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Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
Updated: 3 hours 13 min ago
While interest in MINUSTAH is waning internationally, the US Director of National Intelligence is trying to convince other countries that a continued foreign presence is necessary in Haiti, particularly with impending elections.What the New DNI Threat Assessment Says about Haiti
Center for Economic and Policy Research
January 29, 2014
The Office of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) released its “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community” [PDF] for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today. The assessment’s section on Haiti is longer this year, due to concerns that the DNI apparently has regarding what it sees as a need for an ongoing foreign military presence there, support for which is waning internationally. The assessment cites chronic factors such as poverty and “weak institutions” as reasons why foreign military intervention is still warranted:
Stability in Haiti will remain fragile due to extreme poverty and weak governing institutions. Meaningful long-term reconstruction and development in Haiti will need to continue for many years. Haiti remains vulnerable to setbacks in its reconstruction and development goals due to the possibility of natural disasters. Food insecurity, although improving, also has the potential to be a destabilizing factor. Periods of political gridlock have resulted due to distrust between President Michel Martelly, in office since May 2011, and opponents in Parliament. Martelly is generally still popular, but politically organized protests, possibly violent, might occur before the elections, scheduled for 2014.
While the assessment claims (as it also did last year) that Martelly “is generally still popular,” no evidence is provided. Indeed there have been protests and other signs of public discontent with his administration in recent months. Contrary to what the assessment says, there are as yet no elections scheduled; the delay in elections has been a key issue behind the demonstrations.
The long delay in scheduling the elections has also contributed to “donor fatigue” among countries that contribute to MINUSTAH – something the assessment acknowledges apparently for the first time:
During the next decade, Haiti will remain highly dependent on assistance from the international community for security, in particular during elections. Donor fatigue among contributors to the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), however, will likely lead to reductions in force, evident by the 2013 mandate which calls for consolidating and downsizing forces.
This comes after Uruguay’s recent, public announcement that it will withdraw its troops from the mission. The mention of waning regional interest in MINUSTAH participation is presumably a concern for the U.S. since it has been seen as a way to “manage” Haiti on the cheap, as we know from State Department cables made available by Wikileaks.
Click HERE for original.
This letter in the Miami Herald, regarding an article on the desperate sea voyages in which many Haitians risk and often lose their lives, urges a neglected policy long championed by IJDH: creation of a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program like the ongoing Cuban one. It would alleviate at least some of the pressure leading to these deadly trips by speeding up entry into the U.S. of 110,00 Haitians, still on years-long wait lists in Haiti, who are beneficiaries of family-based immigrant visa petitions which DHS has already approved.Create long-delayed Haitian family-reunification program
Marleine Bastien & Steve Forester, Miami Herald
January 28, 2014
Jacqueline Charles’ excellent Jan. 28 article, Deadly voyages devastate Haitian island, underscores the need to fix a flawed policy. The Department of Homeland Security has approved family-based visa petitions for 110,000 Haitians on years-long wait lists in Haiti. President Obama should speed their entry.
Since the 2010 quake, creation of a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program (FRPP) has been urged by 100 members of Congress, 10 editorial boards including the Miami Herald’s, the Miami-Dade County Commission, the New York, Philadelphia and North Miami city councils, the American Bar Association, the NAACP, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Congressional Black Caucus, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, 6,000 petitioners and others.
Obama surrogates promised Haitian-American Floridians that he would expedite these paroles if reelected, but despite the merits, bipartisan pleas and the ease of implementation, he hasn’t.
Creating a Haitian FRPP would save lives: The 110,000 people approved by DHS are at risk in Haiti, whose misery includes a worsening cholera epidemic. They’d be safer with their petitioning American family members in communities that are not only in Florida.
Reuniting them would help Haiti, too. Augmenting the U.S. Treasury with large work-permit application fees, these employed Haitians would start sending remittances home; Haitians remit about $2 billion annually.
Thousands enter the United States under the ongoing FRPP for Cubans. Nationals of both lands risk their lives at sea, many Haitians dying during the horrific voyages that Charles documented. Creating a Haitian FRPP would end a double standard.
It would relieve at least some of the pressure leading to these tragedies. And Haitians under this program wouldn’t get a green card sooner — there’d be no “line jumping.” But they could wait for them in safety, like Cuban parolees, not in devastated Haiti.
Why the inaction? Obama hasn’t said, but there is no conflict between seeking congressional immigration reform and administratively expediting these paroles to save lives and help Haiti, whose recovery is in our national security interest given its proximity to our shores.
The president should instruct DHS to promptly create a Haitian FRPP, as the Herald and others have long urged.
Marleine Bastien, executive director, Haitian Women of Miami, Miami
Steven Forester, immigration policy coordinator, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, Miami
Click HERE for original.
Haitians who feel they have no other option often risk their lives trying to reach the US, Bahamas, or Turks & Caicos on unsafe sailboats. Residents of Ile de la Tortue especially suffer the consequences. Everyone knows that more jobs will diminish this problem but it is very difficult to find donors to help.Deadly voyages devastate Haitian island Desperation trumps risks in offshore Haiti island as illegal migration spikes and dozens die.
Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald
January 28, 2014
ILE DE LA TORTUE, Haiti — Three times James Major tried to make it off this rustic island, where skeletons of wooden sailboats litter the rocky shoreline.
Three times he failed, turned back by U.S. and Bahamian authorities.
Still, the unemployed husband and father of two, who ate toothpaste and sipped saltwater to survive his latest harrowing attempt, says he’s ready to take the illegal journey again.
“Either you die here,” he says, “or you die trying.”
In recent months, dozens have died in crossings launched from these shores as trip organizers, or “managers,” prey on Haitians’ desire to escape this desperately poor country. That has created an opportunity for unscrupulous boat captains to once again turn La Tortue — and Haiti’s poorly patrolled northwest coastline — into a popular jumping-off point for clandestine migrant-smuggling operations into the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos, and Florida.
The deadly voyages have marred almost every home in the village of Basse-Terre along the island’s southeastern coast. There’s the 9-year-old boy who wept as he begged his father, now deceased, not to go; the grandmother who now cares for 11 children, one of whom is disabled; and the young mother of seven who lost six relatives, including her husband.
“I don’t know what to do,” said Elmika Castin, 27, sitting in her front yard, surrounded by others who have lost loved ones. “All I am doing is suffering here.”
Castin said her husband and five cousins never told her they planned to leave on the morning of Nov. 18 when they went to check out rumors that a boat was departing. For days, she said, she suffered stomachaches and diarrhea awaiting word about them.
To outside observers, Ile de la Tortue, or Tortuga Island, shouldering Haiti’s northwest coast is a picturesque paradise of mangrove-lined, unspoiled beaches and breathtaking mountaintop views of the hand-built wooden sloops — feats of Haitian ingenuity — gliding through the blue channel separating the island from mainland Hispaniola, which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic.
But to the 45,000 residents who call this often novelized, turtle-shaped speck home, it is anything but a romanticized haven. Ravaging hurricanes, persistent drought, grinding poverty and U.S. Coast Guard policy barring the island’s prized possessions from U.S. waters, have wreaked havoc on their livelihoods, islanders say.
“Life here isn’t easy,” said Wilson Alexis, 57, taking a break from constructing a wooden sailboat. “There are no visas being given, no commerce, and Jeanne and Hanna (hurricanes in 2004 and 2008) destroyed a lot of boats. Until now, no one has been able to help us recover the loss from those hurricanes.”
Life wasn’t always this bleak here, where even the beachfront hotels are closed and overfishing has left the surrounding waters barren.
In the 1980s and early ’90s, boat captain Evenio Alexandre and others survived by plying the trade route between Haiti and Miami, and the Bahamas. The boats ferried bicycles, rice and used clothing for resale, and sailors like Alexandre made about $300 a trip. Others transported Haitian-grown plantains, mangoes and other fresh produce to the Bahamas.
Then the U.S. Coast Guard in the late 1990s clamped down on the wooden sailboats, citing safety concerns: the boats’ tillers and masts are made of tree logs, there are no bathroom facilities, and the sails, which are about a $465 investment, are hand-sewn.
The governments of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands followed suit, saying the vessels weren’t seaworthy, and that they were running drugs.
“The minute they shut down the wooden boats, and said ‘no more,’ the island was sick,” said Alexandre, 65, who scrapes a living growing plantains and coconuts in a hillside garden, his wooden boat rotting nearby.
Alexandre said it’s easy to understand the renewed popularity of the dangerous journeys, which attract Haitians from as far away as the capital, 109 miles away. Migrants make the six-hour trek from Port-au-Prince by bus, then are ferried to the island from the nearby mainland city of Port-de-Paix.
Once here, they either hike or travel by motorcycle to any of more than a dozen departure points. And desperation trumps the risks.
“Everyone knows when a boat is leaving,” Major said.
The first time Major, 29, had his hopes for a new life dashed, he was within sight of the jagged coastlines of the southern Bahamas. The second time, he was picked up near Cuba. The third, last November, he almost starved to death after four food-less days aboard a capsized, overcrowded 40-foot sailboat off the Bahamas.
“If we had jobs, taking a boat to a foreign country wouldn’t even be considered an option,” he said, “but as long as we’re not working and a boat is leaving, it is always an option.”
Still, nothing could have prepared Major and the others for the terrifying mayhem that occurred when their sloop shipwrecked five days after leaving the nearby village of Carénage.
“By Saturday night, I had become distressed,” said Major, who after going through his $12 worth of energy drinks and crackers resorted to eating “Colgate and drinking saltwater” to live.
“There was no food, and people were just dying of hunger in front of you,” he said.
At least 30 people died, most of them from starvation. Among them was a local elected official. And in the midst of the anarchy, survivor Jonel Orelien said, the boat’s captain “was stabbed to death.”
During the four days the group spent before they were spotted by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, there were fights aboard, they said, as people scrambled for food and water. Some passengers “began doing a series of mystic rituals.”
In all, 111 were rescued. But Orelien, who worked as a sailor aboard the ship, said the captain told him there were 442 passengers. Some paid with money and livestock.
The U.S. Coast Guard and the Bahamas Defense Force have no way of confirming the exact number because there is rarely, if ever, a passenger manifest.
After years of viewing illegal Haitian migration as groups of people getting together to escape political turmoil and economic hardship, U.S. authorities have begun to regard them as “criminal ventures.”
The recognition comes amid growing concern about the use of a circuitous, shorter but perhaps more dangerous route through the Mona Passage separating the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico by smugglers trying to get around the beefed up Coast Guard patrols in the Florida Straits.
“They are ruthless,” U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Mark Fedor said of the smugglers. “What Haitians don’t anticipate is getting kicked out of the boat, 50 yards or several miles from shore and having to swim for it.”
The Coast Guard and the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince have launched a public-service ad campaign warning Haitians not to be fooled by reckless racketeers.
“There are people out there who we don’t interdict . . . who do not make it and we don’t even know about,” said Fedor, chief of law enforcement for the seventh Coast Guard district in Miami. “Thousands try, hundreds die.”
Fifteen days after the ill-fated Nov. 18 trip, another boat left from La Tortue, residents said. All of those passengers were safely returned by the Cuban government. But a Christmas Day voyage into Turks and Caicos wasn’t as fortunate. At least 17 migrants died.
Last week, as the bodies of the 17 remained in the morgue in the Turks and Caicos Islands, the British dependent territory’s governor accused Haitian officials of not doing enough to stem the flow of illegal migration.
“The cost of interdiction and repatriation, over $1.2 million this year, is unacceptable to TCI,” the governor’s office said.
Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said his government is trying to address the desperate situation in the drought-prone northwest. Several projects are in the works, he said, including trying to sign an agreement with the Bahamas to purchase bananas from the region.
“At the end of the day it’s a jobs issue,” Lamothe told the Miami Herald. “They are going to the Bahamas, they are going to Turks and Caicos to help their families to have a decent job where they can earn a just living . . . if they could have a job they would not leave.”
But getting private companies or even foreign donors to invest in long-term job creation in Haiti isn’t easy.
Four years after Haiti’s devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, the country is still struggling to get donors to deliver the $14 billion in aid they pledged.
“As long as there are no jobs, they will never give up. They have nothing to lose,” said Drazan Rozic, program manager with the International Organization for Migration in Haiti.
Last year, the United States ended funding for a migrant program that Rozic spearheaded in the north even as Coast Guard officials sounded the alarm over the deadly trend.
For weeks, Rozic has been shopping around a new, $5.1 million income-generating project, he said, aimed at keeping Haitians at home. So far, there are no takers among potential donors.
“Everybody agrees on the components, the methodology, and support the idea. It’s just a matter of figuring out who will pay for it,” Rozic said.
Sagesse-Fils Loriston, a local representative, said the island and its residents have been forgotten. There are no roads, no electricity and no latrines. There aren’t even docks or ports. Just four police offices patrol the island.
If Port-au-Prince is serious about stemming the flow of migration from here, Loriston said, it is easy.
“You reinforce security and create the conditions for the people, especially the young people, to less and less view the sea as an option,” he said. “The people, they are hungry and they are miserable.”
Click HERE for original.
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The ABA condemns the Constitutional Court Ruling, calls on the DR government to create a law countermanding the ruling, and affirms its solidarity with the Haitian people.ABA Statement on The Dominican Republic
Association of Black Anthropologists
The Association of Black Anthropologists (ABA) condemns the recent ruling by the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court on September 23, 2013 (Ruling 0168-13), which has created a volatile human rights crisis in the Dominican Republic. As other outraged organizations like Amnesty International, CARICOM (Caribbean Community), the Haitian Studies Association, theNational Bar Association, and the governments of Guyana,Trinidad & Tobago and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have observed, the court ruling does the following:
- It strips citizenship from the offspring of non-resident Haitians born in the Dominican Republic where nationality is conferred by place of birth;
- It denies Dominican children of Haitian descent the right to an identity and nationality;
- It overlooks the due process of law; and
- It disregards the binding character of decisions made by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in favor of Haitian-descended Dominicans.
As a result of the ruling, people of Haitian descent are being stripped of their rights and deported.
The ABA stands in solidarity with the people of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic and calls on the Dominican Parliament to pass a law countermanding the Constitutional Court’s ruling that renders people of Haitian descent stateless. We also call on the President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, to sign said legislation into law.
In the spirit of the Haitian Revolution, where people of African descent fought for the right to live dignified lives, we call for an end to the current violence perpetrated against Haitian-descended Dominicans, an end to the deportation of people of Haitian descent, and a prompt resolution of this serious matter. Let us all stand together and act in the interests of humanity and human rights and allow people of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic to lead safe and dignified lives.
The ABA seeks to ensure that people studied by anthropologists are not only objects of study but active makers and/or participants in their own history. In a larger sense, we intend to highlight situations of exploitation, oppression and discrimination.
More on the Dominican Republic, the Dominican Court Ruling, and Haitians in the Dominican Republic (as of January 22, 2014):
- Apartheid in the Americas: Are you Dominican or Haitian?
- Dominicans Dispossessed: Fit for Exploitation, Not Citizenship.
- The Dominican Republic Hates Black People
- Dr. Jemima Pierre discusses Racial Hatred in the Dominican Republic on Black Agenda Radio
Click HERE for original.
Pour commémorer le quatrième anniversaire du tremblement de terre, Wawa et Kristen Chege ont rédigé un communiqué de presse sur les logements et le cholera. Ci-dessous est celui sur l’épidémie du choléra.
Click HERE for the English version.Financer le plan d’élimination du choléra et implémenter les recommandations des experts.
Wawa et Kristen Chege, MCC Latin America Advocacy Blog
Haïti souffre de la pire épidémie de choléra dans l’histoire mondiale récente. Cette épidémie est due à une déficience dans le traitement des ordures au camp de base d’une Mission des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation en Haïti népalaise (MINUSTAH), à Mirebalais. La souche népalaise du virus se serait répendue dans la rivière Artibonite, dont l’eau est utilisée pour laver, cuisiner et boire dans une grande partie du pays.
Le 11 décembre 2011, le Secrétaire Général des Nations Unies a approuvé un plan de 2,27 milliards de dollars sur 10 ans, le Plan National pour l’Élimination du Choléra en Hispaniola. Un consortium d’agences internationales et d’ONG, dont la Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), la World Health Organization (WHO), l’UNICEF, et le Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) américain, soutient ce plan. Le plan prévoit des étapes de court, moyen et long terme en trois phases, chacune avec des objectifs spécifiques, dans le but de dépasser la crise actuelle et d’améliorer considérablement le système des eaux et du traitement des eaux en Haïti pour prévenir de futures catastrophes. Deux ans plus tard, seulement 9,5% du budget a été réuni.
Durant les deux premières années d’action contre l’épidémie de choléra, seulement 2,5% du budget d’urgence choléra, ont été gérés par la Direction Nationale de l’Eau Potable et de l’Assainissement haïtienne (DINEPA).
Sans financement adéquat à la disposition du Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population (MSPP) et d’autres agences, l’épidémie de choléra continue de tuer les Haïtiens les plus vulnérables. À la date de décembre 2013, plus de 695 700 Haïtiens avaientcontracté le virus.
Le MCC demande instamment à la Mission Américaine aux Nations Unies de :
- Mobiliser les états membres, les donateurs non-habituels, et d’autres acteurs internationaux pour financer entièrement les 10 ans, trois phases et 2,27 milliards de dollars du Plan National pour l’Élimination du Choléra.
- Assurer que les Nations Unies implémentent les recommandations faites par le groupe d’experts indépendants :
- Dépistage du choléra pour le personnel des Nations Unies et les Secours venant des zones pandémiques.
- Vaccinations et traitements antibiotiques pour le personnel des Nations Unies assigné aux Urgences.
- Traitement local de tous les déchets dans les installations des Nations Unies à travers le monde pour neutraliser les pathogènes dangereux comme le vibrio cholerae.
Pour agir, signez cette pétition contre le cholera
Vous pouvez aussi lire cette lettre du représentant américain John Conyers et de 64 autres représentants appelant les Nations Unies à reconnaître leur responsabilité dans la poussée épidémique du cholera.
Cliquez ICI pour l’original.
Click HERE for the English version.
Pour commémorer le quatrième anniversaire du tremblement de terre, Wawa et Kristen Chege ont rédigé un communiqué de presse sur les logements et le choléra. Ci-dessous est celui sur les logements.
Click HERE for the English version.Pour mettre fin aux expulsions forcées de personnes déplacées internes et agir contre la crise de logements à long terme
Wawa et Kristen Chege, MCC Latin America Advocacy Blog
Photo by Olav A. Saltbones, IFRC, Creative Commons License
Quatre ans après le tremblement de terre, les Haïtiens sont toujours confrontés à une crise des logements. En 2009, même avant le tremblement de terre, il manquait environ 300 000 logements. Après le tremblement de terre, ce chiffre s’est élevé à 500 000, ce qui représente plus de 1,5 million de personnes sans-abri. Aujourd’hui, le nombre de personnes vivant dans des tentes dans les camps de déplacés est estimé à plus de 171 947, et de nombreux Haïtiens se réinstallent dans des abris de fortunes décrétés hors-normes et dangereux par les autorités. Sur les 306 camps existants, seulement deux bénéficient d’un service de gestion officiel.
L’aide internationale est bien loin de répondre aux besoins en terme de logements.
Des 1,34 milliards de dollars que le gouvernement des États-Unis a dépensé pour la reconstruction et le développement après le tremblement de terre, seulement 9,2% a été dépensé pour procurer des logements à ceux qui se sont retrouvés sans-abri.
En attendant, les évictions forcées par des propriétaires de terrains privés continuent, avec le soutient de la police et les autorités locales. Dans la plupart des cas, il n’y a ni autorisation légale, ni moyen de faire appel. Des efforts rares et éparpillés ont été fait pour procurer des solutions de logement à la population expulsée. Ce manquement viole les Droits Internationaux des Personnes et l’article 22 de la Constitution Haïtienne.
Le Collectif des Organisations pour la Défense du Droit au Logement, une plateforme de plaidoyer pour les organisations de défense des droits des personnes, qui compte une coalition de vingt six organisations locales et les comités des camps de déplacés, appelle le gouvernement haïtien à :
- Désigner des terrains pour la construction de logements
- Créer un ministère du logement central et unique pour coordonner et implémenter un plan social pour le logement.
- Solliciter et allouer des fonds pour réaliser ce plan
En plus de soutenir l’appel du collectif, le MCC demande instamment au gouvernement américain de dénoncer les expulsions en Haïti en s’appuyant sur la loi et le Droit des Personnes, et de faire du développement de logements sûrs et abordables une priorité dans ce qu’il reste du budget alloué à la reconstruction post tremblement de terre.
Agissez en signant cette pétition pour le logement
Cliquez ICI pour l’original.
Click HERE for the English version.
There has been a lot of progress in rebuilding in Port au Prince, though many think it’s still not enough. This article discusses what is being done and what’s planned for getting people out of tent camps into permanent housing, as well as information from Haitians, government officials, and developers post-quake.Port-au-Prince: collision of ideals and aid have yoked progress In a post-earthquake city that has seen coups, invasions and disease, redevelopment is either going strong or standing still depending on who you speak to and what their agenda is
Rashmee Roshan Lall, The Guardian
January 27, 2014
Nearly four years after the earthquake that eviscerated their city, Jimmy Alex, a chauffeur, and Magalie Noel, a schoolteacher, personify Haiti‘s capacity for resilient hope and determined rebuilding amid the ruins that remain on their doorstep.
At either end of the social spectrum, Jimmy and Magalie’s response tothe 7.0-magnitude quake that struck in the early hours of 12 January 2010 was identical. Both their houses fell down, so they simply moved their families out into the front yard. With more spare cash than Jimmy, Magalie quickly built a tiny structure near the rubble of her home.
Jimmy stoically lived in a tent for 15 months, then scraped together $1,500 (£917) to build the single room he shares with his wife and two children. “I received no help from the government or anyone, so I just have to carry on building on my own, whenever I have cash,” he says. For Magalie, the money saved by leaving the rubble intact was worth more than the psychological benefit of its removal. “It’s true I don’t like seeing my destroyed home everyday, but at least I’m solvent,” she says.
Good Samaritans, pundits and city planners might wish the pair’s pragmatic but rapid response had been more generally adopted by the Haitian authorities. “The city looks like the earthquake happened yesterday,” laments Marcus Garcia, who edits the diaspora weekly Haiti en Marche from Port-au-Prince. The reference is to broken or non-existent roads, roofless buildings including two major cathedrals still staring into the sky, and 306 camps for internally displaced people according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). That’s about a quarter of the 1,200 tent camps at the peak of the crisis.
Right after the quake, Port-au-Prince residents described the sky above the city as grey with dust, the roads impassable because of rubble, houses flattened like pancackes lining every street. Milind, an Indian-American businessman who has lived here 25 years, says it was “a nightmare except that you never woke from it. Nothing stood straight … hell, nothing was standing, mountains of debris blocked every road, you had to walk to get anywhere or take a motosiklet [motorcycle taxi].”A baby boy sits next to his house in a refugee camp for displaced people in Port-au-Prince, in 2014. Photograph: Jean Marc Herve Abelard/AP
The city was drowning in a concrete deluge estimated at 22m million cubic yards of heavy debris. The beautiful white French Renaissance National Palace, which housed the residence and office of the president, was heavily damaged and stood forlornly as a painful symbol of the tragedy.
Today, Port-au-Prince is still an eyesore. President Michel Martelly’s offices are in a temporary building near the gaping void that once was the palace. The occasional buckled wall and cracked building still stands limp and ghostly in most neighbourhoods, an untenanted reminder of the disaster. And up the steep mountainsides stand hundreds of flimsy structures composed of USAid plastic sheeting and grain sacks, the letters and logo faded. As of last October, according to the IOM, 171,974 people – down from 1.5 million – were living in these lean-tos.
Venette Jean Louis is one of them. The 37-year-old unmarried mother of three is in a camp that houses approximately 500 people in Canape Verte, a neighbourhood high in the hills. “At least we don’t pay rent,” she says of her squalid living arrangements. As is the norm, the camp has provided itself with “priz”, the Haitian Creole term for free electricity obtained by sneakily hooking on to the grid. It has 18 toilets built by an NGO, but no showers. “You wash inside,” says Venette. She is uncertain if she wants to move. “We all know it’s not our land, so eventually we’ll have to,” she admits. But she is vague about where she would go or how she would pay for accommodation. “The rebuilding is going so slow, we want the IOM to come back. They could give me $500 to resettle, I’ve heard from others who got it, so I could at least pay rent for some months.”The slow march of progress
It is four years since the earth shook so hard that the city’s terrified people created a new colloquialism for an earthquake – “goudou goudou”, the sound of the rumbling they heard beneath their feet. Should Port-au-Prince not be in better shape by now?
“If you were here right after the quake, you would know the difference between the city then and as it is now,” says Harry Adam, the engineer-architect who heads the Unite de Construction de Logements et de Batiments Publics (UCLBP). “The change is incredible.”Poeple in Port-au-Prince search for survivors after the earthquake struck, in 2010. Photograph: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters
Adam reports directly to the Haitian prime minister, Laurent Lamothe, for his gargantuan three-pronged job, which he lists as follows: moving everyone out of the tents; formulating an institutional response to the lodging issue; and rebuilding public structures. He asserted that all the new construction is earthquake-proof, which adds 30% to the tab.
The World Bank has helped develop a national building code and trained a new technical team at the public works ministry to ensure standards. As befits the nodal construction entity whose slogan is “Reconstruire mieux” (rebuild better), the UCLBP is housed in a relatively comfortable prefab structure that’s less grungy than other government offices. Adam ticks off projects currently underway, including building eight new ministries (40 public buildings were destroyed) along the main Rue Champs de Mars downtown. But first, that street will have to be widened to reflect its projected grandeur as the heart of government. Adam says Martelly, a former entertainer intuitively sensitive to public applause, is enthusiastic.
The rebuilding plan mixes functionality with the psychologically important and moral-boosting feelgood factor. Starting in Christmas 2012, tent camps were removed from two public parks in the city’s upmarket district of Petionville. Wilson, who sells bottled soft drinks at Place Boyer, one of the green and pleasant newly reopened parks, says the camp’s removal has knocked the bottom out of his trade. “The Red Cross used to buy from me. Now, I don’t sell much. But it is clean and beautiful now,” he allowed.
A third park, not far from Venette Jean Louis’s camp, has been cleared and is currently being rebuilt. Work is also under way on a 3,000-house complex in Morne Cabrit, outside Port-au-Prince. So far, only 120 are ready but “the developer is giving us 50 houses a week”, says Adam. He shakes his head at the reluctance even homeless people have shown to be “pioneers in new neighbourhoods”. Phase II of the development will have 4,000 more houses.Vendors use the open space of an earthquake damaged building to cut carpet for a client near their shop in downtown Port-au-Prince, in 2013. Photograph: Dieu Nalio Chery/AP Spreading the wealth, or trying to
Adam dismisses criticism of the resettlement scheme – a year’s rent – as an expensive and too temporary an incentive. The scheme covers people in tents, who are willing to move, and according to Adam the money from international donors is used to pay the first year’s rent. He says: “70% of those we resettled are still in the same property a year later and they’re paying their own rent.” But a new survey disputes this.
The Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), a US-based group of lawyers and its Haitian affiliate Bureaux des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), claims that resettled people now face another housing crisis because their cash rental money is nearly at an end. The survey is based on answers provided by 44 families between and one and two years after their relocation. But part of the problem, according to the World Bank’s special envoy to Haiti, Mary Barton Dock, is that houses were scarce in Port-au-Prince even before the quake.
Maarten Boute, a Belgian businessman who has lived in Haiti five years, says: “The quake didn’t cause the slums and the squatters. It merely brought the problem to everyone’s attention.”
Adam agrees and offers the national housing policy, Haiti’s first, as a possible answer. Published three months ago, it recommends mortgage schemes among other things, though the banks have yet to come on board.A woman fixes a clothes line next to her temporary housing tent in Port-au-Prince, in 2013. Photograph: Dieu Nalio Chery/AP
But the finance minister, Wilson Laleau, is doubtful rebuilding will have any real impact on living conditions until Haiti finds another developmental axis. “Port-au-Prince’s problem is Port-au-Prince. It swallows everything,” he says.
Not everyone is complaining. Jean-Arnold Farfan, a security guard, used the post-quake chaotic anonymity to exercise squatter’s rights over a small plot of land. “If the quake hadn’t happened, I would never, in my life, been able to have a house of my own,” he says. Farfan, 43, describes the process by which collective catastrophe metamorphosed into a personal triumph. Till the quake, he rented a house with his wife and two children. “Living in a tent camp meant we saved on rent. When I found some land, I built a small house from those savings.”
His story illustrates a Creole saying, “catastrof se pa negatif net“(catastrophe is not wholly negative). But that may be hard to stomach if you’re Jimmy or Magalie, or countless others in a city that is rebuilding slowly and painfully.
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Le Ministère canadien des Affaires étrangères du Commerce et du Développement a donné 20 millions de dollars canadiens pour réinstaller des familles vivant dans 60 sites prioritaires de Port-au-Prince.Haïti – Social : 20 millions du Canada pour le relogement de 16,000 familles déplacées
January 25, 2014
L’Organisation Internationale pour les Migrations (OIM) en Haïti, a reçu 20 millions de dollars canadiens (± 18 millions USD) en nouveau financement, du Ministère canadien des Affaires étrangères du Commerce et du Développement (MAECD), pour aider au retour volontaire et la réinstallation d’environ 16,000 ménage déplacés vivant dans 60 sites prioritaires.
Situé dans la zone métropolitaine de Port-au-Prince, les camps sélectionnés sont ceux à risque environnemental élevé, sous la menace d’une expulsion ou situés dans les écoles, empêchant l’accès aux classes pour les étudiants.
Le financement canadien permettra à l’OIM d’aider quelque 53,000 personnes à retourner dans leurs communautés d’origine ou de leur choix et à relocaliser des camps pour un logement sûr et digne.
L’OIM apportera son soutien tout au long du processus de réinstallation, en fournissant une subvention d’un an à la location à travers le système d’allocation-logement du Gouvernement d’Haïti, ainsi que des services et un soutien adapté afin de répondre aux besoins spécifiques des personnes les plus vulnérables.
Les services de l’OIM comprennent : la santé, une assistance psycho-sociale et de protection ; services d’eau de base, d’assainissement et d’hygiène dans les camps ciblés jusqu’à ce qu’ils soient fermés ; une communication bidirectionnelle continue sur le processus de réinstallation afin de permettre aux participants de prendre des décisions éclairées concernant leurs options de logement ; le démantèlement de camp et la remise aux autorités compétentes ou les propriétaires privés et le suivi avec les ménages aidés pour assurer une transition en douceur des camps aux communautés de retour.
« Le Canada est heureux de travailler avec l’OIM, qui a une expérience confirmée en matière de fourniture d’aide sécurisé, fiable, flexible et rentable pour ceux dans le besoin » a déclaré Christian Paradis, le Ministre canadien du développement international et de la Francophonie « [...] Cette initiative aidera des milliers de familles haïtiennes, qui ont cherché désespérément un logement permanent, et améliorera grandement leur sécurité et leur qualité de vie. »
Sous la direction de l’Unité de Construction de Logements et de Bâtiments Publics (UCLBP)d’Haïti et en ligne avec la méthodologie 16/6 du gouvernement, l’OIM avec le soutien de la communauté internationale, a assisté à la réinstallation de plus de 35,000 familles déplacées depuis 2011, lorsque l’approche d’allocation au logement a commencé.
« L’OIM est très reconnaissante envers le gouvernement du Canada pour sa généreuse contribution qui permettra à des milliers de familles haïtiennes de reconstruire leur vie après quatre années de vie difficile dans les camps » a déclaré Grégoire Goodstein, le Chef de mission de l’OIM en Haïti.
Rappelons que l’OIM et le Canada ont déjà travaillé ensemble avec les autorités haïtiennes en 2012 pour relocaliser 5,576 familles déplacées vivant dans le tristement célèbre camp du Champ de mars.
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Discuss war crimes and human rights abuses at Columbia U. during the 2nd International People’s Tribunal.
Saturday, January 25, 2014 at noon
Columbia University Law School
435 West 116th Street (off Amsterdam Ave)
Peggy Chateauneuf, our Advocacy Intern, will present a condensed version of the cholera Complaint against the UN.
Click HERE for the event page and press release.
If you’re in DC, attend the Human Right to Housing Conference: Four Years Later… Nowhere to go.
WHEN: Friday, January 24, 2014 6:30-8:30pm
WHERE: United States Capitol Visitor Center, Orientation Theater South
WHY: It’s unacceptable that so many Haitians are still living in Internally Displaced Persons camps four years after the earthquake.
Click HERE to RSVP.
Mining companies are interested in Haiti’s resources but it may lead to a bad situation for Haitian farmers and Haitians in general. This article discusses the best ways these companies may make their move, by including Haitian voices and interests in the discussion.Haiti’s wealth of untapped mining resources must benefit the poor More transparency and opportunities for public participation in mining deals is the best way to avoid resource curse
Prospery Raymond, The Guardian
January 21, 2014
In 2012 I wrote about the mining situation in Haiti and the vast potential for this sector. Mining companies could provide an increase in tax revenues and bring employment to the country – both of which are much needed.
But more than a year later, it is not clear that the benefits mining companies could bring to Haiti would outweigh the costs they inflict – for instance, throwing poor people off their land, polluting our soil, air and water, and generating further inequalities of wealth and power. As in other countries around the world, we could suffer the resource curse.
Over the past five years a few companies have undertaken exploration and now they are trying to get licensed to explore further. Recent estimates suggest that around 2,400 sq km of northern Haiti – or about 8% of the surface of the entire country – could be ripped away from local farmers and given to US and Canadian companies.
The mineral wealth for this area, which includes gold, copper and silver, is estimated to be worth more than $20bn (£12.1bn).
Alarmingly, some contracts have been granted behind closed doors, without scrutiny or participation by Haitian civil society or parliament. Opening this kind of opportunity to foreign investors without proper laws, enforcement and transparency in place has created much anger among the population and some politicians alike.
Based on a report by local and international civil society groups, the senate voted to block all of these contracts last February, but the vote cannot force the foreign companies to stop their activities and, so far, we do not know how firms have responded.
Nor do we know which mineral companies are already extracting, or what payments they are making to the government in taxes and royalties.
For its part, the mining and energy office, with the help of the World Bank, wants to replace the obsolete 1976 mining law this year, because the current law fails to take into consideration market conditions and how modern businesses function. However, the mining forum in June 2013, organised by the Bank and the Haitian government, was simply for show since the Bank had rewritten the law in May before the forum even took place.
This undermines the credibility of the Bank, especially since it has emerged that it has invested its own funds in some of the foreign mining companies in Haiti.
In response, some local organisations have been asking for a new mining law that takes into consideration relevant international conventions – for instance, on people’s rights to be properly consulted and compensated in relation to possible new uses of their land, on pollution control, on taxation, and on transparency around mining deals and mining companies’ finances.
Despite these problems there is still time to make things right for the mining industry in Haiti, the farmers living in the areas the companies want to exploit, as well as the country as a whole.
For this to happen I would propose a few directions. First, we need genuine consultation between the government, the mining and energy office, the mining industry, the World Bank and Haitian civil society. There must be more transparency and opportunities for public participation in decisions about possible mining deals between companies and the government.
This requires not only making information available, but communicating this information appropriately in Creole, the language of the population. Communities must have the right to free, prior and informed consent to any use of their land by mining or other companies. We also need environmental impact studies, companies must be responsible for paying for work to prevent and clean up all the harm that they do.
In addition, Haitian civil society must be given a genuine say in how the government spends the payments it receives from the mining industry – and how those payments are distributed across the country, taking into account which communities are most affected by mining activities. It is critical that the state ensures that mining companies pay Haitians a fair return for the valuable minerals that they are taking from us.
We must learn from the mistakes made by many other countries that struggle to get such companies to pay their fair share, including those in Latin America and the Caribbean, and not submit to the scandal of inequality.
The most important lesson is that companies and governments behave better when they know that everyone can find out about the level of payments they are making to governments. This helps to reduce opportunities for tax evasion and corruption, and should be a central part of Haiti’s new mining law.
The mining industry could be profitable for Haiti. If the government invests mining revenues in education, health, environmental protection and other basic services, it has the potential to resolve a lot of problems that vulnerable and poor Haitians are facing.
So far, however, the exclusive closed-door negotiations and secrecy surrounding the industry is akin to inviting the resource curse to come to stay in Haiti.
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Un rapport détaillé sur cholera en Haiti, avec les scientifiques; des personnels des Nations Unies; une famille qui a souffert du choléra; un avocat pour les victimes du cholera; et Brian Concannon, le directeur de IJDH.
Envoyé Spécial, France 2
January 23, 2014
Déployés en Haïti après le tremblement de terre de 2010, des casques bleus népalais sont-ils à l’origine de l’épidémie de choléra qui a déjà fait plusieurs milliers de morts sur l’île ?
Join SoJust at Lir Irish Pub & Restaurant in Boston for some social justice networking.
Thursday, January 23, 2014 6-8pm
Lir Irish Pub & Restaurant
903 Boylston St
To celebrate 7+ years, 2350+ members, 165+ events and countless connections made since 2006 and connect to other progressives and social justice organizations in Boston.
Click HERE for event page.
NAME(S): Families living in the informal settlement of Canaan, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.
DETAILS OF SITUATION:
Several hundred families living in an informal settlement known as Canaan on the outskirts of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince are at risk of imminent forced eviction.
An individual who lays claim to 56 hectares of land there, stated on 22 January that he would evict everyone living there in 48 hours. It is believed that he is not in possession of an eviction order, and the residents have not been directly informed of his intention to evict them.
The same individual instigated the forced eviction of more than 200 families between 7 and 10 December 2013 in the sector of Titanyen in Canaan. Although there was apparently a court order, it was a forced eviction as the order was only against ten of the residents, while over 200 families were evicted. In addition, families were not given prior notification of the eviction and therefore they did not have the opportunity to challenge the decision. Excessive use of force was also used, as the police reportedly used tear gas grenades and fired shots into the air to intimidate residents who tried to resist the operation. A dozen people were assaulted, including a woman who was four months pregnant.
Lawyers representing the evicted families have filed a complaint against the alleged owner in relation to the December forced evictions.
Two sectors adjacent to Titanyen, known as Village des Pêcheurs and Village Grâce de Dieu are thought to be part of the 56 hectares claimed by the alleged landowner. Approximately 350 families live in Village des Pêcheurs while between 2,500 and 5,000 families reside in Village Grâce de Dieu. They are all potentially at risk of forced eviction.
On 24 December 2013, five residents of Village des Pêcheurs received a summons requesting them to leave the land. However, the summons does not allow the owner to proceed with the eviction of the occupants.
Titanyen, Village des Pêcheurs and Village Grâce de Dieu are parts of an area commonly known as Canaan, a large tract of land which was declared for “public use” (utilité publique) by the government two months after the earthquake in March 2010. Tens of thousands of people who lost their homes in the earthquake have subsequently relocated there. However, there is still confusion regarding the exact portion of land which has been declared of “public use” and about the completion of the expropriation procedure. People living there have no security of tenure and many face eviction from people claiming ownership of the land. Many of the residents are people internally displaced after the earthquake in March 2010.
Please write immediately in English (or French if possible):
- · Calling on the authorities to ensure that residents of Canaan are not evicted without due process, adequate notice, consultation and that all those affected have access to adequate alternative accommodation;
- · Urging them to seek durable solutions to the housing needs of Canaan residents and the hundreds of thousands of others still living in makeshifts camps.
Minister of Justice and Public Security
(Ministre de la Justice et de la Securité Publique)
Jean Renel Sanon
18 avenue Charles Summer
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre / Dear Minister
General Director of the Haitian Police (Directeur Général de la PNH)
Police Nationale d’Haiti
Salutation: Monsieur le directeur / Dear Director
Minister for Human Rights and the Reduction of Extreme Poverty
33, Boulevard Harry Truman
Salutation: Dear Minister / Madame la Ministre
Please also send appeals to the diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY
UN Special Envoy Pedro Medrano warns of more deaths to come from cholera epidemic in Haiti and lack of funding for treatments while diverting focus from UN responsibility for the epidemic.UN warns of surge in Haiti cholera deaths
January 22, 2014
United Nations: A United Nations envoy warned Wednesday that cholera deaths in Haiti will surge and spread to other countries unless more funds are found to battle the epidemic.
More than 8,330 people have already died from cholera, that started in 2010 and many blame on UN peacekeepers based in the impoverished Caribbean nation.
But special envoy Pedro Medrano told AFP in an interview that legal wrangling over the epidemic has to be put aside in order to tackle the sweeping advance of the disease.
Medrano said cash is lacking for purification tablets, anti-biotics and staff to keep up a campaign that has cut the number of victims over the past two years.
If funds are not found before this year’s rainy season starts in May, “we will face a very dark situation.”
The 65,000 new cases reported in 2013 were the lowest reported yet but still more than 550 people died, according to UN figures.
Medrano said that unless funds are found the UN estimates that the number of cases could double this year and deaths increase four fold.
“If we are not prepared to make the investment now, we will have this year perhaps close to 180,000 cases and even up to 2,000 fatalities,” he said.
The strain of cholera, that originally came from South Asia, has already been reported in Mexico, Cuba and Dominican Republic with some deaths.
A single case of cholera in a Peruvian port in the 1990s spread to 18 South American countries and killed 10,000 people, Medrano noted.
The UN assistant secretary general, who was named to the tough post in October, called for “a Marshall Plan for water and sanitation” in Haiti, a country of 10 million people with a long history of natural disasters and political strife.
The UN has launched an appeal to raise $2.2 billion dollars for Haiti over the decade. But Medrano said $400 million has to be found over two years to contain the epidemic and build infrastructure to stop a repeat.
“This is a must and we can’t wait 10 years to have the whole country covered. We need to have a massive investment in water purification, sanitation, toilets,” he said.
The Haitian government has reported more than 680,000 cases since the epidemic broke out in October 2010 near a UN camp where Nepalese peacekeepers were based.
Lawyers from the US-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) filed a lawsuit in New York in October seeking compensatiion from the United Nations.
“We are in Haiti and our response to the cholera has nothing to do with the legal claim or because the UN is responsible or not responsible,” said Medrano.
“We will have enough time in the future to discuss the cause. There will be a proper place to discuss that. Now we are concerned with the response because people are dying.”
The envoy said many private aid groups had left Haiti because they have no cash. Many governments believe the emergency is finished and there are competing appeals for billions of dollars for Syria, Central African Republic, the Philippines and South Sudan.
Some 200 cholera treatment centres were set up as the epidemic spread. But Medrano said they are now under threat.
“If we have cholera treatment centres with no resources, understaffed, without money to pay staff, what are we going to do? People from remote areas are travelling to the treatment centre and it is closed — lack of resources or they are dealing with NGOs who are no longer there.”
Olivier Shulz, head of the Doctors Without Borders mission in Port-au-Prince, would not comment on predictions of increased fatalities but said prevention work was critical before the rainy season starts.
The group, which is virtually alone treating cholera patients in the capital, had to increase its staffing in Haiti last year because so many other groups left the country.
Now the MSF doctors and nurses are handling about 10 new cases a day. In the rainy season, this can increase to more than 100, Shulz told AFP.
“May comes very very quickly, the rains come very, very quickly and everyone scrambles to talk about prevention then,” he said.AFP
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According to a recent UN report, Haiti and Guyana are projected to lead economic growth in the Caribbean in 2014. The expected growth of 4.5% is higher than last year’s growth for Haiti, which was about 3.5%.Guyana and Haiti to lead Caribbean growth in 2014
January 21, 2014
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) – Guyana and Haiti are expected to lead the economic growth among countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the recently released United Nations’ annual World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) report 2014.
It said that both Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are projecting to have economic growth of 4.5 per cent this year, followed by other CARICOM member states Trinidad and Tobago 2.5 per cent, Jamaica 1.2 per cent and Barbados one per cent.
Last year Guyana had economic growth of 4.6 per cent while Haiti’s growth was estimated at 3.5 per cent.
“Overall in the Caribbean region, growth is projected at 3.3 per cent for this year. Last year, growth for the Caribbean region was estimated at 2.4 per cent in 2013, slightly slower than in the last two years.”
The report notes that Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to hasten their growth to 3.6 per cent and 4.1 per cent respectively in the next couple of years, up from 2.6 per cent in 2013.
The WESP report attributes the positive growth in 2014-2015 to sound macroeconomic policies, resilient domestic demand and the gradual recovery in developed economies.
However, it warns that economic growth remains subject to growth in other economies, mainly the Euro area, the United States and China, which is now growing at a slower pace than in previous years.
In 2013, although the region experienced growth, economic expansion was uneven.
South America led with 3.2 per cent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013, up from 2.5 per cent in 2012, due to a rebound in Argentina and Brazil.
By contrast, in Mexico and Central America, economic activity is estimated to have slowed down to 1.5 per cent in 2013 from 4.0 per cent in 2012, in part because the Mexican economy has faced structural constraints and GDP growth decelerated significantly to only 1.2 per cent.
WESP is produced at the beginning of each year by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the five United Nations regional commissions.
A report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) last December puts Guyana’s economic growth close to WESP’s projections of 4.6 per cent in 2014.
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With pressure from large companies like Hanes, the Obama Administration apparently fought to keep the Haitian minimu wage low. Haitian garment workers struggle to make a living with about a $3/day minimum wage in the textile industry.Wikileaks Reveals Obama Administration’s Role in Stifling Haitian Minimum Wage American corporations like Hanes and Levi Strauss prefer to pay Haitians slave wages to sew their clothes.
Rod Bastanmehr, AlterNet
January 16, 2014
Wikileaks. The ever-controversial leaker of the world’s best-kept secrets has published a wire on The Nation that reveals the Obama Administration fought to keep the Haitian minimum wage to 31 cents an hour.
According to the published wire (which came to light thanks in large part to the Haiti Liberte, a newspaper based in Port-au-Prince and New York City), Haiti passed a law in 2012 raising its minimum wage to 61 cents an hour. America corporations like Hanes and Levi Strauss vociferously objected, claiming such an increase would irreparably harm their business and profitability. According to the leaked U.S. Embassy cable, keeping these garment workers at “slave wages,” was better for the two companies The corporations in question allegedly stated that they would only fork over a seven-cent-an-hour increase, eventually going so far as to involve the U.S. State Department.
Soon, the U.S. Ambassador put pressure on Michel Martelly, the president of Haiti, to find a middle ground, resulting in a $3-a-day minimum wage for all textile companies. To put it in perspective, the United States’s minimum wage—already considered extremely low—works out to roughly to $58 a day.
Haiti has about 25,000 garment workers, who are somehow getting by on these abysmal wages. According to Business Insider, if each garment worker was paid just $2 more a day, it would cost their given corporate employers $50,000 per working day, or $12.5 million a year. Hanes, the garment company best known for their t-shirts, had roughly 3,200 Haitians working in their factory. An increase of $2 a day would cost the company a mere $1.6 million a year—for a company that had $4.3 billion in sales last year alone.
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