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Haiti's hard road to recovery

category central america / caribbean | imperialism / war | non-anarchist press author Sunday January 15, 2012 02:45author by Isabeau Doucet - The Guardian Report this post to the editors

Two years after the earthquake life is improving, but the nation still faces a cholera epidemic and a huge rebuilding challenge.

In Haiti, you'll see a young man sitting on a crumbled wall blasting a song out of a bashed-up radio and singing along – apparently without irony – lyrics that just repeat "I love my life". You'll see a woman trying to peddle half-rotten papayas from a basket on her head, dancing to kompa on a pile of sewage-soaked rubble and trash. You'll see a barefoot six-year-old boy flying a homemade kite wearing a T-shirt that says "Save Darfur". You can be sure that if your motorcycle, car or SUV breaks down in the potholes of Port-au-Prince, any one of these folks will bend over backwards to help, rather than pose any threat to your safety.

What's remarkable about Haiti is that despite the devastating earthquake, tent camps, cholera, political instability and chronically corrupt and neglected judicial institutions, it couldn't be further from the orgy of violence people around the world associate with it. The United Nation's latest homicide statistics show that Haiti is one of the least dangerous places in the Caribbean region with a murder rate on a par with the US.

This is encouraging news, but it begs the question: what is the world's third-largest UN peacekeeping mission – the only one in the Americas – doing there? They have been there for over seven years with no apparent exit strategy: the UN's blue helmets peep out of white armoured personnel carriers; Brazilian riot police patrol tent camps with weapons drawn; French gendarmes fire tear gas at peaceful demonstrators whenever they're deemed a threat. No, the real violence of Haiti is its continuing lack of civic infrastructure, to the extent that people are dying every day of diseases to which most countries waved goodbye in the 19th century; of failed economic policies imposed from abroad like a laboratory experiment.

Two years on from the earthquake, the official death toll from cholera is now 7,000 and rising with no end in sight. In just over a year, Haiti has gone from having zero cases to having the deadliest cholera epidemic in the world. Though the outbreak was partly due to globalisation and incredibly bad luck, indications that UN troops were the source of the disease have motivated 5,000 Haitians to launch a legal action demanding an apology and compensation for "gross negligence", and "indifference" in the UN mission's initial response. The UN remains unapologetic, despite studies confirming the strain of cholera originated in Nepalese troops' toilets.

The UN's budget for peacekeeping is equal to half the Haitian government's annual spending, and eight times greater than the amount the UN's cholera appeal has raised. In fact, a cholera vaccination campaign for the entire country could be paid for with the equivalent of just 18 days of the UN's Haiti peacekeeping bill.

Haiti was a graveyard of failed NGO projects even before the earthquake, so people are unusually cynical towards both their own government and international actors, and happiest when solving problems themselves. Gardy Guerrier, a community organiser in outer Cite Soleil, Haiti's poorest shanty, says that though they've seen more "noise and propaganda than actual work by the new government" his community is doing much better than last year when things seemed like they couldn't get any worse. After the earthquake, the government started dumping all the city's raw sewage into open air pits in Troutier, the city dump, next to his village; and when cholera broke out, the community organised blockades to prevent the septic tank trucks from entering the junkyard.

It's now exactly two years since the Caribbean fault lines ripped apart one of the most densely populated capital cities in the world and international donors pledged more than $5bn for Haiti's recovery (the largest amount ever for post-disaster reconstruction). A year ago, the commission in charge (co-chaired by Bill Clinton) was floundering; today it's all but fizzled out, having brokered less than half the donor funds pledged.

Some projects have forged ahead – a shiny new wing of the UN headquarters has sprung up, land has been set aside for new garment factories, and there will soon be a new five-star hotel near the airport where foreign celebrities and businessmen can stay when flying in to do a charity photo-op or bid for lucrative reconstruction contracts. "Haiti is open for business" is the new government's motto: but more than half a million people displaced by the earthquake still languish in two-year-old tent camps with no water and sanitation facilities, while almost 80,000 houses deemed damaged beyond repair have been reoccupied.

Textile manufacturing is now at the heart of Haiti's economic development thanks to its duty-free access to the US market, a captive labour force of 70% unemployment and labour costs competitive with China. Haitian workers, however, earn less today than they did under the Duvalier dictatorship, and spend half their average daily wage on lunch and transportation to and from work.

The most egregious consequence of the unpopular military presence is that it has justified the rise of a highly lucrative private security industry whereby earthquake emergency relief funds are spent on bodyguards and bunkers for humanitarian workers rather than meeting the basic needs of the earthquake victims. The lie about Haiti's security threat goes to the very heart of what's been wrong with the international community's mindset toward the country since the earthquake, and for many many years before. You can't fight poverty with an army – not even a blue helmeted one.

Related Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/12/hai...p=239

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Issue #3 of the Newsletter of the Tokologo African Anarchist Collective

Central America / Caribbean | Imperialism / War | en

Wed 01 Oct, 03:55

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img_0001wb.jpg imageOctober 19th Mobilization against UN troops in Haiti 16:49 Fri 21 Oct by Batay Ouvriye 0 comments

On the basis of the Call from Collective for the Compensation of Cholera Victims in which we participate, some 400 persons mobilized last October 19th to protest again against the presence of the MINUSTAH (U.N.) troops in Haiti.

72a2d82c4bd14e14f80e6a7067000da2.jpg imageEnough is enough: let us all demand an end to the UN occupation of Haiti (29th February 2012) 16:27 Mon 17 Oct by Various Authors 0 comments

There are a thousand reasons for the UN occupation troops in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to leave. And not one single legitimate reason for them to stay. [Castellano] [Kreyòl Ayisyen] [Français]

35224_114775465236655_100001126067519_82272_7402679_n1.jpg imageCosta Rica: No cheeks left to turn 00:18 Thu 05 Aug by Colectivo La Libertad 2 comments

Statement by the Colectivo La Libertad from Costa Rica on the increasing militarization of Central American-Caribbean area, the growing repression of the popular movement and of any form of social protest, and their position on the approval for the stationing of thousands of US Marines on Costa Rican territory. Solidarity! [Castellano] [Français]

460_0___30_0_0_0_0_0_pwen_6.jpg imageHaiti: workers take over Flag Day (May 18th) 23:20 Sat 12 Jun by Batay Ouvriye 0 comments

May 18th, 2010, Flag Day commemoration! But: what flags? The American one, the French one, the Canadian, Chilean, Brazilian, Argentine, Bolivian, Ecuadorian, Paraguayan ones…? Or those of Jordan, Nepal, Congo, Senegal, China Israel, Sri Lanka…? Or, perhaps, those of Doctors without Borders or the Oxfam team?

demokrasi_popile_1.jpg imageSolidarity with the Haitian people! No to militarisation! 06:06 Wed 24 Feb by Comité Democrático Haitiano en Argentina 0 comments

The earthquake that shook Haiti on January 12th, also shook the consciousness and the heart of people all over the world, in whose eyes Haiti once again existed. It also shook our memory, since in between the press releases on this natural catastrophe, there have been leaks of the “social” catastrophes that have been suffered by the Haitian people and which are never taught at school. US and UN military occupations, bloody dictatorships backed by the Pentagon, embargoes and sanctions imposed by French and US imperialism, all of which have been as devastating as the earthquake. [Castellano] [Français] [Italiano]

dscf0017.jpg imageReport on the Haiti Solidarity Day demo (Dublin) 19:58 Thu 08 Feb by Paddy Rua 7 comments

Brief report of the Dublin activity in solidarity with the Haitian people struggle on the 7th of February

haitis.gif imageThe UN’s Christmas present to Haiti -- Assault on Sité Soley 06:49 Tue 26 Dec by Haiti Action 2 comments

Urgent action alert from the Haiti Action Committee - December 24, 2006

In the early morning of Friday, December 22nd, starting at approximately 3 a.m., 400 Brazilian-led UN occupation troops in armored vehicles carried out a massive assault on the people of Cite Soleil, laying siege yet again to the impoverished community. Eyewitness reports said a wave of indiscriminate gunfire from heavy weapons began about 5 a.m. and continued for much of the day Friday -- an operation on the scale of the July 6, 2005 UN massacre in Cite Soleil. Detonations could be heard for miles, AHP reported.

02.jpg imageUN whitewashes massacre amid new attacks in Haiti 01:33 Mon 16 Jan by HIP 0 comments

The January 9 strike came two days after the death of the commander of U.N. military forces in Haiti Lt. Gen. Urano Bacellar. His death was initially reported as a suicide but U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti Juan Gabriel Valdes has implied in recent interviews to the Haitian press that it may have been an assassination by forces trying to disrupt the electoral process. And finally, the right-wing opposition of president Mbeki in South Africa with ties to Haiti's elite ridiculously implied that a sniper from their country, at the behest of Aristide, killed the general.

pwen_1.png imageHaiti: On the January 9 (2006) Strike 20:22 Sun 08 Jan by BO 3 comments

For us of Batay Ouvriye, this is a call that is directly and openly against our interests, we of the popular masses. In the solution they are requesting – and building -, the strike is a first step. The next will be against us, since already in the first one, they don’t take into account the true nature and true forms of OUR problems in the question of insecurity. In truth, broadly shooting down residents of the popular neighborhoods (the strike heads might as well ask for bombs to be dropped massively on them) solves the gang problem, for all they are concerned.

pwen.png imageOn the Haitian Elections 19:27 Sun 08 Jan by BO 0 comments

Batay Ouvriyé Union's position on the Haitian elections.

more >>

imageMartelly’s (s)election in Haiti: dance to the sound of Duvalierism! Aug 02 by José Antonio Gutiérrez D. 3 comments

Article on the recent electoral process in Haiti, the (s)election of "Sweet Mickey" Martelly and the process of restoration of Duvalierism by the so-called international community. Originally appeared ins an edited version in the British magazine "The Commune" , issue 23 - July 2011, with the title "Another UN presidential (s)election in Haiti".

imageBaby Doc returns to Haiti: the Duvalier Restoration Jan 19 by José Antonio Gutiérrez D. 0 comments

With the arrival of Baby Doc back in Haiti, the cycle opened by the extraordinarily tragic popular revolts of 1986 can be said to have come to completion. The restoration strategy of Duvalierism has succeeded, at least for now. Mouthing pious words about relief and wiping the crocodile tears about the misery they have created from their eyes, the "international community" has spared no efforts in helping the neo-Duvalierists bring about the Restoration. [Castellano]

imageThe Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the UN Occupation in Haiti Nov 03 by B.O. Solidarity Network 0 comments

At first glance, one might wonder what the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have in common with a UN “peace” mission on the opposite side of the world, in Haiti, a non Muslim country. Indeed, from the standpoint of US military casualties or US military expenditures, there is little in common

imageNo to US/Imperialist Occupation of Haiti Aug 02 by BO Solidarity Network 0 comments

For more than 30 years, since the end of the 70’s, each year, without fail, progressives in NY have gathered to mark July 28, 1915, the anniversary of the first US occupation of Haiti, a 19 year occupation that made more than 15,000 victims, an occupation that radically changed Haiti.

imageWhy We Should Oppose the U.S. Occupation of Haiti Apr 20 by John Reimann 0 comments

From the Industrial Worker (Official Newspaper of the Industrial Workers of the Wolrd, IWW) #1723, vol. 107, No.2, February-March 2010.

more >>

imageEnough is enough: let us all demand an end to the UN occupation of Haiti (29th February 2012) Oct 17 0 comments

There are a thousand reasons for the UN occupation troops in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to leave. And not one single legitimate reason for them to stay. [Castellano] [Kreyòl Ayisyen] [Français]

imageCosta Rica: No cheeks left to turn Aug 05 2 comments

Statement by the Colectivo La Libertad from Costa Rica on the increasing militarization of Central American-Caribbean area, the growing repression of the popular movement and of any form of social protest, and their position on the approval for the stationing of thousands of US Marines on Costa Rican territory. Solidarity! [Castellano] [Français]

imageSolidarity with the Haitian people! No to militarisation! Feb 24 0 comments

The earthquake that shook Haiti on January 12th, also shook the consciousness and the heart of people all over the world, in whose eyes Haiti once again existed. It also shook our memory, since in between the press releases on this natural catastrophe, there have been leaks of the “social” catastrophes that have been suffered by the Haitian people and which are never taught at school. US and UN military occupations, bloody dictatorships backed by the Pentagon, embargoes and sanctions imposed by French and US imperialism, all of which have been as devastating as the earthquake. [Castellano] [Français] [Italiano]

imageThe UN’s Christmas present to Haiti -- Assault on Sité Soley Dec 26 2 comments

Urgent action alert from the Haiti Action Committee - December 24, 2006

In the early morning of Friday, December 22nd, starting at approximately 3 a.m., 400 Brazilian-led UN occupation troops in armored vehicles carried out a massive assault on the people of Cite Soleil, laying siege yet again to the impoverished community. Eyewitness reports said a wave of indiscriminate gunfire from heavy weapons began about 5 a.m. and continued for much of the day Friday -- an operation on the scale of the July 6, 2005 UN massacre in Cite Soleil. Detonations could be heard for miles, AHP reported.

imageHaiti: On the January 9 (2006) Strike Jan 08 Batay Ouvriyé 3 comments

For us of Batay Ouvriye, this is a call that is directly and openly against our interests, we of the popular masses. In the solution they are requesting – and building -, the strike is a first step. The next will be against us, since already in the first one, they don’t take into account the true nature and true forms of OUR problems in the question of insecurity. In truth, broadly shooting down residents of the popular neighborhoods (the strike heads might as well ask for bombs to be dropped massively on them) solves the gang problem, for all they are concerned.

more >>
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