Posts Tagged ‘Haiti’

‘One Long Struggle for Justice’

April 22, 2010

An interview with historian Howard Zinn

By Howard Zinn and Bill Bigelow, ZNet, April 21, 2010
Source: Rethinking Schools

In 2008 Rethinking Schools and the Washington, D.C.-based education nonprofit Teaching for Change joined together to form the Zinn Education Project, dedicated to promoting the teaching of a people’s history in middle and high schools throughout the United States. The Zinn Education Project recently launched a new website, www.zinnedproject.org, that features over 75 downloadable teaching articles, drawn mostly from the archives of Rethinking Schools magazine, and hundreds of teaching resource recommendations: books, curricula, and audiovisual materials.

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UN Security Council: Better Shelter, Security Needed for Haiti Victims

February 22, 2010

Urgent Action Still Needed on Safe Camp Sites for Those Made Homeless by Quake

Human Rights Watch, February 19, 2010
2010_Haiti_Camps.jpg

A woman sits in front of her tent in a makeshift camp in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

© 2010 Reuters

Despite all the relief efforts, hundreds of thousands of Haitians remain in desperate need. The Haitian government urgently needs to do all it can lawfully to make sites available for camps for displaced and homeless persons.

Anna Neistat, senior emergencies researcher

(New York) – The United Nations Security Council should make improving the quality and security of camps for displaced victims of Haiti’s devastating earthquake a top priority, Human Rights Watch said today in an open letter to the Council’s member states. The Security Council is being briefed today on the humanitarian situation in Haiti by the UN emergency relief coordinator, John Holmes, and the head of the Peacekeeping Department, Alain Le Roy.

Human Rights Watch completed a field investigation in Haiti on February 12, 2010, and drew the attention of Security Council members to areas it believes deserve urgent action. The team visited 15 of the largest camps for displaced persons in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel (housing 5,000 to 35,000 people each), and interviewed over 150 camp residents, local officials, and staff of international relief agencies and UN bodies, as well as local activists and representatives of non-governmental organizations.

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Forgiveness for Haiti? We should be begging theirs

February 12, 2010

The very idea of Haiti as debtor needs to be abandoned. We in the west should pay arrears for years of violations

If we are to believe the G7 finance ministers, Haiti is on its way to getting something it has deserved for a very long time: full “forgiveness” of its foreign debt. In Port-au-Prince, Haitian economist Camille Chalmers has been watching these developments with cautious optimism. Debt cancellation is a good start, he told al-Jazeera English, but: “It’s time to go much further. We have to talk about reparations and restitution for the devastating consequences of debt.” In this telling, the whole idea that Haiti is a debtor needs to be abandoned. Haiti, he argues, is a creditor – and it is we, in the west, who are deeply in arrears.

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Haiti, Aristide, and Ideology

February 7, 2010

By William Blum, Foreign Policy Journal, Feb 7, 2010

It’s a good thing the Haitian government did virtually nothing to help its people following the earthquake; otherwise it would have been condemned as “socialist” by Fox News, Sarah Palin, the teabaggers, and other right-thinking Americans.

The last/only Haitian leader strongly committed to putting the welfare of the Haitian people before that of the domestic and international financial mafia was President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Being of a socialist persuasion, Aristide was, naturally, kept from power by the United States — twice; first by Bill Clinton, then by George W. Bush, the two men appointed by President Obama to head the earthquake relief effort. Naturally.

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Haiti organisations attack US takeover

February 1, 2010
Morning Star Online, Sunday 31 January 2010
by Our Foreign Desk
haiti peacekeepers

Haitian community organisations have united to demand an “end to the militarisation of aid” and plead for international solidarity brigades to help the country’s reconstruction.

Anti-poverty groups, shanty town community organisers and local medical charities issued a joint statement criticising the US government’s takeover of relief efforts following last month’s devastating earthquake as part of a “strategy of the remilitarisation of the Caribbean.”

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Haiti: 900,000 living without a roof

January 30, 2010

Tents urgently needed as rainy season looms

Brett Popplewell, thestar.com, Jan 29, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE–Every night since losing her home to the devastating earthquake that reduced much of this country to rubble, Marie Carole Joseph, 54, has slept under open skies with not even a bed sheet for protection.

“No one has said anything about a tent to me yet, but if they have some I would like one,” says Joseph, a mother of three.

The Haitian government is urgently requesting 200,000 family-sized tents be shipped to the partially destroyed nation for use as emergency shelters for its burgeoning homeless class.

The international community has not been quick to respond.

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Pilger: The Kidnapping of Haiti

January 28, 2010

By John Pilger, Information Clearing House, January 27, 2010

The theft of Haiti has been swift and crude. On 22 January, the United States secured “formal approval” from the United Nations to take over all air and sea ports in Haiti, and to “secure” roads. No Haitian signed the agreement, which has no basis in law. Power rules in an American naval blockade and the arrival of 13,000 marines, special forces, spooks and mercenaries, none with humanitarian relief training.

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Understanding Haiti

January 26, 2010

Red Pepper/UK, Jan 24, 2010

James O’Nions says the tragedy of Haiti doesn’t just lie with the recent earthquake

Like many ‘natural disasters’, the earthquake in Haiti may have had a natural cause but what has made it such a disaster was more political and economic than tectonic. Cheaply constructed buildings, a lack of basic services and infrastructure, and a lack of the resources to deal with the aftermath are all the result of a deep poverty which rich countries bear a huge responsibility for.

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Fidel Castro: Cuba sends doctors, not soldiers

January 26, 2010
Morning Star Online,  January 25, 2010

Fidel Castro

Two days after the catastrophe in Haiti which destroyed that neighbouring sister nation, I wrote: “In the area of health care and others the Haitian people has received the co-operation of Cuba, even though this is a small and blockaded country.

“Approximately 400 doctors and health-care workers are helping the Haitian people free of charge. Our doctors are working every day at 227 of the 237 communes of that country. On the other hand, no less than 400 young Haitians have graduated as medical doctors in our country.

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Limited Compassion for Haiti

January 25, 2010

By Justin Podur , ZNet, January 25, 2010
Justin Podur’s ZSpace Page


Everyone agrees that the Haiti earthquake is a serious situation. Serious enough for the US to send thousands of Marines, to take over the airport, to suspend Haiti’s sovereignty and take over the operation. Serious enough to unify the bitter partisan divide and put Bush, Clinton, and Obama together to raise funds. Serious enough for benefit concerts and the invention of new forms of philanthropy, where people can donate through their cell phones. But the Haiti earthquake is apparently not all that serious:

1. It’s not serious enough to give undocumented Haitians a full amnesty. Yes, it was serious enough to give them Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which they’d been asking for for years, so that they can send back money legally and so they’re not in danger of being deported back to their re-devastated country. But they still have to pay $470 dollars for registering (every dollar of which could have gone to Haiti – which adds up to millions of dollars if more than a few thousand register and pay the fee), and after their 18 month grace period ends they will be in the system and easier to deport than they were before registering.

2. It’s not serious enough for public money. 200,000 people dead and millions homeless is a tragedy, but one approximately 30,000 times less serious than the Iraq war ($100 million for earthquake relief, $3 trillion for the Iraq war) and 40,000 less serious than the $4 trillion bank bailout. For those crises, the treasury magically opens, the money magically appears in the accounts, the public debt grows, and the taxpayers can pay later. For an earthquake or a tsunami, we rely on people’s generosity, and put together star teams to beg for money on behalf of the victims.

3. It’s not serious enough to let Aristide return. In times like these, playing politics is frowned upon, right? But playing politics to prevent a popular leader from returning to his own country after being forced into exile isn’t. Aristide’s kidnapping and the 2004 coup was a special humiliation inflicted on Haiti, his continuing exile a continued insult. This earthquake is not serious enough to stop that insult.

4. It’s not serious enough to pay Haiti back the $22 billion it’s been owed by France since the money was extorted by a blockade. The story is old and much repeated but deserves to be repeated again. When Haiti became independent in 1804 through a revolt of the slaves, France used a naval blockade to force the new country to pay its colonial master compensation for the property the Haitians “stole” – the property being the value of the slaves themselves. The indemnity, 150 million francs at the time, stopped the country from being able to rebuild after the devastation of the war of independence. When the international community was starving Haiti to death from 2001-2003, Aristide began a campaign to say – okay, if aid is blocked and loans are blocked, forget those, just give us our money back. 150 million francs in 1804 makes about $22 billion today. At that point, the machinations to overthrow Aristide began in earnest.

Before too long, as the security and looting stories rise in prominence, opinion pieces will appear about the ingratitude of Haitians. As donations level off, analyses will discuss compassion fatigue. These would be better informed by being a little less oblivious to the limits of governmental compassion for Haiti.

Justin Podur is a Toronto-based writer. He visited Haiti in 2005. His blog is http://www.killingtrain.com


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