Grassroots International

Haiti | Page 12 of 15

  • Remembering Jacques Roche: Haitian Journalist and Activist Murdered

    On July 14, the body of Haitian journalist and activist Jacques Roche was found. Roche had been kidnapped, tortured and killed. (Read the Reuters report here.)

    This week, a coalition of human rights organizations, alternative development groups, public health advocates, women's groups and other civil society organizations have issued a statement emphasizing Roche's contributions as an activist--for example, he organized traveling art and photography exhibitions to educate communities and to encourage resistance to privatization and free trade schemes like Haiti's Zona Franca on the border of the Dominican Republic, which replaced some of the last productive, fertile land on the Maribahoux plain with sweatshops.

  • Terror in the Caribbean: The Challenge of Human Rights in Haiti

    With just a few months to go before this fall's scheduled elections, voting officials in haiti are several million registered voters behind schedule. At the same time, hundreds of Haitians are taking to the sea in an attempt to escape the crushing poverty and violence of their home, the poorest country in the western hemisphere. (See Jim Lobe's "Another Regime Change in Trouble," for details.) While a wave of kidnappings of foreign nationals have made headlines and cued the U.S. and Canada to send all non-essential diplomatic personnel home, for the vast majority of Haitians, the lack of food, water and work at livable wages are just as terrifying.

  • Haiti: The View from Atop a Composting Toilet

    I'm switching the channel from Palestine back to Haiti. I had meant to file this massive missive while still in Haiti but lack of electricity thwarted my efforts and then soon thereafter a vicious bug that accompanied me home laid me flat in the hospital. Typing with IV tubes in your arm is harder than you might think.

    It turns out it's actually not so very far from Palestine to Haiti. About a year ago, I reported from Palestine on these very pages. Now on this recent journey to Haiti, I was amazed to discover the similar challenges that both Haitians and Palestinians face — a highly militarized conflict, a weak to absent state, shaky water and land security and remarkable grassroots organizations working for social change - just to name a few.

  • The UN in Hinche

    For our last night in the central plateau, we went down the hill from Papaye to Hinche for an evening in town. Since we arrived here, it's been easy to forget that the country is in the middle of a very dangerous political moment, and that there are forces afoot that would like to tear the country apart. Strolling through Hinche, the capital of the Central department, we came upon courtyard surrounded by accordion wire.

    Peering through the fence we could see a few white jeeps and row after row of tents--portable, nylon roofed Quonset huts, really. The Courtyard was the headquarters of the UN contingent here in Hinche and as we walked up the street and approached the gate, a trio of soldiers popped their heads out of a sand-bagged watch tower. They were smiling and saying "MINUSTAH," which is the name for this UN mission to Haiti.

    We tried to speak to them in Creole, in French, in Spanish and in Portuguese (most of the UN troops here are from Brazil), and we finally figured out that they were from Nepal, and that they didn't have any language in common with us or with the people that they are here to help.

  • One Finger Alone Can’t Eat Okra

    This morning we visited Kopa Koladè, the Koladè cooperative outside of Hinche. It was an amazing example of what a small group of people can accomplish if they work together.

    The MPP is focusing its agricultural development work on three themes: agro-silvaculture (an integrated approach to farming, re-forestation and resource management), water and alternative energy. The three are all essential components of a sustainable rural development platform. Without trees, it is hard to capture rain water for crops or drinking and precious topsoil is washed away. Without water, you can't grow trees or crops. Without alternative energy, you can't prevent peasants from cutting down trees for fuel.

  • A Little Water Goes a Long Way in Haiti

    This morning we visited the community of Lawob, where, with a grant from the European Union, the Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP) has constructed a small dam to capture the water from an intermittent stream.

    This deep into the drought there was not sign of the stream, anywhere. When we arrived at the site, we saw a small blue and black rowboat sitting under a mango tree in the middle of what looks like a desert. The lake was out of sight until we walked down a winding path, but before we got could even see the water, it was obvious that there was something special about this place.

    Flitting through the air were half a dozen Antillean Palm Swifts, tiny little insect eaters with pointy wings. They are supposed to be ubiquitous in Haiti, and these were the first I had seen after three days of looking. Downstream from the small lake was a lush garden that was greener than anything we've seen since we arrived in Haiti. (Most of the plants we have seen are covered with a fine layer of dust.)

  • Visiting our Partners

    During the next two weeks, Grassroots Staff will be traveling to Haiti and Palestine to visit our partners. This is always one of the most exciting times of year for us, as we get a chance to see first hand the inspiring work they do under extremely challenging conditions. Daniel Moss and I will be traveling to Haiti, where we will divide our time between Hinche and Port-au-Prince from March 30-April 6. Jennifer Lemire and Stephanie Sluka Brauer will be traveling to Palestine, where they will visit a variety of communities throughout the occupied territories from April 1-April 12.

    As always, we are committed to sharing our impressions of these visits and the perspectives of our partners with you. We will be posting those impressions here from the field as often as we can, given the local infra-structure and our schedules.

    Stay tuned.

  • The Kennedy School Lends a Hand

    This morning, I went to the Lt. J.P. Kennedy Memorial School in Hyde Park, MA to speak about Grassroots International's program in Haiti. The Kennedy School is a Catholic School providing a K-6 education to youngsters in a predominantly working class neighborhood of Boston. The school has always seen service to immigrant youngsters as an important part of its misson. It was founded by Polish sisters to serve Polish immigrants to the area. Today, about one-third of the school's students are Haitians.

    As part of its effort to increase the entire school's knowledge of Haiti and its appreciation of Haitian culture, the school held some community conversations last spring. I represented Grassroots at one of those discussions and spoke about our program in Haiti, especially the Creole Pig Repopulation Project.

  • Haiti Descends

    More troubling reports concerning the human rights situation have emerged from Haiti in recent days. A variety of Haitian sources have confirmed that several apparent summary executions have taken place in so-called slum areas in and around Port-au-Prince, especially in the International Fort area. Information remains incomplete, but evidence suggests that these killings were carried out by units of the Haitian National Police. The neighborhoods in which these actions have taken place are known to be areas of strong support for former President Jean Bertrand Aristide and his Lavalas Family Party.

  • We Must Protest

    I've just returned from the conferences of Grantmakers Without Borders (GWoB) and the National Network of Grantmakers in Miami. These conferences brought together hundreds of people who have in commom that they are trying to change the face of philanthropy in this country. GWoB is trying to increase that tiny percentage of U.S. philanthropy (less than 3%) that supports work outside of the U.S., while NNG is a leading voice for "social change philanthropy" in this country.

  • The Opposite of Disarmament

    In the last few weeks, more than 50 people have been killed in political violence in Haiti. For days at a time, normal life in Port-au-Prince grinded to a halt, with the lucky few people who had jobs too afraid to go to work. Even emergency aid destined for the victims of September's floods in Gonnaives was stopped, because containers could not be unloaded in the port, and supplies that were in-country could not safely be delivered to the people who so desperately needed them.

    In the immediate aftermath of the ouster of President Aristide, U.S.-led multinational forces proclaimed that they would embark on a program of disarmament, demanding that insurgents and extremists lay down their weapons to make a peaceful, democratic political transition possible. The proclamations lasted a few weeks, until the head of the U.S. mission revealed a change of plan: "This is a country with a lot of weapons and disarmament is not our mission. Our mission is to stabilize the country."

  • Who Will Protect the Haitian People?

    After more than six months in office, the "Boniface-LaTortue government has failed to serious tackle the task of disarming all illegally armed groups," according to the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR), in a report on the violence of the past week. Yesterday, the bodies of three slain police officers were buried as gunshots rang out in the area around the funeral (read the AP report here).

  • Tension Rises, Violence Escalates

    The distribution of food aid to flood-ravaged Gonaives continues to be harried by armed gangs and looters, while ex-military rebels have challenged U.N. troops and said they would begin patrolling the streets of the city themselves, as the Haitian police have yet to mount a decisive plan for security.

    Meanwhile, in Port-au-Prince, a march to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the September 30, 1991 coup that deposed President Aristide erupted into violence.

    The situatation is charged, to say the least. All of the actors in last winter's protests and last spring's insurgency are still active and armed, and there haven't been any signs to suggest that anyone has a plan to return the country to peace or stability.

    The National Coalition of Haitian Rights (NCHR) has issued a statement on the anniversary, and on the state of Haiti's struggle to build a just, democratic political and economic system for all its citizens. We've posted it here for your consideration.

  • 30 September 1991 – 30 September 2004

    On 30 September 1991 the Haitian Armed Forces executed a bloody overthrow of then President Jean Bertrand Aristide, who had been democratically elected in the general elections of 16 December 1990. The military, assisted by the paramilitary group Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti (FRAPH) established a three year regime of terror that was characterized by widespread violence and the abandonment of fundamental human rights.