• Stop Deportations of Haitians! Legalization Now!
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is planning to deport 30,000 Haitians, many of them having lived here for years and with children or spouses that are citizens. ICE is organizing to round-up the people involved and detain them in prison camps in Miami. ICE has already put 598 in these camps and has forced 243 people to wear electronic ankle bracelets. The Haitians are being criminalized and deported with many having committed no crime.
On hearing of the deportation orders, activists in Miami immediately organized a protest. They are demanding an end to arrests and an end to deportations of Haitians, the right to work and the immediate release of the hundreds of Haitians and other immigrants held in detention centers across the country. The detention camps have horrendous conditions yet Haitians and others are being forced to stay for prolonged periods.
It is especially inhuman and cruel and unusual punishment to force tens of thousands of Haitians home at this time, when people in Haiti are contending with conditions where they have "no homes, no employment, no food." The storms and hurricanes that hit Haiti were the equivalent of 10 Katrinas and the recovery has been just as slow, as the U.S. acts to insure Haiti's debts are not canceled, reparations are not paid, and now even the remittances from Haitians in the U.S. will be eliminated as tens of thousands are deported. We say NO! No to deportations, legalization for Haitians and all immigrants Now!
Activists also bring out the double standard of the government that allows Cubans who reach the U.S. immediate citizenship, while Haitians and all other immigrants are denied legal status and are being deported by the tens of thousands. In both cases the actions of the government are designed to harm the struggle of the Cuban and Haitian peoples for their rights, including their right to chart their own path of development free from U.S. interference.
Fifth Anniversary of U.S.-Backed Coup Against Haiti
U.S. imperialism has guaranteed that Haiti has remained one of the poorest countries in the world. From the days when Haitians rose up and eliminated slavery — while slavery still existed in the U.S. — the imperialists have never forgiven the Haitian people. They imposed ruthless dictators, like the Duvaliers. More recently the U.S. was behind the coup in Haiti in 2004 that ousted democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and forced him into exile. The U.S.-dominated financial institutions, like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have continued to refuse to cancel Haiti's debts, even in the face of the massive storms. The U.S. and France, the colonizer before the U.S., have both refused to pay reparations for the crimes and devastation both imposed on Haiti.
Yet the people of Haiti march on undaunted, resisting imperialism and its slavery and fighting for their national and social rights. In December numerous demonstrations took place demanding that all foreign powers get out of Haiti, that Aristide return and reparations be paid now. On February 28, the fifth anniversary of the coup, yet more actions are taking place.
Voice of Revolution salutes the Haitian people and their contributions to the struggle against imperialism and demands immediate reparations, canceling of the debts, and an end to deportations!
Stop Haitian Deportations
Dear Deputy Assistant Secretary Esther Olavarria,
The Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, a Haitian-led, Haitian capacity building organization, dedicated to protecting the civil, human, economic and cultural rights of Haitians living at home and broad, takes this moment to congratulation you, on being appointed, by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, to be the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy to shape the Obama Administration’s immigration policy.
Ms. Olavarria, as co-founder of the Florida Immigration Advocacy Center and a lawyer who started her career, over 20-years ago, at the Haitian Refugee Center in Miami at the height of the struggle for Haitian refugee rights, we know we do not need to underscore for you, in any great detail, the unfair treatment of Haitian refugees and asylum seekers in the U.S. and the current Haitian desire for a stop to all deportations to Haiti, for work permits to be granted to Haitian nationals and to have all Haitians release d from the detention camps and the suspension of all legal and administrative proceedings. Justice demands that the U.S. begins to treat Haitians as human beings deserving of equal protection under the laws and take into consideration the humanitarian crisis in Haiti and that the flow of Haitian remittances from the U.S. to family and children in Haiti is providing critical life-sustaining support in these times where Haiti is pummeled by a global economic crisis, hurricane devastation, food shortages and famine.
You are well known and duly recognized, Ms. Olavarria, as a champion for immigrant rights and for your lifelong devotion and career spent representing the legal rights of immigrants and pursuing fair and equitable application of the U.S. immigration laws as to all immigrants, without distinction. You are aware, Ms. Olavarria, of our plight as Haitians and the continuous unfair treatment, vis a vis others, similarly situated, who Haitians have watched be granted political asylum or TPS, while our people are continuously subject to incarceration, detention, deportations and interdictions at sea and repatriations without a fair hearing on credible claims for political asylum.
Now is the time for this paradigm to change. And you Ms. Olavarria are in a unique position to explain to the Obama Administration that fair and decisive action is urgently needed on this Haiti deportation matter. We ask that you help the Administration to do the right thing and assure more equal application of the immigration laws towards Haitians and, most immediately, that President Obama’s administration upholds humanitarian values and protect lives in Haiti by stopping all deportations to hurricane-ravaged, famine-stricken Haiti.
At HLLN we are dismayed that in the same week that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made it clear that immigration enforcement is among her top priorities that we saw a report where teams of “fugitive operations teams” may be launched to go after 30,000 Haitians ordered deported who have not complied. We are not advocating for a disregard of the immigration laws, but Haitians feel singled out here and this is especially frightful at a time when we are asking that the Obama administration, breaks from the past and designate the country of Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for a period of 18 months with specifications to stop all deportations to Haiti.
In 2008, hurricanes and storms devastated Haiti, and presidential candidate Barack Obama stated: “I also urge the United States to work in partnership with President Rene Preval and the new Haitian government … to immediately assemble a task force on reconstruction and recovery to begin work as soon as the storms pass…Together, we can help Haiti recover from this terrible series of storms and renew efforts to bring hope and opportunity to the people of Haiti.”
Today, deportations to storm-ravage Haiti continue. When the US deports an income earner to storm-ravaged Haiti, this decreases remittances and further impoverishes family members. Diaspora remittances are the most effective and direct aid to the Haitian poor in Haiti.
In 2002 TPS was renewed for Nicaraguan and Honduran immigrants because of continuing difficulties caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. At this point, Haiti is in much worse shape than Central Americans were at the time. Haitians in the United States should receive equal treatment and protection. Haiti qualifies for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and should be granted this disaster relief.
Four tropical storms and hurricanes battered Haiti during last year’s harvest season, killing almost 1,000 people nationwide, decimating Haiti’s agriculture and causing $1 billion in damage to irrigation, bridges and roads. Mudslides still cover entire towns. Houses are flooded. Schools have collapsed on children and people are starving. It’s inhumane to deport Haitian back to Haiti under these devastating conditions, where they will find no home, no employment, no food, no personal safety and security.
TPS was established to provide protection to people who are temporarily unable to return to their homelands. Please, Ms. Olavarria, help the people in Haiti by permitting their friends and relatives in the United States to remain here and to continue to send support to a nation in severe crisis. Please affirm the United States tradition of caring for and protecting persons in vulnerable situations by granting TPS and/or stopping all deportations through Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) or any equivalent administrative or executive ruling, with a specification to stop ALL deportations and provide work permits to Haitian nationals.
To: President Barack H. Obama
Dear President Obama:
First, congratulations on your new job. Immigrant communities look forward to working with your administration. Certainly you have many pressing priorities. We are compelled, however, to bring to your attention a life or death matter: Haitian deportees face hunger, homelessness and unemployment, if not worse, in the wake of four killer storms that further devastated our hemisphere’s poorest nation. We urge you to immediately stay deportations to Haiti pending review of U.S. immigration policy toward Haitians.
These deportations are inhumane and, we believe, contrary to your administration’s values of fairness, transparency and respect for human rights.
The former administration stayed deportations to Haiti in September only to resume them abruptly in December without notice or reasonable explanation. This was a last- minute Department of Homeland Security policy reversal. It should not stand.
Conditions in Haiti remain abysmal. The storms destroyed 15 percent of its GDP — the equivalent of eight to 10 Hurricane Katrinas hitting the U.S. in one month. Yesterday the State Department renewed warnings to not travel to Haiti due to the “destructive impact” of the storms.
Staying the deportations is in the interest of the U.S. Sending more people in need of food and shelter will further burden the Haitian government, which already is overwhelmed by the magnitude of the natural disaster. Deportees only delay recovery efforts. Meanwhile, Haitians who remain here would continue to send remittances, encouraging relatives to stay in Haiti and help rebuild their country.
These deportations tear apart families, hurting U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. Vialine Jean Paul, 34, married a U.S. citizen. Their 7-year-old, U.S-born daughter is being treated for a chronic viral infection. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told Ms. Jean Paul to buy plane tickets for herself and her daughter to go to Haiti on February 9. Her dilemma: Should she put her daughter at risk of malaria, hepatitis, cholera, malnutrition and uncertain medical care in Haiti or leave her sick daughter behind?
Across America, many want our government to stand with the Haitian people. Haiti still needs U.S. help. Please help by immediately staying deportations to Haiti and undoing the last administration’s late-term policy reversal. It is the fair and decent course of action.
Marleine Bastien, Executive Director Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami/Haitian Women of Miami
It is a familiar story for Haitians — last in, first out for the hemisphere's poorest, least wanted, and most abused people here and at home. Most recently it was highlighted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials announcing the resumption of over 30,000 deportations to a nation reeling from poverty, repression, despair, the devastation from last summer's storms, and occupation by UN paramilitary Blue Helmets — since 2004, illegally there for the first time ever to support and enforce a coup d'etat against a democratically elected president, at the behest of Washington.
On December 9, ICE resumed deportations after halting them in September following summer storms that battered the country leaving 800,000 people without food, clean water, other essentials, and for around 70,000 their homes.
ICE spokeswoman Nicole Navas announced: "We fully expected to resume deportation flights when it was safe. And we made a determination that it was appropriate to (do it now) based on the conditions on the ground....The individuals being returned have final orders of removal and the necessary travel documents" -- even though advocates say things are worse in Haiti, not better.
BBC called the situation "eye-popping," and the Miami Herald said it was "the worst humanitarian disaster (for) Haiti in 100 years" leaving:
• Gonaives, Haiti's third largest city, uninhabitable;
In December, Director Randy McGorty of Catholic Legal Services for the Archdiocese of Miami said:
"After dealing with this administration on Haitian issues for eight years, I'm forced to conclude that its policy toward Haiti is based on racism. It's shocking. People (lack everything and) are starving. This callous disregard for human life is inexplicable. Many deported Haitians simply have no communities to return to. It is disappointing that the Bush administration would even consider sending people back to this incredibly fragile nation....(Haiti's) humanitarian crisis....continues and worsens."
(South) Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center's (FIAC) executive director, Cheryl Little, said: "We are attempting to do whatever we can to convince government officials to change their minds on this. It's an outrageously inhumane act."
On January 26, FIAC urged new DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to "immediately stay the inhumane deportations and to seriously consider granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians already in the United States." On December 19, former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff denied the Preval government's TPS request. As a result, Haiti won't cooperate, so ICE is making Haitians get their own travel documents (including passports) and assist in their own deportations.
Throughout 2008, around 1000 occurred in total. After a near-three month suspension (from September 19-December 9), they resumed slowly, but picked up noticeably after Obama's inauguration. According to FIAC, men like Louiness Petit-Frere are affected, deported on January 23: "Here ten years with no criminal record, he leaves his U.S.-citizen wife behind along with his mother and four siblings, all (with) legal status....One of his brothers, U.S. Marine Sgt Nikenson Peirreloui, served and was injured in Iraq."
In 2008, Obama campaigned vigorously for South Florida's Haitian vote. Now he's betrayed it the way he's abandoning millions of distressed households by providing little in real relief compared to trillions in handouts to Wall Street and the rich.
After Congress established TPS in 1990, Washington granted 260,000 Salvadorans, 82,000 Hondurans, and 5000 Nicaraguans protection, then extended it on October 1, 2008. It lets the Attorney General grant temporary immigration status to undocumented residents unable to return home due to armed conflict, environmental disasters, or other "extraordinary and temporary conditions." Besides El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras, past recipients included Kuwait, Lebanon, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Guinea-Bissau, Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia, Montserrat, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, and Angola. Six nations still have TPS, but all face expiration in 2009 unless extended.
Haitians never got it, yet granting it is the simplest, least expensive form of aid so Port-au-Prince can concentrate on redevelopment while Haitians in America help through remittances back to families. In 2006, they sent $1.65 billion, the highest income percentage from any foreign national group in the world.
In 1997, the Clinton administration granted Haitians Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for one year. Currently about 20,000 Haitians qualify for TPS, a much smaller number than for other recipient countries.
Nonetheless, deportations are proceeding with 30,299 on "final order of removal" status, meaning an immigration judge ordered them out. About 600 are in detention, 243 others are electronically monitored, and all 30,000 will be removed by an administration as callous to the poor as previous hard-liners under George Bush. In America, everything changes, yet stays the same, even under the first black president.
Some Background on Haitian Immigration to America
Haitians began arriving in South Florida about 50 years ago, but were denied the same rights and treatment as more favored immigrants like Europeans. Fleeing repressive dictatorships hardly mattered during years under "Papa" and "Baby Doc" Duvalier or when military dictatorships ran the country.
In September 1963, the first boatload claiming persecution arrived but were denied asylum and deported. Decades later, it's the same. After a 1991 coup deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, thousands of Haitians fled to America. Most were intercepted at sea and sent home while around 300 were detained at Guantanamo because tests showed they were HIV positive.
Conditions at the camp were deplorable. Treated like prisoners, they were held behind razor wire in leaky barracks with bad sanitation, poor food, and little medical care even for the sick and pregnant women. After protests and a hunger strike, crackdowns were severe, many were imprisoned, and Clinton White House justification was no different than today. The DOJ claimed Haitians had no legal rights under the Constitution, federal statutes, or international law. Wrong.
International law protects asylum seekers, Haitians as much as others.
Article I of the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees defines one as:
"A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of their nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail him/herself of the protection of that country."
Refugee-seeking persons are "asylum seekers." Post-WW II, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was created to help them. To gain legal protection, individuals must:
• be outside their country of origin;
In the 1980s, Haitians fared no better than earlier. From 1981-1990, 22,940 Haitians were interdicted at sea, yet only 11 qualified for asylum compared to tens of thousands of Cubans who automatically get it if they reach South Florida.
After the September 1991 coup against Aristide, the OAS's strong condemnation forced the first Bush administration to soften its policy slightly, but not much. By November 11, about 450 Haitians were in detention while the State Department sought a regional solution, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees arranged for several Latin countries (including Belize, Hondorus, Trinidad, Tobago, and Venezuela) to provide temporary safe havens. Still hundreds were forcibly returned and thousands more interned at Guantanamo.
By May 1992, citing an inflow surge that month, president Bush ordered all Haitian boats interdicted and peremptorily returned without determining if their occupants were at risk of persecution. Repatriation continued until Bill Clinton offered to process arrivals at a regional location, but only as it turned out for three weeks because the flow was much greater than expected. Thereafter, refugee processing was suspended with arrivals offered regional "safe havens" but no option for U.S. refugee status.
In October 1998, under the newly enacted Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (HRIFA), eligible Haitians (who filed asylum claims or entered the U.S. before December 31, 1995) were allowed to live and work in America permanently without applying for an immigrant visa in advance from overseas.
However, under the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), aliens arriving in America without proper immigration documents are immediately processed for removal. If they fear persecution, they're kept in detention until an asylum officer determines the threat's credibility. In 2005, 1850 interdicted Haitians were sent to Guantanamo. Only nine got hearings and of those, one man got refugee status.
Under the 2002 Homeland Security Act, at least four separate agencies handle Haitian migrants:
• the Coast Guard for interdictions;
Earlier and more recent policies highlight how Haitians are mistreated. On October 29, 2002, fleeing poverty, not repression, 212 Haitians arrived in South Florida, hoping for asylum and safety. Instead, they were rounded up, handcuffed, held in detention, and treated like criminals in gross violation of international law. Families were separated from children, husbands from wives, and siblings from each other, but it wasn't an isolated incident.
Unknown to most Americans, the Bush administration had a secret Haitian policy that took affect in late 2001. It authorized the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), now DHS/ICE, to detain all South Florida arrivals regardless of their asylum eligibility.
The result was dramatic, insensitive, and immediate. The Haitian release rate for those passing interviews dropped from 96 percent in November to 6 percent between mid-December and mid-March 2002. Even Haitians granted asylum weren't immediately released.
On February 25, 2004, days before the second February 29 coup, the U.S. State Department urged U.S. citizens in Haiti to leave. In addition, George Bush said all interdicted Haitians would be returned and those reaching shore would be held prior to deportation, regardless of their protected status.
Detention conditions then and since are appalling and for women dangerous with reports of sexual harassment, abuse, and rape. Men and women both are subjected to frequent strip searches, lockdowns, nightly sleep interruptions, and often denial of needed medical care.
Official Haitian policy under George Bush and currently under Obama is:
• deny asylum seeker status;
Haitian and Cuban Policies Contrasted
Except for the Aristide and first Preval administration years, Haiti has a history of some of the worst regional repression. So did Cuba until Castro overthrew Batista and transformed the country politically and economically. For decades, refugees from both countries sought asylum in America. Yet Cubans and Haitians get vastly different treatment.
Under the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act (as amended), a "wet foot/dry foot" policy applies under which interdicted asylum seekers are returned home, but those reaching shore are inspected for entry, then nearly always allowed to stay — in contrast to Haitians getting no equivalent treatment even after "the worst humanitarian disaster in 100 years" leaving the government unable to handle the overwhelming environmental and human fallout. TPS would help, but neither the Bush or Obama administration offered it, so Haitians are left on their own.
It's an old story in America. White Anglo-Saxons and most Europeans are welcome. For poor blacks, Latinos (except for Cubans) and most Asians, far different standards apply, none harsher than for Haitians despite dangers, poverty, and devastation at home, risks they take at sea, and rights international law grants them — ones America disdains or observes as it wishes.
In its 1996 Annual Report, the OAS' Inter-American Commission on Human Rights concluded that America's Haitian interdiction and repatriation policy violated the following provisions of the American Declaration of the the Rights and Duties of Man:
• the right to life;
Conditions worsened under George Bush, especially after the February 2004 coup. Since January 20, the Obama administration is continuing the worst of his predecessor's policies. This from America's first black president who governs the same as white ones. Around 30,000 Haitians will be among the first to learn how harshly firsthand.
Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thousands of Haitians demonstrated throughout Haiti on December 16, 2008. The date commemorated Haiti’s first free and democratic elections in 1990 that signaled the birth of the Lavalas political movement.
The U.S., France and Canada worked to oust the democratically elected government of Haiti in 2004 in a coup that was purposely cloaked in a so-called domestic rebellion. To this day an uncritical international press, that was itself culpable in hiding the truth behind the ouster of popular President Jean Bertrand Aristide, continues to parrot ridiculous assertions about the reality behind his overthrow and the intense campaign of political repression against his Lavalas movement.
During 2004-2006, thousands of Haitians were murdered by the police, jailed or forced into exile. What emerged was a wholesale campaign of violence waged against Lavalas that was largely maintained through the silence of human rights organizations and the international press. The unfortunate truth is that the police and their operatives in the Haitian state were often aided and abetted - at first, by U.S. Marines, Canadian Special Forces, French Foreign Legion and later by U.N. forces in Haiti. The ultimate purpose and intent of this violent campaign has been all too clear: to mutilate Lavalas and alter, through violence, Haiti’s political landscape.
Tuesday, December 16, was the 18th anniversary of Haiti’s first free and democratic elections that gave rise to the Lavalas movement which catapulted Aristide into the presidency in 1990. Thousands of Haitians took to the streets throughout the country to commemorate that day and to demand the return of Aristide, who now lives in exile in the Republic of South Africa.
They also demanded an end to the U.N. occupation, the release of all Lavalas political prisoners who still remain behind bars, and an end to the rampant profiteering by Haiti’s predatory wealthy elite that has resulted in growing misery and hunger. The event stood as a stark reminder to those policy makers who were behind the coup — and those who continue to maintain order based upon its outcome — that the Lavalas movement in Haiti is far from dead.
This reality raises several important questions. The first question is to those who supported the coup and the violent campaign against the Lavalas movement: Can you honestly say that Haitians are better off today than they were before the coup on February 29, 2004? Did you really expect the intervention to improve Haiti when, in fact, all indicators are that Haitians are suffering today from levels of malnutrition and infant mortality that are considered high even by Haitian standards?
And for everyone concerned about Haiti today: As the presidential elections approach in 2011 and Lavalas reorganizes as a serious contender, once again representing the poor majority, will democratic elections be realized? Or will Haiti have to endure this endless cycle of foreign intervention all over again? Can real democracy prevail even as powerful interests, from foreign governments and Haiti’s wealthy elite to a plethora of non-governmental organizations, risk losing their investments in altering the political landscape and turning the page on the Lavalas movement?
If history is any indicator, the current supporters and apologists for the cynical nation-building and social engineering project Haiti has become in the international community have dug their tentacles deep into the flesh of Haiti’s body politic. As an indicator of just how deep, the president of the Haitian Senate, Kely Bastien, said earlier this week that the majority of Haiti’s national budget - provided by the international community - is managed by non-governmental organizations.
Still, they should know that the concepts of self-determination, freedom and liberty in Haitian culture run deep to the bone. Konbit, the concept of Haitians working for the benefit of Haitians, is not dead in Haiti. It quietly resides in the consciousness of the Haitian people and waits for the right moment to awaken.
Yesterday’s commemoration of Dec. 16 is but one of several reminders that Haitians have not forgotten what it is like to run their own country and tend to their own affairs. Contrary to popular belief, Haitians were not always forced to live off charity and rely upon the largess of foreign patrons.
For most Haitians, their dream is that this nightmare will soon come to an end and, for better or worse, that they will once again be free to rise and fall based upon their own strengths and efforts. That simple freedom, which many of Haiti’s patrons claim for themselves and take for granted, is the wellspring of dignity and self-sufficiency for any people. It is the real message of December 16 in Haiti.
Cancel the Debts Now!
The people of Haiti are as poor as human beings can be. According to the statisticians of the World Bank and others who speculate about how many Anglos can dance on the head of a peon, Haiti may either be the second, third or fourth poorest country in the world.
In Haiti’s case, statistics are irrelevant.
When large numbers of people are reduced to eating dirt – earth, clay – it is impossible to imagine poverty any more absolute, any more desperate, any more inhuman and degrading.
The chairman of the World Bank visited Haiti in October, 2008. This man, Robert Zoellick, is an expert finance-capitalist, a former partner in the investment bankers Goldman Sachs, whose 22,000 ‘traders” last year averaged bonuses of more than $600,000 each.
Goldman Sachs paid out over $18 billion in bonuses to its traders last year, about 50 percent more than the GDP of Haiti’s 8 million people.
The chairman of Goldman took home more than $70 million and his lieutenants – as Zoellick once was – $40 million or more, each.
It should be clear that someone like Robert Zoellick is likely to be totally bemused by Haiti when his entertainment allowance could probably feed the entire population for a day or two. It is not hard to understand that Mr. Zoellick cannot understand why Haiti needs debt relief.
Haiti is now forced by the World Bank and its bloodsucking siblings like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to pay more than $1 million a week to satisfy debts incurred by the [U.S-installed dictators the] Duvaliers and the post-Duvalier tyrannies. Haiti must repay this debt to prove its fitness for “help” from the Multilateral Financial Institutions (MFI).
One million dollars a week would feed everybody in Haiti even if only at a very basic level – at least they would not have to eat earth patties. Instead the Haitians export this money to pay the salaries of such as Zoellick.
But Zoellick does not see it that way. According to the World Bank’s website the bank is in the business of eradicating poverty. At the rate it does that in Haiti the Bank, I estimate, will be in the poverty eradication business for another 18,000 years.
The reason Haiti is in its present state is pretty simple. The United States, Canada, and France, who all consider themselves civilized nations, colluded in the overthrow of the democratic government of Haiti four years ago. They did this for several excellent reasons:
• Haiti 200 years ago defeated the world’s then major powers, France (twice) Britain and Spain, to establish its independence and to abolish plantation slavery. This was unforgivable.
• Despite being bombed, strafed and occupied by the United States early in the past century, and despite the -American -endowment of a tyrannical and brutal Haitian army designed to keep the natives in their place, the Haitians insisted on re-establishing their independence. Having overthrown the Duvaliers and their successors, the Haitians proceeded to elect as president a little black parish priest who had become their hero by defying the forces of evil and tyranny.
• The new president of Haiti, Jean Bertrand Aristide refused to sell out (privatize) the few assets owned by the government (the public utilities mainly);
• Aristide also insisted that France owed Haiti more than $25 billion in repayment of blood money extorted from Haiti in the 19th century, as alleged compensation for France’s loss of its richest colony and to allow Haiti to gain admission to world trade;
• Aristide threatened the hegemony of a largely expatriate ruling class of so-called ‘elites’ whose American connections allowed them to continue the parasitic exploitation and economic strip mining of Haiti following the American occupation.
• Haiti, like Cuba, is believed to have in its exclusive economic zone, huge submarine oil reserves, greater than the present reserves of the United States
• Haiti would make a superb base from which to attack Cuba.
The American attitude to Haiti was historically based on American disapproval of a free black state just off the coast of their slave-based plantation economy. This attitude was pithily expressed in Thomas Jefferson’s idea that a black man was equivalent to three fifths of a white man. It was further apotheosized by Woodrow Wilson’s Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan who expostulated to Wilson: “Imagine! Nig---s speaking French!”
The Haitians clearly did not know their place. In February 2004, Mr. John McCain’s International Republican Institute, assisted by Secretary of State Colin Powell, USAID and the CIA, kidnapped Aristide and his wife and transported them to the Central African Republic as ‘cargo’ in a plane normally used to ‘render’ terrorists for torture outsourced by the US to Egypt, Morocco and Uzbekistan.
Before Mr. Zoellick went to Haiti last week, the World Bank announced that Mr. Zoellick’s visit would “emphasize the Bank’s strong support for the country.” Mr. Zoellick added: “Haiti must be given a chance. The international community needs to step up to the challenge and support the efforts of the Haitian government and its people.”
“If Robert Zoellick wants to give Haiti a chance, he should start by unconditionally canceling Haiti’s debt,” says Brian Concannon of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. “Instead the World Bank, which was supposedly established to fight poverty, continues to insist on debt payments when Haitians are starving to death and literally mired in mud.”
“After four hurricanes in a month and an escalating food crisis it is outrageous that Haiti is being told it must wait six more months for debt relief,” said Neil Watkins, National Coordinator of Jubilee USA Network.
“Haiti’s debt is both onerous and odious”, added Dr. Paul Farmer of Partners In Health. “The payments are literally killing people, as every dollar sent to Washington is a dollar Haiti could spend on healthcare, nutrition and feeding programs, desperately needed infrastructure and clean water. Half of the loans were given to the Duvaliers and other dictatorships, and spent on Presidential luxuries, not development programs for the poor. Mr. Zoellick should step up and support the Haitian government by canceling the debt now.”
“Unconditional debt cancellation is the first step in addressing the humanitarian crisis in Haiti,” according to Nicole Lee, Executive Director of TransAfrica Forum. “There is also an urgent need for U.S. policy towards Haiti to shift from entrenching the country in future debt to supporting sustainable, domestic solutions for development.”
The above quotations are taken from an appeal by the organizations represented above.
Further comment is superfluous.
When talking about national liberation and independence for any nation, we must place Haiti at the top of the list in terms of historical significance.
And so we must make the connections between our local struggles and that of Haiti. When we, for instance, talk about gentrification in the Fillmore and Hunters Point, we must also associate such understanding with how big business is displacing Haitians in their agricultural development, essentially creating poverty, homelessness, and destitution. It is the same socio-economic and political mindset and corrupt development we are confronting. Haiti is all of us!
When we talk about COINTELPRO and the destruction of the Black Panther Party, can we also make an association to what has been happening to Fanmi Lavalas, and how it has been destroyed, its leaders murdered, imprisoned, exiled, and disappeared? Isn’t it a repressive measure employed by the US and other Western powers when they are being challenged by the will of freedom-loving people? In making these connections we learn that we are fighting a common enemy. Haiti is all of us!
How is it possible for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, when the UN operates as an occupying force on behalf of Western powers in Haiti? Specifically, the UN’s failure to demand the appearance of Lovinsky is in direct violation of Article 3, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person,” and Article 9, “To be free from arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile.” These are just a couple of the human rights codified in the Declaration which the UN has violated in Haiti.
When we consider the exile of Assata Shakur and Nehanda Abiodun in Cuba, we must raise the disappearance of Lovinsky and the forced exile of Aristide. As part and parcel of US repression of political dissidents — it is what the government does on behalf of its geopolitical and corporate interests. We must make these connections, because Haiti is all of us!
I believe we all can agree that it is not the leader alone that determines the course of history, but rather the masses of people who seek changes or revolution, which the leader represents. So when considering Obama’s presidential nomination, it must be asked, what are his thoughts and policy on Haiti? Will his victory, if he wins the White House, also be a victory for the people of Haiti? If not, why not?
Making the connections is to note who are true representatives of freedom loving people, as the masses rally on behalf of their leaders. So when thinking of the regime change in Haiti resulting in the exiling of President Aristide, a democratically elected representative of the Haitian people, we must make the connection that the Democratic National Convention anointing Barack Obama as its candidate for regime change in the US, but being silent on the exiling of Aristide makes the entire process suspect. The championing of human rights must be part and parcel of the political process in the US, and Haiti must be made a part of this debate — requiring our voices to be heard in making the connection, because Haiti is all of us!
Lovinsky was the leader of a human rights movement in Haiti. His disappearance symbolizes the disappearance of human rights in Haiti, and we cannot afford to be heard in our fight to restore the power of the people and human rights with the demands for the return of Lovinsky and President Aristide. Simply because Haiti is all of us — all of our humanity.
Jalil Muntaqim is a member of the San Francisco 8 and a political prisoner in the U.S.
This event marks the fifth anniversary of the February 29, 2004 coup d’etat when the U.S., France and Canada overthrew Haiti’s democratic President Aristide and violently reversed Fanmi Lavalas’ ambitious and progressive social agenda. In its place, neo-liberal policies and privatization which benefit western powers and Haiti’s elite have been restored. Popular resistance to these austerity measures are met with the military might of the United Nations occupation forces, MINUSTAH.
Ten thousand Haitians died, as many as 8,000 were raped, and others were forced into exile. Many Lavalas supporters and activists remain in prison. Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine, a leading Lavalas human rights activist, remains unaccounted for after being kidnapped and disappeared in August 2007.
Now the full shameful weight of U.S./elite hegemony and globalization comes to bear as, 5 years after the coup, millions of Haitians endure starvation, illiteracy, unemployment, rising prices and natural disasters, while paying $1 million a week in debt service to the IMF.
Just as the brave Palestinian people living in occupied Gaza and the West Bank endure collective punishment from U.S.-backed Israel for daring to exist, so do Haiti’s determined people continue to survive and resist under US/UN occupation, the realization of their dreams of democracy deferred.
Join Haiti Action Committee to mark the 5th anniversary of the coup, to hear an update on the current situation, and to raise our voices to demand the return of President Aristide, freedom for Haiti’s political prisoners, and accountability for the kidnapping of Lovinsky Pierre-Antoine.
The evening will celebrate the ongoing resistance of Haiti’s people, and all who struggle for democracy, human rights and peace. We will not forget the achievements of Lavalas!
House Bill Reintroduced
The bill below was first introduced in the House of Representatives in 2004 shortly after the U.S. organized coup d’etat against Haiti. It was reintroduced every year since but did not get out of the Foreign Affairs committee. It was reintroduced again this January by Representative Barbara Lee. If passed, the Commission established will have subpoena powers to investigate the coup and may conduct public hearings. A final report is to be submitted within 18 months of enactment. The full bill is available at haitiaction.net.
HR 331 IH
To establish the Independent Commission on the 2004 Coup d’Etat in the Republic of Haiti.
In the House of Representatives
Ms. Lee of California (for herself, Mr. Kucinich, Mr. Rangel, Ms. Eddie Bernice Johnson Of Texas, Mr. Fattah, Ms. Corrine Brown of Florida, Mr. Payne, Ms. Schakowsky, and Mr. Honda) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
To establish the Independent Commission on the 2004 Coup d’Etat in the Republic of Haiti.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
Section 1. Establishment of Commission.
There is established in the legislative branch the Independent Commission on the 2004 Coup d’Etat in the Republic of Haiti (in this Act referred to as the `Commission’).
Sec. 2. Duties.
(a) Duties- The Commission shall examine and evaluate the role of the United States Government in the February 2004 coup d’etat in the Republic of Haiti. In carrying out the preceding sentence, the Commission shall examine and evaluate the following:
(1) The extent to which the United States Government impeded the democratic process in Haiti, including the extent to which actions and policies of the United States Government contributed to the overthrow of the democratically-elected Government of Haiti.
(2) The circumstances under which Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigned his office and went into exile in the Central African Republic, including the role of the United States Government in such resignation and exile.
(3) In the events leading up to the coup d’etat, the extent to which the United States Government fulfilled its obligations under article 17 of the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Democratic Charter requiring that each OAS member country come to the aid of another OAS government under attack.
(4) The extent the United States Government impeded efforts by the international community, particularly efforts by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries, to prevent the overthrow of the democratically-elected Government of Haiti.
(5) The role of the United States Government in influencing decisions regarding Haiti at the United Nations Security Council and in discussions between Haiti and other countries that were willing to assist in the preservation of the democratically-elected Government of Haiti by sending security forces to Haiti.
(6) The extent to which United States assistance was provided or United States personnel were used to support, directly or indirectly, the forces opposed to the government of President Aristide, including the extent to which United States bilateral assistance was channeled through nongovernmental organizations that were directly or indirectly associated with political groups actively involved in fomenting hostilities or violence toward the government of President Aristide.
(7) The involvement of the Central Intelligence Agency, directly or indirectly, in operations that contributed to the overthrow of the democratically elected Government of Haiti.
(8) The impact of the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, and other organizations funded by the United States Agency for International Development on the political process in Haiti.
(9) The political and economic impact on Haiti of the decision by the U.S. Government to discontinue all United States bilateral assistance to Haiti and United States efforts to block loans and support for Haiti from international financial institutions.
(10) The broader implications for Haiti and the Caribbean region of the events culminating in the coup d’etat.
(b) Scope of Duties — In carrying out the duties described in subsection (a), the Commission may examine the actions and representations of the current Administration as well as prior Administrations. […]