Recent Feature Articles

By Jay Weaver & Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald, June 21, 2017

Guy Philippe, a former police commander who eluded capture in Haiti for more than a decade even as he won a seat in the Haitian Senate, was sentenced to nine years in prison in Miami federal court Wednesday for accepting bribes to protect cocaine smugglers who used the island to ship drugs to the United States.

Philippe, 49, pleaded guilty in late April to a drug-related, money-laundering conspiracy charge. His plea agreement allowed him to avoid going to trial in May on a more serious trafficking charge that could have sent him to prison for the rest of his life. Instead, he faced up to 20 years on the money laundering conviction. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, the punishment amounted to about half that time.

Philippe said nothing to U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga as she affirmed the sentence agreed upon by the defense and prosecutors. His prosecution, which initially attracted a throng of supporters including his wife to the federal courthouse earlier this year, ended on an anti-climactic note: Only one curious spectator who showed up on Wednesday for his sentencing hearing, which lasted ten minutes.

Outside the courthouse, a handful of Haitian activists from an opposition group, Veye-Yo, waved a photo showing Philippe and Haitian President Jovenel Moïse campaigning together, along with the words, “Drug-dealing brothers in crime.”

By CGNT America, June 21, 2017

CGTN's Asieh Namdar spoke to Kim Ives, editor with Haïti Liberté newsweekly, about Haiti’s uncertain future, from the new army to the new government and economic outlook.

By Dady Chery, News Junkie Post, June 13, 2017

(Third article of a series on water)

What happens in Haiti doesn’t stay in Haiti. Sooner or later, it comes to places like Michigan’s Benton Harbor and Flint. Our destinies are linked.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Polish aristocrat who long puppeteered United States presidents from behind the curtains, has written: “America is too democratic at home to be autocratic abroad. This limits the use of America’s power, especially its capacity for military intimidation.” I concur. As long as the U.S. attempts to dominate the world and continues to dispense the violence commensurate with this ambition, it cannot expect to practice democracy at home.

Mr. Brzezinski reasoned that the main impediment to imperial ambitions is that people will not be willing to get killed in wars of conquest, but I believe there are more profound reasons why democracy cannot thrive under such circumstances. For one, the servants of empire develop a comfort with dictatorship that eventually compels them to cross the Rubicon, as they did in Roman times, and come home to continue the practice. Even more important, democracy cannot flourish where the rich are free to justify their money accumulation by rendering everyone and everything salable. A symptom of such pathology is the phenomenon of privatization.

By teleSUR, June 9, 2017

Haitian textile workers entered their third week on strike Friday, vowing to continue fighting for better working conditions.

Marxist Humanist Initiative reported that PLASIT-BO, a federation of textile trade unions affiliated with Batay Ouvriye (Workers Fight), an independent workers movement, has assisted the strike, which has spread to the country's four main cities: Port Au Prince, Carrefour, Ounaminthe and Caracol.Their core demands include a minimum wage increase from roughly US$5.50 to US$12.60 per day, protections against quota increases and access to social services for all workers.

They also noted that production quotas are set high, that factory owners and management mistreat workers, and that workers' salaries often amount to less than the current minimum wage.

Apart from these malfeasances, union organizers, cognizant that their co-workers receive the lowest wage in the Western Hemisphere, are frequently pestered by management and arbitrarily fired simply for demanding their legal rights.

"It's gotten to the point where I can't take care of my son. I don't see any future in this," said Esperancia Mernavil, a garment worker who belongs to the Gosttra union, told the AP.

By Mike Blanchfield, The Globe & Mail, June 8, 2017

Luis Fernando Monroy has literally found himself in the crosshairs of a Canadian foreign-policy dilemma: Is Canada truly living up to its commitment to protecting ethnic and minority rights across the globe?

In April, 2013, he was shot three times in the face and once in the back by security guards outside the gates of Guatemala’s Escobal mine, operated by Canada’s Tahoe Resources Inc. Mr. Monroy was part of group protesting the environmental impact the Canadian mine was having on his rural southeastern Guatemalan community, the disruption of rural life in the indigenous area and a lack of consultation.

That has become a familiar complaint against Canada’s all-dominant mining industry, which owns more the half the companies operating in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Last week, the United Nations working group on business and human rights concluded a visit to Canada by urging the government and business to “step up their efforts to prevent and address adverse human-rights impacts of business activities, both at home and abroad.”

The UN panel called for “meaningful consultation” with indigenous groups affected by natural-resource projects. “Canada may say it respects human rights,” Mr. Monroy said Thursday. “They don’t consult with us, they just roll over all of our rights.”

By VICE, June 5, 2017

Lavil: Life, Love, and Death in Port-au-Prince is a new book of oral histories from Haiti. Compiled over the course of four years, starting in 2012, writer Peter Orner and physician Evan Lyon took a non-academic approach: "no message, no lesson, no comprehensive answers, no quick fixes." Rather, their book aims to "debunk the oversimplified notions of life in Haiti, and particularly Port-au-Prince, by providing the curious reader a multiplicity of voices."

The book, which came out last week as part of Verso's urgent Voice of Witness series, focuses on what it's like living inside the Haitian capital—"a testimonial city," writes Edwidge Danticat in the book's excellent foreword, "a city of seen and unseen scars." Lavil is a powerful collection of these testimonies, which include tales of violence, poverty, and instability but also joy, hustle, and the indomitable will to survive.

In the following excerpt, we hear the story of Jean Pierre Marseille, a 44-year-old father of six and jack of all trades: journalist, fixer, translator, salesman.

By Makini Bryce, Reuters, June 1, 2017

For Roseleine Duperval, the United Nations mission to stabilize Haiti will always remind her of one thing - her 8-year-old daughter, who she says was fathered by a Uruguayan peacekeeper.

Duperval is among a group of Haitian women who embarked on a long and largely fruitless journey to try to force peacekeepers who they say fathered their children to contribute to their upbringing. While some have succeeded with their paternity claims, barely any have secured any form of child support.

"Since I became pregnant, he never sent money," said Duperval, who still has identity documents she says her daughter Sasha Francesca's father left behind, apparently because he wanted to be legally recognized as the father. "I have to call friends all the time to help me support my (child)."

The paternity and child support issue is another awkward legacy of the 13-year U.N. mission, known as MINUSTAH, which is winding up in October after being sent in to stabilize a country riven by political turmoil. The mission introduced a cholera epidemic that killed about 10,000 people and has also been dogged by accusations of sexual assault.

By Lucas Koerner, venezuelanalysis.com, May 29, 2017

Three people were killed in Venezuela over the weekend as anti-government demonstrations continued for a third straight month. 

On Friday, Manuel Sosa (33) was reportedly shot in the neck during clashes between protesters and National Guard personnel in the Lara municipality of Cabudare. Sosa’s mother has blamed the death on state security forces. 

Venezuela’s Public Prosecution (MP) has dispatched a state district attorney to investigate the homicide.

The episode gave rise to fresh violence on Saturday. During Sosa’s funeral in Cabudare, a retired National Guard lieutenant was brutally beaten and shot dead by a group of other attendees who allegedly accused him of being an “infiltrator”. 

By David McFadden, Associated Press, May 24, 2017

Factories making T-shirts, pants and other apparel in an industrial park in Haiti's capital were closed on Monday, three days since thousands of garment workers took to the streets demanding pay increases.

Industrialists and government officials met in the Port-au-Prince park, where a police presence was heavy and the dozen assembly factories were empty. Roughly 18,000 workers are employed in the factories.

Garment workers say their wages are not enough to support their families amid a depreciating currency and a rising cost of living. A Friday protest which first shuttered the factories occurred days after a significant increase in the price of gasoline.

Workers are demanding 800 Haitian gourdes per eight-hour work day. Based on current exchange rates, that's roughly $12.47 per day. They now earn 300 gourdes, or $4.67. "It's gotten to the point where I can't take care of my son. I don't see any future like this," said Esperancia Mernavil, a garment worker who belongs to the Gosttra union.

By Lisa Nikolau, Humanosphere.org, May 23, 2017

Health experts say the international community has turned a blind eye to widespread food insecurity in Haiti, where communities across nearly every region of the island are approaching risk of famine.

In March, a report from the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that of the 2.1 million Haitians affected by the hurricane last October, 1.4 million still don’t have enough food or safe drinking water.

More recently, statistics from the European Commission indicated that eight out of Haiti’s 10 departments have reached “crisis” levels of food insecurity. The EU institution said that three of those regions would likely be in a state of emergency or famine had they not received humanitarian assistance.

According to health experts from the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation, one of several in-country actors locating and treating people suffering from malnutrition, the food insecurity crisis has received little attention from international policymakers and organizations.