Posts Tagged 'Haiti'

Angry Haitians demonstrate against visiting Sarkozy

Angry demonstrators demand Sarkozy to pay up and return Aristide to Haiti

Haitians demonstrate as Sarkozy arrives

Demonstrators demand restitution and reparations as French president Sarkozy arrives by helicopter. All photos ©2010 HIP/Kevin Pina

by Kevin Pina

Port au Prince, HaitiHIP — Thousands of supporters of ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide took to the streets on Wednesday as French president Nicolas Sarkozy toured the earthquake ravaged capital of Port au Prince. Holding pictures of the ousted president aloft they chanted for France to pay more then 21 billion dollars in restitution and reparations and to return Aristide as Sarkozy’s helicopter landed near Haiti’s quake damaged national palace. Their demands stem from a long held dispute over compensation a nascent Haiti was forced to pay French slave owners in exchange for recognition of their independence and France’s role in ousting Aristide in 2004.

Haitians supporting Aristide

Demonstrators show photos in support of ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Feb. 17, 2010

Haitians demonstrating for Aristide

Haitians demonstrating for Aristide

Aristide, who remains widely popular among Haiti’s poor, first raised the issue of restitution and reparations in April 2003. His government argued that an agreement reached in 1825 forcing Haiti to pay 90 million gold francs to compensate their former slave masters severely crippled Haiti’s economic development. The debt included massive interest and took 122 years to pay off with the final installment made in 1947. His government calculated that the total sum of the debt Haiti was forced to pay with interest, along with reparations for the unpaid labor of millions of slaves kidnapped from Africa and forced to work on French plantations in Haiti, came to more that 21 billion dollars.  Aristide’s administration pushed the issue on the international stage while airing commercials several times a day in Haiti that said, “We demand reparations and restitution. France, pay me my money, $21,685,135,571.48.”

Aristide was forced out of the country in a coup ten months later on Feb. 29, 2004 and flown to the former French colony of the Central African Republic. Although the main author of the coup is still seen as the administration of George W. Bush, Haitians have never forgotten the role that France played in supporting the opposition movement to Aristide and their demands that he resign.

Several weeks before Aristide was forced onto a plane and flown into exile, the government of then French president Jacques Chirac dispatched Véronique Albanel and Régis Debray to demand that he resign. In an interview with writer Claude Ribbe one year after his ouster Aristide said, “These two French personalities came to the National Palace and asked me so. That is already known. The threats were groundless, they were evident and direct. As good Haitians, we are respectful but we demand to be respected and we replied with respect and dignity. The threats were evident and direct: you resign or you might be [killed]!”

Before his tour of the destruction in Haiti’s capital and during an address to Haitian dignitaries, French president Sarkozy offered $400 million dollars in emergency assistance, reconstruction funds, and support for the Haitian government’s operating budget. This was in addition to France’s earlier decision to cancel Haiti’s debt of $77 million dollars.

Paulette Joseph, a member of the Lavalas Mobilization Commission and one of the organizers of the demonstration responded, “That’s great that Sarkozy has come to give France’s support to the Haitian people in this difficult moment after the terrible earthquake that killed so many of our people and now forces us to live in greater misery.” Joseph continued, “But $477 million dollars doesn’t even come close to the damage France inflicted upon Haiti before the earthquake.  We were suffering from poverty before this crisis as a result of the debt Haiti was forced to pay the slave masters to recognize our independence. If our country is not equipped to handle this crisis and we are suffering more after the earthquake it is a direct result of that debt.”

Haititans demand Aristide.

Haitians demand Aristide.

Preval turns his back

Haitian president Rene Preval turns his back on the crowd and leaves after demonstrators demand he allow ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide to return

“We need Aristide to return!” shouted demonstrators as Haitian president Preval made a rare appearance on the lawn in front of Haiti’s destroyed seat of government following Sarkozy’s visit. Waving photos of Aristide they also began chanting, “If Aristide were here he would be suffering along with us!” as Preval turned his back on the crowd and withdrew to his luxury jeep amid tight security.

©2010 Haiti Information Project

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Minister JR from Haiti, Part 1: Starvation and Jim Crow racism

San Francisco Bay View, February 12

Minister JR from Haiti, Part 1: Starvation and Jim Crow racism

by Minister of Information JR

(JR is on trial on trumped-up arson charges stemming from his coverage of the rebellion in downtown Oakland following BART police murder of Oscar Grant.  His is one of only two remaining charges, after baseless charges were dropped for hundreds of arrestees, and since there is no evidence for his non-existent crime, this prosecution is clearly retaliation for his coverage of police racism.  Please help pack the courtroom at his trial beginning MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22, at 8:30 AM, at Alameda County Courthouse, 1225 Fallon St., Courtroom 11, Oakland (map).

For more information, call (415) 671-0789 or email blockreportradio@gmail.com. Thank you.)

Hunger in Haiti

Today, on the one month anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, I went all over Port au Prince and saw the devastation firsthand and the occupation by Brazil under the guise of the U.N., and of course the U.S.A. I rode through Port au Prince all day and didn’t see one act of recovery going on.  (Picture to left: Some people waiting in seemingly endless lines, knowing there were not enough bags of rice on the truck for everyone, stepped out of line and were pepper sprayed by these U.N. “peacekeepers.” This desperately hungry woman and her daughter pleaded for food. A month after the earthquake, many people in Port au Prince still have received no aid – no food, water, shelter or medical care. – Photo: Ben Gurr, The Times)

I haven’t left Port au Prince. Here it looks like the city was hit with an atomic bomb. All through the city you could smell dead bodies and see people going through the rubble lookin for scraps of metal to build a shanty-house and for anything that can be eaten, drunk or sold.

I don’t see where the millions of dollars that have been raised for Haiti is going. Everywhere people is starving. Me and my comrades gave some of the most desperate some money, but the thing is that it might help them today; what about tomorrow?

We been staying at a makeshift hospital run by some white so-called American missionaries. Today at the house I witnessed my first act of Jim Crow-type racism from so-called friends on this particular trip.

Haiti is like a time machine. It’s like 1920 here in terms of the apartheid type of relationships that the whites have with the Blacks. The white woman of “God” that runs the house says that Haitians can’t come in the house from their shantytown in the backyard after the hospital closes, but check this out: Multiple dogs have free reign all over the property. So in other words, these dogs are more important than the Haitians – including the hungry babies, the old people, the wounded and maimed and regular everyday people.

One of the members of our delegation was told not to feed the Haitians in the tent city in the backyard because they already eat once a day. The issue is, why do they think that they can determine who I share my food with? The house is full of white people who have free reign to eat as much as they want, and whenever they want.

One of the members of our delegation was told not to feed the Haitians in the tent city in the backyard because they already eat once a day.

The second issue is that when we went to Port au Prince we had a 19-year-old Haitian translator named Gady who helped our team. When we got back, the rooster-neck nun who is ultimately in charge of the house told him that he can’t be in the house, although we met him in the house the day before and hung out and listened to music to about 1 a.m.

We asked why, and she told us he wasn’t a good translator. I told her he did great with us, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. She told me he doesn’t know enough English medical terms to assist the doctors. I informed her that my team consists of journalists, and we didn’t need him to know English medical terms.

She then quickly said there were other reasons, then told us that she just didn’t want him in the house, and if we needed a translator, contact her and she would hook it up. Most of the translators that I met were very subservient, except ours, and that’s why we got along.

She kicked him out, and we went out the house after him and paid him a third of what he would make in a month as a translator, because we realize how hard it is to find money, water and food, let alone a regular job.

I’m currently writing this from the house, and God knows I wish I had somewhere else to go out here rather than deal with these undercover racists. I don’t, so like my Haitian “auntie” told me, I’m supposed to see all of this so I can report it.

On another note, most of the Black people from the U.S. out here that I have met are complicit in this Jim Crow racism. They act like they don’t see it because it is not affecting them. These dumb ass people don’t recognize that these same crackers were doing this to their grandparents 60 years ago. It’s like Malcolm taught us, when he talked about the house slave and the field slave.  (Picture at left: A woman salvages clothing from a store in Port au Prince. Is this the kind of “looting” that is the excuse for the U.S. and U.N. to post some 50,000 troops in Haiti? – Photo: Nikki Kahn, Washington Post)

Like my Haitian “auntie” told me, I’m supposed to see all of this so I can report it.

This is my first report, on my first full day here. There is more to come, so stay tuned …

Email POCC Minister of Information JR, Bay View associate editor, at blockreportradio@gmail.com and visit www.blockreportradio.com.

Editor’s note: POCC Minister of Information JR and Chris Zamani, M.D., who were political organizing comrades years ago, have reunited to form the Haiti Media-Medical Team to minister to the needs of the people of Haiti and tell their truth. With Minister JR on the media team are filmmaker Angela Carroll and photojournalist Siraj Fowler; with Dr. Zamani on the medical team are a nurse and a mental health therapist. They arrived in Haiti Feb. 11 thanks to the generous donations of many good folks, most notably Mos Def, Kamel Bell of Ankh Marketing, Pierre Labossiere of the Haiti Action Committee and Walter Riley of the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund. Their reports will be posted here as soon as they are received.

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To the governments and organizations gathered in Montreal on the situation in Haiti

We reject the militarization of the country as a false response to the recent disaster, including in particular U.S. unilateral action to send an additional 20,000 troops to safeguard its economic and geopolitical interests. The occupation troops of the MINUSTAH, over the past six years, did not contribute effectively to the stabilization or the provision of infrastructure and public goods, and nothing indicates that maintaining this policy would be effective from now on.

A statement from Via Campesina a propos of the Montreal Conference regarding Haiti,  January 27, 2010

To the governments and organizations gathered in Montreal on the situation in Haiti

The recent tragedy in Haiti shocked the people of the world for its destructive impact, the environmental and social consequences, and especially for the loss of human lives. Unfortunately, natural disasters are not new in that Caribbean country, which was impacted in 2008 by hurricanes Hanna and Ike.

Nor is it the first time we have watched the international community make pledges of cooperation and assistance to Haiti. We are concerned, as organizations and social movements and on the basis of permanent contact and consultation with our partners there, that the international response be coordinated on the basis of respect for their sovereignty and in full accordance with the needs and demands of the Haitian people.

Now is the moment for the governments that form part of the United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH), the United Nations, and especially the U.S., Canada, and France, to reasses the many mistaken policies they have implemented in Haiti. The country’s condition of vulnerability to natural disasters – in large part caused by the devastation of the environment, the lack of basic infrastructure and the weak capacity of state social action – is not unrelated to these policies, which have historically undermined the sovereignty of the people and their country, thus generating a historical, social, economic, environmental, and cultural debt in which these same countries and institutions have a major share of responsibility. Reparations must be made to the Haitian people for these debts, and all the more so in the face of the present situation affecting the country.

In this regard, we reject the militarization of the country as a false response to the recent disaster, including in particular U.S. unilateral action to send an additional 20,000 troops to safeguard its economic and geopolitical interests. The occupation troops of the MINUSTAH, over the past six years, did not contribute effectively to the stabilization or the provision of infrastructure and public goods, and nothing indicates that maintaining this policy would be effective from now on.

We call on governments and international organizations to immediately and unconditionally cancel the external debt claimed of Haiti, the servicing of which affects millions of lives. We also demand that the resources allocated for relief and reconstruction do not create new debt, or conditionalities that are imposed or any other form of external imposition which vitiates this goal, as is the practice of international financial institutions like the World Bank, the Interamerican Development Bank, the IMF, and the so-called donor countries. We also reject the intervention of private multinational companies who seek to take advantage of this tragedy to reap multibillion dollar profits in the reconstruction of Haiti, as happened in Iraq, or to exploit cheap labor and continue to plunder the country’s natural resources.

Haitian society, its organizations, social movements and state representatives should be the protagonists of the international effort to rebuild their country: the first to be heard and the final and sovereign decision over their destiny. The Haitian people have lifted themselves up many times on the basis of their own will, with the strength and conviction of their historical example of having been the first people to free themselves in America. Any cooperation can be effective only if it is based in this commitment and full popular participation.

We are alert, and following developments in dialogue with Haitian organizations, in order to ensure that international cooperation takes place on the basis of this kind of solidarity and that the errors of past policies are not repeated. For a free and sovereign Haiti!

January 25, 2010

SIGNATORIES

Global and regional organizations and networks

Jubileo Sur/Jubilee South – Marcha Mundial de Mujeres/World March of Women – Via Campesina – Amigos de la Tierra Internacional/Friends of the Earth International – Alianza de Pueblos del Sur Acreedores de Deuda Ecológica/ Southern Peoples’ Ecological Debt Creditors Alliance – LDC Watch – Confederación Sindical de Trabajadores y Trabajadoras de las Americas (CSA) / Trade Union Confederation of the Americas – Alianza Social Continental / Hemispheric Social Alliance – Jubileo Sur/Américas / Jubilee South/Americas – Confederación Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo (CLOC) – Programa de Incidencia sobre Deuda Ilegítima de la Federación Luterana Mundial / Program on Illegitimate Debt of the Lutheran World Federation – Réseau CADTM mondial / CADTM International Network – Red Latinoamericana  Mujeres Transformando la Economía (REMTE) /Latin American Network of Women Transforming the Ecoomy – Latindadd –  Kairos Europa- Africa Jubilee South – CADTM Afrique – Caribbean Policy Development Centre – Grito de los/las Excluidos Mesoamérica – Jubilee South Asia-Pacic Movement on Debt and Developmnt APMDD – CADTM South asia Network

National and Local organizations and networks

Argentina Asamblea Permanente por los Derechos Humanos – ATTAC – Central de los Trabajadores de la Argentina (CTA), Secretarías de Relaciones Internacionales y Derechos Humanos – Centro Cultural la Muralla  – Centro de Políticas Públicas para el Socialismo (CEPPAS)- Comisión Justicia y Paz Misioneros Claretianos- Congregación La Santa Unión de los Sagrados Corazones – Dialogo 2000- Equipo de Educación Popular Pañuelos en Rebeldía- Espacio Ecuménico – Estudiantes Haitianos en Argentina – Frente Democrático para la liberación de Palestina – Fuerza Obrera Socialista FOS – Fundación para la defensa del ambiente- El Grito Argentino  – Grupo Ecológico 9 de Julio Valles del Carmen – Iglesia de Fátima de Isla Maciel – Iglesia Evangélica del Río de la Plata- Instituto de Relaciones Ecuménicas (IRE) – Liga Argentina por los Derechos del Hombre – MOCASE-V.C – Movimiento de Víctimas de crímenes de Estado en Colombia,  Capit. Arg. – Movimiento por la Paz, la Soberanía y la Solidaridad entre los Pueblos (Mopassol)- Movimiento por la Soberanía y la Integración de los Pueblos MoSIP – Movimiento Social Misiones- Multisectorial de Solidaridad con Cuba- Organización Feministas – Parroquía de Santa Cruz – Partido Comunista – Partido Humanista – Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo Capit. Arg Programa de Incidencia sobre Deuda Externa Ilegítima de la Federación Luterana Mundial- Red por el Uso Responsable del Agua de Traslasierra- Revista “La Resistencia- Servicio Paz y Justicia – Bachillerato UST – Vecinos Autoconvocados de Villa de las Rosas  Bangladesh EquityBD – Coastal Association for Social Tranformation Trust   Belgium/Bélgica Centre Tricontinental – CADTM  Bolivia Capitulo Boliviano de Derechos Humanos (CBDHDD)  Brasil Rede Jubileu Sul – PACS – Central Unica dos Trabalhadores (CUT) Brasil – Comitê Pró-Haiti Brasil – Auditoria Ciudadana de la Deuda – Centro de Pesquisa e Assessoria – Grito de los Excluídos – Pastoral da Mulher Marginalizada, Regional Norte- Casa da Mulher Oito de Março – Organização Feminista do Tocantins- Red Brasileira por la Integración de los Pueblos – Rede  Social  de  Justica  e  Direitos  Humanos- Rede Brasil sobre Instituições Financeiras Multilaterais  Canadá – Québec Federation de Femmes de Québec – Public Service Alliance of Canada / Alliance de la fonction publique du Canada – Common Frontiers – Canadians for Action on Climate Change – The Social Justice Committee of Montreal – Council of Canadians – Global and regional organizations and networks

Jubileo Sur/Jubilee South – Marcha Mundial de Mujeres/World March of Women – Via Campesina – Amigos de la Tierra Internacional/Friends of the Earth International – Alianza de Pueblos del Sur Acreedores de Deuda Ecológica/ Southern Peoples’ Ecological Debt Creditors Alliance – LDC Watch – Confederación Sindical de Trabajadores y Trabajadoras de las Americas (CSA) / Trade Union Confederation of the Americas – Alianza Social Continental / Hemispheric Social Alliance – Jubileo Sur/Américas / Jubilee South/Americas – Confederación Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo (CLOC) – Programa de Incidencia sobre Deuda Ilegítima de la Federación Luterana Mundial / Program on Illegitimate Debt of the Lutheran World Federation – Réseau CADTM mondial / CADTM International Network – Red Latinoamericana  Mujeres Transformando la Economía (REMTE) /Latin American Network of Women Transforming the Ecoomy – Latindadd –  Kairos Europa- Africa Jubilee South – CADTM Afrique – Caribbean Policy Development Centre – Grito de los/las Excluidos Mesoamérica – Jubilee South Asia-Pacic Movement on Debt and Developmnt APMDD – CADTM South asia Network

National and Local organizations and networks

Argentina Asamblea Permanente por los Derechos Humanos – ATTAC – Central de los Trabajadores de la Argentina (CTA), Secretarías de Relaciones Internacionales y Derechos Humanos – Centro Cultural la Muralla  – Centro de Políticas Públicas para el Socialismo (CEPPAS)- Comisión Justicia y Paz Misioneros Claretianos- Congregación La Santa Unión de los Sagrados Corazones – Dialogo 2000- Equipo de Educación Popular Pañuelos en Rebeldía- Espacio Ecuménico – Estudiantes Haitianos en Argentina – Frente Democrático para la liberación de Palestina – Fuerza Obrera Socialista FOS – Fundación para la defensa del ambiente- El Grito Argentino  – Grupo Ecológico 9 de Julio Valles del Carmen – Iglesia de Fátima de Isla Maciel – Iglesia Evangélica del Río de la Plata- Instituto de Relaciones Ecuménicas (IRE) – Liga Argentina por los Derechos del Hombre – MOCASE-V.C – Movimiento de Víctimas de crímenes de Estado en Colombia,  Capit. Arg. – Movimiento por la Paz, la Soberanía y la Solidaridad entre los Pueblos (Mopassol)- Movimiento por la Soberanía y la Integración de los Pueblos MoSIP – Movimiento Social Misiones- Multisectorial de Solidaridad con Cuba- Organización Feministas – Parroquía de Santa Cruz – Partido Comunista – Partido Humanista – Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo Capit. Arg Programa de Incidencia sobre Deuda Externa Ilegítima de la Federación Luterana Mundial- Red por el Uso Responsable del Agua de Traslasierra- Revista “La Resistencia- Servicio Paz y Justicia – Bachillerato UST – Vecinos Autoconvocados de Villa de las Rosas  Bangladesh EquityBD – Coastal Association for Social Tranformation Trust   Belgium/Bélgica Centre Tricontinental – CADTM  Bolivia Capitulo Boliviano de Derechos Humanos (CBDHDD)  Brasil Rede Jubileu Sul – PACS – Central Unica dos Trabalhadores (CUT) Brasil – Comitê Pró-Haiti Brasil – CONLUTAS – Auditoria Ciudadana de la Deuda – Centro de Pesquisa e Assessoria – Grito de los Excluídos – Pastoral da Mulher Marginalizada, Regional Norte- Casa da Mulher Oito de Março – Organização Feminista do Tocantins- Red Brasileira por la Integración de los Pueblos – Rede  Social  de  Justica  e  Direitos  Humanos- Rede Brasil sobre Instituições Financeiras Multilaterais  Canadá – Québec Federation de Femmes de Québec – Public Service Alliance of Canada / Alliance de la fonction publique du Canada – Common Frontiers – Canadians for Action on Climate Change – The Social Justice Committee of Montreal – Council of Canadians – Simple Living (Burlington, ON)  Cataluyna Asociación Ciudadana anti-SIDA- Educació per a l’Acció Crítica- Observatorio de la Deuda en la Globalización – Veterinarios sin fronteras – Comité Óscar Romero de Santa Margarida de Montbui- Colectivo RETS: Respuestas a las empresas transnacionalesARAGUAIA amb el bisbe Casaldàliga Chile Amigas de Los Vilos- Movimiento Teología de la Liberación- Internacional Bandera de los Niños- Enrique Orellana, Somos Iglesia  Colombia Red Colombiana de Acción frente al Libre Comercio (RECALCA) – CADTM Colombia- Campaña Colombiana “En Deuda con los Derechos” -FENASIBANCOL- Fundau Puica- Mesa Mujeres y Economía – UNEB Colombia- Proceso de Comunidades Negras- PCN  Cuba Centro Memorial Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.- Movimiento por la Paz   Ecuador Acción Ecológica- CADTM- Centro de Derechos Económicos y Sociales (Cdes) – Colectivo Feminista- FEDAEPS – Movimiento Tohalli – Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.” (CSMM)  El Salvador Colectivo de Comunicadores y Estudiantes Roque Dalton Francia Confédération paysanne – Attac – Europe solidaire sans frontières (ESSF) – Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt  Guatemala Pastoral Social, Diócesis de San Marcos  Haití Plateforme Haïtienne de Plaidoyer pour un Développement Alternatif (PAPDA) – Plate forme des Organisations Haïtiennes des Droits Humains (POHDH) – Solidarite Fanm Ayisyèn (SOFA)  India Vikas Adhyayan Kendra/Cadtm Irlanda Debt and Development Coalition – Latin America Solidarity Centre (LASC) Italia Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale / Mani Tese – Observatorio sobre Latinoamerica SELVAS Mali Comité pour la Abolition de la Dette México Red Mexicana de Acción frente al Libre Comercio- Observatorio Latinoamericano de Geopolítica Morocco/Marruecos Attac  Nicaragua Ecumenical Committee of English Speaking Church Personnel in Nicaragua (CEPRHI) Paraguay Foro de Mujeres del Mercosur Capítulo Paraguay Perú Grupo Red de Economía Solidaria del Perú (GRESP)- Jubileo Perú- Museo Afroperuano  Puerto Rico Comité Pro Niñez Dominico Haitiana – Grito de las/os Excluidas/os – Proyecto Caribeño de Justicia y Paz Scotland/Escocia Jubilee Scotland Spanish State/Estado Español Coordinadora Estatal de Solidaridad con Cuba Madrid- ATTAC – Colectivo de Solidaridad por la Justicia y Dignidad de los Pueblos – Ecologistas en Acción- Plataforma Simón Bolívar de Granada- Proyecto Cultura Y Solidaridad- Sotermun- Campaña ¿Quién debe a Quién?- Centro de acción Internacional- Asociación canaria de economía alternativa y de alternativa antimilitarista.moc de Canarias  Switzerland/Suiza Solidarité Suisse Trinidad y Tobago Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs (FITUN)  UK/Reino Unido Haiti Support Group – Jubilee Debt Campaign – No Sweat – Kyoto2, Oliver Trickell  USA/Estados Unidos United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society – Gender Action – New Rules for Global Finance – Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti – Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns – Quixote Center – Foreign Policy In Focus – Office of the Americas (Los Angeles) – St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America – Just Foreign Policy (Robert Naiman, Policy Director) – Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador – Puerto Rican Studies Association Uruguay REDES/Amigos de la Tierra Venezuela Red Venezolana contra la Deuda – CADTM Venezuela

Individuales

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Premio Nobel de la Paz – Nora Cortiñas, Madre de Plaza de Mayo Línea Fundadora – Professor Norman Girvan, University of the West Indies – Anibal Quijano – Raúl Zibechi – Enrique Leff- Alicia Villolde de Botana- ANAHIT  AHARONIAN- – Antonio Gustavo Gomez- Carlos Walter Porto-Gonçalcves- Cecilia Fernandez- Catherine Walsh – Cesar Garcia Garcia-Conde- Cristina Arnulphi- Denise Comanne- Dolores Soto- Domènec Haro Muñoz – Dragutin Lauric – Eduardo D. Polo- Fernando Coronil – Flor Nayeli Grajales Martínez- Francisco A. Scarano- Graciela Ferrario- James B. Luken- Jesus Muñoz Pastor – Kelvin Santiago – María Isabel Magallón- María Estela Ríos González- Mary García Bravo- Miguel Esquirol- Nayla Azzinnari-Obed Juan Vizcaíno Nájera- Oscar Revilla Alguacil- Patricia Cahill- Rodrigo Ibáñez- Ruben Elías- Silvia Martinez- Susana Aparicio- Walter Mignolo

International Operational Secretariat

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La Via Campesina – International Secretariat:

Jln. Mampang Prapatan XIV No. 5 Jakarta Selatan 12790,  Indonesia

Phone : +62-21-7991890, Fax : +62-21-7993426

E-mail: viacampesina@viacampesina.org ; Website: http://www.viacampesina.org

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Stand Shoulder to Shoulder with the People of Haiti

Now more than ever, the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake beckons us to further dismantle the deep structure of racism that violates humanity, and stand shoulder to shoulder with our Haitian sisters and brothers. To this end we must insist that delivery of vital earthquake aid be accelerated, that Haiti’s foreign debt be cancelled and Haitians given the wherewithal to rebuild their own country on their own terms, that foreign military occupiers be removed, that the election ban on Haiti’s popular Lavalas party be lifted and that Aristide be allowed to return.

Stand Shoulder to Shoulder with the People of Haiti

Marilyn Langlois, Board member, Haiti Emergency Relief Fund,  January 22, 2010

–When asked “How are they surviving?” Haitian journalist Wadner Pierre responded, “Well, they’re all sharing. That’s what we do. That’s the way Haitians are.” (January 16)

–“The city has seen little violence, despite persistent fears that shortages of food, water and shelter will spark unrest.” (January 21)

–Photograph of a white female US Navy medic cradling and feeding a dehydrated Haitian child. (January 21)

I thank my local newspaper, the Contra Costa Times, for including the above images in its coverage of the disastrous January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti. These images are vital because they reflect our true human nature that is too often clouded by a pernicious deep structure.

In 2005, upon first hearing about hurricane Katrina on radio newscasts I thought in my head how tragic it was. But when I saw pictures of Katrina, showing how aid and rescue efforts had been needlessly slow to reach poor, African American neighborhoods amid unrealized fears of widespread looting and unrest, my heart was gripped with terror. I felt a visceral pain when faced with the reality that the deep structure of racism on which my nation was founded still persists, despite the abolition of slavery, passage of the Civil Rights Act, and the awakening consciousness of so many people of all races that we truly are equal.

This deep structure is built on the notion that poor people of African descent are less than human, to be exploited economically in good times and to be feared in times of crisis. It is a structure designed to protect the wealth of a few, at the expense of our common humanity.

After the earthquake struck Haiti, my heart was again gripped with terror to see more evidence of this deep structure: When I heard that the US response prioritized “security” over urgent humanitarian assistance; when I read that the US military took control of the Port-au-Prince airport and turned away airplanes carrying medical field hospitals; when I saw that donations of water, food and supplies were not reaching many affected areas at all and some only after thousands who survived the initial quake had needlessly died of infection and dehydration.

The deep structure of racism has infected much of the media that shapes people’s consciousness, but as our eyes and hearts are opened, the outpouring of solidarity at a basic human level emerges. As soon as we get to know people of different races and circumstances on a personal level, the deep structure already begins to crumble. I see people in my home town of Richmond, California breaking down the deep structure every day by seeing their neighbors as brothers and sisters, challenging the negative stereotypes of our city that this structure perpetuates. Ever since I was a teenager and first sensed the existence of this structure, I, a white woman, have been working on breaking it down within myself.

People all over the world are giving generously without hesitation to support those suffering in Haiti, and aid workers are rushing there to help. That’s what people do. It’s human nature. I suspect that individual soldiers, as evidenced from the photograph mentioned above, would rather care for people immediately than be ordered to guard shipments of supplies bottle-necked at the airport. Long before the earthquake, I learned about hundreds of people-to-people partnerships between local groups in the US and Haiti to collaborate on schools, clinics, and other constructive projects. Cuban doctors who have been in Haiti for years are joining Haitian doctors round the clock treating earthquake victims with minimal supplies (though the US military has turned away additional Cuban doctors who want to come). Everyone I know who travels to Haiti and becomes personally acquainted with Haitians and their invincible spirit invariably falls in love with them, as did I.

The earthquake is very personal for me because I first started to learn about Haiti and her history shortly before the political earthquake of the February 29, 2004 coup d’etat in which the US helped topple the vastly popular and democratically elected government of the Lavalas party, kidnapping President Aristide and banishing him from the Western Hemisphere. I visited Haiti twice since the coup and have many friends there who are struggling under UN military occupation to maintain strong networks to dismantle the deep structure of racism, asserting their dignity as human beings who care for their communities.

A tiny segment of Haiti’s population is fabulously wealthy, while the vast majority are desperately poor. Ever since the poor had the nerve to stand up for themselves and break the shackles of slavery and colonialism 206 years ago, the US government has colluded with the wealthy few to maintain this gross inequality, most recently taking the form of ensuring an abundant pool of cheap labor for offshore assembly plants.

Under the leadership of twice elected President Aristide, Haiti moved in the direction of improving the lives of the poor. Since the coup, he remains exiled in South Africa, ready to return home but not allowed to by the US controlled Haitian government. Why is Aristide so often demonized by media pundits? Is it because he challenges the Haitian elite’s contempt for the common people and invites them to stand shoulder to shoulder with blacks rather than get down on their knees with the whites? Is it because he calls for everyone to have a place at the table, including poor, rich, black, brown and white?

Now more than ever, the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake beckons us to further dismantle the deep structure of racism that violates humanity, and stand shoulder to shoulder with our Haitian sisters and brothers. To this end we must insist that delivery of vital earthquake aid be accelerated, that Haiti’s foreign debt be cancelled and Haitians given the wherewithal to rebuild their own country on their own terms, that foreign military occupiers be removed, that the election ban on Haiti’s popular Lavalas party be lifted and that Aristide be allowed to return.

It’s time for the wealthy to get in touch with their true human nature and do a better job of sharing the resources of the earth. We must build new structures that join us together in embracing the Haitian motto “tout moun se moun”–Haitian Kreyol for “every person is a human being”.

Marilyn Langlois
Board member, Haiti Emergency Relief Fund
Member, Haiti Action Committee
http://www.haitiaction.net, http://www.haitisolidarity.net

shortlink to this post:  http://wp.me/p3xLR-mz

Haiti Emergency Demonstration, Mon, Jan 25, 5 PM, Market & Powell, SF

Haiti Action, January 22, 2010

Stop the US Militarization of Haiti Relief Efforts

Emergency Haiti Earthquake Protest -
Mon., Jan. 25th – 5 pm – Powell & Market, San Francisco
A day of coordinated protests in many cities

Despite a world-wide outpouring of aid to help Haiti, large amounts of desperately needed food, medicine, and other relief materials remains in warehouses in Haiti and is not reaching Haitians themselves.  Serious obstacles to distribution exist, but the worst is a takeover of relief operations by a US military that is concerned with security more than aid.   Consider the following:

1. U.S. forces refused to allow aid planes to land at the Port au Prince and Jacmel airports. Planes from the Caribbean Community, France, World Food Program and Doctors Without Borders — some loaded with desperately needed medical equipment and field hospitals – were repeatedly turned away by U.S. Marines. Unloading military gear and “securing the perimeter” was the Pentagon’s priority. French Cooperation Minister Alain Joyandet could not contain his outrage: “This should be about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti.”
2. By one week after the earthquake, the U.S. had only airlifted 70,000 bottles of water into Port au Prince…a drop in the bucket for an estimated 3 million dehydrated people in the Haitian heat. [USA Today, Jan. 19]. The U.S. military is denying port and airport access even to established aid organizations, leading a Haiti-based aid group to conclude: “Right now the U.S. is blocking [water, food and medical] aid.”
3. The Pentagon’s first response was to send in reconnaissance drones. Destroyers steamed toward Haiti. Aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson finally showed up in Haiti, with Sidewinder missiles and helicopters…but without any emergency relief supplies! [www.gregpalast.com]
4. The U.S. occupying force, obsessed with “security,” is holding back aid. Defense Secretary Gates “wouldn’t send in food and water because, he said, there was no ‘structure…to provide security.’” [www.gregpalast.com] Yet the President of faraway Iceland ordered rescue teams in the air almost immediately. Rescue teams from Cuba, Venezuela and China moved to provide relief right away without waiting for “security.”
5. “Aid is sitting at the airport – while millions suffer. Why? People are afraid to give it out for fear of provoking riots.” [Bill Quigley] Yet the overwhelming response of Haitians to this tragedy is one of sharing and caring for each other, showing “remarkable levels of patience and solidarity on the streets.” The main source of “violence” is the 12,000-strong U.S. occupying force which is allowing thousands to die by withholding aid.
6. The media show “images of poor people searching for food, calling them ‘looters’, when in fact mass starvation occurs as shotgun-wielding security guards attempt to cordon off…the larger markets.” [www.haitianalysis.com]
7. On 1/20, eight days after the quake, hard-hit areas like Carrefour and Leogane “still hadn’t received any food, aid or medical help.” [Telesur] A large refugee camp at Champs de Mars reported “no relief has arrived; it is all being delivered on other side of town, by the U.S. Embassy.” Washington Post reported U.S. rescue operations focused on places frequented by foreigners, such as U.N. headquarters, Montana Hotel and Caribe supermarket. [P. Hallward, www.haitianalysis.com]
8. “Most Haitians have seen little humanitarian aid….What they have seen is guns, and lots of them. Armored personnel carriers cruise the streets, and inside the well-guarded perimeter [of the airport], the US has taken control,” reported Al Jazeera. “It looks more like the Green Zone in Baghdad than a center for aid distribution.”

The massive U.S. military operation in Haiti comes 6 years after invading U.S. forces overthrew the democratic Aristide government, and replaced it with a brutal coup regime. Meanwhile, the Haitian people – many of them dying from lack of water and medicine, starving while food supplies sit on the airport tarmac — are demanding the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to his homeland.

It is time to hit the streets and express our outrage at the shameful actions by U.S. military authorities in Haiti. To withhold aid desperately needed by the people - so reminiscent of their behavior in New Orleans after Katrina - is a monstrous crime.

Here’s what you can do:

Demonstrate with us at 5 pm, Monday, Jan. 25th, Powell & Market, San Francisco, as part of coordinated protests in many cities.

Donate to the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund: www.haitiaction.net

* Join us in raising these demands:

  • Get the people of Port-au-Prince clean water, food, and medical treatment now.
  • Allow President Aristide to return to Haiti from forced exile in South Africa, as the vast majority of Haitians demand.
  • Respect Haiti. Do not criminalize a courageous people who need water, food and medical help.
  • End the foreign military occupation of Haiti.
Sponsored by Haiti Action Committee   www.haitisolidarity.net
Be sure and check out the San Francisco BayView’s article  “From Cynthia McKinney:  An Unwelcome Katrina Redux”
shortlink to this posting:  http://wp.me/p3xLR-mk

Haiti: How much is US’s $100 million worth? How much has it cost?

Workers World, January 21, 2010

U.S. aid comes with strings attached

By Sara Flounders

How much is $100 million in U.S. aid to Haiti really worth? $100 million is less than what the U.S. spends in five hours on the wars and occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The $100 million President Barack Obama promised in emergency aid to Haiti for earthquake relief sounds like a lot of money. But it is a tiny amount when compared to what the rulers of France and the United States stole from Haiti and its people over centuries.

The U.S. imposed 60 years of sanctions and blockade on Haiti after the victory of the first successful slave revolution in history. This blockade impoverished Haiti. France demanded in 1825, with warships in the harbor, that Haiti repay French slave owners $21 billion for the value of the enslaved Africans who were liberated. Haiti was forced to pay interest on this debt for more than 100 years.

U.S.-supported dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier diverted $500 million in U.S. loans into his personal bank accounts in just the last six years before he fled the country. But the Haitian people still had to repay all the Duvalier loans.

Billions of dollars in debt, Haiti was forced to accept an International Monetary Fund structural adjustment program that promised “debt forgiveness.” This IMF program destroyed Haiti’s sustainable agriculture, bankrupted its cash crops of rice and sugar, raised the price of electricity, and froze pay on public transit, infrastructure and vital social service providers such as doctors, nurses and teachers.

Haiti’s debt to the Inter-American Development Bank was not “forgiven.” It is more than $500 million — five times the amount of U.S. aid pledged for earthquake relief.

It is always important to remember that whatever U.S. imperialism gives with one hand, it takes away with the other. The IMF announced on Jan. 14, the same day that President Obama promised $100 million in aid, that it would be adding a $100 million loan to its current program in Haiti. This only leaves Haiti further in debt.

$100 million is just 7 percent of the $1.4 billion that Haitian workers in the Diaspora send home to their families every year. Half of the population of Haiti lives on less than $1 a day. Yet this U.S. aid and U.S. loan will force even more Haitians to immigrate to find work for their families’ survival.

The people of Haiti are owed reparations from the U.S. and French banks, which have extracted billions of dollars in profits from Haiti for hundreds of years. $100 million is far less than 1 percent of the $18 billion that Goldman Sachs executives will receive in bonuses this year, after a $700 billion U.S. government bailout of the banks.

And $100 million in U.S. aid to Haiti comes with a high price tag: U.S. military occupation.

shortlink to this post:  http://wp.me/p3xLR-mc

The Right Testicle Of Hell: History Of A Haitian Holocaust

CounterCurrents,  January 17, 2009

The Right Testicle Of Hell:  History Of A Haitian Holocaust

By Greg Palast

1.  Bless the President for having rescue teams in the air almost immediately. That was President Olafur Grimsson of Iceland. On Wednesday, the AP reported that the President of the United States promised, “The initial contingent of 2,000 Marines could be deployed to the quake-ravaged country within the next few days.” “In a few days,” Mr. Obama?

2.  There’s no such thing as a ‘natural’ disaster. 200,000 Haitians have been slaughtered by slum housing and IMF “austerity” plans.

3.  A friend of mine called. Do I know a journalist who could get medicine to her father? And she added, trying to hold her voice together, “My sister, she’s under the rubble. Is anyone going who can help, anyone?” Should I tell her, “Obama will have Marines there in ‘a few days’”?

4.  China deployed rescuers with sniffer dogs within 48 hours. China, Mr. President. China: 8,000 miles distant. Miami: 700 miles close. US bases in Puerto Rico: right there.

5.  Obama’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, “I don’t know how this government could have responded faster or more comprehensively than it has.” We know Gates doesn’t know.

6.  From my own work in the field, I know that FEMA has access to ready-to-go potable water, generators, mobile medical equipment and more for hurricane relief on the Gulf Coast. It’s all still there. Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who served as the task force commander for emergency response after Hurricane Katrina, told the Christian Science Monitor, “I thought we had learned that from Katrina, take food and water and start evacuating people.” Maybe we learned but, apparently, Gates and the Defense Department missed school that day.

7.  Send in the Marines. That’s America’s response. That’s what we’re good at. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson finally showed up after three days. With what? It was dramatically deployed — without any emergency relief supplies. It has sidewinder missiles and 19 helicopters.

8.  But don’t worry, the International Search and Rescue Team, fully equipped and self-sufficient for up to seven days in the field, deployed immediately with ten metric tons of tools and equipment, three tons of water, tents, advanced communication equipment and water purifying capability. They’re from Iceland.

9.  Gates wouldn’t send in food and water because, he said, there was no “structure … to provide security.” For Gates, appointed by Bush and allowed to hang around by Obama, it’s security first. That was his lesson from Hurricane Katrina. Blackwater before drinking water.

10.  Previous US presidents have acted far more swiftly in getting troops on the ground on that island. Haiti is the right half of the island of Hispaniola. It’s treated like the right testicle of Hell. The Dominican Republic the left. In 1965, when Dominicans demanded the return of Juan Bosch, their elected President, deposed by a junta, Lyndon Johnson reacted to this crisis rapidly, landing 45,000 US Marines on the beaches to prevent the return of the elected president.

11.  How did Haiti end up so economically weakened, with infrastructure, from hospitals to water systems, busted or non-existent – there are two fire stations in the entire nation – and infrastructure so frail that the nation was simply waiting for “nature” to finish it off?

Don’t blame Mother Nature for all this death and destruction. That dishonor goes to Papa Doc and Baby Doc, the Duvalier dictatorship, which looted the nation for 28 years. Papa and his Baby put an estimated 80% of world aid into their own pockets – with the complicity of the US government happy to have the Duvaliers and their voodoo militia, Tonton Macoutes, as allies in the Cold War. (The war was easily won: the Duvaliers’ death squads murdered as many as 60,000 opponents of the regime.)

12.  What Papa and Baby didn’t run off with, the IMF finished off through its “austerity” plans. An austerity plan is a form of voodoo orchestrated by economists zomby-fied by an irrational belief that cutting government services will somehow help a nation prosper.

13.  In 1991, five years after the murderous Baby fled, Haitians elected a priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who resisted the IMF’s austerity diktats. Within months, the military, to the applause of Papa George HW Bush, deposed him.

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. The farce was George W. Bush. In 2004, after the priest Aristide was re-elected President, he was kidnapped and removed again, to the applause of Baby Bush.

14.  Haiti was once a wealthy nation, the wealthiest in the hemisphere, worth more, wrote Voltaire in the 18th century, than that rocky, cold colony known as New England. Haiti’s wealth was in black gold: slaves. But then the slaves rebelled – and have been paying for it ever since.

From 1825 to 1947, France forced Haiti to pay an annual fee to reimburse the profits lost by French slaveholders caused by their slaves’ successful uprising. Rather than enslave individual Haitians, France thought it more efficient to simply enslave the entire nation.

15.  Secretary Gates tells us, “There are just some certain facts of life that affect how quickly you can do some of these things.” The Navy’s hospital boat will be there in, oh, a week or so. Heckuva job, Brownie!

16.  Note just received from my friend. Her sister was found, dead; and her other sister had to bury her. Her father needs his anti-seizure medicines. That’s a fact of life too, Mr. President.

***

Through our journalism network, we are trying to get my friend’s medicines to her father. If any reader does have someone getting into or near Port-au-Prince, please contact Haiti@GregPalast.com immediately.

Urgently recommended reading – The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, the history of the successful slave uprising in Hispaniola by the brilliant CLR James.


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