Tuesday, August 23, 2022

What should foreigners *Blans" Do to help #Haiti

For years Bob Corbett ran a list serve on #Haiti

This is a post with his wisdom back in 2009


On Thu, 6/18/09, Bob Corbett <corbetre@webster.edu> wrote:

From: Bob Corbett <corbetre@webster.edu>
Subject: 34584: Corbett (reply) 34583: Durban (reply): re. 34582 Roebling re. Clinton & Haiti (fwd)
To: "Bob Corbett's Haiti list" <haiti@lists.webster.edu>
Date: Thursday, June 18, 2009, 10:39 AM

From Bob Corbett

I think Lance Durban lays out a serious challenge.  Like Roebling and many others, and I would think Lance Durban would be among the group, most of us deplore the wages and life form lived by the bulk of the Haitian poor.

But, to bemoan conditions seems to me to do virtually nothing to improve them.

I'm quite a pessimist.  For more than 20 years I ran a small NGO and I tried to get various economic projects going in quite remote rural areas and in Cite Soleil -- well, it was Cite Simone in the early days.

I was using donated money and my organization had no paid employees at all, nor did we use donated money for our own expenses.  I had a policy to work solely with established community organizations, mainly called
"Ti Legliz" in those days.

Many of the people were willing and worked hard.  But moving from a start-up
project (again with donated money) to SUSTAINABLILTY proved to be next to impossible.  My primary aim was to try to get some business of some sort started, that within 3-5 years could become independent of my group's money and to become self-sustaining.

There were three major sorts of projects I ended up working with:

1.  Groups of market women.
2.  Farm projects.
3.  In the city, artisans.

I never had much success with groups # 2 and 3, and very little success with any whole group of the market women, but some individuals did manage to use the start-up money my group advanced and to move on to sustainability.

There were many reasons -- in farming, as Lance pointed out, there was the problems of land.  Some were the natural problems he point out and some were ownership of land issues.  As soon as a parcel of rented land (seemingly the bulk of land avaialble to peasants) began to produce something, then city land-owners demanded a cut and the projects would begin to wane.

Markets were always a problem and with farming so was transportation of goods.  Water was always an issue.

There were certainly some dishonest folks in the groups and we lost some groups and some money in that manner, but that was very insignificant and to be expected in any human community.  In general it wasn't will and effort that were lacking, rather it was

-- organization
-- know-how
-- natural resources
-- transportation
-- water
-- land ownership or use
-- markets

Now consider, I was coming to Haiti with money on which I was not expecting ANYTHING in return, wanting to use 100% of my money to help already organized groups.  And the success rate was extremely low.  Some benefits would accrue in the few years my organization was pumping money in, but as soon as we would say:  Time's up, this has to become self-sustaining, then they would collapse.

So, if one is talking about INVESTORS coming in to make a profit ......
well, again, it is easy to get angry with people who seem to be taking advantage of folks, but what are the POSITIVE and CONSTRUCTIVE advice to
people looking to invest in Haiti....  And, people who are looking in a competitive manner to invest money at a return that about matches what the market will provide in a world econmy?

I am very pessimistic that such investors would be much attracted to Haiti and attracted to pay living wages.

If that is at all so, then what does one suggest?

Is Haiti just to remain a begging nation forever?  It doesn't seem to be working very well.

Are there alternatives?  I haven't seen many.  I've met and visited with hundreds of folks who, like me, were trying to do things at the level of human service with either no profit or very little, or just trying to keep a few small projects going.  And I have seen a handful of successful ones, but a gigantic mass of those which fail.

The money runs out, a main leader dies or moves on, the group loses interest, the group is more interested in the religious outcomes that the material advancement of the communithy, the group goes to some other country and so on.  Lots of reasons.  And the projects die out and within a year or two there is no sign of their previous existence.

What are the POSITIVE possiblities?  Haiti is what it is governmentally and socially, economically, ecologically.  Those are relatively fixed.

Then what?

I would love to hear some discussion of these questions.

Bob Corbett

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Jovenel Moise - Are the Right Judges in Place?

For the original article in French click here

According to sources in the judicial system fewer than ten investigating judges have been approached. Some qualified judges wanted the case. They told AyiboPost that they had not been contacted.

By Wildore Mérancourt. August 11,2020

Last Thursday, some of the judges of the Port-au-Prince district braved the insecurity to appear at the Bicentennial Court House. Among the forty or so judges in the jurisdiction, only about twenty answered “present” during the first civil chamber for the traditional General Assembly.

The roll call started at nine o’clock, but it was not until 11 that the discussions began. According to the agenda, questions about the resumption of the work in the courts preceeded those on any extraordinary meetings. The murder of the president Jovenel Moise, as spectacular as it was violent, interrupted the proceedings at 11:30.

The judicial police had turned over the file on the inquest to the judiciary on the preceding day. Now the dean of the Court of the First Instance, Mr. Bernard Saint-Vil, had to select a judge to conduct the investigation, a crucial step in the process.

Amidst the confusion of of the incessant debates, one of the judges speaks to make an almost unprecedented proposal. “I demand that the judge add to the agenda a resolution for the creation of a commission of at least three judges to investigate the assassination.”, said Ikenson Edume, president of the National Association of Haitian Magistrates.

The majority of judges in attendance considered this an excellent idea.The dean also seemed to be leaning in this direction. He spoke of his own involvement in a similar panel of three investigating judges in the still unresolved assignation of the journalist Jean Dominique, according to Eumdé. Four days after the assembly of judges, the dean announced the choice of Mathieu Chanlatte for the historic investigation of the murder of the former head of state.

According to experts, a panel of judges would have permitted a concentration of expertise on this sensitive case . This would also have reduced the risk of blackmail and politicalpressure, while taking the focus off of one single judge who would otherwise be much more vulnerable.

Even though not formally expressed in Haitian law, the designation of a panel of judges has been made at the discretion of the dean at least twice in the last twenty years.

Mr. Bernard Gousse is an expert in law, dean of the faculty and from Minister of Justice. He recalls the longevity of the criminal code which goes back the the beginning of the 19th century. If this code does not forbid a panel of investigating judges “it does not forbid a dean from forming one.” Even more so for an affair as complex as the assassination of the president, with more than forty persons from many different countries involved in the case.

There is nothing to indicate whether legal concerns pushed Bernard Saint-Vil to abandon this idea.

A few days before the announcement, the media reported alleged difficulties encountered by the dean in making the selection. Several judges who were approached would have refused to take the case.

According to half a dozen interviews conducted by AyiboPost with high-ranking sources in the judicial system, some of the judges contacted refused to work on the murder. One of the reasons is that at least one of them is overwhelmed by another major matter.

However, the idea that the large majority of judges would refuse the case is “false”, according to Marthel Jean Claude, an investigating judge, also President of the Professional Association of Magistrates, who is well informed of the proceedings.

“I have spoken with several judges who are available and willing.” said Jean Claude, “They have also told the dean that they are available. The rumor in the media has upset many judges.”

Mr. Wilner Morin is one of the rare judges in Haiti who is a specialist in transnational and financial crimes. His mandate as a judge was not renewed by Jovenel Moise last January, despite a positive recommendation from the High Counsel of Judicial Power. If he was not approached, Mr.Morin, who remains a sitting judge despite the information spread in the media, “many more judges have said yes than no.”

Formally, or via intermediaries, fewer than ten examining magistrates were contacted by the dean according to a source close to the proceedings who requested anonymity for fear of negative career repercussions.

At least five judges, praised by their peers for their neutrality and competence, were not considered or even contacted, according to information collected by AyiboPost.

Marthel Jean Claude is on this informal list discussed in judicial circles. He affirms that he would have considered the request, had it been formally issued.

The name of Judge Loubens Elysee was also mentioned many times in interviews. AyiboPost was not able to contact him but one of his colleagues reported that he was approached but then passed over for Mathieu Chanlatte. He had been “open” to the idea of taking the case. If there there were many “competent” judges, why were the media reporting that they were running away from it? “They were circulating the rumor in order to easily impose Mathieu Chanlatte,” another judge concluded.

Political considerations appear to have played a part in the choice made by the Dean. “Chanlatte is reputed to be very close to Jovenel Moise and the Haitian Party Tet Kate, he is a team judge,” declared Mr. Samuel Madistin, in a telephone interview. “With that reputation, it will be difficult for him to handle this case” continued the lawyer who represents two of the individuals held in the assassination of Jovenel Moise. ́

The dean Bernard Saint-Vil did not respond to multiple requests for interviews nor to telephone calls from AyiboPost.

Mathieu Chanlatte enters the public debates thanks to two matters which have been widely publicized.

The first concerns allegations of corruption which go back to 2019 and implicate the former First Lady, Martine Moise. Some observers denounce the the laxity of Chanlatte in the issue of the contract between the Haitian state and a German company after two warnings from theHigh Court for Oversight and Administrative Procedures.

The second concerns a judicial political matter between the former President, Jovenel Moise and the Société Générale d’ ́Enerie SA (Sogener). Some actions taken during that case failed to comply with Haitian law, according to legal experts.

“The dean could have chosen a judge who had a reputation of neutrality, of impartiality, and that would have given the case of being conducted will right until the end.” Continued Mr. Madistin. “I am waiting to see his first acts to see if he will treat the case seriously, with independence.”

The choice of Mathieu Charlotte reopens a bloody wound in the legal establishment in Haiti. In the Court of the First Instance are the deans who legally receive and distribute the cases to the examining judges. With regularity, these deans find themselves among the defendants becausethey do not take into account the intellectual and technical skills of judges in the assignment of cases.

Within the National Association of Haitian Court Officers, Ainé Martin advocates for judges who are specialists in financial crimes or human trafficking for example. This would make the process more professional and allow justice to triumph. “Matthieu Chanlatte has no speciality” complains Martin. “The case of the assassination of Jovenel Moise is complicated. It ought to be presided over by a judge who specializes in transnational crime.”

Two judges interviewed objected to how the distribution of cases are made by at the Court of First Instance in Port-Au-

Prince. Important issues will be divided not on the basis of competence but more on the bases of considerations of proximity to the dean, Mr. Bernard Saint Vil.

Four reputable institutions in France educated Judge Ikenson Edumé in the field of economic and financial crimes. Despite the abundance of cases in his field, he has not been given any case touching on financial or economic crime since 2012.

-Wildore Merancourt

translated by Elizabeth Eames Roebling


Friday, August 6, 2021

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Dominican Republic - The Resorts - The Nation

The news of the assault and the illnesses at the all inclusive resorts on the Dominican Republic that have circulated in headlines around the world. It is an indication of how isolated and far behind the times the Dominican Republic actually is that the local (and Spanish) owned resorts have neither accepted responsibility, offered to reimburse the guests, nor made an effort to counter the devastating international publicity which will negatively affect all the tourism of that nation while only a two of the hotels are involved.

During my 14 year stay there, I was always distressed  that tourists who came down for their one or two week vacations only saw a small patch of beach, isolated from the local culture and breathtaking variety of the landscapes.

Perhaps these incidents will push the nation into developing a more varied sort of tourism in the form of "inclusive" packages which take tourists to the smaller boutique hotel around that beautiful country so they can experience the 11 different ecological zones.

And perhaps have the privilege, as I did, of at least catching a glimpse of the wonderful nature of the Dominican people.

I post, in their defense, a copy of an observation which I posted on DR1.com which is an English message board where ex-pats, Dominicans, and visitors swap information, questions, and observations.

My reflections -

"I found that friends in the same educational class might ask for a loan - and be very prompt in paying it back by the date that they said that they would so that they could establish the practice of coming back again.

If I had had a meeting at my place (we were all doing non- profit work) the women would all bring something- arepas or a tin of Vienna sausages.

That if you were lucky enough to be invited to for a luncheon, there would be the BEST tablecloth and three courses presented..

But if they came to my place, they were delighted with a bowl of soup and ACTED as if I had served three courses with the best tablecloth.

A few times the folks that worked for me in different capacities (secretary/translator/ assistant/maid/handyman) would come to me with problems - not asking directly for money but explaining the issue.- daughter was raped and needed counseling, started a business and got into credit card debt, ran out of money and needed food, wanted to return to Haiti and needed $200 more for the transport - in each and every case, they were exceedingly grateful when I stepped up and gave help and never again asked for anything.

My cleaning lady once asked for an advance on her salary - and I honestly simply did not have it. She said - well, if you don't have it, you don't. But then I went to the kitchen and pulled out rice and beans and got out a chicken from the freezer and gave them to her. She hugged the bag. 

Later on she would say to anyone who would listen - "Ella vale was que dinero" 
Which is how I absolutely thought of all of all of them.

I could not buy nor would never imagine to receive in the USA the care and devoted attention that I got from the Dominicans that I knew when I was ill - visits to the hospital, sleeping over at my house, rubbing my feet with menthol, making me soup, cleaning the house- just STAYING over. 

I would add to Matilda's list that a Dominican friend will waltz into your house- go into your kitchen and make coffee and do any dishes that might be in the sink while you are there. 

She will say she is hungry if she is - and proceed to help herself to what is in the fridge - setting out a small feast for you both from what you thought was an empty larder. 

She will go through your closets with you, helping you decide what looks good on you, what ought to go to the tailors, what ought to be given away. And tell you HONESTLY.

She will remember when it is the birthday of you sisters, nephews, etc.. and remind you to get a card or a gift. 

She will make sure that you are NOT alone at any holiday that is important. Most particularly YOUR birthday (even if you would rather not notice it)

She will invite you to the hospital to visit her newborn niece with the rest of the family (you must go), and call you to the hospital when her mother is dying (also a command performance), invite you to her wedding (optional). 

I use the feminine pronoun because I was blessed with more women friends but I also had three very fine men friends even though it was explained to me that the belief was that men can not be friends with women. Obviously not true in practice.

I was blessed to have known them. They will always have a piece of my heart."

Sunday, February 3, 2019


I am STUNNED by the "well meaning " organizations from the left in the USA such as #CommonDreams that are spouting propaganda of which #RussiaToday would be proud. Those who know me, such as the 1699 others prisoners of conscience for #Vieques, know that I walk on the side of those who seek both justice and liberty.

What is happening in Venezuela is a fight against a dictator who is trying to secure a further 6 year term after what were widely considered to be a fraudulent election. https://en.wikipedia.org/.../2018_Venezuelan_presidential

The two leading candidates from the opposition were banned from running. One, #LeopoldLopez was imprisoned for 3 years and is still under house arrest. #JuanGuiado is the last duly elected leader of the National Assembly (House of Representatives) and, as such, has the right and obligation under their constitution to declare himself as the rightful president. 

To see the situation/people in Venezuela only through the lens of globalization or capitalism/socialism is to discount the agency of both the people on the ground in Venezuela and the voices of the more than 3 million Venezuelans who have been forced to flee the country.

Per the press conference from the Guiado government is asking for primarily is 1)to open the channels of humanitarian assistance and 2) for the holding of free and fair elections at the earliest possible date 3) support from the international community in restoring democracy in Venezuela. They reject absolutely any sort of negotiation with the government of Maduro. The assumption of the presidency by Guiado is completely in accord with the constitution of #Venezuela. 

Unfortunately there seems to be very little co-ordination between #CNNEspanol and #CNN. If there were, the entire press conference would be translated and posted so that the English speaking public could be informed.

The government of Guiado is supported by the Lima Group https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lima_Group which includes the democracies in this hemisphere - excluding the United States. 

Perhaps there are others who value the choice of an economic system over a political one - i.e. socialism/capitalism vs democracy/authoritarianism - but, IMHO, in order to be considered a successful nation one MUST have democracy (even flawed as the US is considered to be now) and then may choose the economic system. 

Let us have a #WOKELEFT. When your position is in lock step with countries such as Russia, Cuba, Iran, Syria, Iran, Turkey and North Korea -which did acknowledge the election of Maduro as legitimate- and Against Canada, Australia, The OAS and the EU - which did not -- 


#Guiado #Venezuela