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Haitians Still Seek to Lead Reconstruction Efforts

April 2011

Last year, significant international donors (including several nations and financial institutions) gathered at the United Nations headquarters in New York to discuss the massive reconstruction task ahead of them in post-earthquake Haiti. One year later, the situation on the ground in Haiti demonstrates their failure—both in terms of the lack of meaningful reconstruction, and by refusing to allow Haitians themselves to speak for their own development and sovereignty. Below is statement issued by a broad range of Haitian social organizations, including Grassroots International’s partner PAPDA (The Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development).

    First anniversary of the New York Conference on the “Reconstruction of Haiti” 
HAITIAN SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS DEPICT A RECORD OF FAILURE AND ADVOCATE FOR ALTERNATIVE CONSTRUCTION   March 31, 2011   On the first anniversary of the conference of donors on the “Reconstruction of Haiti”, held at UN headquarters in New York in late March 2010, we, the representatives of some forty organizations and sectors of Haitian society, meeting in Port-au-Prince on March 26, 2011, have reflected on the path travelled by the country since this conference. 
A year after the promises of reconstruction based on pledges of billions of US dollars, we find that nothing significant has really been undertaken. No rupture was initiated with the approaches and practices which have, over the years, impoverished and rendered so vulnerable the Republic of Haiti. Quite the contrary, we are witnessing an acceleration of all phenomena reflecting the collective decline and regression. The millions of people affected directly or indirectly by the earthquake continue to face the consequences in destitution, and with no support whatsoever. The extraordinarily vigorous inter-Haitian solidarity movement, which emerged in the aftermath of the earthquake, has been completely marginalized by the dominant forces.
During the March 26 day of reflection, harrowing testimony was given about the deterioration of living conditions in the country by displaced persons, poor peasants, women, actors from the communication, religious, and health sectors etc.. They all evoked the lack of responsiveness of the State to the most urgent social problems, the precarious living conditions, particularly that of displaced persons, the forced evictions, the trend toward the increasing privatization of health services, of education, of the provision of clean drinking water.
The analysis and evidence led us to the conclusion that collectively Haitian society continues to be locked into the same traps of exclusion, dependency, total ignorance of our strengths, of our resources, of our identity, as outlined in our statement issued March 19, 2010. Systemic structures of domination and dependence have been reproduced and reinforced with the establishment of a strategic gathering of MINUSTAH, the IHRC, and large international NGOs.
It is now these bodies, particularly the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC), which guide the destiny of our country, and take all of the decisions for us. We are witnessing a complete marginalization of Haitian players in all of the strategic decision-making areas. Through the IHRC, a double exclusion is effected: that of State institutions and of the social movement. The existence of the IHRC contributes to the process of the destruction of institutions, and of the Haitian economy.
We demand the removal of the IHRC whose existence is an affront to our collective dignity. Budgets for specific projects for the rehabilitation and development of new infrastructure should be managed by the competent organs of the State in each of the areas concerned. We must put an end to the creation of parallel bodies, which accelerate the destruction of the State. We call instead for the introduction of new and effective mechanisms of social control to ensure the participation of the country’s majority social sectors in decision-making, and in strategic orientation.
We reaffirm that the alternative construction of our country, and the viability of a future different from what obtains today, involves a process of radical break with current trends: 
–  A break with the exclusion which is expressed in the relationship between the rural and the urban sectors, between Port-au-Prince and its hinterland, between men and women, and in the refusal to build accessible and universal social services. It is unacceptable that in the 21st century nearly 50% of the population is illiterate, almost 700,000 children are not enrolled in school, and 630 women die per 100,000 live births.
–  A break with the dependence which is expressed through an almost total submission of much of the political class to the great powers, a de facto tutelage brought about by the establishment of MINUSTAH in 2004, which is moving towards a process of unbridled recolonization with the introduction of the IHRC in April 2010.  The role played by the international community in decisions regarding the presidential and legislative elections of 28 November 2010 and March 20, 2011 contributes to this increased dependence.
–  A break with the hyper-concentrated, extroverted, anti-peasantry, and anti-national growth model expressed through the model of international outsourcing, over-exploitation, speculation, monopolies, and a predatory State. We need to build a development model based on agriculture and agro-industry geared to the priority needs of the domestic market in order to meet our food and energy needs. We need an economic model which breaks with the logic of speculation, and the hijacking of our economic resources by a predatory regime of cronies, and focuses on the production of wealth, the promotion and development of our national culture, and the recovery of our forestry capital.
–  A break with the prevailing relationship between State and Nation and  property relations, which must be expressed through the establishment of a State which cares about its people, which redefines the collective space, and effects land tenure and agrarian reform in both rural and urban areas.
–  A break with the colonial reading of our country which must be expressed through the elimination of a discourse that conveys an utter contempt for our culture and our historical path.   
In the name of all victims of the January 12, 2010 earthquake, we demand the definition and implementation of a new social project in Haiti. The current plan called the National Reconstruction and Recovery (PARDN), concocted by experts without theparticipation of vital sectors of the nation, cannot lead us in that direction.   
We, the signatories to this declaration, commit ourselves more than ever into a dynamic of proposals and of mobilization, in order to achieve the realization of a genuine alternative construction plan for Haiti.  
For the organizations which participated in the meeting:   
Colette Lespinasse                                              GARR   Camille Chalmers                                                 PAPDA   (32 Signatory Organisations)

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