Recent Feature Articles

By Al Jazeera, Sept. 18, 2017

Much of Haiti has come to a halt because of a transportation strike over new taxes proposed by the government.

Most Haitians do not have private cars, and they get around on motorcycle taxis or the often elaborately painted vans and trucks known as "tap taps". But none were available on Monday as drivers took part in a strike over driver's licenses, fuel and property, among other things.

"We don't want this budget [new taxes] to pass," one protester in the capital Port-au-Prince told The Associated Press. "We don't want it."

Another protester, Eddy Edouard, said he supported the strike "100 percent because the situation is tough for us".

Most shops were closed, as were schools because students could not get to class. Government offices were technically open, but most employees could not get to work.

President Jovenel Moise was out of the country to attend the UN General Assembly but has said the money will go back to the public in the form of services and new infrastructure.


'Revolution has just started'

Last week, protesters brought parts of Port-au-Prince to a standstill to protest the government's budget plans. The demonstrations, at times, turned violent. 

"These little thieves in parliament voted for this budget to help the government exploit the people," protester Marco Paul Delva, who stood by a barricade of flaming tires near the legislature, told AFP news agency. 

Traffic in the centre of Port-au-Prince and on key routes around the city grounded to a halt after protesters threw stones and tires across roads.

Although demonstrators…

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, Sept. 20, 2017

Hurricane Irma may have skirted it (causing major damage nonetheless), but it’s only a matter of time before another“natural” disaster devastates Haiti, which sits between two major earthquake faults and in the middle of the bowling alley down which the ever-warming Atlantic Ocean hurls its strengthening storms at North America’s East Coast.

Already Haiti has more non-governmental organizations (NGOs) than any other country on earth, but when the next disaster hits, they will again multiply like rabbits.

Dr. Timothy Schwartz has worked for many NGOs in Haiti over the past 27 years, and his new book – “The Great Haiti Humanitarian Aid Swindle” – begins with the most well-known recent disaster: the Jan. 12, 2010 7.0 magnitude earthquake, which struck just west of the capital, Port-au-Prince. This event provides the principal tableau for his merciless evisceration of “the world’s most respected humanitarian organizations,” assisted by “journalists from the world’s most esteemed news agencies,” which he argues “deceive and manipulate people overseas regarding what is really happening in Haiti,” the book’s jacket explains.

On hearing about the quake, Schwartz, a New Englander with a Haitian wife and kids, immediately drove from the Dominican Republic with two friends to try to help. “Like so many foreigners who have lived and worked in Haiti, I am haunted by a sense of frustration and failure,” he writes. “An anthropologist and sometimes aid worker, I had spent much of the preceding 20 years watching the country sink ever deeper into misery and despair while I had done nothing tangible to help slow down the process.”

Such raw honesty and…

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.

"There's very few times that Canadians are so evenly divided on an issue," pollster Nik Nanos said.

"This is a recipe for a continued and prolonged debate about what to do when people show up at the Canadian border and ask for asylum."

The influx in unauthorized crossings at unmonitored parts of the border began last winter in Manitoba and Quebec, when hundreds of asylum seekers braved bitterly cold temperatures to seek refuge. By July, 7,500 had entered this way across Canada; 6,500 of those crossed in Quebec. That number for the province nearly doubled to 12,000 over the past month, surpassing the total number of asylum seekers Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil was expecting for the whole year. August figures for other parts of Canada were not available as of Thursday.

Most of those coming to Quebec have crossed at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, which is along the border with New York State, according to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale's office. Another 1,100 people crossed outside of Quebec by July.

Between 80 per cent and 85 per cent of…

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.”

Compared to some other Caribbean nations, the damage to Haiti’s infrastructure pales. But as Jacqueline Charles reported for the Miami Herald, looks can be deceiving:

Though Haiti was spared a direct hit from Irma and the fallout is nowhere near the magnitude of Matthew’s 546 dead and $2.8 billion in washed-out roads, collapsed bridges and destroyed crops, the frustration and fears for some in its path are no less.

“We didn’t have people who died, but homes and farms were destroyed,” Esperance said. “Just because you don’t see a lot of damages, it doesn’t mean that we haven’t been left deeper in misery.”

Charles reported that “entire banana fields lay in ruin” across Haiti’s northern coast. “It took…

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.

The entrepreneur Richard Branson has called for a "Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan" for the Caribbean. Cuba has already sent more than 750 health workers to Antigua, Barbuda, Saint Kitts, Nevis, Saint Lucia, the Bahamas, Dominica and Haiti. While Haiti avoided a direct hit from Irma, the hurricane still caused substantial damage in a country still recovering from the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew last year. Hurricane Irma displaced more than 100,000 Haitians and destroyed crops in the north of the country. 

Watch the interview


Posted Sept. 11, 2017


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…

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…

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. Canada has seen a wave of asylum seekers, including Haitian citizens, crossing over from the U.S. in recent months.   Hundreds have been streaming across the border at Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que. Many of them have been living in the U.S. under temporary protection status granted after the 2010 earthquake.   That is set to expire in January, because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security now considers Haiti a safe country.     Haiti braces for flooding, mudslides The impoverished island nation of nearly 11 million people, with weak infrastructure and water systems, is still reeling from two major natural disasters in the last decade as it now braces for high winds, rain, flooding and mudslides from Hurricane Irma.   World Vision, which has aid workers on the ground in Haiti and neighbouring Dominican Republic, says the potential damage to water and sanitation also poses a threat of a cholera outbreak. Public Safety did not have…

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.  

The government, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in particular, have also faced criticism that they have been sending a misleadingly …

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.

“We need to retaliate,” said Dr. Lesly Kernisant, a New York gynecologist, whose emailed French post entitled “Diaspora: Enough is Enough” in response to the proposal went viral. “We’re not retaliating against our people, but Haitian leaders because they don’t seem to get it.”

Anger erupted last week after the new tax was leaked on social media. It is among several new revenue schemes — fee hikes for property ownership, passports and traffic infractions, and marketing $285 million in bonds to the diaspora, among others — that Haitian President …