Friday, September 26, 2008

Interview with Peasant Leader, Chavanne Jean-Baptiste

Q&A: "Haiti Is Going From Catastrophe to Catastrophe"Michael Deibert interviews CHAVANNES JEAN-BAPTISTE
Chavannes Jean-Baptiste Credit:Michael Deibert/IPS

NEW YORK, Sep 23 (IPS) - Peasant leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste has been at the forefront of the struggles of Haiti's peasants for over 35 years. Born in the village of Papay in Haiti's Plateau Central, Jean-Baptiste helped found the Mouvman Peyizan Papay (MPP) peasant union as well as the Mouvman Peyizan Nasyonal Kongre Papay (MPNKP), the latter a 200,000-member national congress of peasant farmers and activists.Jean-Baptiste's role is an important one in a nation where, over the past 50 years, 90 percent of the tree cover has been destroyed for charcoal and to make room for farming, with resulting erosion destroying two-thirds of the country's arable farmland.
For his work on behalf of Haiti's peasantry, Chavannes Jean-Baptiste was awarded the 2005 Goldman Environmental Prize, sponsored by the Goldman Environmental Foundation, the world's largest prize for grassroots environmentalists. In recent weeks, a series of hurricanes have struck Haiti, killing what is thought to be hundreds of people and devastating the country's already-decrepit infrastructure. The United Nations now estimates that 800,000 people are in need of emergency food aid. Haiti is currently the location of a U.N. peacekeeping force numbering over 9,000 uniformed personnel.

IPS correspondent Michael Deibert, who covered Haiti as a journalist from 2000 until 2006, sat down with Chavannes Jean-Baptiste during his recent visit to the United States. The interview was conducted in Haitian Kreyol in Brooklyn, New York, on Sep. 14, 2008.

IPS: How badly has Haiti been affected by the recent hurricanes?

CJB: It is a major catastrophe. The north of the country was affected, all of the Artibonite Valley, practically every house, every farm, every animal. Flood water passed through Saint-Marc, Fonds-Verettes, Marchand Dessalines, L'Estère, and other towns, and many of those communities are underwater.

IPS: The situation for the Haitian peasants before the hurricanes was already difficult, no? CJB: When Hurricane Gustav hit us, the organisations that we have in the southwest told us that most of their animals -- goats and cows and such -- were affected, that, after being trapped in the rain for 72 hours, they couldn't survive. Many of the animals died like that. I have spoken to people in [the towns of] Jacmel, Caye-Jacmel, Marigot and elsewhere in the south, and they have told us the same thing. In the Grand Anse, the same thing. Hurricane Hannah hit the north of the country, particularly the Artibonite, and the northwest. Hurricane Ike hit the Artibonite and the northwest again, as well as the west. Peasants in Fonds-Verettes have told me that only about 10 houses in the village were not destroyed by the flooding. The focus now is on the town of Gonaives, where those who were hit so badly have been hit again. [In 2004, Hurricane Jeanne killed an estimated 3,000 people in Haiti] Many people who have been displaced from these floods in the Artibonite -- 80,000 or so -- have now moved on to parts of the Plateau Central such as Mirebalais.

IPS: I know that you have worked with the Haitian peasantry for over 35 years. At this time, is the situation for the peasants more or less difficult than before?

CJB: The economic situation of the peasantry is more difficult. We have witnessed the degradation of the environment. There is less agricultural production, and people are migrating to the cities, creating slums such as those we see in Port-au-Prince. This adds to the urban population and to the demand for wood charcoal. When you see the environmental situation in Haiti today, it is quite grave, and there is a real need to organise. We have planted 20,000 trees around the country over the last 20 years, but over the same time period some 50,000 trees have been cut down. What seems clear now is that Haiti is going from catastrophe to catastrophe, and they are getting worse as we go along. And that is a direct result of the destruction of the environment.

IPS: How would you characterise the relationship of Haiti's recent governments with the peasantry?

CJB: We can say that we have never had a government in Haiti that ever changed the problems of the peasantry. We need to create environmental protection and work together, at the same time, in a national framework. There has been a lot of demagoguery, because none of the politicians have had a programme to help the peasants. The politicians and the government are working to implement a neoliberal programme, and the parliamentarians have one preoccupation: To remain in parliament.

IPS: How would you characterise the relations and the actions of the international community towards the Haitian peasantry?

CJB: Today we are under a military occupation by the international community. There are 9,000 foreign soldiers in our country, with a budget of 600 million dollars to supposedly aid our country. They are there because of the desire of a small group in Port-au-Prince. The United States wants bilateral accords with every country in the region, and the international community -- North America and Europe -- wants the Haitian peasants to produce agriculture for exportation. And I think these two things are tied together. They give us this aid, and we are to export our food to pay our debt. So we don't have a political situation that favours family or low-production farming.

IPS: What does the future hold for Haitian peasants?

CJB: We can say that the future for Haiti's peasants is very uncertain. There is not a political system that can foster rural development right now, and that is our cause today Young peasants go to the Dominican Republic, they go to the Bahamas, or they go to Port-au-Prince, because 80 percent of the Haitian population works in agriculture, but it cannot support them anymore. Our agriculture is threatened by the application of a neoliberal economic programme in our country. The future could be very sad, as well, but it depends on whether or not the people can organise in the country to save the country. Organisations like MPP and MPKNP have a movement, a unified movement, to move forward and address this situation. For example we have a petition that says no to the production of combustible agriculture [agriculture for biofuels such as ethanol] and says yes to the production of food, food for the people in Haiti to eat, not for American cars. We will present this petition in October, and search for support from international organisations for our position, in forums such as La Via Campesina [an international peasant movement headquartered in Jakarta, Indonesia]. We will continue to struggle for agrarian reform to develop Haiti, which is integral if the peasants are ever going to have any kind of security. We will continue onwards with this struggle.

*Michael Deibert is the author of "Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti". (END/2008)

HODR Recruiting Volunteers

For those who are willing to come to Haiti to do relief work, there is an organization which is recruiting. This organization has worked in Haiti before and according to Lionel St Pierre, who is running the FACEBOOK campaign to help Haiti, does a fine job of assisting.

---Hands On Disaster Response is energized to help Gonaives, Haiti recover from the devastating effects of 4 successive tropical storms and hurricanes. One thing is for certain – there will be barrels and barrels of great dirty HODR work! We will begin accepting volunteers at our base on 10 October, 2008.
The city of Gonaives (pop 300,000) is awash with muck which streamed down from the hills which frame this fertile valley. The river actually flowed through town and although most of the water is now gone from the city center, what remains is an almost incomprehensible amount of mud. Initially our focus will be on moving this mud out of schools, public gathering spaces, and homes.
We anticipate this to be a very challenging deployment. Haiti has long been the poorest country in the western hemisphere and the recent storms seriously damaged an already weak infrastructure. Food insecurity issues may be compacted by the damaged harvest and generally poor living conditions. Serious needs will exist in the months of our project, and the feeling is almost palpable.
We invite you to volunteer with HODR to help Haiti but we caution you to make yourself aware of the facts surrounding the condition of this country. We will post pertinent data to our Volunteer Info section soon. Arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible and then make a decision that is correct for you. If you cannot volunteer with us at this time please visit our donation page where you know your contribution will make a direct impact.
An NBC news crew has been following us this week as we get to work in Gonaives. We hope to be featured on Friday’s NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams for a story on HODR in Haiti. Watch for updates on our HODR international operations Twitter micro-blog.
This entry was posted on Thursday, September 25th, 2008 at 2:58 pm and is filed under Haiti. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site

HODR Recruiting Volunteers

Hands On Disaster Response is energized to help Gonaives, Haiti recover from the devastating effects of 4 successive tropical storms and hurricanes. One thing is for certain – there will be barrels and barrels of great dirty HODR work! We will begin accepting volunteers at our base on 10 October, 2008.
The city of Gonaives (pop 300,000) is awash with muck which streamed down from the hills which frame this fertile valley. The river actually flowed through town and although most of the water is now gone from the city center, what remains is an almost incomprehensible amount of mud. Initially our focus will be on moving this mud out of schools, public gathering spaces, and homes.
We anticipate this to be a very challenging deployment. Haiti has long been the poorest country in the western hemisphere and the recent storms seriously damaged an already weak infrastructure. Food insecurity issues may be compacted by the damaged harvest and generally poor living conditions. Serious needs will exist in the months of our project, and the feeling is almost palpable.
We invite you to volunteer with HODR to help Haiti but we caution you to make yourself aware of the facts surrounding the condition of this country. We will post pertinent data to our Volunteer Info section soon. Arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible and then make a decision that is correct for you. If you cannot volunteer with us at this time please visit our donation page where you know your contribution will make a direct impact.
An NBC news crew has been following us this week as we get to work in Gonaives. We hope to be featured on Friday’s NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams for a story on HODR in Haiti. Watch for updates on our HODR international operations Twitter micro-blog.
This entry was posted on Thursday, September 25th, 2008 at 2:58 pm and is filed under Haiti. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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Monday, September 22, 2008

White Privilege

International viewers who watched the passage of Hurricane Ike over this region were able to see both Haiti and Houston and the differential in living accomodations and care in the space of a few days.

I submit this essay on White Privilege for your consideration. It is the underlying cause for the state of the nation of Haiti.

By Tim Wise> 9/13/08>

For those who still can't grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because "every family has challenges," even as black and Latino families with similar "challenges" are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a "fuckin' redneck," like Bristol Palin's boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll "kick their fuckin' ass," and talk about how you like to "shoot shit" for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don't all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you're "untested."

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words "under God" in the pledge of allegiance because "if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it's good enough for me," and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the "under God" part wasn't added until the 1950s--while if you're black and believe in reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school, requires it), you are a dangerous and mushy liberal who isn't fit to safeguard American institutions.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto is "Alaska first," and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she's being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you're being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college and the fact that she lives close to Russia--you're somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don't even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because suddenly your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a "second look."

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn't support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is when you can take nearly twenty-four hours to get to a hospital after beginning to leak amniotic fluid, and still be viewed as a great mom whose commitment to her children is unquestionable, and whose "next door neighbor" qualities make her ready to be VP, while if you're a black candidate for president and you let your children be interviewed for a few seconds on TV, you're irresponsibly exploiting them.

White privilege is being able to give a 36 minute speech in which you talk about lipstick and make fun of your opponent, while laying out no substantive policy positions on any issue at all, and still manage to be considered a legitimate candidate, while a black person who gives an hour speech the week before, in which he lays out specific policy proposals on several issues, is still criticized for being too vague about what he would do if elected.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God's punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you're just a good church-going Christian, but if you're black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you're an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a "trick question," while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O'Reilly means you're dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to go to a prestigious prep school, then to Yale and then Harvard Business school, and yet, still be seen as just an average guy (George W. Bush) while being black, going to a prestigious prep school, then Occidental College, then Columbia, and then to Harvard Law, makes you "uppity," and a snob who probably looks down on regular folks.

White privilege is being able to graduate near the bottom of your college class (McCain), or graduate with a C average from Yale (W.) and that's OK, and you're cut out to be president, but if you're black and you graduate near the top of your class from Harvard Law, you can't be trusted to make good decisions in office.

White privilege is being able to dump your first wife after she's disfigured in a car crash so you can take up with a multi-millionaire beauty queen (who you go on to call the c-word in public) and still be thought of as a man of strong family values, while if you're black and married for nearly twenty years to the same woman, your family is viewed as un-American and your gestures of affection for each other are called "terrorist fist bumps."

White privilege is when you can develop a pain-killer addiction, having obtained your drug of choice illegally like Cindy McCain, go on to beat that addiction, and everyone praises you for being so strong, while being a black guy who smoked pot a few times in college and never became an addict means people will wonder if perhaps you still get high, and even ask whether or not you ever sold drugs.

White privilege is being able to sing a song about bombing Iran and still be viewed as a sober and rational statesman, with the maturity to be president, while being black and suggesting that the U.S. should speak with other nations, even when we have disagreements with them, makes you "dangerously naive and immature."

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism and an absent father is apparently among the "lesser adversities" faced by other politicians, as Sarah Palin explained in her convention speech.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because a lot of white voters aren't sure about that whole "change" thing. Ya know, it's just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.

The Incredibly Big Muddy or Let Them Eat Poppies- lessons from Haiti for Iraq and Afghanistan

"There is not a single U.S. implementing partner in Haiti that knows how to build government institutions. There are no tools or instruments. Implementing agencies come here to compete for grants and against one another. Rather than building institutions, they build dependency. International implementing organizations and donors have been a fundamental part of the problem."

The US, having now destabilized Iraq, is thinking of taking on Afghanistan.

Since we Americans have memoires the length of a sound bite, perhaps candidates McCain and Obama would like to take a look at how well we are doing with the Nation Building exercise a few hundred miles off the coast of Florida?

The US occupied Haiti in the beginning of the last century, supported a dictator, then played with supporting democracy, destablizing democracy, rebuilding democracy-- threw in the towel, turned the whole mess over to the UN...

Well ,of course, Haiti is a special case.

Afghanistan, well, that is going to be lot easier.

After all, remember that Haiti has this history of violence, all that money from drug trafficing and that peculiar form of religion.

Nothing like Afghanistan.

Haiti: New Terms of Engagement?
Comments to United States Institute of Peace event on
"Haiti: No Longer a Failed State?"
February 7, 2007
Stewart Patrick
Center for Global Development
Many thanks to Bob Perito and to USIP for inviting me to join this panel today and to offer reflections in the aftermath of what was only my first visit to Haiti. I’m both honored and a bit embarrassed to be speaking before such an august and knowledgeable group, aware that I’m bringing coals to Newcastle, and that many of you have been toiling in the mines for years. My sole (if dubious) advantage is the chance to offer some thoughts through fresh eyes, in the context of my work on state fragility, state building, and spillover effects of state weakness.
I’m grateful to Bill Zartman and the SAIS students for welcoming me on the Haiti trip. As he mentioned, we met with a wide range of the major players, including:
• Government officials, among them President Preval; Prime Minister Alexis; Mario Andresol, head of the Haitian National Police; Alex Fils Aimé , Chairman of the National Commission on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (NCDDR); Max Antoine of the Presidential Commission on Border Development; and the mayor and police chief of the city of Jacmel;
• Representatives of the International community and implementing agencies, notably Special Representative Mulet, head of MINUSTAH; the World Bank Resident Representative; US Embassy personnel and USAID mission staff; agencies implementing large USAID projects; and Catholic Relief Services.
• Members of Haitian civil society, including Archbishop Louis Kebrou, head of the Catholic Church; the head of the Haitian chapter of Transparency International; the leaders of CLED (Center for Private Enterprise and Democracy); the National Human Rights Defense Network; the peacebuilding organization Caravane de la Paix; and the head of the National Federation of Haitian Voodoos.
• The most eye-opening portion of the trip was our visit to Bel Air in the company of the IOM country director, which gave us a chance to meet with community leaders in what had been until recently one of the most violent neighborhoods of Port au Prince.
If I had to give a title for my talk it would be"Haiti and the Donor Community: New Terms of Engagement?" I want to hit on 4 points and then give ample time for questions and discussion. The four points are:
1. The marginal utility of describing Haiti as a "Failed State"

2. The inter-relationship among the main sets of challenges facing Haiti: (a) Security and the Rule of Law; (b) Institutions of Governance; (c) Development, including growth and social welfare

3. The need for donors to end their dysfunctional approach to Haiti, which has kept it a dependent ward of the international community, by embracing state building.

4. The transnational spillovers resulting from Haiti’s endemic state weakness, notably the reciprocal relationship between (a) drug trafficking and (b) Haiti’s insecurity, dysfunctional governance and stalled development.

(I) A "Failed State?"
First, and briefly, on the question Is Haiti a "Failed State"? This question is arguably more distracting than illuminating. Policymakers and scholars, myself included, have devoted an inordinate amount of attention to classifying states into binary categories. This misses is the larger point that state strength in the developing world – indeed in all countries – falls along a continuum, depending on the quality and resilience of state institutions. Rather than assigning countries into an "either/or" category, it’s more useful to array them along a spectrum and gauge their performance relative to others in their cohort on their ability to provide the essential political goods associated with statehood.

In an ongoing collaboration with Susan Rice of the Brookings Institution, we’ve been developing an index to measure state weakness in the developing world. Using 18 well established indicators, we have ranked 143 developing and transitional countries across 4 main spheres of state function, including: securing their populations from violent conflict and to control their territory; meeting the basic human needs of their population; fostering and environment conducive to sustainable and equitable economic growth; and governing legitimately and effectively. Our index ranks Haiti 13th from the bottom, with dramatic deficiencies on all components of statehood, notably its political, economic, and social components. Relatively speaking, this is above Afghanistan and Liberia, for example, but below the Burma or Chad. In terms of social indicators, Haiti fares abysmally on primary school completion rate (with ½ of school age children not in school) and on under 5 mortality (an astounding 25%).
So much for numbers. What about conditions in the country as we found it? The overwhelming impression from our trip was the lack of any functioning government institutions in the country and the absence of the state as a consideration in the everyday life of Haitians (and the dominant role of NGOs in filling the vacuum as the state has atrophied). There is little human capital below 2-3 levels into the bureaucracy, little ability to get anything done or implement approved policies. The state does not maintain basic records. It is largely absent in the delivery of social services: 85-90% of education is private (and poor), and a majority of health care (55-60%) is delivered by foreign donors/NGOs. There is little or no electricity in much of country. The state is incapable of building and maintaining roads. The new parliament has no staff, no computers. Without remittances of approximately $1 billion/year, Haiti would not stay afloat.
For all weakness, Haiti has a brief window of opportunity, a delicate moment comparable to the "golden hour" in immediate post-conflict situation. For the first time ever, Haiti has a fully elected government, a clean President who understands development, and Cabinet including talented technocrats. At the same time, the government faces intense pressure to deliver short term results at the same moment that it must build long-term institutions. How to deliver "quick wins" and build capacity at the same time is an acute dilemma. I detected in many quarters a growing disillusionment with Preval’s perceived weaknesses as a leader and a yearning for a man on horseback, a benevolent authoritarian.

As the Archbishop told us, "What we need is leadership…. We need somebody who can provide order and institute a vision… We need a man who is truly capable of serving and loving his country." Preval is trying to persuade Haitians to embrace a new type of leadership, not a "providential president", but collective responsibility of all Haitian people, including through local government. Unfortunately, Haitians have a misplaced nostalgia for the social order of the Duvalier years, or what Preval called "le paix de la cimitière." But are Haitians prepared for such as shift in political culture and civic engagement? If Preval does not deliver, there will be growing agitation for strongman rule.

(II) The Need for an Integrated Strategy

Second, I was struck by the interdependence of the security, governance and development challenges confronting Haiti and the need for a long term strategic plan that reflects and addresses these linkages. The dilemma in Haiti, several of our interlocutors intimated, is that "everything is a priority." It is difficult to know where to begin. Take physical security. It is clearly fundamental, since nothing permanent can be built, no development can occur, in an insecure environment. The Government’s inability to provide safety of its people was underscored by the horrific wave of kidnapping in late 2006. Criminal violence has paralyzed professional and social life, contributing to massive exodus of young and talented. (There are more Haitian nurses in New York City than in Haiti)
The presence of MINUSTAH at least ensures baseline stability. But criminal violence continues to hold Haiti hostage. Until Port-au-Prince in particular is secure and perceived as truly secure, there will be no investment, domestic or foreign, no tourism, no incentive for the talented to remain or the diaspora to return.
Yet insecurity cannot be addressed in a vacuum – say, by conducting MINUSTAH operations and ramping up the HNP -- beause violence is rooted in Haiti’s political and socio-economic pathologies: an authoritarian and corrupt political culture; anemic and unaccountable institutions of government; a corrupt judicial system that enables a culture of impunity and undercuts the rule of law; pervasive social exclusion, atomization and inequality (less than 1% of the population has 75% of the wealth); and inability to satisfy basic human needs, exacerbated by tremendous population growth of 3% and heavy migration to the main slums.

I am normally skeptical of economic motivations for violence, but Haiti tested my prejudices. It seems indisputable that high crime and corruption are both a result of and a significant contributor to Haiti’s extreme poverty, underdevelopment, lack of economic opportunity. In previous decades gang activity was largely political in nature; today it is largely criminal, a way to make a buck by kidnapping, another activities. As one slum dweller explained to us: "Better to die of violence than to die of hunger." Or as a former gang leader said, "Once you are hungry, you will do the wrong thing to get food." Whether this is a matter of "need" or simple "greed" is a matter of dispute. What is not disputed is that there are 2.5 million young people between ages of 15 and 25, and too many of them are neither going to school or working. Every year, Haiti graduates another 200,000 students who lack both skills and jobs. In Fils Aimé’s words, they are "all dressed up with nowhere to go."

What the government of Haiti and the international community appear to lack is a comprehensive "campaign plan," spanning several years, that seeks to integrate the separate strands of external support, so as to simultaneously address these security, rule of law, governance, and development components of Haiti’s predicament. As a template, one might borrow elements of the approach that USIP developed in the 2005 book The Quest for a Viable Peace, which sought to build bridges between conflict transformation strategies in four separate spheres: security, politics, the rule of law, and economics. This USIP study group might take the lead in outlining an analogous integrated strategy for Haiti, including addressing difficult issues of sequencing and trade-offs.

The promising news is that external actors are beginning to move toward more integrated approaches. One example is the adoption of an almost counter-insurgency approach to gangs, whereby the HNP and MINUSTAH use coercion to move gangs incrementally into smaller and smaller zones, establishing "hard sites" within the bidonvilles, quickly followed by donor interventions to deliver rapid improvements in the lives of the slum dwellers, including the creation of safe public spaces, stalls for markets, youth programs, especially jobs.

• USAID has 2 big programs in this regard: The first is a $29 million program implemented by IOM in targeted hot spots, through community-based initiatives that work with local businesses, use local materials and labor, and work with leaders to resolve conflicts. These grants are often modest, on order of $25,000, for projects like putting up new lighting. The second is an $89 million JOBS (Jobs, Opportunities, Rebuilding Structures) program, which seeks to create longer term employment opportunities and increased economic growth, including by laying the foundations for commerce.

• Last week the Bush administration announced that it would provide $20 million dollars for a stabilization initiative for Haiti, using section 1207 of the Defense Appropriation Act, to help integrate security and development and strengthen government presence and local institutions in Cité Soleil. This will include increased access to police and justice, strengthened local governance, provision of vocational training and new jobs through infrastructure and public works projects.

• The World Bank, likewise, is doing some creative, non-traditional things to try to address the socio-economic causes of violence, through community-driven projects. This includes both quick impact projects and longer term institution building. The Bank is spending some $38 million this year on
Community Driven Development, which goes directly to priorities identified by the community. The Bank has embraced Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPED), and it is financing things like street lighting and building community centers for youth. It is also conducting food programs in some of the most volatile areas. As a Brazilian general told Bank mission staff, "We donors need to follow up our enforcement actions with social interventions because otherwise violence will return."
Another promising – if underfunded – program is Fils Aimé’s National Commission for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (NCDDR), which aims to provide gang members with alternative livelihoods and communities with a package of social services. As Fils Aimé explained, many of the gang leaders thrive on a Robin Hood-like image – they hijack a truck with bags of rice and distribute it. But what they cannot deliver is real services, including education, health, sanitation (picking up garbage, cleaning up streets). The NCDDR provides gang members who are willing to give up their lives with training, reorientation and reinsertion, including permanent job. There was a lot of disagreement among international actors and within the Haitian government about whether the sort of incentives that the NCDDR is offering to gang members will actually make a difference in getting them into another line of work. MINUSTAH and U.S. officials were particularly skeptical, arguing that most gang leaders are beyond rehabilitation and must be killed or arrested. One hopeful fact is that it the number of actual gang members that have to be dealt with is not particularly large. More worrisome is that the government of Haiti remains largely absent from the slums, and that the HNP shows little presence in the form of community policing.

(III) New Terms of Donor Engagement
A third impression from the trip was the clear need for the international community to change the terms of its engagement with Haiti, by shifting toward state-building. As the World Bank has recognized, the vast sums of moneyspent in Haiti over the past two decades have had remarkably little long term impact. Aid has kept Haiti afloat, but in a situation of perpetual dependence. To some degree this understandable. Given the legacy of autocratic and corrupt governance, and lack of confidence in the government to implement and maintain development projects, donors long ago adopted the approach of bypassing the state and delivering services directly to the people themselves. These programs kept people alive and delivered essential services, but they also created what Ashraf Ghani in other contexts has labeled a "parallel international public sector." This pattern has leeched the Haitian civil service of much of its talent and contributed to a culture of dependency that is by now engrained among the Haitian populace.
While this pattern might have made sense in the past, there is now a legitimate government in Haiti and the Preval Government wants to take leadership of development cooperation. As Prime Minister Alexis explained, "In all of history, we have no record of any country that has realized its development by NGOs." But he noted that some donors remain resistant to change, as "bad habits have become engrained" over the past 13 years. Still, the ice is beginning to break up. As a USAID representative said to us, the question for donors is: "At what point do you actually pull back and get the government to take over, rather than replacing it. USAID/Haiti has not asked this question for too long. We need to ask it now. By and large it has been us doing it for them, thus building dependence and postponing the day of reckoning." At a rhetorical level, at least, donors and implementing partners are conceding that the Haitians must be put in the driver’s seat; that development cooperation must be demand rather than supply driven (consistent with the Paris Declaration); and that the international community must make a long term commitment to Haiti, rather than repeat its episodic engagement.
Equally fundamental, there is a growing recognition that unless donors help to bolster the state, they will not achieve the results that they want. For too long, donors have sought to keep themselves in business, financing expensive technical assistance missions for foreign consultants, with little impact, and sustaining donor implemented projects that bypass the state, without a transition plan for handing things over to the Haitians. They have overwhelmed the management capacity of a weak Haitian state through project proliferation, and they have
poached local talent. Although donors have often complained of a lack of Haitian "absorptive capacity," this also reflects a lack of donor capacity to effectively engage states that possess weak institutions.
In April 2004, donors met with the interim government of Latortue and committed themselves to a Haitian-led strategy. The result was the Interim Cooperation Framework (ICF) which has 4 pillars: 1) Economic Governance; (2) Political Governance; (3) Economic growth; (4) Social Services (health,education). Two years later in July 2006, donors pledged some $750 million for Haiti’s recovery. More recently, in November 30, 2006, 30 countries met in Madrid to review donor pledges, including streamlining the $1.8 billion in pipeline. At the insistence of the Haitian government, donors agreed to recognize the principle of Haitian leadership on the Extended ICF; to ensure that Haitian rather than donor priorities drive assistance; and to harmonize their aid policies to avoid overwhelming the GOH with uncoordinated projects. The Haitain government has tried to force donors into a single approach to applying for and managing donor funds, because it lacks enough skilled officials to handle the burden of multiple reporting and implementing requirements. The Ministry of Planning and Cooperation is also circulating a plan to bolster a secretariat charged with supervising donor activities, including creating first ever database of donor programs in Haiti.
While this renewed focus on state-building is important, there are obstacles to realizing it on both the donor and Haitian side. The head of a major implementing agency in Haiti told us,

"There is not a single U.S. implementing partner in Haiti that knows how to build government institutions. There are no tools or instruments. Implementing agencies come here to compete for grants and against one another. Rather than building institutions, they build dependency. International implementing organizations and donors have been a fundamental part of the problem."

Nor is it clear that the GOH has sufficient planning and implementation capacity to design and implement a coherent reconstruction plan or to absorb the aid associated with it. People at various levels of Haitian society complained that President Preval does not appear to have a clear program or plan about where he is taking the country. Both Preval and Prime Minister Alexis told us that the Haitian government is laying plans right now for a comprehensive national dialogue on development, traveling around the country with ministers, parliamentarians, department officials, mayors, to ask the people, civil society and the private sector to tell GOH, "here are our priorities," so that the GOH can match these with donor resources. While this "development from below" experiment is to be applauded, it is liable to be very time consuming.
A few guidelines for donors: Given these facts, I would make the following recommendation for donors:
• Assist with Haitian Government with public revenue generation: By some estimates Haiti suffers from hundreds of millions of dollars in foregone revenue, including $120 million from weak tax collection and customs leakage. The normal tax collection rate for developing country is approximately 16%, according to the World Bank, but in Haiti it is less than 10%. Customs leakage, meanwhile, is virtually non-existent in many parts of the country, and the government has called on donors to help bolster the National Ports Authority.
• Put more money through the Haitian national budget, in return for Haitian commitments to government reform. The World Bank has been one of the few donors willing to put money through the state itself, as well as to finance recurrent costs. The Bank’s EGRO (Economic Governance Reform Operations) program provides Haiti with $61 million in budget support to pay for economic governance reforms.
• Pool donor efforts through greater use of Multi-Donor Trust Funds. Donors should explore ways to pool their resources, to ensure funding for priority Haitian goals, improve coherence of donor efforts, leverage funds from a variety of sources, and help support recurrent costs of government. As in the Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund and other similar experiments, access to funds should be conditional, contingent on transparency on approval from Bank officials, etc.
• Press World Bank Board for greater flexibility: Haiti is not considered a traditional "post-conflict" country in World Bank classification. Typically, the Bank can provide only about $7 per
capita to IDA countries, while providing some $17-20 for post-conflict countries. To get around this problem, Haiti was made a special case in 2004, when the Bank Board agreed to grants amounting to $150 million for 2 years. This arrangement expires this fiscal year, meaning that from now on amounts determined by Haiti’s, so that aid to Haiti would plummet to under $20 million. The Bank Board should consider extending Haiti’s exemption in the next round of funding.
• Top up salaries of returning expatriates. The IDB is doing small-scale work in this area.
• Greater Use of Joint Project Implementation Units. Although there are exceptions, such as arrangements between the World Bank and IDB, most donors have resisted these mechanisms.
• Fund the NCDDR at higher level. The success of the NCDDR will depend in large part on external resources to meet its ambitions.
(IV) "Spillovers" from Fragile States
Finally, one of my interests in going to Haiti was in contributing to a larger project on the relationship between weak states and transnational threats, funded by the Carnegie Corporation. This two-year project aims to probe the oft-stated claim that weak and failing states world generate cross-border threats, and also examine the reciprocal debilitating impact of these transnational "bads" on state capacity in the developing world. The current US preoccupation with Haiti is motivated in large part by the fear that endemic weakness there may facilitate the flow of numerous negative externalities to the United States, including uncontrolled migration, disease, and particularly narcotics trafficking. Our interviews underlined the US concern that Haiti is an "ungoverned space." But they also revealed the modesty of U.S. efforts to help ameliorate this situation.
After $1 billion in remittances, trafficking in drugs and other contraband provides the second largest flow of resources into Haiti. It is often claimed that some 10-15% of cocaine destined for the United States transits Haiti, mostly en route to the Dominican Republic and then Puerto Rico. Haiti has 1700 km of coastline and 17 official ports where there are virtually no customs. Satellite photos show multiple remote airstrips in the southeast. The distance from Baranquilla, Colombia, to Jacmel is only an 8-hour ride in a "go-fast" boat. Other drug shipments dropped from air – so that in the south peasants call the drugs la manne ("manna"). Although the numbers of Haitians using drugs themselves appears to be modest, multiple Haitian and international officials, as well as civil society actors, warned of the growing danger that the large sums of money from trafficking would increasingly undermine governance and cripple efforts to reduce corruption.
Haiti’s status as a major trafficking and increasingly money laundering hub is a direct function of the state’s incapacity to control its borders, particularly the ports and its long, essentially ungoverned frontier with the Dominican Republic. Border is 300 km long and largely un-policed. It has 15 municipalities with 500,000 people, but is one of poorest areas of country, with no effective government institutions. There are an average of two secondary schools and eight primary schools per 10,000 people. There is no electricity, phone service, or potable water. A few dysfunctional customs offices exist, but with only 2 police per 10,000 inhabitants, traffic in contraband is unimpeded, with large illicit flows of drugs, guns, and trafficked women, at a value in the hundreds of millions of dollars. As one Haitian, "Haiti is the weak link" in the drug trade between Colombia and the United States.
Drug money is increasingly sloshing around Haitian society, reinforcing the gang problem. HNP commissioner Mario Andresol says that traffickers are investing a lot of money trying to corrupt Haitian law enforcement and justice system. "Drug trafficking is creating more problems than any other thing in Haiti," he notes. "The drug traffickers chose Haiti because they like to operate in countries where there are weaknesses." Trafficking is helping criminals create financial empires, and they can deploy this wealth to persuade gangs to exacerbate the instability in the country, which facilitates the further trafficking of drugs. Early last month, President Preval lashed out at the United States for its drug demand problem, which risked turning Haiti into a "narco-state." The U.S. appetite for drugs, he observed, is preventing Haiti from moving forward. In the words of Prime Minister Alexis, "This is a very important issue, connected to the survival of
democracy and sustainable development in the country." Unfortunately, the HNP has only 50 officers devoted to narcotics trafficking.
As Mark Schneider has pointed out in previous sessions, US policy responses to this threat to both U.S. interests and the Haitian state have been pretty weak to date. According to U.S. officials in Port-au-Prince, the INL slot is currently vacant in the Embassy and there is only 1 person to fill 5 DEA slots. Total U.S. counterdrug activities in the country amount to a little more than a million dollars, including for marine interdiction, anti-money laundering, and the creation of a DEA-vetted counterdrug unit. This is clearly inadequate to the scale of the problem. In a few weeks President Preval will be meeting with Presidents Fernandes of the Dominican Republic and Uribe of Colombia to improve cooperation on stemming the drug trade. But without greater U.S. attention to Haiti’s drug challenge, these efforts are unlikely to bear significant fruit.
Those, in short, are my impressions from the trip to Haiti. I look forward to your questions and comments.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Acceptable Aid

Haiti Relief Effort update

1579 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn NY
(between Union and President St)
Adam Clayton Powell
State Office Building
163 West 125th Street

Both Locations Are Open from 9 am to 5 pm
Until September 23rd by 5pm

· Non perishable canned goods (Already Boxed)
· Water (No single bottles, but cases or six packs at a minimum).
· Rice (Dried in bags).
· Beans (Dried only).
· Sterno canisters
· Tarpaulin – of any size, preferably 10X10 or larger. It is used for both roofing and flooring
· Nylon cord. 100’ rolls.
· Hygiene items limited to toothbrushes, toothpaste, mild soaps.
· New underclothes – children sizes
· New hand towels.
Products that won’t be accepted
1. Used clothing of any kind.
2. Pharmaceutical drugs of any kind
3. Perishable foods of any kind.
4. Any canned goods (they create more waste and require can openers.
5. NO prepared foods.
6. Furniture of any kind (we threw a lot out last time).

Haiti is paying $1 million a week in debt service

Open letter to G8 Finance Ministers calling for immediate debt cancellation for Haiti
11 June 2008
Hon. Minister Christine Lagarde
Hon. Minister Giulio Tremonti
Hon. Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer
Hon. Minister Peer Steinbroeck
Hon. Minister Jim Flaherty
Hon. Henry Paulson Jr., Secretary of the Treasury
Hon. Minister Fukushiro Nukaga
Hon. Minister Alexei Kudrin

Re: Open letter to G8 Finance Ministers calling for immediate debt cancellation for Haiti

The undersigned civil society organisations from the Group of 8 nations and other European organisations urge all G8 Governments to support immediate multilateral and bilateral debt cancellation for Haiti or a moratorium on all debt service payments until such a time as the debt is cancelled.

With food prices on the rise in Haiti and social unrest in the impoverished nation increasing, Haiti can ill afford to make debt service payments of US$58.2 million in 2008.

This amounts to over US$1 million per week and represents scarce funds which could be better spent addressing the current food crisis and helping Haiti recover from years of economic, political and environmental turmoil.

In 2009, Haiti is projected to pay-out US$50.9 million in debt service payments to its creditors. If it does not reach completion point under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC)
Initiative, this sum will rise to US$59.6 million. Given current political and social turmoil in the country it is highly likely that completion point under the international debt relief scheme will be delayed. This means that debt cancellation will happen too late for a country that currently cannot afford to feed its own people.

Moreover, much of Haiti’s debt was incurred during the dictatorships of the Duvaliers and Haitian citizens benefited little, if at all, from these loans.

In 2006 Haiti owed a total of US$ 1.3 billion to external creditors. US$ 1 billion of this is owed to multilateral lenders such as the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank. In addition Haiti owes bilateral creditors important sums.

In 2006, Haiti owed Italy approximately US$ 70mn; France US$ 65 million; the United States US$ 15 million and Canada US$ 2.6 million. These sums represent relatively little to some of the world’s wealthiest nations but could mean critical investments in the development of Haiti’s agricultural, health and education systems could take place.

The G8 are extremely influential within the Board’s of the major multilateral financial institutions and should use this influence to call for immediate debt cancellation for Haiti.
In the context of current discussions over the global food crisis, we request your urgent support for immediate debt cancellation for Haiti or a moratorium on all debt service payments until such a time as the debt is cancelled at the forthcoming G8 Finance Ministers meeting on 13-14 June.

Yours Sincerely,

1. Gail Hurley, Policy Officer, European Network on Debt and Development (EURODAD)
2. Alessandra Spalletta, Coordination Europe-Hati (CoE-H)
3. Fraser Reilly-King, Halifax Initiative, Canada
4. Neil Watkins, Coordinator, Jubilee USA Network, USA
5. Sarah Williams, Policy Officer, Jubilee Debt Campaign, UK
6. Annie Girard, Reseau Foi & Justice Afrique-Europe, France
7. Charles Arthur, Director, Haiti Support Group, UK
8. Anne McConnell, Haiti Advocacy Platform Ireland-UK (HAPI-UK)
9. Jeremy Hobbs, Oxfam International
10. Daleep Mukarji, Director Christian Aid, UK
.Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director, Oxfam International
12. Chris Bain, Director, Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD)
13. Raphael Yves-Pierre, Director Action Aid Haiti
14. Paul Chitnis, Chief Executive, Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF)
15. Joseph Maxime RONY, Secretaire Executif du Programme pour une Alternative de Justice, PAJ, Haiti
16. Xavier Jadoul, charge de projets Haiti - Entraide et Fraternite, Belgique
17. Gudule Boland, desk officer for Haiti at Solidaridad, Nederland
18. Colette Lespinasse, directrice du Groupe d’Appui aux Refugies et Rapatries (GARR), Haiti 10. Suzanne Loiselle, directrice de L'Entraide missionnaire, Montreal, Quebec
20. Janine Bardonnet, Solidarite Laique, France
21. Jerge Petit, Solidarite Laique, France
22. Mathilde Bossard, chargee de projets aupres de Les Anneaux de la Memoire, France
23. Franck BARRAU, Secretaire General de l’org Droits de l'homme et gouvernements locaux, France
24. Delanoue Muriel, chargee de projets Haiti aupres de l’org Developper Former Informer (DEFI), France
25. Bernard Leray, Tresorier, Collectif Haiti de France
26. Stephane Compere, Charge de mission Amerique latine au CNCD-

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Better Vision

My Friend Stuart Leiderman, a friend of Haiti in New Hampshire, writes

Hello, Elizabeth and thanks for your vision. on the model community idea.

Several years ago, I worked up something for a Haitian organization who wanted to make a model community on the north coast near Fort Liberte. I imagined it as a kind of little "Haiti world's fair" arrangement that visitors would see and reach from the ocean -- a kind of reverse-boat-people's experience. It would have pavilions showing the best of Haitian work and styles, energy generation, water supply, housing, food production, etc. there would be places to live and learn, staffed by rotating grouops of members from innovative projects from all over Haiti.

I called it a "composite paradise" -- a location where you could see and learn from what existed elsewhere in Haiti but only scattered and isolated. The north coast community was never created but the idea and my interest is still there for a coastal location. It could be done at an appropriate place in the south coast, even in D.R. near the border.meanwhile, The Haitian League has adopted the idea for a partnership with Frere Armand Francklin in the Central Plateau.

The unending storm

Posted on Sun, Sep. 14, 2008
Storm-weary Haitians complain of need, lack of aid
Even as local Haitian musicians and business owners prepared for a benefit concert and telethon taking place in the capital Sunday, residents of nearby communities where consecutive storms carved a deadly path complained of receiving little help.''Nothing has gone to Cazale,'' Famize Jedeus, 27, a vendor from the mountain village just north of Port-au-Prince said as she stood alongside a highway, trying to sell the last bunch of plantains she managed to pull from underneath a flooded grove. ``We, the victims of the hurricane, can't find anything.''

Aid was slowly trickling in, but it wasn't enough.With an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people in this region alone affected by Hurricane Ike, officials were struggling to provide food and water to the 2,330 staying at a shelter, let alone others living on the street.As U.S. and UN military helicopters buzzed overhead, life slowly seemed to return to this ravaged shantytown. Among the signs: a group of Cuban doctors, parked alongside a rural road, mending cuts and bruises and providing medication.

At the entrance of another nearby village, hundreds of children and adults screamed and pushed as a local church pastor and scouts handed out 500 plastic bags filled with rice, spaghetti and cooking oil from the back of a white cargo truck.But down the street, the need -- and the lack of aid -- was glaring as the local Red Cross struggled to treat the steady flow of storm victims alongside a busy street. The treatment room was a dusty lot, shaded by a blue tarp, across from the Taboula Nightclub.

Instead of surgical masks, nurses covered their faces with gauze as they poured peroxide into open wounds.A few feet away, coordinator Dieudonne Jean and two assistants cataloged the patients' names and injuries on a yellow legal-size notepad.Behind the three of them: just a few dozen tiny bags of drinking water and bread donated by a local church ministry.''We don't have anything in stock, just that water there to give to the population,'' said Jean, turning around and pointing to a clear trash bag on the ground.''We don't have a lot of means,'' said Jean, reciting an exhaustive list of needs -- from surgical masks and medicines to water tablets and an ambulance to transport patients. ``What we have is our list. We put together a case for each family, listing what they need. When we are finished, we take what we have and provide what we can to each family.''

According to their list, 71 people died in Cabaret when two raging rivers overflowed their banks. Twenty-five remain missing, and 2,330 are homeless.Then there are the psychological scars. Yvany St. Louis, 35, said her three daughters haven't had a good night sleep since their baby sister was washed away by the floods that snatched her out of her arms.''They are very emotional,'' said St. Louis, who came to the makeshift clinic for treatment of an open gash on her swollen left leg.There were a few signs of normalcy. Vendors peddled produce salvaged from flooded groves at a makeshift market. And at the river's edge, where bodies and drowned animals had washed up days earlier, women sat on the debris of fallen houses, doing laundry.

© 2008 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Flooding in Jacmel

A Youthquake

NOW let us hear what the Young people can do... the FACEBOOK group is organizing.

If you have a group that is collecting for Haiti, add your information to their page.


Savanna Elizabeth Berit Richie (Sidwell Friends School) wrote at 6:36pm yesterday:"Many people where I live are much more focused on New Orleans, which I think is sad.
New Orleans was definitely not hit as hard by the hurricanes as Haiti this time around.
People should stop worrying about what could have happened in our country and help
everyone in Haiti recover from these storms!
I do not know of any ways to help in my area (silver spring/takoma park MD)
but I would like to help if I can so if anyone knows anything a fourteen-year-old can do
(if there is anything) let me know.
-How do you respond to a 14 years old with such a profound statement?
Sincerely I'm not sure.
But in the mean time let me tell you a forgotten story about your name,
that could help you understand who we are.

Hayti’s Aid in 1779: How Eight Hundred of Her Freedmen Fought for America.

The New York Tribune, 6 July 1921
To the Editor of the Tribune.

The generous Haytian contribution to the cause of the independence of the United States is scarcely known in this country, for the American historians do not mention the fact.
In 1779, 24 yrs before Haytian independence, responding to the call of the Comte d’Estang, the Affranchis, that is to say the Haytain freedmen numbering about 800 blacks and mulattoes, left their families and their homes and went to fight side by side with the soldiers of George Washington.
At the seige of Savannah, the colored sons of Hayti fearlessly shed their blood for the independence of the United States.In an official record prepared in Paris, secured by Richard Rush, the American Minister to Paris in 1849, and preserved in the Pennsylvania Historical Society, are these words:
This legion saved the army at Savannah by bravely covering its retreat. Among the blacks who rendered signal services at that time were: Andre, Beauvais, Rigaud, Villatte, Beauregard, Lambert, who latterly became generals under the convention, including Henri Christophe, the future King of Hayti.The Haytian legion in the army of Comte d’Estang was known in the army as Fontages’s legion, commanded by Vicomte de Fontages. They met the fierce charge of Lieutenant Colonel Maitland and saved the retreating Franc-American army from total disaster.

The Haytian people know that the great American nation, burning for liberty and justice, having the highest traditions of political ideals and human solidarity, the champion of the defenseless peoples of the world, is always working for the happiness of mankind.

Having aided the united colonies of N. Amer. in 1779 to achieve their independence, the Haytian people remain convinced that they can to-day expect from the spirit of justice and humanity of the American people and their present government a more attentive consideration of Hayti’s freedom, rights, and interests.

by Stenio Vincent, NY July 4, 1921.

For those who now wish to come to the aid of Haiti.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Envisioning a New Haiti

I had a sweet dream last night, of a summer sojourn in Maine with two of my best friends. It was minutes after awakening before the feelings disappeared, when I remembered Haiti and the thousands of people who had not slept in comfort, who had not had sweet dreams.

The pictures coming in from Haiti now are looking like the beginnings of Darfur.

After the floods, the bridges will be rebuilt - at great expense to the US taxpayers- as they were after Hurricane Jeanne in 2004-- and then the next flood will arrive.

The international community sends food aid- but it is rice and cooking oil- that has to be cooked. The flood victims have no cooking fuel.

Why not send vitamin enriched peanut butter?

There is a new stove, using a new fuel which comes from molasses, a byproduct of sugar cane. Certainly, we have a lot of that here on Hispaniola.

We preach the value of education. But not vocational education. Voltaire. The land has eroded because no one concerned themselves enough with the lives of the peasants to teach proper agriculture, no one stopped the cutting of trees, introduced permaculture, terraced the mountains, and developed the sustainable farm.

There is another model of education being used now in India. I call your attention to the Barefoot College.

I once had a vision of what it would be like if all the NGOs in Haiti actually cooperated, as they do not now. Inside the States, few non-profits operate without volunteers. Outside the US, few NGOs make any use at all of volunteers. Here in the DR, one cannot even volunteer for the Red Cross.

Poverty is a big business. The team known as the Beltway Bandits, the Private Voluntary Organizations who are "licensed" and "qualified" to accept money from USAID, make a good living off of it. Where is their incentive to eliminate the source of their own livlihood? Nor do they seem to have done a very good job at repairing the bridge and watershed into Gonaives. Certainly this is one of the things that is very broken in Washington. These organizations spend a great deal of time "accounting" to USAID for every dime spent, but unfortunately, there seems to be little room for innovation since grants are designed in Washington. Nor do they appear to know how to actually build the bridges.

Haiti could just skip over the petroleum age. She could model all the very best practices of how to eliminate poverty, the place where all the projects which hope to save the world, hope to save Africa, could come to test their efficacy. There are exciting projects now in place, but scattered about, a farm project here, a yogurt project there, more than onebreakthrough teaching project- here and here

What if all the projects were assembled in one place? Say on one of the large islands offshore? Call it a ¨Global Best Practices Training Ground"... and please don´t let the Beltway Bandits in.. only the entrepreneurs.

In Port au Prince, there are an estimated 300,000 children who have been abandoned by their impoverished parents who cannot sustain them. Meanwhile in Thailand, through the work of one man, Dr. Condom,The average number of children per family dropped from seven to two inside thirty years.

Haiti is a like a patient who is dying from ten different diseases, and each NGO or project treats one disease, declares it cured, and releases the patient, who returns home to die of something else.

So rather than just repair Haiti from destitution to poverty, why don´t we join together and take a great leap forward to envision a different Haiti, a model of sustainable development?

A vision that of a land where people live in harmony with land, without the use of petroleum, growing their own food, living simply (as they most certainly do), telling stories about the fire at night... Krick..... Krack....

Imagine that as a destination! We would drum and dance and embroider and learn all different languages and make ART..........

Until Haiti is blooming, we will not be able to say that we have overcome the slavery that was the stain on our heritage.

Take heart. It is the tropics, every thing grows here.

The other side of the island, the Dominican Republic, while still poor by US standards, is a food exporter. Here they produced more rice than they needed. Also coffee, chocolate, sugar, all kinds of tropical fruit, cashews, macadamias, peanuts, yucca, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, corn, carrots, garlic, corn, apples. All the seeds that are needed are here. All is growing right here.

Haiti, when it was a slave colony of the French, produced more than all the 13 colonies of Great Britain combined.

Until Haiti is blooming, we will not be able to say that we have overcome the slavery that was the stain on our heritage.

Mme. Sarkozy, perhaps you would be interested in this project, after all, one could make the case that Haiti is France‘s legacy? Why not be Haiti’s Princess Diana? (Mindful as I am that we would not have won the Revolution without the aid of France, mesi ampil!)

Or how about you, Mr. Branson? You are our local billionaire who has bought all of Necker Island to turn into an eco development

There are three islands off the coast of Haiti, as well. Not uninhabitabited, of course.

But imagine what hope it would give to the planet if we had even one working model of having brought a small portion of Haiti up from the brink of devastation?

Imagine that.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Collecting Aid for Haiti



Carline Desire, AFAB. Tel: 617-287-0096 (office) 617-947-4279 (cell)
Guyval Mercedat, Gonaïves en Marche. Tel: 781-962-4188 (cell)

The New England Haitian Community joins arms and hearts to support Haiti in the aftermath of Hurricanes Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike.

Boston, Massachusetts, September 9, 2008 . Several hundred thousand people have been displaced and severely affected in Haiti by the recent hurricanes Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike. The actual death toll rose to more than 500. Cities and towns, including Gonaives, Jacmel, Cabaret and Mirebalais, are flooded, causing more than 300,000 to become homeless, the loss of thousands livestock, and the destruction of already limited infrastructure (roads, bridges, and schools) and agricultural plantations. “I have never seen anything as painful” said Dr. Paul Farmer.

The New England Haiti Relief Effort is soliciting the collaboration of the general public, organizations and friends of Haiti to help achieve the following goals in two weeks:
Collect monetary donations to alleviate the suffering of those affected.
Donations can be deposited at Citizens Bank, Account # 1313181878 with the memo “New England Haiti Hurricane Relief Fund”
Collect medical and hygiene supplies (over the counter medicine, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and sanitary products, etc.)
School supplies (notebooks, pens, pencils and backpacks)

The New England Haiti Relief Task Force encourages all concerned citizens, schools, hospitals and organizations to initiate their own drives in support of the Task Force. Members of the Task Force will coordinate the pick of the monetary donations and other items collected.

To launch the Relief Effort, a Press Conference will be held:
When: Thursday, September 11
Where: KAFANM- 330 Fuller Street , Dorchester , MA
Time: 6:00 PM

Partial list of Supporting Organizations:
Association of Haitian Women (AFAB), Center for Community Health Education and Research (CCHER), Coalition des Roche-à-Batelais pour l’Expansion Locale (CORABEL), Foundation for the Technological and Economic Advancement of Mirebalais (FATEM). Gonaives en Marche, Haitian Multi-Service Center/ Catholic Charities, Haitian American Public Health Initiatives (HAPHI), Haitian-Americans United (HAU), Home Town Association Resource Group, Mass. Community Health Services in Brockton, The Road to Development, YOFES, etc…__._,_.___

Monday, September 8, 2008

How Big Was Ike?

One small tail of Ike whipped over Santo Domingo last night.

I had thought that it was long gone, heading west at a fair fast pace. A hard rain started here. at 8 PM. I tucked in early, thinking that the storm had passed us by, praying for the people stranded in Haiti.

But I awoke at midnight as the thunder and lightening started sounding like it was inside my room, inside my head. I awoke and looked out off the enclosed back porch, to see the palm trees bent to horizontal in the lights of the neighboring hotel. I live in a solid building, one that withstood George, a category 5, a direct hit. The building survived that so it would certainly survive this.

This is my first hurricane season in the tropics: my first time sitting so close by to people whom I know will die. I have seen the people who live in the shacks by the river banks, even in this country. I know that they will be wading in water tonight.

I am unaccostomed to being so close to such poverty. I feel helpless and do not know what to do these feelings.

I got up. The power was still on. The cable was even still on. The local cable company has replaced the ¨film and arts¨station with the "weather channel"-- probably just for the next few months. For most of the year here, the weather here is just sunny and beautiful, no news there.

I see that IKE has just made landfall in Cuba.. LANDFALL in CUBA? so let us see... Port au Price is 160 miles from Santo Domingo and Cuba is 90 miles from Port au Prince.... So this storm´s tail is 250 miles from its head? and if its head is now in Cuba, and its tail is now in Santo Domingo... does that mean that the bulk of its body is lying over.....


where is the justice in this? it will be easier now for Haiti to rebuild? After the Massive international relief effort arrives?

Certainly that would happen if this were, for instance..


or Florida.

or even Puerto Rico..

Perhaps even in Mexico City .... or Burma....

but, as we have seen.. it is not quite so likely when the faces are black as midnight, dark as coal.
not even in New Orleans-

It is going to take a very, very long time to unravell the damage that Columbus did when he first landed on this island, bringing, supposedly, the Light of Christ.

Report of Medicins Sans Frontiers

Reprinted from Medicins Sans Frontiers:
MSF assisting in Haiti after successive hurricanes
A critical concern is the lack of access to clean water for the city's inhabitants. All the local sources of water were contaminated as a result of the flooding. This concern is compounded by the fact that most of the local medical staff have fled the area.
After Hurricane Gustav made landfall last week, Tropical Storm Hanna caused serious damage to Haiti's coastline on September 1 and 2. Many towns are flooded and remain difficult, if not impossible, to access. According to authorities, 25,000 to 30,000 houses were destroyed and up to 500 people have died nationwide. People have very little access to food and clean water, and major crops have been destroyed. On Thursday, September 4, an MSF team of eight medical and non-medical personnel arrived in Gonaïves to clean out the Rabouteau Health Center, the only working structure (out of four health centers and one hospital) after the floods. Thanks to the support of the local population, MSF was able to clean the facility, supply medicine, and restart the operating room. On September, 5, MSF performed 110 consultations, treated 49 injured people and carried out 16 surgical procedures. On Saturday, people started fleeing the city by the thousands to seek refuge, after authorities warned of the arrival of Hurricane Ike. The Rabouteau Health Center MSF is supporting remains the only working health structure in the town. A critical concern is the lack of access to clean water for the city's inhabitants. All the local sources of water were contaminated as a result of the flooding. This concern is compounded by the fact that most of the local medical staff have fled the area. MSF has not been able to reach many areas of the city given the flooding, making it difficult to properly assess the scope of needs of the population. Also on Saturday, an MSF physician went to Saint Michel de l'Atalaye, where 400 people have been stranded without food or water for five days. MSF brought one child to Gonaïves for surgical care and distributed food and water from the World Food Program. A three-person MSF team went to Cap Haïtien to assess the emergency response capacities and establish local contacts to help immediately assess needs in aftermath of Hurricane Ike. MSF teams have not been able to reach many of the flooded areas on the eastern side of the community. Hospitals and health structures are reported to have been seriously damaged in this area. Flooded areas between Gonaïves, Port de Paix and Cap Haïtien cannot be reached while towns like Enry or Gros Morne, which were strongly affected by Hanna, have not received any assistance. MSF is still pushing to gain access to these areas, though the coming hurricane might limit their ability to reach these areas. Existing MSF activities in Port-au-Prince are continuing. The organization provides medical and surgical care at la Trinité trauma center; emergency obstetrical care in Jude Anne Hospital; and emergency health-care services and essential health services through mobile clinics in the Martissant slum. A mobile clinic team went to the La Saline slum earlier this week. Ike, a category four hurricane, has now reached Haiti's neighborhood and rains have started again.

Before IKE

Press Release from the US Embassy in Haiti
The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), are providing $7.1 million to Haiti as part of its initial response to the effects
of Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna

The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), are providing $7.1 million to Haiti – of which $2.1 million is in new funding and the remaining $5 million are funds shifted from existing, less critical programs - as part of its initial response to the effects of Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna.

In addition, food from the $45 million emergency food program, announced before the storms hit, is being re-directed to also address the needs of the hurricane-affected Haitian population. These funds will continue to provide support for the purchase and distribution of emergency relief supplies for displaced populations in Haiti and for the support of early recovery activities.

The USS Kearsarge, or the United States Navy, has departed Colombia en route to Haiti to support disaster relief efforts. The expected arrival of the Kearsarge, which could be affected by Hurricane Ike, is September 7.
Kearsarge's capabilities include rapid movement of personnel and cargo by helicopter and landing craft, making it an ideal platform to support humanitarian relief mission on short notice.
The crew of Kearsarge includes a team of medical personnel that can provide first-aid and other health care related services to communities impacted by conditions associated with the flooding.
Medical facilities aboard Kearsarge include four operating rooms, 13 intensive-care unit beds, 40
medical ward beds, a laboratory, x-ray equipment and a blood bank.

One September 5 and 6, the US Coast Guard has delivered by sea and air, water containers, hygiene kits, plastic sheeting for 2,000 families, in addition to food, to Gonaives.
Road conditions, as well as the forecasted weather, remain extremely difficult. USAID/Haiti staff remain in constant communication with the Government of Haiti regarding road conditions throughout the country and continued contingency planning for possible effects from Hurricane Ike.
U.S. officials continue close coordination with the Government of Haiti, WFP and others to determine logistics for the movement of relief supplies to areas in the North that are cut off from ground transport, as well as affected areas in the South.
The Embassy of the United States reiterates its deep commitment to help Haitians weather the storm and recover from this disaster, both with immediate humanitarian assistance and longer-term recovery.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Relief Efforts in Haiti

First aid ship arrives in Haiti

read the report..

Raging Planet

Mother Earth is certainly upset. I do think that she is just trying to shake us off her back.

Two days ago, I recieved an email from my nephew who works at FEMA, warning me that IKE was already 50% stronger than Katrina was when it hit New Orleans, 3 times stronger than Hannah. He urged me to ¨scram¨". To where? I asked.

When I came here four years ago, I told my Meeting that I was going close to Haiti in order to be a ¨Lighthouse¨. That I would just be here, to shine a light... So, clearly, there is no where to go.

Like a good Yankee who has been through the eye of hurricane (though only a lowly force one), rocked in a harbor in a Force 9 storm, rescued by high patrol from a blizzard, etc etc.. , I went about with storm preparations, buying batteries and candles, alerting friends.

I was impressed by the Dominicans, who are far more accostomed to these storms, far more prepared, living as they do either in solid concrete houses or perched on the brink of death. Every one else was very calm.

That Mother should attack the oil rigs and Washington, well, no wonder. But Haiti? why Haiti? Friends who are there report that this is the worst storm in a lifetime. Worst. Fields are soaked. People are stranded on roof tops.

Perhaps many people are seeing pictures of Haiti for the first time.

This morning I watched the bilingual (Spanish/Kreyole) program called "Sin Fronteras" with two of the Haitian elite here, talking about relief efforts going in from the DR. (The UN has gotten in the first large ship with supplies of food and water to Gonaives). They spoke of the need for all the Haitian students in medical school here to go with doctors who are being sent from the DR to help to act as translators.

They then started to talk about the failings of the central government of Haiti - about what they have not done. It was as if they did not know that Haiti does not actually have a central government - perhaps they thought that Duvalier was still there? That Haiti still had an army? That 50% of the educated have not left?

Well, they have a form of government and they have some people who are elected -- but most of the international money goes to the Non Governmental Organizations.... government by NGO, imagine it.

USAID dispenses grant money in $20 million chunks. Yet there are complaints that there is garbage piling up around the USAID HQ. Such is our stewardship.

As an American, I wish I had good things to report about our tax dollars at work. Are we pleased that the person who secures luxurious housing for the USAID personnel is paid $75,000 a year, plus housing and utilities,while we pay the Dominicans who stand in the hot sun all day to guard our Embassy less than $300 a month?

We are in the business of keeping the poor poor while making our own people rich.

We are not in the business of development.

It was hard for me to sympathize with one USAID worker here who wondered if she would get the full price she wanted for her SUV when she left the DR. She had tried to sell it when she left Nigeria but did not get her price to the US government shipped it to the DR for her. Now, I know, why should I be shocked? Certainly there was that hammer sold the pentagon.. for how much was it?

How about the regulation that all equipment must be purchased from the US, shipped in rather than putting locals to work building or buying locally? Or that our Embassy in Haiti looks like Versailles-- just in case some lowly Haiti should not feel duly impressed by the granduer of the United States. (Really-- it is disgraceful- I understand it is a copy of the one that we have built in Bogota-)

Our Embassy and USAID personnel in Haiti are confined to a safety zone smaller than the green zone in Iraq, transported by armed guards-- so beloved are we.....

I am not saying that these are not dedicated and well meaning public servants. They are. Really they are. It is no picnic living in a foreign country isolated from family and friends and being yanked around the world every four years. I respect them all. I honor their public service. I don´t blame them for going to the Petionville country club to play golf and tennis although I am a bit shocked that there is a golf course in Haiti.

One of the biggest things that is broken in Washington is not just our warring, imperialistic foreign policy, but the face that we present to the developing world.

We need to completely revise the way we deliver aid.

Is it unreasonable to ask -- if there is so much international aid going into Haiti-- how come it looks like this?

We have been an utter failure -- just a short hop from the Florida Keys.
I would like to disban the lot of them and hire Google.

Alternately, I would like about .001% of the USAID budget and 2000 young Friends.

I have asked the head of the International division of the American Friends Service Committee if they could not apply for some of the vast enormous sums of money floating about under the Faith based initiative so that we might actually do some empowerment work, some development work... They have said no. They do not use government money as a matter of policy.

I ask my Quaker Friends to look again at the utter failure of the current aid projects in Haiti and revisit this policy.

Now, I am only Human, and prone to base instincts. so I confess that I am hoping that hurricane IKE takes out all of the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and leaves the entire US without oil for a while.... that they live like Haitians for a that they can develop their capacities for empathy and compassion and learn quickly that we need so very much less than we have. Then, may the storm just magically dissapate - without even a landfall.

So that more American can understand as I am beginning-- just beginning--- to learn-- from my loving neighbors down here in the Dominican Republic-- that if we have the love and care of a few friends and perhaps a roof, perhaps enough water for today and some rice some beans-- and a good heart and useful work... we are blessed..

I thank all of you who are joining me in praying for Haiti.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Aid to Haiti

Friends may wish to send aid directly to Haiti on the ground to the Ebenezer Ministries in Gonaives, or who to The Lambi Fund.

International Agencies do the best that they can to get aid into the area but thousands will die from this series of storms.

Please be mindful of this our special pocket of Africa in the hemisphere, our sister republic, only 15 years younger than the United States, who fought for the liberty of slaves in 1804, who stood against slavery, who fought for her freedom, who has stood isolated and alone through her long history. Which - while a colony- produced more than all the 12 US colonies combined. Which was held in complete isolation from the world until it was recognized by the US 61 years after independence. Which had to pay for its independence..... the only country in the world which had to do so..........

Haiti Cherie, who has preserved her indigneous animist religion, whose people while living with nothing preserve their dignity.

Haiti-- which has my utmost respect. And somehow holds the shadow of the hemisphere.

Lest we forget that our wealth came on the backs of slaves.

Lest we forget.

Let us not forget.

Write a check. You will feel better.

News from Haiti

reposted from the Corbett list From the Lambi Fund--
Yesterday, Port au Prince was in a state of panic. It was extremely windy and raining hard. Many houses no longer have roofs, trees are uprooted, light poles with electric lines are down… but this is nothing compared to the devastation which has struck other communities throughout the country.The Minister of Education postponed the opening of classes until next week, but in light of the unanticipated problems brought by Hanna, we don’t know if they will not have to postpone it yet again ( we have heard that there are two other hurricanes on their way)No one is talking about schools right now; the focus is on the damage wrought by Gustav and Hanna.

We are all thinking about how to begin tackling the problems which have suddenly disrupted our lives.We are receiving calls from our partner organizations with horrible news about their communities.- ODPERIB ( Organizasyon Peyizan Rivie Blanch) called to say that one member of the organization has died , the flooding is really severe, many houses are destroyed. Some of the cisterns we have funded have sustained a lot of damage.- Fanm Sofa of Mapou Rollin, just called ,Vyolèn, the president of the organization said that Hanna is even worse than Jeanne. Her house is completely destroyed and she has lost everything. The grain mill we helped build is completely flooded and the corn and millet brought by the market women to be milled just washed away. The chicken coop which we also helped build is being used as shelter by over 100 local families. No one has eaten anything since Monday.- In Gros Morne, we just spoke to Mme Cedieu who said that she lost everything her crops and her animals. She said that the land cultivated by our partner organization, AGPCM (Association Gwoupman Plante Gwo Mon), was devastated, all the plantain trees are down. Fortunately our experimental field is still standing, not too many trees were destroyed, the irrigation pump will need to be repaired. I have not talked to the Bernagea the staff member at the Center, to find out about the conditions at the Center for Plantain Propagation. We are still trying to reach him. - Tidjo and Mago called us this morning and told us that the waters are beginning to recede in Gonaives, and at Tidjo’s house as well. Tidjo has lost everything and there are now over 60 people seeking shelter on Tidjo’s rooftop. They have not had anything to eat in 3 days.Once it stops raining we will try to go to Gonaives to bring some help to Tidjo and his family to see in what way we can begin to help our partner organizations and their communities. Reaching Gonaives will be very hard, since a veritable lake now lies at the entrance of the city.In the South, St Cyr has finally gotten news from home. As you know he came to Port-au-Prince from Les Cayes to attend a staff meeting when he got news that his home and neighborhood were flooded. He was extremely distressed to hear that his family and their neighbors had to seek refuge on their roof top. He was told this morning the waters had receded. He too has lost everything. Although St Cyr has learned that there is no way to get to Les Cayes, because the Etang de Miragoane has overflowed, he is now determined to get back to his family, and he will call us when he gets there.We have heard on the radio that Torbeck and Chantal are flooded. We are supporting projects throughout the area.We have not been able to reach any member of our partner organizations in Belfontèn but we heard on the radio that the area is in shambles.The calls are trickling in we will keep you posted whenever we hear something.

Josette Perard Lambi Fund's Haiti Director

Monday, September 1, 2008

Relief for Haiti

I read from my friend Joe Felix of the devastation in Haiti.NO---FORTY percent of JACMEL?? The Victorian Gem of Haiti, the precious jewel. Jacmel is the premier tourist destination of Haiti.

I pause and weep.
Join me for a moment of silence, please.

I have worked along side PADF for two years. Although I do not agree with the "Washington Consensus", PADF will see that the aid is delivered on the ground.

Please send what you can, if you can.

WASHINGTON, Aug 30, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Hurricane Gustav has left a trail of death and destruction in several impoverished Haitian communities and the Pan American Development Foundation urgently seeks donations ( to aid the victims.
"It's very grave. We need help and we need it now," says PADF's ( Joe Felix from Jacmel, Haiti, a city of approximately 50,000 residents about two hours from the capital of Port-Au-Prince. "Hurricane Gustav destroyed roads, houses and farms. There is no electricity and no potable water. About 40 percent of this city has been destroyed." Other coastal cities are just as bad and some are cut off from help, he says.
PADF is urgently asking for donations to aid the victims. PADF launched a site called Donations made through are secure and deductable from U.S. taxes.
Meanwhile, two shipping containers with donated fortified rice and soy protein meal packages cleared Haitian Customs on Friday and PADF will make the food available to the victims of Hurricane Gustav. In addition to the shipping containers, PADF is coordinating with Haitian and U.S. government officials to provide assistance to the most devastated areas.
"Donations made via will provide immediate help to families who are struggling to survive in these impoverished communities," says Amy Coughenour Betencourt, Deputy Director of the non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. "Your donation will make a difference."
About PADF
PADF had a positive impact on more than 3.6 million people in 22 Latin American and Caribbean countries last year.
PADF works with civil society, the private sector, and governments to create opportunities and improve lives for the disadvantaged in Latin America and the Caribbean. With a commitment to local capacity and the Inter-American spirit of cooperation, PADF builds programs that create jobs, enhance education, build skills, foster community participation, and strengthen resiliency through the power of people, local solutions, and partnerships. PADF was founded in 1962 as a non-profit affiliate of the Organization of American States (OAS).
SOURCE Pan American Development Foundation
Copyright (C) 2008 PR Newswire. All rights reserved

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