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PHOTO: Metal fence covers the streets of the Old City of Hebron, to prevent Israeli settlers who live in the apartments above from throwing garbage and bricks on the Palestinian merchants below. CREDIT: Lia Tarachansky
As the Israeli government endorses school trips to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Israelis protest against the arrest of four hikers who killed a Palestinian during a similar tour.
Last month, Israeli Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced a new programme – taking Israeli school children on tours to the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. It is scheduled to begin in September. This announcement follows closely on an investigation into the death of a 17-year-old Palestinian boy who was killed by Israeli hikers on a tour in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In the past, such tours were permitted by the Israeli Civil Administration authorities but this announcement signals the first open government endorsement.
On 28 January 2011, the David and Ahikam Tours Company (link to Hebrew website) took a group of Jewish-Israeli hikers over the lands of the Palestinian village of Beit Ummar in the Hebron governorate. Youths from the village saw the group and threw stones. The hikers shot back, using live ammunition, wounding 23-year-old Bila Mohammad Abed Al-Qador and killing 17-year-old Yousef Fakhri Ikhlayl.
Commemoration of the first anniversary of Gran Ravine's Massacre.The parents and friends of victims of July 27 massacre walked with tears, Jul. 27, 2007. Photo by Wadner Pierre.
By: Jeb Sprague
On Martissant, Gran Ravine, and Missing the Proportionality and Chief Cause of Violence
The follow was published on Jeb Sprague's Blog which can be viewed here:http://jebsprague.blogspot.com/
The following are my responses to an anonymously posted criticism (on the Haiti Corbet Listserv) of the work of human rights investigators Evel Fanfan (AUMOHD) and Tom Luce (HURAH) who have been highly active in Haiti's slums of Martissant and Gran Ravine since 2005, and, this post is also in response to some of the misleading journalism done by former Economist Intelligence Unit correspondent Michael Deibert looking at political violence in these communities.
Michael Deibert has made numerous false claims about myself and many others writing about Haiti in recent years. Links to some of the responses to his absurd claims can be found here: http://wadnerpierre.blogspot.com/2009/08/michael-deibert-and-elizabeth-eames.html
I would prefer here to discuss the content of his coverage of political violence.
On the assassination of Jean-Remy Badio, Deibert cites the ACM statement. This statement says nothing about Lame Ti Manchèt-which according to witnesses, family, friends, and several Haitian media outlets at the time were the primary suspects (and the main force propelling violence in the area).
His article for AlterPresse dated Feb 12, 2007 likewise never mentions that the main suspects in Badio’s killing were the members of Lame Ti Manchèt.
By Wadner Pierre
On the left, Aristide's supporters asking for his return and the annulment of the last Nov. 28 lections. On the right Presidential candidate Mirlande Manigat's asking that President Aristide return after the March 20th vote.
70 year-old presidential candidate Mirlande Manigat seems to confuse human rights and political ambition. The right to return home is one of the basic rights that the former Haiti’s President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his family have as human beings. This right is an inalienable right. Also, Candidate Manigat seems to forget that her husband Leslie F. Manigat was elected in an election held by the former Haitian military in Jan. 17, 1988 in which less than 10% of the population participated. But that did not deprive Mr. Manigat the right to stay and enjoy life in his country. Why can’t former Haiti’s first-twice democratically elected president return to his home?
Mrs. Manigat declared that it would be better that the former president Aristide to return after the exclusionary march 20 runoff presidential elections in which she will face the Haiti’s popular compas singer Michel Martelly aka “Sweet Micky.” Although candidate Manigat said that her first priority is to try to encourage people to go to vote, she seems to have another priority which may be stopping former President Aristide from returning to Haiti before March 20 elections.
In Miami she said, “We have to convince the population to go back to vote.” Meanwhile the candidate ignores former President Aristide and his family’s right to return to their home. “Personally, as a citizen, I would prefer that he comes after the elections,” she referred to President Aristide.
by Wadner Pierre
"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," from the letter of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide wrote to describe the state of his health
One year-and-eight days already passed since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the most important part of Haiti. This horrible earthquake took away over 300, 000 lives, left over 1.5 million homeless and several thousands injured. Ten months after this tragedy a Cholera outbreak discovered. UN is accused. This deadly cholera already sent over a thousand people to death and several thousands to hospital.
Seemingly, the Haiti's former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier took advantage of the terrible and inhumane situation, and chose to return to the country. It was told that Mr. " Baby Dictator" received his diplomatic passport under the defacto regime Boniface Alexandre/Gerard Latortue, a regime fully backed by Washington at that time. Why Mr. Dictator did not make it back in 2005 or whatever the time he received it? Mr. 'Dictator' brutally ruled the country for 15 years after his father 's death.
Joint Israeli-Palestinian poll authors write rabbis' letter: "Our poll indicates that only minorities of Israelis and of Israeli Jews support these steps."
Recent months saw a ruthless barrage of disturbing articles on internal political developments in Israel. Articles that shine light on one ugly picture. Those painting the picture, pundits, journalists, peace activists and those of us who like to think of ourselves as anti-racist Israelis are painting it to be one of a rising tide in racism and state-repression. Some in Israel are saying these signs are but a warning, drawing parallels to 1935 Germany or the American south during the Jim Crow Laws. But as gloomy as the picture seems, new public opinion polls paint a different one. They paint a more hopeful picture, at least of Israel from within.
On Friday, thousands of Israelis took to the streets to oppose the rise of anti-democratic moves in Israel. They changed "Yehudim ve Aravim Mesarvim Lihyot Oyvim" a chant I heard often in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territories. It means "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies." Some signs read "Orthodox Jews for Democracy", an attempt to counteract some of the actions of Orthodox Jewish leaders in recent months.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mario Joseph, Av., Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (Port-au-Prince, Haiti), email@example.com, 509-3701-9879
Brian Concannon Jr., Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (Boston, MA), firstname.lastname@example.org, 541-263-0029
Iran Kurzban, Esq. IJDH Board Chair and attorney in Jean-Juste v. Duvalier, (Miami, FL) email@example.com, 305-444-0060
Human Rights Groups Call for Immediate Arrest of Jean-Claude Duvalier
January 17, 2011-Port-au-Prince and Boston- Today, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) call on the Government of the Republic of Haiti to comply with Haitian law and arrest ex-President Jean-Claude Duvalier, who returned to Haiti on a commercial flight yesterday.
IJDH and the BAI note that the extensive legal documentation of Mr. Duvalier’s crimes includes:
· A July 3, 2009 order from the First Court of Public Law, of the Federal Court of Switzerland, which notes that the Haitian government had informed it of current criminal proceedings against Mr. Duvalier as late as June 2008;
· The Decision of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Jean-Juste v. Duvalier, No. 86-0459, dated January 8, 1988, finding Mr. Duvalier liable for over $500,000,000 for his misappropriation of public monies for his personal use; and
· An extensive accounting of Mr. Duvalier’s misappropriation of public funds conducted for the Haitian government by a U.S. accounting firm between 1986 and 1990, establishing the theft of over $300,000,000 U.S.D. of public funds.
By Dante Strobino
Published Dec 22, 2010 11:47 PM
Under the theme “From Exclusion to Power,” hundreds of workers and community members gathered in Birmingham, Ala., from Dec. 10 to 12 for the eighth Bi-Annual Southern Human Rights Organizers Conference.
WW photo: Dante Strobino
March on opening day of Southern Human Rights Organizers Conference, in Birmingham, Ala. Carrying lead banner are Daniel Castellanos; Pamela Brown, Community Voices Heard; and Araceli Herrera Castillo (left to right).
Jaribu Hill, conference founder and executive director of the Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights, opened up with a call for human rights and social justice activists from across the country “to retool and rethink, plan and build. In these critical times of unjust wars and economic decline, it is urgent that we forge unity based on common struggles and experiences.”
The gathering opened with a press conference — on International Human Rights Day — that highlighted the work of the Excluded Workers Congress and announced a new report that examines the plight of workers barred from labor protections and the right to organize.
The report said that in 1983, 20.1 percent of the U.S. workforce was unionized, whereas in 2009 that proportion was only 12.3 percent. In so-called right-to-work states, union density now averages 6 percent. (www.excludedworkerscongress.org)
Included in the press conference were the congress’s nine sectors, including domestic workers, farmworkers, taxi drivers, restaurant workers, day laborers, guest workers, workers from right-to-work states, workfare workers and formerly incarcerated workers.
BY NICOLE PHILLIPS and NICOLAS ALBERTO PASCAL
Photo by Wadner Pierre
As a special team from the Organization of American States tries to resolve the country's election impasse, the one solution acceptable to most Haitians -- fair, inclusive elections -- is not on the table.
Thousands of Haitians protested, demanding new elections. Several Haitian senators and 12 of the 19 presidential candidates want the same. Yet the United States, Canada, France, the United Nations and OAS, which say they are committed to helping Haitians resolve this crisis, will not support new elections.
Instead there has been a feeble attempt by the international community to quell the protests. The OAS monitored the flawed elections and originally said that ``the irregularities, as serious as they were, [did not] necessarily invalidate the process.'' Amid accusations that the OAS terminated its Special Representative to Haiti, Ricardo Seitenfus, after he was critical of the international community's operations in Haiti, the OAS is heading back to Haiti to negotiate a resolution and monitor a recount of votes from the presidential election.
A recount of votes for the entire House of Deputies and two-thirds of the Senate seats has not been planned, even though those results were undermined by the same irregularities.
The elections that the international community helped organize and pay for were so deeply flawed from beginning to end that the only resolution that would be fair to Haitians and the taxpayers of donor countries is to start all over again.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Your Honor, once found guilty, it is then customary for the accused to ask the court for leniency, and express remorse for having committed the offence. However, I find myself unable to do so. From its very beginning, this trial contained practically no disagreements over the facts. As the indictment states, I indeed rode my bicycle, alongside others, through the streets of Tel Aviv, to protest the siege on Gaza. And indeed, while riding our bicycles, which are legally vehicles belonging on the road, we may have slightly slowed down traffic. The sole and trivial disagreement in this entire case revolves around testimonies heard from police detectives, who claimed I played a leading role throughout the protest bicycle ride, something I, as well as the rest of the Defense witnesses, deny.
As said earlier, it is customary at this point of the proceedings to sound remorseful, and I would indeed like to voice my regrets regarding one particular aspect of that day's events: if there is remorse in my heart, it is that, just as I argued during the trial, I did not play a prominent role in the protest that day, and thus did not fulfill my duty to do everything within my power to change the unbearable situation of Gaza's inhabitants, and bring to an end Israel's control over the Palestinians.
By Jeb Sprague
Photo by Wadner Pierre
...In the media coverage of Haiti's ongoing electoral crisis, presidential candidate Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly, whom ruling Unity party candidate Jude Célestin edged out of Haiti's Jan. 16 run-off by less than 1%, has been portrayed as the victim of voting fraud and the leader of a populist upsurge against Haiti’s crooked Provisional Electoral Council (CEP).
Some have questioned his presidential suitability by pointing to his vulgar antics as a konpa musician over the last two decades, where he often made demeaning comments about women and periodically dropped his trousers to bare his backside. The real problem with Martelly, however, is not his perceived immorality, but his heinous political history and close affi liation with the reactionary “forces of darkness," as they are called in Haiti, which have snuffed out each genuine attempt Haitians have made over the past 20 years to elect a democratic government. Far from a champion of democracy, Martelly has been a cheerleader for, and perhaps even a participant in, bloody coups d'état and military rule.
Duvalierist Affi nities
By Ansel Herz and Wadner Pierre
A ballot box floats in garbage-filled puddles next to the polling station at Building 2004 in the neighbourhood of Delmas. / Credit:Wadner Pierre/IPS
A ballot box floats in garbage-filled puddles next to the polling station at Building 2004 in the neighbourhood of Delmas.
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Dec 2, 2010 (IPS) - Furious demonstrations continued across Haiti on Wednesday following the Nov. 28 highly contested election in which thousands found themselves unable to vote.
Rock-throwing and road-barricading protests were reported in Les Cayes, Hinche, Petit Goave and Archaie. On Tuesday, demonstrators clashed with United Nations peacekeeping troops in St. Marc and Gonaives. The U.N. mission issued several alerts to its personnel restricting movement.
Twelve of 19 presidential candidates called on Sunday for cancellation of the election results. They allege widespread fraud by the government in favour of the ruling party's candidate, Jude Celestin.
Konpa singer Michel Martelly and another leading candidate have since backed away from the allegations.
"He saw all the fraud happening on election day," motorcycle taxi driver Weed Charlot told IPS. "But now he sees he has some votes and power. So he'll accept the election."
Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) and the primary international observer mission said despite "irregularities", there is not sufficient reason to invalidate the election.
"If it is requested, I am sure the international community stands ready to assist in the investigation of irregularities reported, said Assistant Secretary General of the Organisation of American States Albert R. Ramdin on Wednesday.
by Wadner Pierre
A woman praying at Sainte Claire's Parish prior to the flawed Presidential and Legislative Nov. 28 Elections in Haiti.Photo by Wadner Pierre
On top of the hill of Demals 33, Ti Plas Kazo, 15 minutes from the Conseil Electoral Provisoire or CEP (Provisional Electoral Council), formerly headquarter, and 10 minutes from UN compound at the Toussaint International Airport, located Sainte Claire’s Parish. This Parish was the Parish of former Priest and political prisoner of UN backed de facto government 2004-2006, father Gerard Jean-Juste. Father used to pray against the coup d’état –and for the return democratic elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and those who had been murdered, tortured and imprisoned illegally because of their political. On Nov. 26, Sainte Claire’s Parish held a seven-hour prayer to ask God to watch over the upcoming flawed Presidential and Legislatives Elections.
As it always shows in the mainstream, when Haitians refuse to swallow undemocratic elections and demonstrate in the street to demand that democratic elections, the mainstream media in the US, Europe, Haiti, Canada and so, portray them as rioters. The ironic thing is, these media refuse to agree that Haitian people are people of faith…and when the uncertainties come on the way, they use different tools like pacific protestations, religious, including Vodou ceremonies to pray their God to ask for direction. This is what Haitian people are also about. Before the decisive battle to free Haiti from French domination, the former slaves held a Vodou ceremony in North of Haiti, Bois-Caiman to pray and ask their God to assist them.
Wadner Pierre Speaks About His Experience Covering Manmade and Natural Disasters at Health in Haiti Event
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Wadner Pierre was studying Computer Science in 2004 when Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was overthrown in a coup d’état. Soon after, Pierre’s step-father, a Catholic priest who protested Aristide’s overthrow, was thrown in jail.
At that point Pierre decided he could no longer continue his studies without taking a stake in Haiti’s future. He dropped out of school, bought a camera, and started taking pictures of Haiti’s destitute population, selling them to human rights agencies and foreign press outfits.
One of the foreign correspondents that Pierre met while taking photos was Jeb Sprague, a reporter for the Inter Press Service news agency. Sprague, now a graduate student in sociology at UCSB, brought Pierre to Santa Barbara to speak this week at a presentation hosted by UC Haiti Initiative (UCHI), a system-wide effort to dedicate the University of California’s human resources to provide aid and relief to Haiti.
The event also featured Thomas Oliver, a graduate student who co-founded a nonprofit called Intelligent Mobility International which produces and distributes affordable wheelchairs in Haiti. Due to amputations and spinal injuries, 80,000 people required wheelchairs after the earthquake last January. Other speakers included Kelsey Maloney, an undergraduate who volunteers for Un Techa Para Mi Pais, a nonprofit that helps build shelters in disaster areas, and Brett Williams of Goleta-based Direct Relief International.
By Wadner Pierre
As the date for Haiti holding its General Elections approaches, more political leaders speak out over the credibility of the upcoming Elections. Many national and international political leaders, especially United States lawmakers, like D-Congresswoman Maxine Waters –other forty-four members of the US Congress –and the Rep-Senator Richard G. Lugar Fanmi Lavalas (FL), Haiti’s largest and most popular political party reiterated its position to boycott the Nov. 28 elections. Coming out on his silence, the FL’s National Representative, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide denounced the electoral process and the exclusion of his party in the race. President Jean-Bertrand- Aristide breaks His Silence
In an exclusive interview conducted by filmmaker, Nicolas Rossier in Johannesburg, South Africa, Fanmi Lavalas National Representative, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide denounced the Nov. 28 Presidential and Legislative Elections. President said, “Last year, we observed them saying that they wanted to have elections, but indeed, they had a selection and not election… today, it’s again like the same.” For the FL leader, the ‘CEP and the Haitian Government’ have do not intend to organize free, fair and democratic elections. “They have no intention to organize free, just and democratic elections… they expect to have a selection. They excluded Fanmi Lavalas which is the party of the majority… it’s like in the United States you could organize elections without Democrats,” said President Aristide.
By Wadner Pierre
Haiti prepares to hold controversial elections, natural disasters and disease may force the Haitians authorities to reschedule the Presidential and Legislative Elections. On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the western and southern parts of Haiti. Over 300,000 people perished, and more than a million were left homeless. This tragedy brought the world together to help Haiti in our time of need. Ordinary citizens from all over the world sent their US dollars and Euros etc, to aid Haitians.
Unfortunately, as it is always been, the money was mostly used to pay for the UN and major NGOs’ bureaucracies, instead of helping the victims of the earthquake. Haiti’s “allies” met and promised several billions of dollars for the reconstruction of the country. Ten months later, the majority of earthquake’s survivors continue to live under makeshift tents and tarps. In the middle of this tragedy combined with empty promises, Haitians have kept their hope alive, and will be forever united. Haitians continue to support each other in any way they can. The world has praised Haitians’ courage. Though the Haitian government shows its incapacity to govern the country, Haitians remain faithful to Haiti’s noble democratic heritage and are eager to vote to choose their leaders in fair, free, inclusive and democratic Presidential and Legislative Elections.
Exclusive Interview with Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Interview with Nicolas Rossier – November 2010
Currently in forced-exile in South Africa, former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is still the national leader of Fanmi Lavalas – one of Haiti's most popular political parties. A former priest and proponent of liberation theology, he served as Haiti's first democratically elected president in 1990 before he was ousted in a CIA backed coup in September 1991. He returned to power in 1994 with the help of the Clinton administration and finished his term. He was elected again seven years later, only to be ousted in a coup in February 2004. The coup was lead by former Haitian soldiers in tandem with members of the opposition. Aristide has repeatedly claimed since, that he was forced to resign at gunpoint by members of the US Embassy. US officials have claimed that he decided to resign freely following the violent uprising. He now lives in exile in South Africa where he still waits to get his diplomatic passport renewed. He is not allowed to travel outside South Africa.
Aristide is still the subject of many controversies. He is reviled by the business elite and feared by the French and American governments, who deem his populism dangerous. But he remains loved by a large portion of the Haitian population.
In a June 10 report to the Committee on Foreign Relations, "Haiti: No Leadership – No Elections”, ranking Republican member Richard Lugar denounced the systemic injustice of excluding his Fanmi Lavalas party.
By Wadner Pierre
First published by Louisiana Justice Institute
On November 28, Haitian voters are supposedly going to vote to choose a President, 10 Senators and 99 members of parliament. These general elections, as many politicians and experts expressed, are crucial for Haiti’s political future, and for the rebuilding process on the aftermath of the Jan. 12 7.0 magnitude earthquake. The uncertainty that plagues over these elections can comprise the legitimacy of the elected President, Representatives and Senators from these forthcoming elections.
On July 28, supporters of Fanmi Lavalas (FL) demonstrated in front of the U.S. Embassy in Haiti to demand the U.S. Government to not fund the November 28 Presidential and Legislative Elections "We come here today to question the behavior of the U.S. government. We're asking if they will continue to finance the exclusion of Lavalas by the CEP,” said Lionel Etienne, a former Fanmi Lavalas congressman.
The dubious exclusion of 15 political parties, amongst of them Fanmi Lavalas (FL), created concerns regarding the credibility of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council to organize fair, transparent and democratic elections for the country. It must be noticed that FL is widely seen as the Haiti’s largest and most popular political party.
While the United States is preparing to spend millions of dollars in the Haiti’s 2010 Presidential and Legislatives Elections, Congresswoman Maxine Waters along with other 44 U.S. members of U.S. Congress, warned the U.S. Government to push for fair, democratic and transparent elections in Haiti.
Photo courtesy of Wadner Pierre-
First published on Louisiana Justice Institute
By Wadner Pierre
As Haiti prepares to hold Legislative and Presidential Elections on November 28th this year, more questions are being raised regarding whether unfair and exclusionary elections would be beneficiary for the country. The Conseil Electoral Provisoire of Haiti, or CEP (Provisional Electoral Council) unjustifiably barred 15 political parties from running in the 2010 presidential elections, Fanmi Lavalas or FL, Haiti’s largest and most popular political party. The CEP barred FL from participating in neither presidential nor legislative elections. This decision by the CEP created unrest amongst national and international political leaders regarding the validity and credibility of the November 28th elections.
A similar situation occurred in the April 2009 Senatorial Elections. The CEP banned Fanmi Lavalas, from participation. As a result, less than three percent (3%) of Haitians voted in the election. The CEP’s actions in the current Presidential and Legislative elections will likely cause the November 28th elections to be boycotted by a substantial number of qualified voters once again.
by Wadner Pierre
The Dominican president, Lionel Fernandez offered 800 soldiers to reinforce the U N mission in Haiti after the January 12 earthquake that destroyed the Haiti’s capital and its surroundings. Dominican Today published an article entitled “Reported decision to send Dominican troops to Haiti”on September 27.
According to this article 680 Dominican soldiers will join the UN peacekeeping mission or MINUSTAH in Haiti. the firs group of soldiers already trained and most of them are from the Special Operations Command (COE). Military sources told the El DÍa newspaper, “a move that would draw the rebuke nationwide,” said this article.
The UN mission in Haiti is known as an occupation force since its beginning. People who are against the 29 February coup d’état perceive the UN mission in Haiti as a guardian of international coup d’état carried by the United States, France and Canada against the Haiti’s democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 29, 2004.
The decision of the Dominican government to send troops in Haiti proved the participation of the Dominican government in destabilizing Haiti.
By Wadner Pierre
GONAIVES, Sep 20, 2010 (IPS) - "I'm going to do everything possible to raise my daughter. My daughter is my future. And I can see my future in her," says Mirlene Saint Juste, a rice merchant in the Opoto market of Gonaives in northern Haiti.
Haitian women like Saint Juste who work as street vendors are widely viewed as one of the country's main economic engines. Their loud sales pitch on busy market days has earned them the affectionate nickname "Madame Sara", after a type of yellow bird in the countryside that loves to sing.
Cetoute Sadila, now middle-aged, has worked since she was 15 at the Lester market in the valley of Artibonite, Haiti's largest department.
"I have been selling rice here since I was little girl," she says. "I used to sell a medium-sized can of rice for 30 gourdes (74 cents). Now, I have to sell it for 105 gourdes (about 2.60 U.S. dollars) because the fertiliser is very expensive." Still, Sadila said she is able to send her children to school and university.
Not all are so lucky. While Artibonite, and its capital, Gonaives, were largely spared by the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, Port-au-Prince and its surrounds suffered colossal damage.
The slow pace of recovery has pushed women who were already on the brink of destitution over the edge.
Rosemene Mondesir is a single mother of seven children who has lived in a displaced persons camp for the last eight months. "I have always been the mother and father of my children - before and after the earthquake," she says. "I need assistance to feed and send them to school."
For immediate Release: September 13, 2010
CONTACT: Port-au-Prince, Haiti: Etant Dupain, 509-3497-1717
Washington, DC: Melinda Miles, 413-923-8435
Photos by Wadner Pierre
EIGHT MONTHS AFTER QUAKE, STILL NO SCHOOLS AVAILABLE FOR MAJORITY OF DISPLACED CHILDREN
PORT-AU-PRINCE: On Monday September 13th at 11am EST (10am in Haiti) residents of more than a dozen camps for internally displaced people will demonstrate in front of the National Palace to demand the right to education. They are also calling for decent housing because they are living in fear during this hurricane season.
As children all over the world returned to school this month, the majority of Haitian earthquake survivors are still living under tarps, tents and sheets without access to basic services and have no schools or educational programs for their children to attend. Since food distributions were halted months ago, in many camps the children are beginning to have orange hair, a sign of malnutrition.
Eight months after the earthquake, non-governmental organizations have enormous amounts of money in their accounts and protests are multiplying to demand that funds be used to meet the immediate needs of earthquake victims. Tents distributed months ago have shredded and been destroyed by the searing sun by day and rains that force victims to stand without sleeping under tents, tarps and sheets nearly every night.
By Wadner Pierre
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Aug 27, 2010 (IPS) - At six in the morning in Cite Soleil, the poorest zone of Haiti's capital city, the sun is already up. It's the start of another workday for Lurene Jeanti, making cookies from mud, butter and salt. She's been mixing the ingredients on the side of the road to sell to her neighbours for the past eight years.
"The mud helps me take care of my children," she says matter-of-factly.
Jeanti is a slight, muscled woman, one of millions of Haitians who have migrated from the countryside to Port-au- Prince over the past decade. She left her hometown to find a way to feed her five kids.
"My children have no father. I am the mother and the father of them," Jeanti told IPS. The father is gone and Haiti has no statutes protecting women who are abandoned with their children.
Jeanti grew up in Anse D'Hainault, a remote town in Haiti's southwest near Grand Anse, known as the "city of poets". Ezer Villaire, one of the great Haitian poets, was born and raised there.
Unlike other parts of rural Haiti, trees still populate the mountains and little plateaus where yams and cacao are grown. "Have you visited Anse D'Hainault? It's really nice. You should go," she told IPS. "I used to farm. I am a farmer."
But the income from farming small crops wasn't enough. Unemployment rates rise to 80-90 percent in much of the countryside.
Now Jeanti lives in Cité Saint Georges, a tiny district within Cité Soleil. The concrete canal running through the neighbourhood is full to the brim with plastic bottles.
She sits in a dirty corner near the entrance to a narrow corridor where people come to buy mud cookies or a gallon of water from a neighbour. Most the houses are made with concrete blocks and unfinished.
By Wadner Pierre
published by IPS
Photo by Wadner Pierre
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Jul 30, 2010 (IPS) - After weeks of delays, Haitian President René Préval confirmed this month that presidential and legislative elections will take place on Nov. 28. The U.N. and Western donor nations are pledging millions of dollars in support of the polls, but with at least 1.5 million people still homeless from the January earthquake, questions loom over how to ensure voter participation.
In the last round of senatorial elections before the earthquake, less than three percent of the electorate participated. Fanmi Lavalas, widely seen as the most popular political party in the country, was excluded from the election on technical grounds, along with some other parties. Now, the party has again been banned from participating in the November polls.
International donors have expressed disappointment at Haiti's failure to hold inclusive elections, but have continued to fund them.
In recent weeks U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican member on the foreign relations committee, issued two reports recommending candidates from Fanmi Lavalas be allowed to participate. But his calls have been dismissed by Préval and the Provisional Electoral Council, the entity charged with organising elections.
On Wednesday, nearly one hundred Fanmi Lavalas supporters held a sit-in outside the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince.
"We come in front of the Embassy to ask President [Barack] Obama to take action because we didn't support him for this," said a woman identifying herself as Madeleine. "President Préval excludes us from the elections. We voted for him, but this isn't what we wanted."
By Wadner Pierre
GONAIVES, Aug 2, 2010 (IPS) - Gonaives, the third largest city in Haiti, is rushing to prepare for an expected highly active hurricane season. The city was flooded by three hurricanes in the past six years - Hannah and Ike in 2008, and Jeanne, which killed at least 2,500 people in 2004.
While progress has been made in the recovery from those disasters, Gonaives - which was largely spared by the Jan. 12 earthquake - remains extremely vulnerable to new hurricanes.
Reconstruction of parts of the highway crossing the city was only recently completed. When this reporter visited Gonaives last year, the population was upset with the state of the dusty road, although Estrella, a Dominican construction company, has since fixed large portions of it.
Some locations that were routinely inundated with filthy water have been rebuilt. Last year, it might have taken a pedestrian almost 10 minutes to traverse the intersection in front of the Gonaives National Police headquarters after one hour of rain.
Belmour Myriam, a middle-aged woman, is working on drainage of the Biennac canal, which channels water from east of Gonaives to the ocean. Cleaning the canal has been a five- month project of USAID.
"I live in Baby Street," she told IPS. "Six years after the hurricane, my street is still not cleaned up. We have received no aid or attention from either local authorities or NGOs. We are alone in Baby Street."
"There is little change. We have power almost twenty-four- seven, and Avenue des Dattes is almost done. That's all," she added.
Traffic on the highway is bustling. But smaller neighbourhood streets were destroyed by the flooding. Many remain damaged, unpaved and dirty.
By Wadner Pierre
Haiti, so called the poorest country in the American hemisphere, sometimes developing country, and even the capital of NGOs. It is amazing to see how Haitian people have been helping each other with the limited means, and sharing the Haitian values with their brothers and sisters in their own way after the earthquake.
However, it is amazingly sad to see the way that the NGOs with unlimited means have been helping the earthquake survivors in Haiti. This situation may be seen as an ironic situation in the eyes of some people, and it may be seen as normal situation in the eyes of others. To understand the ongoing situation in Haiti right after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit this country in January 12 this year, it is to understand the Haitian culture, and the imperialism culture, or the NGOs or the dominant culture.
Haitians are a people who have their culture, and their own way to respond in the hardship, or catastrophic situation. On the other words, Haitian people practice what sociologists may call the culture of “togetherness” or in Haitian typical expression is “hand together;” whereas the culture of the NGOs is mainstream culture-based which mostly promote the selfhood, or individual responsibility. The selfhood culture at this point appears to be an embarrassing culture for Haitians to deal with.
By Wadner Pierre
The January 12 remains and will remain the darkness day in the history Haitian people. Many reasons make this date important and unforgettable for Haitian people. Even before the earthquake the masses in Haiti had barely received the attention from most of the people saying that they are there to help this desperate population. However, after the quake it seems to become clearer than before that the working-class and poor people in Haiti will continue to live in their extreme poverty, though the millions of dollars and the tons of humanitarian aid that have been pouring to this country since and before the earthquake hit and destroyed the country’s most important part, western department, the capital and its surroundings.
Haitian people have been discriminated and victimized of prejudice for more than two centuries. Until 1990 when Haitian people first elected their democratic government, there were two different birth certificates in the country, one “Paysan” or the peasants for those who live in the countryside, and another one “Citadin” for those who live in the cities. For example, on top of my birth certificate is written the word paysan.
By Wadner Pierre
One year ago, Father Gerard Jean-Juste, who was like an adoptive father to me for many years, passed away after a courageous fight with leukemia. I'm happy anytime I can write down some wise words he used to say to me and other boys who lived in the Sainte Claire’s parish atop a hill in the community of Ti Plas Kazo (Petite Place Cazeau). I am honoured to have been part of this great man’s life, one of the icons of Haiti’s struggle. I lived with him since1997 as his right-hand altar boy until his lovely father, the Almighty God, called him on May 27th, 2009 at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida.
To begin the Eucharistic celebration, Father Jean-Juste made the community aware of what was going on nationally and internationally. Some people called him the reporter, and others called him a journalist priest. He liked to talk about school, church, and politics but, as a realist, he knew that the body needs nourishment as well as the mind and soul. He always said, “ Pray, Study and Eat.” At the Sainte Claire’s Rectory feeding program funded by What If? Foundation, he always asked the children who come to eat, “What did Jesus ask?” and the children replied “Food for the kids.”
Today the IMF and Europe agreed to a €130 billion bailout package to Greece.
Greece has been under intense pressure recently. The economic crisis plunged Greece, like many other nations, into tough economic times.
As Greece has maintained consistently high levels of debt over many years, the downturns in their shipping and tourism economies have meant that they have required more and more debt in order to keep paying their bills.
However there has been a catch.
American debt-rating agencies (companies which essentially set out how much it will cost to take out a loan) recently said Greece might not pay back its debts.
Greek Prime-Minster George Papandreou has even stated that Greece is being 'attacked' on purpose.
Speaking in the Guardian he said, "This is an attack on the eurozone by certain other interests, political or financial, and often countries are being used as the weak link, if you like, of the eurozone. We are being targeted, particularly with an ulterior motive or agenda, and of course there is speculation in the world markets."
So few people are lending Greece money. This has made it impossible for Greece to get the loans it needs to keep running the country and pay back the loans it has already taken out.
And the 'shock' of the Greece financial situation is being used to destroy Greece's welfare state in what is being reported as "the most drastic overhaul of a European economy ever attempted."
Haroon Siddiqui, one of, if not 'the' best, columnists in the Main Stream Media has an article today looking at politicians who muckrake and target immigrants in order to help with their unpopularity in the polls.
Siddiqui, writing in the Toronto Star, is always very eloquent in his analysis', which using clear cut arguments to back up his opinions on the Rights and Democracy fiasco, Israeli Apartheid Week and International Trade.
In a broad swipe at several politicians and parties he accuses individuals of very low blows:
Sarkozy's standing in the polls is low, as is that of Quebec Premier Jean Charest, Harper, Ignatieff and Dosanjh. They want to climb back up on the backs of vulnerable women or by being dangerously intolerant of multiculturalism, which is the law of the land in Canada.
It was just a few weeks ago that the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives came out with a study showing the disparity that Indigenous people continue to face in Canada when it comes to employment. While carrying out similar - if not identical jobs - Aboriginal people make, on average, 30 per cent less than non-aboriginals. It's a shocking number, and speaks volumes to the poverty that continues to plague Aboriginal communities across the country.
The latest piece we are featuring in our partnership with Work For All is pleasantly timely, then.
Dominion Weblogs compiles the weblogs of Dominion editors and writers. The topics discussed are wide-ranging, but Canadian Foreign Policy, grassroots politics, and independent media are chief among them.
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.