Friday, September 19, 2008

What Haitian-Americans Are Asking Of The Next US President

Marguerite Ezili Danto Laurent, Esq. Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network.

Marguerite "Ezili Danto" Laurent, Esq. Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network.


What Haitian-Americans are asking of the next US president

* End the UN military occupation
* Grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) with a specification to stop all deportations
* Stop trading through USAID, start trading with Haiti
* Support Haitian food production. After the storm emergency, calibrate
food aid to assist and not further destroy Haiti's food production
* Support post storm rebuilding and reconstruction of environmentally degraded areas
* Demand oversight of USAID earmarked funds for Haiti, fiscal accountability, transparency and quantifiable evidence of self-sustainable development achievements.
* Support the institutionalization of the rule of law

Haitian-Americans ask the new U.S. president to:

1. Stop the United States' unequal immigration treatment of Haitian refugees, grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and work permits to Haitian nationals in the US with a specification to stop all deportations until Haiti has recovered from the ravages of hurricanes, floods and instability. Haitians in the United States should receive equal treatment and protection under all the immigration laws. (See, Ezili Dantò on Help for the Storm Victims and HLLN Links for granting TPS).

Immigration advocates estimate that there are 20,000 Haitians living in the United States illegally who could benefit from TPS entitling them to temporary residency and work permits for up to 18 months. The remittances these workers provide to their families in Haiti are critical lifelines in these hard economic times of high food and fuel prices, hurricane devastations, flood damages and the destruction of Haiti's rice and other crops by the back-to-back 2008 storms and floods.

2. End the U.N. military occupation of Haiti, provide reparation and restitution for the victims of 2004 Bush regime change in Haiti.

The U.N. troops in Haiti are paid $601.58 million per year and have been in Haiti for four years. That is $50.13 million per month, $1.64 million per day. Yet, during the recent floods and hurricane season in Haiti, the Haitian President had to call for international help from the international community. Wasn't that help already in Haiti, to the tune of 9,000 U.N. - MINUSTAH- troops already cashing in $1.64 million per day? Why are they there, if incapable of providing emergency help? If they had not one amphibious unit, temporary bridge, caravan of trucks or equipment to reach Haitians in distress, what use are they to the people of Haiti? Are their war tanks, heavy artillery, guns and military presence in Haiti making Haitians more secure, more safe, more free, more prosperous, better nourished, educated and healthier than before they landed four years ago? No. See:

Report of David Josue tour in Brazil Demanding withdrawal of UN/Brazilian Troops from Haiti;

The alleged illegal confiscation of private property by DYNCORPS, USAID, MINUSTAH and US Embassy in Haiti;

Video: U.N. Massacre on July 6, 2005 in Site Soley;

– Video: U.N. Massive Attack on Dec. 22, 2006 on Site Soley civilians;

The Cite Soleil Massacre Declassification Project; and,

Humanitarian aid workers and UN peacekeepers raping, abusing Haiti's children.

3. Direct that U.S. trades with the Haitian government, not with the U.S. Agency of International Development ("USAID") and foreign NGO's and charities in the name of Haitians. For this US policy only undermines Haiti’s sovereignty, emboldens and empowers NGOs with no public responsibility or accountability to Haitians or Haiti’s long term well-being.

It is in the best interest of the United States to support Haitian democracy, good governance, development, self-reliance and self-sufficiency. This cannot be done if the Haitian government has to compete with foreign funded NGOs and charities who are not elected or accountable to the people of Haiti, but to promoting dependency and their own organizations' interests for self-perpetuation in Haiti.

4. Provide that the U.S. only rewards or give incentives, (i.e. USAID subcontracting bids, jobs) to transnational U.S. corporations in Haiti that abide by Haitian labor, human rights, minimum wage and environmental laws and that show corporate responsibility by patronizing the informal sector of local service providers and by generally not exporting all profits and capital but committing to investing a very small percentage of their Haiti profits in Haiti. (See, Economic proposals that make sense for the reality of Haiti).

5. Invest in Haitian domestic and commercial production of food. The US must stop dumping food in Haiti. It eviscerates Haiti's food sovereignty. (See, HLLN Links to US "free trade" fraud promoting famine in Haiti, Dumping food- USAID to send $25 million more). The only sustainable solution is to calibrate emergency food aid focusing all efforts on supporting Haiti's national food production, consumption and local distribution.

The famine situation was dire before the four 2008 storms, but after the storms that destroyed bridges, roads, caused severe property damage, killed over a thousand people, left millions homeless and flooded the rice-producing region of Haiti, it will be unspeakable.

The charity Christian Aid estimates that roughly one third of the country's 60,000-ton annual production of rice may have been ruined by floods. Farm tools, seeds to plant next year's crop, livestock that farmers live off and irrigation systems vital for rice production were also destroyed. The damage is all the more serious because it came at harvest time." (Haiti could face new food crisis after storms, Sept. 15, 2008, Reuters By Matthew Bigg).

U.S. agricultural aid to Haiti should support local people-centered, self-sustaining projects to rebuild the flood-devastated former bread baskets areas of Haiti in the Artibonite valley and Plaine du Sud. According to a Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, (FAO) report, the rice bowl areas in Haiti alone, are capable of producing food to feed 10 million people. Haiti has a population of 8.5 people and thus, Haiti has the capacity to feed itself. The U.S. should eschew old failed USAID and State Department policies proven to promote famine, hunger and political instability evidenced by the food riots that forced the resignation of the Alexis government and support this capacity.

Haiti needs cash crops, food and energy immediately.

The US may provide authentic assistance by supporting projects that donates modern farm equipment, tools, fertilizers, emergency seeds, et help increase food production; projects that creates local agriculture, engineering and construction jobs and planting crops that can stabilize the soil and be sold or used for bio-fuels.

It should simultaneously support the planting of fruit trees in Haiti that can feed Haitian families and be used as cash crops for domestic trade and investments. Without trees to anchor the soil, erosion will continue to reduce Haiti's scarce agricultural land, making Haiti more vulnerable to devastating floods each hurricane season.

Efforts at reforestation must be tailored to planting to the needs of specific areas in Haiti, not to what USAID contractors want to do. For it has been proven beyond a doubt, the poor will not cut down fruit trees (to sell for charcoal) that feed their families and help them earn a living.

Haiti is a country filled with "non-workers" by US standards. But this informal working sector (small local producers, distributors, retailers and marketwomen) is the economic backbone of Ti Pèp La - the masses in Haiti. Haiti is a place with gold, copper, lignite, coal and uranium mines, gas reserves, precious minerals, limestone, construction aggregate, marble, chalk, and stone quarries, gem stones, underwater sea treasures and where the poorest of the poor own property. USAID neo-liberal economic policies that doesn't calibrate these factors and the Haitian peoples' right to equitable distribution of their country's own assets, will always fail. (See, Energy and Mining in Haiti: The wealthy, powerful and well-armed are robbing the Haitian people blind ; Haitian Riches).

USAID and the foreign, religious and other NGOs and non-for-profits purporting to act for the Haitian people are fighting for earmarked money, not for getting productive results in Haiti. They have historically and continue to deny the Haitian peoples' sovereign civil, cultural, religious and human rights. Their projects ultimately promote endless debt, dependency, famine, death and instability in Haiti.

6. The US Congress must demand fiscal accountability, transparency and quantifiable evidence of sustainable development achievements from reform projects designed, supervised and financed through USAID and their subcontractors, corporate consultants and charity workers using federal funds in Haiti. In particular, the new US President should ask Congress to review and investigate which US corporations and political officials pocketed and benefited from the more than $4 billion U.S. dollars spent in Haiti by US through USAID and their sub-contractors from 1994 to 1998 and who profited and were made wealthier from the over $8 billion dollars and counting spent during the second Bush coup d'etat from Feb. 29, 2004 continuing on through today.

What improvements have the use of these US taxpayer monies made, in any, in the lives of the Haitian majority? None. They are suffering now from famine, the foreign soldiers' rape, assault, molestation and moreover... worst insecurity, injustice, impunity, standard of living and degraded environment than what they had before the US regime change and US/UN 2004 occupation. (See also, HLLN's Free Haiti Movement Demands, May 18, 2008).

In particular, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman, Ana Santiago, "The U.S. has given nearly $400 million in assistance to Haiti since 2004, including $64 million for disaster relief after Jeanne and Hurricane Dennis in 2005. (See, Haitians seek temporary halt to deportations By JENNIFER KAY, AP, Sept. 12, 2008). In 2004 Hurricane Jeanne killed over 3,000 Haitians and flooded the City of Gonaives. Like then, in a replay of the same scenario, the media rushed in and published the lines of folks in flood waters, receiving aid, photographed the dead, told the tragic and dying stories. Like then USAID and the U.S. government also rushed in and committed millions of dollars to “help.” International help has been occupying Haiti for four years.

Why was the City of Gonaives never rebuilt? Why did it remain filled with flood damage, weak and devastated, battered from hurricane Jeanne, Dennis, Mitch, Noel and the subsequent hurricanes from 2004 up until to this season with Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike? Where did the $400 U.S. million, including $64 million in disaster relief, go?

Not one bridge was reinforced, not one flood barrier or road in or to Gonaives was ever built or re-built. Yet, USAID subcontractors, US NGOs, humanitarian and charity workers raised millions of funds based on Haiti's misfortunes and were photographed distributing bags upon bags of rice and water immediately after each major hurricane and flood, and then... nothing. The flurry of activity subsided. The media cameras were gone; only to return again during storm Noel last October 2007, and again for the food riots to show starving Haitians rebelling in April of 2008.

And the story repeats itself.

After the April 2008 food riots in Haiti, the U.S. government and U.N. World Food Program committed to send a combined total of $117 million in food and agricultural aid. Yet three months later, just a small fraction of this pledge had actually been distributed to starving Haitians. None of it had reached the starving Haitians in the countryside. On July 20, 2008, speaking about the food riots, an Associated Press article quoted a U.S. Agency of International Development report and stated that: "of the outpouring of international pledges... that included more than 40,000 tons of beans, rice and other food intended to quell the emergency, as of early July, less than 2 percent of that had been distributed. Some 16,000 tons has reached Haiti. But more than 11,000 tons of that is still in port; nearly all the rest lies undistributed in World Vision International and Catholic Relief Services warehouses. Only 724 tons of food has reached distribution centers". (See, Haiti food aid lags, hunger deepens By JONATHAN M. KATZ Associated Press Writer , July 20, 2008)

But there's more.

In fact, two months after the April, 2008 food riots, on June 13, 2008, President Rene Preval is quoted in a Nouvelliste article as saying that

" these last months, more than 40 to 50% of the imported rice that is subsidized by the Haitian government is CONSUMED IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC.... [And that] even Haitian clandestinely subsidized petroleum products, cheaper Haiti oil products, are also being consumed by wealthy foreign ships passing through Haitian waters, instead of the impoverished and starving Haitians, these food and gas subsidies were intended to benefit..."

(See the role of the Haitian oligarchs and rich families in Haiti.)

For all the reasons above mentioned, Haitian-Americans hereby request that the next President of the United States directs that the US Congress must demand fiscal accountability, transparency and quantifiable evidence of sustainable development achievements from reform projects designed, supervised and financed through USAID and their subcontractors, corporate consultants and charity workers using federal funds in Haiti.

7. The next U.S. president should support the institutionalization of Haitian laws, not USAID/IRI/NED "democracy enhancement" projects that promote coup d'etat, instability and financial colonialism and containment-in-poverty in Haiti through neo-liberalism - "free trade", "globalization" and other such "privatization" - schemes.

Every time the United States supports the destabilization of a duly elected government it visits enormous economic pressures and political turmoil upon Haiti. The turmoil and pressures undermine Haitian justice, participatory democracy, self sufficiency, sovereignty, self-determination and promotes insecurity, debt, dependency, foreign domination, injustice, a rise in fleeing refugees and a structural containment in poverty. This instability has widespread and deep and disturbing repercussions.

For instance, the Haitian Diaspora invests $2 billion dollars per year in Haiti. That investment is destroyed, diluted and undermined when it must be used to bury family members killed in political turmoil, kidnapped in the chaos of anarchy, instability that follows coup d'etats, or to move and help rebuilt the family of a relative or friend traumatized by the UN soldiers' rapes, molestation, arbitrary detention and indefinite incarcerations of their children relatives and friends in Haiti, instead of being used to buy books for their children and relatives to go to school, to buy supplies to carry out a viable family business, seeds to plant next year's harvest, or invest remittances in Haiti's tourism, schools, reforestation, agriculture, road construction, flood barriers, or health needs.

US-sponsored coup d'etats in Haiti destroy grassroots and community organizations as well. When this human community infrastructure is gone, Haitians cannot respond to the hurricane seasons, worldwide rising food and gas prices or any other sort of emergency; laws requiring that all children go to school cannot be implemented and the Haitians' capacity to help themselves is eviscerated.

Just one more example suffices: as Environmental Minister Jean-Marie Claude Germain indicated in an AP article titled Haiti's Efforts to Save Trees Falters, "reforestation projects and efforts to preserve trees in three protected zones were set back by the violent rebellion that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004 and prompted the U.N. to send in thousands of peacekeepers to restore order. Even though there were agricultural laws, the laws were not respected," Germain said.

When there's food instability because of the U.S. dumping of imported under low tariffs into Haiti; when there is no security because of US-orchestrated regime change rebellion in Haiti, then children don't go to school, parents don't go about trying to earn a living and the $2 billion remittances from Haitians living abroad cannot be maximized. The only folks who make out like fat rats are the U.S. middlemen - the sweatshop corporations who don't have a democratic government to account to in terms of abiding by Haitian labor and other laws, the NGOs and non-for-profits fighting over "aid" monies for Haiti and to be designated as subcontractors for USAID, U.N., State Department and other such agencies providing earmarked "recovery/reform" funds. Haitian blood and manufactured chaos and instability lines the pockets of certain of these U.S. corporations, defense contractors, security firms, so-called development experts and "charity organization." This pattern must stop.

Haitian-Americans ask that the next U.S. President stop supporting endless IMF/WB/IRI death-projects in Haiti. Stop supporting debt, dependency and foreign domination. End the UN occupation, grant TPS and work permits with a specification to stop all deportations to h elp Haiti's recovery process. Stop the rampant discrimination in all areas of immigration vis-à-vis Haitian nationals in the U.S. Stop trading with USAID, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision International and other such NGO's and calling it "help" or "trading with Haiti." Invest not in "free trade" and low-wage assembly plant jobs that will only end up creating slums like Site Soley and destroying rural Haiti, but in sustainable development projects - grass-roots environmental rehabilitation, and increased food and energy production projects, designed by local Haitians with a bottoms-up grassroots approach that recognizes Haiti's economic backbone is its informal working sector. Stop the militarization of Haiti in order to quell and pacify dissent. Support restitution for the coup d'etat victims and the promotion of Haitian sovereignty, laws, community organizing, community policing, transparency and participatory democracy.

Stop imposing failed USAID policies. The constructive help the US can provide is to help Haitians help themselves and step out of the way of Haitianist grassroots, bottoms-up, community development. As illustrated above, the bulk of USAID aid and NGO emergency handouts never reach the poorest of the poor. So, the reality is that it's not US "aid" or NGO handouts that sustains the Haitian people, but the over $2 billion dollars sent each year to Haiti directly by Haitians living abroad to their families in Haiti. These Haitian remittances should be encouraged and protected, not destroyed by cruel deportations, coup d'etat, free trade that promotes famine or a US/UN occupation that traumatizes and militarizes Haiti instead of helping with reconstruction, viable reforestation, engineering projects, community-based policing and development, educational initiatives, building of flood barriers, roads, bridges, viable farms, schools, hospitals and health centers.

Marguerite "Ezili Dantò" Laurent, Esq.
President, Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
September, 2008

Forwarded by Ezili's Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network

What Haitian-Americans are asking of the next US president, go here.

Source: The Haitian Blogger

No comments:

Post a Comment