Friday, December 2, 2011

Narcotrafficante Paraiso

I now feel clear to report the following

The government of the Dominican Republic, including the sitting president, Leonel Fernandez, and his selected successor, Danilo Medina, along with other presidential candidates - Hippollito Mejia, Ito Bisono, and Soto Jiminez,

Have entered into an agreement with the Columbian cocaine cartel to send the toll money from the new highway built to Samana, directly back to Columbia. Current toll is now at US $60 for a three hour drive.

I accuse the following companies of being implicit in this scheme to sell off the Samana Peninsula in square meter plots, in Euros and Dollars, over the Internet.. And additionally charge them with human trafficking, money laundering, and slavery.

What they have now planned for the entire island is a ring road highway with expensive hotels , privatized electricity, privatized water supply, and no public services to the dark skinned natives.- They are to be reduced to abject poverty so that any form of sex, particularly pedophilia, will be available for a few pesos.

This makes Auswiztch look like Springtime for Hitler in Germany.

So far, I seen signs for the following operators along the narco highway

All three major leagues of the USA ,, baseball, football, and basket ball
Orange Telephone ... from France
Claro Telephone... from Mexico
Mobil Oil
Michelin Tires

Scotia Bank
Banco Popular
Banco BHD
Banco Progresso is under suspicion since they use Diebold cash machines which are Russian owned

Budwiser Beer
Presidente Beer
Brahma Beer

Ikea is under suspicion since it opened its premier Latin American store in a nation that only has a market of perhaps 2 million people. It is suspected that it did so in anticipation of future sales.

Also under suspicion are


Phillips Electronics

I ask that all journalists who were interested in the Haitian earthquake, to return to this island so that they might discover why no progress has been made on rebuilding Haiti.

I am the only English reporting journalist on this island for the last 7 years.

I ask that Friends hold me in the Light.

Checks in support of this witness may be sent to Asheville Friends Meeting, Asheville North Carolina with instructions that it is in support of the Haiti Witness.

Thursday, September 29, 2011




STARTING at SUNDOWN on SUNDAY< OCTOBER, First, 2011, a group of Haitian workers who are now in Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic, will formally launch their campaign to return to Haiti.

The group, which now numbers 158, has been meeting for two months now and is in the process of selecting their top team of 35 builders. These men, who are skilled in all phases of home construction, have worked under the finest engineers from all over the world and has made Las Terreanas the premier tourist destination in the Dominican Republic.

Since the bulk of the work there is completed,the workers understand that further work will be difficult to find. However, having worked under Dominican supervisors and engineers and being fluent in Spanish, they do not wish the knowledge that they have gained here to be lost to their nation.

They habe organized themselves into a HAITI CAPABLE CORPS and are asking that all international projects that are using Dominican builders, contact them through this blog.

We will be contacting the Dominican government directly

one hopes...

party on the beach
in front of casa blanca

bring yuour own

There is a grave concern here in the DR about the rise in random, violent crime.

Back in the days of Aristide, the Cartels were running all the cocaine that came through the Carribbean, estimated at about 15% of the US and European market, through Haiti. When MINUSTAH came into Haiti, by mid term of Preval in 2008, prehaps, the nests of dealers had been cleared up. Now the product moves through the DR.

While the DR bought planes to intercept flights, much of the product is still dropped at sea and picked up by fishermen off the south coast. It is a fairly simple matter to find out who is in charge of the ring, as I was able to uncover it a couple of weekends.

However, the Dominicans have been in charge of the distribution of cocaine in NYC .. from NYC to Canada since the early 80s, since LALO from Santiago first discovered how to cut it into CRACK. Since that time, the Dominicans have distributed the cocaine but more importantly, they have laundered the money from this trade.

Twenty years ago, it was estimated that the profits from the sale of cocaine from the Columbia cartels was equal to annual US defense budget.

Since the demand for this product is inside the US and Europe, there is no way to stop this commerce.

It should be remembered that this is a TRADE WAR,

There are three extremely potent NATURAL medicines... coca, marijuana (hahish), and opium (morphine) .. nothing that the pharmaceutical companies have been able to manufacture and patent has ever come close to mimic the psychological and phsical effects of these drugs.

It is said, and I believe it to be true, that Coca Cola, which once contained Cocaine, still imports the coca leaves in their pure form for its secret formula. Here in the DR .. we still drink the orginal formula COCA COLA which is made with pure cane sugar, not the corn syrup.. and there is no contest between the effect of coca cola and pepsi. It is not just caffeine and sugar. There is something else.

This the global NORTH against the GLOBAL SOUTH.. because, if the money from the drug wars were to be acutally legalized and taxed, the color of the skin of the world's bankers would change from white to brown. Afghani, Bolivian, Jamaican....

However, the soft way out of this is simply to pull back the enforcement on any sort of criminial penalties on marijuana, which President Obama has already done. President Fernandez should follow his lead.

The plant, Cannabis Satvis, is native to this island. It was here before Columbus. There is a drawer in the medicine chest at the Museo de las Casas Reales which has it written on it.

Then President Fernadez should go after those who are opening up their product in the streets of the Dominican Republic.

This is a small island, heavily dependent on tourism. It cannot exist if there is an outbreak of crack induced violence.

A crack addict will sell his mother for a fix.

The Catholic Church and the drug educators here know nothing about drugs. They lump marijuana and crack into the same category as "the dark side " There are no good treat ment programs for crack.

The money laundering will and should continue. It is what will prevent this island from sinking into the sea. It will provide a safe haven from the impending crash that may come when the traders realize that they they are mostly crooks and decide to stop dealing with one another.

However, this Island, the FIRST ISLAND in the Western Hermisphere, can be a model for how we are to proceed into the next century.

Let us be clear.

Marijuana is a medicine.

Coca is a medicine.

Opium is a medicine.

Morphine is a medicine.



I trust the Senator Dodd is reading

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

preparing for the Witch's Sabbath.. my favorite Holy Day

I am just turning this into my personal blogs to that my 25 follers and frinds and the
Watchers Can Watch


Quiskeya Friends Project

I am very grateful for being so rich as to have been able to afford the following
upgrades to my life
In the last four yeas

I now have
A clothes washing machin

Hot water in my batyhroom shower and sink FIRST time in FIVE tears nn no follin
A FAN and spotlights in my dining room
Enough money to have THREE LOGHTS
On AT THE Same time


Monday, September 19, 2011

Women Challenge Monopoly on "Men's Jobs"

Women Challenge Monopoly on "Men's Jobs"
By Elizabeth Eames Roebling

The women who complete full training in the Ce-Mujer programme can expect to earn two or three times the minimum wage.

SANTO DOMINGO, Sep 18, 2011 (IPS) - From a small office inside a public school on the eastern side of the Rio Ozama in the capital Santo Domingo, a programme operated by a local NGO, Ce-Mujer, has been leading a quiet revolution to empower women in the workplace for the last 13 years.

After an initial three years of pilot programmes, the Programme for Technical Training and Jobs for Women has trained over 6,000 women in non-traditional jobs such as furniture making, upholstery, small appliance repair, and the installation and repair of power invertors - all areas for which there is great demand in the labour market and in which there are few women working.

While the government donates the space for the office and classrooms, as well as the services of the teachers, Ce-Mujer provides the administrative staff and the direct contact with the students.

"Our work is probably equally divided between teaching them a skill and building their self-esteem and their motivation so that they can once again discover their aspirations and their dreams. We believe that work has no sex," Nelly Charles, the project director, told IPS.

There is no tuition charge, but the students must pay for transport and for a wardrobe which may be different than the one they wear at home. Since many of them are mothers and grandmothers who have to care for young children, Ce-Mujer provides a child care facility close by. While it is subsidised, it still costs 25 dollars a month. Yet it is one of very few such centres available in the Dominican Republic and so makes the classes more accessible.

The programme is aimed at very poor women. The average age of participants is 35, and the courses are two months long. While some students only take one, many will study for two years and become fully qualified in a given area. Then, Ce-Mujer works to find them jobs.

"While there are many businesses with women who are very responsible and very organised, it is also true that there are others who see a woman and expect her to clean the bathrooms," Charles said. "We present them with women who are qualified, who can really do the work, and they have to change their minds."

Charles speaks with an angry edge in her voice when discussing the unequal investment made in the technical training of women.

"We have technical schools here, big ones, where the administration alone employs 30 people, and you will see that both teachers and students are totally segregated by sex. The women will learn hairdressing, acrylic nails, flower arranging, cake making. And the men? The men learn residential electricity, furniture making, carpentry, automotive mechanics, electronics," she said.

"And they will invest five million pesos for a mechanics workshop and only 50,000 pesos for a beauty shop. And in that one there are 100 percent women."

According to the figures from the Centro del Investigation para Accion Feminina (CEPAF), 62 percent of the university graduates in the Dominican Republic are now women. But this does not always translate into jobs.

At 25 percent, the unemployment rate for women is three times higher than that for men. In addition, 40 percent of households are headed by single women. There also is a gender gap inside of the university, with only a small percentage of women studying engineering and only 30 percent engaged in any study of information technology.

The women who complete full training in the Ce-Mujer programme can expect to earn two or three times the minimum wage. Some have even bought houses.

An average of 100 women are qualified every year, but not all of them will actually work in the field.

"Say that 20 or 30 percent of those will decide to work. But those who take jobs turn out to be very permanent workers," Charles said.

In addition to the classrooms, Ce-Mujer also has a store on a corner in the neighbourhood not far away, where students and graduates can sell their pieces on a consignment basis. The shop is filled with the finely upholstered heavy mahogany furniture which is the style here, along with more modern pieces such as clothes hampers and babies' cribs.

Loyda Jerez, 45, started her fourth course last month. "I come to class four hours a day. First I took reupholstering, then furniture refinishing and now cabinetry. Now I say I am an interior decorator," she told IPS.

Jerez has three children at home, ranging from 13 to 19 years old. She first came to class just to save herself some money.

"Every time that I went to have my furniture repaired, it was very expensive. Now I see that I can do it myself and I really enjoy the work. This is my last course. Now I am going to have to go out and look for money," she said.

Jerez appeared downcast for a moment, but immediately regained her enthusiasm. "A friend and I are thinking of starting a little business together," she said.

Charles added that, "What we are doing is subversive and revolutionary, and we have made real advances. This is a novel idea in this country. We have to teach the women who sometimes say that they cannot do this because the men cannot cook, or the men cannot do the dishes.

"But we have shown that if they are given the chance, we have shown that women can do anything. Because we have many women now who are furniture makers, and upholsterers, and who do it with joy, and with a sense of responsibility equal to that of men."


Friday, August 26, 2011

An Absence

I have not posted for a very long time.

I was, I suppose, waiting for some good news.

There is none.

Haiti has no functional government. Two candidates for prime minister have been rejected. There are no great stories of massive rebuilding efforts, no uplifting success stories, nothing that can bring much hope.

Yet, this morning I read this wonderful essay by Junot Diaz, our Dominican Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award winner, and was once again moved to tears by the love and the generosity of the people of my new homeland for their neighbors.

No one here doubts that the future of the Dominican Republic, itself struggling to climb from developing to developed world, is tied to its neighbor sharing this island. We now have cholera here too, now in ten of our rivers. It is here to stay, we are told. We will live with it as we do with dengue and malaria. And now, a constant flow of migrants over the border.

But, like Diaz, I have hope. I am alive, and so therefore must have hope.

At the very least now, Haiti has been SEEN.

It has been seen and it cannot be forgotten.

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
Buy this picture

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."


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Friendly Discussion

I veer away from my primary witness here on Hisapniola to give some reflections on my Quaker education since my alma mater just made news in the NY Times.. here

I attended Friends Seminary for 14 years, from junior kindergarden through graduation in 1964, which is now a very, very long time ago. Since then Friends has doubled its student population,and built what is essentially a new school. When I went back there years ago to speak to the student body about my stint as a prisoner of conscience in Vieques, I was dismayed by the fact that there were no longer hymns or Bible readings in Assembly but heartened by the sea of multi colored faces before me.

My folks chose Friends because it was near by our Greenwich Village home, and because, as my father said, the students were not allowed to call their teachers by their first names and it did not have a sliding scale of tuition. My mother had us enrolled at birth and exceedingly proud that we had been accepted.. seeing it as a reflection perhaps of her artistry // but that is another therapy session.

Since there is now an ongoing discussion of Friends schools and class, I thought I would jump in with my personal experiences.

Let me first state that I regret that there are Quaker children who are not admitted to Quaker schools. I do not know the details. Perhaps some are not academically qualified since these schools do have very high standards. I would wish and hope that all children of Meeting members be given all financial support to attend these schools. However, I do know of more than one family who have joined a Meeting specifically for the purpose of gaining admission and scholarship assistance for their children, who attend Meetings only so long as their children are there, and fade away after the children have graduated. So we have a lot of issues here.

In this discussion on Friends there seems to be a confusion of terms between "elitist" and "expensive". Yes, FS was and is expensive. But my experience was that it was not elitist. Certainly we were all priviledged children. Most of our families were affluent or at least solidly middle class. Many of the parents were famous. As far as I can remember, none of us was treated any differently because of the wealth or status of our parents.

Friends did indeed differ from other schools which were perhaps the same cost. We were not Brearly or Spence or Nightingale Bamford. We did not take expensive field trips to Europe or even Washington, DC (although Brooklyn Friends at least seems to do so now). We packed lunches and went to the Natural History Museum. (We were in NYC, after all!) We did not have proms or fancy dress anything.

But there was much more subtle stuff going on... We did not compete. Well, ok, we did compete in basketball but not in the classroom. We did not know our class ranking. When we were given our rankings in junior year, since that stat was needed for college admissions then, we were all quite shocked to learn where who was where. (ok, I was shocked to learn that I was just in the middle, bordering on the bottom!)

Another fact was that a large portion of the student body at that time was Jewish. This was at a time when Jews were not allowed in many of the "social" clubs, nor accepted at many of the private schools. We did have to take out the words "Jesus Christ, savior" from some hymns but we still had the Christmas pagent. Maybe they do not have it now. I would not be surprised.

I object to the characterization of Friends Seminary as a "preppy haven." I know kids who went to those schools. While their academic preparation was comparable, they had no education on privilige, social justice, the meaning of the word "sincere" (without wax, we got it every year)

What I learned there was a great deal more than all the academic stuff.. first I learned to think. I was miles ahead of many classmates at Middlebury because I had been treated with great respect for 14 years. I had been treated as someone who has the Light of God within, and therefore was as capable as any teacher of coming up with sound and sensible thoughts.

I also learned compassion on a global level as we had UNICEF posters up in the classrooms from second grade on up. Yaws, Beri Beri, Kwashikor.. those were not just words but pictures. And those were not just kids who had less than me but real pictures of real poverty.

I was taught to volunteer. It was expected that we would start volunteering at 14, as soon as we were old enough under NY regulaions. I volunteered at a hospital, at a public school, and then with Civil rights groups.

I was taught the difference between a raffle and an auction. I have never gambled.

I was taught kindness and compassion.

I was taught pacifism by the subtle technique of being shown actual war movies once a month, it seemed.. preceded by the swords into plowshares reading. I became a draft counselor during the Vietnam war.

I was taught to think for myself.

I became a convinced Friend twenty years after leaving Friends. Convinced that I was, indeed, a Quaker.

I cannot imagine what my life would have been like had my parents not chosen Friends. I would be a completely different person. I would have made my debut. I would have, perhaps, become active in the Society of Mayflower Descendants (shudder), oh.. well,. perhaps I would have married a Yalie and lived happily ever after... but I would not be the person that I am now.

And note that prison witness in Vieques? Certainly i would never have done that!

So perhaps rather than tearing it all up.. all those great Quaker schools.. just because it does indeed cost money to run a private school, we need to focus on how to provide more tuition assistance to those Quaker children who wish to attend?

We Quakers are a small sect, growing smaller by the week.

But we have put out some things of value in the world.

And the children of the wealthy need more of what Friends has to offer than any other children.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The New President

Goodbye 'Sweet Micky'? Martelly Serious About Leading Haiti

Apr 10, 2011 ? 6:45 AM

by Emily Troutman

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- On the Sunday night before the announcement of
Haiti's preliminary election results, tensions ran high. The candidates
faced a troubled electoral system, an impatient population, the
never-ending sense that what can go wrong, will.

At 9 p.m., hip-hop star Pras Michel took to Twitter:

RT @PrasMichel Machete + gasoline + matches = the will of people

Pras is an internationally known musician, the cousin and former Fugees
band mate of Wyclef Jean, and he was one of the first to endorse Michel

The Haiti-focused twittersphere, small though it is, erupted in
condemnation, interpreting his message as a call to violence. Fans of
Wyclef and Martelly immediately threw back retorts, calling him a
"moron" and "immature."

Some tagged their responses with frustration, #merde; anger, #yousuck; and social consciousness, #noviolence.

In a stream of apologetic responses, Pras said his tweet was meant as "a
preventative statement and not an aggressive motive." But the damage
was done.

On Monday, results were announced and Martelly swept the polls,
garnering 67 percent of the vote. No violence or tire burning erupted.
At Martelly's house, friends and supporters gathered to celebrate the
sweet reward for their hard work.

Who wasn't invited? Pras. The star was not allowed in.

He's More Like "The Body" Than "The Gipper"

It's fitting that Martelly's first presidential censure took place in
the new margin of Haitian politics, where music, social media and
celebrity overlap. Martelly rose to stardom as the wily carnival star
"Sweet Micky" and, on many counts, his campaign succeeded by leveraging
stardom in all the right ways.

Many compare his foray into politics to that of American movie star
Ronald Reagan. But in context and competency, Martelly more closely
resembles wrestler-turned-governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura.

Ventura served as governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003 and as a
veteran, projected the right combination of get-tough, straight-talk
politics to land the state's top job. Ventura ran under the Reform
Party. At the time -- young voters especially -- were fed up with the
better known but stodgy Republican Norm Coleman and legacy Democrat
Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey III.

Martelly attended military academy as a young man, though he was tossed
out. The socially conscious lyrics of his songs combined with vicious
trash-talk toward his musical "frenemies" left little doubt among
Haitians that he's a force to be reckoned with.

After Ventura took office, Minnesotans often sported goofy T-shirts with
pictures of the uber macho wrestling star and the slogan, "My governor
can beat up your governor." Here, too, Martelly's meteoric popularity
was attended with his unique brand of counter-culture, highlighted in
his trademark pink.

Voters wore pink bracelets and T-shirts with his caricature. His slogan,
the phrase "Tet kale!" means "bald head." It also means "No sweat!" and
has a third, slang meaning with a sexual connotation.

In campaign speeches, Martelly promised if audience members didn't vote
for him, he would come back to town on his float and curse them all. He
made fun of his opponents and increasingly fine-tuned his plainspoken
everyman shtick, which seemed both contrived and authentic in equal

In November, Martelly told AOL News that "Sweet Micky" was just a public
persona; "That was the business. Sweet Micky was the store." But voters
seemed hopeful that's not true.

Haitian Voters Want Change

"Our vote was a response to the current regime," one voter said. "We need a new era. We need change."

Patricia, 47, who sells chicken, said, "I want security. I want to walk
in the street. I never voted before in my life but I voted for Martelly.
To see change."

He was labeled a cowboy, bad boy, outsider, maverick, vagabond and
rebel. For many, especially older women and conservative Christian
voters, it was all a bit much. They were wooed away by Martelly's
opponent, Mirlande Manigat.

Martelly never quite swayed all of the educated class, who were
unimpressed by his lack of technical knowledge. Others were offended
that he failed to try harder to woo them. During his campaign, he went
for the masses and seemed to encourage the over-charged cult of
personality. But even among the nervous, he won votes.

"I don't know, I just thought, [screw] it," a voter said. "It's like
Manigat needed a reason to get people to vote for her. Her reason was,
'I'm smart.' And that wasn't enough."

Martelly was the high-risk vote, but his audacity made him the best chance at a high reward.

Much has been made of Martelly's past, not just in music, but especially
in his past friendship with Michel Francois, a former police chief who
helped orchestrate a coup against former President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide. Martelly's politics are known as "center right" here, and the
vote against the status quo seemed to signal a departure.

Like all well-known crossovers -- Reagan, Ventura, Arnold Schwarzenegger
-- Martelly is less of an "outsider" than his antics imply. Ventura
himself was a mayor in Minnesota before he ran. Martelly first floated
the idea of becoming president 20 years ago.

When asked this week at a press conference how he would deal with former
presidents Jean-Claude Duvalier and Aristide, who are now back in
Haiti, he responded, "I am president of all the Haitians."

It harkened back to his decades-old statements about Francois and
entertaining controversial figures at his nightclub. In 1997, he told
the Miami Herald, "I am a musician. I play for people who pay to get

He Was Political as a Performer

It's likely Martelly was successful in music because he is actually a
politician, rather than a musician who stumbled into politics. At the
very least, his stardom was a practice in power.

"Since I was a kid, even if I was the youngest one in the crowd, I would
be the entertainer," he told AOL News. "I would be the one calling the
shots. I would be the one everybody would focus on."

Music in Haiti, even more so than other forms of art around the world,
is a deeply unifying cultural force. His stardom gave him rare agency in
a culture with intricate class boundaries.

"I have a better Ph.D. than people who went to school. I have studied the complexity of this society for 22 years," he said.

Speaking about his past, he said, "The rich come here, I play at their
wedding. I get inside their house. I do as I please. I get inside their
business. I open their safe. I take as much money as I want -- I'm
serious. I close the safe, I go to the poor and I give that money. And
there was no limit for me in this country."

His campaign was heavily financed by Laurent Lamothe, a Miami-based business associate in international telecommunications.

Martelly has had "proximity" -- as he called it -- to the "rich," but
that term is relative here. Haiti once had booming tourism and apparel
industries, but has been in steady decline for decades.

"They should call us the broke-ass elite," one business owner said.

Haiti has one of the highest disparities between the haves and the
have-nots, but it also has a lower gross domestic product than most
countries; lower than Tajikistan, Yemen, or Equatorial Guinea.

Despite U.S. legislation that allowed duty-free apparel exports since
2006, 20 percent of the country's GDP is remittances from abroad, more
than twice the earnings of all exports.

"A lot of people have been in power and don't do anything," said Jean
Cenor, a cobbler. "We need someone new to take this power and help us."

Celebrity Alone Won't Be Enough

Ventura eventually drew ire for cashing in on a book deal while in
office, but such offers aren't likely to appear for Martelly in Haiti,
where the cache of celebrity is more limited.

During the campaign, he leveraged his local renown by bringing in bigger
fish: Wyclef to harness the Haitian vote, and Sean Penn to lend
legitimacy in the international aid community.

Development professionals and donors who visited Martelly over the past
months often left charmed and star-struck. Both Penn and Wyclef were
spotted at the post-election party at Martelly's house.

Some inside his circle were pleased that Pras was not there.

"I was happy because a lot of people think Michel will allow his friends
to do whatever they want during his term," one party-goer said. "His
decision to keep Pras away because of his tweet proves to me that will
not be the case."

But for most of Haiti, and the world, for those who weren't invited to
the party, the "gasoline + matches" incident was of little note. Who is
Pras? And what is Twitter? Martelly will eventually face much bigger

"People will try to hold you down," said Olita Reneleus, 26, a
shopkeeper and voter with a word of advice. "There is evil around.
You've got to fight a lot. Face a lot of bad stuff. You have to keep
your head clear, straight. Come to us. Come back to the people when you
need our help."

For his first post-election press conference, Martelly abandoned his old
d?cor in favor of the more stately red and blue. But close observers
noted his pale pink shirt. On Twitter at least, he

plans to stay @PresidentMicky.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Limits on Freedom of the Press

A Bad Case of Quid Pro Quo

Elizabeth Eames Roebling

SANTO DOMINGO, Mar 7 (IPS) - At first glance, the Dominican Republic appears to be a bastion of free information, with seven print dailies and seven national television stations. But journalists here say that more subtle means of coercion have become the norm.

Three years ago, reporters took to the streets to protest a wave of harassment and violence against colleagues. The country's Reporters Without Borders "Press Freedom Index" ranking slipped from a 2008 score of 18.1, placing it at 82nd of 173 countries, to a score of 26.13 and 98th place in 2010.

While murders and physical attacks on media workers have since largely abated, some longtime journalists say that self-censorship and corruption are lingering problems.

"There are many ways that freedom of the press can be curtailed. It can be by way of threat, but it could also be an offer of money or another sort of benefit by means of which information can be silenced," said Manuel Quiroz, editor-in-chief of El Caribe, a daily paper 77 years in publication, who has worked as a journalist for nearly five decades.

"Those who are interested in political power can be featured so that rather than objective information and truth, there is propaganda in favour of those in power," he told IPS. "What is needed is to count on the press executives and journalists who value integrity and have high ethical standards and who have a level of personal and economic independence which allows them to resist whatever type of pressures, of threats, and any sort of temptation."

Juan Bolivar Diaz, press director at the national network Tele Antillas who also writes a twice weekly column in the newspaper Hoy, agrees with Quiroz.

"The government tolerates dissent [but] they try to diminish this dissent by buying off journalists," he said. "Thousands of journalists, including many who are journalists at the daily papers, and at the television stations, and the most important radio stations, are in the pay of the state. There are very few journalists who do not have some sort of income from the state."

Diaz explained that when three banks failed in 2003 and inflation hit 45 percent, business owners were slow to raise salaries and workers in nearly every sector were struggling. He said that representatives from the government would call journalists and offer them a part-time job. An evaluation of salaries at Tele Antillas subsequently revealed that almost all the journalists were in the pay of the government.

"Most of the journalists worked from 8:00 to 4:00. They were told that the new jobs would not take much time, they could come in the afternoons," he said.

"There are some journalists who do some work, since they will not take money without working for it. But the great majority of them do nothing," he contended.

During the time of longtime president Joaquín Balaguer, Diaz was the victim of a car bombing and was sentenced to six months in prison and fined 200,000 dollars, after being convicted of defaming the head of the company Comunicaciones Ltd., Generoso Ledesma, after a trial that lasted just one and a half hours.

"There is much more freedom now. I walk out on the street and am not afraid of attack or being put in jail," he said. "The issue is not that we do not have freedom of the press. The issue is that freedom is of so little use."

He said that reporters at Tele Antillas exposed a fraud several years ago, in which the minister of health had allowed his brother to sell life insurance to all the ministry's employees. "It was shown that the brother did not have an insurance company, and had never paid a claim. It was shown to be a complete fraud, but the minister kept his job," Diaz said.

This is just one example of the lack of transparency in the government, he told IPS. "Our president, Leonel Fernandez, has a Foundation, Funglode. We do not know where their money comes from or how much it is. The president can travel to a foreign county, at the expense of the nation, and also receive a donation to his private foundation."

"The foundation has a golf tournament every year, with a very high inscription fee. What business here is not going to participate in this? The foundation must have a budget of two or three million dollars a year but we do not know the source of the funding. There is an atmosphere of impunity here."

Diaz contrasts this with what happened when a government official from Costa Rica visited here and was given a membership card to the Cap Cana resort. It was only an entrance pass yet when the news of broke in Costa Rica, there was a scandal and he was forced to return it.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Part of the case against Aristide

Haiti’s Aristide should be greeted with prosecution, not praise

By Michael Deibert

The indictment late last year by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of six prominent Kenyans for their roles in violence following that country’s disputed 2007 elections was a welcome sign for those seeking to hold politicians accountable for their crimes. Though the ICC has badly bungled what should have been its showpiece case - against the ruthless Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga - the Kenya indictments nevertheless represented a welcome extension of its continuing mission.

To those of us who have seen Haiti’s political convulsions first-hand over the years, that Caribbean nation makes a compelling case for attention by the ICC as perpetrators of human rights abuses often go unpunished or are even rehabilitated in subsequent governments. With one despotic former ruler (Jean-Claude Duvalier) having recently returned and another (Jean-Bertrand Aristide) announcing his intention to do so, one Haitian case, in particular, would seem tailor-made for the ICC’s attention.

In February 2004, in the midst of a chaotic rebellion against Mr. Aristide's government, the photojournalist Alex Smailes and I found ourselves in the central Haitian city of Saint Marc, at the time the last barrier between Aristide and a motley collection of once-loyal street gangs and former soldiers who were sweeping down from the country's north seeking to oust him.

Several days earlier, on 7 February, an armed anti-Aristide group, the Rassemblement des militants conséquents de Saint Marc (Ramicos), based in the neighborhood of La Scierie, had attempted to drive government forces from the town, seizing the local police station, which they set on fire.

On 9 February, the combined forces of the Police Nationale de Haiti (PNH), the Unité de Sécurité de la Garde du Palais National (USGPN) - a unit directly responsible for the president’s personal security - and a local paramilitary organisation named Bale Wouze (Clean Sweep) retook much of the city. By 11 February, a few days before our arrival, Bale Wouze - headed by a former parliamentary representative of Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas political party named Amanus Mayette - had commenced the battle to retake La Scierie. Often at Mayette’s side was a government employee named Ronald Dauphin, known to residents as "Black Ronald,”often garbed in a police uniform even though he was in no way officially employed by the police.

When Alex and I arrived in the town, we found the USGPN and Bale Wouze patrolling Saint Marc as a single armed unit. Speaking to residents there - amidst a surreal backdrop of burned buildings, the stench of human decay, drunken gang members threatening our lives with firearms and a terrified population - we soon realized that something awful had happened in Saint Marc.

According to multiple residents interviewed during that visit and a subsequent visit that I made to the town in June 2009, after government forces retook the town - and after a press conference there by Yvon Neptune, at the time Aristide’s Prime Minister and also the head of the Conseil Superieur de la Police Nationale d'Haiti - a textbook series of war crimes took place.

Residents spoke of how Kenol St. Gilles, a carpenter with no political affiliation, was shot in each thigh, beaten unconscious by Bale Wouze members and thrown into a burning cement depot, where he died. Unarmed Ramicos member Leroy Joseph was decapitated, while Ramicos second-in-command Nixon François was simply shot. In the ruins of the burned-out commissariat, Bale Wouze members gang raped a 21-year-old woman, while other residents were gunned down by police firing from a helicopter as they tried to flee over a nearby mountain. A local priest told me matter-of-factly at the time of Bale Wouze that “these people don't make arrests, they kill."

According to a member of a Human Rights Watch delegation that visited Saint Marc a month after the killings, at least 27 people were murdered there between Feb. 11 and Aristide’s flight into exile at the end of the month. Her conclusion supported by the research of the Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains, a Haitian human rights organization.

Following Aristide's overthrow, several members of Bale Wouze were lynched, while Yvon Neptune turned himself over to the interim government that ruled Haiti from March 2004 until the inauguration of President René Préval in May 2006.

Held in prison without trial until his May 2006 release on humanitarian grounds, a May 2008 decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found the Haitian state had violated the American Convention on Human Rights in its detention of Neptune, though stressed that it was "not a criminal court in which the criminal responsibility of an individual can be examined.” Neptune ran unsuccessfully for president in Haiti’s recent elections.

After being jailed for three years without trial, Amanus Mayette was freed from prison in April 2007. Arrested in 2004, Ronald Dauphin subsequently escaped from jail, and was re-arrested during the course of an anti-kidnapping raid in Haiti's capital in July 2006. Despite several chaotic public hearings, to date, none of the accused for the killings in La Scierie has ever gone to trial. At the time of writing, Mr. Aristide himself continues to enjoy a gilded exile in South Africa, his luxurious lifestyle and protection package bankrolled by South African taxpayers.

Frustratingly for the people of St. Marc, far from being supported in their calls for justice, the events they experienced have become a political football among international political actors.

The United Nations independent expert on human rights in Haiti, Louis Joinet, in a 2005 statement dismissed allegations of a massacre and described what occurred as "a clash", a characterization that seemed unaware of the fact that not all among those victimized had any affiliation with Haiti's political opposition.

The Institute for Justice and Democracy (IJDH), a U.S.-based organization, has lauded Mr. Dauphin as “a Haitian grassroots activist.” The IJDH itself maintains close links with Mr. Aristide’s U.S. attorney, Ira Kurzban, who is listed as one of the group’s founders, serves on the chairman of board of directors and whose law firm, according to U.S. Department of Justice filings, earned nearly $5 million for its lobbying work alone representing the Aristide government during the era of its worst excesses. By comparison, the firm of former U.S. congressmen Ron Dellums received the relatively modest sum of $989,323 over the same period.

When I returned to St. Marc in June of 2009, I found its residents still wondering when someone would be held accountable for the terrible crimes they had been subjected to. Amazil Jean-Baptiste, the mother of Kenol St. Gilles, said simply "I just want justice for my son.” A local victim’s rights group of survivors of the pogrom, the Association des Victimes du Génocide de la Scierie (AVIGES), formed to help advocate on residents’ behalf, but have had precious little success in what passes for Haiti’s justice system, broken and dysfunctional long before January 2010's devastating earthquake.

Though Mr. Aristide remains something of a fading star for a handful of commentators outside of Haiti- most of whom have not spent significant time in the country, cannot speak its language and have never bothered to sit down with the victims of the Aristide government's crimes there - to those of us who have seen a bit of its recent history firsthand, the words of veteran Trinidadian diplomat Reginald Dumas - a man who does know Haiti - seem apt, that Mr. Aristide "[acquired] for himself a reputation at home which did not match the great respect with which he was held abroad.''

The ICC has sometimes been criticized for acting as if war crimes and crimes against humanity are simply African problems, taking place in distant lands. The people of St. Marc, only a 90 minute flight from Miami, know differently. As Mr. Aristide currently loudly voices his desire to return to Haiti from his exile in South Africa, doubtlessly transiting several ICC signatory countries (including South Africa itself) in the process, the case of the victims of St. Marc is one admirably deserving of the ICC’s attention.

Michael Deibert is a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies at Coventry University and the author of Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti (Seven Stories Press). He has been visiting and writing about Haiti since 1997.

Photo © Michael Deibert
Posted by Michael Deibert at 8:18 PM

Monday, January 24, 2011

Preparing for Aristide's Return

(Times, South Africa, 22 Jan 2011)

I want to go home, says Haiti's Aristide

Top-level negotiations involving Cuba and the US under way to send Jean Bertrand
Aristide back home --and save South African taxpayers at least R3-million a

Aristide wrote to his supporters in Haiti expressing his desire to return to the
poverty-stricken Caribbean island. One of the reasons he gave was that he wanted
to avoid the "unbearable pain" he was likely to suffer during a South African
winter due to the six eye operations he had had during his African exile.

The government has been negotiating with Haitian authorities, with the help of
the Cuban government, since last year for Aristide's departure.

But his return has been delayed by US concerns that the former Catholic priest
would destabilise the country.

It is understood that the issue was discussed during President Jacob Zuma's
state visit to Cuba in December.

Officials from the Department of International Relations have had several
meetings with Aristide to discuss his future, most recently on Friday, after he
said he wanted to leave.

The officials are to meet their US counterparts in a bid to convince them that
Aristide is no longer a threat.

Director-General Ayanda Ntsaluba confirmed the talks were continuing, but would
not say which countries were helping SA's bid to return Aristide to Haiti.

Ntsaluba said the former leader, who was ousted from power in a 2004 coup, was
no longer interested in running for office.

"He has assured us that he was not seeking any political office ... not going
there to contest any elections. He was illegally removed from political office
but (he is) not interested in politics any more.

"He wants to play a role in humanitarian aid following the floods and
earthquakes in his country," Ntsaluba said.

"We are talking to different countries and some major powers still have
reservations. We are saying, let bygones be bygones."

Haiti, which is still struggling with the devastation caused by the earthquake
more than a year ago, is embroiled in a fresh political crisis, sparked by the
recent presidential election.

As no candidate received an outright majority, a run-off is expected to be held
next month.

Furthermore, the return of notorious former dictator Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier
has added to the tensions. There are fears that the presence of the two former
rulers would plunge Haiti into renewed violence.

Ntsaluba said the talks also involved discussions of "the logistical issues"
around Aristide's safe return, as his security was still of major concern.

Aristide, who remains popular among Haiti's poor, was ousted amid claims by a
street gang that he had ordered the assassination of its leader, Amiot Metayer,
whose mutilated body was discovered in September 2003.

The former priest fled to Jamaica in February 2004, and three months later was
invited to South Africa by then-president Thabo Mbeki.

Last year the Minister of International Relations, Maite Nkoane-Mashabane,
revealed that Aristide enjoyed similar benefits to those of cabinet ministers
and that his monthly costs included accommodation; security; transport and
salaries for his support staff.

At about R3-million a year, Aristide would have cost South Africa a total of

This week, in a public letter to his supporters, the former Haitian leader
wrote: "The return is indispensable for medical reasons. It is strongly
recommended that I not spend the coming winter in South Africa, because in six
years I have undergone six eye surgeries. The surgeons are excellent, but the
unbearable pain experienced in the winter must be avoided in order to reduce any
risk of further complications and blindness."

But a US spokesman, PJ Crowley, tweeted this week that Haiti would be better off
without Aristide.

"We do not doubt president Aristide's desire to help the people of Haiti. But
today Haiti needs to focus on its future, not its past," Crowley said.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cholera continues

James M. Wilson V, MD
Haiti Epidemic Advisory System (HEAS)
Executive Director
Praecipio International
Washington-Houston-Port au Prince

Some very dedicated and brave "blans" are trekking through Haiti to help track the cholera epidemic.

They found that this beautiful river is contaminated.

"The MRT witnessed a funeral procession involving a victim that had died of causes unrelated to cholera. The team asked the villagers, "You don't wash the cholera fatalities in the river too, do you?" The answer was, "Of course we do… Where else do we get the water?" The team confirmed that food preparation, clothe washing, drinking, urinating, defecation, and corpse washing all occurred in the Grande Riviere waters, which flowed east and north to form the Grise River. It appeared the initial HEAS assessment of these rivers being contaminated was validated."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Statement of Aristide

– Translated by Smith Georges

“*So, to all those asking me to return home, I reiterate my
willingness to leave today, tomorrow, at any time. Let us hope that the
Haitian and South African governments will enter into communication in order
to make that happen in the next coming days,” reads a statement released
today by Dr. Jean Bertrand Aristide (aka Titid), former Haitian president in
exile in South Africa.*

*The statement also reads “I would like to thank the government and the
people of South Africa for the historic hospitality, deeply rooted in
Ubuntu, extended to my family and I.

Since my forced arrival in the Mother Continent six and a half years ago,
the people of Haiti have never stopped calling for my return to Haiti .
Despite the enormous challenges that they face in the aftermath of the
deadly January 12, 2010 earthquake, their determination to make the return
happen has increased.

As far as I am concerned, I am ready. Once again I express my readiness to
leave today, tomorrow, at any time. The purpose is very clear: To contribute
to serving my Haitian sisters and brothers as a simple citizen in the field
of education.

The return is indispensable, too, for medical reasons: It is strongly
recommended that I not spend the coming winter in South Africa ’s because in
6 years I have undergone 6 eye surgeries. The surgeons are excellent and
very well skilled, but the unbearable pain experienced in the winter must be
avoided in order to reduce any risk of further complications and blindness.

So, to all those asking me to return home, I reiterate my willingness to
leave today, tomorrow, at any time. Let us hope that the Haitian and South
African governments will enter into communication in order to make that
happen in the next coming days.

United to the Haitian people, once again my family and I express our sincere
gratitude to the government and the people of South Africa.”*

*Click on the link below to watch a video related to this article:*


Notes from Richard Morse

When I came to Haiti I was instructed by my Haitian mother and my Haitian aunts not to get involved in politics.. I had come to Haiti for musical inspiration so the instructions seemed simple enough to follow. Jean Claude Duvalier was President for Life; the year was 1985.

Four months after my arrival in Haiti, Duvalier fell and I witnessed the period of dechoukaj which was a period of revenge aimed at participants of Jean Claude's system of governance. It was this period which made me understand what response a brutal dictatorship could illicit from the Haitian people. There was so much anger in Haiti that people were being burned alive, necklaced by burning tires.

I grew up in New England though I was born in Puerto Rico. My father was from Greenwich Ct. I had never previously seen nor experienced the kind of social brutality that was going on in Haiti during this period; nevertheless I followed my family's instructions: "Don't get involved in politics".

In November of 1987, Haiti attempted to hold a democratic election and rather that have an outcome they considered unacceptable, the Haitian army massacred people and the election was aborted. After brutally killing dozens of Haitians, the army shot an ABC reporter, killed a Dominican journalist and started chasing other journalists around town.

A week before that same election, I had re-opened the Hotel Oloffson. I had about 8 rooms and they were all rented out to journalists. I could only imagine that at any moment, the Haitian army was going to come up the front steps and shoot us all. From that day on I made a decision to "follow" politics so I could have an idea of what was going on and if necessary escape. I've been following Haitian politics ever since.

On the social media tool called TWITTER, I recently said that Duvalier appeared to be a middle of the road dictator. I said this for the simple reason that I thought that after Duvalier left, things in Haiti were going to improve. What I never imagined was that the leaders who came after Duvalier were going to take Duvalier's concepts and use them to their own benefits. Its important to note that in Haiti someone who is opposed to a politician may simply be envious of the politician's position.

The most famous Duvaliarist political phenomenon was known as the TonTon Macoutes. The macoutes were a paramilitary organization that was also responsible for internal espionage. Post Duvaliarist Haitian leaders seemed to buy into this concept as a necessity. The most "anti" Duvaliariste president of all, Aristide, had his Chimeres; Cedras had FRAPH, Namphy and Avril had the Zenglendos and more recently, Preval came up with the INITE party which is a political party AND a paramilitary organization. The INITE party runs for office, votes illegally and shoots people while the International Community turns a blind eye.

Which regime was the most brutal? Well that probably depends on how many people you personally know who were killed, raped, tortured or jailed. Duvalier was in power for 15 years! Has anyone ever done a per day repression rate? During Namphy we had the '87 election massacre where people were being shot and macheted. The first coup against Aristide in '91, led by Cedras/Francois, and the period following, was as intense a murder spree as any period I've lived through. Operation Baghdad during the Latortue regime was the period when Aristide's gangs were chopping off heads of policemen. During this same period, Latortue's policemen were driving around town with black ski masks, killing and arresting people. Recently, prisoners in Aux Cayes were forced to lay down on their stomachs and they were then shot; this being one of Preval's low points.. Burning and shooting at radio stations may have been started by Duvalier but several governments later adopted the practice..

When Duvalier left, Haiti was supposed to get better but it didn't. Certain families adopted economic practices that destroyed the lifestyles of tens of thousands of people. I call this economic repression. The living and sanitary conditions in Port au Prince could be considered social repression; illiteracy could be considered academic repression. How can we accept government negligence when people need treatment for cholera and don't get it, or people in certain neighborhoods are buried alive under earthquake rubble and there's little or no response? One year later and people are still buried under rubble..

I could go on and on. They say Jean Claude left with hundreds of millions of dollars and yet they say the same for Aristide and Preval.

Jean Claude was awful and unacceptable but so was what followed and that is the point I tried to make by calling Jean Claude "middle of the road".

Hopefully we can take a turn for the better. In the meantime I ask everyone to remember Jacques Roche or Jean Dominique or anybody you may know, whenever someone brings up the term "torture" or "freedom of the press" in Haiti. We must change as a society. We must recognize our faults in order to move on. We can't govern with Hate. We can't live lies and imagine one side's brutality is ok while another's is unacceptable. Governments have to learn to serve the population not themselves..

Richard Morse
Port au Prince, Haiti

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

News from the border

Cholera Chokes Off Border Trade
By Elizabeth Eames Roebling

Fishers and traders on the Haiti-Dominican Republic border say they have been hit hard by the cholera epidemic.

Credit:Elizabeth Eames Roebling/IPS
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ANSE-A-PITRES, Haiti, Jan 17, 2011 (IPS) - The cholera epidemic ravaging Haiti has affected even this small southern border town, which lived primarily from the trade with its neighbour even though it counts for less than five percent of the cross-border market trade.

All three of the border markets between Haiti and the Dominican Republic have been closed for the better part of the last two months.

Samuel Elouest, a trained human rights observer, walked proudly through the formerly dusty and rutted main street of his home village, Anse-a-Pitres.

"The streets were paved for the Binational Fair last year. We have a large generator now," he told IPS. "We have lights at night. It is only for the main street and the churches so far, none for private homes. But it has changed our lives."

"Our population increased from 22,000 people to about 28,000 after the earthquake. But since the market has been closed for two months, there has been little money in town," Elouest explained.

Whitney Alexander, a Haitian doctor who received his medical degree in Cuba, is now the attending physician at the small clinic on the border. It was without staff until the Batey Relief Alliance took over the clinic's management from the Haitian state a few years ago.

"We cannot say how many cases of cholera we have had since we do not have a confirmation from Port-au-Prince," Dr. Alexander told IPS. "All the cases here have been cases of suspected cholera. I do not wish to say that it is not serious since there is a nationwide alert against the disease."

"We are the only [medical] centre here, serving more than 50,000 people in the surrounding communities," he said. "I have been here for two years. We were already busy before the cholera outbreak two months ago, but with the help of the international community, we are managing."

Behind the clinic are three large tents for cholera treatment, isolating those cases from the other patients inside the clinic building. The tents are manned by a doctor, a nurse, and a technician from Doctors without Borders. They are assisted by nurses and personnel from the Haitian Red Cross.

Upon entering the cholera treatment tent, everyone is required to run their hands under the spigot of a five- gallon jug of chlorine while standing in a box lined with material soaked in the disinfectant. The same process is required upon exiting. Of the 12 beds available, only one is occupied, by a thin older man connected to an intravenous drip.

While there are now over 150,000 cases and more than 3,700 cholera deaths reported in Haiti, the Dominican Republic has managed to keep its cases to only 145, with no deaths.

Next to the border fence on the Dominican side is a new Health Department building, with four sinks and soap on each. Posters in Kreyol and Spanish explain briefly how cholera is transmitted and how to avoid it.

The government of the Dominican Republic, under pressure from many sectors, announced last week that it would resume repatriations to Haiti, which had been suspended after the earthquake a year ago.

Residents in one section of the nation's second largest city, Santiago, which is only two hours away from the northern border of Haiti, threatened to start expelling illegal Haitian immigrants. Protestors said that the immigrants were living in unsanitary conditions, defecating in plastic bags which were thrown on the street. Police in that city warned residents not to take the law into their own hands and then started deportations.

More than 900 Haitians have been repatriated since the beginning of this year. This prompted a call from Amnesty International to stop the deportations.

The Presidential Palace offered a clarification that the government was actually not deporting Haitians but simply increasing efforts to halt illegal immigration. It did acknowledge that it was searching for many of the convicts who escaped prison during the earthquake and announced that more than 100 convicted felons had been returned to Haitian authorities.

The U.S. State Department announced that it might introduce sanctions against the Dominican Republic if it did not do more to prevent the trafficking of Haitian children across the border. According to officials and rights groups, these children are often sold into prostitution or to organised groups of beggars.

The U.S. government spokesman said that the Dominican Republic has not brought any criminal cases against traffickers. Sanctions could include suspending economic and military aid, blocking of exports into the United States, and opposition to its votes in international organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

At the end of the main street of Anse-a-Pitres, by the small rocky beach, four gaily painted 35-foot open boats ride at anchor. A policeman comes out from the whitewashed barracks which house the local complement of eight officers and blows his whistle. The small group of fishermen and traders stop and stand in silence, facing the flagpole as the flag of their nation is slowly raised.

Jesner Amboise watches as sacks of flour are prepared for loading into his boat. He says he will leave for Marigot, which is 45 minutes by truck from Jacmel, at 8 pm and arrive at 2 am the next morning.

"It is too hot to sail during the day. The sun is too strong and there is no shelter, so we make the trip at night," he said. "I used to travel with a full boatload of people. But the closing of the market has been hard on us."

"I used to make 15,000 gourdes profit from each trip, twice a week because of the number of people who would come to trade at the market," Amboise said. "Now there is only the transport of some goods. I am lucky to make 5,000 gourdes after I pay for the gas."