Recent Feature Articles

By The Stream, Al Jazeera, August 28, 2017

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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…

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, August 2, 2017

Declaration of Haiti Liberté
 
As a part of the PetroCaribe alliance, Haiti imports gas from Venezuela. The alliance was created on Sep. 7, 2005, and, along with Venezuela, it includes 19 countries (among them the Caricom countries): Antigua and Barbuda , Barbados, Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Suriname, St. Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and The Grenadines. Haiti joined the group in May 2006 after the election of President René Préval. Honduras followed in December 2007, followed by Guatemala in July 2008.
 
Through the largest Haitian daily newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, we have suddenly learned that the quality of the fuel sold in Haiti is bad, this according to a purportedly scientific study by some anonymous expert who has just made a great discovery, like Christopher Columbus.
What lies behind this article? It is important to try to pinpoint the precise objectives when a major Haitian importer of vehicles anonymously states that: "The state, by ordering petroleum of poor quality through PetroCaribe, and oil companies by agreeing to sell the bad quality gas as good, are carrying out a scam. We are nominally sold gasoline which is 95 octane, however it is 86 or even 84 octane which is available."
 
"The gasoline’s poor quality causes serious problems to newer vehicles too,” said another car dealer anonymously. “To achieve acceptable performance, an unusual proportion of additives is added to the gasoline. With these additives in too great a proportion, the risk is that they present a public health problem. These are carcinogenic elements." (See Le Nouvelliste, Jul. 27, 2017: “Bad gas from Venezuela ... does the state contribute to defrauding motorists?”)
 

By Ashifa Kassam, The Guardian, August 2, 2017

A recent surge in asylum seekers arriving from the United States has prompted Canadian authorities to open a temporary welcome centre in one of Montreal’s best-known landmarks.

Since the start of the year, the numbers of asylum seekers entering Canada from the US has soared. More than 4,000 of them – many of them driven by fears of Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigrants – have entered Canada at remote, unguarded locations along the border. By doing so, they aim to skirt a 2004 agreement between Canada and the US that forces most migrants to apply for asylum in the first country in which they arrive.

In recent months, the province of Quebec has become a major entry point. …

By Tristan Clavel, InSight Crime, July 28, 2017 

Haiti is reconstituing its previously disbanded army after more than two decades, amid concerns about growing insecurity as a United Nations peacekeeping force is set to withdraw later this year. And while politicians have justified the move as a step toward combating contrabandtrafficking, the real motivations behind the decision may be political.

The recruitment effort for the new army was announced by the Defense Ministry in early July and has seen more than 2,200 candidates sign up in the first round, reported Haiti Libre. Due to budget constraints, the force will have fewer than 500 members.

Defense Minister Hervé Denis said the army's mission would be to fight against contraband smuggling and provide relief in case of natural disasters, according to the …