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Arabica Robusta

Justice and Reparations in Haiti » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the N... - 0 views

  • 8,000 Haitians have been killed by cholera, and hundreds more die each year.  Haiti had avoided cholera for a century before the outbreak triggered by United Nations troops systematically dumping untreated, infected human waste into the country’s primary river. Despite overwhelming evidence of the UN’s responsibility, evidence that includes the analysis of the UN’s own experts, Haitian victims have not received so much as an apology for their grievous losses, much less a remedy.
  • after three years of UN stonewalling, the outlook is finally improving for Jacqueline Olonville and other cholera victims. Earlier this month, at a Geneva ceremony honoring the work of Haitian human rights attorney Mario Joseph, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay deviated from her prepared remarks. “Those who suffered as a result of that cholera (should) be provided with compensation,” Pillay said.
Arabica Robusta

Haiti: Persecution and death threats to camp activist & human rights lawyer - 0 views

  • On April 13th the camp residents received a visit from Renold Georges who claimed to be the owner of the land.  He threatened to burn and bulldoze the camp if they did not leave the camp.  The following Monday a section of the camp was set on fire by two motorcyclists, possibly in the hope of keeping Renold Georges promise to destroy the whole camp.  
  • The police arrested two camp residents, Meril Civil and Darlin Lexima who was released after 24 hours.   Lexima reported to the camp lawyers that he was beaten and that he believed Civil was also beaten.  According to the police, Civil was taken to the hospital but died.  However,  Lexima believes he was killed in the police station and was already dead when he arrived at the hospital.
  • Elie is well known to the Commissariat Delta Force as he was arrested in August following floods brought about by Hurricane Sandy.  The camp residents were protesting about the flooding in the camp, the lack of water and the many tents which were destroyed.   Elie spent three days in police custody during which time he was severely beaten.  He was released after the court threw out the case for lack of evidence.    He believes the police and particularly the Delta force have a vendetta against him.
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  • In Haiti there are two problems : everyone wants to be a Chief and secondly the white man has too many interests in the country so if they don’t kill you for the power, they will kill you for the interest of the blan [foreigner]!
Arabica Robusta

The Uses of Paul Farmer » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names - 0 views

    I asked Samuel Maxime, editor of Defend Haiti, an online news magazine popular with the Haitian diaspora, what he thinks of Farmer today.

    He said it's hard to criticize anyone working on health in Haiti because lives are at stake.

    Indeed, this makes it difficult to subject Farmer or any humanitarian to critique. But meaningful accountability is precisely what's been missing from the aid sector. Farmer himself made the point in our first interview.

    "Nonetheless, I think Farmer is a large part of the machine that enables corruption in Haiti," Maxime continued. "In the grand scheme of things I believe someone like Farmer, who knows right from wrong, integrity from corruption, and looks the other way as he does - he enables it, in fact, like MLK Jr. would say - they are complicit in it."
Arabica Robusta

Cholera and Healthcare in Haiti - 0 views

    "When questioned by journalist Ansel Herz about the stalling of a wage increase from $3 to $5, Farmer, the new voice of the occupiers, also stalled as he seemed to have forgotten his own treatise on 'pathologies of power'."
Arabica Robusta

HAITI: In Haiti, reliving Duvalier, waiting for Aristide > San Francisco Bay View - NEO... - 0 views

    The traumatizing symbolism of Duvalier's return at Haiti's weakest hour is an insult to the dead and an assault on the living.
Arabica Robusta

Haiti: It's only out of our hands if we don't want to pick it up - 0 views

  • My original plan to meet with women organising in the community has  fallen short of what I had hoped due to family crisis, cholera, election protests and now petrol shortages.  
  • All over there is rubble which in parts occupies half the street and often in competition with the “Preval’s International Filth” -  the huge mass of refuse which threatens everyone’s existence except the pigs which grow fat from endless munching.
  • No one should be forced to live in such an environment and no matter how much you try to clean your own patch, and people do this all the time in an almost continuous motion, its going to make very little difference if there is no where for the rubbish to go.
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  • And neither here nor in Nigeria or most other places is sanitation  given the priority it requires.  Rea tells me refuse collection and sanitation is used by political opponents to discredit one another for example in 2002 she was in charge of a cleaning crew in.  They would go out at night clean the streets but the next day the streets would be full of refuse again.   One particular day they hid and were able to catch the rubbish dumpers who were working for a political opponent in the area.
  • The great white stomping  tanks and trucks guzzle the streets.  Young men with brown and black faces, their blue helmets bobbing up and down – Brazil, Guatemala, Nepal, Nigeria – holding the grey steel of their weapons in one hand and their crutches in the other, they gaze blankly at the streets below their high top perch.   In her 2004 novel, Memories of an Amnesiac describes the 1915 invasion by and subsequent occupation by the US  until 1934 as “the boots” – “the boots” returned in 2004 and remain today….
  • Six weeks ago the international media was full of reports on the outbreak of cholera now it has largely been forgotten but for the people of Haiti it remains a daily reality.  The second week I was here, a neighbour, an elderly woman died and the other family members were all sick but fortunately they have recovered.   Last Monday I walked just 10 meters across the path to buy some soft drinks from a young man and his wife and of course we exchanged money.   24 hours later he was in hospital with cholera and now no one will buy drinks from his wife so in addition to the illness the family have lost their very meagre income.    I had exchanged money with him and could not remember whether I washed my hands before touching my mouth.   Someone gives a kiss – the passing of affection becomes the passing of infection as  few days later she discovers the woman has cholera.    The young children all play together so of course they are especially vulnerable even if they wash their hands before eating.   So the cholera is passing from person to person and is very very real for all of us.  On Wednesday and Thursday last week I visited a family member in hospital and on both occasions whilst waiting outside someone arrived with a cholera victim.  In the early hours of Friday people were seen in Martissant 25 running with wheel barrows carrying cholera victims.    More of the women from Bobin who I was supposed to meet my first week have fallen ill together with their families and there is no doubt in my mind that these stories are replicated throughout the country.  Everyone is at risk.   Outside of Port-au-Prince the problem is worse.  In Jérémie the hospitals can no longer cope and for those small villages with no hospital or clinic people just die.
  • Recently I received an email from a tent spammer who must have picked up I was in Haiti and sent me a list of tarps and tents at discount prices.  This is not how people should be forced to live even for a short period let alone a year and there is no hope of change on the horizon.  I think of other refugee camps like the Palestinian camps in Beirut and the Saharawi’s of Tinduff in the southern Algerian Sahara both of which have been in existence for thirty odd years.  What passes through your mind passes mine…. It cannot be possible.
  • Two days later she cooked me fish.   That is the nature of this wonderful family.  In  my own silence like a voyeur of the mind, I wonder what tragedy lies behind the faces of the people who survived. 
  • In Champ Mars  lies the remains of the  crushed palace looking like a broken wedding cake along side which there are thousands and thousands of tents.  The ones on the outer parameters facing the main boulevard have set up shop providing, barbers, beauty salons, seamstresses, vendors of food and other necessities.  Rising above the devastation of Port-au-Prince in  twisted irony, the three heros of the revolution remain standing – Toussaint L’Overture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Henri Christophe.  Do they speak of a fallen people or to a people on the verge of rising once again?  The weirdest structure still standing is the “2004” cone tower soaring above the whole city and built by President Aristide.  No one seems to know what exactly it represents but I take it to be a symbol of the “2nd Haitian revolution” – the flood of Lavalas.  It speaks, you are trying to kill us but we are not dead yet, there is a 3rd revolution to come.  In the now infamous recitation of Toussaint L’ Ouverture on his forced exile to France, Aristide spoke on his similar forced exile in January 2004

    “In overthrowing me they have only felled the tree of Negro liberty…..It’ll shoot up again, for it is deeply rooted and its roots are many” [quoted from “Create Dangerously by Edwidge Danticat]

  • All we have to do is struggle and wait for that moment which in turn will become a history of this great Black country.
Arabica Robusta

Pambazuka - Will Obama end up like Toussaint L'Ouverture? - 0 views

  • Toussaint L'Ouverture was one such revolutionary in Haiti who joined the revolution in 1793 and agreed that the old system of slavery must end. But Toussaint believed in the plantation model and wanted to restore the economic relations of the plantation where the former enslaved were supposed to work for a planter class.
  • While Toussaint is still celebrated as a great revolutionary, the tragedy of the bloodletting and stagnation of Haitian society cannot be separated from the fact that as a political leader he could not grasp the reality that the mass of the people wanted a new form of economic organisation.
  • One estimate of this tax handout for the richest Americans during the eight years of the presidency shows that the wealthiest 400 Americans increased their wealth by over US$380 billion. 400 families increased their wealth by US$380 billion. This translates into an average of a US$1 billion giveaway to each of the richest 400 Americans. Senator Bernie Sanders clearly spelt out the fact that during this period of enriching the top income earners, the top Fortune 400 companies and families were further strengthened to dominate the political and intellectual spaces. It was revealed that the 400 richest Americans have accumulated US$1.27 trillion in wealth.
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  • There are those from the progressive camp who argued that Obama did not do enough to mobilise the ordinary working people against the Republican position of tax cuts for the rich. However, Obama had surrounded himself with the ideologues from Wall Street so that he (like Toussaint) believed that supporting the super rich would be the way to recharge the US economy.
  • David Cay Johnson, explained in great detail the numerous subsidies granted to the capitalists. What David Cay Johnson did not elaborate on was that on top of the subsidies for insurance companies, banks, oil companies, telecommunications and pharmaceutical corporations, there was the major subsidy of the trillions of dollars spent on the military to protect this class.
  • As Barack Obama is trapped by the ideal of liberal economic theory, a major question is whether he can save capitalism. Even a more urgent question is, as Toussaint attempted to take Haitians back to the plantations, would Obama’s attempt to save capitalism not take ordinary people back to the era of ultra-Reagonomics along with the cowboy-like military adventures? What is the moral justification for trying to save a moribund system by pleasing the financial oligarchs at the expense of the working people and planet earth? A serious concern is that if Obama displeases the people to please the capitalists, and yet is unable to satisfactorily please them, he may end up like Toussaint L’Ouverture.
Arabica Robusta

Women's movement building and creating community in Haiti - 0 views

  • One of the stories least reported has been the one about Haitians organising for themselves, particularly stories presented within a framework of feminist organising and movement building.
  • Once it was established Rea’s family were all safe – a house just five minutes walk from Rea’s own home collapsed – she set about caring for the many in her community and where ever she was needed.   Everyone was in shock but there was no time to think about what had happened as people were injured.   Many people – students, families knowing about her community work, flocked to Rea’s home and at one point there were some 60 people in her home. 
  • I was surprised when I heard Rea had started a Micro-Credit scheme as there were so many negative reports on schemes which rather than enhance and empower women, ended up impoverishing them even more.   So I was interested to find out more about the SOPUDEP scheme, whether it was working and why it worked and I will write about this later after meeting with the various women’s group.
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  • The elections are a distraction.    Leaders have the power to bring change but no one believes any leader will do anything for the poor.  Everyone I asked about Aristide wanted him back because they believed he was one leader who could change their lives for the better.  Right now the only way is for communities to reach out to each other and create alliances which is what SOPUDEP is beginning to do.  Rea’s vision is one I share.  We cannot fix Haiti, but we can fix our community and help others fix theirs.  Eventually as all these communities build alliances amongst themselves, they will become strong and then maybe begin to fix Haiti.
  • I have spent two days at the school with the freedom to roam.  I came across a class whose teacher was absent and I ended up teaching English for 45 minutes followed by the students giving me a lesson in Kreyol.   Now I have been asked by them  to teach the same class for the next couple of weeks till they break uap for holidays.  The school is truly like  family. Since the Micro-credit scheme, parents and school staff have all been encouraged to open savings account.  
Arabica Robusta

Cholera and the destruction of Haiti - 0 views

  • I think what is so shocking about the poverty here is that it is born out of 200 years of relentless brutality of the west in response towards the Haitian struggle for self-determination and dignity.
  • Many of these charities raise a great money in their local communities at home and money is then sent to Haiti. But being dependent on charities can be risky. There is no guarantee how long support will last and there is no accountability to anyone and many small local projects providing education, protection and support to women survivors of violence and orphanages [ particularly vulnerable to predator charities] are completely off the radar.
  • The example of Save The Children which despite having its office next to SOPUDEP school in Petion-Ville have never approached the school to offer any help before or since the earthquake. I learned of two schools for the poor, one in Citie Soleil and the other in Boucan Lapli. Both of these are schools only in that there is a teacher and there are some children who want to learn.
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  • The school was the victim of a NGO scam whereby they were offered money to start but very soon the monies dried up and the Haitian contact person could not be found. The school started with 260 children. All the teachers have left and just 60 children remain.
Arabica Robusta

Pambazuka - No, Haiti should not become a UN Protectorate - 0 views

  • However, the fact that ‘there is no other nation in the Western Hemisphere that has endured the adversities and misfortunes as that of the Republic of Haiti and its people’, as Mr Munnings writes, seems to suggest that foreign interventions in the country need to be reduced instead of increased given the proven and unprecedented strength, resilience and spirit the Haitian people have demonstrated in the face of incredible odds, and which they have exemplified to the world since achieving independence in 1804.
  • the French officials decided that they would only recognise Haiti as a sovereign state and engage in commercial relations with this black republic if Haiti paid France 150 million gold francs. This, they said, was the value of what France’s slave-holders lost when Haiti gained its independence.
  • Hoping to end Haiti’s global economic and political isolation, repayment instalments equal to 90 per cent of the Haitian economy began immediately and did not finish until 1925 when the last franc was paid, exactly 100 years later.
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  • The American bank, City Bank, responded and eventually offered Haiti a debt exchange with a lower interest rate and longer-term debt. Thus, the illegally extracted debt was not fully paid by Haiti until 1947.
  • The purpose of recounting this history is to demonstrate how deeply problematic it is to think that the US and France should play any role in the governance and internal policy-making of Haiti through the establishment of a UN Protectorate or any other meaningful form.
  • The US offered financial and military support for the Duvalier dictatorships because of their communist paranoia, which gripped the world during the Cold War (the Duvaliers were radically anti-communist, which at the time translated into Haiti enjoying the support of the US because of US fears of communism and another Cuba emerging in the Caribbean). The US also gave this support to protect the immense profits of American apparel and textile companies operating in Haiti. France similarly supported these dictatorships by colluding with the US to ensure that properties and businesses owned by French citizens and corporations in Haiti were protected. The Duvaliers, their cronies, family members and the Haitian elite that supported them actually frequented back and forth between Haiti and France, quite often holding much of the wealth they plundered from the Haitian people in France in the form of property and bank accounts. Further, it is now in France that Baby Doc Duvalier resides and lives comfortably. Moreover, in further consideration of the US and France's relationship to Haiti, it is interesting to note that when Baby Doc was forced from power in 1986 he was brought to France in and American Air Force aircraft.
  • There are also extensive publications and reports concerning neo-liberal policies that the US imposed on Haiti, the partial result of which caused Haiti, once totally self sufficient in terms of rice production, to become dependent on the rice of American farmers. American farmers have enjoyed massive subsidies from the US government and thus have been dumping their rice into Haiti since the 1990s.
  • Regardless of his recent mea culpa, Clinton had ample time to admit and remedy his wrongs during and after his presidency. It reeks of the vilest form of opportunism for him to come out now as a ‘friend of Haiti‘. It behooves us to ask, what is behind his about-face? Mr Clinton, why Haiti and why now and not before?
  • Moreover, despite what Mr Munnings writes, it is offensive to the history and spirit of the Haitian people to seriously state that, ‘this is not the time to talk of Haiti’s autonomy as a sovereign entity’, and that Haiti’s ‘survival’ should instead be our focus. From 1804 to present, Haitians have shown the world time and time again that if there is one thing they have absolutely no need for it is lessons from others on ‘survival’. In fact, they should probably be paid to give the people of the Western world lessons on just that considering how up in arms they are about current austerity measures (Greece, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia, Lithuania, France, UK) and bailouts (Greece, US, Ireland) being used by their governments to safeguard their fragile economies.
  • A critical assessment of Haiti’s history and current affairs reveals that the one thing Haiti has never enjoyed is the right to govern itself and develop on its own terms without significant foreign intervention of all forms, economic, political, social. Thus, it is difficult to see how a UN Protectorate being made of Haiti would mean anything other than a re-packaging of more of the same that would result in furthering the underdevelopment of Haiti.

    Indeed, there are many other ways the UN, US and France can be involved in partnering with Haitian people. One such way is public-private partnership initiatives geared towards capacity building of Haitians in areas of farming, agriculture, construction, medical, health, education services and infrastructure development. These should be led and informed by Haitians legitimately selected by the popular masses. Business loans should also be made more accessible. The Haitian diaspora also needs to play an active role in this process, being deeply engaged in it and not just consulted after decisions have already been made.
  • Finally, It would be absolutely wrong, absurd and offensive to disregard the agency of Haitians and claim that they have played no part in creating a situation where, before the quake, 80 per cent of the population was living under the poverty line and 54 per cent of its people lived in abject poverty.
    • Arabica Robusta
      Unclear about this section.  It is certainly true that Haitians are not perfect, and I understand the need for this proviso.  However, this statement lends no value to the discussion because it offers little context regarding what the author means.
  • All of this is to say that the popular masses of Haiti deeply distrust the UN, and that recent history and current events demonstrate that they have more than ample reason for this disaffection. To be clear, I am not suggesting that the UN abandon Haiti totally, for there are many health and well-being services that the UN is providing that would likely be unavailable otherwise. Indeed, it is also clear that some military presence is needed at present. However, given the forceful opposition of the Haitian people to the UN since 2005 to present, it would be a flagrant assault on the principles of democracy to go as far as to make Haiti a UN Protectorate. Other forms of assistance may be welcome, but UN Protectorate status would not be
Arabica Robusta

Pambazuka - Haitian diary: Five years in darkness - 0 views

  • Rea explained the last 12 months as follows. First we had the earthquake; then the rains; then the hurricane; then cholera; today the elections and now from today the protests against the elections. If Celestin wins then there will be more problems and street protests. If Martelly wins there will be dancing on the streets and protests by those who could not vote.
Arabica Robusta

Waiting for a Leader in Haiti - - 0 views

    This quote is made out of supreme ignorance, unless it does not count the active and energetic community organizations: "In Haiti, however, the few weak institutions that existed were ravaged by the earthquake."
Arabica Robusta

Pambazuka - Haiti 2010: Exploiting disaster - 0 views

  • Almost every credible observer agreed about many of the most urgent things that needed to happen.[36] The recovery had to be Haitian-led. The priority had to be measures that would empower ordinary Haitian people to regain some control over their lives, to gain or regain access to an education, an income, a place to live, a future for themselves and their families. The internationally-imposed neoliberal policies that for decades have devastated the agrarian economy and reduced the state sector to an impotent façade had to be dropped and then forcefully reversed. There had to be massive and systematic investment in essential public services, in all parts of the country. Genuine Haitian sovereignty, popular, economic and political, had to be restored.
  • The strategic plan drafted in early 2009 by neoliberal 'development' economist Paul Collier and subsequently adopted by the UN's reconstruction team remains geared above all to the exploitation of Haitian poverty, as the most reliable means of generating new profits for the benefit of elite and multinational corporations. The political framework that will force implementation of this plan remains one in which the autonomy of Haiti's people and government is reduced more or less to zero.
  • In early March, Préval called on the United States to 'stop sending food aid' to Haiti 'so that our economy can recover and create jobs.'[41]
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  • he key decision, however, involved the creation of a mainly foreign body to decide on the allocation of these promised billions, the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC). The commission is jointly chaired by Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, and former US President (and former Haiti occupier) Bill Clinton. (Original plans for a 24-member board – 11 Haitians along with 13 foreigners representing international financial institutions and the larger donor nations – had to be revised, in the face of subsequent protests, to allow for numerically equal Haitian/foreign representation). Once plans are approved by this IHRC, another group of foreign technocrats and World Bank officials will then supervise the subsequent spending.[44]
  • Today, Patrick Elie notes, 'Haiti is the most privatized country in the world. Almost everything that could be privatized here has been, and the only reason prisons have not been privatized is because it is not yet profitable for them to do so.'[49]
  • With modest job creation and credit facilities in the countryside, with small amounts of money for seeds and fertiliser, Jeffrey Sachs pointed out in late January, 'Haiti's food production could double or triple in the next few years, sustaining the country and building a new rural economy.'[53] But as usual, Haiti's small farmers received little or nothing. Only a paltry US$23 million of the UN's initial request for emergency funds was intended for the agrarian sector, and by the end of February the UN admitted that even this money still hadn't been received. 'In the countryside', Reed Lindsay observed in early March, 'there is no evidence of any humanitarian aid, much less for agriculture.'[54] As a result, confirms Mark Schuller, 'with no jobs, no aid, no prospects of rural development, nothing to keep people in the provinces, the bulk of this reverse migration was undone, and Port-au-Prince is once again a magnet for those seeking jobs.'[55]
  • In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, up in the higher, wealthier and mostly undamaged parts of Pétionville everyone already knew that it's the local residents 'who through their government connections, trading companies and interconnected family businesses' would once again pocket the lion's share of international aid and reconstruction money.[56] At the same time, their counterparts in the US, represented by powerful think tanks and lobbyists like the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute or the RAND Corporation, were quick to see that (as RAND's James Dobbins, one of Clinton's former special envoys to Haiti, put it) 'this disaster is an opportunity to accelerate oft-delayed reforms', including 'breaking up or at least reorganizing the government-controlled telephone monopoly. The same goes with the Education Ministry, the electric company, the Health Ministry and the courts.'[57]
  • Foreign investors and foreign NGOs, needless to say, also tend to need foreign protection to guarantee their security. True to form, once the initial wave of foreign troops began to subside, private, neomilitary security companies like Triple Canopy (which took over the Xe/Blackwater security contract in Iraq in 2009 and Overseas Security & Strategic Information began promoting their services.[71] As an Al Jazeera report on a 9-10 March meeting of security companies in Miami explained, firms like GardaWorld, DynCorp and their ilk naturally 'see new disaster areas as emerging markets.'[72]
  • There are currently around 25,000 garment-sector workers in Haiti, making T-shirts and jeans for labels like Gildan, Hanes, Gap and New Balance. Factory profit margins average about 22 per cent.[74] Canadian garment manufacturer Gildan is one of several companies that expanded production in Haiti after the 2004 coup, reassured by a post-democratic regime that promised a tax holiday and a moratorium on wage increases.
  • As some investors and their advisors are candid enough to admit, Haiti's most significant 'comparative advantage' remains the stark fact that its people are so poor and so desperate that they are prepared to work for no more than a twentieth of the money they might receive for comparable employment in the US.[78]
  • Given his commitment to this old agenda, notes Richard Morse, UN envoy Bill Clinton isn't bringing change or hope to Haiti. 'Clinton, along with USAID, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations are bringing more of the same to Haiti: More for the few and less for the many.'[80]
  • as Schwarz demonstrates in convincing detail in his 2008 book ‘Travesty in Haiti’, food aid has been deployed systematically and deliberately, from the beginning of its intensive use in the 1980s, to 'destroy the Haitian economy of small farmers.'
  • Today, Isabeau Doucet writes, 'tens of thousands of families are subject to a relentless cycle of exodus, dispersal, and brutality at the hands of the Haitian National police and privately hired armed groups, in violation of Haitian and international law.' In some places, 'rather than clearing rubble from the streets, bulldozers are plowing over the tents of undesired "squatters" only to resettle IDPs expelled from elsewhere.'[95]
  • As you might expect, there is no such sense of loss among people more directly concerned by the disaster. Perhaps the most striking feature of the whole post-quake period has been the extraordinary hardiness and discipline of the hundreds of thousands people who have lost their relatives, homes and possessions, and who from day one began to organise themselves into new communities.
  • Grassroots organizations still meet regularly to develop their strategies for political change, as they have throughout history. Across the country on any given day, small groups perch on broken chairs under tarps in refugee camps, huddle amidst rubble in the courtyards of earthquake-destroyed schools, or sweat under thatched-roof gazebos […]. They are developing pressure points for housing rights and protection against rape for those in camps. Some plan information campaigns aimed at sweatshop workers, others programs to politicize youth. The agendas are seemingly endless.’[106]
  • In the election year of 2010, as in the previous elections of 2000 and 1990, the key political difference remains the division between (a) critics calling merely for a more efficient deployment of reconstruction resources and more 'reasonable' forms of cooperation with the occupying troops and aid workers, and (b) activists working to rekindle popular mobilisation for fundamental political change as the only viable means of regaining national sovereignty and establishing social justice.
  • Patrick Elie, likewise, stakes everything on a renewal of the popular movement that opened the door to political change in the late 1980s: 'I put all my money on our ability, at the level of the grassroots movement, to remobilise the Haitian people, to make them believe, once more, that they are the key players in politics.'[114]
  • Unfortunately, the main institutional legacy of the Lavalas mobilisation – Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas (FL) party – is itself both divided and largely excluded from the political process. After its landslide election victory in 2000, opposition politicians anticipated that FL might remain hegemonic for 'sixty years'.[115] The second anti-Lavalas coup and its aftermath have helped level the political playing field.
  • The FL leadership has made matters worse by indulging in years of sterile post-Aristide in-fighting.
  • In the election of 2010, as in the last four presidential elections in Haiti, everything will depend on whether this unity and this consciousness are strong enough to prevail over the vast and diverse array of forces drawn up to oppose them. The earthquake has sharpened and accelerated the basic political choice facing Haiti: Either renewal of the popular mobilisation in pursuit of equality and justice, or long-term confirmation of the island's current status as a neocolonial protectorate.
    Almost every credible observer agreed about many of the most urgent things that needed to happen.[36] The recovery had to be Haitian-led. The priority had to be measures that would empower ordinary Haitian people to regain some control over their lives, to gain or regain access to an education, an income, a place to live, a future for themselves and their families. The internationally-imposed neoliberal policies that for decades have devastated the agrarian economy and reduced the state sector to an impotent façade had to be dropped and then forcefully reversed. There had to be massive and systematic investment in essential public services, in all parts of the country. Genuine Haitian sovereignty, popular, economic and political, had to be restored.
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