Recent Feature Articles

By Claudia Blume, Médecins Sans Frontières Canada (MSF), July 12, 2017

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) launched a new report today – Against Their Will – that draws attention to an overlooked issue  affecting an alarmingly high number of girls and young women in Haiti: sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

In 2015, MSF opened a clinic in Port-au-Prince that specializes in providing services to survivors of sexual violence. The vast majority of our patients are under 25, and our staff is particularly concerned that more than half of them are under 18.
 
The report shows that sexual violence is a medical and psychosocial emergency, and that it also affects the survivors’ family and communities. It asks that SGBV should be recognized as a public health issue in Haiti and that prevention, treatment, protection, medical and psychosocial services must be reinforced.

In Haiti, the number of young people, especially women and girls, who report experiencing sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is alarmingly high, especially in the densely populated capital Port-au-Prince.

Yet the issue is not widely discussed, and SGBV cases are likely underreported due to stigma and shame, as well as fear of reprisal from perpetrators or the community. At the same time, the services that are available for survivors, especially for minors (under the age of 18), are insufficient and inadequate.

In May 2015, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) opened the Pran Men’m clinic (Creole for "take my hand") in Port-au-Prince that specializes in providing medical and psychological care to survivors of SGBV. The vast majority of the more than 1,300 survivors of sexual violence who have been treated in the clinic are younger than 25 years, and more than half are minors. 

 
You can find our…

By Jamie Vernaelde, Miami Herald OP-ED, July 3, 2017

The youngest of six children, Christine was placed in an orphanage when her mother died, and her father could not care for another baby. She then spent the next 10 years in orphanages just outside the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

In conducting research for the report, Funding Haitian Orphanages at the Cost of Children’s Rights, released during Haiti’s first national conference on Child Trafficking last month, I spoke with her and more than 40 other children and young adults with similar experiences.

Christine told me that what bothered her most about the orphanage was that “a lot of disabled kids came in and died.Only two stayed alive the whole time I was there.”

Globally, children with disabilities are the most vulnerable. In Haiti, I heard examples of this treatment again and again, and not just from children and young adults raised in orphanages.

Healthcare workers, international NGO staff, and former orphanage volunteers described situations of extreme neglect and avoidable death of children with disabilities in orphanage “care.”

Yet, an estimated 80 percent of children in Haitian orphanages have one or both living parents who did not intend for their children to meet this fate. Their decision to send their children away is usually a desperate one.

Mired in poverty with no access to education and healthcare, many families say Yes to recruiters from orphanages in the hope their children will have a better life. More often than not, that is not the case.

Christine’s experience was not uncommon: She was kicked out of the orphanage at age 13, without any preparation or effort to contact her family. The orphanage had already stopped sending her to school, and she had become numb to beatings for “misbehaving.”

Children from orphanages throughout the country reported…

By Milo Milford, Haiti Liberté, June 27, 2017

The workers in Port-au-Prince’s assembly industries have not given up. Under a blazing sun, alternating with heavy rain, surrounded by heavily-armed police units, Haiti’s working class took to the streets to continue demanding that the minimum wage be increased to 800 gourdes ($12.71) per day.

After a few days of truce, broken promises by state authorities, police violence, and despite firings, blackmail, and pressure from the bosses, several thousand workers again took to the streets of the capital on Mon., Jun. 26 to demand a salary hike and better working conditions in factories.

Chanting slogans hostile to the bosses and the government, armed with tree branches and placards, demonstrators from across the metropolitan area demanded a minimum daily wage of 800 gourdes ($12.71) and social services because of the increased cost of living and fuel prices in Haiti.

"Social services mean subsidizing the food, rent, transportation, and education of the workers' children,” said Dominique St-Eloi, General Coordinator of the National Central of Haitian Workers (CNOHA). “We talked to the Social Affairs Minister, who lied to us. He promised buses, and a subsidy of food and rent. Yet nothing has been done."

"We are going to work for the reintegration of more than 40 people who have been fired," he added.

The protestors, mostly young women, danced and pranced to the rhythm of well-known Haitian traditional songs. They also denounced certain people who claim to be workers' representatives on the government’s Higher Council on Salaries (CSS), an entity charged with working on adjusting Haitian workers’ minimum wage.

"With this life that is increasingly expensive for us, we workers find ourselves unable to take care of our family with 300 gourdes ($4.76),” complained Luc Léon, 50, a worker and a trade…

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, June 27, 2017

Following a plea deal struck in April, U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga on Jun. 21 in Miami sentenced former Haitian soldier, police officer, paramilitary leader, presidential candidate, and Senator-elect Guy Philippe, 49, to 108 months in U.S. Federal prison for laundering up to $3.5 million in drug money between 1999 and 2003.

If he had gone to trial and been convicted of the other two charges against him for drug trafficking and “Engaging in Transactions Derived from Unlawful Activity,” Philippe could have been sent to jail for life. Instead, those charges were dropped, and, as recommended by prosecutors, he received the minimum sentence allowed in a plea bargain on the remaining charge of money laundering. With good conduct, he could get out of jail in seven and a half years, or 2024. Judge Altonaga said that Philippe would be on probation for three years after serving his sentence but will almost surely be deported back to Haiti.

“There was also a $1.5 million judgement entered against him for forfeiture, so the government is allowed to go after assets up to the amount of $1.5 million,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynn M. Kirkpatrick after the sentencing hearing.

The sentencing, which had originally been scheduled for Jul. 5, took all of ten minutes.

Outside the courthouse, about a dozen demonstrators convened by the Miami-based Haitian popular organization Veye Yo, founded by the late Rev. Gérard Jean-Juste three decades ago, denounced Philippe’s close association with Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and condemned the sentence as too lenient.

“We told the judge that nine years was too little and to add…

By IJDH, June 27, 2017

Following the United Nations Security Council’s visit to Haiti last week, public pressure on the UN to fund cholera elimination efforts has risen sharply. Yesterday, The New York Times published a piece chronicling the organizations failure to fund cholera eradication efforts. Beatrice Lindstrom an IJDH staff lawyer, summed up the U.N.’s current predicament:  “Until the UN makes good on its promise to fund cholera elimination and remedies for victims, it will keep having to contend with legal challenges and public relations nightmares.”

Tell the U.N. it’s time to deliver. Join our Time2Deliver campaign and urge your country to contribute to the cholera fund.

- IJDH Staff

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the full article.

 

U.N. brought cholera to Haiti. Now it is fumbling Effort to Atone

By: Rick Gladstone, New York Times June 26, 2017

Even as the United Nations expresses growing alarm over a cholera outbreak in war-ravaged Yemen, the organization is…

By CGNT America, June 22, 2017

CGTN's Elaine Reyes discusses Haiti's new president and the current affairs of the country with Jake Johnston of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

 

Watch the interview

 

Posted July 1, 2017

By Jeff Abbott, In These Times, June 22, 2017

Thousands of textile workers in Haiti have stopped work in factories and taken to the streets to demand of improved working conditions in the country’s maquiladora export industry. For more than three weeks, workers have mobilized to demand higher wages, an eight-hour workday and protections against increased quotas across the industrial centers of Port-au-Prince, Carrefour, Ounaminthe and Caracol.

The strike follows the annual commemoration of International Workers’ Day.

Currently, workers receive a daily wage of roughly 300 gourdes, or about 4.77 U.S. dollars (USD), for a day’s work. Strikers are demanding that the wage is raised to 800 gourdes, or 12.72 USD—and that the eight-hour day be respected.

Workers face poor labor conditions in the country’s assembly-line factories, where they produce textiles for large U.S. companies such as Levi Jeans and Fruit of the Loom. Factory owners have long called for the use of violence against workers’ rights activists in Haiti and fired anyone known to associate with the unions.

The workers are supported by a coalition of independent labor unions, SOTA-BO and PLASIT-BO, which represent textile workers. These unions are associated with the independent worker’s movement, Batay Ouvriye, or Workers’ Fight.

“We cannot work with dignity for 300 gourdes per day,” said Didier Dominique, the spokesman for Batay Ouvriye, in an interview over the phone. Dominique points out that it is impossible for a family to survive on the low wages, in part due to the out of control inflation in the Caribbean country.

"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 textile worker associated with the Gosttra union, told the Associated Press.…

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.”

The sentencing culminates a federal investigation into drug trafficking, money laundering and corruption at the highest levels of Haiti’s government that began more than a decade ago when the island became a notorious hub for shipping South American cocaine into the United States.

For years, Haiti’s former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was ousted in 2004 in an armed revolt led by Philippe,…

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.

Watch the interview

 

Posted June 24, 2017

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.

Triple whammy

The battle has begun to privatize the functions of city governments, which really hold the commons and real wealth of any country. Water is at the center of this battle, and this includes waterfront property as well as drinking water. In Haiti, immediately after the earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010…