Recent Feature Articles

By Roger Annis, Rabble.ca, May 20, 2015

While in Moscow three weeks ago, following a media tour to Donetsk, eastern Ukraine in which I participated, I had the pleasure of meeting Jon Hellevig, a regular writer at Russia Insider. Jon was in Donetsk a few weeks before our group, thanks to the efforts of the same Russian/German citizen group, Europa Objektiv, which organized our tour.

The second of Jon's articles about his trip was published on April 21 and is titled, "Donbas endures." The article describes one of the settlements in Russia of war refugees from eastern Ukraine. It is located across the border from southeastern Ukraine, on the road to the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. It's also on the shoreline of Sea of Azov, prompting an evocative sub-title in Jon's article: "Fleeing the bombs in eastern Ukraine to a room with a sea view." Our group visited the same settlement several weeks later.

Jon explained, "I have not visited a refugee camp before." I have, in Haiti. There are some parallels and warning signs between the two places, notably in the calls by the regime in Kyiv for international troops called 'peacekeepers' to enter eastern Ukraine.

Displaced by war in eastern Ukraine

Jon writes, "Tatyana Bolshakova and her family from Donetsk used to travel to the seaside for holidays. They had always dreamt of a house with a sea view, she said, but she would never have thought this is how they’d come by one, pointing out through the window overlooking the Sea of Azov in the room that she and her family occupies at the Primorka refugee camp in Russia’s Rostov region."

Like Jon, I was struck by how well Primorka was organized and how well the residents were received by their Russian…

By Travis Ross and Roger Annis, published in the 'Speakout' feature section of Truthout.org, Monday, January 12, 2015 (This article was translated and published in Spanish in Uruguay. Find the Spanish version here.)

Five years following the January 12, 2010 earthquake that struck the capital city of Haiti, the loudly-trumpeted reconstruction of the country is still an unrealized dream. The beginning of the year 2015 finds Haitians engaged in a massive movement of political protest and empowerment seeking to renew, against all odds, their 210-year old nation-building project. Winning a renewal means setting aside the false promises and cruel betrayals of the past five years by the big governments and aid agencies of the world.

The big powers in North America and Europe rushed planeloads and shiploads of supplies, bottled water and aid volunteers to Haiti in the days and weeks following the calamity. They promised to "build" the country "back better." The world was aghast at the poverty in Haiti revealed by the massive news coverage of the earthquake. Such was the public response and anger around the world that some among the big powers, including former President Bill Clinton, went so far as to acknowledge that economic policies imposed from abroad over the decades have impoverished the country and, indeed, are the source of its economic underdevelopment.

But the acknowledgements proved fleeting. And contained in the planeloads and shiploads of aid were yet more foreign police and soldiers. Their numbers in Haiti rose by 50 per cent in the weeks and months after the earthquake. They were there to make certain that a social earthquake would…

In Brazil as elsewhere in Latin America, social infrastructure and access to state-provided, decommodified goods and services are growing at uneven tempos, exacerbating inequalities that are more difficult to measure than raw labour-income disparities. Patchy state provision of basic public goods, coupled with rising wage earnings, have encouraged private spending in education and health. Indeed, healthcare is a prime example of how a universal right has been damaged by the rationale of finance-led capitalism.

Lena Levinas, New Left Review 84, November-December 2013

Latin America has long served as a proving ground for economic and political experiments that later acquire a global reach: the shock therapy of neoliberalism was followed by structural adjustment programmes that were visited on debt-stricken states across the continent in the 1980s, before being rolled out in Africa and elsewhere. [1] Since the late 1990s, the region has also served as the laboratory for what the Economist has called ‘the world’s favourite new anti-poverty device’: conditional cash transfer programmes (CCTs) which, as their name suggests, supply monetary benefits as long as recipients can demonstrate that they have met certain conditions. In 1997, only three Latin American countries had launched such programmes; a decade later, the World Bank reported that ‘virtually every country’ in the region had one, and others outside it were adopting them ‘at a prodigious rate’. By 2008, 30 countries had them, from India, Turkey and Nigeria to Cambodia, the Philippines and Burkina Faso; even New York City had put one in place.…

Detailed account of proposed coup against Préval, overturning of Haitian elections, following 2010 earthquake

By Center for Economic Policy Research, February 25, 2014

Washington, D.C.- In 2010, a secret “core group” of foreign dignitaries sought to force the president of Haiti out of office in a coup. They also engineered an intervention in Haiti’s presidential elections that year that ensured that the governing party’s candidate would not proceed to a runoff. These are the revelations being made by the Organization of American States’ (OAS) Special Representative to Haiti at the time, Ricardo Seitenfus. In an exclusive interview published by Dissent Magazine, Seitenfus – who was present at some of these meetings - describes these and other bombshells detailed in his new book being published in his native Brazil, titled International Crossroads and Failures in Haiti.

In the written interview with Dan Beeton of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) and journalist Georgianne Nienaber, Seitenfus provides new details regarding threats against then-president of Haiti René Préval. Seitenfus also corroborates the conclusions of CEPR’s earlier analysis of an OAS “Expert” Mission sent to verify the election: that the OAS overturned the results of the first round in a political intervention. The OAS took this unprecedented step without so much as a recount or calling for a new election, something that had never been done before by an international body. This was a “white coup and a blatant electoral intervention,” Seitenfus says.

“[W]hen…

Statement by Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, Feb 21, 2014 

Dear Reader,  

Yesterday the Court of Appeals handling the Jean-Claude ”Baby Doc” Duvalier case in Haiti made history by reinstating the charges against Mr. Duvalier, and declared that under international law binding on Haiti, the statute of limitations cannot protect people accused of crimes against humanity (see our press release for more details).

There is still a ways to go before the victims obtain justice in this case, but yesterday’s decision was a large, historic step in the right direction.  It is a step forward for the Duvalier regime victims of course. But it is also a step forward for the rule of law in Haiti, a step toward the day when peasants can use the justice system to defend land ownership, workers can enforce their labor rights and everyone can enforce their right to be free of political violence.

Almost as important as what happened yesterday is how it happened: by a committed network of people, including BAI/IJDH supporters, who changed the context to make a fair hearing possible. A year ago, as the appeals court hearings started, my colleague Mario Joseph, who represents many of the victims, felt it would be very difficult for the court to hear the case fairly in the current political context. So Mario and a network of people and organizations committed to justice stepped up and changed the context.

The advocacy network started with Duvalier victims themselves- those represented by Mario and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux…

Eight articles and video stories enclosed. To read each of the full articles, go to the web links provided.

1. Outsourcing Haiti: How disaster relief became a disaster of it

​​Terrific article by Jake Johnston, published in Boston Review, January 16, 2014

Across the country from Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, miles of decrepit pot-holed streets give way to a smooth roadway leading up to the gates of the Caracol Industrial Park, but no further. The fishing hamlet of Caracol, from which the park gets its name, lies around the bend down a bumpy dirt road. Four years after the earthquake that destroyed the country on January 12, 2010, the Caracol Industrial Park is the flagship reconstruction project of the international community in Haiti. Signs adorn nearby roads, mostly in English, declaring the region “Open for Business.” In a dusty field, hundreds of empty, brightly colored houses are under construction in neat rows. If all goes as hoped for by the enthusiastic backers of the industrial park, this area could be home to as many as 300,000 additional residents over the next decade.

The plan for the Caracol Industrial Park project actually predates the 2010 earthquake. In 2009, Oxford University economist Paul Collier...

2. Four Years after earthquake, housing, sanitation and health care are still pressing needs in Haiti

By Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), Jan 9, 2014
Washington, D.C. – Four years after an earthquake devastated Haiti and killed some 220,000 people and displaced 1.5 million, housing, sanitation and health care remain woefully inadequate,…

By Jake Johnston, published in Boston Review, January 16, 2014

Across the country from Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, miles of decrepit pot-holed streets give way to a smooth roadway leading up to the gates of the Caracol Industrial Park, but no further. The fishing hamlet of Caracol, from which the park gets its name, lies around the bend down a bumpy dirt road. Four years after the earthquake that destroyed the country on January 12, 2010, the Caracol Industrial Park is the flagship reconstruction project of the international community in Haiti. Signs adorn nearby roads, mostly in English, declaring the region “Open for Business.” In a dusty field, hundreds of empty, brightly colored houses are under construction in neat rows. If all goes as hoped for by the enthusiastic backers of the industrial park, this area could be home to as many as 300,000 additional residents over the next decade.

The plan for the Caracol Industrial Park project actually predates the 2010 earthquake. In 2009, Oxford University economist Paul Collier released a U.N.–sponsored report outlining a vision for Haiti’s economic future; it encouraged garment manufacturing as the way forward, noting U.S. legislation that gave Haitian textiles duty-free access to the U.S. market as well as “labour costs that are fully competitive with China… [due to] its poverty and relatively unregulated labour market.”

The report, embraced by the U.N. and the U.S., left a mark on many of the post-earthquake planning documents. Among the biggest champions of the plan were the Clintons, who played a crucial role in attracting a global player to Haiti. While on an official trip to South Korea as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton…

By Haiti Grassroots Watch, Nov 19, 2013

Reforestation and soil conservation programs costing many hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Petit-Goâve region have resulted in hundreds of small ledges built of straw or sacks of earth. Eight to ten months later, in certain areas the earthworks seem to be lasting. But in many others, these little “shelves” have disintegrated.

The construction and destruction of the anti-erosion ledges – all made with development assistance and humanitariandonations – offer an example of how at least some of Haiti’s reforestations projects turn out. In some cases, at least, they could be considered vicious circles.

In the years since the 2010 earthquake, the 11th and 12th communal sections of Petit-Goâve, 60 kms. southwest of the capital, have hosted many soil conservation and agricultural programs. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Helvetas, and Action Agro Allemande (AAA), sometimes working with a local development organization – Mouvman Kole Zepòl (MKOZE) – carried out several projects aimed at rehabilitating the watershed of the Ladigue River.

Read the full article on the HGW website:
http://www.ayitikaleje.org/haiti-grassroots-watch-engli/2013/11/19/the-challenges-of-reforestation.html

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberte, Nov 20, 2013

Huge demonstrations in Haiti calling for President Michel Martelly to step down are growing in size, scope, and frequency. On Nov. 7, a march of many thousands, called by the Patriotic Force for Respect of the 1987 Constitution (FOPARC), marched up the Delmas Road from La Saline and burst through the barricades which Haitian police had erected to prevent the crowd from marching through the tony streets of Pétionville.

“We proved today that we don’t need a visa, we don’t need a passport, to go to Pétionville,” said demonstrator and journalist Wendel Polynice after the symbolically powerful victory.

The demonstrators then marched back down to Port-au-Prince along the Bourdon Road. When they reached the central Champ de Mars, police dispersed them with teargas and shots in the air.

The slogan of the Nov. 7 march was: “Dessalines is paying a visit to Pétion.” Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a former slave, led the masses of former slaves into an alliance with Alexandre Pétion, who headed the forces of St. Domingue’s largely mulatto affranchis or propertied freedmen. This alliance was what allowed the “indigenous army” to defeat the French legions of Napoleon in a decisive battle at Vertières, near Cap Haïtien on Nov. 18, 1803, paving the way for Haiti’s Jan. 1, 1804 declaration of independence.

On the 210th anniversary of Vertières, Haiti’s most nationalist holiday, another huge demonstration filled the streets of the capital. Estimates ranged from 10,000 to 50,000. The principal calls were “Down with Martelly” and “Down with MINUSTAH,” the acronym for the 9,000 soldier occupation force known as the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti.

Meanwhile, Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe traveled to Cap Haïtien where they spoke to a largely bussed in and paid crowd after police aggressively broke up the anti-Martelly demonstrations that had been planned.

Anti-…

By Roger Annis, Nov 14, 2013

A very informative and revealing story about the lawsuit against the United Nations over cholera in Haiti was broadcast on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s national evening news program, The World At Six, on November 13. The report began, “The United Nations is among those leading the effort to get aid to the Philippines. But even as it helps out with this natural disaster, it is haunted by the ghosts of another.”

It is the most comprehensive news report to date by the CBC on the Haiti cholera story. The report broke some new ground by looking at the implications worldwide for UN operations as a result of the world body’s conduct in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, including its stonewalling of the victims of the cholera epidemic. Those implications, says the CBC report, are playing out in the Philippines in the wake of the Typhoon Haiyan tragedy.

Reporter Laura Lynch said the UN’s responsibility for the cholera outbreak in October 2010 is now established beyond dispute. In the broadcast, she speaks to one of the victims who is suing the UN.

She also speaks to former Canadian ambassador to the UN, Stephen Lewis. He says the UN should own up for its conduct and compensate the victims. When asked if that could harm the UN or compromise future UN operations, he replies, “No, I don’t think it would compromise the UN. In fact, I think it would do the UN a lot of good to be seen as principled in the face of having caused so much devastation.”

Lewis says the lawsuit is already affecting UN operations. He cites the fact that the world body has dispatched its top emergency relief official to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. Valerie Amos is the UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs and is…