Recent Feature Articles

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…

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…