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January 19, 2011 Weblog:

Polls and protests paint a hopeful picture in Israel

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.

» continue reading "Polls and protests paint a hopeful picture in Israel "

January 17, 2011 Weblog:

Human Rights Groups Call for Immediate Arrest of Jean-Claude Duvalier Jan­u­ary 17, 2011-Port-au-Prince and Boston- Today

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACTS:
Mario Joseph, Av., Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (Port-au-Prince, Haiti), mario@ijdh.org, 509-3701-9879
Brian Concannon Jr., Esq., Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (Boston, MA), brian@ijdh.org, 541-263-0029
Iran Kurzban, Esq. IJDH Board Chair and attorney in Jean-Juste v. Duvalier, (Miami, FL) ira@kkwtlaw.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.

» continue reading "Human Rights Groups Call for Immediate Arrest of Jean-Claude Duvalier Jan­u­ary 17, 2011-Port-au-Prince and Boston- Today"

January 3, 2011 Weblog:

Workers, community converge at Southern Human Rights conference

By Dante Strobino
Birmingham, Ala.
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.

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January 3, 2011 Weblog:

HAITI: Hold New, Open, Fair Elections

BY NICOLE PHILLIPS and NICOLAS ALBERTO PASCAL
www.HaitiJustice.org
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.

» continue reading "HAITI: Hold New, Open, Fair Elections "

December 27, 2010 Weblog:

Jonathan Pollack's sentencing statement

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.

» continue reading "Jonathan Pollack's sentencing statement"

December 16, 2010 Weblog:

Michel Martelly, Stealth Duvalierist

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

» continue reading "Michel Martelly, Stealth Duvalierist"

December 2, 2010 Weblog:

HAITI: Popular Anger Unabated over Chaotic Polls

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.

Credit:Wadner Pierre/IPS
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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.

» continue reading "HAITI: Popular Anger Unabated over Chaotic Polls"

November 28, 2010 Weblog:

Haiti:Church Holding Prayer on the Eve of Undemocratic Elections

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.

» continue reading "Haiti:Church Holding Prayer on the Eve of Undemocratic Elections"

November 22, 2010 Weblog:

Haitian Photojournalist Addresses UCSB Audience

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.

» continue reading " Haitian Photojournalist Addresses UCSB Audience"

November 18, 2010 Weblog:

Cholera Epidemic: President Jean-Bertrand Aristide Breaks the Silence

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.

» continue reading "Cholera Epidemic: President Jean-Bertrand Aristide Breaks the Silence"

November 14, 2010 Weblog:

Haiti: Cholera Killed Over 900 People -Hundreds Deceased Names Remain in the Electoral Lists

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.

Cholera

» continue reading "Haiti: Cholera Killed Over 900 People -Hundreds Deceased Names Remain in the Electoral Lists "

November 13, 2010 Weblog:

Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide: "Selections Not 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.

» continue reading "Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide: "Selections Not Elections""

October 26, 2010 Weblog:

Haiti’s Faithless Elections: Lack of Certainty of the Provisional Electoral Council Pushes National and International Leaders to

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.

» continue reading "Haiti’s Faithless Elections: Lack of Certainty of the Provisional Electoral Council Pushes National and International Leaders to"

October 19, 2010 Weblog:

Haiti’s Flawed Elections: A Set-Back for the Country’s Political Future-and the Post-Earthquake Rebuilding Process

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.

» continue reading "Haiti’s Flawed Elections: A Set-Back for the Country’s Political Future-and the Post-Earthquake Rebuilding Process "

September 28, 2010 Weblog:

Take a Stand against the Occupation of Haiti by Dominican Republic under the UN-Preval’s Leadership

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.

» continue reading "Take a Stand against the Occupation of Haiti by Dominican Republic under the UN-Preval’s Leadership"

September 20, 2010 Weblog:

Haitian Women Struggle to Keep Hope Alive

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."

» continue reading "Haitian Women Struggle to Keep Hope Alive"

September 13, 2010 Weblog:

Protests Growing as Earthquake Survivors Demand Right to Education and Shelter

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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.

» continue reading "Protests Growing as Earthquake Survivors Demand Right to Education and Shelter"

August 27, 2010 Weblog:

Scraping by on Mud Cookies

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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.

» continue reading "Scraping by on Mud Cookies"

August 24, 2010 Weblog:

Haiti Gears Up for Polls - Again, Sans Lavalas

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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."

» continue reading "Haiti Gears Up for Polls - Again, Sans Lavalas"

August 24, 2010 Weblog:

Gonaives Girds for Heavy Storm Season

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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.

» continue reading "Gonaives Girds for Heavy Storm Season"

June 24, 2010 Weblog:

Haitian Culture Versus Non-governmental Organizations Culture

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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.

» continue reading "Haitian Culture Versus Non-governmental Organizations Culture"

June 24, 2010 Weblog:

Haiti Post-Earthquake: Discrimination and Prejudice

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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.

» continue reading "Haiti Post-Earthquake: Discrimination and Prejudice"

June 5, 2010 Weblog:

In Memory of Father Gerard Jean-Juste

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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.”

» continue reading "In Memory of Father Gerard Jean-Juste"

May 2, 2010 Weblog:

Greece Bailout: Klein's Shock Doctrine in Action

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."

» continue reading "Greece Bailout: Klein's Shock Doctrine in Action"

April 25, 2010 Weblog:

Siddiqui: Immigrants and Multiculturalism face war

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.

April 25, 2010 Weblog:

"Look again: I'm still Aboriginal"

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. As I am is a powerful, experimental documentary challenging how Aboriginal people are seen in the workplace. Directed by Algonquin filmmaker Nadia Myre, and based on a poem written by Mohawk writer Janet Marie Rogers, it both celebrates diversity of culture in the workplace, and pushes us to question how easy it is label colleagues as 'others' while all the while carrying out the same tasks and duties.

» continue reading ""Look again: I'm still Aboriginal""

April 24, 2010 Weblog:

Khalas! The Fifth Bil'in International Conference on the Popular Struggle

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In the name of our prisoners: Non-Violence, Creativity, International Joint Struggle

April 21-23, 2010
Bil'in, West Bank

Closing Statement

During this fifth annual conference, we felt the absence of our friends who are prevented by the occupation's cells and bars from joining us, imprisoned for struggling non-violently for our freedom, activists and leaders of the popular committees Abdullah Abu Rahmah, Ibrahim A'amirah, Adeeb Abu Rahmah, Hassan Moussa, Zaydoun Surour, Ibrahim Burnat, Wael Faqi and all political prisoners.

The conference opened with a message from them written by the imprisoned coordinator of the popular committee of Bili'n, Abdullah Abu Rahme. The message spoke of the need to continue the popular nonviolent struggle and the need for international support.

We felt the absence our beloved Bassem Abu Rahmah, along with the martyrs of Ni'lin and those that have fallen to defend our land and human dignity. We heard from the family of the martyr Bassem Abu Rahma on behalf of the families of the martyrs who stated that the popular struggle must continue until freedom is achieved.

We felt the absence of our brothers and sisters from Gaza who can join us only via video conference due to the occupation's criminal siege of 1.5 million of our people.

All those that were not with us physically were with us every minute in spirit. It is your steadfastness and your sacrifice that fuel and inspire the struggle that will ultimately lead us to our freedom.

» continue reading "Khalas! The Fifth Bil'in International Conference on the Popular Struggle"

April 21, 2010 Weblog:

Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People Agrees to Meet Kichesipirini

Mr. James Anaya,Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner For Human Rights has agreed to meet with Paula LaPierre, Principal Sachem of the Kichesipirini Algonquin First Nation, regarding numerous Algonquin concerns.

Paula LaPierre, an Algonquin leader, has been raising concerns regarding serious irregularities concerning land claim negotiations, distribution of public funds, accountability, good governance, and the need for external intervention regarding domestic policies and Canadians' lack of independent information regarding national developments and much needed institutional reform at the international level now for years.

She first became concerned when observing numerous irregularities surrounding the "Algonquins of Ontario" Land Claims negotiations process.

Her first concerns were about the lack of adequate anti-corruption mechanisms in place. She then became further concerned when participation in the negotiations required compliance to the severely flawed and wasteful process.

Subsequently, she learned that identity manipulations and coercions, substandard policy, and excessive expenditures of public money into questionable processes removed from the rule of law were common features in many Aboriginal processes and policy.

» continue reading "Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People Agrees to Meet Kichesipirini"

April 19, 2010 Weblog:

The importance of remembering Africville

Africville was a small, African-Canadian community in Halifax, razed in the 1960s in order to make way for new development. While it's been several decades, the pain of the action taken without any consultation with area's residents - they were moved without choice - remains today. The issue was back in the news recently, since the provincial government made an apology and offered reparations for the act. The offer has been met with scepticism and mixed feelings though, as Dalal Razzaq has reported for the Halifax Media Co-op.

It's fitting then that the second film we're featuring in our partnership with Work For All is Remember Africville, a short NFB documentary shot in the 1980s and examining the fall-out and the continuing search for answers around this East Coast tragedy. You can watch it above, and for more information check out the Work For All blog.

» continue reading "The importance of remembering Africville"

February 27, 2010 Weblog:

Ontario Government Bans Use of '“Israeli Apartheid"

The Ontario government recently approved a motion that the term "Israeli Apartheid" should not be used.

The motion passed with unanimous support from the Ontario Tory's, Liberals and NDP.

Speaking to the Toronto Sun Conservative MPP Peter Shurman stated that "I want to be clear about what it is I’m trying to do. I want the name changed. It’s that simple. It’s just wrong."

And why is it wrong for Shurman? What stunning and well thought out rational did Shurman use to back up his condemnation of the words "Israeli Apartheid"?

Does he dispute that there are similarities between the Bantustan system in South Africa and the territory allotments to Palestinians? Did he challenge the claim that there are two different laws that exist in Israel, one for Israelis and another for Palestinians? Why did he and the entire Legislature choose to target the the term "Israeli Apartheid"?

“My problem is the name,” he said. “Israeli Apartheid Week is not dialogue, it’s a monologue. The name is hateful, it is odious and that’s not how things should be in my Ontario. It’s a term that frankly I’m sick of hearing. Get rid of this word apartheid.”

Two things.

One, Shurman never said that the term was not accurate in describing the system. Which makes sense given many South Africans and Israelis themselves use this terms to describe the treatment of Palestinians.

Two, replace the word "Israeli" with "South African" in Shurman's quote and it makes about as much sense as it would have in the 1980's.

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