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  • Aristide Leaves…The Challenges Mount

    Jean-Bertrand Aristide is no longer the issue in Haiti. Under intense international pressure and threat of a rebel attack on the capital, Aristide left Haiti today. While many will celebrate his departure, the failure of the Aristide experiment cannot be cause for celebration for any supporter of the Haitian people. There will be ample time to debate his legacy, but now is not that time.

    Many observers have noted that the possibility of even greater violence is very real now in the presence of a power vacuum that many will move to fill. That the armed rebels have not yet consolidated control over the entire country is positive from this perspective. It is now the responsibility of the U.S. and the international community, in general, to do whatever they can to support the formation of a stable transitional government leading to new elections as soon as possible.

    As Grassroots International, we will make every effort to step up our support for those social organizations that we have been supporting since 1991.

    In that context, several principles bear mention:

  • Lethal mudslides highlight urgent need for reforestation and agrarian reform

    Hundreds of people have been killed by mudslides and flash foods in the border region around Malpasse, Fond Verettes, Thiotte and Grand Gosier. In Fond Verettes around 160 people died as a flash flood scoured a section of town half a mile long and 1,000 feet wide. At least 540 houses were destroyed or buried, and another 1,500 were damaged, according to a UN official.

    Relief workers say that about 50 of the 135 or so people killed on the Dominican side of the border were thought to be Haitian black-market traders camped out in the town of Jimani.

  • Goons and Stooges?

    The situation in Haiti worsens with each passing day. Political chaos is creating economic chaos for a people whose lives were already a daily struggle for survival. Predictably, the opposition has rejected the peace plan that would have kept Aristide in office, preferring to insist on the president's departure as a starting point for a negotiated solution to the crisis.

  • MPP Speaks to the New Dimension of the Haitian Crisis

    1- Antecedents

    Haiti is going through a structural crisis which began with independence 200 years ago. We are also in a conjunctural crisis dating from the stolen elections of May 21 and the mascarade elections of 26 November.

    Remember that it was Arisitde himself who drew up the list of people nominated for posts at all levels in the May 21st elections.

  • Peace Offer?

    With a new sense of urgency, the U.S. government sent a delegation to Haiti this weekend with the task of working out a deal with President Aristide that the opposition would accept. They managed to work out a deal very similar to the one worked out at the CARICOM meeting two weeks ago. That deal never amounted to anything, and this one might face the same fate.

  • FRAPH Raises the Stakes

    This past weekend, a former leader of FRAPH, the Haitian paramilitary organization famous for doing the dirty work of the military leaders that overthrew Aristide in 1991, apparently led a group of ex-military men as they shot their way into several towns on Haiti's central plateau. These towns included Hinche, the main population center in the region, where ex-military men killed the police chief and several other people in taking over the police station.

    Hinche also happens to be only a few miles from the main base of operations of the Papaye Peasant Movement, GRI's largest and oldest partners in Haiti. FRAPH members were authors of many atrocities against the MPP during the coup period, and their re-emergence in the Central Plateau is a direct threat to the activists of the MPP...not to mention any other pro-democracy activist on the Plateau.

  • We’ve Got Plans for Almost Anything You’d Want to Do in the World

    Asked whether or not the U.S. had any plans to intervene in Haiti, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said just that on the 2/12 broadcast of NPR's "Evening Edition." The U.S., of course, has contingency plans for another invasion of Haiti, but has no plans to use those plans. Such talk makes Haitians nervous, and it should.

  • Changes of Heart…and Mind

    If you've seen any recent news reports from Haiti. You know that mass demonstrations against the Aristide government have become a regular occurrence. You also know that armed supporters of the government have often attacked those demonstrations.

    As I said in the previous post, Grassroots International got involved in Haiti to help those Aristide supporters trying to do underground work against the military leaders who overthrew Aristide in the early 1990s. During that period, we did our part in the creation of an almost messianic aura around Aristide. Our support went to grassroots organizations and activists committed to building democracy, but that work necessarily projected Aristide as the democratic alternative for Haiti.

    Now most of those same organizations and activists are calling for his resignation. One organization, the Haitian Human Rights Platform, has steadfastly guarded its political neutrality, but has consistently been outspoken in its criticism of the government for its failure to protect basic human rights in Haiti.

  • An Insurrectional Situation in Haiti?

    That's how the National Coalition for Haitian Rights described Haiti in their press release on this past weekend's vicious gunfight between the "Cannibal Army" and the police in Gonaives, Haiti. The death toll is increasing daily and the situation is clearly out of control. NCHR is calling on all armed groups to respect the human rights of citizens living in the areas under their control. (Click here to read NCHR's statement, in French.) Clearly, the situation is going from bad to worse...quickly.

  • Turning to Haiti

    Nisrin Elamin at the World Social Forum is a tough act to follow. I hope that those of you who had comments on Nisrin's posts from Mumbai will send them directly to her or to "Grassroots Journal" via the link provided to the left. I hope you will also continue to check out our list of links, where we will be placing other analysis and reflections on this year's World Social Forum.

    I'm Kevin Murray, Executive Director of Grassroots International. In the spirit of sharing GRI's experiences as a social change maverick among international NGOs, I will, over the next couple of weeks, reflect on our experience working in Haiti.

  • WSF Wrap Up

    I haven't had access to the internet in a while and am not quite sure where and how to catch you up on what has been happening. I haven't talked much about cultural resistance at the forum so i'll start there. It has been amazing to see people use music, popular theater, drumming, singing etc...to talk to people about their struggles. I saw plays about women's rights in Pakistan, people chanting and singing for Coca Cola to go back home to the U.S., people dancing and chanting slogans for transgender rights, people stepping to show people the effects of water privitization on their communities; people acting out parodies of the U.S., the WTO and the World Bank's roles in world domination. Seeing all that was probably one of the most inspiring parts of the whole experience for me. As someone from the MST put it though, the popular base and grassroots movement folks were out on the streets of the forum and weren't as well represented in the sessions and panels inside the halls. "Although Mumbai has been less elitist and dominated by intellectuals than Porto Alegre we still have to figure out how to engage with the local popular movements present at this forum. The popular base is still disconnected from the intellectuals and Ngo workers."

  • More from the World Social Forum, Mumbai

    I haven't been able to do much of a personal reflection on what it's been like to be at the WSF and in Mumbai, because I have so much to process before being able to coherently reflect on the whole experience. I will say, that it feels really good; being out of the U.S.; in Mumbai and in a place where my mind is being stretched and I am constantly being challenged. One of the exciting things has been catching up with GRI partners and meeting people that are organizing around different issues in similar ways (migrant, women's and worker's rights for instance) and see them connect and dialogue with eachother and place themselves within larger movements.

  • What do GMOs, Ibdaa and Amandla Have in Common?

    One of my first experiences at the forum today was watching a group of women from Tamil Nadu shout Amandla Awethu! and sing several variations of we shall overcome. It took me a minute to figure out that they were chanting Amandla until I saw a fellow African nod and smile at me while pointing to the women.

    So its another day and I can't quite figure out how my body is holding up. My task for the day: I promised Ziad Abbas (Co-director of the Ibdaa Cultural Center in Dheishe, Palestine) that I would join him at his session on child labor, child trafficking and children in conflict situations but was also scheduled to interview Vandana Shiva (Indian physicist and activist against biopiracy, the production of GMOs and its effects on poor people) during the same time slot.