Limonade “to help promote the school for the next generation of youth in Haiti.”
            These drone promoters also made a cheerful video with a happy sound track, pretty pictures of the blue sky, and scores of children running after these pied pipers launching their falcon-like drones as if the children too could fly as easily out of the man-made disasters of life.

Friday, November 22, 2013

As Huge Demonstrations Call for President’s Resignation: Proposal for a Post-Martelly Transitional Government Comes to the Fore

by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

Huge demonstrations calling for President Michel Martelly to step down are growing in size, scope, and frequency. On Nov. 7, a march of many thousands, called by the Patriotic Force for Respect of the 1987 Constitution (FOPARC), marched up the Delmas Road from La Saline and burst through the barricades which Haitian police had erected to prevent the crowd from marching through the tony streets of Pétionville.
            “We proved today that we don’t need a visa, we don’t need a passport, to go to Pétionville,” said demonstrator and journalist Wendel Polynice after the symbolically powerful victory.
            The demonstrators then marched back down to Port-au-Prince along the Bourdon Road. When they reached the central Champ de Mars, police dispersed them with teargas and shots in the air.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Illuminating Haiti’s Plight: A review of Claire Limyè Lanmè – Claire of the Sea Light, a novel by Edwidge Danticat


by Greg Dunkel (for Haiti Liberte)

A review of Claire Limyè Lanmè – Claire of the Sea Light, a novel by Edwidge Danticat, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2013

This fine insight-filled novel interlaces characters ranging from the 7-year-old girl whose name is the book's title, to a well-off shop keeper, the town's undertaker and mayor, a radio journalist, the owner of the local school, some gangsters, and the girl's father, a poor fisherman. These characters let Danticat examine a lot of issues that affect Haiti.
            She examines the issues of justice and violence, poverty and education, environmental exhaustion, how the dead are buried, how children play, how people celebrate, and the relations between Haitians in the diaspora (outside Haiti) and those who haven't left. Using her imagination to build the connections, Danticat makes the reader experience Haiti on a personal level.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Uruguay Will Withdraw from MINUSTAH, President Says. Beginning of End of UN Occupation of Haiti?



by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

Following a visit earlier this month from Haitian Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles, Uruguay’s President José Mujica told a council of ministers on Oct. 28 that he would withdraw Uruguayan troops from the United Nations Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), the 9,000 soldier force which has militarily occupied Haiti since June 2004.
            “It is a huge victory,” Sen. Jean-Charles told Haïti Liberté. “Uruguay’s bold step to show that it will no longer do Washington’s bidding in Haiti will hopefully be an example that other nations from around the world participating in MINUSTAH will follow.”

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Questions Swirl Around World Vision’s Targeted Food Program


by Haiti Grassroots Watch

A food distribution program aimed at expectant and new mothers and their babies may have increased the number of girls and women getting pregnant in and around the town of Savanette, located in Haiti’s Centre département (province).
            That's the perception of many residents and even beneficiaries of a USAID-funded World Vision “Multi-Year Assistance Program” (MYAP), running from 2008 through September 2013 here and in a number of communities in Haiti. As part of the MYAP, World Vision distributes food to pregnant women and mothers of children six to 23 months old (so-called “1,000 day programming”), as well as to vulnerable populations such as people living with AIDS, orphans, and malnourished children.

Demonstrators Surround Police Station as Prominent Regime Critic Arrested


by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

Over 1000 people massed in front of a police station in the Martissant section of Port-au-Prince on the evening of Oct. 22 as police encircled the car of outspoken lawyer André Michel, who was stopped while driving nearby shortly after 6 p.m.
            Just before 10 p.m., the police removed Michel from his vehicle, smashing its windows, his lawyer Newton St. Juste said. Mr. Michel was then taken into the police station, as CIMO riot police fired teargas and shots in the air to disperse the angry crowds outside.
            At midnight, Mr. Michel was still being held in the station with clusters of protestors regathering on some street corners, despite the lingering teargas.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Haiti: Turning Back the Clock

By: Ayana Labossiere - Haiti Action Committee

I will never forget my first trip to Haiti. In 1990, at five years old, I went to Haiti with my dad to visit family.  I spent my days chasing goats and chickens on farms, enjoying the beach with my family, playing with kids in the street, and learning my very first Creole curse words. I had an amazing experience and have long since given credit for these experiences to my family, without contextualizing them.  Haiti in 1990 and in 2001 (when I was there for a trip at the age of sixteen) was a place of poverty but also of hope. I never realized how fortunate I was to experience Haiti at the height of Lavalas organizing and during Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s presidency; the country was being run by a movement created by, for, and devoted to the grassroots and the poorest of the poor.
Going to Haiti now is different, harder, and more arduous.  Certainly, being an adult means that my lens has changed, but Haiti is becoming a place that I’d only heard about from my father and others who remember the Duvaliers’ dictatorships: a place of economic exploitation and brutal repression of the poor and a place of opulence and gaiety for the wealthy and foreign  And now, as an adult and high school teacher, it is part of my job to take high school students to Haiti and help them contextualize the poverty they see. In June 2013, I and other teachers in San Francisco took students to Haiti, where they were exposed to all of these harsh realities.  They were exposed to the massive tourism and propaganda campaigns dedicated to covering up these realities, and to the fight that Haitians continue to wage against the forces that would oppress them.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Behind Haiti’s Hunger


by Haiti Grassroots Watch

During the past year or so in Haiti, as humanitarian actors raised an alarm about hunger, Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW) journalists kept hearing complaints and rumors about the misuse, abuse, or negative effects of food aid. HGW journalists and the community radio members who worked with them decided to investigate.
            Why – when the country has received at least one billion U.S. dollars worth of food aid between 1995 and the 2010 earthquake – is hunger on the rise? Who are the actors in the “hunger games” in Haiti and internationally?  What can be done that isn’t currently being done?

Long-Awaited Haiti Cholera Lawsuit Against the UN to be Launched This Week


by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

The legal noose is tightening around the United Nations to take responsibility for unleashing the world’s worst cholera epidemic in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, where hundreds of thousands have been affected by the deadly disease.
            On Oct. 9, lawyers representing over 5,000 Haitian cholera victims and their families will file a class action lawsuit in the Southern District of New York to demand that the UN recognize its responsibility for introducing cholera into Haiti three years ago and pay reparations.
            Lawyers with the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Port-au-Prince-based International Lawyers Office (BAI) first brought a legal petition against the UN in November 2011 within the world body’s legal redress framework. That 37-page complaint charged that the “UN is liable for negligence, gross negligence, recklessness, and deliberate indifference for the health and lives of Haitian people resulting in petitioners’ injuries and deaths from cholera” and sought financial compensation for 5,000 Haitian petitioners, constructive action to prevent cholera’s spread, and a formal acknowledgment of and apology for the UN’s responsibility for bringing cholera into Haiti.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Popular Forum: Roadmap Proposed for a Provisional Government


by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

On Sep. 30, the 22nd anniversary of the 1991 coup d’état against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, tens of thousands of demonstrators poured into the streets of Port-au-Prince and Cap Haïtien to demand two things: “Martelly must go! MINUSTAH must go!”
            Knowing this agenda, the day before over 100 delegates representing about two dozen different popular organizations from all of Haiti’s ten departments gathered at the Fany Villa Reception Center in Port-au-Prince to reflect on and debate a proposal on how to form a provisional government which could lead the country to free, fair, and sovereign elections after Martelly’s departure from power, which all of the delegates felt would be coming in the days ahead, one way or another.
            The proposal was made by the Kòwòdinasyon Desalin or Dessalines Coordination (KOD), a new formation headed by several prominent veterans of Haiti’s democratic struggle over the past 25 years.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

10 Steps to Dictatorship

10 steps to dictatorship: Why the grassroots movement in Haiti is
taking to the streets against President Michel Martelly - SF BayView

September 25, 2013

By: Charlie Hinton, Haiti Action Committee

1. Who is Michel Martelly? Martelly grew up during the 27-year
dictatorship of Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his son, Jean Claude
"Baby Doc." He joined the Duvalierist death squad, the Tonton
Macoutes, at the age of 15 and later attended Haiti´s military
academy. Under Baby Doc, Martelly, a popular musician, ran the Garage,
a nightclub patronized by army officers and members of Haiti´s tiny
ruling class.

After Baby Doc´s fall in February 1986, a mass democratic movement,
long repressed by the Duvaliers, burst forth and became known as
Lavalas ("flood"), from which emerged Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a
popular liberation theology Catholic priest, who was elected president
in 1990 with 67 percent of the vote in the first free and fair
election in Haiti´s history.

Martelly quickly became a bitter opponent of Lavalas, attacking the
popular movement in his songs played widely on Haitian radio.
Martelly "was closely identified with sympathizers of the 1991
military coup that ousted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide,"
the Miami Herald observed in 1996, and ran with members of the vicious
FRAPH death squad from that period, infamous for gang rapes and
killing with impunity.

On the day of Aristide´s return to Haiti in 2011, after eight years of
forced exile in South Africa and two days before the "run-off"
election, Martelly was caught in a video on YouTube insulting Aristide
and Lavalas: "The Lavalas are so ugly. They smell like s**t. F**k you,
Lavalas. F**k you, Jean-Bertrand Aristide."

2. The fraudulent presidential election of 2010-2011: In the
presidential election cycle of 2010-2011, the Electoral Council ruled
that Aristide´s Fanmi Lavalas Party could not participate, which
de-legitimized the whole corrupt process. Voter turnout was less than
25 percent in the primaries and less than 20 percent in the "run-off."

14 Caribbean nations sue European countries for slavery reparations


Lawsuits seek reparations from Britain, France, Netherlands for their roles in Atlantic slave trade

Associated Press


Fourteen Caribbean nations are suing the governments of the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands for reparations over what the plaintiffs say is the lingering legacy of the Atlantic slave trade.
In a speech Friday at United Nations General Assembly, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves said the European nations must pay for their deeds.
“The awful legacy of these crimes against humanity – a legacy which exists today in our Caribbean – ought to be repaired for the developmental benefit of our Caribbean societies and all our peoples,” Gonsalves said. “The European nations must partner in a focused, especial way with us to execute this repairing.”

The Proposed 2013-2014 Budget: More for the President, Less for the People

by Francklyn B. Geffrard and Kim Ives

President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe have presented to the Haitian Parliament for ratification their budget for the 2013/2014 fiscal year, but it has provoked criticism and outrage from economists, politicians, parliamentarians, and civil society. Many consider the budget scandalous. Sen. Steven Benoit of the West Department called it a "criminal budget." Speaking Aug. 23 on a Port-au-Prince radio station, Benoit said that the budget, if adopted as presented by the Executive, would penalize Haiti’s poorest. "This is a budget that aims to protect the strong over the weak, those who have few ways to survive," he said, vowing that he would never vote for it. The Chamber of Deputies, where the Executive maintains a majority of votes through bribery, passed the budget without any modifications after one reading. However, the Senate must agree to the exact same version of the budget before it can be ratified. Some ministries saw their budgets increased, while others were severely cut. For example, the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s proposed budget was more than doubled from last year’s 41 million gourdes (US$935,000) to 90 million gourdes (US$2 million). The Ministries of Justice and Public Safety as well as Interior and Local Communities also would get more money, while the Ministries of Agriculture, Education, Public Health, and Social Affairs would be slashed. Meanwhile, the proposed operating budget for the President has more than tripled in the last two years. In 2011 when President Martelly came to power, the budget for the Presidency was 95 million gourdes (US$2.2 million). This amount was increased to 165 million gourdes (US$3.8 million) in Fiscal Year 2012/2013, and for this fiscal year, the Presidency wants a budget of 329 million gourdes (US$7.5 million). There is no conceivable justification for this increase in a country facing a serious economic crisis. To make matters worse, for years the Haitian government has relied on international donors for budget support, usually to the tune of 60 to 70%. But this year the international community has reduced its budget support by 30%. To compensate, the Haitian government is proposing higher taxes and fees on a host of goods and services. The budget reflects the government’s priorities. Out of its total 126.4 billion gourdes (US$2.9 billion), 46.26 billion gourdes (US$1 billion) are earmarked for operations, 77.48 billion gourdes (US$1.8 billion) for capital and social investments, and 2.65 billion gourdes (US$60.4 million) for servicing Haiti’s debt, which Martelly and Lamothe have run up from zero to historic highs (over $1.1 billion) while in office. In short, the government’s operating budget and debt servicing are being significantly increased, while investment in vital economic sectors is being reduced.

Dr. Matthew J Smith reviews new book 'Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti'

Working USA: The Journal of Labor & Society

Book Reviews

Sprague, Jeb. Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti.
New York: Monthly Review Press, 2012. 400 pp. US$23.95 (paperback).

A sense of the arguments and perspective that drive Jeb Sprague’s
detailed study of paramilitarism in Haiti from the early 1990s to 2004
is given in the following quote, which comes in a closing chapter: “As
with all historical processes, Haiti’s recent history cannot be
reduced to pure good versus pure evil— the popular Lavalas movement
had its own contradictions and failures. Even so, right-wing
paramilitarism and its backers have produced, by far, the most victims
of political violence in Haiti in recent history” (p. 281). Sprague
supports this point—and at the same time aims to expose layers of
political complexity—with an intriguing assessment of the role of
paramilitary organizations in ensuring that popular movements in the
Caribbean republic are kept hobbled.

The span of the study is marked by the two overthrows of
democratically elected popular leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his
Fanmi Lavalas (FL) movement in 1991, and later in 2004. It is to
Sprague’s credit that he keeps in clear view at all times the link
between these events—now half-forgotten in the minds of a foreign
audience unable (or unwilling) to recall Haiti’s history prior to the
2010 earthquake—and contemporary politics in Haiti.

This is a crucial story. For too long, the role of paramilitarism in
these events has been recognized but little studied. This is somewhat
surprising given the presence of state- and private-funded agencies of
social control in Haiti’s history. In the nineteenth century, Haitian
leaders ensured dominance by using the armed forces under their
command to contain popular risings. There was always resistance, and
this resistance only encouraged leaders to sharpen their tools of
repression. Emperor Faustin Soulouque (1847–1859) had his own forces,
and they would form the template for the military control of some of
his successors.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Senator Accuses President of Planning Parliamentary Assassinations


by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

A prominent Haitian senator charges that President Michel Martelly is planning to assassinate him and three other senators by withdrawing their security details and then attacking them with hired gunmen, who have allegedly already killed a community activist in August.
            In a Sep. 4 press conference, Senator John Joël Joseph of Haiti’s West Department said that Martelly and his wife, Sophia St. Rémy Martelly, held a meeting with Police Chief Godson Orélus in which they demanded that he suspend the security details for several prominent opposition senators and deputies. When Orélus refused, the First Lady became “very angry at him, saying that her husband never asks him for anything, so he better do it, thus she demanded that he withdraw the security” of those parliamentarians, Joseph said, claiming she slammed her hand on the table.

Another UN Soldier Accused of Rape in Haiti


by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)

The United Nations mission in Haiti, already facing a credibility crisis over its introduction of cholera, is facing new allegations that one of its troops raped an 18-year old woman this past weekend in the town of Léogâne, according to police inspector Wilson Hippolite. In an e-mailed statement, the UN acknowledged that they “are aware of the allegations made against a military staff member” and noted that a “preliminary investigation has been launched to determine the facts of the case.”
            According to Metropole Haiti, the alleged assault occurred off National Highway #2 on Sat., Sep. 7, when the 18-year old woman was approached by a Sri Lankan UN military officer. A Justice of the Peace, conducting a preliminary investigation, visited the site of the alleged assault on Sunday and found a used condom. Further tests are being conducted, according to the report. The accused has been moved to a different MINUSTAH base in another part of the country as the investigation unfolds. As of Jul. 30, Sri Lanka had over 860 troops stationed in Haiti, making it the third largest troop contributing country to the nine year-old mission.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Popular Organizations Issue Call for a Provisional Government to Replace Martelly


by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

On. Sep. 9, Haiti’s most outspoken opposition senator and leading popular organizations announced that they would hold a national conference in Port-au-Prince on Sep. 29 to forge an alliance and map out a path to forming a provisional government to replace President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.
On Sep. 3, the eight popular organizations had called on Haiti’s deputies to indict Martelly and Lamothe for, among other things, personally making threats on Jul. 11 against a judge investigating government corruption, thereby inducing his death two days later (see Haïti Liberté, Vol. 7, No. 8, Sep. 4, 2013). On Sep. 6, thirteen deputies did formally submit an indictment in Haiti’s Chamber of Deputies, buttressing two separate parliamentary Special Commissions of Inquiry which had already recommended that Martelly and Lamothe be removed from office in reports issued on Aug. 8 and Aug. 23.
Citing the President’s flagrant sabotage in a judicial investigation, as well as his “perjury” and “treason” in the ensuing cover-up, the draft indictment called for “the impeachment of the President of the Republic and the dismissal of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice and Public Security to be carried out by the High Court of Justice,” constituted by the Senate.

As Deputies Uncover Same Crimes and Lies as Senators: Popular Groups Demand Lower House Indict President and Prime Minister


Parliament Chiefs Hold Meetings to Scuttle Impeachment Process

by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

A second Special Commission of Inquiry into the Jul. 13 death of Investigating Judge Jean Serge Joseph, this one commissioned by Haiti’s Chamber of Deputies, released its report on Aug. 23, recommending that the lower house indict President Michel Martelly, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, and Justice Minister Jean Renel Sanon for illegally intervening in a judicial investigation, threatening a judge thereby causing his death, and then publicly and repeatedly lying about the matter.
            The findings of the report match almost exactly those of a Senate inquiry released on Aug. 8 (see Haïti Liberté, Vol. 7, No. 5, 8/14/2013). The Senate Commission also recommended that Parliament remove Martelly and Lamothe from office.
            Judge Joseph was investigating charges of massive corruption against Martelly’s wife, Sophia St. Rémy Martelly, and their son, Olivier Martelly. After issuing subpoenas for several high government officials to testify before him, he had been pressured and threatened personally by Martelly and others. Finally, in a secret Jul. 11 meeting, Martelly, Lamothe, Sanon, and other officials told the judge to call off the investigation, according to both parliamentary reports. Two days later, the judge died from a brain hemorrhage caused by either stress or poison.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Haiti Action Committee Introduces First Issue of "HAITI SOLIDARITY."

Haiti Action Committee has just released the first issue of our newsletter, "Haiti Solidarity." 
Volume 1, Number 1 is available for download below. Published copies will be available at upcoming Haiti events for $3.

IN THIS ISSUE:

Cover Art - "Hands Together"

UNDERSTANDING HAITI - Nia Imara

POPULAR DEMOCRACY UNDER ATTACK - Ben Terrall

THE DEBT OWED TO HAITI - Nia Imara

USAID UNDERMINES DEMOCRACY - Leslie Mullin

A STATEMENT FROM HAITI ACTION COMMITTEE

You can download the issue here at the haiti action website or a direct link here.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Brazil Hides Humanitarian Emergency in Acre


With a “refugee” camp holding over 800 Haitians in inhuman conditions, Conectas charges Brazil is covering up an international crisis

by Conectas Human Rights (for Haiti Liberte)

The Brazilian government has for months now been playing a word game – between “immigration” and “refugee” – to minimize the severity of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the small town of Brasiléia, in Brazil’s northern state of Acre on the border with Bolivia, some 240 kilometers southwest of the state capital Rio Branco.
            More than 830 immigrants – nearly all of them Haitians – are living inside a warehouse built for just 200 people, in extremely unhygienic conditions. They are required to share just 10 lavatories and 8 showers, where there is no soap and no toothpaste, sewage leaks outside in the open air, and people have been packed for months inside an area of 200 square meters under a metal roof, with black plastic sheeting for curtains, in temperatures that can reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). The local hospital reports that 90% of the patients from the camp have diarrhea. The shelter is already operating at four times capacity, and 40 new Haitians arrive every day.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Accusing President Martelly of Lying and “Treason,” Senate Report Calls for His Impeachment


by Kim Ives (Haiti Liberte)

A special Senate Commission of Inquiry into the sudden and suspicious Jul. 13 death of Investigating Judge Jean Serge Joseph released a bomb-shell on Aug. 8. Its highly detailed 29-page report charges President Michel Martelly, as well as his Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and Justice Minister Jean Renel Sanon, with lying to the public and calls for Haiti’s Deputies to remove them all from office.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Haiti: Missing Healthcare on the frontline of HIV

Long before 9/11 and the subsequent incarceration of hundreds of so called ‘terror suspects’, in Guantanamo Bay,  thousands of Haitian refugees fleeing the  military junta in the early 1990s, were detained on the US base. Many of those detained were detained because they were suspected of being HIV Positive [+].

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Amy Wilentz and her Twitter Tantrum Regarding the 2004 coup in Haiti

by Joe Emersberger

On Twitter, Amy Wilentz angrily demanded that Justin Podur retweet a statement in which she emphatically denies ever supporting the 2004 coup that ousted Aristide:


I never ever supported the coup gainst Aristide. Ever. Retweet that!
 
Wilentz made this demand in response to a tweet somebody had sent Podur.

I assume Wilentz is correct. I don’t believe she ever supported (as in publicly applauded) the 2004 coup or called on Aristide to resign.  Unless she stooped to that level, it is not accurate to say she “supported the coup” without elaborating more on what exactly is meant by “support”. What Wilentz did do is spread lies about Aristide’s second term in government that helped make the coup possible and that help sustain the impunity of the perpetrators, especially former members of her own government. As Peter Hallward explained in a response to a piece Wilentz wrote for the Nation in 2012:


Sunday, August 4, 2013

UN’s Own Independent Experts Now Say MINUSTAH Troops “Most Likely” Caused Cholera Epidemic


by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)

The number of experts casting doubt on the likelihood of the U.N. having been the source of Haiti’s deadly cholera epidemic is getting increasingly smaller. In what Foreign Policy’s Turtle Bay blogger Colum Lynch calls a "dramatic retreat," a panel of independent U.N. experts who earlier had reported that the outbreak’s cause "was not the fault" of any "group or individual" and cited environmental factors – most notably Haiti’s lack of adequate sanitation – as being partly at fault, have now determined that U.N. troops from Nepal "most likely” were the cause.

Grassroots Groups Wary of “Attractive” Mining Law

by Haiti Grassroots Watch (for Haiti Liberte)

As the government works on preparing “an attractive law that will entice investors,” Haitian popular organizations are mobilizing and forming networks to resist mining in their country.
            Already one-third of the north of Haiti is under research, exploration, or exploitation license to foreign companies. Some 2,400 square kilometers have been parceled out to Haitian firms fronting for U.S. and Canadian concerns. Some estimate that Haiti’s mineral wealth – mostly gold, copper, and silver – could be worth as much as US$ 20 billion.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

One Thousand Days of Cholera : Almost 8,200 Killed and Still No UN Apology

by Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)

A sad milestone has passed: it has now been 1,000 days since Haiti’s cholera outbreak began. Even though U.N. troops from Nepal have been linked to the outbreak through study after study, and even though U.N. Special Envoy for Haiti Bill Clinton admitted the troops were the “proximate cause” of the epidemic, the U.N. has yet to apologize. And its cholera eradication plan remains woefully underfunded, as we noted last week.
The Economist writes today of the U.N.’s continuance in dodging responsibility:

Cholera Tightens Grip on Haiti As Sanitation Funding Slows to a Trickle

by Haiti Grassroots Watch

Lack of financing for a ten-year cholera eradication plan means that the disease will likely be endemic to Haiti for years to come.
            Cholera bacteria are spread by contaminated food, water, and fecal matter. One of the essential parts of the US$2.2 billion National Plan for the Elimination of Cholera in Haiti is the financing for sanitation systems nationwide.
            The majority of Haitians – about eight million people – do not have access to a hygienic sanitation system. They defecate in the open, in fields, in ravines, and on riverbanks. The capital region produces over 900 tons of human excreta every day, according to the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).

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