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Canada Haiti Action Network (CHAN)

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
CHAN photo
CHAN photo

The following blog was maintained by members of the Canada Haiti Action Network. The website has since been renamed the Canada-Haiti Information Project (CHIP), and can be visited at 

The Canada Haiti Action Network (CHAN) was an information and action network with member committees in cities across Canada. The network was formed in 2004 out of concern over the violent overthrow of elected government in Haiti on February 29, 2004 and the forced exile of the elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide.

The CHAN site and committee no longer exists. The domain name "" has since been purchased by an organization hired by the Canadian government. The site is replete will misleading information that favors Canadian government foreign policy towards Haiti.

The current editors of CHIP, work for the following goals:

  • Universal respect of Haiti’s sovereignty
  •  The safe return of political exiles and the freeing of all political prisoners
  • A full Parliamentary inquiry in Canada concerning its role in the overthrow of elected government in Haiti in 2004, and reparations to the Haitian people from all the countries that took part in that illegal act
  • Cancellation of all outstanding debt obligations by Haiti to international financial institutions


CHIP maintains the website as a news gathering website with many of the same goals as the original CHAN website.

Updated Dec. 19, 2020 by Travis Ross, co-editor of the Canada-Haiti Information Project. 

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WikiLeaks reveals new details of US intervention in Haiti


WikiLeaks reveals new details of U.S. intervention in Haiti

By G. Dunkel 

Published Jul 31, 2011 11:23 PM

The transparency-advocacy group WikiLeaks has released secret cables dating from 2003 to 2010 that reveal details of Washington’s intervention in Haiti. Published in the weekly newspaper Haïti Liberté, the cables are having a powerful impact on Haitian politics.

But U.S. intervention didn’t start in 2003. Ever since Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson gave the slave owners in Haiti $700,000 in an abortive attempt to put down the slave revolution that ultimately crushed them — the U.S.’s first foreign aid and a major amount of money at the time — the U.S. government has been engaged in Haiti.

From 1804 to 1862 the U.S. enforced a diplomatic and trade embargo against Haiti. From 1915 to 1934 a U.S. military occupation tried to mold Haiti into a profitable neo-colony.

As popular resistance to occupation grew stronger, the U.S. withdrew and shifted its support from 1957 to 1986 to the fascist Duvaliers, father and son, and their Tonton Macoutes paramilitaries, although it distanced itself from their harsh, unprofitable repression toward the end.

After suffering from years of bloody military coups, massacres of protesters — hundreds of peasants demanding land were killed at Jean-Rabel in 1987 — and elections drowned in blood, the Haitian people elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide by a landslide in 1990. Aristide called the mass movement that put him into power Lavalas, the Creole word for “torrent.”

In 1991 a U.S.-backed military coup deposed Aristide as president. Later he returned to Haiti after a 1994 U.S. invasion. Washington then let the United Nations take responsibility for the occupation. René Préval replaced Aristide in 1996, and Aristide was re-elected president in 2000, replacing Préval in 2001.

Because Aristide disbanded the army in 1995, it took until Feb. 29, 2004, for U.S. imperialism and its allies in the reactionary Haitian bourgeoisie to organize a coup. That day U.S. Special Forces kidnapped Aristide and his spouse, Mildred Trouillot Aristide, putting them on a U.S. Air Force jet and flying them to the Central African Republic.

A delegation, which included Johnnie Stevens from the Peoples Video Network and Sara Flounders from the International Action Center; Kim Ives, now an editor with Haïti Liberté; plus Aristide’s attorney Brian Concannon and filmmaker Katherine Kean, was the first to visit Aristide in the Central African Republic on March 9, 2004, and reveal to the world the nature of the U.S. kidnapping.

U.N. armed forces called Minustah took over from the U.S. and French troops occupying Haiti in June 2004 and are still there.

WikiLeaks supplies the details

While what Washington has done in Haiti is in the historical record, as well as some of its deliberations and the political analysis of its diplomats and soldiers, a lot occurred behind closed doors, and the details had not been publicly accessible until now.

WikiLeaks has 1,918 secret diplomatic cables about Haiti from U.S. embassies, covering from April 17, 2003, 10 months before the Feb. 29 coup d’état, to Feb. 28, 2010, just after the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated the capital of Port-au-Prince and the surrounding area. WikiLeaks asked Haïti Liberté to publish selections from them in French and Creole and to cooperate with The Nation on the English versions.

“Haïti Liberté is publishing these cables because they offer unparalleled insight into how the United States government has tried to manipulate Haitian affairs in its own interests, not in the interests of the Haitian people,” said Berthony Dupont, Haïti Liberté’s director. “We hope that the release of the cables will help bring about some transparency and accountability for the Haitian people.”

The revelations from WikiLeaks broke through in even the most right-wing media in Haiti like Le Nouvelliste. In a signed editorial in the July 13-19 issue of Haïti Liberté, Dupont makes the following point: “Recently, the striking impact of WikiLeaks has made the Haitian bourgeoisie tremble in their boots, and revealed its disgraceful, hidden character: its scornful cowardice and its shameful lack of courage.”

This class has done everything the imperialists told it to do and showed no concern for the development of Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Workers World asked Ives, a writer of many of the Haïti Liberté articles and a member of its editorial board, why the United States devoted so much effort to controlling and manipulating such a small, poor country.

Ives said Haiti is “the second most populous nation in the Caribbean. It is one of the principal battle lines in the struggle Washington is waging against the ALBA nations, led by Cuba and Venezuela, and also in the struggle between China and Taiwan. So North-South and East-West geopolitics all converge there, especially because Haiti is the only militarily occupied nation in the Americas.”

Haiti also has a 200-year history of resistance and success against great odds. For all that the United States and its allies did to keep President Aristide in exile — detailed in one of the Haïti Liberté articles — after seven years of struggle, he is back in Haiti.

Martelly’s (s)election in Haiti


Martelly’s (s)election in Haiti: dance to the sound of Duvalierism!



Article on the recent electoral process in Haiti, the (s)election of "Sweet Mickey" Martelly and the process of restoration of Duvalierism by the so-called international community. Originally appeared ins an edited version in the British magazine "The Commune" , issue 23 - July 2011, with the title "Another UN presidential (s)election in Haiti".



Martelly’s (s)election in Haiti: dance to the sound of Duvalierism!

Seven years ago, a bloody coup sponsored by the CIA and nostalgic elements of the good old days of the monstrous Duvalier dictatorship, and carried out by paramilitary thugs linked to the old Haitian armed forces, toppled president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. That moment started an ongoing military occupation in the country, first by French, Canadian, Chilean and (of course) US troops. The latter kidnapped Aristide, who was no revolutionary, but did advocate a number of minimal reforms that were unbearable for both the US and the Haitian elite, and put him on a plane to the Central African Republic on February 29th 2004. Then, in June, the military occupation was handed over to a UN force, the MINUSTAH, led by Brazil and composed almost entirely of Latin American armed forces, as well as other “freedom-loving” armies such as that of Sri Lanka, Nepal, Angola, Morocco, etc. 10,000 died as a direct result of this act of international gangsterism. The Haitian armed forces had been disbanded back in 1995 by Aristide himself because they were good for nothing, save toppling heads of State and run as dictators. So this UN military occupation is the armed backing of the dictatorship that came into effect after 2004.

First, we had the government of Latortue and then, in 2006, after sham elections, the old associate of Aristide, René Préval, came to power. On 28th of November last, there were elections again, and just as in previous ones, the locals call them “selections”. In both elections, 2006 and 2010, dozens of presidential hopefuls participated, except for a candidate from the most popular party in the country, Fanmi Lavalas, the party of Aristide, which has been unofficially banned (their candidates just get disqualified by the Electoral Committee). As you can imagine, the turnout was something in the order of a mere 20% and the two main candidates Mirlande Manigat, widow of a former dictator, and Michel “Sweet Mickey” Martelly, a popular kompa singer who flirts with Duvalierism (he announced that deposed dictator Baby Doc Duvalier would be his presidential advisor), and collaborated with fascist death squads who murdered 5,000 people during the Cedras neo-Duvalierist dictatorship (1991-1994). They received the meagre endorsement of 6% and 4%, respectively, of the total electorate. Furthermore, the whole process was riddled with irregularities, votes were lost and even dead people voted... For example, Jude Celestin, the candidate favoured by president Préval, had technically more votes than Martelly, but the OAS decided to exclude him on the grounds of irregularities – when the whole process was irregular, you can’t just handpick a single candidate because you don’t favour him! With the exclusion of both Celestin and Fanmi Lavalas, the president would be handpicked by the occupying community. Yet this, according to both the UN and the OAS, proved once again the international community's commitment to democracy-building.

So the run-off between Manigat and Martelly took place on March 20th… the “selection” was won by Martelly (67% of votes), with less than 25% voter turnout. His first meeting was with the IMF, the World Bank and the US State Department in Washington, showing who really runs the show in that God-forsaken Caribbean island – after all, he was the first choice of Obama, who made sure Celestin was taken out of the contest. Martelly has declared his intention to rule the country in “Fujimori-style” (a reference to the former Peruvian dictator) and has proposed banning demonstrations and strikes. Also, he is in the process of reconstituting the army with the thugs that participated in the 2004 coup and tortured, raped and killed at will. No wonder Obama is pleased with his own new little monster.

So what does the future have in store for Haiti? With 80% unemployment and 50% of the population without access to basic services and living on less than U$1 a day (in a country where, believe it or not, the cost of living is similar to that in the US, since everything is imported) the future seems grim as grim can be. If you also consider that over a year after the terrible earthquake that shattered the country, and after billions poured into NGOs (most of that money remaining in their own bank accounts and in the pockets of overpaid staff), only 5% of the debris has been removed, reconstruction has prioritised the premises of Free Trade Zones and assembly factories, while over one million Haitians still live in refugee tent camps. This is not a mere model of inefficiency of the international community; it is also a model of what they want for the future of Haiti: a population with no hope nor future, living in refugee camps, willing to work for whatever in sweatshops.

After the earthquake, there was the possibility that a different type of Haiti could be built. But reconstruction, carried out in its entirety by US firms and designed by Washington through a committee of reconstruction headed by former president Clinton (with the negligible participation of Haiti's vice-president, who is a yes-man anyway), was designed to deepen the model already in place in Haiti – a sweatshop country with its countryside entirely in the hands of agrobusiness. The recipe for economic disaster was contained in Paul Collier’s report to the UN, in which there is nothing to be learned from 40 years of failed neoliberal experiments. Well, failed from the point of view of the Haitian poor... greatly successful from the point of view of the elites and multinational corporations operating in the Free Trade Zone. But who minds the 80% of Haitians left out in the cold? Charity, of course.

Now, the significance of Martelly’s election does not reside in the continuation of the good old neoliberal model, even if exacerbated by the reconstruction scheme. It actually resides somewhere else: in the fact that the Haitian elite sees him as the man who will close the cycle of restoration of Duvalierism that is the sole obsession of a ruling class that does not want to see again someone who will challenge, even in the mildest of terms, the unjust state of affairs in Haiti. All the political efforts by both the Haitian oligarchy and its bosses "up north" should be read in one direction: to restore the infamous Duvalierism as the natural social and political model for Haiti and, with it, get rid of that bothersome popular movement, get rid of all its symbolic reference points, destroy the social network that was woven by the people from below with solidarity and kill off any kind of popular threat to their privileges. They want to tell the Haitian popular movement "all your struggle for more than twenty years was worth nothing, don’t dare challenge us again, you will never win".

Martelly is a man fit for that job, contrary to those who are warning that he has no experience in politics (after all, who cares about politics in Haiti? Decisions are taken somewhere else anyway). He is a popular kompa singer, he is well known to Duvalierists and paramilitary thugs, he is trusted by Washington and he will do two wonderful things for the elite: restore the army and get Baby Doc (who shamefully returned to Haiti with absolute impunity in January) as his advisor, so the sweet music of dictatorship will be played loud and clear. After this, when Haiti is stabilized with a Caribbean Fujimori strongman, with a native army, and dogmatically applies the sweatshop model of fake development to nowhere, the international community will congratulate itself on the wonderful job done to promote “democracy” in Haiti and champagne will be poured to celebrate that Haiti will be able to rule itself by itself again. Mission accomplished boys, now pack up and head off somewhere else in the tropics where there's a revolution looming on the horizon.

In the meantime, let’s all dance to the rhythm of Martelly and his neo-Duvalierist thugs!

José Antonio Gutiérrez D.
12 June, 2011



How the World Failed Haiti


A year and a half after the island was reduced to rubble by an earthquake, the world's unprecedented effort to rebuild it has turned into a disaster of good intentions

By Janet Reitman

Rolling Stone, August 4, 2011

In March of last year, two months after the devastating earthquake that killed 300,000 Haitians and left more than a million homeless, Sean Penn was faced with a monumental challenge. Penn, who had been spending most of his time in Haiti since the quake, was running a large camp for internally displaced persons in the foothills of a wealthy suburb of Port-au-Prince, on what had been the city's lone golf course. Nearly 60,000 poor and middle-class Haitians, most from Haiti's devastated capital, had migrated here, pouring over the crumbled walls of the exclusive country club, and established a spontaneous and overcrowded city of crude dwellings fashioned from plastic sheeting.

One night, a heavy rainstorm reduced much of the golf course to mud. Penn turned to Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, commander of the U.S. military's Joint Task Force Haiti, a 22,000-strong deployment, which was helping to lead the international relief effort. Keen immediately assigned the Army Corps of Engineers to come up with a drainage plan. Before the work could begin, however, some 5,000 refugees would have to leave the golf course. The question was where to put them.

After Penn and Keen met with U.S. and Haitian officials, it was generally agreed that the best option was to relocate the refugees to an area roughly nine miles north of the capital called Corail-Cesselesse, which had recently been commandeered by the Haitian government. The area was secure, and believed to be less vulnerable to flooding than the makeshift camp. "It wasn't the ideal circumstance, but it was safe," recalls Keen. "Given the choice of living in a riverbed that was surely going to be flooded or being safe in Corail, it was a decision made out of necessity."

It fell to Penn to explain the situation to the Haitians. So he took his translator and walked to the bottom of the golf course, where some of the refugees' leaders had gathered. The men were suspicious of Penn, believing him to be in cahoots with Haiti's wealthy landowners, a small and privileged elite who had ruled the country for generations and were now trying to forcibly evict many refugees from their land, often at the point of a gun. To the people living in Penn's camp, the "optional relocation" he was proposing smacked of a prelude to a larger, mandatory exodus.

"Look," said the actor, sitting down with the Haitians in a tent. "I don't give a fuck about the rich guys who own this club." He didn't even want them to leave, he said, but what was the choice? He pulled out a map of the drainage plan the military engineers had devised. Those ditches were a necessity, he said — without them, thousands of people might die in a mudslide or flood. Then he took out a Google Earth photo of Corail, a wide swath of land, some 18,000 acres, and laid out the proposal: Each family that agreed to move to Corail would get $50, courtesy of the American Red Cross, and a hygiene kit. They would also get shelter, food rations, clean water, free medical care and a school for their kids. And they would be first in line for jobs in Korean-owned garment factories that the Haitian government pledged would soon be built in the area.

"That's the plan," Penn said. "We'll step outside, you guys decide. If it were me, I would take my kids out there rather than stay here."

Within days, thousands of refugees had agreed to move to Corail. On Saturday, April 10th, 2010, the first group left the golf course in a caravan of buses, the exodus chaperoned by United Nations peacekeepers. They arrived, disembarking onto a dusty, cactus-strewn patch of land in the shadow of a denuded mountain that turned out to be as vulnerable to the elements as the golf course. Their new homes — bright white tents set up on the baking gravel — were both hot and flimsy; three months after the refugees arrived, hundreds of the tents would blow away in a heavy windstorm. There were no schools, no markets, and the closest hospital was miles away. There were also no jobs, as the hoped-for factories would not be built for months — or even years. To return to the city meant a long walk to a bus stop followed by a several-hour commute. They were marooned.

"I went out there with our engineers, and we were all like, 'What is this? It looks like Chad,'" recalls Julie Schindall, a spokeswoman for the relief organization Oxfam, which signed on to build latrines and provide water to Corail. "I have no idea how they selected that camp. It was all done very last minute — we had to set the entire structure up in a week."

In the aftermath of the move, no one in the State Department or the Haitian government seemed willing to take responsibility for the relocation — or even for the rationale behind it. "I've yet to see any evidence that proves that anyone was in more danger on the golf course than they would have been anywhere else — though everybody in Haiti thinks they were," says a senior U.N. official who asked not to be identified. "What the move proved was that it's possible to 'save' 5,000 people if you say they're in a dangerous situation and put them in what you call a safe situation. It was the most grotesque act of cynicism that I've seen for some time."

Penn, for one, admits that Corail was a problematic choice. "It's a very vulnerable area," he says, adding that he realized this immediately, having toured the site soon after it was selected. "It struck me as desolate, but we had an emergency, and this was an emergency-relocation area — I never said it was anything else," he insists. "I feel like shit. I hope those guys are OK when it rains out there. I feel an extra responsibility — of course I do. But we were betrayed." Penn says he was assured by international monitors and aid agencies that Corail was a safe place to live, and that shelters would be built within three months. A year later, the shelters, constructed of crude plywood, were just being completed. There were still no hospitals and no factory jobs: Corail, it turns out, doesn't have enough water to supply the garment manufacturers who promised to locate there.

But the lure of would-be jobs has driven a mass migration of Haitians to the land abutting Corail. By the first anniversary of the earthquake, the population of the once-deserted territory had swelled to more than 100,000 people. "It was like the gold rush," says one U.N. official, close to the process. "Within about a week of people moving to Corail, you had all these other people rushing out there to stake their claim. People were up there buying and selling plots of land — completely illegally." The going rate, she says, was about $1,000 a plot.

Dubbed "Canaan," after the biblical promised land, the Corail region is now one of Haiti's 10 largest cities, as well as its largest and most squalid camp, a bitter irony lost on no one involved in the relief effort. "Corail is a ton of people living in a flux state, without safe shelter, who don't know what the future holds," says Schindall. "It's Haiti post-earthquake in a nutshell."

It wasn't supposed to be this way. In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake on January 12th, 2010, the international community resolved not only to rebuild Haiti, but also to establish new and more efficient models for dispensing humanitarian aid. President Obama, calling the tragedy "cruel and incomprehensible," pledged "every element of our national capacity" to the response. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton created a special fund for Haiti; the American Red Cross launched a wildly successful appeal, raising close to $500 million in one year. In total, an estimated one in two American households donated more than $1.4 billion to Haiti relief, with close to $11 billion more for reconstruction pledged by donor countries and financial institutions. "We will be here today, tomorrow and for the time ahead," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised during a post-quake visit to Port-au-Prince.

American and international officials gave their plan for Haiti a simple and compelling name: Building Back Better, a term that came into vogue after the tsunami that struck Asia in 2004, and that has since become something of a mantra in the development world. In a radical shift away from traditional approaches to foreign aid, "building back better" attempts to go beyond simple relief and not only to rebuild shattered structures, but to restructure, in a sense, shattered societies. At the forefront of this effort is private-sector investment being leveraged to build the kind of infrastructure needed to promote economic development and attract foreign corporations: roads, power lines, factories, markets. "The hope," explains Matthew Bishop, co-author of Philanthrocapitalism: How the Rich Can Save the World, "is that using the private sector will be a lot more efficient. Traditional aid has been extremely wasteful. When it is allowed to take the lead, the private sector is more likely to try something new or entrepreneurial."

But despite all that has been promised, almost nothing has been built back in Haiti, better or otherwise. Within Port-au-Prince, some 3 million people languish in permanent misery, subject to myriad experiments at "fixing" a nation that, to those who are attempting it, stubbornly refuses to be fixed. Mountains of rubble remain in the streets, hundreds of thousands of people continue to live in weather-beaten tents, and cholera, a disease that hadn't been seen in Haiti for 60 years, has swept over the land, infecting more than a quarter million people.

In the midst of such suffering, only a fraction of the money devoted to Haitian relief has actually been spent. This May, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that of the $1.14 billion allocated by Congress for Haiti last year, only $184 million has been "obligated." In a letter to the Obama administration this spring, 53 Democratic members of Congress blasted the "appalling" conditions in the refugee camps. "The unprecedented relief effort has given way to a sluggish, at best, reconstruction effort," said Rep. Barbara Lee, who is demanding an accounting of how the relief money is being spent. There is, she said, a "lack of urgency on the part of the international community."

As the relief effort has dragged on for well over a year, virtually every actor involved has blamed the others: U.S. aid officials pitted against Washington bureaucrats, U.N. agencies against private aid groups. Some veteran insiders blame a new breed of technocrats who, with little to no experience in development, have descended on Port-au-Prince armed with bold theories and PowerPoint presentations, as if the entire country were a case study from Harvard Business School. Others say the goals were too lofty, the plans unrealistic; maybe Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, was simply too damaged to be fixed. Or perhaps the very idea of fixing Haiti at all is a flawed concept, revealing not only the limits of Western humanitarianism but the folly of believing that any country and its problems are ours to set right.

Amid all the finger-pointing, however, nearly everyone taking part in the relief effort is quick to place at least some of the blame on the Haitians themselves. "Corruption is the reason those reconstruction funds haven't broken loose," says one U.S. business consultant, who describes most Haitian politicians as "pathological narcissists" with little interest in helping their own country. Such accusations have been made by outsiders for as long as outsiders have tried to help Haiti — which itself may be the biggest problem. "Haitian people have always found a way to get rid of those who've tried to control them," says Raoul Peck, Haiti's former minister of culture. "It's very easy to point at the Haitians for being corrupt or weak. What's much harder is looking at what's wrong with those who say they are just trying to help."

Last fall, a line of graffiti began to appear on walls throughout Port-au-Prince: BON RETOUR J.C. DUVALIER ("Welcome back, J.C. Duvalier"). It was a reference to Haiti's last dictator, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, who, prior to being deposed in 1986, presided over a kleptocratic police state of such paranoid dimensions that writer Graham Greene dubbed Haiti the "Nightmare Republic." Today, in a testament to their current-day nightmare, some traumatized Haitians have begun to yearn for the days of Duvalier in the same way that some Iraqis, in the wake of the U.S. invasion, came to idealize life under Saddam Hussein. "It's selective memory," explains my translator, a cynical former businessman named John. "At least with Duvalier, we had lights."

It is a broiling November day, and John and I are driving through the wreckage of what used to be Port-au-Prince. Two-thirds the size of Manhattan, Haiti's capital is still buried under some 8 million cubic meters of rubble — enough, according to one expert, to build a road from Port-au-Prince across the ocean to Los Angeles and back again. Enormous piles of this debris, some sprouting odd pieces of metal or computer parts, now comprise much of what used to be small neighborhoods. Choking clouds of exhaust hover above the roads, which are clogged with idling cars as well as people, dogs, cows, donkeys, the odd pig. Some 1,000 camps, or "informal settlements," have sprung up in seemingly every available space in the city: vacant lots, basketball courts, soccer fields, road medians, the large, gated plaza in front of the prime minister's office, even the Champs de Mars park, across from the National Palace, home now to some 10,000 people.

Filth — whether it's human waste or the giant heaps of rotted mango peels, empty water bottles and other refuse that line the roads and ditches and canals — is as much a part of life in post-earthquake Haiti as frustration and despair. "There are things in this country you just can't believe," one exhausted aid worker tells me. "I'm at this river the other day, and here's what I see: three men washing some Land Rovers in the water, two pigs having sex, a group of children gutting some pigs and cleaning their intestines right next to the pigs having sex, and a few women washing clothes and bathing — all in the same tiny part of the river. And next to all of that was a hand-washing poster put up by some NGO to teach people good hygiene."

Haiti's dysfunction, while undeniably exacerbated by the quake, goes back generations. The first independent black republic in the world, it has been hobbled for most of the past century by a series of repressive dictatorships and military regimes, and so dependent on Western aid groups that since the late 1990s, it has been known throughout the development world as "the Republic of NGOs." The earthquake didn't so much destroy Haitian society as it exposed how deeply broken that society already was. In 35 seconds, the quake leveled government ministries and the National Palace, killed an estimated 20 percent of the country's civil servants, and severely damaged 50 of the nation's hospitals. Schools collapsed on their students; churches collapsed on their clergy; and houses built into the hillsides crumbled like sand, sliding to the bottom of the ravines. From his home overlooking Port-au-Prince, Charles Henri Baker, a Haitian manufacturing titan, recalled seeing the dust rising from the city, and with it the cries of "3 million people calling to Jesus."

During the first few days after the quake, not a single Haitian official — not the president, the prime minister or any cabinet member — emerged to make a public statement. "Their excuse was they were in shock," says Raymond Joseph, Haiti's former ambassador to the United States. "OK, you're in shock, I understand. But act like leaders. Summon the people, tell them something of comfort — do something. No one did."

Over the next few weeks, the amount of aid pledged to Haiti began to outpace the nation's ability to absorb it. Just a few days after the quake, Doctors Without Borders shut down its appeal for Haiti relief funds, informing donors that it simply couldn't spend any more. But most aid groups continued to fundraise for Haiti long after their emergency-relief capacities were maxed out. The American Red Cross has raised $479 million for Haiti, for example, yet it had "spent or signed agreements to spend" only $245 million by the one-year anniversary of the tragedy. The rest remains in an interest-bearing account, awaiting the commencement of "building back better."

Aid workers in Haiti concede that their efforts remain as focused on relief as on reconstruction. "We are ramping up recovery — building more stable housing, a medical infrastructure, that kind of thing — but we're still out there digging ditches, sandbagging hillsides, replacing tarps and tents," says Julie Sell, the Red Cross spokeswoman for Port-au-Prince. "The relief phase, to be honest, is still ongoing. We all wish we were further along than we are."

Sell, like most other aid officials, is trying to put a rational spin on a situation that is both irrational and, by the looks of things, completely unmanageable. On top of the earthquake, aid workers in Haiti are contending with a cholera crisis, a disease of poverty spread through poor sanitation and contaminated drinking water. These are all things that NGOs like the Red Cross have expertise in fighting, but larger structural issues often trump their best intentions. Because international NGOs get most of their money from large government agencies, they are beholden to the broader policy imperatives of their funders. "The big problem is that most NGOs are only really accountable to their donors, when we should really be accountable to the people we're trying to serve," says Dr. Louise Ivers, senior health and policy adviser for Partners in Health, a Boston-based NGO that has worked in Haiti for 25 years. Some organizations, she notes, "exist only to write grant proposals that respond to specific donor requests. If your mandate is just to follow the money, then the money determines what happens."

The money that poured into Haiti after the earthquake was focused almost solely on relief efforts in and around Port-au-Prince. As a result, dozens of health-oriented NGOs in Haiti focused their work in the capital, all but ignoring the countryside. So last October, when reports of people dropping dead of cholera in the rural Artibonite Valley 90 miles from the capital began to emerge, many in the aid community were blindsided. Even as the epidemic made its way to Port-au-Prince, some relief organizations still didn't respond. "It was as if, somehow, those 400 or 500 deaths in the Artibonite weren't registering," says Ivers, who had an office in St. Marc, where the outbreak started. "If you haven't really seen it with your own eyes, it's hard to believe how quickly cholera can become a major catastrophe." Within a month, cholera had become a national epidemic.

One morning, during the height of the epidemic, I attend a meeting organized by the U.N. to coordinate efforts to contain the cholera outbreak. About 60 relief workers from groups like Oxfam, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the American Red Cross and Save the Children crowd the small room at the offices of Haiti's ministry of water and sanitation, sitting on tables or on the floor. There is a representative from USAID and another from the Centers for Disease Control. There are also a few U.N. peacekeepers and a U.S. Army captain in Oakleys. There are only a handful of Haitians in the room, half of whom are translators.

The meeting, which is held in French, begins with a PowerPoint presentation on the scope of the cholera epidemic, conducted by a frazzled aid official named Pierre-Yves Rochât. Word has come down from the Haitian health ministry that there are only 800 cholera cases in Port-au-Prince, a number everyone in the room knows is a lie. "They're dropping like flies," a CDC official whispers. At one hospital on the outskirts of town, there were 1,200 cases in a single day.

Much of the meeting is spent complaining. An official from an international aid agency notes that Port-au-Prince is now overflowing with waste, yet 52 disposal trucks that have been imported to handle it are still sitting in customs. Another says that waste from cholera-treatment centers has been dumped at the Truitier landfill, which happens to be located on a major aquifer. Rodrigo Silva, a Portuguese waste-management specialist, offers what seems like a reasonable proposal: Perhaps the NGOs should consider composting the cholera waste instead of dumping it. In unison, officials from Doctors Without Borders, the Pan American Health Organization and UNICEF shoot him down, insisting that chlorine, an extremely effective bacteria-killer, is the only sensible option to neutralize cholera waste. Dejected, Silva leaves the room.

I find him outside smoking a cigarette. A skinny guy in his early thirties, Silva has been in Haiti for months trying to initiate projects that rely on "ecological sanitation," which many development specialists advocate for undeveloped countries like Haiti. So far, though, Silva has had almost no luck except with small NGOs like Give Love, founded by the actress Patricia Arquette. "I go to these meetings, and everybody's talking about problems, not solutions," he says. "I try to make suggestions, but no one listens. I don't know why."

In the end, nothing is decided. After two hours, the aid workers, who have spent most of the meeting arguing, make a dash for the door, getting into their cars to sit for hours in Port-au-Prince's traffic en route to the next meeting. These weekly gatherings, which are designed to streamline relief efforts, wind up seeming like an exercise in futility. "What sucks is that we spend all of our time sitting in traffic going to all of these meetings," says one veteran aid worker, who has been working in Haiti for a year, "and wasting even more hours of our day when we could be doing something else — like helping Haiti."

Many of the decisions about how best to help Haiti, in fact, were conceived well before the earthquake struck. In the spring of 2009, Hillary Clinton, having recently assumed her post as secretary of state, identified Haiti as a top priority. Both she and Bill Clinton shared a deep and difficult history with the country. The former president "fell in love" with the island during his honeymoon there in 1975, and the Clinton homes in New York and Washington were decorated with Haitian art. But his policies only drove the country deeper into despair. Clinton imposed harsh sanctions on the island after its democratically elected leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was deposed by a military coup in 1991. He also backed an ambitious program of "structural adjustment" designed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to turn Haiti into a Caribbean Taiwan, refocusing its resources away from farming toward more lucrative sectors like export manufacturing. It was known as the "American Plan."

The strategy was a disaster. Small farms were crushed by a sudden influx of subsidized food imported from the United States. No longer able to sell their produce, hundreds of thousands of peasants were driven off their farms and into the cities and shantytowns, mostly in Port-au-Prince, where they competed for jobs at American-owned assembly plants, earning less than $2 a day. Last year, Clinton apologized for the plan. "We made this devil's bargain, and it wasn't the right thing to do," he said. "It was a mistake that I was a party to. I did that. I have to live every day with the consequences."

The earthquake, say some involved with the relief effort, seemed to offer Clinton a chance to make amends. "Personally, I think Bill Clinton wants to redeem himself," says Joseph, Haiti's former ambassador. "He realizes he made mistakes. So now, if he can do something good for Haiti, leave a legacy, then he can say, OK, I cleared my name."

In the fall of 2008, a year and a half before the earthquake, Clinton appealed to world leaders and other members of his Clinton Global Initiative to help Haiti recover from a series of devastating hurricanes. By the end of the year, CGI members had committed more than $100 million to Haiti relief. The U.N., which had launched its own appeal, raised less than half that amount.

In the winter of 2009, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon invited Clinton to Haiti, and soon afterward asked him to serve as his special envoy, using his unique brand of star power and political clout to garner much-needed investments for the country. It was a job Clinton had done before, drumming up aid after the catastrophic tsunami in Asia. In Haiti, he hoped to do even more. "Clinton had this idea of a grid," one adviser recalls. "He was going to figure out what all the needs were in Haiti, chart them, and then match them up with the people who had the money. The idea was to get every base covered, to fill in all those boxes, not just the ones that were sexy. And he thought he could do it quickly."

In Washington, meanwhile, Hillary Clinton was pursuing a Haiti strategy that dovetailed neatly with her husband's efforts. Within the State Department, Haiti was viewed, in the words of one official, as a "laboratory": a petri dish in which America could prove that it could be a force for good in the world. The impulse falls squarely within the Clinton doctrine known as "smart power," which stresses the importance of diplomacy and development to further U.S. interests. For too long, Clinton believed, the West had embraced "development for development's sake," throwing money at poor countries without demanding either accountability or results. Haiti had received so much foreign assistance over the years — more than $300 million annually from the U.S. alone — that it had become a virtual, albeit dysfunctional, ward of the West, and a poster child for the inadequacies of foreign aid.

In April 2009, Clinton ordered a thorough review of U.S. policy toward Haiti. She wanted a new strategy grounded in "evidence-based solutions." "The idea," recalls Cheryl Mills, Clinton's chief of staff, "was that if we're putting in the assistance, we need to know what the outcomes are going to be."

Mills was chosen by Clinton to steer the review. An elegant, 46-year-old graduate of Stanford Law School, Mills was as strong a Clinton loyalist as anyone in Washington. She had worked in the White House office of legal counsel throughout Bill's presidency, defending him during his impeachment hearing. She also served as Hillary's chief counsel and unofficial campaign manager during her 2008 presidential campaign. "If something's on the other side of a brick wall and the Clintons need it," said one former White House colleague, "she'll find a way to get to it: over, around or through."

But Mills, to some minds, was a questionable choice to lead what became the State Department's Haiti Task Force. She had no prior experience in international development, nor did she think she needed it. Her role, as she saw it, was as a problem solver: In order to come up with the best policy possible, the United States needed to maximize its resources, cut costs and leverage the expertise of as many people as it could, including those in the private sector.

"Cheryl Mills came in and started asking very hard questions, like 'Why is it that we've put all this money and all this time into Haiti and gotten nothing out of it?'" recalls Robert Maguire, chairman of the Haiti Working Group at the U.S. Institute of Peace, who was part of a kitchen cabinet of experts who met with Mills to discuss Haiti policy. Mills was appalled, Maguire recalls, by the abysmal record of U.S. aid in Haiti, and was particularly critical of the NGOs, many of which had spent decades there without producing any lasting change. She was unhappy that so much money was outsourced to private development agencies, whose accomplishments rarely justified their exorbitant fees. Mills was also frustrated with the inflexibility of development purists in accepting new ideas.

The purists, in turn, criticized Mills as a political operative who, for all of her good intentions, was "not qualified to engineer sophisticated development approaches to Haiti," as one puts it. Maguire, however, was impressed. "This old, established system had been deficient in the worst possible way, and Cheryl was determined to figure out a new way of doing things that would be more effective, both for the U.S. and for Haiti," he says. "She was not accepting business as usual. And because of that, she stepped on a lot of toes."

Mills was particularly unpopular at USAID, the long-troubled, deeply understaffed agency that has been at the helm of development programs for the past five decades. Since the end of the Cold War, USAID has suffered tremendous budget cuts that have resulted in its role being almost entirely absorbed by the State Department, which controls its budget. For those at USAID who resented this loss of autonomy, Mills became a symbol of their agency's emasculation. To those she favored, Mills could be warm, funny, witty and supportive. But like the Clintons, she could also be vindictive to those who crossed her. "I don't doubt that Cheryl means well," says one State Department official, "but she scares the shit out of everyone."

During the summer and fall of 2009, Mills dispatched several teams of experts to Haiti to assess the best investment options. They paid particular attention to a strategy drawn up by Oxford University economist Paul Collier, who maintained that with its low-paid workforce and loose labor regulations, Haiti could become a major supplier for the apparel industry. The ideas weren't dissimilar from the policies that had been foisted on Haiti as far back as the Duvalier era. "That same model of T-shirt manufacturing was tried in the 1970s, and was an utter failure," notes a U.N. official. "The entire model is based on paying people so little that it doesn't activate the economy. It keeps the labor force subsisting, but there's not enough surplus in their salaries to do more than keep their family alive."

Mills nonetheless embraced Collier's idea, as did Bill Clinton, who made a special trip to Haiti in the fall of 2009, escorting international CEOs around Haiti's farms and factories and promoting its tourism potential. Manufacturing, Clinton believed, was "a great opportunity, not only for investors to come and make a profit but for the people of Haiti to have a more secure and a more broadly shared, prosperous future." He also envisioned a myriad of other possibilities, from tourist hotels to outsourced call centers.

By that Christmas, Mills and her team had identified four key pillars for aid — health, energy, agriculture and security — that promised what seemed like the highest return, and were preparing to send a report on the new Haiti strategy to the National Security Council for review. Bill Clinton's hands-on approach had also begun to pay off: Two international hotel chains had committed to projects in Haiti, and new industrial parks were in the works with interest from American, South Korean and Irish investors. The Vietnamese military was in negotiations to buy a controlling share of Haiti's state-owned telephone company, and the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince was making plans to open a shopping arcade.

Then came the earthquake. The tragedy put "a dent in expectations," as one State Department official puts it, but it "didn't completely destroy the underlying economic opportunities." Immediately after the quake, in fact, Bill Clinton was not only talking about Haiti's reconstruction but was casting the tragedy as an opportunity for the country to "re-imagine" itself, using a modified version of the Collier plan that had already been endorsed by both the U.S. and Haitian governments. "Is this going to be hard? Yes," Clinton said in a teary-eyed interview with The Miami Herald. "Do I think we can do it? Absolutely, I do."

Around the same time, Hillary Clinton met in Montreal with representatives from a long list of donor countries and financial institutions to begin to plan for Haiti's reconstruction. Bill Clinton, meanwhile, attended the world economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he appealed to private-sector leaders to invest in Haiti as part of what Clinton and others would call a new "Marshall Plan." A 56-page document, known as the "Action Plan for National Recovery and Development," was released in March 2010. Its author was Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, a European-educated technocrat, well liked by the international donors, with support from officials at the World Bank and the U.N. The vision represented a radically overhauled Haiti: a country bursting with mango-processing plants, fish farms, solar-powered irrigation facilities, industrial parks and duty-free zones, financed, to a large degree, by the private sector. "The plan suggests social engineering on a vast scale," noted The Washington Post, "which would involve levels of public and private investment in Haiti never really imagined before."

Leslie Voltaire, a former Haitian minister and U.N. envoy who consulted on the plan, put it more succinctly. "Disaster," he said, "is a terrible thing to waste."

Shortly after the recovery plan was unveiled, the Haitian government announced the creation of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, a new oversight body charged with managing the reconstruction. Though its members were roughly split between Haitian officials and international donors, it was clear from the outset that Bill Clinton, who was appointed co-chair, would drive the IHRC. "There is a degree of political pressure that only President Clinton, and Secretary Clinton, can exert on the Haitian government," says Sam Worthington, the CEO of InterAction, a consortium of American-based relief organizations. "It's a crucial role, and Bill Clinton is at his best when he plays it."

Bill Clinton was already a major donor in Haiti, bestowing hefty grants through both the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and the William J. Clinton Foundation. Now, as co-chair of the IHRC, he would have final approval, with Prime Minister Bellerive, of every major reconstruction project. It was an extraordinarily powerful position for a single person to hold. It was also, to many minds in both Washington and Port-au-Prince, the best possible arrangement given the circumstances. "Bill Clinton is the most powerful advocate that Haiti is ever going to have," says Johnny Celestin, a Haitian-American investor who heads a private philanthropy called the Haitian Fund for Innovation. "We can't let this opportunity pass."

Still, handing over that much power to Clinton made others nervous. "Behind closed doors, the feeling of the Haitian government was this was just another foreign group they'd given permission to come in and take over their country," says a senior international aid official. "But what could they do? The Haitian government knew it didn't have the capacity to tackle this reconstruction on its own."

Much of the work of coordinating the recovery effort fell to Cheryl Mills and Rajiv Shah, the newly appointed head of USAID. Neither Mills nor Shah, a 38-year-old physician and food-security expert who had worked for the Gates Foundation, had any disaster-response experience. Shah, in fact, had been at his post in the State Department less than two weeks when the earthquake hit. "It all happened so fast. You do your absolute best and listen and try to make the right decisions," says Shah, who had received an orientation to USAID's emergency response "situation room" the day before the earthquake. "The initial goal was to save lives, move quickly, and be coordinated and aggressive in the response. If you look at the response from early January to the middle of March, it all came together in a pretty coordinated way, given the challenges."

Moving beyond emergency relief, though, proved next to impossible. Aid groups were maddeningly disorganized, and the Haitian government was overwhelmed. While President René Préval had given the recovery commission the authority to oversee the reconstruction, final approval on every project had to be given by Haitian ministries, most of which were so broken that they could barely support a staff. "There just aren't a lot of talented bureaucrats," says an aide to Bill Clinton. "And the ones they do have are so busy putting out day-to-day fires, they don't have time to do any planning."

The dysfunction, say reconstruction officials, was like nothing they'd ever seen. "I wish I could organize a trip of Tea Party activists and take them to Haiti, so they could see what happens if they have a country with no government," says Earl Kessler, an urban-disaster consultant for USAID. A central complaint was the lack of strategy: The "Action Plan," while laying out the core priorities for Haiti's recovery, didn't go into many specifics. That left it up to Haiti's ministries to devise their own plans. Some, like the health and agriculture ministries, came up with robust strategies. But in other key areas — housing, debris removal, waste management — nothing happened. Some Haitian ministers simply refused to pick up the phone; others demanded large payoffs before they'd sign off even on small plans.

"I've had two ministers come up to me this week, personally, and ask what's in it for them," says a frustrated IHRC official. "But that's how this game gets played down here. He who has the most money buys the best minister, and gets the work. And since money grows on trees in this disaster, the attitude among Haitian officials is: Just call up your buddies in Washington, and they'll send another check."

Then there was another major obstacle to reconstruction: the Haitian ruling class, a handful of prominent industrial families that collectively control most of the country's wealth. Haiti's elite has maintained dominance for generations through strategic alliances with Haitian politicians who provide lucrative government contracts in exchange for patronage. Some of those same influential Haitians owned much of the land now needed to house refugees — and with national elections coming up that November, government officials weren't going to alienate their major benefactors. "Préval wasn't about to go around seizing up property," says a U.N. official who has spent much of the past year trying to find land for resettlement camps. "It became readily apparent that he was not going to do anything to offend his supporters."

With the Haitian government in disarray, some 98 percent of foreign aid was directed to partners more trusted by donors — mostly to the NGOs, which had worked in Haiti for years. But these groups, while experienced in relief, were not as knowledgeable about what it takes to rebuild a nation. "I got a call from a U.N. agency asking me how to buy equipment for rubble removal," recalls Michael Wyrick, vice president of the Haiti Recovery Group, a disaster-recovery firm that has been vying for debris-removal contracts in Haiti. "These guys were essentially planning to start a new company: They were looking to purchase equipment, hire management personnel, rent office space. Much of the money on these contracts to NGOs goes to their overhead. Before long, you've spent tens of millions, and what's really been done?"

Things weren't moving much faster in Washington. Cheryl Mills had marginalized many of the bona fide experts on Haiti at USAID, leaving her with a random assortment of aid officials, many from far-off posts like Panama and South Africa. For insight, she scoured the research on previous recoveries: How long did it take for the debris to be cleared after the tsunami in Indonesia? What about Katrina? It took more than two years to remove the rubble from Ground Zero, she learned from her reading, and the World Trade Center still wasn't rebuilt. While aid officials with long experience in disaster relief understood that Haiti would be a five- or 10-year effort, Mills, without prior experience in disasters, had no idea what was "normal" in such a situation.

"There are a few things you must do in disaster relief," says John Simon, the former U.S. ambassador to the African Union and an undersecretary at USAID during the Bush administration. "The first is to establish a clear chain of command; the second is to establish a gatekeeper function that tells everybody — other than those people who know what they're doing — to get out of the way. There are a number of very competent and experienced people at USAID who know how to do this work and could have easily done the job. Unfortunately, what you seem to have had with Haiti is a lot of new people who were not in the business of disaster relief and who took this as an opportunity to learn."

By the spring of 2010, it had become clear to many observers that imposing a lack of expertise on a situation that required a tremendous amount of it had become a hallmark of the State Department's "results" strategy. There was significant grumbling in aid circles, for example, when the department awarded a $1.5 million contract to a New York-based consulting firm called Dalberg Global Development Advisors. Glenn Smucker, an anthropologist who specializes in Haiti, was asked to brief the Dalberg team, which included several summer associates from Harvard Business School. "They were nice people, but they struck me as naive about Haiti," he says. "They asked the appropriate questions and were eager to learn, but from what I gathered, they had never lived overseas, didn't have any disaster experience or any background in urban planning, and they'd never carried out any program activities on the ground. Only one of them spoke any French. They were being asked to do extremely important things that they had no background to do."

One of Dalberg's assignments was to do an assessment of a broad, bow-tie-shaped swath of land near the Corail camp, where thousands of Haitians had moved earlier that spring. Even as refugees were streaming onto the land and establishing squatter camps, the State Department hoped to create new communities in the area as part of an attempt to depopulate Port-au-Prince. It was the second time in three months that consultants had assessed the area, and after Dalberg was finished, a team of experts from USAID was brought in to reassess the assessments. "One of the sites they said was habitable was actually a small mountain," says Bill Vastine, one of the experts on the USAID team. "It had an open-mined pit on one side of it, a severe 100-foot vertical cliff, and ravines." After looking at the photos in Dalberg's report, he said, "it became clear that these people may not even have gotten out of their SUVs." The process of assessments and reassessments dragged on for months. In the end, only one of the six sites approved by Dalberg was deemed viable for relocation.

Vastine says the entire process could have been avoided if USAID had simply relied on its own surveys of the area, which had been done on a regular basis for the past 50 years. "I kept telling these State Department people to go and look in their frickin' filing cabinets, but it fell on deaf ears," he says. "It was truly astonishing to me. The amount of previous study on Haiti is immense. But there was no reflection on the existing knowledge base. Instead, they would go out and hire some company to the tune of half a million dollars to barge in equipment from the United States and go punch some holes in the ground, even though we already knew what was down there. Then they'd hire some Ph.D. to study it for six months and do a PowerPoint presentation. Haiti doesn't need any more Ph.D.s to study it. What it needs are some professionals who know what they're doing to go out and do the goddamn work and rebuild it."

Vastine is sitting in the IHRC's headquarters, a large Quonset hut on the grounds of the former U.S. Embassy compound in downtown Port-au-Prince. The place feels like a deserted wind tunnel. A year after the quake, only half of the IHRC's core posts had been filled, making it almost impossible to assess, let alone approve, reconstruction proposals. Within its first year, the IHRC greenlighted just 86 proposals, many of which had been in the works before the quake. When I meet Vastine just before Thanksgiving, he tells me that he had arrived at work that morning to find a "strategically placed dead body" lying in the street just outside the compound. "Kind of says it all, don't it?" he says.

Bill Clinton, by all accounts, was equally frustrated with the slow progress of reconstruction. But Clinton himself did not become the semipermanent presence many Haitians had assumed he would. Instead, Clinton's role was taken on, to a large extent, by staffers with little background in development or disaster management. Laura Graham, Clinton's 38-year-old chief of staff and chief point person for Haiti, was his former White House scheduler. Clinton's director of foreign policy, 34-year-old Amitabh Desai, had been one of Hillary Clinton's legislative aides, and before that an intern in Ted Kennedy's office. "It was a dual problem, really," a U.N. official says of the Clinton Foundation staffers. "First, they had no background in development — they didn't know what they were talking about in aid or humanitarianism. Second, they didn't even realize it. They had come to Haiti in their suits convinced they were going to fix the place, and then they looked really confused when we would try to explain to them why the ideas they came up with on the back of an envelope on the plane over wouldn't work."

Graham maintains that the Clinton Foundation has "extensive experience in post-crisis management and development." The foundation's role, she adds, "is to assist the Haitians, not to prescribe or implement solutions unilaterally." But on the ground in Haiti, Clinton's surrogates managed to alienate almost everyone with whom they came into contact. "When you listen to President Clinton, his rhetoric is right on point," says a prominent Haitian. "But his people were incredibly arrogant; they knew nothing about Haiti or Haitians. They acted like, because they worked for a former president, they ruled the world." In one incident, he says, Haitian ministers were shut out of an IHRC board meeting after a Clinton staffer told them their names were not on the list. "These are the ministers of Haiti — it's their country! What do you mean 'not on the list'?"

U.S. officials, while acknowledging shortcomings in the relief effort, insist they have made the best of a tragic situation. "No effort of this scope will be perfect, and certainly, we would like to see even more progress, but our commitment is ongoing and we are determined to produce long-term results," says a senior State Department official who refused to speak for attribution. "It is natural to feel impatient — we are, too — but there has been considerable progress, particularly given the magnitude of the challenge and Haiti's history."

Sean Penn also defends the State Department's efforts and believes the reconstruction effort is about to turn a corner. "Cheryl Mills is one of the most valuable players in Haiti," he says. "She has made an incredible impact despite the things that have gone wrong. She's out there pushing people's buttons, and she has been able to get things done when others couldn't. Cheryl Mills is someone Haiti needs right now."

Penn himself, by most accounts, has been one of the most effective players in Haiti. Some celebrities who threw themselves into the relief effort, like Wyclef Jean, quickly discovered that even the best-intentioned efforts to mobilize resources can go disastrously wrong, undermined by mismanagement and corruption. But Penn, who arrived in Haiti a week after the earthquake with a team of doctors and rescue workers he had rounded up, forged a bond with both the U.S. military and with Dr. Paul Farmer, the well-known advocate for Haiti's poor. At first, many veteran relief workers were wary of Penn. "For all the usual reasons, I was skeptical of a movie star working in Haiti," admits Ivers, the senior health and policy adviser for Farmer's organization. "I doubted his motivation, and I was frustrated that I couldn't do what he was able to do." But Penn soon impressed Ivers and others with his ability to break through bureaucracy, and humanitarian officials now refer to his golf-course settlement, with its hospital, school, well-maintained water and sanitation, as a "five-star camp."

Such individual efforts, however, have not been enough to help the 680,000 Haitians who remain stranded in temporary camps. Tim Schwartz, an American anthropologist who was doing a housing survey for USAID, recalls a meeting of key development officials he attended in October, 10 months after the earthquake struck. "USAID basically announced that the mission was failing," he says. At the rate they were going, U.S. officials observed, it was going to cost $1.2 billion to keep Haitians in the camps like Corail for another year. "They were blowing through the money, and they couldn't afford to maintain the system like it was," Schwartz says. "They desperately wanted to get out from under this."

Many USAID officials wanted to return Haitians to their homes, a project that would require rebuilding close to 100,000 damaged houses that were still considered salvageable. To begin the project, the government hired Kit Miyamoto, a California structural engineer, who assessed the damage and trained Haitian builders to begin the repairs. "People don't want to be in the camps — they want to get the hell out of there," Miyamoto says. "What they are looking for is assistance to make their homes more secure. There are people lining up to come back to repaired houses." In fact, he adds, every person whose house was fixed left the camps and returned home.

But only a few thousand such homes, as of May, had been repaired, and millions of dollars have meanwhile been diverted to other "shelter solutions." At one U.N. meeting in Haiti, everything from earthen huts to vinyl-sided igloos were proposed as part of a grand project to reimagine Port-au-Prince. With the streets still buried in mountains of rubble, some planners even floated ideas for "model communities" that would include high-rise apartment towers, walking paths, ample green spaces and tennis courts. It was as unrealistic as it was predictable. "Everyone comes to Haiti with some kind of plan to 'save' it and do all these nice things for the poor people," says Schwartz. "But it never works. You're never going to turn Port-au-Prince into Santa Barbara."

Increasingly, aid workers and experts like Schwartz watched as plans for new communities were proposed and then scratched — sometimes because the land was not available, other times for more prosaic reasons. Sanitation remains a major problem. There is no functioning waste system outside of Haiti's cities, making toilets that rely on water impossible. In the Croix de Bouquets area near Port-au-Prince, where USAID intended to build dozens of small dwellings known as "core homes," planners had come up with an alternative solution — compost toilets — but USAID wouldn't accept it. "They claimed it didn't comply with U.S. codes," recalls Vastine, who spent months working on the project. "But you cannot provide the kind of toilet mechanisms we have in the U.S. in most parts of Haiti. Simply to build the infrastructure would cost tens of millions of dollars." The entire "core home" project, which cost $53 million, according to Vastine, wound up spending about a third of the money trying to replicate American-style toilets for Haitian refugees. "It was ridiculous," says Vastine.

It was also telling. "You have to wonder what is going on here," says Alisa Keesey, the program director of Give Love, an NGO that focuses exclusively on sanitation issues. "Millions of dollars were spent on the predevelopment of that project. What did they think they'd do — give people pit latrines, then suck out the waste and put it in the ocean? The big question is how serious they really are about 'building Haiti back better' — because at this rate, they're building back exactly the same, with bigger and better slums."

In 1994, when I first visited Haiti, Port-au-Prince was a city of 750,000. By 2010, the population had ballooned to 3 million. People lived practically anywhere, often building small homes on the sides of the hills. This was easy to do, given Haiti's lax building codes — even the hills of Pétionville, once an exclusive enclave, were filled with deeply impoverished neighborhoods known as bidonvilles, inhabited by far more people than the terrain could support.

One area that was particularly devastated by the earthquake was Ravine Pintade, a densely populated community built directly into a rocky slope. Two-thirds of the homes in Ravine Pintade were destroyed, and many of the surviving homes were in need of extensive repair. This presents a unique opportunity to "give people something they've never had," Ann Lee, the American field-office director for CHF International, the NGO that has been working most diligently in Ravine Pintade, tells me one day. We are walking through the area, across precarious cliffs that, on closer inspection, turn out to be the remains of decimated homes. The place looks like a bomb site. But within a year, Lee pledges, CHF and other NGOs will have turned Ravine Pintade into a functioning community with clean water, trees and footpaths.

Haitians have grown accustomed to greeting such bold promises with skepticism: Although CHF has been meeting on the project since June 2010, the rebuilding progress in Ravine Pintade has been painstakingly slow. Lee admits that the organization, a vast NGO with relief operations in 25 countries around the world, has never done "micro-urban planning," as she calls it — nor have the half dozen or so other NGOs planning similar projects in Port-au-Prince. "It's a complete learning experience for all of us," she says. All that's needed to make the project a reality, she adds, are more funds.

Critics regard such claims with amusement: CHF, which works out of two spacious mansions in Port-au-Prince and maintains a fleet of brand-new vehicles, is generally considered one of the most ostentatious NGOs in Haiti. It is also one of the largest USAID contractors in Haiti and enjoys a cozy relationship with Washington: Its president and CEO, David Weiss, is a former State Department official and lobbyist. "There is a shocking lack of transparency and accountability in aid, and it's crystallized in this relief effort," says Schwartz, the anthropologist. "For an NGO in Haiti, the criteria for success is raising money, filling out paperwork and making sure the money is 'accounted for' — meaning they can show donors that they spent the money. But nobody goes out there and judges the project, or even verifies that the project exists. In the majority of the cases, nobody even talks to the community."

Bertin Voise, a 30-year-old carpenter, lives with his wife and five other members of his family in the courtyard of what was once a spacious home in Ravine Pintade. It is now marked with a giant red "X," signifying that it is not only irreparable but a hazard. Standing outside his broken house, Voise tells us that he has every intention of rebuilding it, as soon as he has enough money. This clearly bothers Lee, who has just finished explaining how CHF wants to raze houses like his and replace them with two-story steel-framed plywood shelters. While the construction of new homes is taking place, Lee wants to move everyone into temporary shelters in the area — what she calls "T-shelter hotels." She seems excited by the idea. Voise, who would have to relinquish his four-bedroom home for one slightly larger than a doghouse, is unmoved.

"Most of these NGO people genuinely dupe themselves into thinking this is really going to work," says Schwartz, who spent six months on a USAID-funded survey of Port-au-Prince's housing. What he found is that roughly 85 percent of Haiti's damaged homes, including those deemed irreparable, have been reinhabited by people who either returned to them from the camps or, as with Bertin Voise, never bothered to leave them in the first place, despite warnings that a strong storm could collapse what remains of the structures. Such a disaster, notes Schwartz, could be avoided if money were invested in repairing the homes rather than replacing them. "We have to listen to these people," he says. "They are telling us what they want, and we are ignoring it. That's the real tragedy."

What Haitians want most are jobs. Even as people languish in the camps in Port-au-Prince, the U.S. has increasingly worked to expand economic opportunity outside of the capital. Last year, Secretary Clinton, through Cheryl Mills, worked for months to broker a deal with Sae-A, a Korean garment manufacturer that had expressed interest in building an industrial park in Haiti to manufacture clothes for Gap and other clients. In January, a day before the one-year ­anniversary of the earthquake, the State Department announced that a deal had been reached to build the park in the northern Haiti "export zone" near Cap Haitien. The park promised 20,000 new jobs. "I know a couple places in America that would commit mayhem to get 20,000 jobs today," Bill Clinton said at the signing ceremony, flanked by Prime Minister Bellerive and the chairman of Sae-A.

In Port-au-Prince, however, the one true achievement of "building back better" was engineered not by the Haitian government or the IHRC or the State Department, but by Haiti's largest employer — the telecommunications giant Digicel. The company's founder, Denis O'Brien, is a major Clinton Foundation contributor and chairman of the Clinton Global Initiative's Haiti Action Network, a consortium of largely private-sector partners who have committed more than $224 million to reconstruction projects. In February 2010, only a month after the earthquake, O'Brien embarked on a project to rebuild the Iron Market, a 120-year-old marketplace in downtown Port-au-Prince, contributing $12 million of his own money to do so. The project took just 11 months. Bill Clinton, who has cast O'Brien as the model philanthrocapitalist, lauded the Irish billionaire as a "catalyst" for positive change. The reconstructed landmark was the only project "of any scale" to be completed in Haiti, said John McAslan, a British architect whose firm worked to restore the Iron Market. "It's amazing it's been so fast," he said. "It could have taken five years without such a determined client."

As such, the Iron Market, an ode to commerce and entrepreneurial drive, is also a pointed symbol of the disproportionate influence that foreign corporations wield over the future of Haiti. Under what might be called the "New American Plan," reconstruction is driven not primarily by the dictates of democracy but by the demands of the bottom line. "Ultimately it all comes down to governance," says Bishop, the co-author of Philanthrocapitalism. "There was this tremendous outpouring of goodwill after the earthquake, and this idea of 'build back better' caught on — but for all their consultations, no one really found out what the Haitian people's concept of build back better actually was."

In the absence of government leadership, Digicel has become an influential force in Haiti. The company, which arrived in the country only five years ago, is now its largest taxpayer. It has also built its own infrastructure, outside of the government's purview, constructing roads to and from its various sites, and powering its reception towers with generators whose annual diesel costs run into the millions. With more than $400 million invested in Haiti, Digicel is now expanding its brand by building schools, distributing tents, providing cholera-education materials and sponsoring contests to promote Haitian entrepreneurship. Digicel's bright-red banners and logos are far more prominent than any other symbol in Haiti — even more, it's often been said, than the Haitian flag. Throughout Port-au-Prince and its refugee camps, Digicel salesmen drawn from the ranks of the homeless operate thriving businesses. In Sean Penn's camp, for example, one enterprising Digicel representative has set up a cellphone-repair shop under a tree.

"People love Digicel," says Schwartz, "and that's because Digicel is involved in the community. They sponsor a soccer team, they have parties, and they make a lot of money, but they also connect with the Haitians." Recently, Digicel started giving free phone credit to people who make a tremendous number of calls, often to relatives in the United States. "If Digicel could run for president of Haiti," says Schwartz, "it would win."

The man who was actually elected president in April — the 50-year-old singer Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly — also offers an indication of how little control Haitians are likely to have over their own future. The United States, along with Canada and the European Union, invested roughly $29 million in the elections, pushing for a recount when Martelly, viewed by many as the people's choice, was edged out by a rival, government-backed candidate in the first round. The recount was needed, Cheryl Mills explained at the time, to ensure that the people of Haiti got "the kind of leadership that they need in the future." Martelly also received robust support from Digicel and other private-sector interests.

A political novice sometimes described as the Ronald Reagan of Haitian politics, Martelly was an unorthodox if telling candidate to lead the new Haiti. An imposing man with a striking bald head, he was a celebrity who used his star power to appeal to Haitians across a wide political spectrum. Martelly made his name singing kompa, an Afro-Caribbean genre beloved throughout the country. For years, he'd been one of the most popular entertainers in Haiti, famous for his rum-swilling Carnival act, in which he would pull down his pants, make crude remarks about women and dance in a kilt. Openly disdainful of Haitian politics, he admitted to having smoked pot and crack cocaine in the past. His anti-establishment rhetoric appealed to Haitian youth fed up with the status quo. But Martelly, who had supported the military coups that had twice overthrown the democratically elected leftist government of Jean-Paul Aristide, was also attractive to right-wing Haitians and Duvalierists, embracing distinctly authoritarian policies like reinstating the Haitian army, an organization responsible for years of brutality.

To Mills and others in the Obama administration, Martelly seemed to be a man of action. "There was a great deal of frustration among international actors that the current Haitian administration couldn't just take land under eminent domain to dump rubble or build housing," says Maguire, the chairman of the Haiti Working Group. "Martelly set himself up as the antithesis, he was going to be the 'decider,' and they embraced him."

Martelly also positioned himself as a friend to U.S. business interests, which won him support from right-wing think tanks like the Center for Strategic and International Studies. A conservative Washington operative named Damian Merlo, who advised John McCain on foreign affairs in 2008, became Martelly's campaign manager. The U.S. consultant quickly reshaped the candidate's image, replacing the flamboyant "Sweet Micky" with the more sober "Michel Martelly," whose conservative blue suits, red ties and reading glasses spoke of a serious candidate promising a "results-oriented presidency" focused on fighting government corruption and restoring order to Port-au-Prince.

With a sudden influx of $6 million into his campaign from American backers and the Haitian diaspora — and with Haiti's largest political party excluded from the vote, effectively disenfranchising a large swath of the poor — Martelly won in a landslide. Many Haitians, however, questioned the legitimacy of the elections, and America's role in determining the outcome. "For the U.S., elections have no meaning other than to create the image that Haiti is democratically run," fumes Alex Dupuy, author of The Prophet and Power: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the International Community and Haiti. "The interest of the U.S. in Haiti is to have a government that is compliant. They pushed for Martelly, and now they are expecting him to do their bidding — and he is."

Martelly was inaugurated as Haiti's 56th president on May 14th, in a ceremony in front of the still-shattered National Palace. In his inaugural speech, he made a point of saying that Haiti, as he put it, was now "open for business." A few days later, he nominated his friend Daniel Rouzier, the top executive of the private energy company E-Power, to serve as his prime minister. A graduate of Georgetown and Dartmouth, Rouzier is a member of Haiti's new cosmopolitan elite, one interested less in politics than in fully integrating Haiti into the global economy.

Shortly after being nominated, Rouzier announced that Haiti would disband the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, which he dismissed as "dysfunctional." His assessment concurred with the findings of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which noted in a report released in May that the IHRC was "not fully operational" more than a year after its creation. Nor will it likely ever be, the GAO suggested, as the commission's charter was set to expire this October. "I don't mean to crucify the people who came up with the concept," Rouzier said, "but sometimes when something doesn't work, you have to fix it."

Hours after Rouzier blasted the IHRC, however, Martelly's office rushed to walk back the criticism, maintaining that the Haitian government remains "very open and willing to begin discussions" to make the IHRC "more efficient." In July, when Martelly agreed to a year's extension for the relief commission, the message was clear: The U.S. government and private-sector interests like Digicel had found a friendly ally in the new Haitian president.

Rouzier's nomination was ultimately blocked by the Haitian Parliament, which is controlled by rival parties, and Haiti remains without a prime minister — a political vacuum that has only increased the sway of the private sector and the IHRC. In June, Martelly kicked off a project called Building Back Better Communities, funded in part by the Clinton Foundation, which seeks to construct 400 new homes in 100 days, using designs and structural engineering provided almost solely by foreign firms. The following month, he unveiled a plan, conceived by Miami architect Andrés Duany and sponsored by Britain's Prince Charles, to rebuild downtown Port-au-Prince as a series of "urban villages," each with its own separate condominiums and neighborhood-watch committees. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, which raised $50 million earmarked specifically for emergency-relief efforts, meanwhile, raised eyebrows by investing $2 million to finish the construction of a luxury hotel in Pétionville. The 130-room Oasis "symbolizes Haiti 'building back better' and sends a message to the world that Haiti is open for business," declared Paul Altidor, vice president of the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund. "For Haiti's recovery to be sustainable," he added, "it must attract investors, businesses and donors, all of whom will need a business-class, seismically safe hotel."

Haitians, however, know from bitter experience that the business-friendly model of development currently being touted as their salvation has repeatedly failed them in the past. In the 1970s and 1980s, during Haiti's industrial heyday, tens of thousands of rural residents flocked to Port-au-Prince in search of jobs. Many settled in Cité Soleil, an isolated shantytown on the edge of the city that had been created to house workers for the type of factories located in the so-called "export processing zone," much like the one that was promised to the thousands of Haitians who flocked to Corail. But the factories soon closed in the midst of Haiti's political upheaval, and today Cité Soleil is the capital's largest and most notorious slum, one of the poorest and most desperate places in the Western Hemisphere. There are few Digicel banners here, and the ghetto is considered a "red zone," too dangerous for most relief agencies to enter. A few workers from Doctors Without Borders have struggled to contain the flow of cholera into Cité Soleil's lone hospital.

To veteran Haiti watchers, Cité Soleil offers a stark lesson in the danger of relying on grandiose notions about the largesse and staying power of the private sector. "If you want to see what Haiti will look like in 20 years, all you have to do is go down to Cité Soleil," says Schwartz, the anthropologist. "In the past 50 years, very little has changed in Haiti. There is absolutely no reason to believe that the projects the international community is building today are any different. Maybe even worse." Recently, Schwartz was out looking at the new T-shelters being built in Corail — essentially tiny plywood boxes with tin roofs. "They look like rows and rows of garden sheds," he says. "What do you think this is going to look like in 10 years? You don't need a degree in urban planning to anticipate a new Cité Soleil. If you want to understand the future, just look at the past."

During the past decade, Cité Soleil has been the site of Haiti's worst gang warfare, and the young men who live here remain stigmatized by the violence. "When you say you come from Cité Soleil, people think you are a gangster or a kidnapper," says a 32-year-old Haitian rapper named Tche-Ke, whose brother, in fact, was a notorious gangster. Tche-Ke eschews violence and spends whatever money he makes from his music and other odd jobs on neighborhood kids, 10 of whom he is putting through school. Despite being spared in the earthquake, much of the slum is paved with crumbling asphalt, and some areas remain submerged under several feet of mud. Green slime coats the puddles, and strewn across an open field, a cornucopia of garbage and broken glass goes unnoticed by the Haitian children who use one part of it as a soccer field, another part as a toilet. "Do you smell it?" asks Tche-Ke. The stench is overpowering.

At the end of one muddy path is a tiny makeshift shack, where a young mother named Denise lives with her two toddlers and 10,000 flies. Like many Haitians I meet, Denise says she has faith: Jesus will soon give her a new home. Then she points to a somewhat larger shack next to hers — a roofless hut fashioned from a USAID tarp draped over some plywood. With no money to finish it and no job, she struggles to scrape together the $10 a month in rent she pays for the privilege of living in her shack.

This, then, is the legacy that decades of foreign investment have bestowed on Haiti: a brutal and intractable poverty, borne of a disastrous mix of well-intentioned aid and profit-driven development. Every decade or so, it seems, the world comes up with a bold new plan for saving Haiti — and each ultimately proves as ineffective and fleeting as the last.

As Denise talks, a pig snuffles in the dirt next to her infant son, who is gravely malnourished. A large white UNICEF vehicle, a rare sight in the neighborhood, drives slowly past. A woman from the relief agency peers out of the window, her expression one part revulsion and another part fear.

Then she moves on.

Canadian Fact-Finding Delegation Reports on Post-Earthquake Hait


July 26, 2011

Three Canadians conducted a ten-day fact-finding and solidarity mission to Haiti from June 20 to 30. The delegation, organized by Haiti Solidarity BC, the Vancouver affiliate of the Canada Haiti Action Network, traveled throughout the earthquake zone, including Port-au-Prince, Léogâne and Jacmel.

We visited neighbourhoods, camps of displaced people, medical centers, and human rights and social organizations there to gain an overview of the most pressing needs in Haiti. During some of our visits and interviews, we were joined by other Canadians working on aid projects.

We witnessed the dedication and hard work of the Haitian people and authorities and international agencies and volunteers, notwithstanding the immense scale of the recovery that is required and the shortages of resources. But we also witnessed incredible suffering and hardship of poor and displaced Haitians. Many Haitians and Haitian civil society organizations are seriously questioning the shortcomings or failings of the relief and reconstruction effort.

What follows is a report of our visits and observations, followed by recommendations. We hope that our findings will convince Canadians, their government and their aid agencies to provide ongoing and substantial assistance to the Haitian people, and, additionally, to reflect on what can be improved going forward.

Roger Annis (Vancouver BC), retired aerospace worker and coordinator of Haiti   Solidarity BC and the Canada Haiti Action Network
Sandra Gessler (Winnipeg MB), Professor of Nursing, University of Manitoba
Rosena Joseph (Toronto ON), learning coach, and member of the International Solidarity Committee, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Ontario Division

To read or download the 17 page report of the delegation, go to this link:

On August 17, Haiti Solidarity BC is hosting a report-back meeting in Vancouver with Roger Annis of the Canadian Delegation to Haiti and other recent vistors to Haiti. For more details, go to this link:

Dr. Paul’s prescriptions for Haiti’s ills


Reviewed by Roger Annis, Globe and Mail print edition, Tuesday, July 25, 2011


Paul Farmer has written an essential book for understanding the country that was shattered by the earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010.


The stark drama of the days and weeks that followed goudo goudo (the neologism whose vocalization, Haitians say, most closely resembles the sound of those frightening moments when the earth shifted) is dramatically captured in his personal account of rushing to the country to join Haitian and international medical colleagues in treating earthquake victims. Thirteen of his colleagues and family members, as well as other writers, also recount their experiences and observations in the form of short essays and a powerful foreword to the book.


The uniqueness of Farmer’s written contribution to this new stage of Haiti’s history is the piercing historic and social/political dimensions he offers to the reader. He brings to its pages a deep examination of Haiti’s vulnerability to the devastating blow it suffered and the sharp shift in policies and practices now required if the country is to move forward. In so doing, he offers insights into why, 18 months later, the relief and reconstruction effort is bogged down.


“It’s the argument of this book that rebuilding capacity – public or private – in Haiti requires sound analysis of what, exactly, has gone so wrong over the past four decades,” he writes in the opening pages.


Farmer has long been a sharp critic of the role of foreign governments and agencies in Haiti, most particularly the U.S. government. His 1995 The Uses of Haiti is a valuable primer on the country’s history.


As a Harvard University medical graduate, Farmer was a co-founder of the renowned global health agency Partners In Health. Haiti was the country of PIH’s beginnings, in the mid-1980s. The agency, alongside its Haitian partners, Zanmi Lasante and the Health Ministry, has blossomed into one of the country’s largest health providers, serving more than one million people in Haiti’s Central Plateau and Lower Artibonite regions and, since 2010, tens of thousands in the earthquake zone, including the largest displaced-persons camp in Port au Prince.


In Haiti, PIH has pioneered new and successful approaches to the treatment of HIV/AIDS, drug-resistant tuberculosis and a host of other poverty-related diseases, falsely considered intractable by some in global health circles.


“Doctor Paul,” as PIH’s patients fondly refer to him, titles one chapter of the new book A History of the Present Illness. It traces the long history of destructive, foreign intervention. Elsewhere, he describes how the embargo of development aid to Haiti’s government imposed by the United States (and Europe and Canada) after the 2000 election prevented the building of water-treatment facilities in the very region of the country where cholera was inadvertently (but negligently, all the same) introduced in October, 2010. (Joia Mukherjee, medical director of Partners In Health, who pens the foreword to Haiti After the Earthquake, wrote a scathing commentary on this precise story at the time the epidemic struck.)


Again at the outset of the book, Farmer describes the oft-misguided “proliferation of goodwill” directed at Haiti over the decades that has produced such poor results. “Thus did clinics sprout up without much aid to the public-health system; thus did schools arise by the hundreds even as the Ministry of Education faltered; thus did water projects proliferate even as water security (like food security) became enfeebled.”


His central prescription for righting Haiti’s woes is the fostering of strong national government and public institutions, financed by a national taxation system and assisted by foreign aid that develops Haitian capacity, rather than undermining it or serving intervention.


If there is one piece of the Haiti puzzle absent from the book that warrants attention, it is the Security Council military and police mission in Haiti known as MINUSTAH, now into its eighth year. Serious questions need to be asked about the legal basis of its presence as well as its exorbitant cost, amounting to many hundreds of millions of dollars a year.


Farmer’s engagement in Haiti took a turn in August, 2009, when he accepted an appointment as deputy special envoy on Haiti to the United Nations from the secretary-general’s special envoy on Haiti, former U.S. president Bill Clinton. There were those who worried that his critical voice on Haiti could be blunted in exchange for the greater policy influence he could presumably exercise in the new role. Thankfully, his voice is as sharp and perceptive as ever.


Roger Annis is a co-ordinator in Vancouver of the Canada Haiti Action Network. He just returned from directing a four-member, 10-day fact-finding mission to Haiti.


(The Globe and Mail is the largest of Canada's two national daily newspapers).

Political disputes and foreign intervention... By: Roger Annis disputes and foreign intervention lie at the root of Haiti's seemingly intractable problems.

Roger Annis is a co-ordinator of the Canada Haiti Action Network. In late June, he returned from a 10-day visit to Haiti, where he led a three-person fact-finding and observation mission. You can read the delegation’s report here.

It has now been four months since the conclusion of the two-round presidential and legislative national election in Haiti. The presidential winner, Michel Martelly, has failed to form a government that could begin to tackle the enormous challenges facing the country. Instead, he has embarked on apolitical project to appoint one or another of his right-wing cronies to the post of prime minister. The legislature (whose vote of approval is required) has clearly indicated that it will not accept such a partisan nomination (having recently rejected Martelly’s nomination of Bernard Gousse, the second of two such defeated nominees), yet the president presses on, seemingly determined to stir up popular opposition to “stubborn and unreasonable” legislators in order to get his way. Instead of a plan for national reconstruction, Haiti gets a debilitating and destructive political dispute.

The election was marked by a host of obstacles to voter participation, including the massive disruption caused by the earthquake, inadequate voter registration, and an insufficient number of ballot stations (a fraction of the number that existed in previous elections). Haiti's most representative political party – the social reform Fanmi Lavalas of former president Jean Bertrand Aristide – as well as smaller parties, were formally excluded from participation. In the end, less than 25 per cent of Haitians took part.

Aid makes governments unaccountable to their own people – with devastating results. Read more here.

Haitian and international political-rights organizations (including 45 members of the U.S. Congress) said from the get-go that a fair election could not be held under these circumstances. But the foreign powers that have dominated Haiti since the overthrow of the elected government in 2004 were determined to get a pliant and reliable president into office. They paid for the election and dismissed all criticism of its shortcomings.

Critics were proven correct during the first round of voting on November 28, 2010. That exercise was termed a "fraud" or "fiasco" by nearly every independent observer on the ground. Nonetheless, the top finishers proceeded to a second round on March 28, 2011. As planned, the winning candidate for the presidency is a trustworthy representative of Haiti's economic elite and its foreign allies.

Foreign powers have conspired for decades to enfeeble Haiti's government and national institutions, a history that Dr. Paul Farmer explains forcefully in his just-published bookHaiti After the Earthquake. The election of Michel Martelly is just another chapter in this long story.

On June 28, 2011 the International Crisis Group (ICG) released a report that contained the following comments on the political paralysis in Haiti and its implications for the post-earthquake humanitarian crisis:

Although efforts to develop a shelter and resettlement policy began in May 2010, it is still being debated because there is no government interlocutor at a technical or policy level who can sign off on an option. …

The housing office (Entreprise publique de promotion des logements sociaux) still is without a comprehensive policy and effective authority to consolidate peace and order by improving urban housing. Nor does it have ministerial status or the capacity to bring together the core resources to respond to more than one million displaced. …

Beyond a planned but not yet built industrial park [to the east of] Cap Haïtien, there are few signs that Haiti is building back better since donors pledged to contribute more than $5.7 billion over 18 months and $10 billion over 10 years to finance recovery.

Eighteen months after the earthquake, the future remains uncertain for most citizens – in part because they have not been sufficiently included in the decision-making processes. Forced evictions from camps have caused further disruption in the lives of the displaced.

Local solutions to Haiti's crisis are being overlooked in favour of foreign profits. Learn more here.

Canadian media have not given Haiti’s reconstruction plan, or lack thereof, due attention. Next to nothing has been reported. While the ICG report, as well as many other reports in recent months, have looked at governance, shelter and housing, health care (including the cholera epidemic that won't go away), and many other dimensions of Haiti's crisis in considerable detail, these issues have gone largely unreported in Canada. (The latest in-depth print analysis on this topic in international media appears in the Aug. 4 edition of Rolling Stone.)

Canadian assistance to Haiti is also rarely examined. At the government level (as opposed to the role of aid agencies and individual citizens), “assistance” to Haiti from Canada is focused exclusively on the training of police and the equipping of prisons.

The record of Canada's parliamentarians is equally uninspiring. Few have shown any serious, ongoing interest in critically examining Haiti, or in proposing new ideas and alternative approaches. The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development rarely discusses Haiti, and, when it does, its chosen sources of information are selective and limited.

Haiti doesn't just need immediate assistance; it also needs long-term, sustainable development. Read one expert’s commentary here.

Our recent delegation to Haiti has issued a 17-page report on our findings. We observed a country in political and social crisis, and in which little measurable progress is being made towards meaningful and lasting development. You can read the report here. We will circulate this report to members of Parliament, print and broadcast media, and the many social and political organizations that have shown interest and concern for Haiti. We hope this may encourage more discussion regarding Haiti's fate, including what has worked and what must change in Canada's role in providing assistance.

Photo courtesy of Reuters.

Wikileaks Cables Show Haiti as Pawn in U.S. Foreign Policy

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Katie Soltis 

  • The U.S. tried to undermine Haiti’s oil deal with Venezuela in order to protect the vested interests of U.S. oil corporations.
  • Under the Obama administration, the U.S. embassy worked with major textile companies to cap the minimum wage in Haiti at 31 cents per hour.
  • Election monitors from the U.S. and the international community knowingly supported elections that did not remotely follow accepted democratic standards of procedure.

When WikiLeaks announced its plan to release tens of thousands of classified U.S. diplomatic cables to the public, the U.S. government feared a massive international backlash and threat to national security. Although WikiLeaks’ impact on Latin America does not severely jeopardize U.S. security, the diplomatic cables could nevertheless cause irreparable harm to U.S. relations with several Latin American nations. Information released by WikiLeaks points to a continuation of U.S. dominance and the application of “neo-imperialist” diplomacy in Latin America, and the cables regarding Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, exemplify the persistence of U.S. interference.


Haiti’s history is one of brutal colonial exploitation followed by systematic neocolonial intervention, and today the country faces extreme poverty and political turmoil. According to the UN Development Program, 78 percent of Haitians live on less than USD 2 per day and 54 percent of the population, or around four and a half million people, currently live on less than USD 1 per day.[1] In light of the problems facing this troubled nation, the new information revealed by WikiLeaks concerning U.S. involvement in Haiti is particularly disconcerting. Janet Sanderson, the previous U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, once dubbed the U.S. “Haiti’s most important and reliable bi-lateral partner,” but the cables released by WikiLeaks show a much more one-sided relationship.[2] Instead of helping Haiti develop economically and politically, Washington’s foreign policy seems completely dominated by influential and well-connected U.S. economic interests.

Petrocaribe: Haiti and Venezuela

René Préval became president of Haiti in 2006 and immediately attempted to improve U.S.-Haiti relations. U.S. Ambassador Sanderson reported in a cable that Préval “wants to bury once and for all the suspicion in Haiti that the United States is wary of him. He is seeking to enhance his status domestically and internationally with a successful visit to the United States.”[3] Yet despite his desire to improve relations, newly elected President Préval unintentionally began alienating the United States on the very day of his inauguration. On this day, Préval signed a deal with Venezuela to join the Caribbean oil alliance, Petrocaribe, which allowed Haiti to buy subsidized oil from Venezuela. The government of Haiti would pay only 60 percent up front and then pay the rest at 1 percent interest over the next 25 years.[4] This payment schedule would save the Haitian government USD 100 million per year, with which the government planned to supply basic needs and services to 10 million Haitians and increase investment in social projects like hospitals and schools.[5] Additionally, the Petrocaribe deal would help lower and stabilize the cost of oil in Haiti after several years of high prices.

However, the new Haiti-Venezuela alliance unnerved Washington, and Ambassador Sanderson abetted U.S. interests in Haiti. Apparently determined to hold a tough stance against the oil deal, she wrote in a cable on April 19, 2006, that “Post [the Embassy] will continue to pressure Préval against joining Petrocaribe.”[6] For two years, the U.S. government worked with ExxonMobil and Chevron, the two U.S. oil companies operating in Haiti, to undermine the new deal between Petrocaribe and Venezuela. The U.S. oil companies feared that they would have to buy their oil directly from the government of Haiti and would lose their profit margins as a result. As Thomas C. Tighe, a U.S. official in Haiti, wrote in a cable, “Chevron country manager Patryck Peru Dumesnil confirmed his company’s anti-Petrocaribe position and said that ExxonMobil, the only other U.S. oil company operating in Haiti, has told the Government of Haiti that it will not import Petrocaribe products.”[7] Because Chevron and ExxonMobil controlled shipping and distribution channels, these two companies were able to prevent the Petrocaribe deal for two years simply by refusing to transport Petrocaribe oil and blocking their shipments. Throughout this time, Tighe said the Haitian government was “enraged that ‘an oil company which controls only 30% of Haiti’s petroleum products’ would have the audacity to try and elude an agreement that would benefit the Haitian population.”[8] Chevron eventually signed the agreement in 2008, but the two-year fight against the deal exemplifies Washington’s willingness to disregard Haiti’s interests for its own economic and political agenda.

The real problem for the United States in this arrangement appears to be not just the challenge to U.S. economic interests but also the development of a lasting Haiti-Venezuela relationship. The U.S. is inevitably skeptical of Haiti’s ties with Venezuela, a nation whose leader fiercely opposes the United States. Préval continued to develop Haiti’s relationship with Venezuela, first with the proposed Petrocaribe deal in 2006 and, subsequently, with Préval’s attendance of the ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas) summit in Venezuela in 2007. At the summit, Préval received a deal for an energy aid package from Cuba and Venezuela. Yet despite the proposed benefits for the Haitian people with both the Petrocaribe agreement and the later energy package, U.S. officials fought against the deals because they did not trust Haiti’s possible close relationship with these two demonstrably anti-American governments.

However, the United States’ determination to undercut these agreements seems unwarranted. Although Venezuela and Cuba are outspoken in their opposition to the United States, Haiti does not participate in their leftist, anti-American rhetoric. In fact, Washington was cognizant of the fact that Haiti’s participation in these agreements did not reflect an alliance against the United States. Sanderson reported in one cable that “at no time has Préval given any indication that he is interested in associating Haiti with Chávez’s broader ‘revolutionary agenda.’”[9] Instead, Préval’s relations with these other governments stemmed from his desire for socioeconomic improvement. The U.S. government acknowledged this, as seen by Sanderson’s report that Préval “will manage relations with Cuba and Venezuela solely for the benefit of the Haitian people, and not based on any ideological affinity toward those governments.”[10] Despite this recognition, the U.S. government fought strongly against these agreements, evidencing the true priorities of U.S. policies towards Haiti. The U.S. earlier stated that it is “Haiti’s most important and reliable bi-lateral partner,” but these cables show the limits of Washington’s commitment to aid Haiti. Rather than supporting Haitian attempts at development, the U.S. was willing to undermine beneficial agreements in order to continue its anti-Chávez policies and to protect the interests of big oil companies.

Textiles: U.S. Interference in Wage Laws

In another instance of U.S. interference documented by WikiLeaks, the Obama administration tried to prevent minimum wages in Haiti from rising above 31 cents an hour. In 2009, Port-au-Prince passed a law that raised the minimum wage from an astonishingly low 24 cents to 61 cents an hour.[11]This law would have increased the minimum wage by 150 percent to about USD 5 a day, but, even with this large increase, the new measure would still have fallen short of the estimated USD 12.50 a day needed to provide for a family of four in Haiti.[12]

The proposed wage increase was of course enormously popular with Haitians, who argued that the increase was necessary because of the rising cost of living. However, U.S. textile companies with factories in Haiti, including Fruit of the Loom, Hanes, and Levi Strauss, fought the measure, while the U.S. State Department also exerted pressure on the government of Haiti. David E. Lindwall, a deputy chief of mission, said the minimum wage increase “did not take economic reality into account” and was a populist measure for “the unemployed and underpaid masses.”[13] U.S. plant owners argued that, should the cost of labor rise substantially, these U.S. companies would have to close their factories in Haiti and relocate. Based on the insistence of these U.S. textile companies and the U.S. embassy, the Haitian government agreed to limit the increase to only 7 cents, at 31 cents an hour.[14]

The recent fight over the proposed wage increase is merely the most recent instance where U.S. foreign companies have tried to keep wages low by threatening to close production facilities in the country. The Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development (PAPDA) argues that every time the government of Haiti has proposed a minimum wage increase, lead industries “cried wolf” and threatened to halt production in all major factories in the nation, further jeopardizing economic stability in the country. However, according to PAPDA, “in every case, it was a lie.”[15]

PAPDA implies that closing factories is an empty threat made by U.S. businesses to extort low wages. Based on the actual cost of the minimum wage increase relative to overall profits, this is likely the case. According to a U.S. embassy cable, it would cost Hanes USD 1.6 million a year to pay its workers an extra USD 2 a day. This cost is very low compared to the company’s registered profits of USD 211 million with sales of USD 4.3 billion.[16]Furthermore, Haiti already has some of the lowest paid workers in the world, so finding cheaper labor would be unlikely.  Yet whether or not U.S. factories would actually pull out of Haiti, the cables are significant in pointing to the weight of U.S. influence in Haiti. The degree of power U.S. businesses exert over the government of Haiti is particularly alarming as it prioritizes U.S. financial gains over fundamental economic improvements for 25,000 poverty-stricken textile workers.

Elections: International Support for Non-Democratic Process

Leaked cables also provide further information about the international community’s support for Haiti’s 2009 elections. International election donors, including ambassadors, members of NGOs, and leaders from the UN, were charged with monitoring the election procedures and reporting instances of electoral fraud. Yet these donors ignored their responsibility to uphold democratic standards, as they supported these elections despite unfair electoral procedures.

Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), which was appointed by then-President Préval, decided to exclude the political party Fanmi Lavalas (FL) under the guise of not having proper documentation. FL, the party of exiled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is a leftist political party that is also very popular among the poor. However, its influence has waned since Aristide was overthrown in 2004 and exiled in a U.S.-supported coup. Since Aristide’s removal from office, Préval’s party has worked to curtail the FL’s influence and popularity, and the party has been excluded in several elections.

The FL’s exclusion caused concern among international donors charged with overseeing the electoral process. Canadian Ambassador Gilles Rivard questioned the impact that this exclusion would have on the elections: “If this is the kind of partnership we have with the CEP going into the elections, what kind of transparency can we expect from them as the process unfolds?”[17] Furthermore, leaked U.S. cables said the decision of the electoral council was “almost certainly in conjunction with President Préval,” as an attempt to rig the outcome of the election.[18] International donors recognized the dangers of supporting the elections: they would not only be undermining democratic procedures but also would be seen as supporting Préval.

Despite these initial concerns, the international community decided to support the elections. A cable sent by U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten recorded the views of a European Union representative, who said, “the international community has too much invested in Haiti’s democracy to walk away from the upcoming elections, despite its imperfections.”[19] Furthermore, Merten argued that the elections should proceed because “without donor support, the electoral timetable risks slipping dangerously, threatening a timely presidential succession.”[20] In total, international donors gave an estimated USD 12.5 million to finance the election—about 72 percent of the total cost—even though they knew that the election was not free or fair.[21]

The Organization of American States adjudicated the disputed first round results and decided that the run-off candidates would be Michel Martelly and Mirlande Manigat. Martelly proceeded to win the election, but, notably, only 23 percent of Haitians participated. This marks the lowest participation rate in the entire hemisphere since 1945. The lack of voter participation has been attributed to disappointment about the exclusion of the FL and dislike of the two candidates.[22]

The circumstances of the election reflect a difficult situation for the international community’s involvement in Haiti. Its disregard for standard democratic procedures, with open and fair elections, undermines a commitment to democratic ideals. On the other hand, if they had refused to support the elections, Haiti could once again fall into political turmoil. Such chaos would plague other international investments in the nation, while potentially further stalling the realization of stability and development in Haiti.


The repercussions of the WikiLeaks Haiti cables are a far cry from the massive national security breaches that the U.S. government originally feared. The cables detailing U.S. relations with Haiti do not contain the same devastating potential as other cables might have, and the information leaked here will not jeopardize national security. Whether or not WikiLeaks was justified in releasing this classified information, these cables shed valuable light on the hypocritical nature of U.S. foreign policy in one of the world’s most troubled nations. Based on these cables, we see a disturbing image where U.S. foreign policy is shaped by the interests of the rich and is geared toward underhanded interference in the affairs of other nations.

Demonstration in New York, Hundreds Demand "UN OUT OF HAITI"


Demonstration also in Port au Prince

By Kim Ives
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI * August 10 - 16, 2011 
"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI LIBERTE newsweekly Vol. 5, No. 4 Haiti Liberté,

On August 5, Haitians and their international supporters held a boisterous eight-hour demonstration in front of the United Nations General Headquarters in Manhattan to demand the immediate withdrawal of UN occupation troops from Haiti and the payment of reparations to the families of the 6,000 Haitians who have now been killed by a cholera epidemic. The disease was imported into Haiti by UN troops last October.


Organizers estimate that a few hundred demonstrators cycled through the picket-line in Ralph Bunche Plaza during the course of the all-day demonstration, which began at 10 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m.. At any given time during the day, there were about 70 people holding signs and chanting anti-occupation slogans like "UN Troops Out of Haiti Now!" and "Down with MINUSTAH!", the acronym for the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti.

A number of demonstrators paraded with symbolic card-board coffins in front of others waving blue and red Haitian flags, as journalists photographed and filmed. On the side of the coffins, which were covered with images of skulls, one could read slogans like "UN Troops Brought Cholera to Haiti!" and "Reparations Now for Cholera Victims!"

The demonstration was called by a new committee called the "Komite Sitwayen pou Pwoteksyon Ayisyen" (KOSIPPA) or Citizens Committee for the Protection of Haitians. Numerous other Haitian community groups in the New York area supported the action, as well as U.S. groups like the International Action Center, the ANSWER Coalition, and the Newark-based Peoples Organization for Progress (POP).

The MINUSTAH was first deployed in Haiti on June 1, 2004, to take over from U.S., French, and Canadian troops which occupied Haiti immediately following the February 29, 2004 coup d’etat against former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Generally, the UN Security Council renews MINUSTAH’s mandate for one year every year. The last mandate expires on October 15, 2011, and most Haitians are demanding that it not be renewed.

However, Washington and its allies want to keep the occupation in place, even now after seven and a half years. "A premature departure of MINUSTAH would leave the [Haitian] government... vulnerable to... resurgent populist and anti-market economy political forces—reversing gains of the last two years," wrote US Ambassador Janet Sanderson in an October 1, 2008 secret embassy cable obtained by WikiLeaks and provided to Haiti Liberte. MINUSTAH "is an indispensable tool in realizing core USG [US government] policy interests in Haiti."

On July 28, 2011, the 96th anniversary of the 1915 U.S. Marine occupation of Haiti, a coalition of grassroots organizations also demonstrated in Port-au-Prince to demand an end to the UN occupation.

(Please consider making a contribution to Haiti Liberte, which is in financial straits due, in part, to expenses incurred in obtaining the WikiLeaks cables. You can donate on our website or click on the link .)


Réa Dol to Distribute Potable Water to Camps

It has been a year and a half since the Haiti earthquake. Hundreds of thousands of her citizens are still displaced, living in the countless camps that now speckle Port-au-Prince and the surrounding area. The health and safety of those camps residents have yet to be ratified and water born illness, namely cholera, has tripled in the past few months. While everyone waits for development agencies, NGO's, local and international governments to organize and implement any kind of rebuilding effort, and for those billions of dollars in international pledges to show up, things like access to clean potable drinking water is still remains a top priority for preventing the spread of disease.

SOPUDEP Founder and Director Réa Dol never meant to fall into the realm of disaster relief, but as she has said time and time again, her life's mission is to help her fellow country men and women in whatever way she can. In addition to her fight for free and accessible education, economic development, and everything in between that seeks to empower the poor, she has been there for her people after any natural disaster. After the earthquake, Réa transformed her school and her home into a makeshift clinic and shelter, organized rescue parties and secured massive quantities of food that fed thousands of families for months.

As things settled, Réa refocused her efforts on once again providing her students an education and getting a women's micro-credit program off the ground. However, after cholera was suspected of accidentally being introduced into Haiti's water system by South Asian UN personal caring the illness, and the poor sanitary conditions in these makeshift camps making it exponentially worse, it was only natural that Réa would want to help in whatever way she could. This desire to help took the form of educating camp residents and her students on sanitary practices and standards. It seems typical for Réa however, that it was only a matter of time before her responsibilities to her people would once again broaden.

Last week, a delegation from The Nation of Islam came to visit her, bringing with them an MMP water filtration unit. The MMP, or Mobile MaxPure® built by the WorldWatercorporation, is a solar-powered generator with a built-in system for the purification of polluted freshwater sources. This system can pump and purify an average of 30,000 gallons each day.

Réa was given the purifier because of her ability to organize the grassroots community and effectively implement projects for the poor and will be shared with other Haitian grassroots organizations in order to reach more camps. Amongst the members of the delegation was an engineer who held a training session for the use and maintenance of the machine. With this device, SOPUDEP and other grassroots groups can provide hundreds of thousands of gallons of potable water a week to various camps in need and thereby contribute to the health and well being of their own citizens.

We will keep you updated on the progress of the project as it unfolds.


Ryan Sawatzky
The Sawatzky Family Foundation



Political disputes and foreign intervention lie at the root of Haiti's seemingly intractable problems

By Roger Annis

It has now been five months since the conclusion of Haiti’s two-round presidential and legislative national elections. The presidential winner, Michel Martelly, has failed to form a government that might begin to tackle the enormous challenges facing the country. This failure is mainly because Martelly has insisted on nominating only his right-wing cronies for the post of Prime Minister.

The legislature (whose approval is required) has recently rejected Martelly’s second nomination, that of former de facto Justice Minister Bernard Gousse. The Parliament has clearly indicated that it will not accept such unilateral nominations. Indeed, the Constitution instructs the President to choose a candidate "in consultation" with the heads of Haiti’s two legislative houses. But President Martelly refuses to do this, vainly trying to stir up popular outrage at "stubborn and unreasonable" legislators in order to get his way. Instead of a reconstruction plan, Haiti gets a debilitating and destructive political dispute.

Martelly’s provocative conduct outstrips his feeble mandate. The election that hoisted him to power was marred by many obstacles to voter participation, including the massive disruption caused by the earthquake, inadequate and fraudulent voter registration, and an insufficient number of voting stations (a fraction of what existed in previous elections). Haiti's largest political party – the Fanmi Lavalas of former president Jean Bertrand Aristide – along with smaller parties were banned from running. In the end, less than 25% of the electorate participated.

Haitian and international political-rights organizations (including 45 members of the U.S. Congress) said from the get-go that a fair election could not be held under these circumstances. But the foreign powers that have dominated Haiti since Aristide’s overthrow in 2004 were determined to get a pliant and reliable president into office.

They paid for the election and dismissed all criticism of its shortcomings, as recent WikiLeaked U.S. Embassy cables published by Haiti Liberte have shown.

Critics were proven correct during the vote’s chaotic first round on Nov. 28, 2010, which was called a "fraud" or "fiasco" by almost every independent observer on the ground. Capitalizing on the confusion, Washington meddled via its Organization of American States (OAS) to name the run-off candidates, who advanced to a second round on Mar.

20, 2011. As planned, the winner, Martelly, is a trustworthy representative of Haiti's economic elite and its foreign allies.

Foreign powers have conspired for decades to enfeeble Haiti's government and national institutions, a history that Dr. Paul Farmer explains forcefully in his just-published book, Haiti After the Earthquake. Martelly’s election is just another chapter in this long story.

On Jun. 28, 2011, the International Crisis Group (ICG) released a report on the post-earthquake humanitarian crisis. It said:

"Although efforts to develop a shelter and resettlement policy began in May 2010, it is still being debated because there is no government interlocutor at a technical or policy level who can sign off on an option. …

"The housing office (Entreprise publique de promotion des logements sociaux) still is without a comprehensive policy and effective authority to consolidate peace and order by improving urban housing. Nor does it have ministerial status or the capacity to bring together the core resources to respond to more than one million displaced. …

"Beyond a planned but not yet built industrial park [to the east of] Cap Haitien, there are few signs that Haiti is building back better since donors pledged to contribute more than $5.7 billion over 18 months and $10 billion over 10 years to finance recovery."

"Eighteen months after the earthquake, the future remains uncertain for most citizens – in part because they have not been sufficiently included in the decision-making processes. Forced evictions from camps have caused further disruption in the lives of the displaced."

Canadian media has reported next to nothing about Haiti’s reconstruction plan, or lack thereof. While the ICG report, among others in recent months, looked at governance, shelter, health care (including the growing cholera epidemic), and other dimensions of Haiti's crisis in considerable detail, these issues have gone largely unreported in Canada. (The latest in-depth analysis on this topic in mainstream media appears in the Aug. 4 edition of Rolling Stone.)

Canadian government "assistance" to Haiti (as distinct from charity and NGO efforts) is focused exclusively on police training and equipping prisons and is rarely examined.

Few of Canada's parliamentarians have shown any serious, ongoing interest in critically examining Haiti, or in proposing new ideas and alternative approaches. Parliament’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development rarely discusses Haiti, and, when it does, it draws from limited and selective information sources.

A Canadian fact-finding delegation that I recently led to Haiti has issued a 17-page report on our findings. We observed a country in political and social crisis. Little measurable progress is being made towards meaningful and lasting development. We will circulate this report to members of Canada’s Parliament, print and broadcast media, and the many social and political organizations that have shown interest and concern for Haiti. We hope this may encourage more discussion regarding Haiti's fate, including what has worked and what must change in Canada's role in providing assistance.

An earlier version of this article was published in the Canadian online journal The Mark. Roger Annis lives in Vancouver, British Columbia and is co-ordinator of the Canada Haiti Action Network (CHAN). In late June, he led a three-person, 10-day fact-finding mission to Haiti. You can read the delegation’s report on the CHAN website: Go to the "Human Rights Reports" page of the website. The report is also posted in French here 

Whole-Genome Study Nails Haiti-Nepal Cholera Link‏



Asian roots. The Haitian cholera strain, which sickened patients in this Port-au-Prince clinic, is almost indistinguishable from one in Nepal.
Credit: Kena Betancur/Reuters

A new study has yielded the most solid evidence yet that U.N. peace-keeping forces from Nepal inadvertently brought cholera to Haiti last year, setting off an epidemic that has killed more than 6000 people so far. The paper, published today in the online open access journal mBIO, is the first to compare the whole genomes of bacteria from Haitian cholera patients with those found in Nepal around the time in 2010 when the peacekeepers left their country. It found that the genomes from the two sets of bacteria are virtually identical.

Most researchers were already convinced of the link. An on-the-ground investigation by French epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux shortly after the outbreak started found ample circumstantial evidence that it originated at a Nepalese camp with dysfunctional sanitation in Haiti's Artibonite region; several limited genetic studies of the isolated cholera bacteria suggested that the microbes originated in South Asia as well. In May, an international panel appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon concluded that the data "overwhelmingly" pointed to the peacekeepers' unknowing involvement. But none of the studies published so far included genomic data from the 2010 cholera outbreak in Nepal itself.

For the new work, researchers at the National Public Health Laboratory in Kathmandu gave bacterial samples, collected between 30 July and 1 November 2010 from 24 patients in five districts in Nepal, to Frank Aarestrup and his colleagues at the National Food Institute of the Technical University of Denmark in Kongens Lyngby. The Danish researchers teamed up with Paul Keim, a microbial detective at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Keim and his colleagues determined the entire DNA sequence of the 24 isolates and compared it with 10 previously published genomes of the cholera bacterium—including three from Haitian patients—and drew up a phylogenetic tree showing how the various pathogens are related. They found that the isolates from Nepal formed four distinct but closely related clusters; the three Haitian isolates fell right within one of those clusters. Indeed, the Haitian samples differed from their closest Nepalese relatives by only one or two DNA base pairs.

"They're practically identical. This is as close as you can come to molecular proof" for the Nepalese link, says Harvard University microbiologist John Mekalanos, the author of the first genomic study on the issue, who had tried in vain to get his hands on samples from Nepal himself. "The authors have to be congratulated for closing the book on this issue at the molecular-genetic level."

Piarroux says the study perfectly complements his own shoe-leather work in Haiti last year. "I am very impressed that the Nepalese scientists agreed to help the truth become known," Piarroux says. "That was very courageous. I'm sure that not everybody in Nepal will be happy." Keim says the Nepalese group knew and trusted the Danish scientists; they were well aware from the outset that the outcome might finger the peacekeepers, he says, and agreed to have the results published.

The study should have a practical upshot, Piarroux says. Now that there's evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, the United Nations should accept responsibility and make amends to Haiti, he says—for instance, by offering financial compensation or by supporting an all-out effort to make the country cholera-free again. "More than 6000 people are dead," Piarroux says. "It's our fault, as the people of the world."



Cholera Treatment and Prevention "Woefully Behind"

CEPR Report, August 2011, Says Cholera Treatment and Prevention "Woefully Behind"

Thousands of Lives Could Be Saved and Haiti’s Cholera Epidemic Managed With Greater Treatment and Prevention Efforts

CEPR Paper Finds Recent Cholera Spike Was “Entirely Predictable,” Yet Treatment Efforts Fell Off

For Immediate Release: August 18, 2011 Contact: Dan Beeton, 202-239-1460

Washington, D.C.- A new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Researchargues that cholera treatment and prevention efforts in Haiti have fallen woefully behind, leading to thousands of preventable deaths, even though the dramatic rise in new cases this spring and summer was entirely predictable. The paper, “Not Doing Enough: Unnecessary Sickness and Death from Cholera in Haiti”, by researchers Jake Johnston and Keane Bhatt, argues that it is not too late to bring the 10-month old cholera epidemic under control and save thousands of lives by ramping up treatment and prevention efforts.

“Haiti’s cholera epidemic has been much worse than it could have been, and thousands more people have died, due to an inadequate response from the international community, going back to when the outbreak began,” CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said. “It’s time to reverse course and get serious about controlling and eventually eliminating cholera from Haiti.”

“In July 2011, one person was infected with cholera almost every minute, and at least 375 died over the course of the month due to an easily preventable and curable illness,” the paper notes. A March 2011 article in the medical journal The Lancet predicted that cholera infections would spike with the onset of the rainy season following a drop-off during the drier months of late 2010 and early 2011. Yet overall cholera efforts were scaled back just as infections were increasing: only 48 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) were addressing cholera in July, down from 128 in January.

As predicted, new cholera infections increased with the onset of the rainy season this year, reaching an average of 1800 new infections per day in June – almost twice as many as in May and three times as many as in March and April, the paper notes.

The paper also notes that NGOs and international agencies have targeted urban centers over rural areas, despite the anticipated spread of the disease to all corners of Haiti, and significantly higher case fatality rates in some rural areas. The department of Sud Est, for example, currently has the highest fatality rate, at 5.4%, but no Cholera Treatment Centers.

The authors recommend several ways in which the cholera epidemic could be brought under control -- and thousands of lives saved -- including expanding the reach of inpatient facilities in the hardest-hit areas, scaling up antibiotic and supplement treatment efforts, prevention and care through education campaigns, and a vaccination strategy. International donors also have fallen far behind on their pledges for cholera assistance.

The paper outlines a number of other factors that contributed to the severity of the epidemic, one of the most important being the relative scarcity of potable water in Haiti. The authors describe various ways in which public water systems have been under-funded and implementation delayed by the international community, while some donors have pushed instead for “cost recovery” water systems in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and elsewhere. These would require residents to pay for potable water, and likely lead to an increase in cholera infections as potable water would be put out of reach of IDPs and other low-income Haitians.

“Safe, clean drinking water for all Haitians should be a top priority for international donors,” Weisbrot said. “And if it had not been so neglected years ago, when loans for this purpose were blocked by the United States, the severity of this outbreak might have been drastically reduced.”

The paper’s lead author, Jake Johnston, added: “The money is there: the U.S. Congress appropriated $1.14 billion for Haiti a year ago, and most of that money has not been spent; and a lot of the $1.4 billion that Americans gave to private charities after the earthquake – including the biggest organizations such as the American Red Cross -- also remains unspent. And there are also hundreds of millions of dollars of international aid that were pledged by governments but not yet delivered. These funds can be used to expand treatment and prevention of cholera in Haiti, and to build the necessary water infrastructure.”

The Center for Economic and Policy Research is an independent, nonpartisan think tank that was established to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. CEPR's Advisory Board includes Nobel Laureate economists Robert Solow and Joseph Stiglitz; Janet Gornick, Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center and Director of the Luxembourg Income Study; and Richard Freeman, Professor of Economics at Harvard University.

Center for Economic and Policy Research, 1611 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20009
Phone: (202) 293-5380, Fax: (202) 588-1356


Survey reveals government’s closure of camps conflicts...


100 days into Michel Martelly’s presidency:
Survey reveals government’s closure of camps conflicts with durable housing solutions proposed in housing plan

Port-au-Prince, August 18, 2011


* Mario Joseph, Av., Managing Attorney, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI),, 011-509-3701-9879 (Haiti) 
* Nicole Phillips, Esq., staff attorney, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and assistant director for Haiti programs, University of San Francisco School of Law,, 001-510-715-2855 (U.S.)


On the eve of the hundredth day of President Michel Martelly’s presidency, a survey conducted in six displacement camps scheduled to close under his 100-day plan shows that the government’s closure of camps so far has resulted in unlawful, violent evictions of displaced communities in direct contrast to the durable solutions touted under the plan.  The survey, conducted by the Center for Law and Global Justice (CLGJ) at the University of San Francisco School of Law, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), interviewed 150 households from August 3 to August 10, 2011, on the government’s implementation of the housing plan, including camp closures, residents’ access to information and input on the plan, and the provision of housing assistance.


President Martelly, who took office on May 14, 2011, presented the camp closure plan as the pilot project for closing camps and moving victims of last year’s devastating earthquake into permanent housing. The plan pays displaced residents a fixed amount to move out of camps into their pre-earthquake homes, the majority of which are currently uninhabitable due to earthquake damage.  The six camps slated for closure within the first 100 days of his presidency are: Primature, Place Saint-Pierre, Place Boyer, Place Canapé-Vert, Maïs Gaté, and Stade Sylvio Cator.


The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission pledged $78 million this week to fund President Martelly’s housing plan. (See news article below). The plan could have significant benefits for displaced communities, assuming the government keeps its promises made in the plan. While implementation in accordance with the stated plan has yet to begin, two of the six camps have already begun the closure process. Stade Sylvio Cator was completely closed and all residents evicted last month by the government in direct contrast to the “durable solutions” and “improved living conditions” promised in the Martelly plan.


The families living at Stade Sylvio Cator were unlawfully evicted by the Mayor of Port-au-Prince and Haitian National Police without a court order, as required under Haitian law.  The police destroyed residents’ tents and belongings, prompting condemnation from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  A survey of former residents of the stadium confirmed that violence and threats of violence were used by Haitian authorities during the eviction in July. Thirty-five percent reported having been physically harmed or threatened with physical harm during the government’s eviction, while 30% reported destruction of that their shelter or belongings. Residents reported even higher rates of violence in prior eviction attempts at the stadium.


The Mayor of Port-au-Prince is also threatening to move 20,000 people from Champ Mars, another camp on public land that is not part of the Martelly plan.


Human rights lawyer, Mario Joseph of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, recommends that “the government’s housing plan include protections for Haitians living in displacement camps from violent and unlawful evictions.  The government and private landowners must refrain from using violence, follow proper legal eviction procedures, such as obtaining a court order when required, and give residents adequate notice of eviction and legal recourse to defend their rights.”


Most former stadium residents surveyed, though not all, were given US$250 (10,000 gourdes) by the local mayor’s office to leave the camp, funded by the national treasury. All of the residents surveyed said that the money was not enough for them to relocate or pay rent.  Nor was the money enough to build a basic 12x10 foot shack with a concrete floor, plywood walls and corrugated metal roof, which costs an average of US$300 – leaving many residents without shelter.


Approximately 150 families from Sylvio Cator were relocated to another camp, which 88% of survey respondents described as having worse access to security, lighting, clean toilets, water and food compared with the stadium. Forty-two percent of residents reported that no one had discussed the relocation plan from the stadium with them.  For those that were consulted, only 8% reported being asked their opinion on how the relocation plan would impact their access to basic needs.


Approximately 600 displaced families living in Place St. Pierre were paid US$500 (20,000 gourdes) by the local mayor’s office to leave the camp. Limited investigations following recipients have shown that given the desperate conditions in which IDPs are living, some camp residents spent the money offered on other urgent needs, and moved into other camps or pitched tents amongst the rubble of houses destroyed by the earthquake.


“The compensation offered at Camps Place St. Pierre and Stade Sylvio Cator amount to economic coercion,” said Nicole Phillips, who directed the survey. “A population suffering without access to healthcare, water and other services will accept the money in the short-term out of desperation - lacking the power to insist on sustainable solutions.”  Phillips recommends that camps remain open until families are able to be re-housed to locations that meet minimum security and living standards.


Equally troubling, the remaining camps have yet to be told about the plan, raising questions about the stated commitment to communities participation and mobilization. Only 38% of the households surveyed had even heard of plans to close their camp. Of those, 53% learned from rumor from other residents, and only 12.7% heard it from a government official, the UN or an NGO. Eighty-two percent of residents had not been consulted on their opinion for closure of their camp.


As funding from the Haiti Reconstruction Fund commences, Phillips recommends that community outreach and mobilization commence immediately to ensure that the direct beneficiaries of the plan are able to participate in every stage of what she hopes with be a transparent housing process.


Founded in 1995, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) is the only public interest law firm in Haiti. With the sup­port of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, the BAI uses litigation, advocacy, documentation and grassroots empowerment to advance the rule of law and challenge the unjust structures that violate the human rights of Haiti’s poor majority. Visit Follow @IJDH on Twitter


Endgame for Brazil in MINUSTAH?


Endgame for Brazil’s role in MINUSTAH?

August 29, 2011

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Fellow Alex Sanchez 

August 29, 2011

Brazil’s leadership in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) may be coming to its end. The newly-appointed defense minister, Celso Amorin (most recently he served as foreign affairs minister from 2003 to 2011) recently declared to the Brazilian media that he “supports the withdrawal of Brazilian troops from Haiti.”[1] Should this happen, it would be a major departure from the status quo, and would greatly affect MINUSTAH’s operations, as well as jolt Brazil’s role as the Caribbean’s major arbiter of security.  Furthermore, Brasilia’s quest for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has been partially based on its role in MINUSTAH as an example of its readiness for a UN seat, which may now be called into question.

Brazil’s role in Haiti

Brasilia racked up a huge leadership role in MINUSTAH, which had as its mission to aid the transitional government that gained control of Haiti (via the UNSC’s resolution 1542) after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in early 2004. The mission was controversial at the time and drew heavy criticism from its inception as it was regarded as a type of colonial government by the UN in the wake of Aristide’s abrupt forced departure from power, following  major national protests and violence. At the time, there were persistent accusations that the U.S., Canada and France had a role in the Haitian head of state’s ouster.


Brazil has provided the military commanders for MINUSTAH along with a significant number of its forces over the past seven years. Brasilia has reportedly deployed 1,266 army and navy troops to MINUSTAH,[2] but, in the aftermath of the massive January 2010 earthquake that struck Haiti, the Brazilian Congress approved a request to send 1,300 additional troops to the Caribbean country to help with relief operations.[3]

In January 2006, there was a bizarre incident in which MINUSTAH’s commander, Lieutenant General Urano Teixeira da Matta, committed suicide while in his hotel room in Port-au-Prince. In cables published by Wikileaks, Dominican President Leonel Fernandez told State Department Assistant Secretary Patrick Duddy that he suspected that Teixeira had been assassinated by a paramilitary group, possibly led by Guy Philippe, a renowned Haitian cutpurse and rebel leader with a good deal of political clout.[4] MINUSTAH’s current commander is Major General Luiz Eduardo Ramos Pereira, also from Brazil.[5]

According to MINUSTAH’s official website, the mission’s current strength (as of June 30, 2011) totals 12,261 uniformed personnel, not including volunteers as well as international and local civilian personnel. Since its inception, the mission has suffered 164 fatalities, 66 of which were military personnel. Twenty UN Brazilian soldiers were killed in the January 2010 earthquake.[6]

Brazil Inside and Out

Dilma Rousseff’s first year as president of Brazil has been far from ideal as a number of senior and high-profile members of her cabinet have resigned. The list includes: Agriculture Minister Wagner Rossi, Defense Minister Nelson Jobim, Transportation Minister Alfredo Nascimento, as well as President Rousseff’s chief of staff, Antonio Palocci.[7] Should the Brazilian head of state decide to maintain her troops in Haiti despite the defense minister’s opinion to the contrary, this may put Rousseff at odds with other key members of her cabinet, as well as with the military’s leadership. Furthermore, a recent letter to the Brazilian President was signed by a number of legislators, like Markus Sokol of the PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores – Worker’s Party) National Directorate, representatives of the CUT  (Central Única dos Trabalhadores – Unified Worker’s Central) and the MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra – Landless Workers’ Movement) , as well as others.  The open letter states: “we must end Brazil’s participation in a military operation that is repudiated by the vast majority of the Haitian people … this occupation has only deepened the plight of the people and has denied them their sovereignty.”[8]

It is worth noting that some influential Brazilians do support a continued presence in Haiti. Geraldo Cavagnari, member of the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Campinas (Unicamp) has declared that “the troops should stay put because there is no risk, and there are many things in play.”[9] The other “many things” most likely include Brazil’s hardly concealed quest for a permanent UNSC seat.

Another factor that may influence the future role of Brazil in Haiti may be budgetary issues. An August 15, 2011 article entitled “Bye Bye MINUSTAH” published by the Canada Haiti Action Network,[10] explains that since 2004, Brazil’s taxpayers have spent over R$ 1 billion on MINUSTAH. Last year alone, maintenance of the Brazilian troops in Haiti cost R$ 426 million: R$ 140 million for annual costs and other expenditures, plus R$ 286 million for humanitarian aid sent after the 2010 earthquake. The analysis goes on to argue that in principle, the UN should reimburse these expenses, but in recent years the reimbursements have amounted to only 16% of the payments made by the Brazilian government. The article finally adds that, in addition, the salaries of Brazil’s MINUSTAH troops have, in fact, exceeded R$ 41 million per year, but these costs are excluded from Brazil’s expenses on the mission because these individuals would be entitled to their pay even if they were in Brazil.  The Portuguese-speaking nation is currently enjoying an economic boom, but this will most likely not last, in part because the Brazilian currency, the real, is showing signs of being overvalued. If a period of economic austerity appears, the Brazilian government may be forced to rethink some of its peacekeeping operations and other major military commitments.

An official interviewed by the author, who wished to remain anonymous, explained that Brazil as well as several other states have desired to leave Haiti for some time and they argue that there is already some kind of, at least superficial, political stability in the Caribbean state. It would seem that the recent Haitian presidential elections, as dubious and controversial as they were, may serve as part of Brazil’s “exit strategy” for leaving MINUSTAH.

An Unsuccessful Departure?

Brazil’s military has been involved in Haiti since 2004 but, unfortunately, few positive developments have stemmed from Brazil’s limited interactions in the small Caribbean nation. MINUSTAH operations managed to pacify most violent neighborhoods, like Cite Soleil in 2005, but they also were responsible for carrying out human rights abuses that have been well- documented, which gained further criticism of the UN operation.

A critical moment occurred on January 12, 2010, when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake destroyed most infrastructure in Port- au-Prince as well as other Haitian towns across the country. A recent report by the U.S. Agency for International Development, obtained by the Miami Herald, states that between 46,190 and 86,961 people died and less than 66,625 quake victims are living in hundreds of camps scattered around the capital.[11] In the aftermath of the disaster, dozens of international governments agencies and relief organizations have poured into the country to help with search operations and to take care of the thousands of Haitians that were left homeless and with very little food and shelter. MINUSTAH was not spared of some of these losses. This was particularly the case as the mission’s headquarters in Haiti collapsed killing several UN employees;[12] however the body did continue to carry out relief operations. A February 2010 UN report praised MINUSTAH’s emergency response, explaining that “MINUSTAH, despite its own losses, acted as a crucial first responder,  opening the major arterial road from the Port-au-Prince airport to the town centre,  re-establishing communications and opening its medical facilities to victims.”[13] The Security Reform Resource Centre adds that:

“In the months following the earthquake, MINUSTAH made significant contributions providing logistical and administrative support to relief efforts. MINUSTAH supplied security assistance for humanitarian operations, operational support to the Haitian National Police (HNP), provided technical advice and support to state institutions at the sub-national level, assisted in repairing the damage to critical infrastructure of the judiciary, and coordinated a large-scale public information campaign.”[14]


In any case, the praise MINUSTAH received for its operations in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake proved to be short-lived. In October 2010, MINUSTAH troops apparently introduced a cholera epidemic in Haiti by dumping fecal matter into the country’s rivers. Over 5,000 individuals have died due to the cholera outbreak and thousands more are infected. A March 2011 report by the BBC highlights the variety of estimates of how many Haitians currently are, and could possibly become, infected, with numbers ranging from 400,000 to a possible 779,000 by November of this year.[15]A July 2011 article in the Los Angeles Times reported that “the [Haitian] Health Ministry reported more than 1,000 new cholera cases a day last month [June].”[16] There were several protests against MINUSTAH when the local population realized how the epidemic started.[17] It is important to clarify that it seems that UN peacekeepers from Nepal most likely started the cholera epidemic, not personnel coming from Brazil.

Furthermore, it is necessary to note that a possible Brazilian withdrawal from MINUSTAH is just an option for the moment, and it would take time for the minister Amorin’s proposal to become an official government-sanctioned plan, if it does at all. Even more time would be needed to arrange the logistics for the Brazilian troops to actually leave Haiti; hence any Brazilian departure will not likely occur anytime soon.

MINUSTAH without Brazil?

Should Brasilia decide to pull all of its troops from the Caribbean nation, the future of MINUSTAH may be called into question. Can the mission survive without the major donor of its troops, and the one with the most zeal to do so? Possibly yes, but the UN will face several new problems, like finding replacement troops from other nations to make up for the departure of the Brazilians. In addition, if Brazil does depart, other states that supply troops to MINUSTAH, may decide to leave the operation as well. As previously mentioned, some states, besides Haiti, may already be looking for an exit strategy to leave that country. In an extreme scenario, MINUSTAH may end up with a reduced force and a more limited ability to carry out its operations.

A final critical factor that may affect MINUSTAH’s future will be the Haitian government, which now has a new president, if highly problematic, former singer Michel Martelly. As part of his campaign promises, the new head of state has declared his interest in reforming the controversial Haitian army to help improve internal security.  The country’s military was disbanded in 1995 by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, after he was deposed in a coup and then restored to power with the help of U.N. forces.[18] Historically the Haitian army has been known for its violent acts and lack of political neutrality, particularly under the Duvalier dictatorships. An April 2011 article in the Washington Post quotes Martelly as saying that “the new armed forces wouldn’t be known for brutality, as their predecessors were.”[19] The Haitian leader may be looking to replace MINUSTAH, which it cannot control, with local security forces sworn to comply with his orders.

If Brazil leaves, what role should the US play?

A 2008 State Department document made public by Wikileaks, explains that “the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti is an indispensable tool in realizing core USG [U.S. government] policy interests in [that country].”[20] The disclosed report then adds “paying one-quarter of MINUSTAH’s budget through our DPKO [department of peace keeping operations] assessment, the U.S. reaps the security and stabilization benefits of a 9,000-person international military and civilian stabilization mission in the hemisphere’s most troubled country. […] in the current context of our military commitments elsewhere, the U.S. alone could not replace this mission.” With military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and, for the time being, in Libya, embarking on a series of new military challenges, even if it’s under an UN-peacekeeping mantle, may prove too costly for Washington and particularly the Barack Obama administration, which will have to face re-elections in 2012.

MINUSTAH has been controversial since its origins, and a more visible U.S. involvement in Haiti would be cumbersome and would add to a long list of lamentable military involvement in that country. U.S.-Haitian relations have been historically problematic, as they mostly revolve around American military operations in that island, including from 1914-1934, in 1994 and, most recently, in 2004 when Aristide was ousted. It is necessary to note that Washington did deploy the carrier USS Carl Vinson [21] along with the USNS Comfort and thousands of military personnel[22] to provide help in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.

Deploying American troops in Haitian territory is a questionable practice, and it’s highly unlikely that it will happen; nevertheless it would be helpful for Washington’s national interests to continue working with the UN and the Haitian government so that the Caribbean nation avoids becoming a failed state.

Regarding Brazil, one can see the reasons for leaving the mission, including its unpopularity, lack of major successes and financial costs. With that said, it is illogical to think that any departure would occur quickly. If Brasilia does decide to leave MINUSTAH, at the very least it should have a responsible exchange of power and responsibilities to other UN personnel or Haitian security forces. As a recommendation, we can observe that while most of Brazilian military personnel will ultimately leave Haiti, some senior officers should stay in a consultancy basis, particularly in order to keep training the Haitian police. In spite of MINUSTAH’s controversial origins, we cannot forget Haiti’s internal problems (some of which were collectively caused by foreign powers); the international community hopefully should leave the country in better shape than when it entered it.

Alex Sanchez, a COHA research fellow, recently published an article discussing Brazil’s UN ambitions and its role in MINUSTAH: W. Alex Sanchez, “An Easy Way to Improve U.S.-Latin American Relations” (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, July 28, 2011).  Available: In addition, an article that discusses Brazil’s role in MINUSTAH and the UN mission in East Timor will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Globalizations. His personal blog can be found by clicking here.

[1] De Carvalho, Jailton. “Novo ministro da Defesa, Celso Amorim e a favor  da volta de tropas brasileiras do Haiti.” O Globo. August 8, 2011. Available < >
[2] “Eleven Brazil soldiers killed in Haiti quake, many missing.” Reuters. January 13, 2011. Available < >
[3] “Brazil oks doubling its Haiti force to 2,600, troops.” Reuters. January 25, 2010. Available < >
[4] >Wikileaks: DR President believes Brazilian MINUSTAH commander assassinated, suspects cover up.” Wikileaks. January, 18, 2011. Available < >
[5] “Secretary-General appoints Major General Luiz Eduardo Ramos Pereira of Brazil as force commander of United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti.” SG/A/1287.  March 25, 2011. Available < >
[7] Lima, Mario Sergio and Ragir, Alexander. “Rousseff sees fourth Brazil minister resign on allegations.” Bloomberg Businessweek. August 18, 2011. Available < > Also see “Brazil corruption: President loses fourth minister.” BBC – Latin America & Caribbean. August 17, 2011. Available < >
[8] Weisbrot, Mark. “Brazilian Defense Minister Amorim supports withdrawal of troops from Haiti – but when?”Center for Economic and Policy Research (originally published in Folha de Sao Paulo – Brazil, August 17, 2011). Available < >
[9] Chery, Dady. “Brazilian discuss Haiti and MINUSTAH: The case for leaving.” Canada Haiti Action Network. August 15, 2011. Available  < >
[10] Chery, Dady. “Brazilian discuss Haiti and MINUSTAH: The case for leaving.” Canada Haiti Action Network. August 15, 2011. Available < >
[11] Charles, Jacqueline. “A new report disputes the number of Haiti dead and displaced from the 2010 earthquake.” Miami Herald. May 31, 2011. Available < >
[12] MacFarquhar, Neil. “UN workers struggle as co-workers are unaccounted for.” New York Times. Americas. January 13, 2010.Available < >
[13] “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti.” UN Security Council. S/2010/200. February 22, 2010. P. 2. Available < >
[14] McManamen, Keith. “UN to revise mandate in earthquake aftermath.” Security Sector Reform Resource Centre. May 20, 2010. Available < >
[15] Roberts, Michelle. “Haiti cholera ‘far worse than expected,’ experts fear.” BBC. March 15, 2011. Available < >
[16] Gaestel, Amy. “Haiti again caught in cholera’s grip.” Los Angeles Times. July 24, 2011. Available <,0,4930249.story>
[17]“Protests in Haiti against MINUSTAH for cholera.” Diario Libre. November 16, 2010. Available < >
[18] Fox, Ben. “Would-be soldiers hope for revival of Haitian army.” Washington Post. March 9, 2011. Available < >
[19] Sheridan, Mary Beth. “Haitian President-elect Martelly pledges to speed up post-earthquake recovery.” Washington Post. April 20, 2011. Available < >
[20] “Secret: Why we need continuing MINUSTAH presence in Haiti.” Undisclosed document by Wikileaks. August 22, 2011. Available < >
[21] “Massive US ship nears Haiti to join relief effort.” AFP. January 15, 2010. Available < >
[22] Pessin, Al. “US maries join relief effort in Haiti, Hospital ship to arrive Wednesdday.” Voice of America. January 19, 2010. Available < >


The Neo-Liberal Pedigree of Haiti Latest Prime Minister Nominee


Garry Conille: The Neo-Liberal Pedigree of Haiti Latest Prime Minister Nominee
At Washington’s behest, a liberal technocrat appears poised to take over Haiti’s most powerful executive post
By Kim Ives 
Published in the English page of this week's issue of Haiti Liberte,  August 31, 2011, Vol. 5, No. 7. You can read the current issue online There, you can also subscribe.
It is a common misconception, both in Haiti and abroad, that the country’s president holds executive power. In fact, his main power is to nominate the man or woman who does: the Prime Minister.
President Michel Martelly, after shunning consultations with the heads of Parliament’s two chambers (as the Constitution demands), saw his first two hard-line nominees – Daniel Gerard Rouzier and Bernard Gousse – rejected by the Parliament, which must ratify the candidate. This stand-off set off alarms in Washington, which saw the President it had shoe-horned into office still floundering without a government over three months after his May 14 inauguration.
But now, following interventions by the U.S. Embassy (see accompanying article by Yves Pierre-Louis) and UN Special Envoy Bill Clinton with Martelly and Parliamentary leaders, a “compromise” nominee has emerged: Garry Conille, Clinton’s chief of staff in Haiti. Barring any surprises in the all-important background documents, Conille’s ratification is all but assured.
Garry Conille, 45, is the son of a Serge Conille, who was a government minister under the Duvalier dictatorship. He graduated from the Canado highschool in 1984 and trained as a doctor in Haiti’s State University Medical School. He then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Health Policy and Health Administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
He then became a protege of economist Jeffrey Sachs, who runs the liberal Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York. Sachs is often credited as the father of the “economic shock therapy” that was applied to formerly Communist countries in Eastern Europe after 1989. The “therapy” involved privatizing publicly owned industries, slashing state payrolls, dismantling trade, price and currency controls, in short, the same neoliberal “death plan” policies which Washington and Paris have sought to apply in Haiti over the past 25 years.
Sachs apparently had second-thoughts about the policies he spawned after their disastrous effects on working people and began to propose poverty alleviation, particularly through the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) which were put forth in a September 2000 United Nations summit of 191 nations. The eight goals, to be achieve by 2015, included targets to “reduce extreme poverty and hunger by half,” “achieve universal primary education,” and “reduce infant mortality by two-thirds and maternal mortality by three-fourths” and “stop the spread of pandemic diseases.” To report on how to achieve these goals, Sachs directed ten “Task Forces” of the UN’s Millennium Project, which according to its website included “researchers and scientists, policymakers, representatives of NGOs, UN agencies, the World Bank, IMF and the private sector.”
It is in this MDG work that Conille became one of Sachs’ collaborators (he is an adjunct research scientist at the Center for Global Health and Economic Development of Sachs’ Earth Institute). In May 2006, Conille co-authored with Sachs a set of recommendations to the incoming administration of President Rene Preval that called on the Haitian government to “establish a clear and consensual path out of poverty, that builds upon outreach to the business community,” the same “business community” which had responded to democratically-elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s proposed “path out of poverty” with a bloody 2004 coup. (In fairness, Sachs and, according to sources who have spoken to him, Conille opposed that coup.) They also called on Haiti “to reach agreements with the IMF and World Bank on a new three year development program,” the same international banks whose “development programs” have been underdeveloping Haiti for decades.
Principally, and not surprisingly, the prescription of Conille and Sachs was for “Haiti to establish a development strategy and implementation plan consistent with achieving the Millennium Development Goals.”
African economist Samir Amin submits the Millennium Development Goal strategy to a withering analysis in the March 2006 issue of Monthly Review. “A critical examination of the formulation of the goals as well as the definition of the means that would be required to implement them can only lead to the conclusion that the MDGs cannot be taken seriously,” Amin writes. “A litany of pious hopes commits no one. And when the expression of these pious hopes is accompanied by conditions that essentially eliminate the possibility of their becoming reality, the question must be asked: are not the authors of the document actually pursuing other priorities that have nothing to do with ‘poverty reduction’ and all the rest? In this case, should the exercise not be described as pure hypocrisy, as pulling the wool over the eyes of those who are being forced to accept the dictates of liberalism in the service of the quite particular and exclusive interests of dominant globalized capital?”
Amin takes special aim at MDG # 8: “Develop a global partnership for development.”
He responds: “The writers straightaway establish an equivalence between this ‘partnership’ and the principles of liberalism by declaring that the objective is to establish an open, multilateral commercial and financial system! The partnership thus becomes synonymous with submission to the demands of the imperialist powers.”
Writer Naomi Klein, the author of the best-selling book “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” also points to the contradictions of Conille’s mentor in a 2007 interview with Oscar Reyes in “Red Pepper Magazine.”
“A lot of people are under the impression that Jeffrey Sachs has renounced his past as a shock therapist and is doing penance now,” Klein explained. “But if you read [Sachs’ book] ‘The End of Poverty’ more closely he continues to defend these policies, but simply says there should be a greater cushion for the people at the bottom.” In fact, “This is really just a charity model,” Klein concludes. “Let us be clear that we’re talking here about noblesse oblige, that’s all.”
So this is what Conille represents: the liberal wing of the U.S. bourgeoisie as represented by Sachs and Clinton.
When Dr. Paul Farmer, now acting as Clinton’s deputy UN Special Envoy, embarked on his new role in 2009, he had to put together a team. “Jeff Sachs helped me try to recruit Garry Conille, a Haitian physician schooled in the ways of the UN, to head the team,” Farmer writes in his just published book, “Haiti After the Earthquake.” “But Conille was otherwise occupied, the UN told us.” At that time, Conille was the UN Development Program’s Resident Representative in Niger. But then, two months ago, he became Clinton’s chief of staff with the title “Resident Coordinator of the UN System in Haiti.”
As Samir Amin points out in his MDG analysis: “The United States and its European and Japanese allies are now able to exert hegemony over a domesticated UN.” It appears likely that they will also be controlling a thoroughly domesticated Haitian prime minister.

Letters to Toronto Star and Globe and Mail: Haiti

Letters to Toronto Star and Globe and Mail: Haiti, President Michel Martelly and the humanitarian crisis

Vancouver BC  V5S 4E9
August 18, 2011

To: John D. Cruikshank, Publisher, Toronto Star
Michael Cook, Editor, Toronto Star
Lynn McAuley, Foreign Editor, Toronto Star

Subject: Haiti, President Michel Martelly and the humanitarian crisis

Dear Mr. Cruikshank, Mr. Cook, Ms. McAuley,

We are writing to encourage the Toronto Star to devote more coverage to what has and has not been working in Haiti’s aid and reconstruction process following the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010. The political and humanitarian situation in the country is continually evolving, with new questions and challenges emerging that need to be addressed.

A string of penetrating reports and news articles over the past two months have cast serious doubt over the direction of the country and the international relief effort. Four days ago, the Washington Post published an editorial (enclosed below) that describes the presidency of Michel Martelly of Haiti as “stuck in the mud.”

An August 6 editorial in The Economist is sub-headlined, “Political deadlock may trigger unrest on the streets and fatigue among donors, hindering the slow recovery…”

The Post editorial argues, “Three months after his inauguration, the presidency of Michel Martelly, Haiti’s new leader, is dangerously close to running aground.”

“Rather than seeking reconciliation and new allies following bruising, deeply flawed elections,” it continues, “he has continued to rely on a small circle of friends and advisers.” The editorial describes the slow pace of aid and reconstruction in Haiti, saying it falls short of what is needed.

Economist editors say that the root of the deadlock  “lies in part in the flawed general election of last November…”

“Mr. Martelly has not show himself to be a builder of consensus…”

The strong language of the two editorials does not surprise those of us who have been following events in Haiti. We recently directed a ten-day, fact-finding delegation to Haiti. Our delegation can certainly testify to the Post editors’ argument that “reconstruction efforts have been painfully slow.” That’s a message that many Haitians implored us to take back to Canada. We published our findings in a report on August 4 that we will shortly send to every member of Parliament. (The report is also published in French).

There have been a string of important reports and news analyses in the past two months expressing in great detail and urgency the need for sharp shifts in policy and direction on the part of the Haitian government and international powers present in the country. Perhaps the most important of these was the June 28 report of the International Crisis Group. Also of note is a lengthy article that appears in the August 4 edition of Rolling Stone.

There is also serious, ongoing questioning of the role and legal foundation of the 13,000-member foreign police and military mission known as MINUSTAH. Last April 6, the United Nations Security Council held a special meeting on Haiti in which many members countries, including the president of Colombia, acting president that month of the Security Council, expressed concern about the overarching dedication of UN resources in Haiti to police and military patrols.  MINUSTAH spends close to $1 billion per year (!) yet contributes little to human development.

MINUSTAH’s background and operations are able to be more closely scrutinized thanks toa series of revelatory articles in the weeklies The Nation and Haiti Liberté that are based on the release of U.S. diplomatic cables by the WikiLeaks organization to the two publications.

Dr. Paul Farmer’s recently published “Haiti After the Earthquake” situates much of Haiti’s present crisis in a history of failed, foreign intervention in the country.

Last April, your newspaper editorialized in favor of the electoral process that brought Michel Martelly into the presidency. It seems to us that you owe to your readers some examination of what that election has produced. The only recent print article of which we are aware in Canada looking critically at this subject was published in The Mark on August 9.

I will be in Toronto and Hamilton on behalf of our solidarity network during the week of October 10 to speak at public forums and university lectures on the findings of our delegation. I would be pleased to meet with anyone on your reporting or editorial teams to discuss all this further.

Roger Annis
Canada Haiti Action Network
778 858 5179



  Sept 8,


Sept 8, 2011
Yesterday, CBC Radio One's The Current carried a 25-minute story on MINUSTAH, prompted by the reports of the assault by Uruguayan MINUSTAH soldiers on a young Haitian man in Port Salut, a village on Haiti's south coast, in July. The story consisted of interviews with two supporters of the UN role in Haiti, Nigel Fisher, the Humanitairian Coordinator of the UN in Haiti, and Michael Deibert, a writer who welcomed the overthrow of elected government in Haiti in 2004.
Fisher told The Current that he and his colleagues have been "outraged and shocked by this incident." He said he has a "deep regret" for the young victim of the alleged assault and for Haitians more generally. Fisher explained that under the rules of Security Council intervention (so-called "peacekeeping"), allegations such as those in Port Salut are investigated by the participating country, in this case Uruguay, not by agencies of the UN. Nonetheless, he says, "There is zero tolerance for this kind of behaviour."
Fisher was asked what damage this event will cause to the UN mission in Haiti. He answered, "Well, of course, our already mixed because, there is no doubt that, I think, there are some some Haitians who welcome what the military/police/civil affairs side of the mission does...It is helping with institution-building in key areas of prisons, of police, of justice, etc.
"But equally, Haitians are very proud people. I think many of them find it difficult to see so many foreigners and so many people in uniform in their country. So we all have a common interest in seeing this mission leave..."
Carla Bluntschli has lived in Haiti for the past 26 years and resides in the village of Gros Jean. The Current asked her thoughts about MINUSTAH and played a recording of her answer. "Un-useful, in one word," she said. "It is not contributing to the overall development on any level in the country. It's frustrating and un-useful."
The program later returned to more of its interview with Bluntschli. The program host noted the doubling of MINUSTAH forces since the earthquake. Bluntschli said, "MINUSTAH has repeatedly been accused of raping, killing, in general being disrespectful, and not being of use to the country as a whole. So there is much, much disdain towards the UN presence. It's very difficult for me because they have these tanks and guns pointed out in traffic. It's like you're in prison. Every time you see them it's like a reminder that you are, kind of, being watched and held hostage. And for what, for what reason?
"And on top of that, the cholera epidemic epitomizes how the Haitians feel about (MINUSTAH) 'doing more harm than good.'"
Responding to the comment, Fisher said, "Well again, many people say that here."
Michael Deibert said that during his two visits to Haiti since the earthquake, he has observed a "bit of a malaise" towards MINUSTAH compared to 2009. "Between 2006 and 2009, they (MINUSTAH) had a bit of a, kind of a 'golden era', you might say." Citing an alleged decline in violent crime during those years, he said, "The perception of them (MINUSTAH) by the general public during that time was positive."
In contrast, he continued, between 2004 and 2006 MINUSTAH was viewed by Haitians as "having done very little." Today, he says, "I feel like the earthquake...knocked (MINUSTAH) off balance in a way it has never really gotten back from." In the summer of 2009, he said, "there was a good rapport between the public and the peacekeepers." Now, MINUSTAH always patrols with its guns pointed at citizens.
There is a question mark over MINUSTAH today, Deibert says. It is supposed to keep the peace, but from whom? He says the Haitian National Police should be able to take over policing. The force has grown "leaps and bounds" in its functioning. MINUSTAH, meanwhile has gone from being "an asset to an obstacle." That's because the force's presence allows Haitian politicians to blame the UN for their own (politicians') failings.
"I think one thing that would be really productive (would be) a transformation of the peacekeeping mission into a development mission, maybe on a smaller scale. That would really have a positive impact," especially among peasants, he said, who he claimed make up, "90% of the population of Haiti."
This is the first report about Haiti on The Current since an April 7, 2011 interview on the program with Michel Martelly. Below is a letter written to the program three weeks ago by this writer.
There is a lively exchange of views on MINUSTAH between Michael Deibert and Joe Emersberger, editor of Haiti Analysis, on the website of Truth Dig, following that site's publication on Sept 1 of a commentary by Deibert on MINUSTAH. See the article and the exchanges here on Truth Dig. Below is the contribution by Joe Emeersberger that launched the exchanges.
Roger Annis



Vancouver BC 

August 18, 2011


The Assassins' Plot: Martelly Visits Chile


By Berthony Dupont

Editorial, Haiti Liberte, August 17, 2011, Vol 5, #5  (unofficial translation by Roger Annis) 


There is no longer any doubt. It was under pressure from the United States that imperialism’s and colonialism’s number one man in Haiti, the sorcerer’s apprentice Michel Martelly, made his way recently to South America, more precisely to Chile to confer with his homologue, the wealthy reactionary Sebastian Pinera (president of Chile). The latter, battling to preserve the neoliberal model in place since the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, has unleashed a ferocious repression against the Chilean people without the slightest concern that his actions would be criticized abroad. Martelly went to Chile to learn from this school of civilian dictatorship where, presently, the Chilean police are violently suppressing the demonstrations of high school and university students in several cities.


All this helps to more easily understand the enormous strategic and economic interests that the United States holds in Haiti. To better defend its interests, it pressed for Martelly to go and learn from a key player, the said Pinera, in its repressive, pro-imperialist and ferociously pro-neoliberal politics in South America.  


Effectively, the dictatorial potential of Martelly is now more evident as of his visit to Chile because the objective of the visit was, above all, to counter the threat from Brazil to withdraw its armed forces from MINUSTAH. Such a move would bode very badly for a government that can anticipate mass mobilizations in the days to come, all the more with the impending commencing of the school year in conditions of mass discontent, specifically this president’s inability to meet his electoral promise of free education to a half million of the returning students. If they even paid serious attention to the promise.


Potentially destabilizing factors in Haiti also include the atrocious poverty, rampant unemployment, tragic living conditions of the earthquake survivors, inexorable progression of cholera, and even a reprise by the UN forces of dumping their raw sewage into the rivers in the South and Central Plateau regions of the country. Martelly is evidently taking the necessary action such that the Chilean military, well known for its repressive past, can take over the leading role from the Brazilians to repress any popular revolt, including shedding the blood of protesters, as needed.


These are the circumstances in which Martelly met with Pinera and discussed the possibility that Chile take over the lead military role in MINUSTAH should Brazil decide to step back. The goal is to assure a continuity of the occupation force and to create the conditions to not only guarantee the interests of the big powers in Haiti but also to uphold Martelly’s electoral mandate, at the price of the blood of a people refusing to accept defeat so easily, if required.


In passing, let us note that the Haitian people, be they living abroad or in Haiti, have repeatedly said no to the occupation of the country and demanded that the mandate of MINUSTAH not be renewed this coming October.


Of this we are sure: the oligarchs in power, whether in Haiti or in Chile, have only one response when it comes to the defense of their interests, and that is violence and repression. Not coincidentally, 40 Haitian police are presently in training in Chile.


To mask the true objective of his visit to Chile, Martelly voiced at a press conference the same tired refrain of his predecessor, René Préval, calling for a transformation of the role of MINUSTAH. But our analysis permits light to be shed on these twists and turns of his South American tour. The Chilean dictator signaled agreement with Martelly, who, for his part, made sure to explain, “With the agreement of President Pinera, we are going to examine how to transform a part of the Chilean mission in Haiti into a mission for development.” This talk amounts to a diversion, an attempt to calm the waters and sabotage the mobilizations against occupation. It is frankly naïve to believe in such talk from a sorcerer’s apprentice.


Let us be frank, we understand clearly the scale of the plot that the assassins of the people are preparing. We will under no circumstances tolerate a repressive state apparatus in our country and we are preparing for any eventuality.


Martelly, along with Pofirio Lobo of Honduras, is the only president in Latin America to not travel to Cuba or Venezuela in order to develop a better appreciation of the relation of these fellow countries to our own. Whereas our champion has made a series of visits to the Dominican Republic, the United States, and to Spain, he hasn’t visited any among Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba or Venezuela.


A large number of our countrymen and women are studying in Cuba, not to mention Venezuela, while Cuban and Venezuelan providers have shown their dedication to Haiti in medicine and other fields. For the president, evidently, all this counts for little.


All this must be born in mind in order to understand why the  United States maneuvered so much to place Martelly in power. It was to assure its continued presence in Haiti. The national spirit of Haitians must be finished off, once and for all. To facilitate installing mercenaries and lackeys as leaders, the morale of fighters must be broken and the popular masses must be disoriented.


Let us remind the occupation forces and Martelly of some history, that the time of colonial humiliation is past. The winds of freedom stirred up at the congress of Bois Caïman 220 years ago, followed quickly by the revolt of the slaves, will stir once again, this time to end the aggression, oppression, exploitation and despoiling to which the Haitian people are submitted. We will fight against the plot of the international assassins until such time as the last foreign soldier has left the country and Haiti has retaken its place among the dignified, free and sovereign countries of the world. 

Haitian Lawyers to speak in Quebec City

Haitian Lawyers to speak in Quebec City

Complexe Bellevue, 1605 Chemin Ste-Foy, Quebec City, September 17-18, 1 pm.

Maître Jean-Louis Ouvens of the Bureau des avocats internationaux (BAI), the most prestigious group of lawyers working for human rights in Haiti, will be addressing the public in Quebec City on September 17th and 18th, 2011 at the Complexe Bellevue, 1605 Chemin Ste-Foy, along with other Haitian lawyers.  Victims of Haiti's brutal prison system will also be speaking, along with Quebec lawyers who have done pro bono work for the BAI in Haiti.  The events, which begin at 1 pm both days, will also feature a fundraiser for the BAI, a large-scale sale of Haitian paintings and photographs.  For more information or for a copy of the press release in French or English, contact Darren Ell at  To donate or purchase photographs or paintings online, visit the website of Haiti Thirst for Justice at

Avocats haïtiens de passage à Québec

Complexe Bellevue, 1605 Chemin Ste-Foy, Québec, 17-18 septembre, 13h.

Maître Jean-Louis Ouvens du Bureau des avocats internationaux (BAI), le plus prestigieux bureau d'avocats oeuvrant dans le domaine des droits humains en Haïti, s'adressera au public de Québec les 17 et 18 septembre 2011 au Complexe Bellevue, 1605 Chemin Ste-Foy.  Des victimes du brutal système pénitencier haïtien et des avocats du Québec ayant effectué du travail pro bono en Haïti parleront au public aussi.  Les événements, qui débuteront à 13h les deux jours, comprendront également une levée de fonds pour le BAI, à savoir une grande vente de tableaux et de  photographies haïtiens.  Pour de plus amples renseignements ou pour une copie d'un communiqué de presse (en français ou en anglais), veuillez contacter Darren Ell au  Pour faire un don ou pour acheter une photo ou un tableau en ligne, veuillez consulter le site web de Haïti Soif de Justice au

HRW Says World is Failing to Protect Women and Girls in Haiti


Human Rights Watch Report Says World is Failing to Protect Women and Girls in Haiti

By Roger Annis, published in Haiti Liberté, Sept 21, 2011.

Human Rights Watch has issued a disturbing study on the conditions for women and girls in post-earthquake Haiti. The 78-page report titledNobody Remembers Us looks at the conditions of life for women and girls in Haiti since January 12, 2010. It was published on August 30, 2011.

In a Los Angles Times article reporting on the study, Terry Wilkinson writes, “Nearly 20 months after Haiti’s devastating earthquake, women and girls have been badly neglected in recovery efforts, subjected to sexual violence and left without access to obstetric care even as they give birth to scores of babies in squalid tent cities, human rights activists say.”

Among the findings of the report are the following:

* At the time of the earthquake, there were app. 63,000 pregnant women and 114,000 lactating mothers among the 3 million people directly affected.
* Half of the women giving birth are doing so without medical assistance, often in unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
* Based on the study’s interviews, many women survivors in the camps are engaging in sex to obtain food or other basic necessities. The study uses the term “survival sex” to describe this reality.
* Teenagers in the survivor camps are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence or to unplanned pregnancy due to the absence of security and the weakening of traditional forms of family and societal protection.
* An October, 2010 study cited in the report found a pregnancy rate of 12 percent in the camps, three times the average urban rate prior to the earthquake. Two thirds of those pregnancies were unplanned and unwanted.
* Many women and girls told Human Rights Watch researchers that there is no family planning information in the camps where they reside.

"It is inconceivable that, 18 months after the quake, with so much money pledged … that women and girls are giving birth in muddy tents," Amanda Klasing, the report's main author and a fellow in the group's women's rights division, told the LA Times in a telephone interview from Port-au-Prince.

The report notes an October, 2010 study that reported only 20 percent of the app. 1,300 camps of displaced persons existing at that time had any sort of health facility on site. Today, the number of camps is 1,000, but medical services in them are equally scarce.

The report explains, “of $5.3 billion pledged by international donors after the quake, $258 million was dedicated to healthcare — of which only $118.4 million has been disbursed.” These figures describe the spending of international governments and UN agencies; figures for NGO’s delivering health care are in a different category of aid funding and are much higher. What the low figures reveal is how little aid funding has been directed to Haiti’s enfeebled public health care system, and how little that system figures into reconstruction planning. An essay in Dr. Paul Farmer’s recently-publishedHaiti After The Earthquake describes the serious consequences of this for Haiti’s largest public hospital, the General Hospital in Port au Prince.

The Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, Ken Roth, was interviewed on CBC Radio One’s As It Happens on August 30, the day the report was published. It was the lead story that day on AIH.

Unfortunately, the interview focused on one aspect of the Human Rights Watch report, namely, the phenomenon that many women, including pregnant women, are not accessing free medical care potentially available to them because they cannot afford the cost of transportation. The listener is left with impression that if only the transportation issue were solved, the medical crisis could be greatly alleviated. But the HRW report makes clear that medical services overall are seriously lacking in Haiti. Neither Mr. Roth nor the CBC interviewer explained this important nuance. You can listen to the interview here.

The report is sweeping in its scope, notably in touching on the years 2004-2006. This was the two-year period of foreign-appointed governance following the overthrow of elected government in February, 2004 by Haitian paramilitaries enjoying essential backing from the U.S., Canada and Europe. During this time, every national and local institution was weakened or shattered.

The report makes troubling revelations of the consequences for women during this time, including:

* USAID wrote in a 2008 report that the most fundamental determinants of poor health for women in Haiti were “extreme poverty, poor governance, societal collapse , infrastructural insufficiency and food insecurity.” This is, unwittingly, an apt description of the consequences of the 2004 coup.
* During 2005-06, less than 25 percent of births took place in a health facility.
* The maternal death rate during these same two years rose to 630 per 100,000 live births, compared to 523 during the years 1993 to 2000.
* As documented by the 2006 Kolbe/Hudson report, “widespread and systematic rape and other sexual violence against girls” marked the 2004-06 period.

In the interview on As It Happens, Ken Roth said that, “Canada is the foremost donor when it comes to maternal health care (in Haiti).” That is doubtful. The largest providers of medical care for women in Haiti, in association with the Ministry of Public Health, are Partners In Health, the Government of Cuba and Doctors Without Borders.

But Mr. Roth’s assertion is a good occasion for Canadians to inquire of its government: what is it, exactly, that you are doing for maternal health in Haiti? Your brief, one page reference to the subject on CIDA’s website reads like public relations, with no reference to existing programs nor any dollar figures.

On a final note, the interview with Human Rights Watch on As It Happens was a rare story on Haiti on CBC, notwithstanding the wave of studies, news articles and statements by human rights organizations in recent months that are documenting serious concerns about the post-earthquake relief and reconstruction effort in Haiti. See the “Human Rights Reports” page of the website of the Canada Haiti Action Network. The report of the recently-returned Canadian Delegation to Haiti has drawn little interest from the CBC or print media in Canada.

Roger Annis is a coordinator of the Canada Haiti Action Network in Vancouver and can be reached at rogerannis(at)

No to Garry Conille as prime minister of Haiti!

No to Garry Conille as prime minister of Haiti!
Gary Conille.jpg

By Yves Pierre-Louis, Haiti Liberté, published on Sept 14, 2011
Translated from the French by Dady Chery

(Since the following article was written, the Parliament of Haiti voted by 89-0 on September 16 to accept the nomination by President Michel Martelly of Garry Conille to serve as the the prime minister of Haiti. The nomination now requires the approval of the Senate of Haiti.)

On Thursday September 8, 2011, President Joseph Michel Martelly's third choice for prime-minister, Dr. Garry Conille, filed his documents for the position with the office of the Chamber of Deputies of the 49th Legislature. Meanwhile, discussions are heating up in the media about his residency because he left the country for seven years to serve in the United Nations. Two days later, on Saturday, Sept. 10th, there was an altercation at the Hotel Karibe Convention Center between the prime minister designate and members of President Martelly's cabinet.

And what was the basis of this incident? According to released information, Martelly cabinet chief Thierry Paul Mayard, together with the president's wife, Sophia Martelly, and presidential advisers including Patrick Rouzier, all flanked by a commando, arrived at the hotel where the Prime Minister designate was participating in a private-sector business forum. He was pressured to sign a blank letter of resignation prior to his ratification as prime minister. This was a shameless political stunt never seen in the annals of political practice in Haiti, or anywhere else. Such a letter would allow President Martelly to force a resignation of the future prime minister should circumstances arise.

Apparently, the Prime Minister designate categorically refused this threat and even considered withdrawing his name from the ratification process. He cancelled his scheduled meeting with the forum. Following this altercation, various sources reported intense telephone communications between the two sides. According to our latest information, the Prime Minister designate met on the same day with the President and the situation, it seems, was normalized. The President reassured Conille that the presidency would never have decided to make him sign such a letter or any other document as a precondition for his accession to the prime ministerial post. Who, then, was the instigator of this unfortunate, shameful, and pathetic initiative?

Would Thierry Mayard Paul and the others have taken it upon themselves to indulge in a maneuver so disgraceful and absurd? If so, then sanctions should immediately be taken against the alleged impostors. After the incident on Saturday at the Karibe, no official statement was issued to explain what had actually happened. Some are still criticizing those in Martelly's entourage who oppose his choice. Such was also the case for his first two candidates for Prime Minister.

On the other hand, questions about the residency of the Prime Minister designate continue to be a source of controversy in the Haitian Parliament and among the traditional political class and the middle men of the legal profession. Some point, to good effect, to the Haitian Constitution of 1987, others refer to rules and regulations of the U.N., according to which officials from that organization do not change their country of residency when they work abroad. So, between the legal prescriptions of the mother country and the laws of a global organization, which ones should be applied to Garry Conille's dossier?

By all evidence, the Haitian Constitution of 1987 is clear on this. Paragraph 5 of Article 157 states: "Residency in the country for five (5) consecutive years." However, during the past seven years, Prime Minister designate Garry Conille was not in the country, which constitutes a real obstacle to his ratification. It is true that President Martelly said, "Before proposing Mr. Conille, I consulted my legal team," but he did not specify the roles played by former U.S. President Bill Clinton in this selection. Some say it was forced on Martelly.

Amidst all this, former presidential candidate and professor of constitutional law Mirlande Manigat Hyppolite pointed out the difference between an official of an international institution and a diplomat. She insists that that the law mother of the nation should be respected.  She explained: "As concerns the conditions listed under Article 157 on residency, I listened with great interest to the statements made here, there and everywhere. The status of an international civil servant is not that of a diplomat, nor is it the status of a Haitian who is representing Haiti in an international organization. Eric Pierre, for example, was twice proposed for Prime Minister; he represented Haiti at the Inter American Development Bank (IDB), so he benefited from the so-called extraterritoriality enjoyed by diplomats. A diplomat by definition, does not live in Haiti; he represents his country and benefits from the principle of extraterritoriality. On other hand, Haitians working in international organizations? NO. They do not have diplomatic status and do not benefit from the principle of extraterritoriality," she explained.

In the Parliament, opinion is divided; self-interest seems to outweigh the best interests of the nation and the laws of the Republic. The chairman of the majority bloc in the Chamber of Deputies is prepared to give his vote to the Prime Minister designate. Referring to the principles of international law, he said that Garry Conille can stay in Niger as an officer of the U.N. all the while resident in Haiti. He also cited a set of conventions and U.N. resolutions in favor the Prime Minister designate. For his part Senate chairman Joazile Rodolph said: "Today, the atmosphere is more or less relaxed, and if  Mr. Conille meets the constitutional requirements, I think he will not have much difficulty being ratified by the Senate."

The coordinator of the political platform INITE, the majority bloc in the Senate and leader of the group of 16 that defeated the ratification of Martelly's second Prime Minister pick, Bernard Gousse, raised the possibility of a ratification of Garry Conille if he meets the constitutional requirements and political criteria. But doubts and suspicions remain very high.

The senator from Nippes, John William Jeanty, for his part, does not hide his position: Garry Conille does not meet the desired criteria for a Prime Minister. He said: "I cannot say that the Prime Minister designate represents the consensus we are seeking. He does not reflect what was discussed in the various sectors, he does not meet the profile of someone over whom we could reach a consensus. Clearly there's a fly in the ointment, so he is not the right choice. There are also problems with his dossier.  They say he has not resided in Haiti since 2004 and does not work in Haiti. So, he has no residence in Haiti, it seems that he is not [a home owner], and he does not pay taxes here ..."

The Vice President of the Senate is standing firm on his position; he has reiterated that he will not vote for a candidate who fails to comply with the letter of the constitution, which requires residency in the country for at least five years in order for a Haitian citizen to qualify as prime minister.

The leader of the Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP) Chavannes Jean Baptiste goes further. He says that this ratification would be a total abandonment of what remains of Haiti's national sovereignty. He protests against foreign interference in the appointment of a U.N. official whose presence on the political spectrum would be aimed at consolidating a trusteeship over Haiti. He also condemns the flagrant violation of Article 157 of the Constitution, whose provisions regarding the number of years of residency are incompatible with the current situation of the Prime Minister designate.

It is clear that in Haiti today there is a shadow government, with the presence of former U.S. President Bill Clinton in the National Palace and at the head of a so-called "Presidential Advisory Council for Economic Development and Investment." It is no secret to informed people that the invisible hand of Bill Clinton is in the appointment of Garry Conille. What's more, Conille directed Clinton's offices as co-chair of the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti (IHRC) and Special Envoy of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. To impose Garry Conille as Prime Minister, all the country's laws will have to be violated in the interests of the imperialist powers and the big, local predators.


Letter to Canadian Parliamentarians from CHAN


The following letter in English and French was mailed six days ago to all members of Canada's Parliament and Senate. The letter is posted to the front page of the CHAN website.

Vancouver BC
September 16, 2011

By electronic mail Version française ici.

To: Honourable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs

Copies to: Paul Dewar, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic; Dominic LeBlanc, Liberal Party Foreign Affairs Critic; Members of the Parliament of Canada; Members of the Senate of Canada

Dear Mr. Baird and Ms. Ablonczy;

We are three Canadians who conducted a ten-day fact-finding and solidarity mission to Haiti from June 20 to 30. We are writing to deliver to you a copy of a 17-page report on our findings.

We returned from Haiti with grave concerns over the slow recovery from the 2010 earthquake. Haitians from many walks of life feel that the recovery is ineffectual and even weakening. Political paralysis exists at the highest levels of the Haitian government, for example, there exists no ministry of housing in circumstances where 600,000-plus people are living in atrocious camp conditions. Persistent accusations of human rights violations are levelled at the United Nations Security Council military mission known as MINUSTAH.

We are concerned over the paucity of critical examination by Canada's Parliament and Senate of the policies and practices in Haiti of the Canadian government. The Canadian people have demonstrated overwhelming sympathy and support for Haiti. Yet, Canadian government activity in Haiti prioritizes security over human development–the building of police stations and prisons, training and equipping of police, support to the much-criticized MINUSTAH mission of the UN Security Council, etc.

Our report is attached to this e-letter and can also be accessed online at this link. The French-language version is here. We kindly request that you have your office confirm receipt of the report at or by regular mail.

Please note that our report concludes with several recommendations to Canada’s Parliament and Senate, points one and two, on page 16. These are:
1. By all appearance, Canada’s contributions to human development programs in Haiti are inadequate. We feel that a full-blown review by Parliament of Canada’s policies in Haiti since the overthrow of elected government in 2004 is called for, including how Canada could assist Haiti in establishing a fairer and more effective system of justice.
2. Members of Parliament need to inform themselves more thoroughly on Haiti, including calling upon a wider range of sources for information. The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development has held two sessions on Haiti so far in 2011, but the range of guests invited to testify has been too limited.

Our delegation was organized by Haiti Solidarity BC, the Vancouver affiliate of the Canada Haiti Action Network. For comprehensive information on Canada and Haiti, in English and French, visit the Canada Haiti Action Network website:

We would be pleased to meet with interested members of Parliament and the Senate in the weeks ahead in order to explain our findings and answer any questions you may have. Please contact us at canadahaiti@gmail.comor by phone at 778 858 5179.


Roger Annis, (Vancouver BC) Coordinator of Haiti Solidarity BC and the Canada Haiti Action Network, retired aerospace worker
Sandra Gessler (Winnipeg MB), Professor of Nursing, University of Manitoba
Rosena Joseph, (Toronto ON), learning coach and member of Local 3393 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees


Our critical evaluation of the current foreign assistance to Haiti is part of a growing consensus by a wide variety of international observers, as evidenced in this selection of recent reports:
1. Two reports on cholera treatment and prevention:
*Meeting Cholera's Challenge to Haiti and the World: A Joint Statement on Cholera Prevention and Care, May 31, 2011
* and Not Doing Enough: Unnecessary Sickness and Death from Cholera in Haiti, August 2011
2. Comprehensive Update on Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier Prosecution, by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, Sept 2, 2011
3. Report by Haiti Grassroots Watch on Housing and Shelter Crisis, August 23, 2011
4. “Nobody Remembers Us”: Failure to Protest Women’s and Girls’ Right to Health and Security in Post-Earthquake Haiti, By Human Rights Watch, August 31, 2011.




The UN should hold MINUSTAH personally accountable


Press Release: The United Nations Should Hold MINUSTAH Personnel Accountable for Human Rights Violations to Haitians (IJDH-BAI)

20 September 2011 Comments: 0


Brian Con­can­non Jr., Esq., Direc­tor, Insti­tute for Jus­tice & Democ­racy in Haiti, 541–263‑0029, (U.S.)

Nicole Phillips, Esq., Staff Attor­ney, Insti­tute for Jus­tice & Democ­racy in Haiti, 510–715‑2855, (U.S.)

The United Nations should hold MINUSTAH per­son­nel account­able for human rights vio­la­tions to Haitians

(Boston, Sep­tem­ber 20, 2011)— The Insti­tute for Jus­tice & Democ­racy in Haiti calls on the United Nations to hold its peace­keep­ing troops, known by their French acronym MINUSTAH, legally account­able for human rights vio­la­tions com­mit­ted in Haiti.

“MINUSTAH oper­ates in Haiti with very lit­tle legal account­abil­ity for their action as a result of a legal waiver signed between the UN and the Gov­ern­ment of Haiti,” accord­ing to Nicole Phillips, staff attor­ney at the Insti­tute for Jus­tice & Democ­racy in Haiti. Phillips explains, “with­out this spe­cial treat­ment, the fam­i­lies of vic­tims who died of cholera could be enti­tled to legal com­pen­sa­tion under Hait­ian law for MINUSTAH’s neg­li­gence in dis­pos­ing of their waste and for their fail­ure to con­duct an imme­di­ate inves­ti­ga­tion. Sim­i­larly, vic­tims of sex­ual assault, includ­ing the 18-year old boy raped by the Uruguayan
troops, could seek crim­i­nal action and civil dam­ages against their MINUSTAH assailants in a Hait­ian court.”

Ear­lier this month, a cell phone video was released show­ing a group of UN sol­diers from Uruguay laugh­ing as they pinned down an 18-year old Hait­ian boy and sex­u­ally assaulted him. This is not the only case of sex­ual abuse com­mit­ted by MINUSTAH in Haiti. In 2007, more than 100 Sri Lankan sol­diers were repa­tri­ated for sex­u­ally exploit­ing young Hait­ian women and girls. A recent news arti­cle revealed that sex with minors, which is pro­hib­ited under Hait­ian and inter­na­tional law, is not uncom­mon for MINUSTAH sol­diers. In August 2010, the body of a 16 year-old was found hang­ing inside ofMINUSTAH’s base in Cap Hai­tien. MINUSTAH has never announced results from any inves­ti­ga­tion into the incident.

Since the mission’s arrival in 2004, there have been reg­u­lar protests through­out the coun­try against MINUSTAH for inter­fer­ing with legal demon­stra­tions, mak­ing ille­gal arrests, using exces­sive force in its oper­a­tions, espe­cially in poor neigh­bor­hoods, and fail­ing to pro­vide ade­quate secu­rity in inter­nal dis­place­ment camps, includ­ing to women and com­mu­ni­ties faced with vio­lent forced evictions.

More recently, protests have included MINUSTAH’s fail­ure to inves­ti­gate the link between its neg­li­gent dis­posal of human waste and the out­break of cholera. Under inter­na­tional pres­sure, the UN finally admit­ted the link between the MINUSTAH base and the spread of cholera. But no legal com­pen­sa­tion has been offered to the 438,000 Haitians who have con­tracted the dis­ease, or the fam­i­lies of the 6,200 Haitians who have died.

Under a Sta­tus of Forces Agree­ment (or SOFA) that the Hait­ian gov­ern­ment signed with the UN, MINUSTAH troops enjoy an almost blan­ket waiver of crim­i­nal lia­bil­ity in Hait­ian courts for any human rights abuses they com­mit in Haiti. Both mil­i­tary and civil mem­bers enjoy immu­nity for all acts per­formed in their offi­cial capac­ity. MINUSTAH mil­i­tary mem­bers who com­mit a crime out­side of their offi­cial capac­ity are only sub­ject to their home country’s juris­dic­tion. Civil­ian mem­bers of MINUSTAH can only be pros­e­cuted if the UN agrees. Haitians may not seek dam­ages for civil lia­bil­ity unless the UN cer­ti­fies that the charges are unre­lated to the member’s offi­cial duties.

The SOFA also pro­vides for a Stand­ing Claims Com­mis­sion to hear pri­vate law cases against MINUSTAH mem­bers when the SOFA denies the Hait­ian Judi­ciary juris­dic­tion. The UN and Hait­ian gov­ern­ment have never estab­lished the Claims Commission.

Brian Con­can­non, Direc­tor of the IJDH, calls on the UN “to hold its troops account­able to the Hait­ian peo­ple by ensur­ing that all crim­i­nal alle­ga­tions against MINUSTAH mem­bers are inves­ti­gated and pros­e­cuted under Hait­ian and inter­na­tional law.” Con­can­non urges the UN to “estab­lish appro­pri­ate legal mech­a­nism so that the fam­i­lies of vic­tims who died of cholera can seek legal compensation.”

Like the Sri Lankan troops in 2007, the Uruguayan troops accused of the assault were repa­tri­ated to their home coun­try and arrested upon their return. The Uruguayan gov­ern­ment is urged to pros­e­cute those accused and to dis­close the sta­tus of the case to the vic­tim and the Hait­ian peo­ple. Despite the promises to inves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute the crimes in Sri Lanka, no infor­ma­tion has been made pub­lic on the sta­tus of the inves­ti­ga­tion or prosecution.

This Octo­ber, the UN Secu­rity Coun­cil will likely renew MINUSTAH’s man­date for the 7th year in a row.

At the Insti­tute for Jus­tice & Democ­racy in Haiti (IJDH), we fight for the human rights of Haiti’s poor in court, on the streets, and wher­ever deci­sions about Haitians’ rights are made. We rep­re­sent vic­tims of injus­tice, includ­ing earth­quake vic­tims, vic­tims of gender-based vio­lence, and the unjustly impris­oned. Together with our Hait­ian affil­i­ate, the Bureau des Avo­cats Inter­na­tionaux (BAI), we have six­teen years of demon­strated suc­cess enforc­ing Haitians’ human rights in Haiti and abroad. Visit Fol­low @IJDH on Twitter.


See Orig­i­nal Post:–20-2011.pdf


Foreign powers benefit from impunity for HR crimes in Haiti

Letter to the editor, Ottawa Citizen:
Foreign powers are the principal beneficiaries of impunity for human rights crimes in Haiti
Vancouver BC
October 2, 2011
To: Mr. Gerry Nott, Publisher and Editor in Chief, Ottawa Citizen
Mr. Peter Robb, Deputy Editor, News, Ottawa Citizen
Dear Mr. Nott, Mr. Robb, 
The call by Amnesty International Canada's Alex Neve and co-author Andrew Thompson for prosecution of former Haitian tyrant Jean-Claude Duvalier in your edition of September 26 (reproduced below) is timely and welcome. We would like to add here a few critical thoughts and observations on the Canadian government’s role and responsibilities in Haiti that will help to set a fuller context.
Mr. Neve and Mr. Thompson write that Canada should press the current president Michel Martelly to "get down to the business of justice" by ending the standoff between himself and the country’s other elected institutions and proceeding with a prosecution of Mr. Duvalier. A little explanation is in order.
Martelly's constitutional role is to facilitate the formation of a government by nominating a prime minister. The nominee must be acceptable to Haiti's elected House of Representatives (Chambre des députés) and Senate, so a degree of tact and compromise on the part of the president is required. It is the successful nominee for prime minister who then forms a government. 
The current standoff results from Martelly’s wish to have a fellow, right-wing ideologue accepted as prime minister. Thankfully, the House and Senate have refused to rubber stamp his first two nominations—businessman Daniel Gerard Rouzier and disgraced former chief cop of Haiti under the illegal coup d’etat regime of 2004-06, Bernard Gousse.[1]
Neve and Thompson write that Canada should pressure Martelly to get on with the nomination process. They are correct in so urging. But words of caution are called for.
Canada, the U.S. and Europe are part of the problem here because they bankrolled the exclusionary election process that brought Martelly to power six months ago. It is not surprising that Martelly would show no interest in the Duvalier prosecution because he is an associate of those with close ties to the former tyrant’s regime. He has surrounded himself with advisers who were ministers or other functionaries in and around the regime. Martelly was a vigorous supporter of the overthrow of elected government in 2004.[2]
What’s more, Canada has already refused an explicit call to assist the Haitian judicial system to prosecute Duvalier. It came in the form of a presentation to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development of the Canadian Parliament in early March 2011 by René Magloire, special advisor on legal issues to then-President René Préval.[3]
It now appears that the U.S., at least, is smarting under the international condemnation of the dysfunction of the Martelly presidency that is has so vigorously supported. Earlier this month, it stepped in to impose the nomination for prime minister of a Haitian-born but foreign-residing assistant to Bill Clinton named Garry Conille.[4] The House has accepted the new nominee in a unanimous vote; a vote in the Senate is still pending.
In arguing that Canada should step in and push Martelly in a certain political direction, Neve and Thompson pen an unfortunate and prejudicial choice of words. They write, “For too long, including during the terrifying Duvalier years, Haiti has suffered from a culture of impunity.” 
Of which “Haiti” are they writing? Yes, the “Haiti” of the country’s economic elite has long enjoyed impunity in imposing extreme poverty and gross violations of human rights on their countrymen and countrywomen. Its ruthless rule has long enjoyed the backing or the acquiescence of the so-called democracies of the hemisphere and Europe.
The “Haiti” of the country’s poor majority, on the other hand, has always been deeply committed to democracy, the rule of law and accountability of political leaders. This Haiti rose up in 1986 in its millions to oust the Duvalier tyranny. Ever since, it has fought against great odds to move the country forward along a path of democracy, social justice and respect for human dignity. 
Alas, that valiant struggle has been frustrated and betrayed every step of the way by the big countries that hypocritically claim to stand for human rights. In 2004, Canada, the U.S. and Europe joined in the overthrow of Haiti’s then elected and socially progressive government. 
The overriding problem with human rights impunity in Haiti resides not within Haiti’s borders but within those countries that sponsor and organize coups, aid embargos and all kinds of other destructive intervention in Haiti’s internal affairs. 
In Canada, members of Parliament and the Senate, all the major media outlets and an important part of the country’s international development community turn a blind eye to so much of what has gone wrong in Haiti. So who are the real perpetrators and beneficiaries of impunity in Haiti? 
It is good that Amnesty International Canada is speaking out for democracy and human rights in Haiti. We hope to see more in the coming months. We urge it to direct more of its concerns towards ending the foreign intervention that is the fundamental reason for Haiti’s poverty and social underdevelopment. We urge it to join with us in seeing vocal and active advocates for social justice for Haiti among members of the Canadian Parliament and Senate. 
Haiti is being run into the ground by an international intervention regime enjoying virtual impunity, for example in the case of the catastrophic introduction of cholera into the country by the Nepalese contingent of MINUSTAH. It now faces a new, grave threat in the form of a plan by Michel Martelly, apparently with the backing of the United States (and Canada?),[5] to revive a Haitian armed forces that was dissolved in 1995 by then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to the immense satisfaction of most Haitian people. The country needs all the genuine international assistance it can get.
Roger Annis
Canada Haiti Action Network
778 858 5179


Haiti's former dictator must face justice

Frequent delays have cast doubt over whether former Haitian president Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier will pay for his crimes
By Andrew Thompson and Alex Neve
Commentary, published in the Ottawa Citizen, September 26, 2011 

Ultimately it is in everyone’s interest, not just Haitians, that justice be served. By their very nature, crimes against humanity are so heinous that they shock our collective global conscience.
Even measured against Haiti’s turbulent history, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier’s sudden and unexpected return to Haiti in January of this year, after 25 years in exile, was a particularly bizarre moment for the country. Rumours about his motivation and his sanity ran rampant. What we said at the time is that it was incumbent upon Haitian authorities — with active support from Canada and other countries — to ensure that he faces justice. A trial against Duvalier, while immensely challenging, could greatly assist efforts to rebuild and reform.
Few reports missed the cruel irony of the situation — that the man who was responsible for so much hardship during his 15-year rule insisted that he had come home to “show solidarity” with his fellow Haitians in their time of need as they continued to struggle in the aftermath of the devastating January 2010 earthquake. At the time, no one would have imagined that the former strong man of Haiti would be back in the country, facing charges of embezzlement and crimes against humanity. But sometimes life is stranger than fiction. For that is exactly what happened. Charges were laid. And it gave Haitians a sense of hope that they might finally see accountability for those years of terrible abuses.
But many months later, that hope is fading. The prosecution has become stalled, partly because there was no prosecutor in place for many weeks. As well, Haiti currently has no justice minister because of a standoff between the country’s new president, Michel Martelly and parliament. Meanwhile reports abound that Duvalier is enjoying the good life, attending music concerts and dining out. And just Friday, Duvalier’s lawyers attempted to break up a press conference in Port-au-Prince in which Amnesty researchers presented a new report detailing the systemic human rights violations that occurred during the former president’s time in office.
It is time for this to move ahead. Canada must press the Martelly government to get down to the business of justice. The human rights case against Duvalier is compelling. While in power from 1971 to 1986, the Duvalier regime was responsible for gross and systematic human rights violations that included executions, torture and forced disappearances.
For too long, including during the terrifying Duvalier years, Haiti has suffered from a culture of impunity. Trying Baby Doc will represent a major step forward, not only for the thousands of victims, but also for the country as a whole. It is long overdue. Haiti still struggles with the legacy of 29 years of abuses under Baby Doc and his father, and further serious human rights violations during 25 post-Duvalier years. The international community has both the obligation and an opportunity to assist Haiti with the effort to hold Baby Doc accountable for his crimes. And Haiti will need help. The January 2010 earthquake decimated a justice system that was already weak. A trial against Duvalier, while immensely challenging, could greatly assist efforts to rebuild and reform.
A trial would, of course, have the potential to be highly polarizing. The Martelly government will undoubtedly face considerable internal pressure, particularly from the country’s elites, to dismiss the charges. A strong showing of external support would go a long way toward bolstering the resolve of Haitian officials.
Help is needed in other ways as well. Much of the existing evidence against Duvalier resides not in Port-au-Prince, but around the world. Amnesty International has already handed over to Haitian authorities more than 100 documents from its archives that contain information about rights violations during this period. Governments, including Canada, should do so as well. They must do so even if the records contain incriminating information about their own relations with the regime.
Ultimately it is in everyone’s interest, not just Haitians, that justice be served. By their very nature, crimes against humanity are so heinous that they shock our collective global conscience.
A trial against Baby Doc would reverberate beyond Haiti’s borders. It would mark one more step forward in the struggle to dismantle the entrenched impunity that has protected legions of presidents and prime ministers who have orchestrated massive human rights violations while in power.
The list of cases in which there has been some effort to bring former leaders to justice is growing, including Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, Peru’s Alberto Fujimori, the former Yugoslavia’s Slobodan Milosevic and Liberian Charles Taylor. But these examples are the exceptions that prove the rule. Most former leaders retire comfortably, and are never held to account. That perfectly describes the life Baby Doc led in France for the last quarter century.
Prosecuting Duvalier would further strengthen the critical international norm that no one is above the law when it comes to being held responsible for serious human rights violations. Just maybe, this will cause other former (and even current) heads of state to be a little more nervous about their own fates. The bottom line: the prosecution needs to commence.
Andrew Thompson is an adjunct assistant professor of political science and the program officer at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo. Alex Neve is the secretary general of Amnesty International Canada in Ottawa.

[2] and


An inside look at Haiti's Business Elite (Interview)

An Interview with Patrick James

Patrick James is the alias of a U.S. businessperson who previously lived and worked in Haiti. This interview was conducted prior to the negotiated ouster of the illegal Haitian military government and the restoration of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, but it remains relevant and timely for the insights it provides about class divisions, power, exploitation and human rights in Haiti. 

Multinational Monitor: How would you characterize the Haitian business class as a community? 

Patrick James: The interconnectedness of the Haitian business community is amazing. I worked for a company and the guy right across the hallway from me, one of the partners, was General Cedras’s brother; the other was a European businessman. My company had one partner whose sister is married to the European businessman, who’s in business with Cedras’s brother. The elite are somehow interconnected or related. Basically they have to work together in order to keep their power intact. 

You can imagine what kind of pressure that must be when you know that there are six million peasants that basically could rise up and tear your house down some night, which, also, I experienced. I’ve witnessed what they call dechoukage where they just basically firebomb, loot and gut a house. Its a terrifying thing. 

This is always in the mind of the elite Haitians. They ride around in their armored vehicles, they have their Uzis in their house. It’s not uncommon to hear machine gun fire when you’re in Port-au-Prince just because there’s a thief trying to break in somewhere. And you’d better believe these rich people have got machine guns. The poorest Haitians cannot rise up. I mean there will not be a revolution in Haiti because you cannot fight these machine guns with sticks and rocks and machetes. There’s only so far you can fight. 

MM: Where do the U.S. businesses fit into that whole picture economically and politically? Are they part of that elite? 

James: The rich Haitian families basically run their own empires. You have partnerships with American businessmen, European businessmen that are very lucrative because you have a monopoly situation in Haiti. There are only a certain amount of players, and if you can provide something that no one else can provide, you’re in. If you have a sister-in-law that’s, say, from Vietnam or Thailand who has connections who can get you all the rice you want to import, then you’re the guy that owns the rice market in Haiti. 

MM: What are the leading empires? 

James: There are probably a group of about 30 families, big families. Then, after that, maybe another hundred or two hundred [at the] next level. There aren’t many people, relative to the entire population, running the show. And, let me tell you, the wealth is unbelievable. I know some of these people that send their kids to private schools in Florida and Switzerland, grammar schools where they’re paying $18,000 a year for one child’s tuition. They are multi-, multi-millionaires. They have a monopoly on the situation. They’re maybe importing rice, then they may export coffee or oranges or whatever. And of course they are making their money from the sweat and blood of the poor Haitian, who’s making maybe $20 a month, if he’s lucky. 

MM: Have the labor costs been that low for a long time? 

James: Always, and the rich plan to keep it that way, that’s how they make their money. Slavery is alive and well in Haiti. That’s what it is, slavery. It’s even worse than slavery, really, because at least with slavery you were offered some fringe benefits, as far as housing. In this situation, you’re offered hard labor and that’s it. If you get enough money to buy a machete so you can chop down a few trees to weave together a hut and pack mud on the side of it, good for you. If not, tough luck. They don’t provide housing, they don’t provide food for these people, they just use them for labor. 

The first day I was at my office, one of the Haitian businessmen came in and I said, “I can’t believe how poor these people are.” This guy was one of the elite, light skin, blue eyes, and he said to me: “Oh yeah, we have to keep these people tired and hungry, otherwise they’ll rise up against us.” 

MM: Do you think people would rise up if they had more resources? 

James: No doubt about it. That’s the thing the [elite] Haitians are so afraid of. When there’s a mob mentality, anything can happen. I remember the night of the coup, I was asleep in bed. At about one o’clock in the morning I heard loud explosions, gunfire, chanting, screaming. I got up and looked out of my bedroom window. I was up on the side of a mountain and I could look down over the whole city. I saw different places on fire and I could tell there was something wrong. So I went outside to ask the night watchman what was going on. He was listening to the radio and said something happened to Aristide. I asked myself, “Am I the good guy or the bad guy?” I didn’t know. I didn’t know if the average Haitian would look at me as a white, a blanc, as the enemy, or if I was just someone that was not involved in the situation so they wouldn’t even bother me. I didn’t know what to do and I heard people chanting, coming up the side of the mountain. I could see different places on fire already on the mountainside. 

So I turned around and went back to my house. I went back into my room and packed my backpack and I took the machete from under my bed and I went back outside to the night watchman. I asked him what we should do, and he said he didn’t know. So we hid. It was a bright moonlit night and we hid in the garage. I could see now there was a crowd out in front of the house, probably 200 people, flaming torches and machetes, and of course I start sweating bullets. They started chopping down the fence and the night watchman said, “We have to go out, otherwise they’re going to come in here.” So I just kind of took a deep breath, and the two of us walked into the moonlight and held our machetes. And I just remember looking up and at that point I could hear them yelling “Blancs, blancs, blancs restent ici,” meaning, “Whites stay here, whites live here.” And then, one by one, they started running away. 

I spent the next two or three nights crawling around on my hands and knees on the floor listening to bullets whizzing by, and to gunfire. 

During one of those days, I went over to a hotel where a bunch of my friends lived. I was sitting on the terrace of the hotel with the owner of the hotel, drinking coffee, talking about the situation, and all of a sudden I hear some screaming and I hear a truck winding up the mountainside. Suddenly, they let the back of the truck down and all the soldiers pile out and start chasing people around the hotel shooting them! 

MM: Who were they chasing? 

James: Just average Haitians. So the owner of the hotel and I wondered what the hell was going on. The two of us just stood up and went out and stood on the veranda with our hands on our hips watching this. And these guys went around and actually shot people, and went up on the side of the mountain, burned down people’s huts, and basically terrorized people

MM: Why were they doing that? 

James: Just to scare them. To let them know that the military is here; we’re in charge again; the Aristide movement is over; don’t even think about rising up or trying to get any power. What could I do? They acted as if the owner of the hotel and I weren’t even there. I was just a bystander. 

MM: You were safe. They weren’t going to attack you? 
James: No. At this point I started to realize, well, there’s something going on here that I don’t understand. 

MM: What was that? 

James: Well, that’s when I realized that the military was on the side of the rich and that, as an American, I had nothing to worry about. And that was the case most of the time in Haiti. 

MM: Does the U.S. business community fear an uprising? 

James: I don’t think the American business community has to worry about it as much, because they have got less to lose, they’ve got a place they can fly away to. It’s the Haitian business community that basically keeps the system in place. 

Of course, if you’re an American businessman and you’re offered to become a part of this system where your risks are much lower than they are for the average Haitian businessperson but your profits are equal, of course you’re going to buy into the system. It’s a good deal. In Haiti, I was making about$800,000 or $900,000 a year. I lived in the lap of luxury, with a huge estate with gardens, gardeners, maids, cooks, laundry women. It was a lifestyle that would take me a lot more work to accomplish in the United States. 

MM: How profitable are the U.S. companies that have assembly operations in Haiti? 

James: These companies benefit from Caribbean Basin Initiative tax incentives for companies that import materials from the United States and then process them in Haiti and send them back. And of course being able to take advantage of the labor costs in Haiti is very advantageous. As far as the profits they take out, I would only be speculating. 

The problem for these companies is the political situation and the instability. Companies are not willing to invest a lot in setting up a manufacturing plant in Haiti for the very reason that happened a couple years ago. You have a coup, and all of a sudden you don’t know whether there’s going to be an embargo placed on you or what. If you have orders to fill, people don’t like to hear that you’re in Haiti, because if they’re going to make a contract to sell these certain products, they want to make sure you’re going to be able to deliver. So this is a big problem for Haiti and a big obstacle as far as having any long-term investment in manufacturing. 

MM: So most of the foreign investment has been for light assembly that goes in and out? 

James: They have made a very low investment because they have portable machinery that they can pack up and pull out any time things start to get a little hot. 

The U.S. Agency for International Development [USAID] did a report a few years ago where it talked about the importance of the low wages as a big advantage for U.S. companies. How can you beat $5 a day in wages? 

MM: Do you think the U.S. firms feel they have a stake in maintaining that system? 

James: I would imagine that there are reasons why the Americans would want to keep that system in place. One being the cost advantage. Another that they provide fruits and other commodities at very low prices. If their wage costs start rising, then the costs of their products are going to start rising and all of a sudden mangoes cost a lot more money in Florida. 

MM: Do you think the U.S. government fears a possible uprising? 

James: An uprising of the peasant majority? There’s no way that the Haitian peasants can rise up. You have one section of the black population which is now aligned with and making money with the rich. Not much, but more than they could make as a farmer cutting mangoes. So now they have a gun and are in control. They’re making a few bucks. The rich tell them to go out and take down some village, shoot up a couple of people, chop their face off, leave them in the street, and they’ll do it. 

MM: How might U.S. intervention work to keep a lid on the situation? 

James: Whether or not the United States wants to prevent the Haitian population from rising up, I think they should align themselves, or at least work with, the military. Try to separate the police force from the military so that there is some type of civilian protection. They should try not to go in as the aggressors who are trying to wipe out the military, but to go in and say “we’re here to retrain the army; we’re here to work with the army.” 

MM: Did you have a sense of how the U.S. embassy or U.S. business people felt about Aristide’s coming to power, and the whole popular movement? 

James: I think there was worry about how far Aristide was pushing, especially for a minimum wage, trying to set up a social security system, things like this. 

When Aristide first came in he said, “There’s going to be a mandatory $5 minimum [daily] wage, everybody has got to do it.” It was just so outlandish that nobody even took it seriously. You figure the average Haitian probably makes about 20 dollars a month, so you’re talking about five dollars a week to five dollars a day! 

MM: What impact would that have on the way the Haitian economy works? 

James: For the average worker, it would have increased their wages, so income would have increased. The effect on the economy would have been inflationary because the businessman is not going to settle for not making enough money. All prices would increase relative to the currency exchange. It would have balanced out ultimately, but the initial impact would have been a strain on the businessman. 

MM: What kind of profits do local business people usually make? 

James: I would say the average retailer will make something like a 60 percent profit. As far as importing and then distributing, a lot depends on the currency exchange. Right now [during the embargo], profits may be as high as 400 percent — that’s just the law of supply and demand. When you have sanctions that are limiting the supply, of course your prices are going to increase. 

So Aristide, I think, had some ideal things he wanted to accomplish, but he just moved too fast. He didn’t consider the establishment that had been in place for 200 years, and out of his frustration he started making very passionate and radical speeches about how to break down the economic system that was in place. And, unfortunately, he pushed too far. 

MM: What was the overall business objection to social security? 

James: My own personal fear was that I didn’t know how long this government would last, so I didn’t want to start putting money into a fund that could disappear and then wonder who’s getting all the money when the next coup takes place. I told government officials who asked for social security payments that I wasn’t going to pay into it, that I’d rather give my workers extra money every week. 

MM: Did many businesses react that way? 

James: I think there were probably some that had more pressure on them than I did, especially if they were Haitian run. Because I was an American,because I was white — it sounds pretty arrogant — I could basically call whatever shots I wanted just because of the color of my skin and my eyes. I could say: “No, I’m not doing it.” 

MM: Even when it comes to paying a tax? 
James: Yes, yes, and I didn’t do it.


Harvard Research Group: MINUSTAH must withdraw from Haiti

On October 4th, 2011, Harvard students as part of a group of Canadian and US human rights advocates, doctors, public health experts, and journalists released an extensively researched white paper reviewing and evaluating the record of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (known by its French acronym, MINUSTAH) and recommending the withdrawal of the force from Haiti.

The paper is titled, MINUSTAH: Keeping the peace, or conspiring against it? A review of the human rights record of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, 2010-2011. Its  release comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of MINUSTAH due to high profile human rights abuses and widespread anti-MINUSTAH sentiment in Haiti. The United Nations Security Council’s meeting to renew MINUSTAH’s mandate for the next year is scheduled for October 15th, 2011.
The white paper describes the historical and legal underpinnings of MINUSTAH’s mandate and its political context, while thoroughly reviewing its human rights record since the 2010 earthquake. Human rights violations perpetrated by the force include sexual violence, violent responses to political protests, and the introduction of cholera into Haiti followed by the failure to accept responsibility or offer adequate resources for cholera treatment, prevention, and compensation to victims’ families. Beyond these direct abuses, MINUSTAH has also violated its mandate through failure to protect the internally displaced from forced evictions and gender-based violence, poor security coordination and lack of communication with Haitian groups, and subversion of democratic processes by failing to respond to significant irregularities during the recent presidential elections.
Co-author Deepa Panchang noted, “The white paper project emerged because our Haitian partners were angry and frustrated with MINUSTAH’s widespread human rights violations in Haiti, yet these violations were not being documented in a systematic way and MINUSTAH was not being held accountable for them. Our goal for the white paper was to present an accessible and accurate report to influence decision-making going forward.” Panchang is an alumna of the Harvard School of Public Health.
“The cholera epidemic has been an entirely manmade and preventable disaster for Haiti. Especially given the role of MINUSTAH in bringing this epidemic to Haiti, the significant
allocation of funding to MINUSTAH while the cholera response remains underfunded is problematic to say the least,” co-author Rishi Rattan of Physicians for Haiti added.
With this in mind, the white paper seeks to shed light on the current human rights abuses occurring at the hands of MINUSTAH and spark critical debate about whether the international community can continue to justify the increasingly high human cost of the mission.
“With the continuous stream of human rights violations attributed to MINUSTAH, if the international community is serious about helping Haiti they will decide that respect for Haitian sovereignty and human rights is incompatible with an extension of the force’s mandate,” said co-author Kevin Edmonds, a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto.
HealthRoots is an officially recognized student organization at the Harvard School of Public Health. HealthRoots examines how social structures, relations of production, and distributions of power in society affect population health. The Harvard name and the VERITAS shield are trademarks of the President and Fellows of Harvard College and are used by the permission of Harvard University.

Conditions in Haiti Declining Sharply


Health Conditions Declining Sharply in Haiti's Earthquake Survivor Camps and Beyond, Agencies Report


By Roger Annis
October 26, 2011--The latest bulletin of the Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) of the United Nations[1], presents an alarming description of the health conditions and trends in Haiti's earthquake survivor camps and in overall cholera treatment and prevention in the country.


Health indicators in the camps are declining as international organizations end their funding of health promotion programs. According to the latest survey of 626 camps (two-thirds of the total number of camps) by the National Directorate for Water and Sanitation (DINEPA) of the Haitian government and the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) cluster of Haitian and international organizations, access to potable water, sanitation and hygiene services is declining.


In August, only seven percent of the surveyed camps had access to clean water, compared to 48% in March. Out of 12,000 latrines needed, only 4,579 (38%) were functional. Many desludging activities (cleaning of latrines) ceased at the end of August for lack of funding. Drainage infrastructure in the camps is deteriorating.


Available hand-washing stations in camps have reached their lowest point since the cholera outbreak in October 2010. Only 12% of camps have them, compared to 20% in March. In August, 29% of camps had at least one organization promoting hygiene, compared to 36% in May.


Across Haiti, only 54% of people have access to safe drinking water and 34% to sanitation (latrines).


Food insecurity and children without schools

The OCHA report also looks at other social indicators of health.


According to a national survey conducted in April and May of this year by the National Coordination for Food Security in Haiti, 4.5 million Haitians, approximately half of the population, is food insecure. (The definition of food security is a subject of much debate in development circles; a simple definition is "when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.") That's up from somewhere between 2.5 and 3.3 million people one year ago, according to an emergency survey conducted at the time.


Nearly one million people have no regular access to basic food staples.


The decline in food security is attributed to many factors, including:

  • Increase in food prices (Haitians are almost entirely dependent on market purchases for their food)
  • Loss of agricultural production due to Hurricane Tomas, which struck in early November, 2010
  • Disruption to agricultural production and marketing due to the cholera epidemic
  • The departure of growing numbers of humanitarian organizations from Haiti


Seventy six percent of children in displaced persons camps are in school. But that figure drops to 48% in the earthquake zone (Port au Prince commune). Three hundred and sixty schools damaged by the earthquake are still requiring debris removal to be functional; another 500 operate under heavily deteriorated tents. That's more than 20% of Haiti's estimated 4,000 schools.


Only 18% of damaged schools have been rebuilt or rehabilitated. The OCHA report states, "Many parents cannot afford to buy learning materials, and schools are overcrowded and in poor condition, often without proper water and sanitation facilities, exposing children to the risk of cholera and other epidemics."


The worsening conditions in the camps was the subject of a one-hour press teleconference hosted by the global health agency Partners In Health (PIH) on October 18. It reported a sharp decline in the number of international organizations providing assistance for cholera treatment and prevention in Haiti - from 128 in January of this year to 48 in July.


The cholera epidemic is placing a severe strain on the financial resources of PIH and the other, large international organizations providing treatment and prevention (including Cuba's medical mission and Doctors Without Borders). In July alone, PIH's Haitian partner organization, Zanmi Lasante, treated 12,629 cholera patients.


Close to half a million Haitians - 5% of the population - have contracted cholera. More than 6,500 have died.


According to an Oct. 19 financial appeal issued by PIH, the organization has a two-pronged approach to cholera treatment. In the short term, it consists of:

  • Finding cholera victims where they live and treating them at well-equipped, well-staffed facilities  Giving people the information they need to protect themselves, to know when they've been infected, and when, where, and how to get treatment
  • Providing emergency access to clean water and sanitation (latrines) to communities in most dire need
  • Launching a pilot oral vaccination program for 100,000 people, an emergency, live-saving measure that complements longer-term efforts. (One estimate shows that 30% vaccination coverage in Haiti would decrease cholera cases by 55%.)


DINEPA is stepping up its distribution of water purification tablets as it revises optimistic expectations that the cholera outbreak would be under control by now.


The PIH financial appeal urges readers to demand that the international and Haitian governments assist in providing clean water by digging wells, capping springs, build safe water systems on a national scale and treat waste through widespread access to latrines and waste treatment facilities.


PIH is also demanding that international donors live up to their financial commitments to earthquake recovery made at the Mar. 31, 2010 international donors conference in New York. At that time, $4.6 billion in pledges for recovery in 2010 and 2011 were made by governments and UN agencies. To date, only 43% has been delivered or committed.


Dr. Paul Farmer, Partners In Health's founder, told the Oct. 18 conference call: "Some years ago, PIH and many sister organizations began talking about the right to water. We did so because those of us who are clinicians, we can sit in our clinics and work in our hospitals and wait for people to come in sick with complications of water-borne diseases, or we can work with public authorities and appropriate NGO partners and others to build real water security in Haiti. We've been sounding that drum for some years now."



Roger Annis is the coordinator of the Canada Haiti Action Network (CHAN). He can be reached at rogerannis(at) This article first appeared in Oct 26, 2011 edition of the weekly Haiti Liberté, published in New York and Port au Prince, You can listen to the one hour, Oct 18 teleconference of Partners In Health at this web address:

[1] OCHA Humanitarian Bulletin, Sept 21-Oct 18, 2011


Haiti: Unions Charge Reprisals by textile Owners


4. HAITI: Nascent Union Charges Reprisals by Textile Factory Owners

By Ansel Herz

Published by Inter-Press News Service, Oct 28, 2011,


PORT-AU-PRINCE (IPS) – Workers in Haiti’s apparel manufacturing sector charge that factory owners are repressing attempts to organise workers in the capital, after the dismissals of six of seven leading members of a new union within just two weeks of its formation.


The new union, Sendika Ouvriye Takstil ak Abiman (SOTA), is recognised by the Haitian government and supported by the Haitian union federation Batay Ouvriye, which organised the only other textile workers’ union in the country on the border with the Dominican Republic in 2006.


Judeline Pierre, a rail-thin 44-year-old mother who works at the Sonapi Industrial Park near Port-au-Prince’s airport, said she has been secretly attending union meetings organised by Batay Ouvriye for months.


In her bag, she carries a wrinkled, folded-up flyer calling for better conditions in the factories. She said she had to hide her involvement in the union, “because as soon as you start to assert your rights, they fire you. They’ve fired many operators for that.”


Textile factories in Port-au-Prince employ about 29,000 people, in a country of nine million with an estimated unemployment rate of 80 percent, according to the U.S. Embassy. The minimum wage is about five dollars per day, though some workers earn more by exceeding production quotas.


A handful of contractors run the factories, assembling and exporting duty-free garments for U.S. companies like Hanes and The Gap under the terms of a preferential U.S.-Haiti trade deal known as the HOPE programme.


Two Haitian factory owners, Charles Baker, whose factory fired one of the union-connected workers, and George Sassine, the head of the owners’ industry association and executive director of the HOPE programme, told IPS they were not opposed to unions in principle and that recent worker firings are justified.


“These incidents, they have nothing to do with people trying to form a union,” Sassine told IPS. “Now suddenly, the whole international community is on my back telling me I’m against people organising.”


Sassine said he believes Batay Ouvriye aims to completely shut down factories, rather than merely organise workers.


Stepping out of his air-conditioned office onto a buzzing, 1,640- worker-strong factory floor, Baker gestured around, “If they want to unionise, they can unionise. But they need to do it in the right way.” He said he fired a man handing out flyers during work hours and interrupting production.


Between the workers and the factory owners is Better Work Haiti, a nine-person team funded by the U.S. Department of Labour charged with monitoring labour conditions in Haiti’s textile factories. The group will issue a fact-finding report on the alleged firings of SOTA members next month.


Better Work Haiti’s third biannual report on compliance with International Labour Organisation standards was released two weeks ago. It found violations of some occupational health and safety and minimum wage regulations in over 80 percent of the factories, but in the four “core” labour standards, compliance rates are near perfect.


Richard Lavallée, Better Work Haiti’s director, said the factory owners “are fully engaged in the programme” and praised the steady improvements in compliance with core standards over the last two years.


The fourth core standard is the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. The latest report identifies just two instances of non-compliance, including a 12-day-long strike in May which resulted in the firings of 140 workers.


But the low non-compliance rate is potentially misleading. “Although no non-compliance findings are cited in the current report under Union Operations,” the report notes, there are "very significant challenges related to the rights of workers to freely form, join and participate in independent trade unions”.


"If you look at the reports, in Haiti there is only one unionised factory (in Ouanaminthe) out of 23 operating factories. In the factories in Port-au-Prince, there are no unions. We don’t have any evidence,” Lavallée said.


He explained that if a factory owner fires a person for trying to organise workers, it won’t be noted in the employee records reviewed by his team.


Asked if Better Work Haiti isn’t really measuring anything when it comes to conditions for labour organising, because there are almost no unions, Lavallée responded, “Exactly.”


Haitian union activists have continually complained of attempts to stifle union activity by factory owners, Lavallée said, but he hadn’t seen evidence and the activists had not provided names of dismissed workers until last month’s round of firings.


The expansion of the textile industry in Haiti has long been enshrined as a key plank of the country’s reconstruction and development plan. A U.S. Embassy spokesperson told IPS the industry has the potential to more than double in the next four years.


Officials say 20,000 jobs will be created by Korean garment manufacturing giant Sae-A, which inked a deal with the Haitian government last year to build an industrial park in northern Haiti.


The project’s funding by international donors, including 50 million dollars from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and 120 million dollars from the United States, was “not conditional on allowing unions to organise that space”, according to Canadian political scientist Yasmine Shamsie, who has studied Haiti’s textile industry.


“I’m very disappointed in the industry’s reaction to the new union,” Shamsie told IPS by email, referring to SOTA.


Her 2010 report for the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum called for a “high-road approach” to the Haitian apparel industry’s expansion, including unionising workers and providing welfare programmes to raise their living standards.


She said she didn’t understand the “lack of interest” in that strategy from international donors. “To be frank, it’s a no-brainer,” Shamsie said. “You say you want to create employment and reduce poverty – then give workers the tools to advocate for better than poverty wages.”


A study published last March by the AFL-CIO’s Workers Consortium found wages needed to be nine times higher for apparel industry workers to pay for basic living expenses. Senator Steven Benoit, who spearhead the last minimum wage increase in Haiti’s parliament, said wages need to raised again.


Sassine, the industry association president, told IPS a higher minimum wage would force factories to lay off workers and close down. Secret diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks show that Sassine and the U.S. Embassy worked together to oppose Benoit’s last attempt to raise the wages.


“President Martelly is talking about having a bunch of new textile factories coming to Haiti that will pay four dollars per day for 12 hours. This is slavery!” Benoit said, raising his voice during an interview in his Port-au-Prince office. “Nobody can live on five dollars per day on Earth in any country in the world. So this should be addressed, and I will address it again, before the year is over.”


Having worked there for two years, Judeline Pierre plans to quit her factory job and return to selling goods in street markets next year. Her family is worried about her health and she said she hasn’t earned enough to pay for her two children to attend school this year.


The long hours and intense, repetitive labour on sewing machines leaves her fatigued, she said, and her doctor recommended she find other work. Asked whether she can make more as a street merchant, she gave a wry smile and said, “It depends. But I’ll manage.”


In the late 1980s, Claudy Fevois, like Pierre, worked for three years at an apparel manufacturing factory near the Port-au-Prince airport. At the time, the industry employed about150,000 people, before the sector was devastated by political instability.


Now she sells breads from her neighbourhood’s local bakery. “(That work) can’t do anything for you,” she said, as she washed her children’s clothes by hand. “If I had been advancing in that job, I wouldn’t have quit after three years.”



How MINUSTAH Hurts Haiti



By Becca Polk
Published in Haiti Liberte, Vol. 5, No. 14, October 19 - 25, 2011                           

During the first week in October, I took part in a human rights delegation to Haiti led by the U.S. grassroots organization School of the Americas (SOA) Watch. The delegation of 17 activists from around the U.S. wanted to gain firsthand knowledge about the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), a military occupation force of 13,000 troops and police. We also saw numerous initiatives being organized by Haitians to promote their nation’s dignity and sovereignty.

SOA Watch monitors and protests the activities of the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas (SOA), based at Ft. Benning, Georgia, where the officers of repressive Latin American military and police forces, including Haiti’s, are trained. (In January 2001, the school was renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.) I work in the Washington, DC office of SOA Watch, which carries out its work through vigils and fasts, demonstrations and nonviolent protest, as well as media and legislative work.

The conversations and encounters that I had on this delegation to Haiti have inspired me and touched my heart, changing my perspective on the world. While I do not represent the whole delegation or even SOA Watch, I would like to share some reflections about the numerous meetings we had and things we witnessed.

We observed MINUSTAH tanks, soldiers and police patrolling every corner of Port-au-Prince, where Haitians eke out basic survival amidst earthquake rubble. The UN Security Council deployed MINUSTAH in June 2004 to replace the U.S., French and Canadian troops which occupied Haiti following the coup d’etat (supported by those same nations) against then President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004.

According to its mandate, MINUSTAH should focus on training and strengthening the Haitian National Police. But, in reality, we observed that MINUSTAH is primarily a military mission which provides security not for Haiti’s people, but rather for foreign companies (including most of the large NGOs) and Haiti’s business elite.

“It's an occupation force that doesn't help the people,” a representative from the “Grassroots Coalition against MINUSTAH” told us. “They terrorize the people in the poor neighborhoods, they say they are here to help the people of Haiti who are in misery, and their sole objective is to support the multinationals and the bourgeoisie in Haiti.”

Our delegation learned how militarization is often justified as providing security for humanitarian assistance. For example, 22,000 U.S. troops and an additional 4,000 UN troops were deployed to Haiti following the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake. But other than a few token efforts, those troops did not generally help to save lives, remove rubble, or rebuild homes. They primarily patrolled streets and guarded businesses, supposedly to prevent “looting.”

The UN troops, we were told, have often conducted deadly raids in Haitian shantytowns and against anti-coup demonstrations. In short, MINUSTAH represses the very people it pretends to protect.

Although some people feared that security might degenerate if MINUSTAH leaves, the vast majority of Haitian grassroots groups agreed that MINUSTAH is causing more harm than good. The UN spends $2 million a day to deploy MINUSTAH in Haiti, while hundreds of thousands of Haitian earthquake victims remain homeless and destitute.

We heard about cases where Haitians had been sexually abused by MINUSTAH troops and how others had contracted cholera, a now epidemic disease which Nepalese soldiers in the MINUSTAH mission brought to Haiti one year ago. Cholera has now killed over 6,500 Haitians and sickened over 420,000.

“The police and MINUSTAH don’t come out at night,” said one woman out of several who had been victim of sexual violence in the tent camps. Her statement was quickly affirmed by many nodding heads in the meeting we held with several women’s organizations. It became clear to me through many conversations like these that MINUSTAH troops do not protect women from rape or stop other crimes. On the contrary, we heard testimony of how UN soldiers had committed rape and other sexual violence.

We also heard testimony that MINUSTAH troops have aided in the illegal evictions of tent city residents, violently repressed demonstrations, and attacked some of Haiti’s poorest communities. Far from a neutral party, the UN took the side of the coup-produced government from 2004 to 2006, aiding in the repression of the Fanmi Lavalas, Haiti’s largest political party, and in maintaining the party’s leader, Aristide, in exile. This constitutes repression of Haitian sovereignty, not democracy promotion.

Even the legality of MINUSTAH’s mandate is questionable, we learned from Haitian lawyers. Haiti has no civil war and is no threat to international peace and security. Furthermore, under an agreement signed by Haiti’s illegal coup government and the UN, MINUSTAH troops cannot be tried in Haitian courts for violations of human rights.

However, UN troops have routinely violated Haitian’s human rights. We visited Cite Soleil and were shown the thousands of bullet holes that still pockmark buildings following massacres carried out by MINUSTAH troops from 2005 until 2007. We were told the story of a young man in Cap Haitien who was found hanging from a tree after the alleged mistress of a MINUSTAH commander falsely accused him of stealing money; the day after his death, she found her misplaced purse. When a Haitian judge tried to look into the case, the UN brass blocked the investigation.

MINUSTAH’s “presence helps perpetuate their staying,” one woman told us. “They should leave because they are wasting resources and not fixing anything. MINUSTAH money should instead train more police and security forces, and go to creating more jobs.” The overwhelming message we received: MINUSTAH is in Haiti to maintain the status quo, which features a huge chasm between between rich and poor.

SOA Watch helped initiate a recent letter to Latin American goverments, signed by a number of prominent Latin American intellectuals, academics and human rights defenders, demanding MINUSTAH’s immediate withdrawal. (Read the letter here.)

Also, our delegation released the following statement: “Members of U.S.-based human rights, legal, faith-based, and policy organizations call for an end to foreign intervention in Haiti today, including the withdrawal of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH.”

Many Haitians we spoke to were also concerned that the current President Michel Martelly wants to bring back the Haitian army, which Aristide dismantled in 1995. The former Haitian army, which was set up by the U.S. Marines following their 1915-1934 military occupation, was a corrupt and brutal force, responsible for many coups and massacres.
It never protected Haiti against foreign states; it only repressed and terrorized the Haitian people.

The new force that Martelly proposes would cost $95 million annually to start. This is money Haiti cannot afford, for a force the Haitan people do not want or need, people told us.

Haitians we spoke with also denounced NGOs that purport to “help the people” but which are, in their view, corrupt and parasitical. The NGOs spend more on overhead and living expense than they do on providing aid. Many of these same NGOs participated in the coup against President Aristide by financing the opposition and writing reports filled with disinformation that contributed to a pro-coup media campaign. Many of these NGOs also support the neoliberal agenda which is destabilizing democracy in Haiti.

Haitians provided great inspiration for continuing our social justice work and organizing here in the U.S. Their history is inspirational: the only successful slave revolution routed the most powerful army at the time, and then, as a free nation, provided support and safe refuge for anyone fighting slavery and colonialism, including Simon Bolivar, who led the freedom struggles on the South American continent. This heroic history has instilled a resilience in Haitians that you can see in the faces of women as they balance huge baskets on their heads, or in the faces of children playing soccer in the dust of Cite Soleil.

Despite their near total lack of financial support, many Haitian grassroots organizations continue fighting, interacting and empowering the poorest and most disenfranchised sectors of Haitian society in the pursuit of jobs, water, food, housing, and security. One representative of MOLEGHAF (Movement for Liberty and Equality by Haitians for Fraternity) told us that “there cannot be freedom if people’s basic needs for survival are not respected and met.” Others whom we interviewed repeated this several times during our visit.

No amount of studying or analysis beforehand can prepare you for the situation in Haiti. My conclusions after this, my first trip to Haiti, are clear and straightforward: I support Haitians’ demand for sovereignty and believe they have the right to govern themselves. We must support lawyers working both to bring justice for crimes of the past but also to empower people to change their own futures. We must support student groups working for justice and reparations for victims of MINUSTAH violence and cholera. We must support Haitian journalists working to investigate injustice and give voice to the Haitian people’s concerns. We must support Haitian women's organizations working on issues of rape and gender imbalance.

I support the demands from all quarters for “solidarity, not a military force,” solidarity like the doctors provided by Cuba and the petroleum provided by Venezuela. I hope that people from the international grassroots community will join in the call that international money raised for Haiti be spent on Haitian initiatives to benefit the Haitian people, and not on military occupation and economic initiatives that benefit the international and Haitian ruling elite.

I have learned how the U.S. government has worked to undermine rather than to build democracy in Haiti. The strategies to solve these problems are complicated and not mine to determine. But I will continue to support the organizations working with the Haitian peoople for democracy, justice and sovereignty.

Becca Polk works at SOA Watch in Washington, DC and can be reached at