Haitian blogs

Honoring Haiti’s Mothers and the late Father Gérard Jean-Juste

HaitiAnalysis -

By: Aristide Foundation for Democracy

UNIFA medical student assists doctor during Mobile Ciinic held on Haiti’s Mother’s Day weekend at the Aristide Foundation for Democracy.Please join us in honoring Haiti’s mothers! In solidarity with Haiti’s Mother’s Day, and in memory of the late Father Gérard Jean-Juste, a Mobile Clinic was held at the Aristide Foundation for Democracy this past weekend. Medical and nursing students from UNIFA, the University of the Aristide Foundation, assisted doctors in performing medical exams for the hundreds of women seeking medical care that day. Father Gérard Jean-Juste, who died eight years ago on May 27, 2009, courageously dedicated his life fighting for human rights and social justice on behalf of Haiti’s poor and refugees. Haitian mothers are like all mothers everywhere. They want their children to be healthy, go to school, grow up and have jobs and happy, healthy families of their own. In sum, they want their children to thrive and have dignity and respect in their society. These are, after all, human rights as embodied in Haiti’s Constitution, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the United Nations Millennium Declaration (Sept. 2000) that states in its section on Freedom that 
“Men and women have the right to live their lives and raise their children in dignity, free from hunger and from the fear of violence, oppression or injustice.” However, the number of doctors in Haiti remains woefully inadequate with less than two doctors per 10,000 habitants. Infant and child mortality remains high and women die in childbirth at a rate of twenty-five times higher than women in the U.S. In most rural areas nurses are the primary health care provider. Only approximately twenty-five dentists are graduated each year throughout the whole country and until UNIFA created the first degree program in physical therapy, there were no higher education Haiti trained physical therapists. The 2010 catastrophic earthquake made evident how critical this field is but to date many hospitals in Haiti don’t have units for physical therapy. 
Hundreds of women participate in Mother’s Day event at the Aristide Foundation for Democracy and access free medical exams and treatment at the Mobile Clinic held that day.When former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned to Haiti in 2011, he was determined to reopen his university to continue to carry out his vision and commitment to provide a human-rights based model of education as the building block for effective change in Haiti. UNIFA, the university of the Aristide Foundation, is unique with its emphasis on human rights, dignity, and inclusiveness as the path to a new and just Haiti. (See UNIFA’s Guiding Principles.) In amplifying her husband’s emphasis on dignity, Mildred Aristide framed the importance of dignity to the future of Haiti as, “…resistance is bound to a powerful will to affirm a shared humanity rooted in dignity…This notion of dignity embraces self-determination. People as subject and never object of their history.” UNIFA works on all these fronts. To provide a quality, higher education to all qualified students without exclusion, UNIFA’s tuition is much less than other private universities and is able to draw students from throughout Haiti because of its dormitory that currently houses sixty students. UNIFA is a fully accredited Haitian university offering degrees in seven disciplines: Medicine, Law, Nursing, Physical Therapy, Dentistry, Engineering and Continuing Education and currently has 1,300 matriculated students studying at its Tabarre campus in Haiti. Adhering to the State prescribed curriculum and educational requirements, UNIFA supplements course work with additional classes and lectures utilizing its own prominent professors as well as visiting local or foreign professors and experts, including Cuban doctors, who share different approaches and experiences. “Students gain their own perspective and state of mind. UNIFA provides excellence in education and a safe space for learning where students can think about issues confronting Haiti and seek solutions that they will ultimately contribute to resolve,” Mrs. Aristide explains. UNIFA is a stepping-stone for Haiti, where professionals are trained inside Haiti and students can control their own destiny and forge their own future. Through community service, participation in mobile clinics, gaining practical experience in clinics and hospitals, students build relationships in the professional world before they graduate and get to see the whole range of possible work in the medical field, including research and other specialties. Moving UNIFA and a new Haiti forward each year! The first class of UNIFA law students will graduate this September. Sixth-year medical students are doing internships at state and Partners in Health hospitals in Delmas, Mirabalais and Gonaives. Fifth-year medical students are gaining practical experience at the Hospital Bernard Mevs. UNIFA’s nursing students are gaining practical experience in clinics and hospitals throughout the Port-au-Prince area. Physical therapy students are in their third year and UNIFA hopes to offer a masters program in physical therapy in the near future. As of March 2017 the construction of the anatomy lab building was completed and is being used to practice dissection. The cafeteria will be moving into a new modern structure. UNIFA’s engaging Thursday lecture series are very successful and the annual Science Week held in May enjoyed guest lecturers from diverse fields who discussed proactively the realities of emergencies and disasters facing Haiti. UNIFA’s Campaign for Dignity. Next UNIFA needs to complete its construction of its Diagnostic & Primary Care Center so students can get the full range of practical experience while also serving families living in this growing region. It is the first component of UNIFA’s teaching hospital. As Dr. Paul Farmer, of Partners in Health, who teaches at UNIFA and serves as the President of our not-for-profit explains, “You can’t teach medical education without a hospital.” UNIFA needs your help to get this done. Once the construction of the Diagnostic & Primary Care Center is completed it will need staff, furnishings, medical equipment, and operating costs. UNIFA dental students will need dental chairs and physical therapy students will need beds. Until the teaching hospital is built, patients needing more advanced care or surgery will be received by the Hospital Bernard Mevs, UNIFA’s partner organization. Let’s honor Haiti’s mothers together. Please help UNIFA build a new Haiti. Help UNIFA construct its Diagnostic & Primary Care Center, the first phase of its teaching hospital. 
UNIFA’s medical students assist doctors during an earlier Mobile Clinic at the Aristide Foundation for Democracy.
Children at the Mobile Clinic held at the Aristide Foundation for Democracy. In the background UNIFA’s medical and nursing students assist doctors and nurses in examining the hundreds of women seeking medical care during Haiti Mother’s Day weekend event.

Haiti will never accept the electoral coup d’etat

HaitiAnalysis -

SF Bay View -- Dave WelshSome of the “cast” of a dramatic evening, gathered around the woman who should be president of Haiti, Dr. Maryse Narcisse, are, from left, musicians and Vukani Muwethu choir members Phavia Kujichagulia, Thomas McKennie, Dr. Narcisse, Anne and Jim McWilliams, and Val Serrant, whose magic drum is in the good hands of Dr. Narcisse. Thomas, Anne and Jim are members of the world-renowned choir. – Photo: Malaika KambonOakland – Five hundred people packed an Oakland church to welcome Dr. Maryse Narcisse, presidential candidate of Fanmi Lavalas, the party of Haiti’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The event kicked off a week-long speaking tour of California that took her to Scripps College in Los Angeles County, the UCLA School of Public Health and the National Lawyers Guild annual dinner in San Francisco.“The U.S., U.N. and other so-called ‘Friends of Haiti’ brought about the electoral coup d’etat,” said Dr. Narcisse. “The election of 2015 was thrown out because of widespread election fraud. Then the re-run in 2016 was stolen again.“But Nou Pap Obeyi (We will not Obey) – this is a slogan our people believe in, because Haitians, who overthrew French colonialism and slavery in 1804, will never accept foreign domination.”Two Black women who go far above and beyond the line of duty to make politics work for the people are Dr. Maryse Narcisse, Lavalas candidate for president of Haiti, and Jovanka Beckles, former vice mayor and current city councilwoman in Richmond, Calif., the Bay Area’s most progressive city. – Photo: Malaika KambonThe Oakland event featured music by the Vukani Mawethu choir and the revolutionary words of drummers Phavia Kujichagulia and Val Serrant. A Black community security service, the Oakland-based Community Ready Corps, provided security. Dr. Narcisse’s California tour was organized by the Haiti Action Committee as a benefit for the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund.
Over the past two years, Haiti’s popular movement has fought a relentless campaign for free and fair elections in support of her candidacy, with tens of thousands in the streets almost daily for many months. They fought to overturn the results of fraudulent elections that gave the presidency to a U.S.-backed right-wing candidate.A long-time Lavalas militant, as well as a medical doctor, Maryse Narcisse has been in the streets with the people day after day, as they faced police bullets, tear gas, water hoses and clubs. “When you give voice to the demands and grievances of the people,” she said, “you win their hearts.”Robert Roth of the Haiti Action Committee, which provides indispensable support to Lavalas and Haitian self-determination, former Black Panther and San Francisco 8 member Richard Brown, and former Louisiana state Rep. Theodore (Ted) Marchand talk with Dr. Narcisse. – Photo: Malaika KambonShe pointed out that “Haiti is an unequal country, where 1 percent of the population own 45 percent of the wealth, and most live in abject poverty, with high unemployment. The economy is at a standstill. The price of food and fuel keeps going up. There is poisoned water, flooding and deforestation. Over 200,000 children cannot go to school, because most primary schools are private.“There is constant meddling by the U.S. and the United Nations occupation force, creating instability,” Dr. Narcisse continued. “They don’t want us to have our own strong government serving our people. These self-appointed ‘Friends of Haiti’ want to hold onto the power so they can serve international interests. That is why they intervene and steal our elections.”Standing strong on either side of Dr. Narcisse are Akubundu of the All African People’s Revolutionary Party and Black Panther Minister of Culture Emory Douglas, world famous artist who makes art that empowers the people. – Photo: Malaika KambonThe small right-wing Haitian elite controls the government, she said, and there are signs of a return to the methods of the Duvalier dictatorship, which ruled Haiti from 1957 to 1986. “But in 1986 the people rose up and overthrew Baby Doc Duvalier,” Dr. Narcisse said. “As in those times, today we are re-organizing, holding large mass meetings, educating and mobilizing our people – because the people want to resist and they will never give up.”Her party takes its name from Lavalas which means “flood” or “cleansing torrent” in the Haitian Kreyol language. And there is a saying in the movement: “Alone we are weak. United we are strong. All together we are Lavalas!”Dave Welsh, writer, activist and a delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council and a retired letter carrier, can be reached at sub@sonic.netThe Haiti Emergency Relief Fund can be reached at www.haitiemergencyrelief.org; please be as generous as you can – ed.

Famni Lavalas supports workers' demands

HaitiAnalysis -

By: Haiti Libre

Friday, Roosevelt Bellevue, Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, confirmed that the installation of the new members of the Superior Salaries Council (CSS), originally scheduled last Thursday, will take place on Monday 5 June due to delays in the submission of candidacies.

It must be said that several trade union officials denounced the formula used by the government, which obliges each sector represented in the CSS to submit two members per seats, among which the Government will make the final choice.

Minister Bellevue said that after the publication of the appointment order the new members of the CSS will have 10 days to submit their report around the adjustment of base salaries in the various sectors. He also announced the establishment of a Commission to deal with workers' complaints, stating that negotiations are under way with the employers to promote the reinstatement of workers who have been unjustly dismissed.

Also that same day at a press conference, Maryse Narcisse, the Coordinator of Fanmi Lavalas denounced the arbitrary revocation and police brutality against protesting workers and officially provide support from Famni Lavalas to workers and teachers who are demanding better wages.

Meanwhile, pressure rises in the streets, a new peaceful march is announced by teachers' unions on Monday, while health workers announce that they will go on strike in a week at the latest.

Absurity Abounds (AA)

Livesay Haiti -

If there is any place on earth more absurd than Port au Prince, I beg of you, please do not invite me there, thank you.

Below you will read a stream of random thoughts and paragraphs about totally unrelated absurdities.  

But first, you will find a few photos of my gorgeous collection of non functional appliances.  This is not the entire collection, I don't want to overwhelm you or make you feel less-than, therefore I left out two of my most beautiful pieces of non-working metal. (Washing Machine and Dryer) 

new warm storage area with lightingstove top still mainly works - oven came here from America and worked six daystop/freezer works if 82 degrees or cooler outside tempsOven will still light if you slam violently on the bottom rack after lighting.
Stove-top  died years ago. ***

A super strong and smart and sweet young lady that we have known since her 2012 sexual assault and subsequent pregnancy (and delivery at Heartline M.C.) came by our house to visit yesterday.  She is wicked smart and doing great in school (thanks to donors and a sponsor that support her).  Due to her academic success she was chosen to go to Spain last month with a group of six students. She wanted to show me her passport and photos from the trip. This is the narration of her photos translated to English: That's the bus, that's me in the bus, that is me in the bathroom on the bus, that is me at the back of the bus, that is me at the hotel in the D.R., that is me in the bathroom of the place we had breakfast, that is us at the airport, that is me getting on the airplane, that is me in my seat on the airplane, that is the bathroom on the airplane, that is my friend and I in the mirror of the airplane bathroom, that is us in sweatshirts in the airplane because it is cold, that is the van we used in Spain, that is the bathroom on the way to our hotel in Madrid, that is a soccer player jersey, that is me with a soccer player jersey, that is me with the famous soccer player cardboard cutout, do you know him? That is the soccer stadium, that is the woman that was responsible for us in the soccer stadium, that is 77 selfies in the soccer stadium, that is a piece of pizza, that is a bowl of rice, that is me with a bowl of rice, that is me with pizza, that is a kid that liked us so we did a selfie with him, that is a drunk man we met and asked for a selfie with him, that is a bathroom mirror photo, that is another one, that is another one, another, another, another.   I determined that bathrooms and selfies are what is most important when a girl from Port au Prince gets to go to Spain.  I don't know at all what Spain looks like, because there were not any photos of outdoor Spain.  Next Sunday Troy and I will go see her graduate at the top of her class. Nobody knows she has a son that will turn five this July.  We will cheer and cry and get several hundred selfies in the bathroom if there is one.
***Sarah is a 14 year old that is doing a great job with her little baby.  If you read this blog or follow on Instagram you have seen her gorgeous plump baby, Sophia several dozen times.  Sarah asked us to come talk to her Mom.  Sarah is having several disagreements and wanted us to try and help by explaining what we teach in our classes.  Sarah's Mom told us last Saturday night that she thinks Sarah and Sophia are "too attached". Those are the words used.  TOO ATTACHED. THIS FIVE MONTH OLD IS WELL ATTACHED AND IT IS NOT GOOD.  She went on to say that Sarah picking Sophie up when she cries is spoiling Sophie and that Sarah is messing everything up by having an attachment to her child.  Then she told us that she hits the baby on occasion. When we told her hitting babies is a reason to head to jail in the USA, she simply said, "I couldn't live there then." I had to talk to my own head non-stop while we sat there talking to Sarah's Mom.  I had to say, "Don't punch her. Don't kick her. Don't call her stupid. Don't insult her."  It was the most frustrating 30 minutes of the last week. I went home and lit the oven over and over so I could slam something.  Here we have a kid that is truly embracing and winning at motherhood at a very young age. She has a healthy, fat, secure. well-loved little baby girl and she has a Mother that is very critical of her and is constantly verbally demeaning her. I don't think the talk accomplished anything at all, except maybe to crush our spirits a bit more.  Sarah wants to live with any of us on staff at the M.C. but I cannot even begin to tell you how complicated and difficult all of that could be.  Right now, I only know to say, "Please pray" -  because I cannot find the hope to do it in this situation.  It is the bright spot of 2017 and someone wants to wreck it.
***A mom sat down in our office the other day with her 13 year old.  The daughter got pregnant right before she turned 13. Her boyfriend is 20.  That's not a problem for anyone, that age difference is not culturally frowned upon.  Being pregnant at 13 **is** a problem though.  The Mom said, "I was making a remedy for her to drink to "take out the baby", but someone told me I should not do that without coming here to this clinic first."  We sat and talked for a long time. We had Sarah come in with Sophie and share a bit of her story. We agreed with the Mom that teen pregnancy is really hard and "not good" (mom needed to say over and over "This is not good for me").  We saw on ultrasound that the baby is a girl and is due in October.  We asked Mom if the remedy is still going to be used, she said, "No, it is too late for that now."  We told them goodbye and that we would see them next Thursday and then we sat and stared at a wall for bit.  
In far less consequential absurd news ...

The man we paid to fix our broken washing machine tells us on the phone every single day "I am coming now".  He thinks we don't notice that he never ever comes. Not now. Not later. The next day, we call him again, he says, "I'm coming now."  Troy says, "You are not though.  See, see how you are not here ever ever and still?"  

So the washing machine is on day 9 broken and Beth McHoul let us use her machine and Geronne did a bazillion loads wash by hand and everyone wants to hurt that guy that never comes so hard. 

The refrigerator and freezer stopped working AGAIN on Monday. Troy says it is because I bought them in the USA and you cannot buy appliances that know of the good life.  They sat in an air-conditioned room and they know about that way of life and what did I think would happen if I put that appliance on a container and shipped it to Haiti?  Did I think that refrigerator/freezer would just accept these temperatures and keep behaving and operating? You get what you get when you do stupid things like that.  

It is far too pretty to get rid of so we're going to store dry foods and dishes in it.  

In our house is a stove with six burners.  Three of the burners work.  Below the burners is an oven that worked for several whole days after we bought it.  Some component fried out and the oven portion gave out two years ago. This is not a problem because the stove/oven we had before that has no working burners with a working oven. Lighting it is noisy because there is a routine and it is noisy, but still, it lights.  So, if you wanna make a pizza in the oven, you go outside to the oven.  If you wanna fry and egg, you go to the stove in the kitchen. If you want to refrigerate your butter, too bad. Not happening, see previous paragraph.

The dryer is broken too. Nobody in Haiti has a dryer except the Livesays. The Livesays don't have one now either, so no need to hate.

The toaster makes such good toast.  
That toaster never stops doing its thing.  

The owner of our house is making security improvements due to the May break-in.  He is really a great guy. We like him so much. He has more money than God because he is a super smart business man and he has several homes with renters in them. He made the wall higher in one place and is adding double bars to the window they came in and is adding more barbed wire to the front wall.  I wish he would just give us the money he is spending because once the robbers come it is gonna be a really long time before it happens again. I'd rather use the money to buy a few more broken appliances for my collection. 

Twelve years ago this very month, we sat down with many of the important people in our lives and said, "We think maybe we should move to Haiti."  I think about those young people that sat down and said that, and I wonder if I would even recognize them if they were here with me today.  
Absurdity changes people. 

By Isaac - Vet School in Haiti

Livesay Haiti -

Practicing suturing Hello everyone!

A couple of weeks ago (May 16-20) (5 sleeps) I had the exhilarating experience of a lifetime. I got to go to a veterinarian class in Deschapelles, Haiti.

The purpose of attending AG Horizons (The School Name)was to get educated about animals in order to be helpful in situations when animals are sick and to help educate the community around me.  Many people here in Haiti don't understand illness and infections due to a lack of education and opportunity for education.  Often people that live in the countryside own an animal. If a man has an anemic cow, he cannot necessarily identify why his cow is sick and he can lose his cow due to that lack of knowledge.  Losing an animal causes a family financial strain and hardship. So as we are being educated we are reminded on how we can help teach people how to better care for their animals and or help them with the animal.

The whole reason as to why I got to AG Horizons Vet school is really amazing. When my Mom and Lydia and I were cutting my dog's fur (Walnut) there was a scissor accident involving his ear. It was sad and Lydia cried and worried a lot about it. Later that day Kelly, our Veterinarian friend, came and examined his cut. While she was at our house I told Kelly that I want to help animals when I am older. My Mom was also telling Kelly about my plans for after high-school.  This led to Kelly telling us about AG Horizons and inviting me to come join the class. She gave me a week to decide if I wanted to try it out.  My friends and family encouraged me to go and try it, so I did.

I will never regret going! My classmates and I were educated by two vets named Janice and LeeAnne. They were REALLY COOL people.

It was a fenced in property with a few buildings. I got to stay in the main guesthouse. It was green, two stories, and quite large. There were a few rooms where students could stay. I stayed down stairs in a dorm room that had about seven other guys staying there too. The dorm was pretty big and had several bunk beds. Most people had their own bunk and did not have to use the top one.  There were 18 students total. There were two girls and sixteen boys.  The students backgrounds varied. There were students that were illierate and students that had gone to college and could read and write in French and Kreyol. There were Pastors and Farmers and younger people too. I was the youngest one in the class.

At the school I learned a lot of intriguing things. We learned about inflamation and shock. We talked about different types of shock and how it can affect the body. We discussed a lot about internal and external parasites. We learned how to identify microscopic organisms under a microscope. They even taught us how to dose medicines for an animal depending upon their weight and the concentration of the medicine.  (So, this is when I learned that math can acutally REALLY BE USED in REAL LIFE.).  We learned how to tie surgical knots (praticed on towels - see photo.  Because blood is very important we talked a lot about what makes up our blood too. We learned SO MUCH and went into a lot of detail on these topics.

Class was from 9:30 to 4 each day and I most enjoyed the down time afterschool when I could study everything I had learned that day and have a chance to read, color, and listen to my music.  I had a few friends I talked to, we all used a mixture of English and Kreyol. I was the only student with English as my first/strongest language.  It was good practice for me and I had to use my Kreyol a lot and that was great for me.

At the end of the week we had an exam.  In fact, the night before the exam, a few of the students and I stayed up very late studying together with Janice the Vet Professor.  For a long time we worked out equations on the chalkboard.  When the test came the next day, I got 115 out of 120 points. I was SO ECSTATIC.  All the students congraulated me on my good grade.

I will never forget this far-out experience I had. It was good for me to step out of my comfort zone and do something by myself (without any of my family with me).  There are 10 more weeks total.  I go again in mid June and will go once per month for many more months.  I have a lot to learn.  I plan on using the skills and knowledge I am obtaining to help animals in Haiti.  Eventually, when I get older and get to a certain point in my education, I will begin working on animals under the supervison of a Veterinarian.  That has me VERY psyched.  Whenever it comes time for me to leave Haiti, I want to attend Vet school where I can further my education.  In America, I think I would rather work with dogs and cats. Here in Haiti I will be working with pigs, sheep, horses, cows, goats, donkey, and some dogs.

That is all for now, friends.  I will update you after the June class.   Thanks for reading.

Caribbean, ALBA Nations Defeat Anti-Venezuela Motion at OAS

HaitiAnalysis -

Caracas has repeatedly accused the OAS and its chief Luis Almagro of promoting intervention and destabilization in Venezuela.

The OAS has suspended its meeting called to discuss the political and economic situation in Venezuela, with the interventionist motion led by the U.S. failing to muster the required majority to pass.

The Caribbean community played a vital role in defeating the anti-Venezuela motion, calling for further discussions and another meeting, which is yet to be set.

Shortly after the meeting, Venezuela's Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez stated that the "interventionist bloc in the OAS continue to be defeated by the honorable states of the region," announcing that she herself will attend the OAS general meeting set for June 19-21, in Cancun, Mexico with the support of the people of Central America, the Caribbean, ALBA nations and all of Latin America.

The government of President Nicolas Maduro has been under attack by OAS chief Luis Almagro, who has vocally backed Venezuela's opposition and promoted foreign intervention in the country, leading Caracas to begin the process of withdrawal from the international body.

Representatives of some right-wing governments in the region, such as Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay and Argentina continued their actions against Venezuela during the meeting of foreign ministers. Brazilian Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes Ferreira Filho said in his address that the Venezuelan government must call "free elections," with a "fixed schedule."

Meanwhile, diplomats from Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador and other nations rejected the meeting as an intervention in the internal affairs of the South American country. "The OAS can not continue to be used by a country for a political lynching against the government of Venezuela, it is regrettable that a group of brother countries has been biased in their appraisals and focus," said Nicaraguan Ambassador Luis Ezequiel Alvarado.

Bolivian Foreign Minister Fernando Huanacuni condemned what he considered an intervention, "The countries of the region do not need protectorates or tutelage. Nothing that we do will be useful without the participation of Venezuela."

Antigua and Barbuda's Prime Minister Gaston Browne urged his fellow Caribbean nations that "Any covert attempts, to directly or indirectly interfere in the internal affairs of Venezuela, to engineer regime change should be resisted."

The meeting, titled, “The Situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,” had three separate proposals for OAS action on Venezuela.

A draft declaration submitted by Peru, Canada, the United States, Mexico and Panama called for, among other actions, "a halt to the convocation of a national Constituent Assembly as presently conceived," aimed at condemning the process to rewrite the Venezuelan Constitution that Maduro announced earlier this month. A similar draft position from Antigua and Barbuda also proposed calling for the Constituent Assembly to be suspended, but the country withdrew its proposal during the meeting.

Meanwhile, a proposal from the Caribbean community does not propose calling for a move to halt the Constituent Assembly process, but rather urges the "establishment of concrete plans for the restoration of peace and stability as soon as possible." Caricom also called for asking Venezuela to reconsider its decision to withdraw from the regional organization.

All three draft declarations called for an end to violence in the country and for a commitment from all parties to take part in a renewed dialogue process to ease political tensions. Talks between the government and the right-wing opposition broke down in January after parts of the fractured opposition repeatedly boycotted the talks.

The day’s plenary session was attended by 34 of the Organization of American States ' 35 members at its headquarters in Washington, which began with a private meeting closed to the press. Although Venezuela considered the meeting an attack on its sovereignty, it decided to attend the meeting.

Any proposals will need the vote of two-thirds of the representative, and many predict that considering divisions over the issue within the bloc, this will not be an easy feat.

Venezuelans supporting the Maduro government marched Wednesday in Caracas under the banner of rejecting international intervention and sending a message to the representatives meeting in Washington that — as socialist politician Elias Jaua put it — Venezuela's sovereignty must be respected.

The call for an assembly was agreed upon on April 26 by 18 states, the minimum needed for the proposal to be put in motion, which triggered Venezuela's exit process. Since then, ambassadors of the OAS have been convening both privately and publicly to prepare and strategize the best way to present current issues and bring members opposing the consultation together.

The Constellation of individuals & groups supporting the FLRN paramilitary insurgency in Haiti, 2000-2004

HaitiAnalysis -

By: Jeb Sprague-Silgado  -- HaitiAnalysis

            Readers of my 2012 book Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti will have learned about a number of individuals involved in supporting the 2000-2004 paramilitary insurgency that targeted the country.  Below I have put together a compendium listing the different sectors and important individuals backing this violence.   A constellation of actors supported the FLRN paramilitaries (Front pour la libération et la reconstruction nationales) in the events leading up to the 2004 coup d’etat. Some of these groups were made up of just a handful of individuals. Others contained hundreds of individuals that lent support at one time or another. To elaborate upon this more clearly I have broken up these sectors into ten subgroups as follows:

(1) The “White” Duvalierists and Rightists- Located in the tier below the most well-known top families in Haiti exists a fraction of light-skinned bourgeoisie (a sizable number of which are of Levantine descent). One individual who grew up within the upper echelons of Haitian society and interviewed by the author explained how racialized class relations play out among right-wing elite: “The non-black Duvalierists consider themselves smarter;” they are not at the level of the major industrialist families, but “still have significant wealth and power” (Sprague, 2011a). These families, with many individuals with Duavlierist leanings, include the Handals, Mourras, Assads, and Jaars. According to one individual fromm a bourgeoisie background whom I interviewed: some of “these people are more dangerous even than the top dozen families. They think they have more to gain [locally] and they are under less foreign scrutiny” (Sprague, 2011a). Some individuals from these groups, such as Georges Saati and Hugues Paris, appear to have played a decisive role in mobilizing the paramilitary campaign against the state (Sprague, 2012a).  (2) A “Black” Duvalierist group included individuals such as the former dictator Prosper Avril, a former Tonton Macoute and mayor of Port-au-Prince Franck Romain, and others such as Gregory Chevry, and his brother, Youri Chevry, Alix Thibulle, Gonzague Day, and some members of the Tankred family, all of whom allegedly backed the paramilitary insurgency. Alex Thibulle, one of the most important of this group, allegedly maintained strong connections with the “white” Duvalierists. As one son from a well-off family in Port-au-Prince explained to the author: “Thibulle [was] one of the few black Duvalierists that [could] go sit with them [the non-black Duvalierists] at their table on Sunday. They will not invite others to their parties who they look down upon” (Sprague, 2011a). In more recent times, these individuals have been able to work with what has become one of the most “powerful cartels in the country headed up by Dany Toussaint, Clarel Alexandre, Gregory Chevy, and Jean-Claude Louis-Jean” (Sprague, 2011a). “These are the people that Guy Philippe and the other [paramilitaries] . . . will never out,” the names that will never be smeared in the media pronouncements that they make from time to time (Sprague, 2011a). In more recent years, many of these individuals have tried to remain politically relevant by working primarily with the emergent establishment political parties headed by Michel Martelly and Préval. Importantly, according to embassy cables that I obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): a central planner of the FLRN death squad campaign between 2001 and 2004 was the Duvalierist Joseph Baguidy Jr.. A  disgraced former military man, Baguidy Jr.'s father was a close confidant (and arms procurer) of François Duvalier.    [Note: In October of 2014 Jean-Claude Duvalier (who had returned from exile after the 2010 earthquake) would die in the home of Baguidy, Jr.]      (3) A group of local and diaspora business people played a decisive role in funding the new paramilitary forces. Some of these are smaller business people with familial and ideological roots among the far right in the country. Some are more transnationally oriented, for example, involved in sub-contractor manufacturing and geared toward the global economy (Multinational Monitor, 1995). Among these capitalists that appear to have had links at one time or another to this most recent phase of paramilitary violence were: Ben Bigio, André “Andy” Apaid, Jr, and Oliver Nadal.    (4) Careerist, opportunist, and failed political elites. As I discovered through Freedom of Information Act research, a number of public figures in the country also facilitated paramilitary forces. Among these were Judy C. Roy, a local elite with political aspirations, who was a key early financier of the FLRN paramilitaries. This sector is also representative of individuals such as Serge Gilles, leader of the small political party Fusion des Sociaux Democrates Haitienne (FUSION). Others, such as longtime rightwing political operatives of the Manigat family, held discussions with the U.S. Embassy discussing what they viewed as the useful role that paramilitaries could play in removing the Aristide government. An array of small political parties exist in Haiti, who rarely win elected office in free and fair elections but continue on as important players that often receive appointed positions, are useful contacts at the U.S. embassy, some shifting political loyalties at opportune moments.  (5) A faction of the Former military, including some former police officials played a vital role in facilitating FLRN violence. Some had past U.S. intelligence and military connections. These include figures such as former FAd’H commanders Himmler Rébu and Guy André François, former Duvalierist general Williams Régala, and others (Sprague, 2012a). Former members of the Fad’H such as Youri Latortue and Dany Toussaint also fit the mold of other social groups listed below.  For example, Dany Toussaint fits within the “5th column” group, as well as being involved in narco-trafficking. Youri Latortue in particular played a central role in undermining Haiti’s elected government in 2004 and was then a key planner for the post-coup authorities and the campaign of violent repression they launched (Sprague, 2012a). His relative Gérard Latortue headed up the post-coup dictatorship installed by the U.S. in March 2004.            (6) The “5th column”, as I describe them, consisted of individuals who were working to undermine the state from within. Most characteristic of these ‘chameleons’ were Dany Toussaint and Joseph Médard, both of whom rose to top elected seats in the country’s senate under FL. Operating from within the state apparatus, they would serve as key figures (as documented in numerous FOIAs) in helping to undermine Haiti’s elected government in the months and years prior to the coup of February 2004 (Sprague, 2012a).            (7) U.S. Intelligence, in particular the CIA. There is a long history of U.S. intervention and support for repressive forces in Haiti. While some embassy officials such as U.S. Ambassador Brian Dean Curran (Ambassador to Haiti between 2001 and 2003) did not directly promote paramilitary operations, it does not appear he attempted in any way to support the Haitian authorities in bringing paramilitaries to justice. Other U.S. ambassadors, such as Curran’s replacement by the Bush regime, James B. Foley, directly engaged in communication with the paramilitary commanders (Sprague, 2012a).  Yet even under the period of Curran’s time as ambassador, it is clear from FOIAs and interviews I conducted that U.S. intelligence agents did carry out their own operations, coordinating with elites backing the FLRN. One example of this is when a U.S. intelligence operative (who appears to have been an important CIA or DIA agent at the time working at the embassy, possibly the station chief), Janice Elmore, met with the rightist plotter Hugues Paris and opportunist sectors within the local police force in Gonaives. This occurred just prior to a jailbreak in Gonaives in which imprisoned paramilitary, ex-military, and violent criminals escaped in August 2002 (Sprague, 2012a).  As I discovered from a discussion with an anonymous source that previously worked in the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince, Curran and the chief of the embassy had a tense relationship with Elmore, as she had her own agency-specific priorities that did not always align with those of the U.S. State Department.            (8) A sector within the Dominican Republic’s military leadership and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Previously I have provided the first documented investigation into the secret role of Dominican officials in facilitating paramilitary violence in Haiti. This support emanated primarily from a group of career bureaucrats in the foreign ministry in Santo Domingo and from upper echelons of the Dominican military. Most notable among these appears to have been Lt. General Soto Jiménez and General Manuel Dominican Major Polanco Salvador. In tape-recorded interviews conducted by the author, career bureaucrats at the Dominican Ministry of Foreign Relations in Santo Domingo also acknowledged providing close support to Guy Philippe and his paramilitary force. These officials included: Dr. Luis Ventura Sanchez, Haitian ex-pat Jean Bertin, and William Paez Piantini (Sprague, 2012a). There were also various middle men that helped the paramilitaries establish connections in the Dominican Republic and keep a tab on them for Dominican officials, individuals such as rightwing Haitian operative Harry Joseph (a close friend of Saati, and allegedly close with Dominican intelligence), minister counselor Hubert Dorval who worked in Haiti’s embassy in the Dominican Republic (and who was relieved of his duties by the Aristide government after being caught secretly feeding information to Dominican intelligence), and Delis Herasmé, a friend of then Dominican president Mejia and an important “networker” for the paramilitaries in Santo Domingo. This information was verified to the author by numerous sources close with the paramilitaries and by some of these individuals themselves (Sprague, 2012a).            (9) France’s external intelligence agency, the DGSE (the General Directorate for External Security). French intelligence appears to have also played a role in directly backing the FLRN. This includes both allegations of a French journalist handing off money to the paramilitaries in Gonaives and a U.S. embassy cable in which the U.S. ambassador wrote to the Department of State that it appeared France was involved in backing the paramilitaries (Sprague, 2012a). Virtually nothing has been published on the covert role of French intelligence in financing paramilitary or Duvalierist forces in Haiti. It should be noted that French intelligence has long played a well-documented and important role in supporting armed groups in other parts of the world (such as in recent conflicts in Libya, Syria, and parts of West and Central Africa).(10) Narco-rings. One of the most important characteristics of top paramilitary and military leaders over recent decades has been their reoccuring connection to the narco-trade. Narcotics trafficking through Haiti has long been controlled by military, ex-military, police, paramilitaries, and children of the wealthy elites. It is safe to say that since the expansion of the narco-trade into the Caribbean, within every Haitian state administration, there have been individuals connected with and profiting from it.    Following the disbanding of the military in 1995, former-army personnel and sectors of the elite formed cartels seeking to dominate the trade’s local inputs. These narco-bosses with connections to Dominican, Colombian, and other crime rings have sought to buy off politicians frequently (Sprague, 2011a). One little understood factor behind the paramilitary aggression in recent years has been over the narco-trade, as rival narco-rings have had alliances with different officials embedded within Haiti’s governmental apparatuses. During the period that I have studied it appears that while some narco-groups became affiliated with the FLRN, others had allies within the government’s security agencies.

The prevailing correlation of forces in this aid dependent and underdeveloped country made it extremely difficult for a reformist project to stand -- arrayed against it forces of extreme power and wealth.
Multinational Monitor. “Interview: An Inside Look at Haiti’s Business Elite.” http://multinationalmonitor.org/hyper/issues/1995/01/mm0195_10.html. (1995)
Sprague, J. Interview with an individual from a upper class family in Haiti. Requested anonymity (2011a).
Sprague, J. Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti. New York: Monthly Review Press (2012a).

Paltry Six Month Renewal of Haitians’ TPS Suggests It May Be the Last

HaitiAnalysis -

by Steve Forester (Haiti Liberte)

On May 22, 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for some 50,000 Haitians living in the United States for only six months rather than the usual, appropriate 18 months.
            The wording of DHS Secretary John F. Kelly’s announcement sent very mixed signals and omitted extremely significant facts. It stressed that this is likely the last extension and that TPS holders should “attain travel documents” for return to Haiti. Very inaccurately, it also asserted that conditions in Haiti have greatly improved.

            DHS's announcement ignores the vast destruction last October of Hurricane Matthew – the worst to hit Haiti in 52 years – and the unchecked cholera epidemic which has killed and sickened at least 9,500 and 800,000 respectively. Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti’s bread basket, exacerbating the current food insecurity crisis, and spiked cholera cases too.
            The DHS statement also misleadingly states: “96% of people displaced by the earthquake and living in internally displaced person camps have left those camps.  Even more encouraging is that over 98% of these camps have closed.”
            This is misleading because many camps were forcibly closed due to regular, unchallenged, large-scale evictions by landowners, not because other housing had been found nor because residents had any other place to go. This has been a huge problem in Haiti.  Even more significantly, several of the larger camps were reclassified by the Haitian government as "permanent housing," simply because the residents had attached so much salvaged building material to their makeshift shanties. An estimated 50,000 still live in tents seven years after the earthquake.
            In fact, perhaps never has there been a clearer case for TPS extension than Haiti’s case now, due to the overwhelming triple calamities of earthquake, Matthew, and cholera. Haiti can’t safely assimilate 50,000 deportees nor, crucially, replace their remittances to hundreds of thousands of families back home.
            For all these reasons, Haiti’s government was joined by the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Miami Herald, New York Daily News, Sun Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, and Orlando Sentinel editorial boards, the Republican governors of Florida and Massachusetts, 100 bipartisan members of the U.S. Senate and House, 14 big city mayors, 550 U.S. doctors, 416 faith leaders, 330 organizations and leaders, and a host of others in urging an 18-month TPS extension.
            Support was unprecedented because the justifying facts on the ground are that conditions warranting TPS persist in Haiti, as evidenced by an 8-page single-spaced December assessment by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and then-Secretary of State Kerry’s recommendation that it be extended.  But last month, USCIS under President Trump reversed itself, urging termination, and recently leaked DHS emails revealed efforts to demonize Haitians as criminals and welfare cheats as a means of justifying termination. These maneuvers were reprehensible and inherently racist. Such considerations are also irrelevant: since TPS is a humanitarian program, TPS recipients are ineligible for welfare, and criminals are ineligible for TPS!
            Finally, there is this ominous conclusion to Kelly’s statement: “This six-month extension should allow Haitian TPS recipients living in the United States time to attain travel documents and make other necessary arrangements for their ultimate departure from the United States, and should also provide the Haitian government with the time it needs to prepare for the future repatriation of all current TPS recipients... I believe there are indications that Haiti – if its recovery from the 2010 earthquake continues at pace – may not warrant further TPS extension past January 2018.” This statement strongly suggests that this partial TPS renewal for Haitians will be the last.
            So this reprieve is temporary and short. Although the Trump administration’s DHS may have been angling for a cut-off, the facts and overwhelming support for Haitians’ TPS renewal were too strong to ignore. We must make sure that they remain so in the months ahead.

Steven Forester is the Immigration Policy Coordinator for the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH).

Water for Profit: Haiti’s Thirsty Season

HaitiAnalysis -

First of a series

by Dady Chery (Haiti Liberte)

There is no shortage of water in Haiti. Yet, everywhere on the island, Haitians travel for miles to get water, pay dearly for it if they can find it, and sometimes die on their journey to collect it, like so many antelopes snatched by predators on their way to drink.
            How does a thing like that happen in a country that gets reliably drenched with more than 50 inches (130 cm) of naturally distilled rainwater per year? Haiti is blessed with two rainy seasons: April to May, and August to October, but even during the driest months of December to February, the country gets about 1.5 inches per month. The Artibonite River alone carries more than 26,000 gallons (100 cubic meters) of fresh water per second! Another 13,000 gallons per second flow through nine other rivers that crisscross the mountainous landscape. As if that were not enough, Haitians also sit on about 15 trillion gallons of groundwater.
            The latest foreign occupiers of Haiti would like us to believe that they found the country in a state of wilderness, with Haitians defoliating the trees and bouncing between the bare branches like monkeys that had not yet discovered fire or the wheel. In reality, Haiti has had a system of pipes where communities could collect their drinking water since 1841. About 40 years after that, households began to be equipped with their own water, so that by the early 20th century, this group represented one third of the population. Haiti’s position with regard to potable water rivaled anywhere in the world and was contemporary with the construction of waterworks in cities of the United States. Keep in mind that it was in the mid-19th century that about 20,000 Londoners died of epidemics of Asian cholera. Their drinking water had become contaminated with the wastes of the upper classes, who had just become fond of water closets and did not care where their untreated wastes flowed. If this brings to mind the more recent contamination of Haiti by the United Nations “peacekeepers,” yes, plus cela change, plus c’est la même chose.
            As in most places and for good reason, in Haiti the control of water distribution was the purview of cities. The Autonomous Metropolitan Drinking Water Authority (Centrale Autonome Métropolitaine d’Eau Potable, CAMEP) handled the water distribution in Port-au-Prince. Branches of the National Drinking Water Authority (Service National d’Eau Potable, SNEP) provided water in 28 other cities. Many of Haiti’s smaller communities and cities also built their own fountains and dug their own wells.
            The average Haitian consumes very little water: about 10 gallons a day. By contrast, residents of most so-called developed countries consume 5 to 15 times more water, with the U.S. being the most wasteful. This massive waste is directly linked to the advent of tap water inside of houses. According to the writer Ivan Illich, in the U.S., “wherever tap water reached the households, water consumption increased by a factor of between 20 and 60, which meant that a rate of 30 to 100 gallons a day became typical.” Indeed, a major reason for the low consumption by Haitians is that almost no clean water is allowed to flow down a drain. Most Haitians, who are poor, collect their water in containers for drinking, cooking, and washing. And even those who are more prosperous customarily lack water toilets or faucets inside their homes. The water is supplied to small outbuildings for cooking or showering and is used with a minimum of waste.
            As Port-au-Prince’s population grew, the water authorities, as well as private concerns, added new branches to some of the water pipes. Tanker trucks also joined the delivery system. Thus the water system became privatized in a limited and chaotic way by the political class. According to a United Nations study, in 1976 the delivery of water to Port-au-Prince by CAMEP was about 17 million gallons per day, one half of which was wasted or redirected. This was certainly unfortunate for CAMEP, which was losing funds that might have been spent on its administration. On the other hand, Port-au-Prince’s population was less than 450,000, and even with the supposed waste or redirection, about 20 gallons of water were still supplied by the government per capita, per day.
            Foreign aid and finance agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), World Bank, and Inter American Development Bank (IDB) had gained a foothold in Haiti with the ascendance of the dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1971. As these agencies set about to drive small Haitian farmers into bankruptcy to create surplus labor for new sweatshops in the capital, they also financed a series of studies of the country. Superficially, these studies were meant to guide the eradication of poverty, but their real purpose was to provide information on how to exacerbate poverty to its absolute limit and profit from it.
            One study in 2005, to identify the owners of Haiti’s water networks, was done by the Haitian branch of George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, which goes by the pretentious name, Foundation for Knowledge and Freedom (Fondasyon Konesans Ak Libète, FOKAL). This was an interesting detour for FOKAL, which appears to focus on cultural projects to catalyze the Americanization of Haitians. In 2006, the International Foundation of the Red Cross (IFRC) reported that 81% of Haitians lacked access to decent toilets, i.e. water closets. Consequently, the IFRC declared Haiti to be the world’s most unsanitary country and the only one that had become less sanitary in the previous decade. It did not matter that nearly all Haitians had access to latrines that were more sanitary than the water closets whose untreated wastes were dumped into bodies of water. The study also overlooked the heavy burden posed by the influx of more than 60,000 massively wasteful Westerners from non-governmental organizations (NGO), including the United Nations’ so-called peacekeepers, starting in 2004, and the Red Cross itself.
            In general, the studies of Haiti’s water agreed that its population had outgrown its municipal water delivery systems, and this was true, especially in Port-au-Prince, where the population had reached 1.9 million by 2009 through a sustained and deliberate depopulation of the rural areas. It was nevertheless also true that there was ample water around for that population. New infrastructure would have to be built. The country could have dug more wells to expand its potable-water system and built water-treatment systems. Alternatively, or in combination, it could have widely adopted rainwater harvesting. This practice is common in regions like Central America and the Caribbean, with seasons of abundant rainfall, and it is especially well suited to countries like Haiti, whose mountainous terrain poses a great challenge to the installation of systems of water pipes. Furthermore, rain-catchment systems are inexpensive to install and maintain. None of these things were done. Instead, the government created the National Water and Sanitation Authority (Direction Nationale de l’Eau Potable et de l’Assainissement, DINEPA) in 2009 to control all the drinking water of the country.
            Despite its socialist sounding name, there is nothing nationalistic about DINEPA. It is a foreign organization with a Haitian front: a director general who often reminds poor Haitians that DINEPA “carries out its mission around the implementation of investments, network development, sector regulation, and stakeholder control,” which is gobbledygook for centralization and privatization. The main stakeholders and financial backers of DINEPA are the World Bank, IDB, Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (Agencia Espanola de Cooperacion para el Desarrollo, AECID), U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). Haiti’s contribution, through its Fund for Economic and Social Assistance (Fonds d’Assistance Economique et Sociale, FAES), is trivial compared to the others, as is its influence.
            The main beneficiaries of these international funds have been the two largest water-privatization companies in the world: Veolia Environnement S.A. and Suez Environnement S.A., both multibillion-dollar French corporations. Veolia was initially contracted by DINEPA on Apr. 1, 2010, less than three months after the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, supposedly to assist the humanitarian emergency there. After DINEPA contracted Suez in Feb. 26, 2011 to rebuild Port-au-Prince’s water system, Veolia moved on to the other cities, where its operations expanded with the cholera epidemic of October 2010. By a strange coincidence, starting around 2011, throughout Haiti, potable-water systems have suffered a rash of sabotage and required reconstruction.
            There is nothing remotely humanitarian about the privatization of water. The idea is pure evil, and its practice should be a crime. It ablates the life savings of hard working people, displaces, and kills them. This plague does not stop in Haiti. It has already reached the poorer cities in rich countries like the U.S.. In every case, the same forces combine to turn water into a commodity. Veolia and Suez, which are at the forefront of the project to privatize the world’s waters, have an impressive history of lawsuits. One of the more recent ones was Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s civil lawsuit against Veolia in December 2016. This lawsuit alleges that the company fraudulently submitted false and misleading statements to the public after its analysis of the water in Flint, Michigan. Contamination of this water with lead and other substances was associated with about 9,000 cases of lead poisoning in children younger than six, and an outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease that caused 12 deaths.
            In subsequent parts of this series, I will dissect the mechanisms by which water is snatched from municipal authorities in places like Haiti and Flint, Michigan, and privatized.

Dady Chery is the author of “We Have Dared to Be Free.” This article was originally published by News Junkie Post.


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