Haitian Gangland: All about control

Submitted by Steven Kaszab
Gang-related violence has displaced more than 19,000 Haitians in recent months, according to the UN – Source: Al Jazeera

The historic violence Haitians are experiencing today can find its foundation in various groups trying to control essential commodities such as oil, gas, kerosene and diesel. When a national or economic crisis happens, those who control the means of energy and food sources control the population. Haiti has never been able to escape its exhaustion caused by continual natural and climatic disasters over the years. Unable to nationally and economically heal, Haiti had looked to the world for help, realising that assistance from outsiders has a cost. Haiti’s natural resources and production fall into that category. 

The population reeled at the assassination of Haiti’s President about one year ago. There is no well-established government to name or rely upon. The Gangs of Haiti are many, allied to certain governmental and political parties, these gangs are fighting over gas stations, production facilities of anything energy focused, all in an effort to gain control and profit from Haiti’s on-going bad luck.

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The Grenville Phillips Column – Cry For Haiti Again

After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, I volunteered for over 12 deployments where I interacted with persons at almost all levels of responsibility.  Therefore, any opinion I have on Haiti is an informed one.

When our Prime Minister announced that Barbados would remove our visa requirement for Haitians, I was surprised at the daring offer.  But I had assumed that our Prime Minister’s advisors were far more informed than I, so I kept silent.  Now that Barbados has restored the visa requirement, it is important that this type of error never happen again.

Haiti is a politically unstable country of over 11 million people.  Many of them live in poverty, fear of violence, and hopelessness.  Visa requirements prevent most Haitians from travelling by air.  Therefore, many risk illegal travel by sea, an have drowned in their desperate search for a better life.

Almost 20% of Haitians live in: the United States, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Bahamas, France, and Jamaica.  Many in Haiti depend on funds sent to them from their family and friends who successfully made it out.

Barbados gave Haiti the most generous visa requirement of all countries on this planet.  The next generous visa requirements were offered by: Israel, Rwanda, Benin, Gambia, and South Korea.  These countries are all outside of the Caribbean region, and outside of the Western Hemisphere.  Therefore, Barbados’ offer was the most attractive, safest, and the most realistic legal hope for desperate Haitians.

I was in Haiti after the Prime Minister’s announcement, and can confirm that Barbados’ invitation to Haitians, who were desperate for any glimmer of hope, was excitedly known.  We have now crushed that hope with the sorry excuse that too many Haitians were coming.  What else did we expect a desperate people to do?  Who advised our Prime Minister to remove the visa requirement in the first place?

Why would Barbados, with a land area that is 1.5% of Haiti’s, and a population that is 2.5% of Haiti’s, and an economy that is smaller than Haiti’s, and a debt-to-GDP profile that is worse than Haiti’s, invite Haitians to Barbados without a visa restriction?

Why would Barbados, that: has defaulted on its foreign debt, has a major unemployment problem, has long wait-times for limited public services, and is in a severe IMF austerity program, invite Haiti’s desperate millions to unnecessarily expense themselves with their precious limited funds, to travel to Barbados in search of work that even Barbadians cannot find?  It seems a most cruel joke of false hope, to play on a people who least deserve it.  So why did we do it?

We are accustomed to our politicians making impossible promises to get elected.  We are accustomed to our Members of Parliament practising their ‘Public Relations Economics’ of giving and taking away.  If they promise to reduce taxes in one part of our lives, then they will certainly increase taxes in another part, so that we always pay more.  But Haitians were not accustomed to this type of broken promise from us.

When the Government of Barbados attends regional or international meetings, our politicians do not represent their political parties or their base supporters – they represent all of us.  Therefore, any promises made at these meetings should not be like their campaign promises that they dismissively break at will.  Instead, these promises should be properly thought out.

It is almost impossible to develop well thought out policies if dissenting opinions are not considered.  For this reason, Solutions Barbados’ policy was that each Minister must have an advisory committee, not of loyal party supporters, but of experts in their fields.  This committee would carefully consider public opinions.  Had our Prime Minister been advised by such a committee, then it is unlikely that she would have made such a reckless promise to our Haitian brothers and sisters.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

THE ARISTIDE FOUNDATION – Progress Taking Place in Haiti

Dear Colleague,

Please download and view the attached VIDEO of a March 2019 interview between MILDRED ARISTIDE (wife of former Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide) and Barbadian- American journalist, MARGARET PRESCOD, on the 2019 Graduation Ceremony of the UNIVERSITY OF THE ARISTIDE FOUNDATION in Haiti. The 2019 graduating class consisted of 153 Medical Doctors, 34 Nurses, 19 Lawyers, and 8 Physiotherapists.

It is important that we know about some of the positive and progressive self-help work that is taking place in our fellow CARICOM state of HAITI.

Regards,

David Comissiong

The Grenville Phillips Column – Empty Promises

I am scheduled to be deployed to Haiti shortly to assist them in their recovery efforts.  However, the recent social unrest, which resulted in deaths, property damage and flights into Haiti being suspended, may put those plans in jeopardy.  With the Government awaiting the IMF’s directives, Haiti’s experience is relevant to Barbados at this time.

The IMF directed the Haitian government to implement severe austerity, which included an almost doubling of fuel prices.  When the fuel increases were announced, the people rioted.  It should be remembered that the IMF also directed the Guyana’s government to double the income taxes on the Guyanese.

Having had over 10 deployments to Haiti following the earthquake in 2010, including during their elections, I do not think that the increase in fuel prices is the root cause of this crisis.  They know that sacrifices have to be made to improve their economy, and they have made them in the past.  However, after suffering for so long, the Haitian people hate being tricked.

Their political candidates promised to address mismanagement and corruption if they were elected.  The people expected improvements in government efficiency, and arrests of those accused of corruption, before being targeted for austerity.  However, to have austerity forced on them, without the promised efficiency and arrests, appeared to be too much for the people to bear from a Government that promised to be different.

As we canvassed during the recent elections, people wanted to know what Solutions Barbados would do about the gross corruption in which both established political parties have repeatedly accused the other of engaging.  We promised the most effective policy to address corruption.  Both payers and receivers of bribes would have to pay a fine of 10 times the value of the bribe, and whistle-blowers would be rewarded with the full value of the bribe.

Surprisingly, most people were not satisfied with this response.  They wanted the guilty politicians imprisoned.  However, our policy was not to imprison non-violent offenders, but to fine them.  So while we understood what the people wanted, and could have positioned ourselves to benefit from the 26% swing away from the DLP, we were unwilling to damage our reputations by promising what we were unwilling to deliver.

We promised Barbadians prosperity without austerity because it was possible – and it still is.  We promised to improve efficiency and reduce wastage in the public sector, by implementing the customer-focused international quality management standard, ISO 9001, because we could.  We promised to effectively address corruption in the most effective manner possible because we could.  However, the people wanted ‘blood’, and those skilled in political public relations gave them exactly what they were accustomed to receiving from politicians – empty promises.

It is very easy to simply ask people what they want, and then promise them what they have asked for with no intention of ever fulfilling those promises.  Any Solutions Barbados candidate who engaged in that sort of behaviour would likely be voted out of the party at our next meeting.

The public were led to believe that savings from the proper management of the public service would fund their expensive manifesto promises, and not increased taxes.  The public were also led to believe that the arrest and imprisonment of corrupt politicians would immediate follow the general election.  If the BLP and DLP are indeed the same political party, governed by the same prime directive to protect each other from scrutiny, then no arrests should be expected.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and the founder of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Thanks Jehovah Haiti is on the Rebound

Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Watchdog Group and Think Tank

Coat_of_arms_of_HaitiFive years after the devastating earthquake, that would have totally destroyed most other Caribbean countries, our Haitian brothers and sisters are slowly, and we are convinced surely, rebuilding their society. As always, the aid promised has not all be forthcoming and the spectre of corrupt practices still looms, but we hasten to add that these maladies are not unique after such destruction and chaos. There will always be those humans and organizations, both private and public, who will exploit human suffering for their own greed and nefarious ambitions.

Not to be overwhelmed by these negatives, we are witnessing the great resilience of the Haitian people as they press ahead with nation rebuilding. Our sources in New York reliably inform us, that some commodities are already reaching the market place with the proud stamp: Made in Haiti. We are also reliably informed that: manufacturing, mining, agriculture and fisheries are getting some assistance and creating new jobs. The telecom company DIGICEL, has poured one billion dollars into the telecom infrastructure. Haitian workers are now producing/making computer tablets at an encouraging pace! The tourism planners are moving swiftly to tap into the 25 million tourists who visit the Caribbean annually.

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The World Community Cheats Haiti

Buried in the news is the egregious reality that 50% of the money pledged to Haiti by the global community triggered by the earthquake which devastated the capital Port-au-Prince remains outstanding. Some continue to ask what has this country which symbolizes so much for the free world done to suffer such disrespect. BU will be chided by some for pulling the race card but what else can it be? There is no country in the world which should command the attention of France, USA and other G8 countries given its history.

Those involved in the humanitarian effort in Haiti must be frustrated at the snail pace life-changing activities are being rolled out.    The recent election of President Michel Martelly will not dissuade the cynics who believe Haiti finds itself in a very bad place which cannot be turned around in the near future by Martinelli, Baby Doc or even Aristide. This is a country which is a prime example of what a gulf between the haves and the haves not look like. The ‘families’ who have exploited Haiti through the years is well documented. So wither Haiti?

In good conscience BU wanted to used blog space to remember Haiti, as a people and a predominantly Black country how can we ever forget what it has given to us.

Haiti, do not give up the fight!

Do We Hate Thee Haiti?

Submitted by islandgal246

 

The embassy of the United States of America  here in Barbados is responsible for issuing visas to  citizens of several of the Caribbean islands and this includes nationals of Haiti.  Many of these Haitian nationals reside in the French Territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe must come here  to apply for a US visa.  They are required to obtain Barbados visas at the cost of $50.00 USD which was paid on arrival at the airport. They then have to stay in Barbados overnight depending on the appointment time at the US Embassy. I went to the Barbados Foreign Service website to get  information on visas requirements. Recently I learned  they were told that they could not travel to Barbados as usual because they must now obtain their Barbados visas at the British Consulate in their respective countries of residence.

There is nothing on the website stating this sudden change of venue. I am asking why? Why is the Barbados Government penalizing Haitians whom we so want to help? Why can’t Haitians be given a visa waiver when they come to get their US visas? Aren’t they not part of our Caribbean brothers and sisters?  Don’t they observers status in Caricom?   They have to pay the departure tax when they leave so they are contributing for the use of the airport. They  use taxis and hotels when they come here so they are contributing to Barbados’ economy. Why are we doing this to them?  Citizens from neighbouring countries can come freely without restrictions.

I am disappointed at the Government’s policy towards Haiti  and its citizens.

A Pact With The Devil? The United States And The Fate Of Modern Haiti

Reproduced from Origins Website, by Leslie Alexander

 

Haiti's National Palace, the president's official residence, stands in ruins following the January 12, 2010 earthquake. The palace symbolizes a tumultuous history, in which Haitians won independence and freedom from slavery in 1804 only to suffer continuing diplomatic isolation, debt, foreign occupation, and political turmoil. Eventually completed under U.S. occupation, its construction in 1914 followed the destruction of two previous residences at the site.(Logan Abassi/UNDP Global)

One year ago, on January 12, 2010, a devastating earthquake struck the island nation of Haiti. The following day, as tens of thousands of the dead and dying lay beneath the rubble and remains of their homes and communities, American televangelist Pat Robertson stated that the earthquake occurred because Haiti and its people are cursed. The curse, he claimed, was the result of a “pact” that the Haitian people made with the Devil centuries ago to gain their freedom from the French.

At the same time, other news outlets were reporting on the extreme poverty in Haiti. The mantra that “Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere” was repeated incessantly, by nearly every media source, until it started to sound both like a chant and an accusation, rather than a statement of fact.

And then, just two weeks after the earthquake, a blog posting appeared, in which the author proudly declared that he had not (and would not) donate a single penny to Haitian relief because, as he put it, why should he give money to people “who got themselves in such a predicament in the first place?”

He further argued that the lack of economic resources and infrastructure—and the failure of the Haitian government to adequately respond—were an indication of the fact that Haitian people could not be trusted to take good care of themselves. So why, he wondered, should he give such people any of his money?

The blog took the internet by storm; it was splashed across the news, and the blogger, Paul Shirley, a former NBA basketball player and ESPN commentator, was later fired by ESPN for his comments.

However inaccurate or inhumane, each of these comments—Pat Robertson’s veiled reference to the Haitian revolution, the mantra about Haiti’s poverty, and the blogger’s frustration with Haiti’s internal problems—represent the most powerful and widespread beliefs about Haiti.

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An Inside Look At Haiti’s Business Elite, Interview with Patrick James

In the coming days BU will be reproducing and writing about Haiti. It seems Barbadians and others in the region have become numb to the plight of the Haitians. The article reproduced from 1995 is still relevant and required reading to understand a little about Haiti.

“Patrick James is the alias of a U.S. businessperson who previously lived and worked in Haiti. This interview was conducted prior to the negotiated ouster of the illegal Haitian military government and the restoration of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, but it remains relevant and timely for the insights it provides about class divisions, power, exploitation and human rights in Haiti.

Multinational Monitor: How would you characterize the Haitian business class as a community?
Patrick James: The interconnectedness of the Haitian business community is amazing. I worked for a company and the guy right across the hallway from me, one of the partners, was General Cedras’s brother; the other was a European businessman. My company had one partner whose sister is married to the European businessman, who’s in business with Cedras’s brother. The elite are somehow interconnected or related. Basically they have to work together in order to keep their power intact.
You can imagine what kind of pressure that must be when you know that there are six million peasants that basically could rise up and tear your house down some night, which, also, I experienced. I’ve witnessed what they call dechoukage where they just basically firebomb, loot and gut a house. Its a terrifying thing.
This is always in the mind of the elite Haitians. They ride around in their armored vehicles, they have their Uzis in their house. It’s not uncommon to hear machine gun fire when you’re in Port-au-Prince just because there’s a thief trying to break in somewhere. And you’d better believe these rich people have got machine guns. The poorest Haitians cannot rise up. I mean there will not be a revolution in Haiti because you cannot fight these machine guns with sticks and rocks and machetes. Thereís only so far you can fight.

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If Duvalier Can Travel On An EXPIRED Haitian Passport, Why Can't President Aristide Do The Same?

Reproduced from the Ezili’s Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network


Ousted President of Haiti Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Dr  Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Former President of Haiti
19 January 2011

I would like to thank the government and the people of South Africa for the historic hospitality, deeply rooted in Ubuntu, extended to my family and I Since my forced arrival in the Mother Continent six and a half years ago, the people of Haiti have never stopped calling for my return to Haiti.  Despite the enormous challenges that they face in the aftermath of the deadly January 12, 2010 earthquake, their determination to make the return happen has increased.

As far as I am concerned, I am ready.  Once again I express my readiness to leave today, tomorrow, at any time.  The purpose is very clear: To contribute to serving my Haitian sisters and brothers as a simple citizen in the field of education. The return is indispensable, too, for medical reasons: It is strongly recommended that I not spend the coming winter in South Africa’s because in 6 years I have undergone 6 eye surgeries.  The surgeons are excellent and very well skilled, but the unbearable pain experienced in the winter must be avoided in order to reduce any risk of further complications and blindness.

So, to all those asking me to return home, I reiterate my willingness to leave today, tomorrow, at any time.  Let us hope that the Haitian and South African governments will enter into communication in order to make that happen in the next coming days.

United to the Haitian people, once again my family and I express our sincere gratitude to the government and the people of South Africa.

Barbadians Quibble About TOMAS While Haitians, St. Lucians, Vincentians Suffer

A man carries a child while wading across a flooded street during the passing of Hurricane Tomas in Leogane, Haiti, 05 Nov 2010 - APPhoto

There is a lot we could write about who is to be blamed for the late notification of Storm TOMAS which wreaked havoc on Barbados last weekend. Funny enough the other islands to the North have had more time to prepare but it did not seem to have prevented lives and property from being loss. What was easily ascertained from listening to and observing Barbadians before, during and after Storm TOMAS was the high level of lethargy, complacency, even ignorance demonstrated. The ready excuse must be that Barbados has not experienced any significant weather system since Janet 1955. The folly of such a position would have been exposed two weeks earlier when heavy rains precipitated significant flooding in Barbados. Perhaps, just perhaps TOMAS would have served as a wake-up call for Barbadians who have become fat and lazy caused by a mindset ‘dah cyan happen hey’.

The fact that perennial sufferer Haiti was spared the brunt of Hurricane TOMAS is little consolation. “Haitian officials say before Tomas weakened into a tropical storm, hurricane rains triggered flooding and mudslides that killed at least six people.” Barbadians may also want to understand the plight of St. Lucians who as far as we are aware have had no running water for the past week because of significant damage to a Dam. People also perished and hundreds of houses have been damaged or destroyed. St. Vincent has also been badly affected. Some Barbadian organizations have mobilized to provide relief to our neighbours.

Back to Haiti which is known to be the poorest country in the world if measured in economic terms. In January 2010 Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake which has seen over a million people living in Tent Cities and many others displaced. As a consequence of the inevitable unsanitary conditions over two hundred and fifty Haitians died of Cholera last month. This is a people who know suffering.

What has been difficult to accept by BU about the Haitian Saga post-earthquake has been the failure of the international relief bodies to effectively and efficiently distribute the aid which was freely given by the world all those months ago. The suffering is too much.

The CARICOM initiative which saw former Prime Minister of Jamaica the Most Hon PJ Patterson appointed to draft a report on the way forward seems to have suffered from the accustomed CARICOM malady. In a recent address Patterson outlined the reconstruction effort  but what about the suffering NOW?

Contrast what Patterson is saying to what NGO people are saying on the ground.

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Wyclef Jean: Our Destiny Is Not Written For Us But By Us

Submitted by Austin

Wyclef Jean - Photo credit Reuters

Wyclef Jean is expected to launch a bid to lead his troubled homeland, Haiti. After decades of paying the price for overthrowing it’s colonial rulers, and a devastating earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000, Wyclef has embarked on a monster and noble task.

In the words of President Barack Obama, “our destiny is not written for us, but by us…”, my prayers and admiration are with Wyclef as he leaves the comforts of the entertainment life to help his motherland stand on it’s feet again. As a believer in the wisdom of God which often surpasses our own earthly understanding, Wyclef’s journey in life may have lead him to this exact “moment” where one man could have an opportunity to do so much for so many.

The true measure of a man is not what he does in times of comfort and ease, but what he does in times of challenge and controversy. We known that Wyclef has no political career to speak off and has lived in the US for many years while returning to Haiti often, however what is most important at “this time” is that he has demonstrated “love for country and humanity as a whole” on the world stage, attributes that cannot be easily measured by the intentionally broken political systems that exist throughout the Caribbean.

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Local Engineer Back From Haiti And Is Forced To Ask Some Hard Questions

Grenville Phillips, Structual Engineer

I recently returned from a 4-week deployment in Haiti. My principal assignment was to train Haitian engineers to evaluate the safe structural condition of buildings, so that they could be occupied or abandoned. I also trained them in effective and economical repair and strengthening measures. I completed my assignments, returned home, and tried to forget the ugly side of the Haitian relief effort … but I could not. This is my story.

1.  Why have none of the UN agencies, international funding agencies, or aid organisations (except HfH) deployed any of the structural engineering volunteers in the Caribbean region, for a disaster which has occurred in the Caribbean.

2.  Why have the UN agencies, international funding agencies, and aid organisations that have contracted structural engineers, contracted them from outside of the Caribbean.

3.  Why was the lone structural engineer that was deployed from the Caribbean, discouraged from training Haitian engineers, and from inspecting any critical facilities?

4.  Why were none of the Caribbean based structural engineers deployed to evaluate any of the 5,900 schools that needed to be urgently evaluated?

5.  Why does UNOPS appear to be threatened by a group of Caribbean based structural engineers who were willing to volunteer their services?

6.  Why was UNOPS’s training so sub-standard.

I will attempt to answer some of these questions.  However, if anyone can provide a different interpretation of the evidence, then I will happily engage them in a discussion.

1.  If Caribbean based Structural Engineers volunteered their services, then there would be less work for the Engineers contracted by UNOPS to do.

2.  If the Engineers procured by UNOPS do less work than they expected, then they would not be required to be in Haiti for as long as they had estimated.  Therefore, they would receive commensurately less fees for their services.

3.  If Caribbean based Engineers gain experience in evaluating critical facilities, then UNOPS may see them as competitive threats.

4.  If Caribbean based Structural Engineers are well trained, then UNOPS may see them as potential competitive threats.

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And The Rich Shall Get Richer: What About the Poor?

The recent catastrophic earthquake which rocked Haiti has exposed one of the weaknesses of modern civilization; the failure to narrow the gap between rich and poor countries. Haiti is a country which has languished at the bottom of the ladder using any yardstick which measures economic and human development. During the period of struggle being experienced by Haiti its regional and international counterparts have failed to advance its economic and other infrastructural development.

Yesterday in the news reference was made to the richer nations (G8) failing to honour pledges made at the 2005 Gleneagles Summit recorded in the Gleneagles Agreement. Total aid pledged was $107bn (£68bn) in 2010 against 2005 pledged of $128bn, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has forecast. A recent study released by the OECD has tabulated the shortfall in pledges at 21 billion dollars. Countries expected to be most affected by the shortfall are those located on the African continent. As much as we hate to write it Blacks and non-Whites represent the bulk of the population of Africa.

Is it unreasonable to link the economic stagnation which exist in the world to race?

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