In the News: Haiti death toll jumps to 19 after tropical storm

Originally posted in The Huffington Post

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A government official says that Haiti’s death toll from Tropical Storm Isaac has jumped to 19.

Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste of the country’s Civil Protection Office gave few details on how each person died in the storm that drenched Haiti over the weekend.

That puts the total regional death toll from Tropical Storm Isaac at 21. Two people died in the neighboring Dominican Republic after they were swept away in a river.

Some of the Haitians died because their homes fell on top of them.

Haiti is prone to flooding and mudslides because much of the country is heavily deforested and rainwater rushes down barren mountainsides.

Jean-Baptiste gave the new figures in an interview on a private radio station.

In the News: Too Soon for Carnival: Sweeping Haiti’s 400,000 Poor Back Under the Rug

For those who haven’t been to Haiti for a while, or for those who have never been but have seen the hell on earth portrayed in the media, the fact that Champs-de-Mars and other plazas in Port-au-Prince are no longer home to thousands of people is a symbol of progress.

Celebrating this “liberation” of public spaces, President Martelly is planning a Carnival des Fleurs, a tradition under Duvalier, scheduled to begin July 29, a day after the anniversary of the 1915 U.S. invasion.

For the 390,276 people the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates who are still under ripped sheets of plastic or tarp, it’s too soon to celebrate.

Many believe this relocation of camps on highly-visible areas is akin to sweeping the garbage off the floor only to have it out of sight and out of mind, in someone else’s backyard. Where are people going?

For its part, the IOM is keeping track of people they have relocated in the 16/6 program. But the 16/6 camps only account for 5 percent of the total camp population.

And for the others? “Nou pa konnen.” We don’t know.

Read the rest at the Huffington Post

In the News: Unstable Foundations: Human Rights of Haiti’s 1.5 Million IDPs

by Mark Schuller, Huffington Post

Haiti’s 1.5 million homeless have once again become invisible. Because they are not seen or heard in mainstream media, most people assume things are improving, the problem solved.

Unfortunately they are wrong.

While it goes unseen, and therefore the U.S. Congress is not being pressured during this midterm election season to end the deadlock that is holding up 1.15 billion dollars in promised aid to Haiti, the situation remains quite urgent.

I ended my last posting — while finishing a study on the camps for 1.5 million people made homeless by Haiti’s earthquake — by asking: like the thousands who are contemplating moving back into their damaged homes, are Haiti’s 1.5 million IDPs just falling through the cracks, or is the foundation itself unsound?

Unfortunately the answer is that the foundation itself appears to be unsound.
Continue reading In the News: Unstable Foundations: Human Rights of Haiti’s 1.5 Million IDPs

In the News: The Shock Doctrine in Haiti: An Interview with Patrick Elie

by Beverly Bell. Originally posted at The Huffington Post

Patrick Elie has long been a democracy activist. Moreover, during President Aristide’s administration-in-exile during the 91-94 coup d’etat, Patrick was coordinator of the anti-drug unit of the National Intelligence Service, where he was key to exposing the collusion between the U.S. government and the military coup leaders. He subsequently served as Aristide’s secretary of defense. Here Patrick discusses how the ‘shock doctrine’ is working in Haiti, why equality is essential to rebuilding the nation, and why Haitians need to break from the vision that the international community has for its reconstruction.

The Shock Doctrine, the book by Naomi Klein, shows that often imperialist countries shock another country, and then while it’s on its knees, they impose their own political will on that country while making economic profits from it. We’re facing an instance of the shock doctrine at work, even though Haiti’s earthquake wasn’t caused by men. There are governments and sectors who want to exploit this shock to impose their own political and economic order, which obviously will be to their advantage.

One thing to watch is a humanitarian coup d’état. We have to be careful. Especially in the early days, the actions weren’t coordinated at all and they overtook the goalie, which is the Haitian government. The little bit of state that’s left is almost irrelevant in the humanitarian aid and reconstruction. What is going to happen is that it’s not Haitians who will decide what Haiti we want, it’s people in other countries.

Continue reading In the News: The Shock Doctrine in Haiti: An Interview with Patrick Elie