Monday, May 16, 2011

Martelly Inaugural Address

My dear compatriots, by assigning me by your vote on 20 March, the destiny of the Republic of Haiti, you made ​​me the first servant [...] The march towards this victory has been long and painful, it has mobilized all our determination and the courage of the Haitian people, I want to tell you that without the appreciated support of the International Community, once too often, the popular vote would have been confiscated, that the Haitian people be proud and that the friends of Haiti to be thanked.

[...] I told you to have confidence in me and you can have confidence in me [...] hand in hand, shoulder against shoulder, we will change Haiti, rebuild the country, give it a new image.

[...] We can no longer continue to humiliate us while begging, with this policy of begging. We are workers, we work well when opportunities are given to us [...] The Haitian people is a people who has courage, like the courage of Capois La-Mort, Dessalines, Michaëlle Jean, Wyclef Jean, Dumarsais Siméus and many others...

[...] Haitians, this country is ours, let us gather to remake our country. But, for there is work in Haiti, there must have security in the country, security for people, for our goods, for the production, money for investment, for investors, so that farmers can produce... That I'm not going to negotiate, if a person comes to clutter, create instability so that the country can not function, I am sorry, the justice will act against these people, justice will act as it should.

[...] it is necessary to have respect, so that investors gain confidence, come to invest, build, so that we can find the development that I seek, I seek development for you, so that you get out of poverty, so you can live another way.

[...] to the judicial and police authorities I renew my confidence, I tell you that there was enough of kidnapping, violence against women, killings of natives and police officers, that there had been enough injustice on the population, we will restore the authority of the state, the rule of law. The order and discipline will prevail throughout the entire national territory...

[...] Under my presidency, the obligation of the State, will be to serve the Haitian people, the same way, under my presidency, the obligation of the citizen, will be to fulfill its civic duty, its duty as a citizen, paying its taxes so that it can find the services that the state owes it.

[...] For a long time we use the poverty of the country to settle our business, too many people use the misery of our country... this must stop. It is time to start selling our cultural riches, Haiti is a rich country, we have the most beautiful beaches in the world, the most beautiful sun of the Caribbean and the deepest culture, diverse and authentic, a glorious past, the Citadelle Henry and the ruins of the Palais of Milot testify it. Yes, Haitian people, this's not just poverty we have in our country [...] let us take this opportunity to ask the whole world to put the misery of Haiti in a drawer, to bury the misery of Haiti...

[...] how many celebrities, we would have had if we had supervised our youth, by putting them in sport, by removing them from the street ? Haitian, Haitian, Haiti asleep but now will wake up and stand up. A society without morals, a society without values ​​is the same as a car without a driver.

[...] Today I say I will put every child in school for free, they say I'm crazy because I said "free school", I have news for you, not only I will ask the school for free, but I will fight for the school becomes mandatory. [...] that's how I'm going to remove children from the street, that's how a leader is responsible, that's how Haiti will come out of its misery.

For those who think that Haiti is only Port-au-Prince, the centralization will come, this is not only in Port-au-Prince which must be rebuilt, it's all the country that needs to be built, rebuilt, which needs to be reforested, to be developed...

[...] a Haiti where land will be tilled, where seeds are available, where crops will not be wasted, where crops are profitable, the land will not be ungrateful, because men will take care of it, this is called "Repon Peyizan"

[...] A Haiti where the middle class will grow, because the middle class is the economic engine of a country, a Haiti, where a change in our mindset will allow us to enter in the modern world [...] A Haiti where the slum aren't the cities, where the Haitian people will find water, electricity, services so that this country can be called a country. A Haiti where we will give people the means of birth control, where health is not a luxury...

[...] My people, my Haitian people, street people, unemployed, trust me, things will really change, traders, merchants, workers, people under the tents, the country's women, the disabled I have not forgotten you, you know I'm made for you, climb, get up, Haiti awaits you. Your President Tet Kalé is ready to walk hand in hand with you to bring a better life.

I ask the international community, to have confidence in me, you'll find another leadership, a good partnership, within the respect of each other, with good governance, transparency and honesty. This is a new Haiti, a new Haiti open for business now.

With the will of all, with the grace of the Grand Master, we will put Haiti in front, Haiti first, always Haiti, Haiti my country, Haiti Cheri Tet Kalé."

HL/ S/ HaïtiLibre

Dominican Republic has an open border policy

Open border migration policy with Haiti

Historian Frank Moya Pons explained in an article on Saturday in Diario Libre the magnitude of Haitian migration to the Dominican Republic following a relaxation of government migration controls in response to international pressures. He comments that in 1983 there was an estimated 27,000 Haitians living legally in the country. Still by 1998, the Haitian population was estimated at 100,000. By 2004, two British researchers estimated the immigrant population at 380,000 persons. Today, observers say Haitian population in the DR is more than one million.

The key settlements from where Haitians make the cross over are Ouanaminthe, Tiroli, Hincha, Mirabalais, Malpasse, Anse-a-Pitre. Most may start out in farm jobs, but he says most find ways to continue to the east of the island and end up settleming in leading cities where they find work in construction, ambulatory vendors , domestic housekeepers and watchmen in houses. There are others that are employed in coffee plantations, and others in hotels.

"Most of the Haitian residents in the country have entered illegally and remain that way because the Dominican authorities have been incapable of controlling the border when they have chosen to do so, or have abandoned the struggle to control the flow of illegal immigrants," writes Moya Pons.

He explains that on the border there is a network of people smugglers that involves civil authorities and military and local politicians and that profits from smuggling people. He comments that many Catholic priests, for humanitarian reasons and others, contribute to stimulate migration providing protection to Haitians that cross the border.

He writes that Haitians are also assisted by farmers who facilitate migration in exchange for cheap labor that helps them burn forests, clear farmland and harvest crops. "Zones such as Rio Limpio, Los Bolos, Los Pinos, Tierra Nueva, Polo, Maniel Viejo, Loma de Cabrera and others in Bahoruco are in a continuous process of deforestationt converting these lands in desert lands, as has already happened on Haitian side of the island," writes Moya Pons.

He comments that Haitian illegal migration has accelerating from 1998. He explains that in his first government Fernandez deported illegal immigrants, but desisted from doing so given the protests of human rights organizations, both national and international and some members of the Catholic clergy that operate at the border.

"Soon it was clear that the Dominican government would not deport illegal Haitians and the flow picked up pace," he writes.

In 2000, in the Hipolito Mejia government, a program of mass investments in the border, with the opening of roads, construction of rural clinics, aqueducts and schools, installation of electricity grids served to attract even more Haitian impoverished peasants to the border region. And the migration controls were relaxed further because the authorities wanted to avoid being accused of violating the human rights of the Haitians.

"The networks of people smuggling continued to develop."

Moya writes that the government of Mejia opened schools and hospitals to all Haitians that needed these services and granted them an ID document that the Haitians considered as proof their status had been legalized."

He explains that the new government of Fernandez (2004-2010) has maintained the same tolerance policy and as a result there the wave of migration has increased.

He mentions families of middle class and high class have also migrated to the DR to take advantage of social services, education and hospital not available in their country, such as Dominicans have migrated to the United States.

"On numerous occasions public health spokesmen have alerted that in many hospitals most of those giving birth are Haitians. Schools and universities have a growing population of Haitian students that live in community with Dominicans. In Constanza, half of the farmers are Haitians, same as in Barahona at the coffee plantations, in the yucca and tobacco fields of Cibao, in the rice paddies of Bajo Yuna and in the cattle ranches of the east.

He comments some farmers and economists say they depend on Haitian labor. But others, he explains, say it depresses wages and affects Dominican workers. "Others say in the medium term the Dominican Republic will lose the fight against poverty because it is importing every day more poor while the productive base and social services are not increasing at the same pace as the immigrant population.

He comments the 2010 earthquake stimulated even more migration. "That catastrophe opened a new chapter in Dominican-Haitian relationships and the government contributed massive aid. "The earthquake stimulated even more migration and the process is more intense than before. What will be the consequences of this process is still to be seen."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Civic Uprising!!!!

Four Percent for Education
By Elizabeth Eames Roebling

Protesters outside of the Palacio Nacional.

Credit:Elizabeth Eames Roebling/IPS
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SANTO DOMINGO, May 7, 2011 (IPS) - The government of the Dominican Republic, where one-third of the population of is under 14 years of age, is facing a well- organised and growing citizens' campaign to increase the amount spent on public education.

The current budget calls for spending of 1.3 billion dollars, which is only 2.4 percent of the gross domestic product of the nation. According to a law passed in 1997, four percent of the GDP is to be allocated to education.

The Dominican Republic spends much less on public education than most countries in the region. Cuba spends the most in the hemisphere at 18.7 percent, El Salvador spends eight percent, Jamaica spends 6.1 percent, Mexico 5.3 percent and Costa Rica 5.1 percent. In this hemisphere, only Haiti at 1.4 percent and Ecuador at one percent spend less on educating their children.

The campaign was launched by various civic groups and is aided by advertisements featuring local celebrities urging people to come out for various protests, wearing something yellow. Large yellow umbrellas with "4 percent "printed in black are displayed on balconies around the capital. An increasing number of cars sport the bright yellow bumper stickers.

At four p.m., on the fourth of each month, supporters are asked to assemble, wearing something yellow, at various points in the country. On Wednesday this week, some of the protestors were removed from the entrance of the opening of a two-week book fair, one of the main events in the capital.

Earlier, at the scheduled four p.m. time of assembly, a protest group stood on the sidewalk opposite the National Palace.

"We here to demand that the government comply with the law of spending four percent of the gross national product on education," Diomedes Mercedes, an attorney, told IPS. "So on the fourth of each month, at four p.m., we are going to stand here in front of the Palace to remind them that the people want this. We will be here until they fulfill their promise. We have been here every month since January. Last year, we gathered every month until November. "

"There are too many people here who do not have access to education," he said. "And even for the ones that do have access, much is missing. We have been fighting for three years for a decent level of development here in this country."

Many of the organisers and civic groups behind this action came together two years ago to fight the government's plans to grant a lease within the national park on the Samana peninsula, Los Haitiese, to a private local company to produce cement. The group that came together represented both young and old, and crossed educational and class lines. Many who participated said that they had never before seen a similar convergence.

In the end, the cement factory was defeated but the coalition remained in place.

Mercedes was part of the protest that saved Los Haitisese.

"We have a certain authority in the country now," he said. "And we are putting it to the service of the cause of education, which is not only a law but also something that is necessary for our development. We believe that we will be successful because we are expressing a national sentiment. Polls have shown that 94 percent of the people in this country support the four percent."

The president of one of the major organising civic groups "Toy Harto pero Creo en Mi Pais" (I am fed up but I believe in my country), Elizabeth Mateo Perez, is a former student leader and attorney who worked for the Supreme Court.

Behind the public face of the protests, Toy Harto is pressing a lawsuit with 1,078 plaintiffs - named defendants include the entire Senate and Congress - for failing to comply with the law requiring four percent for education when they passed the latest budget.

Standing under a bright yellow "4 percent" umbrella in the light drizzle, Perez explained why the increase in the budget is needed.

"We are missing 11,000 classrooms, [and] many of the classrooms which we do have are overcrowded," she told IPS. "We need 75,000 new teachers. There is no programme for any sort of preschool education. There is not even room for the five to seven-year-olds who wish to enter the system. Autistic, disabled, and Downs syndrome children, are now completely outside the system.

"A teacher must work three shifts to provide a basic living for her family," Perez added. "We have had studies done by economists which show that 30 percent of the federal budget is spent in excess. That is in an excess of ministers, an excess of benefits for them, and to corruption. This is the money that should be spent on education."

Dominican schools are divided now into three shifts of four hours each. Students attend schools only four hours per day. An elementary school teacher receives a base salary of 268 dollars per month, which does not cover the "canasta basica", or basket of goods, at the lowest level of poverty which is 276 dollars.

The "canasta basica" is a measure released by the Central Bank indexed on 350 items which comprise 90 percent of the living costs for a family of four. The middle class cost of living is pegged at 609 dollars. A teacher who works two sessions will have eight hours of class a day and only earn 596 dollars.

The government will start debating the 2012 budget in October.

Asked if she thought that the coalition would succeed, Perez said, "I believe we will. We have assembled the largest coalition of civic groups that this country has seen in 20 years. And we have the people behind us."