Recent Feature Articles

By Yves Pierre-Louis & Kim Ives, published in the weekly Haiti Liberté, Sept 19, 2012

Demonstrations erupted across Haiti this past week as deep-seated anger against the government of President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe is now surging into the streets on a daily basis. Marches, picket lines, a mock tribunal, and a

general  strike were among the different actions which took place in six out of Haiti's 10 geographic departments, a new high-water mark for anti-government protests.

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

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

"Down with Martelly!" cried the marchers. "Down with corruption! Down with expulsions! Down with the high cost of living!"

The people of the north are "especially angry about Martelly's appointment of Gaby…

The following announcement is posted to the Mennonite Central Committee (United Nations) website, reporting on a letter to the UN Security Council by Haitian human rights organizations and the MCC, concerning the future of MINUSTAH, letter dated Sept 10, 2012. A weblink to the letter is here. It is attached below as a pdf.

It has been almost 3 years since the earthquake and the United Nations Stablization Mission in Haiti MINUSTAH, is approaching its 8th anniversay in the country this October. Read what our partners in Haiti  recommend for the upcoming mandate renewal on MINUSTAH. Click on this link to read further.

MCC has worked in Haiti since 1958 with a recent focus on reforestation and peacebuilding through support for human rights. MCC partners in Haiti have long sought to address the effects of political instability, weak rule of law, environmental devastation, and natural disasters. MCC is committed to approaching Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake in a way that holds the dignity of the Haitian people above all, and is just and sustainable, addressing immediate needs and creating an environment for positive, long-term development. In 1994, the U.N approved a mandate to send a peacekeeping mission  to Haiti  with the mandate to  establised  and secure a stable environment, promote the political process, to strengthen Haiti's Government Institutions and rule-of-law-structures as well as to promote and protect human rights. Haitians strong sense of vision for a better future is MCC's highest priority.

Published on UN News Center, Sept 17, 2012

Several decades following the beginning of Canada's assistance to "police and justice reform" in Haiti, and following the claimed successes of housing rental subsidy (camp clearance) programs this year such as "16/6" that are financed by Canada, the following is how a UN human rights expert sums up the human rights situation in Haiti. His report should prompt Canadian media and elected officials to begin to examine the human rights situation in Haiti and voice the appropriate concern. Key parts of the following article are highlighted. --CHIP

A United Nations human rights official today said that while Haiti shows encouraging signs of progress, it is still facing challenges such as justice reform and poverty, and called on the international community to support the country’s long-term development. “Haiti is at a crossroads. If the right steps are taken on a number of key issues, there is potential for progress – but at the same time, there are risks of backsliding,” said the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonovic, who just finished a four-day visit to the Caribbean nation on Saturday.

During his visit, Mr. Šimonovic met with senior Haitian officials and representatives of civil society to discuss the human rights challenges ahead of the Security Council’s revision of the mandate of the UN stabilization mission there, known by its French acronym MINUSTAH.

Mr. Šimonovic visited the national penitentiary, where some 3,400 inmates live in precarious conditions. He noted that only 278 inmates have been convicted, while the rest are in prolonged pre-trial detention, and stressed that this calls for stronger rule-of-law institutions.

“Police reform is not enough,” he said. “A more independent, reliable and efficient…

By Roger Annis and Kevin Edmonds
First published in the August 23, 2012 edition of the weekly Haiti Liberté. PDF attached.

The international think-tank International Crisis Group has issued a lengthy report on the MINUSTAH military occupation regime in Haiti. Dated August 2, 2012, it runs 28 pages and its central recommendation is that the police/military regime should remain in Haiti for at least another five years. The report is titled, Towards a Post-MINUSTAH Haiti: Making An Effective Transition.

This is the sixth report the ICG has produced on Haiti since the earthquake of January 2010. The group has displayed a capacity for frank and unbiased opinion. Its study on shelter and housing issued in June 2011, for example, blasted the government of Haiti and its international sponsors, saying they were utterly failing to meet the desperate housing needs of Haitians.

In this latest report, however, the group accepts without question the presence of MINUSTAH and its claim to have the best interests of Haitians at heart. The report amounts to a political whitewash that misrepresents the political circumstances that brought the mission to Haiti in 2004 and has kept it there ever since.

MINUSTAH’s origins and achievements

As its name suggests, the ICG studies countries deemed to be destabilizing the international political order. It has 130 staff around the world. Its board of trustees is comprised of political, business and media figures, including Chairperson Thomas Pickering, Former U.S. Undersecretary of State and Ambassador to the U.N., and President Louise Arbour, a Canadian and Former Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

Describing MINUSTAH’s origins,…

Riches beckon from beneath Haiti’s hills, and mining companies are hoping to lock in huge tax breaks to get at them.

By Jacob Kushner, published in Guernica Daily, Aug 16, 2012
Deep in Haiti’s northern mountains, a half-dozen supervisors at a mining exploration site spent their days playing dominoes at a folding table next to a helicopter pad. For weeks they waited in La Miel, off a dirt road deep in the countryside, for Haiti’s government to give them the go-ahead to search for the gold they believe is buried in the hills around them. Fig Newtons and water bottles filled the shelves of their staff tent. On a whiteboard, in scratchy handwriting, was a single-item to-do list for the week: Change $83,000 into Haitian gourdes.

A mile west, a team of locals with shovels widened a dirt road and lined it with a drainage ditch. They were paid by Newmont, the Colorado mining company working at La Miel, to prepare local roads for heavy mining machinery, which moved here when Newmont got permission to dig.

Mineral explorers have long suspected Haiti could be sitting on a wealth of gold deposits, and in the 1970s the United Nations Development Program confirmed it, testing the earth and publishing the results with the hope of attracting foreign mining companies.

Newmont and three other foreign companies took the bait; now, they are exploring much of northern Haiti for signs of gold, silver, and zinc ore. They hope to open a modern mine that might unearth tons of precious metals, while the price of gold is at record highs. In April 2011, VCS Mining, a small U.S.-based mining venture, purchased rights to explore 700 square kilometers at a cost of around $7,000 per year. Canadian explorer Majescor owns permits to explore 450 square kilometers. Last August its stock doubled in a single day after it a reported a high level of gold in some drill samples…

Canadian Ambassador satisfied with Martelly government's performance

By Roger Annis, published in the Aug 9, 2012 edition of the Haitian print weekly Haiti Liberté (English page) and on, Aug 9, 2012

Washington and Ottawa have worked closely together over the past decade in Haiti to further mutual goals, ranging from their backing of the 2004 coup d'état against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to support for key policies of the current government of President Joseph Michel Martelly.

Today, the U.S. and Canada are pushing hard for a Permanent Electoral Council that would further entrench the practices of excluding certain political parties from Haiti's electoral processes, and they are encouraging foreign investors to come to the country, particularly in the domains of mining (in the case of Canada) and assembly industries (the U.S.).

This agenda was broadly outlined by Canada's ambassador to Haiti, Henri Paul Normandin, in a June 28 interview he gave to Haiti's largest daily newspaper, the French-language Le Nouvelliste. The article is titled 'Canada-Haiti relations going well, according to Canada's ambassador in Haiti.'

Constitutional amendments in Haiti

Ambassador Normandin made clear in the interview that, "Canada and the international community" (code for the Washington-led coalition of North American and European powers) are anxious to see a Permanent Electoral Council installed in Haiti.

"Finally, Haiti will have a permanent electoral institution," he told Le Nouvelliste. "It was an anachronism in a democracy like Haiti where there are regular elections but there was not a permanent electoral institution. Now finally, we'll have one, which…

Haiti’s post-earthquake disaster is setting powerful social forces in motion towards change

Tectonic Shifts: Haiti After the Earthquake; editors Mark Schuller and Pablo Morales; Kumarian Press, 271 pp, January 2012

Reviewed by Roger Annis, review published in the August 2012 issue of NACLA

Tectonic Shifts is a vital account of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The book is a collection of 46 articles and essays by leading Haitian and international activists, scholars and writers who are on the front lines of the struggle for meaningful relief and reconstruction.

Through Tectonic’s pages, we meet key actors among the army of Haitian people and international supporters who have toiled in unimaginable difficulties since the earthquake to save lives, bring comfort and rebuild a shattered country. We learn of the intense political and class struggle that is determining in whose interests the future Haiti will be guided and governed, a dynamic story shifting wrenchingly from one day’s news to the next.

In view of the limited and sharply criticized outcomes of the reconstruction effort to date, the book amounts to an urgent call for action and change.

In their introduction, editors Mark Schuller and Pablo Morales pay tribute to the Haitian community tradition of youn ede lòt (helping one another).* “…The first emergency response came from the people themselves: Complete strangers pulling out children or the elderly half-buried under slabs of concrete. Neighbours pooling together what scraps of food, utensils, charcoal and water they could find, sleeping next to one another on the ground…this was the story of how the Haitian people put away their economic and political differences and worked together, in dignity and solidarity, to collectively survive.”


GlobalPost special series: Where did all the money go?

The question rises up from the dust of the still-crowded tent camps and the mud of still-impassable roads and from desperate parents still struggling to feed their children. Two years after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that ravaged Haiti, less than half of the $3 billion the U.S. has committed to rebuilding the country has actually been disbursed. Reconstruction is by just about all accounts taking far too long. Why?

Haiti is a place of unanswered questions, and perhaps unanswerable questions. In this GlobalPost 'Special Report,' correspondent Donovan Webster and photographer Ron Haviv start GlobalPost on a journey through Haiti to find as many answers to this question as we can. Or at least to hear the questions that Haitians are asking of their own country and of the many donors who have promised more than they deliver.

Webster and Haviv are joined by GlobalPost correspondents Mildrade Cherfils, who is writing on the diaspora, and Jacob Kushner, who is based in Port-au-Prince. As a reporting team, they found that some reconstruction efforts are succeeding while others are failing. Most of all, they found resiliency and resourcefulness among the people. But they also found cynicism about an aid effort that seems to be enriching big non-governmental organizations (NGOs.) Haitians now call their country ‘the republic of NGOs.”

The stories they tell in "Fault Line: Aid, Politics and Blame in Post-Quake Haiti" reveal searing images and complex characters through whom truths emerge, if not exactly answers to the big question: Where did all the money go? It's a question that GlobalPost plans to keep asking through this ongoing series of reports.

(The above news notification has been added to the…

Article looks at the making of the film 'Baseball in the Time of Cholera'

The following article appears in the July 16, 2012 print and online editions of the Toronto Star. The Star is Canada's largest circulation daily newspaper. The article looks at the story behind the filming of the 27-minute documentary, 'Baseball in the Time of Cholera.' The links in the text of the article are taken from the Star online version of the article. Unknown Object

Screenings of 'Baseball in the Time of Cholera' are being held in the United States to help fund the legal action against the United Nations on behalf of the victims of cholera. The action is seeking redress for the victims and their families as well as assistance in establishing potable water supplies in Haiti. It is being spearheaded by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Go to this IJDH web page to read about the IJDH 'Cholera Accountability Project' and to watch 'Baseball in the Time of Cholera.' Go to the CHIP events page to read about screenings of the film taking place, including future screenings to take place in Canada.

Film takes swing at cholera

Documentary uses unique lens to ask UN to own up to deadly scourge in Haiti

By Deborah Black, Toronto Star page three, Monday, July 16, 2012

For Joseph Alvyns — a 17-year-old who survived the earthquake that ravaged Haiti — throwing the first pitch at a Blue Jays game was a dream come true. The captain of the first-ever Haitian Little League team had been spotted on a television news clip by Martha Rogers, whose family owns the Blue Jays. He and his cousin had been making…

Earthquake relief where Haiti wasn’t broken
CARACOL, Haiti — On the first anniversary of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, in a sleepy corner of northeast Haiti far from the disaster zone, the Haitian government began the process of evicting 366 farmers from a large, fertile tract of land to clear the way for a new industrial park.
The farmers did not understand why the authorities wanted to replace productive agricultural land with factories in a rural country that had trouble feeding itself. But, promised compensation, they did not protest a strange twist of fate that left them displaced by an earthquake that had not affected them. “We watched, voiceless,” Jean-Louis Saint Thomas, an elderly farmer, said. “The government paid us to shut us up.”
In Port-au-Prince, meanwhile, with rubble still clogging the streets, former President Bill Clinton, co-chairman of Haiti’s recovery commission, had celebrated the Caracol Industrial Park as a glimmer of hope during a ceremony cementing an agreement with the anchor tenant — Sae-A Trading, a South Korean clothing manufacturer and major supplier to American retailers like Walmart and Gap Inc.
“I know a couple places in America that would commit mayhem to get 20,000 jobs today,” Mr. Clinton said, referring to the jobs that Sae-A pledged to generate over six years. In exchange, thanks to a deal that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton helped broker, Sae-A looked forward to tax exemptions, duty-free access to the United States, abundant cheap labor, factory sheds, a power plant, a new port and an expatriate residence outfitted with special kimchi refrigerators.