Recent Feature Articles

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 …

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.

The current debate has so far focussed on one such barrier: a 2004 …

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.

“But remarks later in the conversation belie that response,” the report continues. “The kidnapper asked Ives to call to Lovinsky’s sister, Aurore, in Queens, NY to have her call the cell phone and speak to him.”

Indeed, Ives relayed to Aurore the man’s demand for a $300,000 ransom, but she was never able to contact the kidnappers to negotiate Lovinsky’s release. Ives told her that during his two phone conversations with the kidnappers, they had several times asked Lovinsky questions. Ives clearly heard Lovinsky in the background replying to them.

“…

By Azad Essa, Al Jazeera, August 9, 2017

UN peacekeepers are sent to some of the most war-ravaged countries on Earth, ostensibly to help them transition to peace. But some stand accused of committing crimes against the very people they are supposed to protect. 

According to a recent investigation by the Associated Press (AP), between 2004 and 2016, the United Nations received almost 2,000 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against its peacekeepers. 

The UN says it has a zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, but survivors, activists, lawyers and human rights organisations say such crimes have been allowed to continue with impunity. 

Through conversations with UN peacekeepers and officials, gender experts, academics, researchers and activists, as well as through an investigation of UN data, in this four-part series, we try to navigate these competing accounts to answer the question: How did some peacekeepers become predators? 

In part three, we ask if the presence of a peacekeeping community can sometimes do the host nation more harm than good.

 

Inside 'Peaceland'

In her 2015 book, Peaceland, Severine Autesserre, a professor of political science at Barnard College of Columbia University in the US, writes about a "community of interveners for whom peace is either the primary…

By Travis Ross, CHAN Co-editor, August 7, 2017

On August 6, approximately 300 people attended a rally outside the Olympic Stadium to welcome refugees to Montreal.

The rally, named the “Rassemblement de bienvenue aux réfugiés haïtiens” (Rally to welcome Haitian refugees)  was organized as a counter-rally to a planned event by Quebec-based white supremacist groups La Meute, Storm Alliance, and Soldiers of Odin. This anti-immigrant rally was canceled less than 24 hours before it was scheduled to begin. As of 4pm August 5, the event had only attracted 29 attendees on Facebook.

The rally was organized by two organizations, Comité d'action des personnes sans statut et Cité sans frontières / Solidarity City / Ciudad Solidaria (Montréal). Translated: The Action Committee of Non-status People & Solidarity Across Borders.

Several people spoke at the event including: Maguy Métellus, a Montreal-based radio host; Jean Saint-Vil, an Ottawa-based Haiti Solidarity activist and Radio host; Serge Bouchereau, a Montreal based community organizer; Jaggi Singh, an activist and organizer for No One is Illegal Montreal, and Claire Fatima Oriol, a Haitian refugee facing deportation.

The event attracted a diverse crowd of Montrealers. Including members of the Haitian community, families, anti-fascists, solidarity activist, and Québec NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice. Signs for Québec Solidaire were also visible in the crowd.  

The speakers demanded that the Quebec government welcome refugees fleeing the United-States. The organizers and attendees shared a common message for leaders in Quebec…

By Nick Duffy, Pink News, August 3, 2017

The Haitian Senate has approved a law that makes it a crime to “publicly demonstrate support” for gay rights.

The law, greenlit by lawmakers in the Caribbean country this week, would make it a crime to take part in or be witness to a same-sex union.

People who take part in same-sex weddings can also face criminal charges, with a maximum of three years in prison for “the parties, co-parties and accomplices” to a same-sex marriage. However, it goes a lot further than simply outlawing banning gay weddings, by also attempting to stamp out all public support for equality.

The Russia-style law creates a new offence for a “any public demonstration of support for homosexuality and proselytizing in favour of such acts”.

If signed, the law would amount to  a draconian attacks on free speech, LGBT activists fear.

The law was sold to lawmakers as a way to ban same-sex marriage, even though marriage is already defined under Hatian law as a union between a man and a woman.

Senate President Youri Latortue told AFP: “All senators are opposed to same-sex marriage, so this simply reflects the commitments the senators made during their campaigns. “Although the state is secular, it is people of faith who are the majority. A country has to focus on its values and traditions. Some people in other countries see it differently, but in Haiti, that’s how it’s seen.”

Charlot Jeudy, president of LGBT rights group Kouraj, said: “We see this as an attack on the LGBT community in this country. “This text divides our society…