Haiti Marks Independence Anniversary Day Amid Deepening Crisis

Source:  TeleSUR
January 1 2020

Haiti has been struggling for more than two centuries to establish itself as a modern and stable state.Haiti has been struggling for more than two centuries to establish
itself as a modern and stable state. | Photo: Reuters

Over 4.5 million Haitians, almost half of the population, will be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2020, the United Nations warned. 

Haiti celebrated Wednesday its 216th independence day in the midst of political turmoil and a profound social and economic crisis.

RELATED: Hundreds of Haitian Children Fathered, ‘Left in Misery’ by UN Peacekeepers: Report 

The government of President Jovenel Moise has been facing nationwide protests calling for its removal after scandals emerged involving the head of state along with other officials in cases of severe corruption, and after fuel shortages, dwindling food supplies, and mismanagement of public funds further plunged the impoverished country in one of its worst economic and social crisis in years.

To mark the day of independence, Moise gave a speech and denounced graft, urging Haiti’s elite to work with the government.

“We’re still extremely poor,” he said at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, adding that “those who continue to get rich find it normal that they do not pay taxes, find it normal that there can be no competition, find it normal that they set prices for consumers, especially when this consumer is the state itself.”

The world’s first black-led republic

Moise’s speech marked 216 years since the Caribbean nation gained its independence and became the world’s first black-led republic, forcing France to surrender its colonial rule over the slave-driven plantation formerly known as Saint-Domingue.

Led by Toussaint-Louverture, who declared the abolition of slavery, former slaves fought against France between 1791 and 1804 when General Jean-Jaques Dessalines finally defeated French forces and declared independence, reviving the island’s native name: Ayiti.

Haiti’s problems, however, which can be traced back a long way, have only been getting worse since its birth as a Republic.

The country has been fighting and struggling for more than two centuries to establish itself as a modern and stable state, but it has been mercilessly punished, used, and exploited by the West, making a sustained political, social and economic development almost impossible.

Illegitimate debt imposed by France

The island was, for instance, burdened with an illegitimate debt imposed by France in exchange for lifting a naval and diplomatic blockade. The former colonial power demanded that Haiti pay 150 million gold francs in “reparations” to former French slaveholders. According to several estimates, that was 10 times the country’s yearly revenue.

For over a century, Haiti was required to finance the debt, hampering the possibility to invest in infrastructure, social services, and industrial development.

19-year-long occupation by the United States

It wasn’t until 1947 that Haiti was finally capable of paying compensation to slaveholders and human traffickers. By then, it had already suffered a 19-year-long occupation by the United States (1915 – 1934), during which racial inequalities were exacerbated.

In 2004, Haiti officially demanded France to pay back the money, stressing that it was a “grave injustice” that prevented Haiti from developing as fast as other countries. France has so far rejected any possibility of paying back the illegitimate debt it claimed from Haiti.

And as Haitians commemorate one more year of independence, it seems there is little to celebrate as the United Nations (U.N.) estimates that more than 4.5 million Haitians representing almost half of the population will be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2020. Among the most vulnerable, about 60 percent are women and more than 45 percent are children.

“One in three Haitians needs urgent food aid, that is 3.7 million people, a significant increase compared to 2.6 million people at the end of 2018. If no immediate action is taken, between March and June 2020, 1.2 million people will be able to eat a meal every two days and around 2.8 million people will be able to eat a single meal a day, “ U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said, expressing that a worsening economic crisis is the last thing Haitians need, given the poor quality of life in the island.

Haiti: Opposition Meets with President, Demands His Resignation

Source: TeleSUR
December 17 2019

Despite the popular pressure, Moise -who is backed by the United States- said he would carry on his term until its end.Despite the popular pressure, Moise -who is backed by the United States-
said he would carry on his term until its end. | Photo: Reuters

The whole spectrum of opposition forces agree that the president’s resignation is the first condition if a way out of the crisis is to be found.

Members from the Haitian opposition Passarelle platform, who have been meditating since November between radical opposition parties and the government, met Monday with President Jovenel Moise to hand him a copy of the so-called Marriott agreement, signed by several groups to demand the president’s immediate resignation and the establishment of a transitional government.

RELATED: Haiti Descends Into Worst Violence in Years as Gang Violence Increases

Despite the president’s calls for dialogue and union, his opponents backed by hundreds of thousands of protesters who have been taking to the streets for almost a year, have been refusing to negotiate, as the whole spectrum of opposition forces agree that the president’s resignation is the first condition if a way out of the crisis is to be found.

Lacking unity

The Haitian opposition however is fragmented. On Monday, spokesman for the opposition Democratic and Popular Sector (DPS), Michel Andre, which is one of the president’s strongest critics, rejected the meeting between the committee representing the platform and the president, saying that Moise should not have met with Passerelle, but with the DPS.

Nonetheless, Andre agreed that the first step towards an end to the political, economic and social crisis must be the resignation of the president, the establishment of an interim administration, and trials for those state officials involved in cases of corruption, especially the embezzlement of Petrocaribe funds, meant to finance infrastructure development along with health, education and social programs across the impoverished nation.

Haiti has been experiencing a situation of fragile calm since last month after consecutive months of mass anti-government protests that paralyzed the country.

On Dec. 2, some schools reopened, as services such as public transportation and public administration along with some businesses resumed their activities.

Call for deep transformation 

The mass demonstrations that mobilized almost all sectors of civil society, call for the deep transformation of a system that has been governing the Caribbean nation since the end of the dictatorship in 1986 and seen as profoundly unequal and corrupt.

Despite the popular pressure, Moise –who is backed by the United States– said he would carry on his term until its end, pointing out that his resignation would be “irresponsible” while using the Constitution as his legal argument to retain his position.

The unrest in Haiti started in February following major corruption allegations.

As the country was already dealing with a tense economic crisis and high inflation, a report was published accusing Moise and dozens of officials of having embezzled US$2 billion from Petrocaribe, the cut-price-oil aid program that Venezuela offered to several Caribbean countries, among them Haiti.

The Carribean island of 11 million people has been struggling for decades to overcome extreme poverty along with widespread corruption. These last ten years were particularly harsh for Haiti, which went through one of the world’s deadliest earthquakes in 2010, an epidemic of cholera, brought in accidentally by United Nations peacekeepers, and Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

How the U.S. Is Strangling Haiti as It Attempts Regime Change in Venezuela

Source: Portside.org
February 19 2019

haiti-protests.jpegProtests broke out a week ago across Haiti. What motivated the streets to be on
fire this time was the rise in prices of fuel and the position taken by Haiti against
the government of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela.,
Estailove St. Val/EPA-EFE

Last year, in October, Haitians followed two Twitter hashtags that went viral—#PetrocaribeChallenge and #KotKobPetwoKaribea. If you are not Haitian and do not follow Haitian politics carefully, you can be forgiven for not noticing this development. The complaint on Twitter—and soon on the streets—was simple: what has happened to the billions of U.S. dollars that was in the Venezuelan-financed Petrocaribe program?

In 2005, when oil prices began to creep upwards and when the Bolivarian socialists led by Hugo Chávez were at their peak, 14 countries from the Caribbean met in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, to launch the Petrocaribe scheme. The idea was elegant. Venezuela, with one of the world’s largest oil reserves, would sell oil to the struggling Caribbean islands through a very lucrative deal. Part of the oil price was paid up front, and the rest was to be paid back over the years at a ridiculously low interest rate (1 percent).

Island nations of the Caribbean, who had struggled with debt and high import prices for energy, now found relief. Haiti and Nicaragua, which were not part of the 14 original members, joined Petrocaribe in 2007. “The Caribbean shouldn’t have problem this century and beyond,” said a buoyant Chávez.

Venezuela Had a Debt to Haiti

An economics of solidarity defined the Bolivarian socialist approach to the Caribbean. If the Caribbean countries thrived, then Venezuela would prosper in turn. The test of this generosity came in 2010, when Venezuela decided not only to write off Haiti’s debt after the earthquake but provided funds in addition for reconstruction. “It was not Haiti that had a debt with Venezuela,” Chávez said then, “but Venezuela had a debt to Haiti.” Since 2007, Venezuela had provided $4 billion in oil through Petrocaribe.

The debt that Venezuela had, in the long-term thinking of Chávez, was because of something that happened in 1815. The first president of the Republic of Haiti, Alexandre Pétion, gave Simón Bolivar sanctuary and armed him to return and liberate Gran Colombia (the vast northern lands of South America). Bolivar had promised Pétion that he would emancipate the enslaved Africans in Gran Colombia. This is what he did. Without Pétion’s demand and Bolivar’s victory, Chávez—whose ancestors had been enslaved—said on a visit to Haiti in 2007, “I would not be here.”

Haiti’s Debt to the West

No such generosity has come from the West. In fact, from the first fires of Haiti’s revolution, Western powers—from France to the United States—have attempted to destroy the Haitian republic. In 1804, France forced Haiti to agree to pay it $21 billion for the “theft” of enslaved Africans and others. It took Haiti till 1947 to pay off this odious, disgusting debt. France has never apologized for it. Nor has Citibank, which made billions off the payments. Neither France nor Citibank has considered replaying the inhumane plunder.

Venezuela’s generosity was not matched by any Western country or financial institution. Instead, the West piled on debt upon debt onto Haiti. Even the “assistance” given during the 2010 earthquake made Western companies money. “These guys are like vultures coming to grab the loot over this disaster,” saidHaiti’s former minister of defense Patrick Elie. The amount of money stolen from the disaster relief and the increase to Haiti’s debt is as yet uncalculated. Millions of dollars were raised—such as by the American Red Cross—but very little of it was spent to lift up the burdens of the Haitian people.

IMF vs. Venezuela

Last February, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said it would provide Haiti with $96 million in low-interest loans and grants. But it demanded that the Haitian government cut its crucial fuel subsidy. This subsidy has been a part of Petrocaribe’s program. Protests broke out across Haiti, which led to the resignation of Haiti’s prime minister Guy Lafontant in July (for an assessment of those protests, please read Dossier 8 from Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research).

The IMF demand for cuts in fuel subsidy came after revelations that Haiti’s elite had pilfered the funds from Petrocaribe. In 2017, Lafontant’s government released a 600-page Senate report on Petrocaribe’s previous decade. The investigation found that Haiti’s ruling class had stolen enormous amounts of these key funds. No one was called to account—not any of those who stole the money nor the banks that enabled them to do so. Noises about letting the Superior Court of Accounts and Administrative Litigation take hold of the report seemed to drift into nowhere.

In the midst of this scandal, the IMF policy directive was insincere. The IMF said that the Haitian poor, who had not stolen the money from Petrocaribe, should pay higher fuel prices to help set Haiti’s finances in order. No reparations from France or Citibank, no accountability for the theft of the Petrocaribe funds—none of that. Instead, Haitians—almost 60 percent of whom live below the poverty line—must pay high fuel premiums for the IMF’s paltry loans.

End of Solidarity

Protests broke out a week ago across Haiti. What motivated the streets to be on fire this time was the rise in prices of fuel and the position taken by Haiti against the government of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela.

In the midst of the economic war against it, Venezuela has not been able to provide Haiti with subsidized fuel. Haiti’s people had to now go to the U.S. oil companies and pay U.S. prices for fuel. This has created bottlenecks in the supply of fuel and frustration at the rising prices. Novum Energy—of the United States—kept ships sitting in Port-au-Prince harbor, waiting for the cash-strapped Haitian government to pay up before unloading 164,000 barrels of petrol and 205,000 barrels of kerosene. There is no solidarity pricing here (in fact, Haiti has to pay $20,000 per day to each ship that is sitting in the harbor as a penalty). These firms want cash, and they want full price.

To add insult to injury, Haiti’s government decided to join with the United States in the vote at the Organization of American States (OAS) against Venezuela. As recently as 2017, Haiti’s representative to the OAS—Harvel Jean-Baptiste—had voted against a similar anti-Maduro resolution. But this time, Haiti’s Léon Charles voted with the United States. It was a vote that provoked anger in the streets of Haiti. The one country—Venezuela—that had come to Haiti’s aid was here being betrayed. That is the mood.

Anachronistic Monroe Doctrine

Meanwhile, other Caribbean countries stood firm. The Caricom (Caribbean Community) group of 15 states from Antigua and Barbuda to Trinidad and Tobago drafted a strong statement to defend the sovereignty of Venezuela. They have worked to create the atmosphere for dialogue, which resulted in the joint Uruguay and Mexico sponsored meeting in Montevideo, Uruguay, on February 7.

These small island states know the great peril of allowing the anachronistic Monroe Doctrine (1823) to be fully revived. The idea that the American hemisphere is the “backyard” of the United States is not only humiliating, but it is also against the spirit and letter of the UN Charter.

It is this humiliation that motivates the people of Haiti to take to the streets. Their message is simple: if you won’t let us breathe, we won’t let you breathe, and if you suffocate Venezuela, you suffocate us.

This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Haitian Prime Minister Calls for Reduction of State Privileges

Source:  TeleSUR
February 17 2019

  • A demonstrator walks past a burning barricade during anti-government protests in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, February 15, 2019.

In a speech given late Saturday, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Henry Céant said the country’s problems are rooted in three areas; corruption, and the inequality and decades of bad governance, and argued that the only way out of the crisis, is dialogue.

Amid tense scenes in the Caribbean nation of Haiti, Prime Minister Jean-Henry Céant has called for a series of privilegs to be reduced, which includes a 30 percent reduction of the Office of the Prime Minister’s budget, as well as the withdrawal of privileges to the State’s top officials.

RELATED:  Haiti’s President Calls for Dialogue Following Street Protests

These administration cuts are the latest in an effort to eliminate corruption and smuggling in the country.

Céant, in a speech given Saturday, promised to investigate the whereabouts of the US$2B from the Venezuelan PetroCaribe discount oil program that was supposed to be invested into programs for the poor, according to the Miami Herald.

He said Haiti’s problems are rooted in three areas; corruption, and the inequality and decades of bad governance, and argued that the only way out of the crisis, is dialogue.

“It’s been 10 days since children have been unable to go to school, hospitals can’t provide healthcare, big businesses and small businesses can’t function,” he said, addressing the nation.

“It’s been 10 days since the government lost a lot of money. At the same time, the population has suffered a lot. Because of the roadblocks, it cannot find water, can’t eat, nor find gas nor electricity. All of this can take us to deep humanitarian crisis.”

Céant reiterated that “unnecessary privileges will be withdrawn from state officials,” with fuel and telephone expenses, and “useless trips abroad,” among the many requests of the Prime Minister.

TeleSUR also reported that he is considering an increase in the minimum wage, and the reduction of the price of food.

The street demonstrations began on Feb.7, with many demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse as well as urgent calls to address the socioeconomic crisis that crosses the Caribbean island.

To date, unofficial reports indicate that at least eight people have died in the demonstrations, while the opposition raises the figure to 50. However, there is no official information on the number of deaths nor the circumstances in which they have alleged to have died.

Haiti: The Price of Liberation

Source: TeleSUR

 “Should I not let it be known to later generations that Alexander Petion is the true liberator of my country?” said Simon Bolivar, the Venezuelan leader who liberated South America from Spanish rule, to Alexandre Petion, the first president of Haiti.

RELATED:  Haiti: The Price of Liberation

haiti 3.jpgOn Jan. 1, 1804, the French colony of Saint-Domingue became the Republic of Haiti, after over a decade of fighting against French enslavement and colonization. It was the most successful slave rebellion in the Americas and the only revolt of its kind that led to the creation of a state.

On Dec. 15, 1815, after his defeat in Carthagena by Spain, the revolutionary Simon Bolivar arrived in Aux Cayes, Haiti. He was seeking the aid of Alexandre Petion, one of the founding fathers of Haiti and the first president of the newly-liberated Black Republic.

simon bolivar 5.jpg

Simon Bolivar was born in Caracas, Venezuela, July 24, 1783.

Petion provided shelter and food for Bolivar and the Venezuelan families and soldiers who had traveled with him after his recent defeat by the Spanish. They recuperated and regrouped under the care of Petion.

According to records, Petion provided, among other supplies, 4,000 rifles, gunpowder, food and a printing press. He also contributed to Bolivar with Haitian military strategists and veterans from the Caribbean nation’s revolution to accompany him on his April 1816 expedition.

In exchange for all the aid that Petion provided for the Bolivarian revolutionary, he asked that the Venezuelan leader free the slaves in all the countries that were to achieve their independence from Spain.

Once again, Spain defeated Bolivar, and once again he returned to Haiti to recuperate and re-arm. This time Petion gave Bolivar shelter and aid, including a new set of ammunition. In Dec. 1816, Bolivar departed to South America to defeat Spain, and this time he succeeded.

According to “El Libertador: Writings of Simon Bolivar,” a collection of public and private letters of Bolivar, Haiti not only provided material resources but was also the model for the liberated South American nations.

Bolivar structured Bolivia’s first government from the example of Haiti and the Venezuelan constitution was based on the constitution Petion drew up for Haiti. And, of course, he declared slavery illegal in the nascent countries.

Bolivar wrote to Petition that, “In my proclamation to the inhabitants of Venezuela and in the decrees, I have to issue concerning the slaves, I do not know if I am allowed to express the feelings of my heart to your Excellency and to leave to posterity an everlasting token of your philanthropy. I do not know, I say, if I must declare that you are the author of our liberty.”

Even though, Haiti had freed itself from French colonization and had inspired and supported the Bolivarian nations’ independence from the Spanish, in 1825, France demanded that Haiti pay 150 million of gold francs in “reparations” to former French slaveholders.

RELATED: The Americas’ Broken Promises to Haiti

Twelve French warship with 500 cannons were stationed along the coast of Haiti, threatening to re-invade and re-enslave the Haitian state. Haiti’s hand was forced. For over a century, Haiti was required to finance the debt, through loans from one French bank, which charged Haiti incredibly high-interest rates.

French political recognition of Haiti came until 1834. The brutal slavery of Haiti made France incredibly rich. The first independent Black Republic sent shock waves throughout Europe. It was a clear threat to European dominance and stood as a beacon of successful resistance against European colonization, financing the Bolivarian revolutions, and inspiring slave revolts in the United States. Haiti had to be punished. Over the years, this repayment of “independence debt” to their former slave owners, along with foreign-led coups and occupations, left the Haitian economy crippled and impoverished. As British newspaper The Guardian points out, “When the indemnity money Haiti paid France is adjusted for inflation and a minimal interest rate, its value … $40bn.”

To this day, France has refused to pay Haiti back the money it illegally demanded for over a century.

Haiti: Crisis and Resolution

Source:  Moorbeyz’ blog Haiti Action Committee
December 15 2018

Fanmi Lavalas Sattement

This is an unofficial translation by Haiti Action Committee

There is a grave crisis in contemporary Haitian society, in which the masses of our people are opposing an oligarchy determined to perpetuate a system of exclusion.

haitian flagThere have been many bumps in the road since February, 1986, when our people overthrew the Duvalier regime. Several coups d’etat have occurred, with the most damaging to the population having taken place in 1991 and 2004. Despite continued battering by the repressive and ideological machine, the more conscious and militant sectors of the population have stood firm; their resistance has been constant despite periods of setback.

At the present time, we are witnessing a general awakening of national consciousness. In addition to the population rising up to insist on better living conditions, with demands coming from many different sectors, including workers, peasants, educators, and students, the scandal involving the embezzling of the Petro-Caribe funds has provoked a big upsurge in mobilization against corruption and impunity. As so often occurs throughout history, the Petro-Caribe scandal has raised the awareness of the overwhelming majority about the unjust economic and political system, revealing the cause-and-effect relationship between this system and the sufferings of the Haitian people. Large masses of the population have come to understand with greater clarity and intensity the urgent necessity to take their destiny in their own hands.

Related:  Stand in Solidarity with the Haitian People

As usually occurs during periods of dynamic struggle such as the present, the oligarchy is fractured. Attempting to maintain the status quo, it is faced with internal contradictions regarding the strategy that would allow it to save “the system”—a sham institutional “democracy” set within a framework of an economic and social regime based on glaring inequalities, a stranglehold on political power that excludes the popular masses, and the pillage of national resources.

fanmi lavalas 5cFanmi Lavalas Political Organization is always closely tuned in to the various sectors of the population, and our conclusion is obvious: it is time for the political class to muster the courage to initiate a profound change in the paradigm and structures of governance that characterize the present system. This is a necessity that has a wide consensus as manifested by the ever-growing magnitude of anti-government mobilization that we are witnessing today. It is imperative that we respect the people’s aspirations for progress and for a just society. It is paramount that we stand in solidarity with the people’s protests demanding a new form of state. The nation deserves a new system that is more in harmony with the dreams of our founders, a new vision of the Republic

rooted in Justice, Transparency and Participation.

Related:  Hold the US/UN Occupation Accountable

The population is rejecting the usurpers who have derived their power from the fraudulent elections and who have discredited themselves with multiple scandals involving corruption and impunity. Our people are facing savage repression that continues to create victims among the disadvantaged masses, and that is heightening the insecurity that is poisoning daily life for the majority. Fanmi Lavalas Political Organization continues to stand firmly with the Haitian people to “chavire chodyè a” (overturn the cauldron). No cosmetic solution will bring an effective and lasting solution to the crisis in which we are plunged.This system has run its course. It cannot be patched up. It must be changed.

No cosmetic solution will bring an effective and lasting solution to the crisis in which we are plunged. This system has run its course. It cannot be patched up. It must be changed.

Chavire chodyè a” (Overturn the cauldron) means that we consider this moment to be exceptional. The deterioration of the political situation, the degradation of the economy and public finances, the failure of the state and its institutions, the lack of legitimacy and the absence of credibility at all levels of the state apparatus, make illusory if not impossible an end to the crisis by so-called constitutional means. The conditions for a new beginning that will put the country back on track, in keeping with the demands of the overwhelming majority, require an exceptional approach. For Fanmi Lavalas this includes:

1) Obtain the resignation of Jovenel Moise through a general mobilization

2) Resignation of Jean Henry Ceant and all his ministers

3) Assess the dysfunction and lapses in the Parliament

4) Put in place an executive and a government of public safety to ensure a transition for a period of 36 months.

This transition government will consist of credible personalities, engaged in the struggle against exclusion and corruption, who share a vision of a new method of governance. Among the priorities to be included:

  1. a) Improve the living conditions of the population by the sound and efficient management of current priorities pending the installation of an elected government.
  2. b) Create a constituent assembly for a new fundamental charter that will define the features of the new Republic.
  3. c) Organize a necessary national dialogue.
  4. d) Create the conditions that will end impunity and allow for a trial of those who have absconded with the Petro-Caribe funds.
  5. e) Take all measures to revise the Electoral Law and appoint a new electoral council charged with organizing elections to close out the transition period

The transition aims to implement fundamental reforms that would allow a democratic process and would make possible free, honest and credible elections. The transition must restore confidence between the people and the state. In this light the demands of the popular masses must be taken into account on all issues. True to its commitment to social justice and participation, Fanmi Lavalas will play its role alongside the population in continuing to promote the dialogue that is indispensable among the sons and daughters of the same land.

Executive Committee of Fanmi Lavalas
Dr. Maryse Narcisse
M. Joël Vorbe
Dr. Jean Myrto Julien
Agr. Anthony Dessources

Cuban Doctors Head to Haiti to Help with Quake Recovery

Source:  TeleSUR
October 7 2018

cuban doctors off to haiti oct 2018.pngCuban doctor Elisa Barrios Calzadilla inspects a patient during a house call in
Itiuba in the state of Bahia, Brazil November 20, 2013 | Photo: Reuters

Two teams of Cuban doctors arrived in Haiti on Sunday morning after a 5.9 magnitude quake shook the country that’s still recovering from its 2010 tremor.  

Two teams of Cuban doctors left for Haiti Sunday morning to attend to the victims of the country’s 5.9 magnitude quake that took place on Saturday.

RELATED:   Haiti Launches Third Feminist Festival

General Coordinator of the Cuban Medical Brigade, Evelio Betancourt, said that two surgical teams were sent to support Haitian health personnel.

According to Reuters, the earthquake has left 14 dead so far, mainly in Port de Paix and Gros Morne in Artibonite near the quake’s epicenter that struck at a depth of 11.7 kilometers, 20 km off Haiti’s northwest coast, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The tremor was felt in all parts of the Caribbean country that borders the Dominican Republic, and several towns and cities have registered damaged and destroyed infrastructure and housing.

The Cuban ambassador to Haiti, Luis Castillo, confirmed to Prensa Latina that the embassy went undamaged.

According to Haitian President Jovenel Moise that convoys of food and drinking water kits are on their way to the most affected areas.

The Haitian Civil Protection Agency said early on Sunday that at least 135 people were being treated for injuries.

This is Haiti’s biggest quake since the 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck near the capital, Port-au-Prince, in 2010 that killed over 230,000 of people and cost the already impoverished nation US$7.8 billion to $8.5 billion in damage. According to The Balance, Haiti’s gross domestic product has shrunk by 5.1 percent over the past eight years and 55,000 still live in temporary humanitarian camps from the 2010 tremor.

At that time a Cuban medical brigade of 1,200 Cubans doctors was operating in the earthquake-torn Haiti.

More Cuban aid to Haiti

Source:  Granma
December 12 2016

by: Nuria Barbosa León | internet@granma.cu

Once again, Haiti faced devastation as the result of a natural disaster, this time it was Hurricane Matthew hitting the island this past October, and once again to aid the victims, Cuba dispatched a brigade from the Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors Specializing in Disasters and Serious Epidemics

more cuban aid for haiti 1.jpg

Dr. Ivo Zúñiga Martínez, is working in Haiti’s Anse d’Hainault region, as a member of the Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors Specializing in Disasters and Serious Epidemics. Photo: Courtesy of interviewee

Once again, Haiti faced devastation as the result of a natural disaster, this time it was Hurricane Matthew hitting the island this past October, and once again to aid the victims, Cuba dispatched a brigade from the Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors Specializing in Disasters and Serious Epidemics.

The group of three epidemiologists, ten hygienists, ten vector control technicians, and eleven Comprehensive Family Medicine doctors was sent to reinforce the efforts of the Cuban Medical Brigade already working in Haiti, and confront the emergency situation, given the severe impact of the hurricane, which worsened the poor epidemiological situation existent in the country.

This information was shared via email by Dr. Ivo Zúñiga Martínez, who is serving in the Anse d’Hainault region as a member of the Henry Reeve Contingent, engaged in active monitoring and treating patients where there have been outbreaks of cholera and acute diarrhea, in addition to an increased incidence of malaria.

more cuban aid for haiti 2.jpg

Cuban doctors travel to rural areas to serve the population. Photo: Courtesy of interviewee.

“The population is thankful for our presence because we have arrived in areas that are difficult to reach with traditional means of transportation, which means, no one comes,” the Cuban doctor indicated to Granma International, recalling that he had treated a two month old baby girl in very poor health, being cared for by neighbors since her parents died in the hurricane.

To get the child to a medical facility, he carried her on foot for five kilometers, along roads blocked with debris. After being admitted to a hospital and receiving adequate treatment, she has recuperated, and her caregiver is constantly repeating in Creole, “Thank you Cubans, may god bless you.”

Previously in Guinea-Conakry

Dr. Zúñiga previously served in Guinea-Conakry, combating the Ebola epidemic, and described this work as a great learning experience, “The task is intense, it wears you down physically and psychologically. We had to protect ourselves and our colleagues,” he recalled.

He likewise shared that, during his stay in West Africa, he was greatly impacted by the death of the brigade member, 60-year-old economist from Sancti Spíritus, Jorge Juan Guerra Rodríguez, as a result of malaria.

more cuban aid for haiti 3.jpg

Pictured left to right: Mariela, Gisselle, and Michelle.Photo: Anabel Díaz

Nonetheless, he values the experience recognizing that human lives were saved thanks to the attention and specialized treatment the Cuban doctors provided. The population arrived in great numbers to the Cuban hospitals, he reported, given the positive results they obtained in confronting the dangerous disease.

Serving in Western Sahara

Just a few months after returning from West Africa, Dr. Zúñiga was called upon to travel to Western Sahara, where serious flooding had occurred at the end of 2015. His group supported the work of the Cuban medical brigade which has been working in the country for more than 40 years.

Missing his daughter;s birth

Describing his experience in Haiti, the young doctor reported that it was difficult to miss the birth of his second daughter, writing, “They let me know on October 24, at 5:58 pm, that Michelle had been born, healthy, with a normal birth, weighing 9.4 pounds. I cried with emotion and I shouted the news to the whole brigade. I received many congratulations, and within a few minutes, they sent me a photo of my little girl, wrapped in a green blanket, with her eyes wide open.”

Given this news, Granma International visited the doctor’s wife Gisselle Fernández Arias, who recounts, “I was admitted beginning October 1, in the Luis Díaz Soto Hospital, known as the Naval, since I had a urinary infection. My mother-in-law came to the house to take care of my six-year-old daughter Mariela. The day of the birth, several family members supported me. I received very good care from the doctors, some of whom knew the baby’s father, since they were professors when he was in medical school.”

“When the baby was about to be born, I made a call to Haiti, and told my husband that I was in the prep room, and that within a few hours, our little girl would be born. He responded saying that I had shown what a woman I was, that this was one more proof. I did everything they indicated during the birth, and it went well.”

Supported by family members

Dr. Zúñiga’s family lives in one of the apartments built by the Revolution in the Alamar neighborhood in the municipality of Habana del Este, and his wife is well supported by family members and friends.

Gisselle Fernández commented, “I get up early, and get Mariela ready for school. I take the baby with me and leave the oldest with the teacher. Sometimes I stay for the morning patriotic activity or go do some shopping. Returning home, I nurse the baby until she falls asleep, and then take advantage of this time to do some housework. In the afternoon, my grandmother, my father, or some other relative visits. They are all very attentive to my needs, until 4:00pm, I go pick up my older daughter at school. I help her with her homework, and serve dinner, prepare her school supplies for the next day, and the days go by this way, really quickly.”

To conclude, she sends a message to her husband, “I love you so much, and miss you even more.”

Haiti 101 Years After US Invasion, Still Resisting Domination

Source:  TeleSUR
By: Justin Podur

The U.S. presidential candidates can be looked at from the perspective of Haiti. One candidate has an extensive record there. The other has some historical parallels.

demonstrators march in haiti jan 2016.jpgDemonstrators march during a protest in Port-au-Prince, January 2016. | Photo: AFP

The U.S. invaded and occupied Haiti 101 years ago today, and remained there for 19 years. Accomplishments of the occupation include raiding the Haitian National Bank, re-instituting slave labor, establishing the hated National Guard, and getting a 25-year contract for the U.S. corporation, United Fruit.

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There was a pretext for the invasion—the assassination of Haiti’s president in 1915. But to understand the event, which has lessons to draw from a century later, it is necessary to look more closely at the invader than the invaded.

The U.S. is still the determining voice in Haiti’s politics and economy

In 2016, the United States is living through a presidential campaign with a candidate willing to exploit racism and pander to anti-immigrant sentiment. Police are killing Black people in cities across the U.S.

Having drawn down troop levels in its two big wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. still runs airsrikes and drone strikes in the region and covert actions all over the world. The U.S. is still the determining voice in Haiti’s politics and economy. In other words, 101 years after its invasion of Haiti, the U.S. retains two features: violent racial inequality and empire.

The U.S. presidential candidates can be looked at from the perspective of Haiti. One candidate has an extensive record there. The other has some historical parallels.

The Clintons have treated Haiti as a family business

The Clintons have treated Haiti as a family business. In 2010, after an earthquake devastated the country, the Clinton Foundation was among the horde of non-governmental organizations that stepped up their role in the, still unfinished, rebuilding phase. Haiti’s social sector had already been taken over by NGOs and its streets—since the 2004 U.S.-led coup and occupation—were patrolled by United Nations troops.

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The Clinton Foundation received pledges of hundreds of millions of dollars in development aid to rebuild Haiti. The crown jewel of the Foundation’s work: the disappointing Caracol Industrial Park, opened in 2012, which promised and failed to expand Haiti’s low-wage garment-processing industry, long a source of foreign profits and little internal development.

Hillary Clinton’s interventions

Hillary Clinton made her own interventions into Haitian politics as secretary of state. At a key moment in Haiti post-earthquake politics, Clinton’s state department threw its weight behind presidential candidate Michel Martelly.

His electoral legitimacy was dubious and his presidency led the country to a constitutional crisis when people mobilized against another stolen election in 2015. That crisis is still ongoing, and will no doubt provide pretexts for the next U.S. intervention.

Woodrow Wilson

To try to imagine the impact of Trump on Haiti, one need only look back a century. As Trump continues his seemingly unstoppable march to the White House, he is compared to Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi and other populist buffoon-politicians. Woodrow Wilson, the invader of Haiti in 1915, may be a better example of the damage a president can.

When Woodrow Wilson became president, he set about doing what today would be called “Making America Great Again.” Decades had passed since the U.S. Civil War. The post-war Reconstruction involved efforts to desegregate cities and government workplaces and make a place for newly-freed Black people.

Strengthening racial apartheid in the U.S.

Wilson reversed these efforts, strengthening racial apartheid in the U.S. His administration made sure there were separate bathrooms in federal government offices.

Although Trump is unlikely to re-introduce segregation, something else happened under Woodrow Wilson’s rule that is relevant in this context: white vigilante violence and lynchings spiked.

Wilson created a permissive environment for such atrocities. First elected in 1912, Wilson only got around to making a statement against organized white violence—called “mob violence” or “race riots”—in mid-1917.

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When more riots broke out in 1919, this time designed to suppress the democratic impulses of Black soldiers returning from WWI, the NAACP implored Wilson to make a a statement. But it was Wilson, himself, who had restricted Black soldiers to non-combat roles during the war.

In foreign policy, Donald Trump’s pronouncements have been predictably incoherent and uninformed. But Woodrow Wilson’s presidency suggests that domestic policies of racism will not be confined to the domestic arena.

Wilson sent U.S. troops all over Latin America

Wilson sent U.S. troops all over Latin America—Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Panama, Nicaragua and of course, Haiti—which may have gotten the worst of it all. Racist wrath has been a constant in Haiti’s history since it won its independence in a slave revolt, and Wilson unleashed that wrath on the island during the 1915-1934 occupation. Chomsky’s “Year 501″ gives a flavor for what U.S. occupiers were thinking and doing:

“Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, found the Haitian elite rather amusing: ‘Dear me, think of it, Niggers speaking French,'” he remarked. The effective ruler of Haiti, Marine Colonel L.W.T. Waller, who arrived fresh from appalling atrocities in the conquest of the Philippines, was not amused: “they are real nigger and no mistake … real nigs beneath the surface,” he said, rejecting any negotiations or other “bowing and scraping to these coons,” particularly the educated Haitians for whom this bloodthirsty lout had a special hatred.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt, while never approaching the racist fanaticism and thuggery of his distant relative Theodore Roosevelt, shared the feelings of his colleagues. On a visit to occupied Haiti in 1917, he recorded in his diary a comment by his traveling companion, who later became the Occupation’s leading civilian official.

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$1,500 at auction in New Orleans in 1860

Fascinated by the Haitian Minister of Agriculture, he “couldn’t help saying to myself,” he told FDR, “that man would have brought $1,500 at auction in New Orleans in 1860 for stud purposes.”

“‘Roosevelt appears to have relished the story,” (Hans) Schmidt notes, “and retold it to American Minister Norman Armour when he visited Haiti as President in 1934.”

Chomsky conclude this section of horrifically racist quotes from the U.S. elite about Haiti with a warning, “The element of racism in policy formation should not be discounted, to the present day.”

Nor should Haitian resistance.

Charlemagne Peralte

Charlemagne Peralte Haiti.jpgThe U.S. occupation of 1915-1934 faced a rebellion led by Charlemagne Peralte. Marines assassinated him and circulated a photograph of him crucified. Rather than intimidating Haitians, the photo enraged them and cemented Charlemagne Peralte’s place as a national hero.

If Haitians had a say in the U.S. presidential election, a case could be made for the devil-you-know of Clinton rather than the risk of a new Woodrow Wilson in Trump. But subjects of the empire can’t vote, only citizens. The U.S. tried to set the tone of master 101 years ago.

But people still resist.