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Answering the Call Even when the Phone Isn’t Answered

January 2010

In the last 48 hours, my work to gather information from our partners in Haiti has become a puzzle game. As of Thursday morning, I have been unable to talk with our partners and allies in Haiti. The lack of electricity to power the phone lines is probably the main barrier to reaching folks in Port-au-Prince. As I place together the scattered information from colleagues from Dominican Republic, Brazil and Honduras, I keep checking news from different sources. Scarce and brief notes from other member organizations of the Via Campesina and our allies in the U.S. give us hope that they are all well and alive.

  In the aftermath of this tragedy, our colleagues from the Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development (PAPDA), the Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP), and the Platform of Haitian Human Rights Organizations (POHDH) are certainly no doubt busy saving lives, counting the dead and coordinating efforts to bring food and medical supplies to their communities. Knowing them well, I imagine that they are discussing the next steps and directions. Here in Boston, we are left with the task to reach out to as many people as possible.   Grassroots International and other organizations are sharing scarce information and designing strategies to better support our partners on the ground. But, as I said, we will need to wait a little longer for a road map from Haiti.   For 20 years, Grassroots has stood in solidarity with Haitian peasants. As one of the channels of U.S. solidarity to peasants and indigenous people affected by natural disasters or Western-led political manipulations, we will continue to stand with our partners in favor of Haiti’s sovereignty.   While we are delighted that the U.S. government, the United Nations and the international community have promised to mobilize dollars, we know that much more than humanitarian aid is needed to heal from such catastrophe. Camille Chalmers, executive director of PAPDA, pointed out in the only electronic note that we received today from Haiti today, aid needs to produce different results than Haiti’s history. “[We need] …Solidarity building: activities and investments that allow people to rebuild their lives in better conditions. It is time for a great wave of solidarity brigades among the People of Haiti other than the misery and aggression that is represented by the caricature MINUSTAH (the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti). Only a broad movement of solidarity between peoples will make that possible.”

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