The first in a series of four reports on housing conditions and relocation was published today. Based on research conducted in July and August 2012 by Mark Schuller, with funding from the National Science Foundation, Homeward Bound? Assessing Progress of Relocation from Haiti’s IDP camps is available on the Institute for Justice and Democracy (IJDH) website.
Striking Haiti on its way to the United States’ eastern seaboard in late October, Hurricane Sandy exposed the precariousness of the estimated 370,000 people still living under tents almost three years after the devastating earthquake.
Yet the population of internally displaced persons (IDPs) peaked at 1.5 million. As a report from the US State Department pointed out, the current IDP population is estimated at 25% of this total. Much has been said about the efforts of the international community to rehouse this vulnerable population, particularly President Michel Martelly’s “16/6” program and the NGO programs that have followed.
TORONTO, Oct. 29, 2012 — Justin Podur issues a powerful challenge and wake-up call to the international NGO and development community
TORONTO, Oct. 29, 2012 – Haiti is again living under a dictatorship, says author Justin Podur. Podur, author of Haiti’s New Dictatorship: The Coup, the Earthquake and the UN Occupation, explains that Haitians have no effective say over their economic and political affairs; their right to assemble and organize politically is sharply limited; and human rights violations are routine and go unpunished.
Podur says, “Last week conclusive evidence came out that the cholera outbreak that killed 7,500 people in Haiti came from the UN, with an accompanying note that there is no one to blame for it. In a way, this is true: the international regime that rules Haiti today diffuses responsibility so that thousands of people can die and there is no one to blame. Democracy and sovereignty could save lives in Haiti.”
Three lawyers in Haiti are reporting an increase of threats and intimidation against them in recent months. They believe they may be targeted for their activism and criticisms against the Haitian government.
On 28 September, the Chief Prosecutor of Port-au-Prince, Jean Renel Sénatus, was interviewed at local radio station, where he discussed his dismissal by the Ministry of Justice because he refused to implement a ministerial order to arrest 36 political opponents. It is not clear on which grounds these arrests had been ordered. The Ministry of Justice denied having given such orders.
Among the 36 political opponents were the names of lawyers Mario Joseph, Newton St-Juste and André Michel. Mario Joseph is a prominent human rights lawyer who is involved in sensitive judicial cases such as proceedings against former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, complaints against the UN for their alleged involvement in spreading the cholera epidemic in Haiti, and cases of forced evictions of people made homeless after the earthquake. As head of the International Lawyers Office (Bureau des Avocats Internationaux), he addressed the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights last July, requesting to visit Haiti to investigate human rights violations. Newton St-Juste and André Michel, also lawyers, recently filed criminal grievances against the wife and the son of the President of the Republic of Haiti for corruption and embezzlement of public funds.
Haiti’s brutal army was disbanded in 1995, yet armed and uniformed paramilitaries, with no government affiliation, occupy former army bases today.
President Michel Martelly, who has promised to restore the army, has not called on police or U.N. troops to dislodge these ad-hoc soldiers.
Given the army’s history of violent opposition to democracy, Martelly’s plan to renew the army “can only lead to more suffering”, says Jeb Sprague in his forthcoming book Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti, to be released mid August by Monthly Review Press.
The role of Haiti’s military and paramilitary forces has received too little academic and media attention, says Sprague, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He hopes his book will help to fill that gap.
CBC’s “The Current” has a broadcast about precious metals in Haiti:
Haiti’s President, Michel Martelly, is anxious to welcome foreign investment. Haiti is still recovering from the earthquake of 2010 and remains the most impoverished country in the Western hemisphere. World Vision estimates Haiti’s 10 million people live on an average income of less than 700 dollars a year.
But recent discoveries of precious metals in the country’s northeast have some residents feeling optimistic that their lives could improve. In fact, there’s talk of a Haitian gold rush with some estimates suggesting gold, silver and copper deposits worth 20 Billion dollars.
by Brian Fitzpatrick
Thursday, 05 July 2012 15:35, originally posted at Upside Down World
“I am in charge of Haiti!” one excited former soldier in his fifties exclaims. The others laugh on cue, one of them holding a handgun casually by his side. Swinging around to pose for the camera, an older man in fatigues carelessly waves the barrel of his machine gun past me at chest height. Two hours north of Port-au-Prince, in the town of Saint-Marc, we’ve received our first introduction to the 3,000-strong band of military enthusiasts dubbed Haiti’s “rogue” army.
Two-hundred yards past a police checkpoint, the illegal group has set up its own road stop in full view of passing UN vehicles; a green blur of ill-fitting helmets, mismatched uniforms and bullet belts. It is Bonne Fête Saint-Marc, the town’s annual celebration, and they’ve chosen the big day for a show of force. Remarkably, the nearby UN personnel and Haitian police (PNH) maintain only a watching brief.