Thursday, December 25, 2008

Haiti's Quiet Corner

The Basin Bleu offers secluded waters for bathing outside of Jacmel. Luke Jerod Kummer / The National

Haiti's Quiet Corner by Luke Jerod Kummer
The National Newspaper, December 20. 2008

Before I landed in Port au Prince I knew I didn’t want to stay there long. A generation of news footage had convinced me that Haiti’s capital was a city of unrest, despair and no place to holiday. When I left the airport I found the chaotic scenes I had imagined – city streets on fire with burning rubbish and UN vehicles patrolling shanty neighborhoods – as the recently elected president Rene Preval tried to find his footing in yet another of the Caribbean country’s uneasy political transitions. I was keen to escape and so the next morning Hattie, a friend from New York who had been interpreting at a medical conference, hired a driver with a 4x4 and we headed south for more tranquil grounds. Read article and see photos at

Half-Hour for Haiti: Invest in Hope and Justice for Haiti

Half-Hour for Haiti: Invest in Hope and Justice for Haiti
December 10, 2008

This end of the year wrap up piece contains very good update on the work of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and various justice issues. Click here for full report:

Birth, not ancestry, relevant to citizenship by Sonia Pierre

Photo borrowed from Robert F. Kennedy Memorial website page onSonia Pierre. Go here: for speeches by Sonia Pierre, press releases, biography, and the RFK Human Rights Award 2006 awarded to Sonia Pierre


Birth, not ancestry, relevant to citizenship

from Miami Herald, Opinion

SANTO DOMINGO -- I am a native-born citizen of the Dominican Republic. I grew up, went to school, started a family and raised my children on Dominican soil. This is the only place I have ever called home. Yet, after more than 45 years in this country, my nationality -- along with that of thousands of other Dominicans -- is being called into question.

Like many Dominicans, I am of Haitian ancestry. My family came to the Dominican Republic from neighboring Haiti to find work. Their journey was not uncommon, nor was it discouraged. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians came to work in this country with the express permission of the Dominican government.

But Dominicans like me have always paid a price for our ancestry.

For more than a century, the government has promoted a policy of state-sponsored racial discrimination. We have been used as scapegoats to shift the focus away from the country's economic and political problems.

Even so, one lesson I learned growing up was that any person born in the Dominican Republic is a Dominican citizen. This no one questioned. This no one doubted. The Dominican Republic's constitution says explicitly that anyone born on the country's territory, except infants born to parents who happen to be diplomats or foreigners ''in transit'' -- understood for decades to mean in the country for fewer than 10 days -- is a Dominican citizen. Because of this, I never worried that my status as a citizen would ever be in doubt. I was wrong.

Five Bailout Lessons From Katrina

Hurricane Katrina victim, Lewis Reddick, stands in the FEMA Diamond travel trailer park in May of 2008. (Photo: Getty Images)


by Bill Quigley,

Wednesday 24 December 2008

t r u t h o u t Perspective

The US has committed nearly three trillion dollars to the financial bailout so far. The Federal Reserve has made more than $2 trillion in emergency loans and another $700 billion has been pledged through Congressional action. Much more money is coming.

Things better for your community? I didn't think so.

Welcome to Katrina world. Despite pledges of a hundred billion dollars, we are still in deep pain along the Gulf Coast. What happened?

Unless citizens are vigilant and demanding, the entire US will be subjected to the same forces that swept through the Gulf Coast after Katrina - spending huge amounts of money and leaving a second disaster behind. Read rest of article:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Demonstrations in Haiti

The Freeport News

Demonstrations in Haiti
December 18, 2008

Major demonstrations that took place in Haiti earlier this week could signal the beginning of another chapter in that troubled nation's history of political violence and instability.

Thousands of Haitians marched through the streets of Port-au-Prince and several other cities on Tuesday calling for the return of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide from exile in South Africa and demanding that President Rene Preval keep a promise he supposedly made two years ago to let Aristide return to Haiti.

"We voted for Preval because he promised to bring back Aristide," one demonstrator shouted, according to one wire service report on the demonstration.

What is most significant about these demonstrations is that they come at a time when the United States is about to swear in a new president, and there is every reason for supporters of Aristide to believe that the new Democratic administration may not be as anti-Aristide as the former Republican administration headed by President George W. Bush. Indeed, Aristide supporters are convinced that the armed uprising that forced him to resign the presidency early in 2004 and leave Haiti was supported by President Bush's administration. They also strongly believe that the administration of George Bush Sr., 13 years earlier, supported the military coup that deposed Aristide in 1991, just eight months after he won election.

For most of the time between 1991 and 1994, Aristide lived in the United States and generated strong support among the Congressional Black Caucus, which wields tremendous power within the Democratic Party. It was, therefore, not surprising that his return to power in Haiti in 1994 with strong backing from the U.S. military was during the first term of Democratic President Bill Clinton.

Undoubtedly, this fact is what has Aristide supporters now believing that history may repeat itself under the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama, who will be sworn in on January 20. Their optimism may very well be buttressed by the fact that one of Aristide's strongest supporters during his tenure as president was Congresswoman Maxine Waters, a democratic representative from the state of California, who had very strong ties to President Clinton.

Waters was quite outspoken in denouncing reported U.S. involvement in the uprising that forced Aristide to flee Haiti on February 29, 2004, for the Central African Republic, and she was said to be instrumental in arranging for then Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson to invite Aristide in March of that year to spend some time in Jamaica. After spending several weeks in Jamaica, Aristide left for exile in South Africa.

Obviously, supporters of Aristide are hoping that Waters and the Congressional Black Caucus will have some influence on the first elected black President of the United States, and that influence will translate into support for Aristide's return to Haiti. But very little has changed in Haiti with regard to the seemingly equal amount of love and hate that Aristide generates among the Haitian people. Therefore, his return to Haiti could very well trigger a new round of violence in that country that would certainly not be in the best interest of The Bahamas, which has had a very serious illegal Haitian immigrant problem for decades.

Minister of State for Immigration Branville McCartney, who is doing a remarkable job addressing the illegal immigrant problem, should brace himself to deal with a substantially increased influx of illegal Haitians if sustained violence were to erupt in Haiti should Aristide be allowed to return.

Actually, he would be wise to start preparing for that eventuality because the possibility of that happening now appears to be quite likely.