Haitian blogs

Reflections From The Red Zone (Peaceful Demonstrations)

HaitiAnalysis -

By: Richard Morse 

The concept of a peaceful demonstration is something that I'm having a hard
time wrapping my brain around.

In order to get thousands of protesting people in the streets, something
certainly must have gone wrong. I would suppose unfair economic, social or
political practices are usually the main cause of protests.

My question; is an unfair economic policy akin to violence?

When the U.S. started dumping rice and sugar into the Haitian economy, was
it economic warfare? Violence? Were the small Haitian farmers represented
at the import/export meetings or were the meetings simply attended by
Haiti's economic elites and political carpetbaggers who would be made to
benefit from the new policy?

The Haitian American Sugar Corporation has been replaced with tanks of
petroleum reserves. Do we know how that deal was made? Is that violence? Is
it compensation? How many farmers were positively affected by sudden
transition to importing sugar? Are the farmers receiving compensation?
Someone obviously is.

When the import policy was conjured up, it was either done at a meeting
behind closed doors or an intimate restaurant in a setting that could be
only be described as non violent. Unfortunately the sectors of the
population that are violently assaulted by the policies can only have a
very non intimate public reaction in the Streets. The people negatively
affected by policy can't simply have a quiet meeting in an intimate
restaurant and undo the policy.

They have to react very publicly.

What happened with the PetroCaribe funds? Who's going to find out? Who's
going to pay? Is this violence? What happened to the Earthquake funds? Is
the disappearance of these funds a violent act? War? A billionaire gets a
new hotel but so many of the displaced earthquake victims are living in
below poverty conditions. Is this violence?

So what happens when people take to the streets for non violent
demonstrations?
Can five thousand people marching up a street be a non violent act? Is it a
threat? Is it self defense? Five thousand people willing to risk everything
in order to make a point, or make a change, is that violence? They're
willing to risk getting shot, tear gassed, beaten, arrested, blamed for
violence.. Aren't there better things to do during the course of the day
than go demonstrating? Why are they out there?

What happens when police try to disperse the crowd of 5 thousand with tear
gas and rubber bullets? Is that violence? Are we at war? Is Haiti at war
with itself? When did the war start?
Did the war begin when some people had a meeting and decided to dump
imports, when the parliament gave itself a raise, or did the war start when
the 5 thousand people took to the streets?

How about infiltrators? What happens when a peaceful demonstration is
infiltrated by opposition forces in an attempt to discredit the movement?
Who is to be held responsible? Who's responsible if a demonstrator gets
killed? What if an infiltrator gets killed, then who's responsible? Who
pays the price?

How about night time retribution that never makes it to the media. Men in
black masks armed with guns and machetes trying to seek out and destroy a
popular movement? Is the silent media escalating the violence by
selectively choosing what's news and what isn't news. How much of this is
violence, how much is non violence?

After years of
*unfair economic policies,
*lack of electoral justice,
*disappearing relief funds,
*forcing Haitian farmers to abandon their land and livelihoods in order to
become non land owning potential factory employees at unfair wages..

....After years of abuse, the Haitian people are once again taking to the
streets in 2017. The poorest people in the Hemisphere, under the grips of a
monopolistic economic elite that refuses to consider the needs of anyone
but themselves, are trying their best to rectify a bad situation. Who's
side is Washington on? Who's side are you on?

There is no such thing as non violence.
There are levels of violence, stages of violence, reactions to
violence..but non violence? Not possible.

Justice? Perhaps that's possible. We don't know yet.

Alas, just being a musician means I no longer have to worry about these
things..
Our new album RAM7 has been recorded, the art work is nearly done.

Cordially and non violently yours,

Haiti, Irma, Climate Change, and Priorities

Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch -

At least one person died, one remains missing, and more than a dozen were injured by the passage of Hurricane Irma off the northern coast of Haiti last week. As of September 11, nearly 6,500 Haitians remain in emergency shelters, according to the United Nations. Preliminary figures suggest that flooding impacted 22 communes, completely destroying 466 houses and badly damaging more than 2,000 more. As veteran AFP correspondent Amelie Baron noted on Twitter, “These are the damages of a hurricane passing hundreds of kilometers away from [the] Haitian coast.”

Compared to some other Caribbean nations, the damage to Haiti’s infrastructure pales. But as Jacqueline Charles reported for the Miami Herald, looks can be deceiving:

Though Haiti was spared a direct hit from Irma and the fallout is nowhere near the magnitude of Matthew’s 546 dead and $2.8 billion in washed-out roads, collapsed bridges and destroyed crops, the frustration and fears for some in its path are no less.

“We didn’t have people who died, but homes and farms were destroyed,” Esperance said. “Just because you don’t see a lot of damages, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t been left deeper in misery.”

Charles reported that “entire banana fields lay in ruin” across Haiti’s northern coast. “It took everything,” one local farmer said. As Charles points out, even before Hurricane Irma, Haiti was facing an extreme situation of food insecurity. Last October Hurricane Matthew swept across the southern peninsula, devastating crops and livelihoods and leaving some 800,000 in need of emergency food assistance. Even before Matthew, the World Food Program reported that Haiti was facing its worst food security situation in 15 years. Charles writes:

As recently as February, the food insecurity unit classified the northwest as being in an economic and food security crisis. As a result, [Action Against Hunger’s country director Mathieu] Nabot said, the focus has to be not just on the emergency response but on supporting farmers over the long term, to help strengthen their economic security and ability to cope with shocks.

Unfortunately, it appears as though little donor ― or Haitian government ― money went to supporting long-term agricultural development after last year’s storm. Less than 50 percent of the UN’s $56 million appeal for food security and agricultural support was ever provided by donors ― and the overwhelming majority of that was short-term emergency food assistance.

Of course, it’s not just the donor community that must do more to support Haitian farmers. Elected on a platform of agrarian development, Haitian president Jovenel Moïse has done little to address the problem since taking office nine months ago. Rumors of the commercial demise of Moïse’s banana plantation, Agritrans ― which was used to bolster his agricultural credentials during election season ― hasn’t helped, nor did putting scarce resources into a caravan across the country. And last week, just hours before Irma’s outer bands began lashing the coast, the Haitian parliament began discussion on this year’s budget. Peasant organizations held a press conference to denounce the fact that just 6.9 percent is allocated to agriculture.

With the increasing likelihood of extreme weather events ― and Haiti’s obvious vulnerability to such events ― many began advocating for donors and the government to take seriously the threat of climate change. According to the 2017 Climate Change Vulnerability Index, Haiti is the third-most vulnerable country in the world. As Mark Schuller and Jessica Hsu note, it’s time to start talking about climate justice ― not just climate change:

Climate justice explicitly confronts basic inequalities: the world’s biggest polluters are not those directly affected by climate change. The big polluters are also the biggest “winners” in this economic system. It is no coincidence that higher climate vulnerability communities are largely communities of color and disenfranchised communities within the Global South.

To achieve climate justice requires making sure that communities most directly affected are directly involved in discussions, as well as solutions.

Like in many places in the world, peasant communities in Haiti have waged an ongoing struggle against corporate/private interests which seek to maintain control over natural resources, exploit cheap labor, and increase profit. These peasant communities are on the frontlines which may offer approaches to cool the planet, rather than the proposed solutions that bar those most affected by climate change from the discussions.           

Read More ...

A New Month A New School Year

Livesay Haiti -

Monday morning, September fourth, our kids will begin again.

All five children remaining in our charge report excellent summers filled with friends and family and sugar and activity galore. Nary a soul complained that summer 2017 was lame.

Troy and I have appropriately congratulated ourselves on a plan made and executed that resulted in such pleased children.  The only parenting mistake I have made this summer was to eat a large portion of the candy they brought home from their USA trips.

SourPatchKids, Whoppers, and TootsieRolls are all still delicious, if you're wondering.

I have since repented and then went to buy and replace each item menopause and stress forced me to consume.


This is the beginning of their seventh school year in the little Heartline Academy School House.

On Labor Day of 2011 we stood in a circle and prayed God would honor the work of the teachers and students that entered to teach and to learn.  He has proven faithful year after year. Our kids love learning.  (I mean, within normal limits and not with 100% consistency.)

Of course, parenting is a lot of questioning if you are seeing all the signs and catching all the possible meanings and communicating well --- and then going back and trying to re-connect when you misstep or eat all the candy.

Seven individual personalities  -- and each one so different. Our brains buzz with all the variables involved in meeting each of them where they are.  Because of that we still enter into each new year feeling nervous for our kids and wanting their brains to be challenged in positive ways that help them grow into loving, kind, and productive adults.  That said, our prayers continue as children numbers three through five enter into their high school years and children numbers six and seven take on the tasks of the fourth and fifth grades.

The only graduate of Heartline Academy has gone on to higher education and parenting.  The little school that could has turned out to be a great place of learning and launching and I expect that the next group of launches will bear fruit as well.

Their teacher Stefanie Raleigh landed in Haiti a week ago, she is high energy and ready to go.   We feel like we won the teaching-proffesion lottery with her and thank God she chose to come in spite of a ginormous cut in pay and lifestyle.  Love does very crazy things, am I right?

I have not written much in months. I have joy and pain and stories to share for sure, I'm really hoping to get some time to put it all down for the sake of sharing and remembering myself.

Here in Port au Prince, the losses around us are great.  The work of open hearted communication can be draining.  I often catch myself listening to stories and thinking, "That's probably not true", and that makes me sad.  I would rather just believe people are truthful than switch over to being a non-stop skeptic.  The truth is, this is a sad and heavy place.  That is about all I need to know.

Until energy and attitude allow for writing a more thorough update, we hope and pray that you and yours are also ready to head into something new and hopeful ... a school year or a new thing that will bring renewal to your souls.

Pax,

Tara for us all 

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