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PAHO Urges Improved Water and Sanitation to Fight Cholera

March 25, 2014 - 08:13

Pan American Health Organization and WASH Advocates are urging international support for major improvements in water and sanitation in Haiti so that cholera may be prevented rather than simply treated. PAHO says that poor water and sanitation are what allowed cholera to spread so quickly in the first place and are the key to stopping the epidemic.

Improved water and sanitation infrastructure key to controlling Haiti cholera

Caribbean360
March 25, 2014

More than 700,000 people have been sickened by the disease and more than 8,500 have died up to mid-March 2014.

WASHINGTON D.C., United States, Tuesday March 25, 2014, CMC – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says while Haiti has made significant progress in slowing the spread of cholera, controlling and eventually eliminating the disease will require major improvements in water and sanitation infrastructure.

Representatives from PAHO and its partner organizations in the Regional Coalition for Water and Sanitation to Eliminate Cholera from Hispaniola are urging stepped-up support for a “call to action” launched in 2012.

“World Water Day is an opportunity to highlight how critical water and sanitation are in the fight against cholera,” said PAHO Deputy Director Jon K. Andrus on Friday, designated by the United Nations as World Water Day.

“This was a key lesson learned in stopping the cholera epidemic that swept the Western Hemisphere in the 1990s,” he added.

During that time, Andrus said countries prioritized safe water and sanitation as fundamental to stopping cholera transmission while ensuring access to safe water as a basic human right.

“We want to go far beyond treating cholera patients. We want to stop the actual transmission of cholera in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere, and to get there we need major improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene,” said John Oldfield, chief executive officer of WASH Advocates, a Washington-based non-profit, nonpartisan initiative dedicated to helping solve the global safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) challenge.

Since October 2010, PAHO said cholera has spread to all of Haiti’s departments, into the neighbouring Dominican Republic, and beyond the island of Hispaniola to Cuba and Mexico.

In Haiti alone, it said more than 700,000 people have been sickened by the disease and more than 8,500 have died, as of mid-March 2014.

Although the epidemic has slowed considerably, PAHO warned that cholera has continued to sicken an average of 385 people per week in Haiti during 2014.

Even before the January 2010 earthquake, PAHO noted that Haiti had the lowest levels of water and sanitation coverage in the Americas, with only 63 percent of the population having access to improved sources of drinking water, and 17 percent having access to improved sanitation.

“These conditions facilitated the rapid spread of cholera after its initial outbreak in October 2010,” said PAHO, adding that in order to fight the epidemic, the governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic in 2012 launched a “Call to Action” for the international community to support major improvements in safe water, sanitation, and hygiene.

In response, PAHO said it formed with several partners the Regional Coalition for Water and Sanitation to Eliminate Cholera from Hispaniola “to mobilize international support for the two countries’ efforts in this area”.

 

Click HERE for original.

Brian Concannon & Mario Joseph Hailed “Heroes” in Salem

March 24, 2014 - 09:19

This article describes the Salem Award ceremony of March 23, including Brian and Mario’s presentation, background on the two, and dignitaries present at the ceremony.

Salem Award honors Haitian heroes

Tom Dalton, The Salem News
March 24, 2014

SALEM — Two lawyers who have taken on everyone from military strongmen to the United Nations in their fight for the poor of Haiti were honored yesterday with the 22nd annual Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice.

Mario Joseph and Brian Concannon received the award in an afternoon ceremony before a packed ballroom at the Hawthorne Hotel.

“Mario and Brian are the most courageous, persistent and effective human rights activists I have met during 30 years of working in Haiti…” Dr. Paul Farmer, cofounder of Partners in Health, a leading health organization in Haiti, wrote in introductory remarks read to a crowd of more than 200 at yesterday’s ceremony.

Joseph, a native of Haiti, was a lead attorney in a landmark legal case, the prosecution of 59 military and civilian paramilitary fighters involved in what became known as the Roboteau Massacre.

In 1994, the defendants led an early-morning assault on Roboteau, a shanty town where demonstrations had been held in support of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s first democratically elected president who had been deposed in a military coup.

The attackers went door to door, beating and shooting residents. Estimates of the number killed ranged from six to more than 20.

Joseph, managing attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, helped secure convictions of some of the country’s most feared military leaders during a six-week trial. The New York Times called him “Haiti’s most prominent human rights lawyer.”

Concannon, a Boston native who is director of the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, helped prepare the prosecution in the Roboteau case.

He also sued the United Nations for billions of dollars on behalf of the families of thousands of victims who died or became ill from a 2010-11 cholera outbreak which medical panels ruled most likely was caused by U.N. peacekeepers.

In accepting the award, Concannon lauded the courage of the many people in Haiti who work closely with their two organizations, and also singled out his corecipient for praise.

“Mario is under pretty significant physical danger for his work,” he said.

Two Salem State University students, Haitian native Kinnflo Michel, and Haitian-American Naomie Pacoulouce, spoke at the ceremony.

Dignitaries in attendance included Congressman John Tierney, Mayor Kim Driscoll, state Sen. Joan Lovely and state Rep. John Keenan.

The Salem Award honors individuals whose lives and work emulate the moral lessons learned from the tragedy of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

Past winners include Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center; Eric Reeves, an activist for peace in the Sudan; Fahima Vorgetts of the Afghan Women’s Fund; and Chinese dissident Harry Wu.

Tom Dalton can be reached at tdalton@salemnews.com.

 

Click HERE for original.

Mennonite Central Committee Job Opening

March 24, 2014 - 07:30

The Mennonite Central Committee is looking for a Legislative Associate for International Affairs.  See the position details below.

Date Opened: March 12, 2014
Start Date: May 1, 2014
Resumes Accepted Until: April 4, 2014
Full Time Equivalent: 1
Reports To: MCC Washington Office Director
Travel Percent: 15-20%

Synopsis:
This position will monitor, write about and guide advocacy efforts on U.S. policy with regard to Latin America and Asia. The position includes significant research, analysis, writing, speaking and networking responsibilities and may include mentoring of interns who follow international policy issues.

Individuals interested in this position should send a letter of intent and current resume by April 4, 2014 to Becky Ream at beckyream@mcc.org. Questions may also be directed to Becky via email or by calling 717-859-1151.

Qualifications:
§ B.A. degree (preferably with studies in Bible/religion, international affairs, political science, history, economics or related fields); master’s degree, preferred
§ 1-3 years experience working in public policy advocacy and/or work experience connected to Latin America or Asia
§ Proven research, oral and written communication skills
§ Ability to prioritize and manage multiple issues and tasks
§ Understanding of and ability to articulate biblical and Anabaptist perspectives on public policy
§ Ability to work effectively in coalitions and with diverse groups of people
§ Spanish-language proficiency, preferred

Assignment Description:
Contact/Relationships:
Extensive contacts internally with MCC workers in domestic and international settings, as well as externally with congressional staff and peers from like-minded organizations in DC. Gathers, interprets and communicates information—excellent research, writing and oral skills necessary. Presents workshops, seminars and speaking engagements for constituency groups.

Supervision:
This position does not supervise anyone.
Complexity/Competencies:
Extensive resourcing of constituents and collaboration with other MCC staff. Should be a self-starter, able to synthesize information gathered from multiple sources and develop program plans accordingly. Tasks include constituent education through seminars, articles and action alerts; making congressional visits; and collaborating with members of other faith-based organizations in DC. Some degree of creativity and innovation is required.

Independent Action:
Position requires significant self-initiative, with ability to determine own approaches and methods. Must also be team player, able to participate in diverse coalitions, and the Washington Office team of 5-6 individuals. Supervision is monthly-quarterly.

End Result:
Gathers input from MCC International Program staff and service workers to determine MCC’s position on foreign policy issues. Communicates well to MCC constituency and U.S. policymakers MCC’s position on relevant issues.

Major Responsibilities:
Education – 35%Networking – 30%Advocacy – 35%

Duties:
Education – 35%
· Prepare action alerts and write educational articles for various outlets
· Relate to constituency through seminars, speaking engagements, direct inquiries, etc.
· Assist in planning and conducting seminars for constituency
· Provide occasional mentoring for interns in office
Networking – 30%
· Collaborate extensively with other MCC staff and service workers related to Latin America and Asia
· Attend and participate in MCC-related activities (staff meetings, retreats, etc.)
· Work with colleagues from other church and like-minded agencies in DC
Advocacy –35%
· Research, monitor and analyze U.S. foreign policy by participating in (and, in some instances, giving leadership to) legislative working groups and attending conferences and congressional hearings
· Meet regularly with congressional offices and facilitate congressional visits by MCC staff and partners

Location Description:
The MCC Washington Office is located on Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, about 8 blocks from the U.S. Capitol building. It is easily accessible via public transportation.

Washington, DC is a highly diverse city of about 600,000, with the total metro area population numbering approximately 5.8 million.

 

Click HERE to view description on MCC site.

Haiti Still Has Highest Cholera Incidence Worldwide

March 24, 2014 - 04:57

UN Special Envoy Sandra Honore claimed that there has been progress against the cholera epidemic in Haiti but Haiti still has the highest number of cholera cases in the world. The United Nations continues to hide claim diplomatic immunity from taking responsibility for the epidemic.

UN: Haiti has more cholera than any other nation

Peter James Spielmann, Yahoo News
March 24, 2014

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Haiti’s cholera outbreak is still the worst in the world, the top U.N. envoy there said Monday.

Sandra Honore briefed the U.N. Security Council about the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, crime rates, public health, and the cholera outbreak.

She told reporters “progress is being made” on the cholera epidemic. Of the 680,820 cases reported since 2010, only 6 percent arose last year — some 58,000 infections.

Honore said “the overall incidence of the disease has been reduced by half, and the fatality rate is below 1 percent, which is the alert threshold defined by the World Health Organization globally.”

But she told the Security Council Haiti “still has the highest number of cholera cases in the world.” Health officials in Haiti say the epidemic has killed more than 8,000 people.

Scientific studies have shown that cholera was likely introduced in Haiti by U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal, where the disease is endemic.

The United Nations has claimed diplomatic immunity from class-action lawsuits being filed by lawyers representing Haitian survivors and relatives of the dead who say the U.N. peacekeepers contaminated Haiti’s principal river with cholera-infected human waste beginning in October 2010.

In 2012, the United Nations announced a $2.27 billion initiative to help eradicate cholera in Haiti.

Honore also told the Security Council that major crime was down in 2013, with homicides dropping 21 percent and kidnappings down 53 percent from a year before.

 

Click HERE for original.

Salem Award Ceremony

March 23, 2014 - 13:00

Celebrate Mario and Brian at the Salem Award ceremony for their work in Human Rights and Social Justice!

WHEN:

Sunday March 23 @ 4pm

WHERE:

Hawthorne Hotel Ballroom

18 Washington Square

West Salem, MA

WHY:

To make sure human rights violations like the Salem Witch Trials never happen again.

Click HERE to view the event page and RSVP.

Top Ten Reasons to Install Clean Water in Haiti

March 22, 2014 - 07:00

In an interview with NPR, Jonathan Katz noted that lack of proper sanitation and water access contributes to the persistence of cholera in Haiti. In celebration of World Water Day, the team at IJDH has put together an additional ten reasons to focus on clean water initiatives in Haiti.

1. Eliminate cholera that the United Nations brought to Haiti and put an end to the epidemic sickening and killing people (Reference: NPR)

2. Save 4000+ lives every year from waterborne disease related deaths (Reference: Human Rights Watch)

3. Revolutionize access to basic human rights and dignity (Reference: Special Rapporteur submission)

4. Yield a fivefold return on investment through improving health, education, and creating jobs in establishing an adequate sanitation system. Consequently, inadequate infrastructure can sap as much as 7% of G.D.P. per year. (Reference: Jonathan Katz, New Yorker)

5. When asked if compensating victims and admitting fault would harm the UN or impact future UN operations, former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations, Stephen Lewis said: “No, I don’t think it would compromise the UN. In fact, I think it would do the UN a lot of good to be seen as principled in the face of having caused so much devastation.” (Reference: Rabble)

6. The United Nations has a moral and legal responsibility to do so (Reference: Conyers & 64 Colleagues Write Ambassador Samantha Power Urging UN to Take Responsibility & Remedial Action for Haiti Cholera Outbreak)

7. Opportunity for the UN to fulfill its original mission mandate in Haiti: to restore a secure and stable environment, to promote the political process, to strengthen Haiti’s government institutions and rule-of-law-structures, as well as to promote and to protect human rights. (Reference: MINUSTAH)

8. Promote an already existing UN goal. UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay supports “the defence and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms” at the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, and through Resolution 64/292, the UN recognized the human right to water and sanitation. (References: OHCHR, UN Water for Life)

9. Provide an appropriate and tangible response to Haitian needs (Reference: BBC)

10. Guarantee the basic human rights of the poorest members of the society (Reference: MINUSTAH)

Celebrate World Water Day by learning more about how the United Nations and partner organizations plan to bring clean water and energy to those who need it most around the world.

Vision Toward a New Sovereign Haiti

March 21, 2014 - 14:00

Join the Cholera Justice Project for a forum in Randolph, MA.

WHAT:

The Cholera Justice Project will be holding a forum entitled, “Vision Toward a New Sovereign Haiti”, from March 21st until the 22nd. During this conference there will be discussions about MINUSTAH and cholera. Please join us to discuss what can be done so that Haiti can once again be a sovereign nation. The price for this event is $60 and dinner will be included.

Afterwards, join us on March 23rd for the Salem Awards, where Brian Concannon and Mario Joseph will be awarded for their fight for human rights in Haiti.

WHERE:

Lantana Ballroom
43 Scanlon Drive
Randolph, MA 02368

WHEN:

Friday March 21st: 5pm-10pm
Saturday March 22nd: 3pm-10pm

 

For more information please contact Dr. Jean Ford Figaro at (508)2507926 or kolerajistisprojet@gmail.com

 

Click here for the event poster in French.

Jonathan Katz, NPR discuss persistence of Haiti Cholera epidemic

March 21, 2014 - 09:31

NPR interviewed journalist Jonathan Katz, who has been covering the cholera epidemic in Haiti since it began three years ago. Katz discusses how lack of sanitation has prolonged the epidemic despite $9 million in foreign aid pledged to fight cholera. On the United Nations response to claims of blame, Katz notes ”since [the IJDH lawsuit], the science [supporting the claim] has been so overwhelming that the UN basically doesn’t even take up the issue of whether it’s responsible.”

Why Cholera Persists In Haiti Despite An Abundance Of Aid

NPR

March 21, 2014

It’s been more than three years since cholera struck Haiti. And the epidemic continues today.

The deadly bacteria have killed more than 8,500 people. And it has infected hundreds of thousands.

Why has the outbreak been so hard to contain — especially given the $9 million in foreign aid pledged to the country?

Lack of sanitation, says journalist Jonathan Katz, who has been covering the cholera epidemic since it began.

Haiti doesn’t have sewers. Instead, the country relies on what’s known as the bayakou: independent, and somewhat secretive, laborers who clean the cesspools under people’s latrines.

“Almost all of them are men … and they work in a very interesting way,” he says. “The job is done is by hand. They climb into the latrines with a bucket. They scoop out the excrement and put it somewhere else.”

“The job is incredibly important,” Katz says, “because it’s basically the only way that people who have underground cesspools, dug under latrines in their backyard, to get them clean.”

But even having a latrine is a luxury and not common in Haiti.

“Most people in Haiti can’t afford even that kind of cesspool,” Katz says. “So what most people do, especially in the rural areas, is that they look for an open field or they look for a canal. Most people prefer to go at dawn.”

And when those choices aren’t available, many people use an even less sanitary method: the so-called flying toilet.

“You take a plastic bag. You go in the plastic bag. And then you throw it,” Katz says. “That’s the way the sanitation tends to get done.”

After the 2010 earthquake, foreign aid flooded into Haiti. And a major concern then was getting clean water and toilets into the country. But nothing has been done to solve Haiti’s water and sanitation problems permanently, Katz says.

“There were very, very short-term, band aid type solutions,” he says. “For instance, the bladders of water provided to the displacement camps and the porta potties being installed in big, visible places. They weren’t long-term, durable solutions,” Katz says.

Evidence suggests the cholera in Haiti came from a United Nation’s base, where Nepalese peacekeeping troops lived. The strain of cholera in Haiti exactly matches that one found at the UN base. And the sanitation on the base wasn’t sufficient enough to prevent contamination of the adjacent river.

Haitian citizens recently brought a lawsuit against the UN. They’re seeking compensation for the spread of cholera.

“Before these lawsuits were brought forward, UN officials were trying to actively deny they were responsible,” Katz says. “Since then, the science [supporting the claim] has been so overwhelming that the UN basically doesn’t even take up the issue of whether it’s responsible.”

And once cholera takes hold in region, the infectious disease doesn’t leave easily.

“It’s very hard to get out of the environment,” Katz says. “But that said, there have been many places in the world that have dealt with horrific cholera epidemics over very long periods of time.”

What was the solution? Sewers and better sanitation. “Build underground pipes,” Katz says. “As long as people continue to drink water that is infected, cholera is going to be a major problem.”

 

Click HERE for original article.

Report of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti

March 21, 2014 - 08:28

Report of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti

Gustavo Gallón
February 7, 2014

The following is a report by Gustavo Gallón, independent expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti, appointed in June 2013 by the Human Rights Council. The independent expert carried out a mission to Haiti in September 2013, to Port-au-Prince and Jacmel.

In his report, Gallón identifies five main problems that contribute to the commission of human rights violations in Haiti and require urgent action including social inequality, the plight of detainees, the weakness of the rule of law, human rights violations committed in the past, and the impact on human rights of the disasters that have hit Haiti.

Click HERE for full report.

High-Level Bilateral Haiti-DR Talks Postponed

March 19, 2014 - 11:15

The monthly meeting between Haiti and the Dominican Republic originally scheduled for Thursday March 20 has been postponed to April 8. According to a statement released by the Dominican Republic, both countries’ technical teams have requested to postpone the bilateral talks. For more information on the talks thus far, as well as a brief overview of historical Haiti-Dominican Republic relations, see a review here.

Haiti-Dominican Republic Talks Postponed Until April

Caribbean Journal staff, Caribbean Journal

March 17, 2014

High-level bilateral talks between the Dominican Republic and Haiti originally scheduled for Thursday have been postponed until April 8, the Dominican Republic announced Monday.

The meeting had been scheduled to take place in the Haitian city of Jacmel.

In a statement, the Dominican Republic said “the technical teams of both countries have requested to extend the deadline to allow time to mature and prepare agreements on trade, health, tourism and migration.”

The Dominican Republic’s government said that teams from both sides would work together on proposals over the next two weeks to advance “all the work possible with an eye toward the [April] 8 meeting.”

Dominican Republic Minister of the Presidency Gustvao Montalvo, who has been leading the Dominican side in the monthly bilateral talks, said he had accepted the request for postponement.

“Remember that this is an unprecedented event in the history of both countries,” he said Monday. “We have established a constructive dialogue on important issues, seeking to provide real and lasting solutions to our people’s solutions, always on the basis of mutual respect for sovereignty.”

Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe is leading the Haitian commission in the bilateral dialogue.

 

Click HERE for the original article.

USCIS Stakeholder Teleconference

March 19, 2014 - 10:30

Teleconference on Temporary Protected Status extension for Haitians.

 

WHERE: 

Register for this event here. All registrations must be received by Friday, March 14, 2014. Be sure to provide your full name and, if applicable, the name of your organization by following the steps below:

  • Enter your email address and select “Submit”
  • Select “Subscriber Preferences”
  • Select the “Event Registration” tab
  • Complete the questions and select “Submit”

Once your registration is processed, you will receive a confirmation email with additional details.

WHEN:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 from 1:30 to 2:30pm (Eastern)

MORE INFO:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) invites you to participate in a stakeholder teleconference on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (Eastern) to discuss the Temporary Protected Status extension for Haitians.

On March 3, 2014, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for eligible nationals of Haiti for an additional 18 months, effective July 23, 2014 through January 22, 2016.

During this teleconference, USCIS officials will share information about the TPS re-registration period and procedures for eligible Haitian nationals. USCIS officials will also provide information on employment authorization documents, fee waivers, and respond to your questions and concerns.

Additional information on TPS for Haiti—including guidance on eligibility, application process, and where to file—is available online at www.uscis.gov/tps. Further details on this extension of TPS for Haiti, including application requirements and procedures, are available in the Federal Register notice published today. For more information about USCIS and its programs, visit www.uscis.gov.

 

Click HERE for official announcement.

Drought in Haiti Spawns Severe Lack of Water

March 19, 2014 - 09:35

Yet another natural disaster is striking Haiti, where people are still recovering from the 2010 earthquake, as well as droughts and floods in 2012 caused by Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Sandy. Two harvest seasons have already been lost due to the eight-month-long drought in northeast Haiti. Food and water are scarce, and international aid organizations are working with the local government to coordinate a response effort.

Drought causes extreme emergency in Haiti

Everton Fox, Al Jazeera

March 19, 2014

A state of emergency has been declared across northeastern Haiti. This is a country where 78 per cent of the population lives below the poverty level. A severe drought is wiping out sorely needed crops and livestock.

The dry season is due to last at least another month. Even then it will take the area at least another six months to recover when the rains do finally come.

The eight month long drought has caused the loss of two harvest seasons. The hardship is evident in some schools where there is food for students but no water to cook with.

There has been some rain in the area recently but not enough to replenish crops. Indeed the second rainy season began later than usual last year.

Until last November, rainfall had been evenly spread across the crop-producing areas, but that second rain season which usually comes in August, was almost three weeks late. To make matters worse, northeastern Haiti received very little of that rainfall.

Nearby, Jamaica has also been in a state of drought. The government has recently had to dispatch water trucks to the drought-parched west of the island.

The Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change says that at least six parishes have been affected, including the one that holds the popular tourist spot of Montego Bay.

There is the possibility of some thundery showers around the northern Caribbean this week, but many places will not see any wet weather. The dry season across the Greater Antilles runs until the end of March.

 

Click HERE for the original article.

How IDB’s Aid Embargo Affected Cholera in Haiti

March 13, 2014 - 14:22

Jeb Sprague questions Inter-American Development Bank staff on their Haiti aid embargo and how it aggravated the current cholera epidemic. If IDB had continued with a loan to Haiti for potable water in 2001, cholera probably would not have spread so widely and quickly.

Jeb Sprague
March 13, 2014

Duvalier Attorney Appeals Political Violence Decision

March 13, 2014 - 10:33

Jean-Claude Duvalier attorney Reynold Georges has filed an appeal to the February 20th Appellate Court decision to charge Duvalier with political crimes. Georges said that Haitian law doesn’t recognize crimes against humanity and ruling against Duvalier would lead to a civil war.

Duvalier attorney in Haiti files appeal

Trenton Daniel, Miami Herald
March 12, 2014

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The lead defense attorney for Haiti’s former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier has said judges will be responsible for a “civil war” if an appeals court rules against his client.

Privately owned Radio Kiskeya on Wednesday broadcast the remarks by lawyer Reynold Georges, who spoke at Haiti’s Supreme Court after filing an appeal Tuesday against a lower court decision that Duvalier can face charges involving human rights abuses. Georges also said he requested the removal of three judges because they were untrustworthy.

“If a decision is taken against Jean-Claude Duvalier by the court of appeals,” Georges said, “that could cause civil war. The judges will be held responsible and held accountable for the civil war.”

The judges ruled last month that the Duvalier case warranted further investigation into the human rights abuses that were allegedly committed during the dictator’s 15-year reign, which ended with a popular uprising in 1986. The court decision was celebrated by the prosecution because it creates an opportunity for prosecutors to submit more evidence and perhaps even put him on trial.

The court found that Duvalier could be charged with rights abuses because Haiti is bound by international law that says there’s no statute of limitations for crimes against humanity.

Georges said he filed the appeal because Haiti doesn’t have a law that recognizes crimes against humanity.

“Baby Doc” Duvalier abruptly returned to Haiti in 2011 following 25 years in exile in France. Human rights and embezzlement charges were filed against him but he was never jailed.

Duvalier defended his tenure last year when he gave an unexpected testimony. He described Haiti as a better place under his rule.

Click HERE for original.

Obama Administration Supports UN Immunity in Cholera Case

March 13, 2014 - 07:57

The Obama Administration supports UN immunity in the cholera case, saying that UN officials and MINUSTAH cannot be sued.

Obama Administration Backs U.N. in Disputes Over Haiti Cholera Epidemic

Jacob Gershman, The Wall Street Journal
March 12, 2014

The Obama administration has told a federal judge that diplomatic immunity shields the United Nations from liability for a cholera outbreak that ravaged Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

Haitians living in the U.S. and Haiti have filed at least two lawsuits seeking class action status in federal courts in New York claiming that the U.N. failed to screen infected peacekeepers deployed from Nepal. The lawsuits also claim the U.N. mission constructed shoddy sanitation facilities that allowed contaminated human waste to run into the country’s major river, helping to spread the disease.

The 2010 cholera outbreak killed more than 8,000 Haitians and sickened hundreds of thousands, according to U.S. officials.

The latest lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court on behalf of nearly 1,500 residents of Haiti and the U.S. who say they “have been or will be sickened, or have family members who have died or will die, as a direct result of the cholera introduced to Haiti.”

The named plaintiffs are four Haitians living in New York City and Atlanta whose father and stepmother were allegedly killed by the disease. A similar lawsuit on behalf of Haitian victims was filed in Manhattan federal court in October.

While declining to comment specifically on the litigation, a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement Wednesday that the U.N. “continues to be committed to do all that it can to help the people of Haiti overcome the cholera epidemic.”

Last month, the U.N.’s Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Miguel de Serpa Soares, wrote to U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power asserting “that the United Nations continues to maintain its immunity and the immunity of its officials in connection with this matter,” according to court documents.

The letter requested that the Obama administration “take necessary action to ensure respect for the privileges and immunities of the Organization and its officials and ensure that no judgment or other adverse decision is entered by the Court against the Organization and its officials.”

On Friday, the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office expressed its agreement with the U.N. in a letter to the Manhattan federal judge presiding over the case. The letter says the U.N. enjoys absolute immunity that hasn’t been waived.

“[B]ecause the U.N. has not waived its immunity in this case, the U.N., including [the U.N. Stabilization Mission In Haiti], enjoys absolute immunity from suit, and this action should be dismissed as against the UN for lack of subject matter jurisdiction,” the U.S. attorney’s office wrote.

The plaintiffs say the U.N. has “well-established legal obligations,” citing a 2004 “stabilization agreement with Haiti” that they say explicitly waives sovereign immunity.

They are asking a U.S. district judge to order the U.N. to set up a claims commission that would compensate victims and pay for water and sanitation improvements. “We’re asking for some modest compensation,” Stanley Alpert, an attorney for the plaintiffs and former federal prosecutor, told Law Blog. “Nobody is talking about American-style punitive damages.”

 

Click HERE for original.

Haiti Needs Better Sanitation Infrastructure NOW

March 13, 2014 - 07:40

Bayakou in Haiti have a tough job–cleaning out the human waste from latrines and cesspools at night, when nobody can see them. But this job is crucial given Haiti’s lack of sanitation infrastructure. Despite the economic and health (i.e. eradicating cholera) benefits of improving it, the international community has done little to help Haiti take the necessary steps.

HAITI’S SHADOW SANITATION SYSTEM

Jonathan M. Katz, The New Yorker
March 12, 2014

Russell Leon works under the cover of darkness as part of a small crew sworn to secrecy. He is a bayakou, a manual laborer who empties the cesspools that collect deep bogs of human waste under Haiti’s back-yard latrines. In a country with no working sewers and roads that are often too ramshackle for tanker trucks, he is the sanitation infrastructure, charged with climbing down into concrete or earthen holes and scooping out the ordure with a plastic bucket.

On the streets of Port-au-Prince, “bayakou” is often used as a hateful slur. Public scorn forbayakou is so acute that some never tell their wives what they do for a living; contacting a man like Leon, therefore, often requires navigating the webs of middlemen that obscure his identity. But bayakou fill one of Haiti’s most important roles, separating citizens from their own waste. They have only become more crucial to public health in recent years, as Haiti grapples with the world’s most serious ongoing cholera epidemic, which began, some scientists believe, when a battalion of United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal spilled its infected feces into the country’s most important river system. U.N. officials initially denied responsibility for the epidemic. Even as evidence has mounted for its culpability, the organization has refused to comment on the outbreak’s cause, because “consideration of these claims would necessarily include a review of political and policy matters.”

Cholera likely originated in India, and first swept across Europe and the United States in the late eighteen-twenties and early eighteen-thirties. It is caused by a waterborne microbe that can dehydrate and kill a healthy adult in hours by inducing vomiting and diarrhea. The discovery, in 1854, that a cholera outbreak in London was caused by a cesspool leaking into a water pump contributed to the development of modern epidemiology and the modern municipal sewer. Until then, jobs like Leon’s had been common in Europe and North America: the night-soil men of Victorian London had commanded double the average skilled laborer’s wage for their services while, in tenement-era New York City, cesspools were manually emptied by “necessary tubmen.” Though investment in sewer systems has eliminated both manual sanitation and cholera in areas that have benefited from global trade, the job and the disease are both common among the third of the world’s population that still lacks adequate sanitation.

The only way to end Haiti’s cholera epidemic is to keep infected waste out of food and water. A subterranean network of pipes, pumping stations, and waste-treatment plants would be the ideal solution, but Haiti’s successive governments have had too little money, power, or will to build massive public works on their own. The $1.4 billion that New York City set aside to maintain and operate its sanitation system this year is equal to more than half the entire national budget of Haiti. International donors have been little help: in one case, the U.S. government, to protest the way an election was conducted, withheld funds to build water and sanitation infrastructure in northern Haiti for more than ten years. From 1990 to 2008, the proportion of Haitians with access to basic sanitation decreased from twenty-six per cent to seventeen per cent. Cholera broke out in 2010. Four years into the epidemic, a trip to the bathroom, for most Haitians, still means looking for an open field or wading into a public canal at dawn. Those who can afford to do so dig cesspools under outhouses. When the cesspools get full, it’s time to call a man like Leon.

The job is as simple as it is foul. “Somebody has to climb down the toilet hole with a bucket, and somebody has to be up top to pull the bucket up, you understand?” Leon said. There are three people in his crew: two subordinates—a bucket man and a man with the wheelbarrow to cart off the waste—and the boss, who goes down the hole.

Leon is the boss. He is fifty-four, with a worn, crevice-filled face, and he speaks in Creole, holding onto his vowels in the singsong manner typical of the Haitian countryside. He wore a clean polo shirt with mustard yellow stripes, black pants, and a pair of beat-up sneakers without socks. Leon grew up in a poor cattle-raising family in Haiti’s rural southwest. As a young man, he joined the Tonton Macoutes, Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier’s secret police force, which tortured and disappeared thousands of Haitians. When Duvalier fled the country, in 1986, Leon burned his denim uniform and went underground, eventually following a tide of rural migrants to the capital. There, desperate for work, he met a master bayakou, who showed him the rudiments: how to pour a bottle of lavender-scented floor cleaner into the pit to soften excrement and cut the smell, and how to find a good spot nearby to dump, burn, or bury the excreta.

Leon explained how he does his job: after the floor-cleaning solvent has soaked its way into the cesspool, he kicks off his shoes and removes his pants and shirt. To avoid ruining his clothes, he prefers to work naked—“the way I came out my mother.” He climbs into the hole carefully. This is the dangerous part, because careless clients often throw trash into their latrines. A single cut from a broken bottle can mean infection, even death. If he does get cut, Leon uses a candle to cauterize the skin. Then he gets back to work. There is no time to lose: to remain unseen, the crew will leave when dawn comes and return the next night to finish. Haitian sanitation expertssay that a bayakou team can empty a fifty-cubic-metre cesspool, roughly the size of a thirteen-by-thirteen-foot room, in two to three nights.

Because the bayakou work unseen, Haitian folklore sometimes invests them with a kind of mystical power. For Leon, though, the work is all about the money. Bayakou make at least thirty dollars per latrine, according to some estimates—the equivalent of a month’s salary sewing Hanes T-shirts in a Port-au-Prince garment factory. Leon said that he can get six hundred dollars for a three-day job.

Building a nationwide water and sanitation infrastructure would cost $1.6 billion, Pedro Medrano Rojas, the new U.N. senior coordinator for cholera response in Haiti, told me. There is a strong economic argument for meeting that cost: studies have shown that spending on sanitation infrastructure can yield a fivefold return on investment, while inadequate sanitation can sap as much as seven per cent of G.D.P. per year. But Haiti certainly can’t afford to undertake such projects, and the international community seems unwilling to help. A year ago, the U.N. issued a $2.27 billion request for cholera eradication in Haiti. So far, member states and multilateral organizations have disbursed just a hundred and eighty million dollars, Rojas told me.

Philanthropists prefer small-scale, privatizable projects: in 2012, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation held a contest to redesign toilets for developing countries. First prize went to a solar-powered, electricity-generating design from Caltech with a price tag of about a thousand dollars per toilet. Boston’s MASS Design firm has won acclaim for planning a Haitian cholera clinic that doubles as a waste-treatment site. (Cost: four hundred and fifty thousand dollars per facility.) The firm’s founders told me that their design is only a medium-term solution, a stop-gap until a subterranean waste infrastructure can be built “in the next fifteen to twenty years.”

The Haitians who will die in the continuing epidemic won’t be able to wait that long. Since the outbreak began, in October, 2010, eighty-five hundred people have died and seven hundred thousand have been infected. At least a dozen new cases come to light each week, and the disease has spread beyond Haiti’s borders, killing hundreds as far away as Mexico.

Many advocates argue that the billions in needed investments must be made now, and that they should be made through the United Nations. Last year, lawyers representing five relatives of Haitian cholera victims filed a class-action lawsuit against the organization in U.S. district court, in Manhattan. On March 7th, the Justice Department recommended that the judge dismiss the suit, citing the U.N.’s absolute “immunity from every form of legal process.” The judge’s final decision is pending; other lawyers say that they are filing two additional, separate U.S. federal lawsuits for cholera relief against the U.N. The U.N. has not officially commented on the allegations in any of the lawsuits, other than to maintain its legal immunity.

Without outside help, there is little chance that sanitation in Haiti will improve. The country’s newly formed National Directorate for Potable Water and Sanitation, or DINEPA, which opened its doors in 2009, has just nine staffers to oversee sanitation for a nation of ten million. International aid did help to open two new waste-treatment plants north of Port-au-Prince, but one of them closed last year, owing to a lack of funds; the other is operating below capacity.

Most bayakou continue dumping their waste wherever it’s convenient: on the ground, in ravines, or even in rivers. DINEPA and some aid groups have resolved to work with bayakou by hiring them directly, or by creating a regulatory system to oversee their work, reasoning that any useful program will have to build on the imperfect systems that Haiti already has. If Haiti ever does get the kind of sanitation infrastructure that it needs, Leon could be out of a job. He isn’t concerned. There will always be waste, he said. “There will always be a bayakou.”

Jonathan M. Katz is a writer based in Durham, North Carolina, and the author of “The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster.”

Photograph by Ramon Espinosa/AP.

 

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Les avocats de Duvalier contestent la décision de la cour d’appel

March 12, 2014 - 10:55

Les avocats de Jean-Claude Duvalier sont mécontents de la décision de la cour d’appel le concernant. Ils disent que la decision est un complot contre Duvalier et que les juges n’étaient pas impartiaux.

Les avocats de Duvalier rejettent l’arrêt de la cour d’appel Monstruosité juridique, mascarade judiciaire, violation du droit haïtien, tels sont les différents qualificatifs utilisés par les avocats de l’ancien dictateur Jean-Claude Duvalier, mardi, pour parler de l’arrêt de la cour d’appel autorisant les poursuites contre Duvalier. Les avocats, ayant signifié une requête de renvoi pour cause de suspicion à la cour d’appel, entendent saisir la Cour de cassation. Une nouvelle page dans ce qui devient une saga judiciaire.

Louis-Joseph Olivier, Le Nouvelliste
11 mars 2014

Quelques semaines après le verdict de la cour d’appel ordonnant les
poursuites contre l’ancien dictateur Jean-Claude Duvalier, les avocats de
l’ancien président à vie sont montés au créneau et rejettent d’un revers de
main cette décision. « C’est un complot contre la personne du président
Jean-Claude Duvalier. Cet arrêt n’a absolument rien à voir avec le droit
haïtien », a déclaré Me Reynold Georges, avocat de l’ancien dictateur, qui
soutient que la cour d’appel a violé tous les principes de droit en prenant cet
arrêt.

Avant de rencontrer la presse, le cabinet de maître Reynold Georges avait
déposé à la cour d’appel une requête en renvoi pour cause de suspicion
légitime. Dans cette requête, les avocats de Duvalier mettent en question la
partialité des juges de la cour d’appel dans le cadre de cette affaire. Sur ce
point, ils critiquent surtout la désignation du juge Durin Duret Jr pour diriger
un supplément d’instruction alors que celui-ci aurait déjà pris position sur l’affaire.

« Le supplément d’information désiré et ordonné n’est qu’une manoeuvre
pour masquer la décision qu’ils auront à prendre contre le sieur Jean-Claude
Duvalier comme ils l’ont déjà démontré dans leur oeuvre, par le fait de
désigner un juge de cette composition, Durin Duret Jr, pour faire ce
supplément d’instruction dont la conviction est faite pour avoir interrogé les
parties au procès, lu l’arrêt avec les deux autres membres de la composition,
rejeté les questions les plus pertinentes des avocats requérants et décidé
conjointement, ce qui est un acte contraire au principe d’équité et
d’impartialité ; que le juge d’instruction instruit avant tout à charge et à
décharge », soutiennent les avocats de l’ancien dictateur dans la requête
adressée à la cour d’appel mardi matin.

Les avocats déclarent avoir reçu le soutien de plusieurs autres membres du
barreau de Port-au-Prince qui ont décidé volontairement d’apporter leur
soutien à la cause de l’ancien dictateur. Dans la salle du Ritz Kinam où ils
intervenaient, on pouvait noter la présence de plusieurs hommes de loi, dont
Gérard Gourgue et Osner Févry. Ce dernier a particulièrement appuyé la
position des avocats de Jean-Claude Duvalier qu’il estime être du côté du
droit. Des sympathisants et des étudiants de l’école de droits des Gonaïves
parrainés par l’ancien dictateur étaient présents aussi dans la salle.

Sur l’accusation de crime contre l’humanité retenue par la cour d’appel, qui
évoque la coutume internationale, les avocats de Jean-Claude Duvalier,
soutiennent que le terme n’est pas reconnu par le droit haïtien. Maître Frizto
Canton, l’un des avocats de Duvalier, s’en est particulièrement pris aux juges
de la cour d’appel sur le point concernant les crimes contre l’humanité. « Que
les juges de la cour d’appel me disent ici, quelle loi de la République traite de
la notion de crime contre l’humanité. Qu’un juge me donne la preuve d’une
convention portant sur le crime contre l’humanité qui a été signé par Haïti et
ratifié par le Parlement haïtien pour lui permettre d’entrer dans
l’ordonnancement juridique interne », a-t-il martelé, ajoutant que la
coutume internationale ne saurait remplacer les lois internes du pays.

L’avocat, très amer, a évoqué l’article 276 et suivant de la Constitution
haïtienne soutenant que « toute règle internationale, toute convention,
accord, sous quelque forme que ce soit, avant d’entrer dans le droit interne
doit être sanctionné ou ratifié. «Nous ne disposons ici d’aucune convention
ratifiée portant sur les crimes contre l’humanité. En ce sens, je crois que les
juges devraient aller réviser leurs copies, si ce n’est pas la malveillance qui a
guidé leur esprit », a-t-il indiqué.

Les avocats, qui n’excluent pas que des crimes ont eu lieu sous la présidence
de Jean-Claude Duvalier, se sont montrés plutôt hostiles aux procédures
utilisées par les tribunaux et continuent de défendre le principe de la
prescription prévu par la loi dans certains cas. « Les crimes sont réprimés
par des lois, et les lois attribuent un délai pour porter plainte. Une fois ce délai passé, vous n’avez plus rien à dire », a argumenté Me Reynold Georges.

Les avocats de Jean-Claude Duvalier promettent de porter l’affaire pardevant la Cour de cassation et affirment avoir « récusé les juges de la cour d’appel pour la partialité qu’ils montrent dans le traitement de ce dossier ». « Nous sommes déterminés à aller jusqu’au bout avec eux. Nous allons nous battre contre eux », a soutenu l’avocat Alix Aurélien Jeanty, traitant de monstruosité juridique l’arrêt de la cour d’appel.

 

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Une autre plainte contre l’ONU pour le choléra

March 12, 2014 - 08:56

Un autre groupe a déposé une plainte contre l’ONU pour l’épidémie de choléra en Haïti.

1500 Haïtiens poursuivent l’ONU

Associated Press, Radio Television Caraibes
12 mars 2014

NEW YORK, États-Unis – Une nouvelle poursuite a été déposée par 1500 Haïtiens contre les Nations unies, en lien avec une épidémie de choléra qui a fait des milliers de morts dans l’île des Caraïbes.

La poursuite a été présentée mardi devant un tribunal fédéral de Brooklyn. Elle réclame une compensation pour les morts et les maladies ainsi que du financement pour assurer l’approvisionnement en eau potable d’Haïti, qui a été dévastée par un tremblement de terre en 2010.

Des études scientifiques ont démontré que l’épidémie de choléra a probablement été causée par des Casques bleus provenant du Népal, où la maladie est endémique.

Le nouvelle poursuite demande aussi au tribunal de statuer que l’ONU ne jouit d’aucune immunité.

Une autre poursuite déposée en octobre devant un tribunal fédéral de Manhattan citait des données de l’Organisation mondiale de la Santé selon qui le choléra avait infecté près de 700 000 Haïtiens et fait 8400 victimes en date du 23 décembre.

L’ONU a défendu son intervention en Haïti.

 

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Another Cholera Lawsuit Against the UN

March 12, 2014 - 08:37

A second group has filed a lawsuit against the United Nations for bringing cholera to Haiti. Their class action suit, filed March 11, 2014, represents 1500 cholera victims and also seeks UN accountability, compensation for the victims, and sanitation infrastructure.

Haiti cholera victims file new lawsuit against UN

AFP
March 12, 2014

Washington — Victims of Haiti’s deadly post-earthquake cholera epidemic filed a new lawsuit Tuesday against the United Nations in US federal court, demanding compensation over the organization’s alleged responsibility for the outbreak.

The class-action suit — representing some 1,500 victims — is the “the largest lawsuit against the UN regarding the outbreak to date,” plaintiffs’ representatives said in a statement.

“The lawsuit seeks to force the UN to take responsibility, compensate victims, and bring critical sanitation to the devastated Haitian communities the UN was sworn to protect,” it said.

The suit was filed at a federal court in Brooklyn, in New York.

There had been no cholera in Haiti for at least 150 years until it was allegedly introduced to the Caribbean nation by Nepalese UN peacekeepers sent there in the wake of the devastating earthquake in January 2010.

According to the plaintiffs, who include several New Yorkers and US citizens who lost members of their family, the epidemic has “killed approximately 9,000 and sickened 700,000 and counting” since it broke out in 2010.

The source of the cholera epidemic was traced to a river that runs next to a UN camp in the central town of Mirebalais, where Nepalese troops had been based.

The strain of cholera is the same as one endemic in Nepal.

But the United Nations has so far refused to officially recognize responsibility for the outbreak, arguing it is impossible to concretely determine its origin and noting it is immune from prosecution in the United States.

On October 9, a group of five Haitian victims of the epidemic filed a first lawsuit against the United Nations in US federal court in New York.

A study by Yale University last August had found the peacekeepers responsible for sparking the epidemic. An earlier study in 2011 came to the same conclusion.

However, on Friday, the US State Department said the United Nations and its mission in Haiti “are immune from suit in this case.”

The cholera epidemic has yet to be brought under control: In 2013 alone some 65,000 cases and 55 deaths were recorded, in addition to cases in neighboring countries including the Dominican Republic, Cuba and most recently, Mexico.

 

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Did International Community Stage “Silent Coup” Against Preval?

March 12, 2014 - 07:21

An interview with former Organization of American States diplomat Ricardo Seitenfus, on his new book. The book speaks of NGOs’ and the United Nations’ often-toxic relationship with Haiti and an alleged “silent coup” by the international community against former president Rene Preval.

Interview: Former OAS Diplomat Exposes the Crimes of the “International Community” in Haiti

Georgianne Nienaber and Dan Beeton, Haiti Liberte
between March 5 and 11, 2014

In his new book, Ricardo Seitenfus writes about the “electoral coup” which brought President Martelly to power, the UN’s “genocide by negligence” through importing cholera, and Venezuela’s “new paradigm” with PetroCaribe

(First of two parts)*

The title of Brazilian professor Ricardo Seitenfus’ book, HAITI: Dilemas e Fracassos Internacionais(“International Crossroads and Failures in Haiti,” published in Brazil by the Editora Unijui – Universite de Ijui– in the series Globalization and International Relations) appropriately opens with a reference to existentialist philosopher Albert Camus.

Camus’ third great novel, The Fall, is a work of fiction in which the author makes the case that every living person is responsible for any atrocity that can be quantified or named. In the case of Haiti, the January 2010 earthquake set the final stage for what amounted to what Seitenfus says is an “international embezzlement” of the country.

The tragedy began over 200 years ago in 1804, when Haiti committed what Seitenfus terms an “original sin,” a crime of lèse-majesté for a troubled world: it became the first (and only) independent nation to emerge from a slave rebellion. “The Haitian revolutionary model scared the colonialist and racist Great Powers,” Seitenfus writes. The U.S. only recognized Haiti’s independence in 1862, just before it abolished its own slavery system, and France demanded heavy financial compensation from the new republic as a condition of its honoring Haiti’s nationhood. Haiti has been isolated and manipulated on the international scene ever since, its people “prisoners on their own island.”

To understand Seitenfus’ journey into the theater of the absurd, it is necessary to revisit the months after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. As the Organization of American States’ (OAS) Special Representative in Haiti, Seitenfus lost his job in December 2010 after an interview in which he sharply criticized the role of the United Nations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the devastated country. But it appears that the author also had insider information about international plans for a “silent coup d’etat,” electoral interference and more.

On the Ground in Haiti: October-December 2010

It was not yet one year since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed 220,000 or more, left infrastructure in chaos, and 1.5 million people homeless. Accusations were rampant in October international press reports that the United Nations mission to Haiti (MINUSTAH) had introduced cholera into Haiti’s river system. As of Feb. 9, 2014, 699,244 people contracted cholera and 8,549 have died.

Ground zero for the outbreak was negligent sewage disposal at the Nepalese Mirebalais MINUSTAH camp. The malfeasance was first documented by the Associated Press and ultimately provided crucial proof of the U.N.’s guilt. Thousands were infected and the number of dead rose exponentially. On Nov. 28, the national election was contested in what can only be termed an electoral crisis. Hundreds of thousands of voters were either shut out of the electoral process or boycotted the vote after the most popular party in the country — Fanmi Lavalas — was again banned from competing. Many of those displaced by the earthquake were not allowed to vote, and in the end less than 23% of registered voters had their vote counted.

Eyewitness testimony on election day reported numerous electoral violations: ballot stuffing, tearing up of ballots, intimidation and fraud. Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council , responsible for overseeing elections, announced that former first lady Mirlande Manigat won but lacked the margin of victory needed to avoid a runoff. An OAS “experts” mission was dispatched to examine the results. Even though it was indeterminate that he should advance, due to the OAS’ intervention, candidate and pop musician Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly was selected to compete in the runoff instead of the governing party’s candidate Jude Célestin.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) subsequently released a report showing that there were so many problems with the election tallies that the OAS’ conclusions represented a political, rather than an electoral decision.

CEPR reported that for some 1,326 voting booths, or 11.9% of the total, tally sheets were either never received by the CEP, or were quarantined for irregularities. This corresponded to about 12.7% of the vote not being counted and not included in the final totals that were released by the CEP on Dec. 7, 2010 and reported by the press. CEPR also noted that in its review of the tally sheets, the OAS Mission chose to examine only a portion, and that those it discarded were from disproportionately pro-Célestin areas. Nor did the OAS mission use any statistical inference to estimate what might have resulted had it examined the other 92% of tally sheets that it did not examine.

The runoff was finally scheduled for Mar. 20, 2011 and Martelly was declared the winner with 67.6% of the vote versus Manigat’s 31.5%. Turnout was so low that Martelly was declared president-elect after receiving the votes of less than 17% of the electorate in the second round.

Into the fray stepped Brazilian professor Ricardo Seitenfus. Seitenfus, a respected scholar, made statements to Swiss newspaperLe Temps criticizing international meddling in Haiti in general and by MINUSTAH and NGOs in particular. He was abruptly ousted on Christmas Day. The press was equivocal on whether Seitenfus was fired or forced to take a two-month “vacation” before his tenure ended in March 2011.

Was Seitenfus let go for citing a “maléfique ou perverse” (evil or perverse) relationship between the government of Haiti and NGOs operating amidst fraud and waste; his accusations about the cholera cover-up; or more troubling, knowledge of a silent coup being orchestrated against then-President Rene Préval by a secret “Core Group?” Was he silenced because of his knowledge of covert meetings between the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General and MINUSTAH chief Edmond Mulet, then U.S Ambassador Kenneth Merten, and then-Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive?

Seitenfus’ passionate accounting of the events in the year after the January 2010 earthquake reveals a man seemingly at odds with his internal moral compass and what he describes as “the black hole of western consciousness” in relations between Haiti and the international community of donor nations. This is a book written by a man enthralled by the beauty and promise of Haiti. It is also a book written by a professor serving as a diplomat struggling to be a whistleblower in the absurd and troubling world of international diplomacy.

 

Q: You write about international collusion in plans for a “silent coup.” Why wait until now to name the perpetrators? Does the fact that Mulet, Bellerive and Merten have all moved on from their offices have anything to do with your timing? You state emphatically that you opposed the coup plans.

RS: No. It is not true that I kept quiet. I gave various interviews to the Brazilian and international press, in late December 2010 and early January 2011, mentioning this and other episodes. See, for example, the BBC and AlJazeera.

The problem is that the international press was manipulated during the electoral crisis and never had an interest in doing investigative journalism. In the interviews that I gave, and especially in my book (“International Crossroads and Failures in Haiti”), soon to be published in Brazil and other countries, I describe the electoral coup in great detail.

Furthermore, the vast majority of the elements I reveal, I discovered in a scientific research project over the past three years. Many questions were hanging in the air, without adequate answers. I believe I managed to connect the different views and actors, providing the reader a logical and consistent interpretation about what happened. We are dealing with a work that is required by the historical memory, without any shadow of revenge or settling of scores.

Q: Were you the background press source on early reports of the cholera epidemic being caused by MINUSTAH in October 2010? You write about the “shameless” attitude of the United Nations (including Edmond Mulet and Ban Ki-moon) and ambassadors of the so-called “friends of Haiti;” countries that refused to take responsibility after MINUSTAH introduced cholera to Haiti. You say that this “transforms this peace mission into one of the worst in the history of the United Nations.” Would you be willing to testify in the current class action lawsuit, filed in a U.S. federal court, accusing the U.N. of gross negligence and misconduct on behalf of cholera victims in Haiti?

RS: There is no doubt that the fact that the United Nations — especially Edmond Mulet and Ban Ki-moon — systematically denied its direct and scientifically-verified responsibility for the introduction of the Vibrio cholera into Haiti, projects a lasting shadow over that peace operation. What is shocking is not MINUSTAH’s carelessness and negligence. What is shocking is the lie, turned into strategy, by the international community. The connivance of the alleged “Group of Friends of Haiti” (integrated at first by Argentina, the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Chile, the United States, Guatemala, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, as well as Germany, France, Spain and Norway, in their role as Permanent Observers before the OAS) in this genocide by negligence, constitutes an embarrassment that will forever mark their relations with Haiti.

Even former President Clinton, in a visit in early March 2012 to a hospital in the central region of Haiti, publicly admitted that “I don’t know that the person who introduced cholera in Haiti, the U.N. peacekeeper, or [U.N.] soldier from South Asia, was aware that he was carrying the virus. It was the proximate cause of cholera. That is, he was carrying the cholera strain. It came from his waste stream into the waterways of Haiti, into the bodies of Haitians.” [1]

Although soon after he stated that the absence of a sanitation system in Haiti propagated the epidemic, these statements by the Special Envoy of the U.N. Secretary General for Haiti represent the first major fissure in the denial strategy of the crime committed by the United Nations.

Currently, the United Nations hides behind the immunity clause conferred by the Jul. 9, 2004 agreement signed with Haiti legalizing MINUSTAH’s existence. Now, this agreement is void, since it was not signed, as provided in the Haitian Constitution (Article 139), by the Acting President of Haiti, Boniface Alexandre, but by the PM [Prime Minister] Gerard Latortue. According to the 1969 and 1986 Vienna Conventions on the Law of Treaties, any treaty signed by someone who lacks jus tractum — that is, treaty making power — is null and considered ineffective.

As with any legal action, without validity it has no [legal] effect. The existence of a lack of consent — whether due to the inability of state representatives to conclude a treaty or to an imperfect ratification — results in the absolute voiding of the action (Vienna Convention, Article 46, paragraph 1).

With the contempt for Haitian constitutional rites and for the legal principles that govern the Law of Treaties, the United Nations demonstrated, once again, the constant levity with which it treats Haitian matters. Responsible for establishing the rule of law in the country, according to its own mission, the UN does not follow even its own fundamental provisions, thus making the text that it supports and that should legalize its actions in Haiti void and ineffective.

Therefore, the UN’s last recourse in trying to deny its responsibility for introducing cholera in Haiti can be easily circumvented, since MINUSTAH’s very existence is plagued with illegalities.

Clearly, I am and will always be available to any judicial power that deals with this case. Even federal courts in the United States. If asked, I will testify, with the goal of contributing to establish the truth of the facts and the search for justice.

Q: Were you threatened in any way prior to your departure from Haiti? Since you were effectively fired, why not name names and discuss the actions of the “Core Group” in 2010?

RS: As a coordination agency for the main foreign actors (states and international organizations) in Haiti, a limited Core Group (which includes Brazil, Canada, Spain, the United States, France, the UN, the OAS and the European Union) is an indispensable and fundamental instrument in the relations between the international community and the Haitian government. It is not about questioning its existence. What I was able to verify was that on [election day] Nov. 28, 2010, in the absence of any discussion or decision about the matter, [then head of MINUSTAH] Edmond Mulet, speaking on behalf of the Core Group, tried to remove [then president of Haiti] René Préval from power and to send him into exile. Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince published a press release at 9 p.m. the same day dismissing the voting results and imposing its position on the whole Core Group. Still, the majority of the decisions in which I participated as representative to the OAS in the Core Group during the years 2009 and 2010 were sensible and important.

Q: You write about the “maléfique ou perverse” (evil or perverse) relationship between NGOs and Haiti. In your view, has this problem become institutionalized? You said some of the NGOs exist only because of Haitian misfortune?

RS: There is a will — deliberate or tacit — by the international community to bypass the Haitian institutions and to give preference to Transnational Non-Governmental Organizations (TNGOs). [2] Their overwhelming invasion following the earthquake reached levels never before imagined. [Then] U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, herself pointed out in an interview some months after the earthquake that more than 10,000 TNGOs were operating in Haiti. This means that there was an increase in their presence of over 4,000% in the course of a short period of time. This NGOization turns Haiti into what many have called a true “Republic of the TNGOs.”

In the face of a weakened state and one that was almost destroyed by the earthquake, the emergency aid apparatus had no option but to directly confront reality. Direct connections were established with the victims and even those in charge of the UN system in Haiti were not taken into account. A true pandemonium came into being in which everyone decided on his own what to do, and when and how to do it.

An optimistic and official report, presented by Ban Ki-moon to the UN Security Council in October 2012, recognizes that of the alleged US$ 5.78 billion in contributions made over the 2010-2012 period by bilateral and multilateral donors, a little less than 10% (US$ 556 million) was given to the Haitian government. It is worth mentioning that the governments of the donor states use both private donations and public resources to cover the spending of their own interventions in Haiti. As such, for example, more than US$ 200 million in private donations from U.S. citizens served to finance the transportation and stay of U.S. soldiers in Haiti soon after the earthquake.

Traditionally in Haiti, the “goods” such as hospitals, schools and humanitarian aid are delivered by the private sector, while the “bads” — that is, police enforcement — is the state’s responsibility. The earthquake further deepened this terrible dichotomy.

The circle was closed with the ideological discourse to justify this way of proceeding. According to this [discourse], the transfer of resources is done through the TNGOs for the simple reason that the Haitian state suffers from total and permanent corruption. Sometimes, the lack of managerial capacity is cited. Therefore, there is nothing more logical than to bypass public authorities without even thinking that without a structured and effective state, no human society has managed to develop.

The former Governor General of Canada, Michäelle Jean — of Haitian origin — is one of the rare voices in the international community to propose a complete change of strategy. To her,

“Charity comes from the heart, but sometimes, when it’s poorly organized, it contributes more to the problems than to the solutions. Haiti is among the countries that’s been transformed into a vast laboratory of all the experiments, all the tests, and all the errors of the international aid system; of the faulty strategies that have never generated results, that have never produced or achieved anything that’s really sustainable despite the millions of dollars amassed in total disorder, without long term vision and in a completely scattered fashion.” [3]

Certainly, direct financial cooperation with a state that has a lack of administrative capacity increases the risk that resources will be misused. However, there is no other solution: either the public management capacity of the Haitian state is strengthened or we will keep plowing the sea.

Unfortunately, the international community prefers to continue with the strategy that has already proved to be thoroughly inefficient. It not only impedes financial transfers to Haitian institutions, but it also tries to force them to channel their own meager resources to be administrated by international organizations. There was, for example, an attempt to transfer the PetroCaribe fund resources for Haiti to the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. The determined resistance by Préval and Bellerive terminated this move. Nonetheless, in every election campaign, the donor countries insist on having the resources of the Haitian treasury be administered by the UN Development Program (UNDP). Therefore, the strategy of the international community not only impedes institutional strengthening, but it also takes away from the Haitian state the little financial autonomy that it possesses.

The model imposed on Haiti since 2004 has two elements. On the one hand, there is the military presence through MINUSTAH, and on the other the civil presence in the form of the TNGOs and the alleged private development corporations. Added to these are the bilateral strategies of the member states in the so-called Group of Friends of Haiti. In interpreting the popular sentiment, it is impossible to disagree with these words by Liliane Pierre-Paul:

“The great majority of Haitians weren’t mistaken and the promises ultimately did nothing to change the disastrous perception of an international community that was bureaucratic, condescending, wasteful, inefficient, and lacking in soul, modesty and creativity.” [4]

As long as this model is not significantly revamped there will be no solution. Social vulnerability and the precariousness of the state continue to be major Haitian characteristics. With the model applied by the international community through the UN system, the TNGOs and the United States, we are deceiving ourselves, misleading world public opinion and frustrating the Haitian people.

Q: What are your thoughts on the amount of agricultural land taken out of production to make way for the Caracol Industrial Park, a $300 million public-private partnership among a diverse set of stakeholders??

RS: Caracol symbolizes a development policy far more than any loss of mainly agricultural lands. It so happens that the Caracol model was used during the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier and its results are known to everyone. As a complement to agricultural production, Caracol is acceptable. Nonetheless, to want to turn Haiti into a “Taiwan of the Caribbean” [5] is to completely disregard the social, anthropological, historical and economic characteristics of the country.

Q: You write that Venezuela’s PetroCaribe initiative was a key motive for the U.S. government’s turn against Préval. Why then do you think the U.S. and the OAS wanted a candidate – Michel Martelly – in the second round of elections who would ultimately be even friendlier with Venezuela? Do you think Martelly’s relations with Venezuela might pose a threat to him as well?

RS: Compared to the alleged development cooperation model imposed by the international community on Haiti, Cuba and Venezuela follow absolutely opposite paths. Whatever our opinion about the domestic policies of these countries, it cannot be denied that their form of cooperation takes into account more the demands and needs expressed by Haitians themselves. Cuba — lacking financial resources and rich in human resources –since 1998 has implemented a local family health and medicine program that reaches the most remote places in Haiti. Cuban medical diplomacy directly benefits the most humble of the Haitian people and attempts to compensate for the brain drain in the health sector promoted by certain western countries, particularly Canada.

In turn, although recent, the Venezuelan development cooperation offered to Haiti asserts itself as a new paradigm in the Caribbean Basin. It is sustained through the following trilogy: on the one hand, Caracas listens to the Haitian claims and strives to make its offers and possibilities compatible with these demands. On the other, nothing is carried out without the knowledge and previous consent of the public institutions and the Haitian government. Finally, the cooperation aims to bring direct benefits to the Haitian people without taking into consideration any ideological discrepancy there may be with the incumbent government in Haiti. This is a principle equally espoused by Cuba and it explains not only the absence of any interference by the two countries during the election crisis of 2010, but also the excellent relations maintained, both by Havana and Caracas, with the Martelly administration.

The PetroCaribe program is the crown jewel of Haitian-Venezuelan cooperation. Everything is put into it. Everything depends on it. In the face of a true boycott of Haitian public power promoted by the so-called Group of Friends of Haiti, the resources made available by the PetroCaribe program represented, in 2013, 94% of the investment capacity of the Haitian state. [6]

Most of the beneficiary countries — as with Haiti — do not include the resources from the PetroCaribe program in the national budget, preventing legal and accounting oversight. This situation generates distrust and criticism, both domestic and foreign, due to the lack of transparency in using them.

Far beyond its results, the philosophy on which the Venezuelan cooperation is based contrasts with that of the developed countries. The energetic Pedro Antonio Canino Gonzalez, Venezuelan ambassador in Port-au-Prince since 2007, highlights the principles that guide the actions of the ALBA countries in Haiti: “We did not come to carry out an electoral campaign in Haiti. Why would we make spurious commitments? Venezuela’s assistance aims to attenuate the Haitian people’s misery without any strings attached. My government isn’t even interested in the Haitian Republic’s diplomatic relations with other countries, including the U.S.. This is a prerogative of the Haitian authorities, who are free to have relations with whomever they wish.” [7]

This is the exact opposite of the long and constantly increasing list of conditionalities that characterizes the cooperation offered by the west. With disregard for national idiosyncrasies, the idea of democracy is used as a screen to camouflage their own national interests.

The United States and its allies in Haiti should pay attention to the lessons of the young Venezuelan cooperation because, in addition to respect for the public institutions of the host state, as a current Haitian leader bluntly states, ” Friendship with a country as poor and with as many needs as Haiti isn’t measured in the number of years of domination, but in how many millions are on the table. “[8]

Although the PetroCaribe program is based on an anti-imperialist and liberationist discourse to mark a break between Monroe and Bolivar, it is, in fact, a counter model to traditional development aid from the developed countries and international organizations. In the universe of the international cooperation provided to Haiti, Venezuela constitutes an exception, being the only one that provides, regularly, financial resources directly to the Haitian state. [9]

(To be continued)

* This article was originally published under the title “International Crossroads and Failures in Haiti” by the LA Progressive. Georgianne Nienaber is a freelance writer and author and frequent contributor to LA Progressive. Dan Beeton is International Communications Director at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and a frequent contributor to its “Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch” blog.

 

Click HERE for original article with notes.