Recent Feature Articles

By teleSUR, June 9, 2017

Haitian textile workers entered their third week on strike Friday, vowing to continue fighting for better working conditions.

Marxist Humanist Initiative reported that PLASIT-BO, a federation of textile trade unions affiliated with Batay Ouvriye (Workers Fight), an independent workers movement, has assisted the strike, which has spread to the country's four main cities: Port Au Prince, Carrefour, Ounaminthe and Caracol.Their core demands include a minimum wage increase from roughly US$5.50 to US$12.60 per day, protections against quota increases and access to social services for all workers.

They also noted that production quotas are set high, that factory owners and management mistreat workers, and that workers' salaries often amount to less than the current minimum wage.

Apart from these malfeasances, union organizers, cognizant that their co-workers receive the lowest wage in the Western Hemisphere, are frequently pestered by management and arbitrarily fired simply for demanding their legal rights.

"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 garment worker who belongs to the Gosttra union, told the AP.

Still, the Association of Haitian Industries claimed that lone “militants and syndicalists” were responsible for beating workers, forcing them to join the picket lines in favor of improved work conditions.Despite working hours that normally range between 12-16 hours per day, garment workers, according to It's Going Down, are known to live in debt, hungry and on the brink of homelessness.

Since the strike began, protesters have been able to close down dozens of textile factories in Port Au Prince and blocked the road leading to Toussaint Louverture International Airport.

By Mike Blanchfield, The Globe & Mail, June 8, 2017

Luis Fernando Monroy has literally found himself in the crosshairs of a Canadian foreign-policy dilemma: Is Canada truly living up to its commitment to protecting ethnic and minority rights across the globe?

In April, 2013, he was shot three times in the face and once in the back by security guards outside the gates of Guatemala’s Escobal mine, operated by Canada’s Tahoe Resources Inc. Mr. Monroy was part of group protesting the environmental impact the Canadian mine was having on his rural southeastern Guatemalan community, the disruption of rural life in the indigenous area and a lack of consultation.

That has become a familiar complaint against Canada’s all-dominant mining industry, which owns more the half the companies operating in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Last week, the United Nations working group on business and human rights concluded a visit to Canada by urging the government and business to “step up their efforts to prevent and address adverse human-rights impacts of business activities, both at home and abroad.”

The UN panel called for “meaningful consultation” with indigenous groups affected by natural-resource projects. “Canada may say it respects human rights,” Mr. Monroy said Thursday. “They don’t consult with us, they just roll over all of our rights.”

In a striking foreign-policy speech this week, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland stressed the protection of minority rights of all kinds – an issue that will rear its head Friday when International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau releases her development policy review.

That’s because the new development plan is expected to contain new details on how government aid projects can find partners in the private sector.…

By VICE, June 5, 2017

Lavil: Life, Love, and Death in Port-au-Prince is a new book of oral histories from Haiti. Compiled over the course of four years, starting in 2012, writer Peter Orner and physician Evan Lyon took a non-academic approach: "no message, no lesson, no comprehensive answers, no quick fixes." Rather, their book aims to "debunk the oversimplified notions of life in Haiti, and particularly Port-au-Prince, by providing the curious reader a multiplicity of voices."

The book, which came out last week as part of Verso's urgent Voice of Witness series, focuses on what it's like living inside the Haitian capital—"a testimonial city," writes Edwidge Danticat in the book's excellent foreword, "a city of seen and unseen scars." Lavil is a powerful collection of these testimonies, which include tales of violence, poverty, and instability but also joy, hustle, and the indomitable will to survive.

In the following excerpt, we hear the story of Jean Pierre Marseille, a 44-year-old father of six and jack of all trades: journalist, fixer, translator, salesman.

Originally born in the Bahamas in 1971 (though no birth records exist), Jean Pierre grew up in Cap-Haïtien on the northern coast of Haiti. He was brought to the US at 12 years old by two strangers his mother had hired. As a teenager in Florida, he got into dealing drugs at 15 in order to gain the social status he craved. He was deported back to Haiti in 1994, where he's faced numerous dangers and struggles in Port-au-Prince before…

By Makini Bryce, Reuters, June 1, 2017

For Roseleine Duperval, the United Nations mission to stabilize Haiti will always remind her of one thing - her 8-year-old daughter, who she says was fathered by a Uruguayan peacekeeper.

Duperval is among a group of Haitian women who embarked on a long and largely fruitless journey to try to force peacekeepers who they say fathered their children to contribute to their upbringing. While some have succeeded with their paternity claims, barely any have secured any form of child support.

"Since I became pregnant, he never sent money," said Duperval, who still has identity documents she says her daughter Sasha Francesca's father left behind, apparently because he wanted to be legally recognized as the father. "I have to call friends all the time to help me support my (child)."

The paternity and child support issue is another awkward legacy of the 13-year U.N. mission, known as MINUSTAH, which is winding up in October after being sent in to stabilize a country riven by political turmoil. The mission introduced a cholera epidemic that killed about 10,000 people and has also been dogged by accusations of sexual assault.

Paternity cases in recent years have confirmed seven children in Haiti as having had U.N. peacekeepers as their fathers, according to figures released on the peacekeeping body's conduct and discipline website. More than two dozen Haitian women are still pursuing paternity claims, second only to Democratic Republic of Congo in the number of claims against a U.N. mission worldwide since 2010, according to U.N. data.

The cases also highlight a lack of accountability, critics say, since many of the women's paternity claims are never confirmed either way. Even when paternity is proven, the process rarely delivers any financial support for mothers.

Under the United Nations' "zero-…

By Lucas Koerner, venezuelanalysis.com, May 29, 2017

Three people were killed in Venezuela over the weekend as anti-government demonstrations continued for a third straight month. 

On Friday, Manuel Sosa (33) was reportedly shot in the neck during clashes between protesters and National Guard personnel in the Lara municipality of Cabudare. Sosa’s mother has blamed the death on state security forces. 

Venezuela’s Public Prosecution (MP) has dispatched a state district attorney to investigate the homicide.

The episode gave rise to fresh violence on Saturday. During Sosa’s funeral in Cabudare, a retired National Guard lieutenant was brutally beaten and shot dead by a group of other attendees who allegedly accused him of being an “infiltrator”. 

According to the MP, Lt. Danny José Subero (34) was present at the event with his motorcycle “when he was approached by a group of people who beat him with blunt objects in different parts of his body and shot him various times”. His motorcycle and his other belongings were subsequently burnt “in their entirety”. The MP has commissioned a state prosecutor to investigate the case.

The killing sparked condemnation from National Ombudsman Tarek William Saab, who called the murder a “hate crime” and urged “exemplary punishment against the criminal lynchers”.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro confirmed Sunday those responsible for the murder had been identified and would soon be brought to justice. He also took the opportunity to hit out at Organization of American States (OAS) General Secretary Luis Almagro, who has yet to issue a statement on the homicide. 

“Where is the voice of the OAS when crimes like this are committed?” the president asked.

On Saturday, Almagro published a …

By David McFadden, Associated Press, May 24, 2017

Factories making T-shirts, pants and other apparel in an industrial park in Haiti's capital were closed on Monday, three days since thousands of garment workers took to the streets demanding pay increases.

Industrialists and government officials met in the Port-au-Prince park, where a police presence was heavy and the dozen assembly factories were empty. Roughly 18,000 workers are employed in the factories.

Garment workers say their wages are not enough to support their families amid a depreciating currency and a rising cost of living. A Friday protest which first shuttered the factories occurred days after a significant increase in the price of gasoline.

Workers are demanding 800 Haitian gourdes per eight-hour work day. Based on current exchange rates, that's roughly $12.47 per day. They now earn 300 gourdes, or $4.67. "It's gotten to the point where I can't take care of my son. I don't see any future like this," said Esperancia Mernavil, a garment worker who belongs to the Gosttra union.

Social Affairs and Work Minister Roosevelt Bellevue said Monday that the government will sit down with all sides but "we can't put up the minimum salary that much." "We have to be competitive with other places," said Bellevue, who expected the factories to reopen Tuesday.

Georges Sassine, president of a prominent industrial association, said he doubted that the protest was actually over pay, which he acknowledged has been far from adequate for some time due to currency devaluations and the absence of suitable social services.

He noted that there were no negotiations prior to the Friday protest, which he asserted was sparked by a group of violent demonstrators who stormed into the factories and rounded up workers.

Sassine said the result from the factory closures is…

By Lisa Nikolau, Humanosphere.org, May 23, 2017

Health experts say the international community has turned a blind eye to widespread food insecurity in Haiti, where communities across nearly every region of the island are approaching risk of famine.

In March, a report from the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that of the 2.1 million Haitians affected by the hurricane last October, 1.4 million still don’t have enough food or safe drinking water.

More recently, statistics from the European Commission indicated that eight out of Haiti’s 10 departments have reached “crisis” levels of food insecurity. The EU institution said that three of those regions would likely be in a state of emergency or famine had they not received humanitarian assistance.

According to health experts from the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation, one of several in-country actors locating and treating people suffering from malnutrition, the food insecurity crisis has received little attention from international policymakers and organizations.

“I wonder if it’s the fact that Haiti has experienced natural disasters before, and therefore this one isn’t getting the attention it deserves,” St. Boniface Haiti Foundation President and CEO Conor Shapiro told …

By Jeb Sprague, Haiti Liberté, May 10, 2017

Subtitle: Selections from “Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti” - Part 2 of 3

Last week, we learned how a cabal of Haitian police chiefs, who had been trained in Ecuador (therefore known as the “Ecuadorians”), attempted to organize a preemptive coup in October 2000 to prevent former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s reelection in November 2000 and return to power in February 2001

Their plot discovered by Haitian authorities, the police chiefs fled to the Dominican Republic, where they began to set up the Front pour la Libération et la Reconstruction Nationale (FLRN), of which Guy Philippe became the leader. It’s goal was to remove Aristide from office through a coup.

This week, we learn how Philippe connected with FRAPH death squad leader Louis Jodel Chamblain and former Haitian soldier Remissainthe Ravix to build the force, all with the connivance of Dominican authorities.

- Kim Ives, Haïti Liberté

 

Dominican-Republic shelters conspirators

The Oct. 23, 2000, edition of the Dominican daily Listín Diario reported that the Haitian police chiefs “crossed the border with the assistance of members of the Dominican Armed Forces in Dajabón and Monte Cristi.” (35) In Dajabón, which was home to thousands of Haitian migrant workers, few were likely happy to see Philippe and his fellow military men, especially as paramilitaries had often been used to attack striking workers, or to intimidate and assassinate trade unionists. Late at night, local workers encircled the hotel that the ex-military men were staying in; some were intent on lynching the men inside.

In response to the furor, Dominican soldiers intervened and evacuated Dragon, Philippe, and the others by helicopter to Santo Domingo, where the Dominican military held them in protective…

By: Roger Leduc & Kim Ives interview Jeb Sprague, May 1, 2017

On the May 1, 2017 edition of WBAI-FM’s “Lanbi Call,” Jeb Sprague, author of “Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti,” talks about paramilitary leader Guy Philippe, who pleaded guilty on April 24, 2017 in Miami to money laundering in connection with drug trafficking. Philippe’s real crime, however, is the murder of Haitian democracy and of hundreds of Haitians in the 2004 coup d’état against former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Jeb Sprague lays out about this bloody paramilitary legacy. With Kim Ives and Roger Leduc, “Lanbi Call” co-hosts.

continue to listen to the interview

 

Posted May 2, 2017

By Darlene Dubuisson & Mark Schuller, Huffpost, April 25, 2017

“With TPS, it’s like you live under fear,” thirtysomething aspiring nurse Michaëlle explained. “You don’t know what’s going to happen. I live with stress because of that.” Michaëlle’s situation just got worse on April 20, when Trump’s immigration agency recommended an end to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 50,000 Haitian people living in the U.S.

After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, President Obama granted temporary relief status to undocumented Haitians who had arrived in the U.S. before 2011. Given the slow pace of recovery efforts and subsequent disasters – notably the cholera epidemic that has killed over 10,000 and counting, and Hurricane Matthew that hit Haiti last October – TPS has been extended several times. The latest TPS is set to expire on July 22, 2017.

In essence, the Trump administration’s policy would amount to kicking out 50,000 people who have, despite their fear, put their faith in the U.S. government to legalize, like fifty something child care provider Wideline. She recalls that “[We were told to] tell all fellow Haitians they don’t need to…