Recent Feature Articles

By Michelle Zilio, The Globe & Mail, Sept. 14, 2017

More than 12,000 asylum seekers have crossed into Canada at a single unofficial crossing point along the Quebec-United States border this year, surpassing the province's expectations for all of 2017.

The numbers come as a new survey shows that Canadians are equally divided over whether the country should welcome asylum seekers from the United States or close its borders to them. A Nanos poll found that more than one-third of Canadians – 37 per cent – say Canada should welcome asylum seekers from the United States, while the same percentage of respondents think Canada should close its borders; 26 per cent were unsure.

By Jake Johnston, Center for Economic & Policy Research (CEPR), Sept. 12, 2017

At least one person died, one remains missing, and more than a dozen were injured by the passage of Hurricane Irma off the northern coast of Haiti last week. As of September 11, nearly 6,500 Haitians remain in emergency shelters, according to the United Nations. Preliminary figures suggest that flooding impacted 22 communes, completely destroying 466 houses and badly damaging more than 2,000 more. As veteran AFP correspondent Amelie Baron noted on Twitter, “These are the damages of a hurricane passing hundreds of kilometers away from [the] Haitian coast.”

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, Sept. 11, 2017

Host Amy Goodman discusses the effects of hurricane Irma on Haiti with Kim Ives, an editor and journalist for Haïti Liberté.

The death toll from Hurricane Irma has reached at least 27 in the Caribbean. The numbers are expected to rise as rescuers reach the hardest-hit areas. Irma destroyed major parts of several Caribbean islands, including Barbuda and Saint Martin. Cuba also suffered major flooding in Havana and other cities, but there were no reported deaths.

By K. Jessica Hsu & Mark Schuller, Haiti Liberté  Sept. 6, 2017

As we go to press this week, Category 5 Hurricane Irma, with record breaking winds of 185 mph, is bearing down on Haiti and other Caribbean nations. Meanwhile, a magnitude 4.3 earthquake struck Haiti’s Central Plateau on Sep. 2, damaging a school and six homes. One person was injured in the relatively minor temblor.

In the past decade, Haiti has been struck by multiple natural disasters, including four storms in one month in 2008, the January 2010 earthquake, and last October’s Hurricane Matthew. All resulted in terrible death and destruction. But there is nothing “natural” about these catastrophes. People died because Haiti’s local and overseas ruling classes, and the government officials they help put in office, have other priorities and care nothing for people’s lives and welfare.                                                                                                              

Haiti’s neighbor to the west proves the point. Cuba is hit almost every year by powerful hurricanes and yet suffers very few casualties. In fact, “a person is 15 times as likely to be killed by a hurricane in the United States as in Cuba,” according to the Center for International Policy, a Washington think-tank. This is because the Cuban government prepares buildings, trees, and infrastructure for storms, trains its citizens and a Civil Defense Force in evacuations and sheltering, and gets food, water, and doctors ready.

Hurricane Matthew killed 372 in Haiti, and 44 in the U.S.. In Cuba, the death toll was zero.

By DeNeen L. Brown, Washington Post, Sept. 9, 2017

The woman wearing a mint-green dress with tiny pink flowers is trying not to cry.

She is explaining that she has Temporary Protected Status, which was granted to 58,000 Haitians after the 2010 earthquake that devastated the country. She had been living in the United States for more than a decade when the quake struck, but found herself a beneficiary of the program that allowed Haitians to stay.

So every 18 months, she renewed her status without much thought. Then came May, and an announcement from then-Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly. He told Haitian TPS holders that the program may soon come to an end. That they would be given a six-month extension, but they should prepare to leave the United States and return to Haiti by January 2018.

His reasoning: Things were improving in Haiti since the quake killed more than 230,000 people and did an estimated $14 billion in damage to buildings and roads.

Critics called the decision shortsighted. The effects of the earthquake are still visible. Many people still reside in tents and makeshift homes. A cholera outbreak followed in 2010, infecting at least 770,000 people and killing more than 9,200. And on Saturday, Hurricane Irma brought more heartache to the already devastated Caribbean island nation as reports of flooding began to surface.

But for the woman in the mint-green dress, struggling not to cry, her reasons for wanting to stay are much more personal.

By Kathleen Harris, CBC News, Sept. 8, 2017

Canada could indefinitely suspend deportations to Haiti and other countries devastated by Hurricane Irma, according to federal provisions that halt removals to nations deemed too dangerous because of conflict or disaster.
 
Scott Bardsley, spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, said the Canada Border Services Agency will not deport anyone who has had their refugee claim rejected, or is deemed inadmissible to Canada, to a country coping with a hurricane.
 
After the storm has passed, an evaluation will be carried out on the ground to determine its impact.
 
If the country is deemed safe, removals could continue. But widespread devastation could lead to a suspension of deportations, as happened after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Those postponements could last for months or even years.
 
"What happens really depends on the circumstance," Bardsley said.

By The Stream, Al Jazeera, August 28, 2017

Click here to watch the program

So far in August, an unprecedented 4,000 people have crossed into Canada on foot from the United States, mainly from a secluded crossing in upstate New York that winds its way into Quebec. About 85 per cent are Haitian, according to Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
 
Haitian immigrants living in the US fear that when the visas they were given after the 2010 earthquake expire in 2018, they will be deported back to Haiti by the anti-immigration administration of President Donald Trump. Many of them now also have children and families in the US.
 
Hundreds of asylum seekers also fill Montreal’s Olympic stadium as their future hangs in the balance. Canada’s army has set up tents to house them at the border while wait to have their cases heard. The influx has put a strain on public resources and has led to a debate over how best to deal with the crisis.  

By Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, Sept. 1, 2017

In 1765, colonists living in America and Canada were expected to pay into the treasury of the British monarch, sparking the famous no-taxation-without-representation rallying cry and, ultimately, the American Revolution.

Now 250-odd years later, Haitians from Miami to Montreal are embroiled in their own tax revolt. The Haitian government is seeking to levy a universal tax on all its citizens, on and off the island.

And even though it’s a small amount — 10,000 gourdes or $159 annually, depending on the exchange rate — the reaction has been no less vehement. For some 2 million Haitians living abroad, who already contribute $2 billion a year in remittances, essentially doubling the country’s annual budget, the insult is clear.

By Martin Lukacs, The Guardian, August 29, 2017

The minders of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau’s brand are surely displeased. He’s spent two years cultivating an image of Canada’s refugee system as the political equivalent of airport hugs and teddy-bears. And now the pressure is on him to act like that were remotely the truth.

The image of the country as a welcome haven was pitched to win the support of millions of people in Canada who rightly feel two things: compassion for the plight of refugees and disgust for the antics of Donald Trump. But refugee rights advocates had warned what would come to pass: desperate people would take Trudeau at his word.

Hence an influx of thousands of Haitian refugees from the United States—afraid of being deported back to Haiti by Trump—now await an uncertain fate in Canada. The Liberal government may have been happy to reap the political benefits of Trudeau’s PR posture. But apart from accepting a small number of Syrian refugees, they have dumped hundreds back in Haiti since they lifted a ban on deportations to the country in 2016. And they have studiously avoided removing other barriers that would make Canada a truly welcoming country.

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, August 16, 2017

Aug. 12, 2017 marked the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of Haitian human rights activist Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, then 52, who had days earlier announced his candidacy for Senator under the banner of the Lavalas Family party of then-exiled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Lovinsky had just finished a busy day of meetings and travel to Haiti’s countryside with an international human rights delegation, whose members he had dropped off at their guest-house further up the Delmas Road from his home behind the studios of Haitian National Television (TNH) on Delmas 33. Alone, he drove away from them in a jeep that night of Aug. 12, 2007 and was never seen again.

Hearing of the disappearance, Haïti Liberté journalist Kim Ives called Lovinsky’s cell phone about 36 hours later, on the afternoon of Aug. 14.

“At that time, it was not known that Lovinsky was kidnapped, just that he had disappeared,” reported Haïti Liberté on Oct. 21, 2007. “The man who answered the cell phone told Ives that Lovinsky had indeed been kidnapped. ‘I am responsible for this affair [the kidnapping],” the man told Ives. ‘Why have you kidnapped him?” Ives asked. ‘For money,” the kidnapper responded.