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#Adoption Ethics - Philomena, a film to see

Livesay Haiti - Aug. 19, 2014 - 10:19 pm
As an adoptive parent that has made advocating for birth-family rights a regular part of my battle cry, I have learned over time that some adoptive parents don't want to be asked to think about the birth parents of their adopted children.

I am not sure why that is, my guess is that it is painful and difficult -- and avoidance of pain and difficulty is a thing people do.  (No, not a detective, just keen deductive powers.) 

Last year we bore witness to a corrupt (American) woman processing adoptions in Haiti and asked for accountability for dishonest practices and fraudulent acquisition of children for international adoption. Following speaking up about it, false stories circulated and six or seven adoptive mothers wrote angry emails informing us we were being used by the devil to destroy international adoption. (Gah!) 

That was a difficult time, because, who wants to be falsely accused or loathed? As it turned out, multiple children had been wrongfully removed from birth-families.

In the end we looked at the lives of the Haitian families all around us and recognized that someone needed to stand up for their rights. They don't have the money or the passports or the social media or the voice or the state senators. 

Recognizing that not everyone automatically thinks it is important to empathize and understand the feelings and experiences of first-families, I am still pushing for all adoptive parents to do just that. Our desire is to continue to encourage adoptive parents to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth by listening to the stories of grown adoptees and first families, by learning about unjust practices and by being very concerned with adoption ethics. Additionally, we must all investigate the agencies we partner with and be vigilant as we gather information.  

What has been done in the adoption business in the past, and what continues to be done in some instances and countries, is unjust. It is challenging to take on the burden of this injustice without trivializing anyone's suffering. We need to try. I think we often don't give credence to the fact that there is a burden to bear here.  There is not a single narrative; someone gains, someone loses, someone has litte to say about how it plays out. 

* * * *

This movie (and the true story it is based on) is a must see for adoptive parents.  It exposes systems that have taken children from mothers and the multi-faceted fallout of this injustice. In the movie it is the Catholic church in Ireland taking babies from teen mothers. This still happens, in a different context, but under the same umbrella of coercion and shame and exploitation of a mother in crisis.  It has long finished its run in the theaters and is available for purchase. You won't regret taking the time to view it. 

This movie is beautiful and redemptive while being truthful, and immensely sad.

Quoting two articles on the movie..."You can't go through life being so unyielding ...so you've got to forgive," (Philomena) Lee said of how she was able to keep her faith. "You've got to. You just have to forgive." On stage at the Golden Globe Awards last month, Lee said the film with her name wasn't just about her."It's the shared story of the women who have yet to receive the justice they deserve," she said, referring to many unwed Irish mothers who also had their children taken from them and who want to find out what happened to them.   (Source)The book also helps dismantle the stubborn myth that silence is the best policy: that children should be sheltered from the facts of adoption, and that love and material comfort will conquer all. Adoption mores have certainly evolved over time; today, adoptive parents often keep in touch with their children’s birth families.  (Source)
Categories: Haitian blogs

Humans of New York Goes Global

New York Times on Haiti - Aug. 19, 2014 - 12:00 am
The creator of the popular photography blog Humans of New York, which focuses on street life in the city, is now documenting the everyday lives of people near trouble spots around the world.
Categories: Haitian blogs

Isaac Livesay, Guest Blogger

Livesay Haiti - Aug. 18, 2014 - 10:23 pm
This can be found in it's original handwritten form at ASK ISAAC too. 

For ease in reading, I have typed it up for him and added a couple more little facts and a video and photo he requested that I add.

~          ~            ~

An OVERDUE Update, By Isaac Livesay
HI ALLHi Guys, it's Isaac with a new 2014 ground breaking column.

Sorry I've neglected my column this summer and since I have only a few weeks before school starts, I want to share these two topics: What I have done this summer and some exhilarating things that will be happening in the next six months. 

This summer has been very fun. We got to help out at a VBS (Vacation Bible School) and meet our new (future) brother-in-law, Michael.  It was really fun having Michael visit us. We went to the beach twice while he was here and played video games with him and swam a lot. We watched movies and had a few dance parties and played lots of Phase 10. It was loads of fun. 

Besides Michael visiting, the other main thing we did this summer was camps. The camps were something we did to learn about stuff and have fun. Each camp was four days long except for one which was only two days long. During camp we weren't the only kids there, others joined us. 

We had four convivial camps. They were, Art, Energy, How Stuff Works, and Agriculture Camp. During Art camp we got to try various things like carving soap bars into whatever we wanted and building stuff from twig leaves, trash, pop bottles, and Popsicle sticks and straws. Of course there was lots of drawing and sketching, which I love.  (I will post a photo of my most recent dragon drawing.) 

Energy camp was awesome - we studied kinetic, potential, heat, electrical and some other types of energy. We got to build catapults, water rockets that blasted off of pressure, and make a solar powered car. We made obstacles that could start a chain reaction and we even got to do this awesome competition in which we used corrugated metal or cardboard box and a bottle. (There will be a video in which I will tell you even more about the camps.) 

Time to get to the truly stimulating stuff. I am so excited for numerous things within the next six months. I will name those things.  

First, my awesome friends Jeff and Dave come back to Port au Prince on 8/19/14 - in other words, tomorrow! 

My birthday is coming up on September 7th and this will be the very first time we get to celebrate on the actual date of my birth. (I did not know my right birthday because my adoption paperwork listed the wrong date but my birth family told me about the real date this year.) Also, I am becoming an uncle in October, I will be called "Uncle Ike" to my nephew. Then, also pretty exciting, Lydia, Phoebe, Paige, and Hope all have birthdays late in the year as well. 

In January my family and I are going to fly to Florida for my sister's grand wedding. Paige's wedding will take place at a gorgeous ranch in south Florida. I saw photos and it is pulchritudinous. At the wedding me and Noah will be groomsmen. A groomsmen stands by the groom in an act of solidarity he supports the marriage and the groom, Michael. 

My Grandma Porter told me this just yesterday. I cannot even believe it yet. My Grandma and Papa are taking me and me and my family on an opulent cruise after Paige's wedding. We will be on it for one week and we will visit Jamaica, Cozumel in Mexico, and the magnificent Caymen Islands. I am psyched! I am a Caribbean boy and can not wait to explore more of the greater Antilles.

Thoughtful comments and questions are allowed.
Categories: Haitian blogs

why i care

Livesay Haiti - Aug. 14, 2014 - 10:12 pm
The following was written many many months ago (a year?) and has been sitting in the draft folder. There was so much discussion that it seemed like nobody was really listening or pausing or considering anything that anyone else said. When nobody pauses, it seems silly to add a voice to the cacophony. I have no idea if anyone is openly listening right now or not, but hitting publish with a prayer.


"Why do you even care?" was the question posed.
Well. Let's see. Truth is, I care for a lot of reasons. I want to be a good neighbor and I want to understand things outside of my reality. Love compels me to care. We are striving and seeking to bring His Kingdom here on earth as it is in Heaven. I think that's a perfect reason to care. I have a black son. I have a white son. They would both benefit from a less racially-jacked-up world. 

That is the short list. 

I wasn't there and I am not charged with upholding Florida law, so my thoughts are not actually about the verdict itself. I don't know how it went down, I only know that the feelings it stirred in the mothers of black sons are real. Are difficult. Are raw. 

The case points to the bigger issues.  Racism is a festering problem that hasn't improved as much as most would like to pretend. I notice that most people that tell me racism is not an issue are not the people that would necessarily be discriminated against. I notice that those that say "work hard and everybody has the same benefits", are the people that didn't start with societal and cultural and historical prejudice stacked up against them. I notice that most white people that get angry when black people say there is a problem, are people that don't have a diverse friend group or neighborhood. 

I don't find it implausible that most of us walk around with a certain amount of prejudice in our hearts toward people of differing cultures, languages, and skin colors. It seems much more implausible that everyone is as fair as they say they are. I know this: I grew up mainly fearing black men. I did not interact with black children or adults and I did not sit down to a meal with a black family until I was 29 years old. I don't know if that made me racist but it did make me fearful. We all fear what we don't understand and our enemy comes to destroy and he does it by planting fear and distrust - he did that in my life - and he seems to be succeeding elsewhere frequently.  

Black men (and women) say they experience profiling, overt discrimination, fear, and worse. I don't doubt that for a second. I don't really understand those that want to say that cannot be true in this day and age. Even as my black son leaves "cute little kid" stage and enters into the "threatening pre-teen" stage, I have seen people that don't know him respond to him differently. 
We are generally not a very empathetic people, and that is unfortunate at best and horribly harmful at worst. The suffering of others, no matter how little I can identify with their struggle, should matter to me. The unfair treatment of another one of God's children shouldn't be ignored by me - Because, seeking His Kingdom here on earth as it is in Heaven. I think in Heaven we care about injustice, my keen logic skills lead me to believe bringing Heaven to earth means I care here as well. 

Can I fight every battle and every injustice in this world?  No. Of course not. Should I care about racism that doesn't usually directly affect me personally? Yes, and I think we all should.

Living in Haiti has taught me a lot. I am, in fact, a person of privilege. My skin color, place of birth, and passport all make it so. In most situations in life I have an assumed presumption of good-character and I can go about my business unnoticed and unharassed. That said, living here in Haiti as a minority has given me a little tiny glimpse into the world of someone whom is not given carte blanche benefit of the doubt. 

Haiti has had its fair share of abusive, rude, superior acting, white people come through as "helpers" over the years. Technically, the slave owners of more than 200 years ago were all those things.  For that reason and because of many more horrific abuses spanning history, there is a portion of the Haitian population that very much dislikes, distrusts, and even despises white people. On occasion, I have been running and had someone call me horrible names. I have been driving and been told to get the $*&@ out. I have been glared at, mocked, snubbed, and felt unfairly judged. 

Based on things I've witnessed here, I understand that response. I don't begrudge those folks that find my presence here troublesome, some of the things I've heard fellow expats saying about Haitians make me dislike and distrust them (us) as well. Upon glancing at me, how is my Haitian neighbor to know which type of expat I am? I have been given an opportunity to experience prejudice. 

This experience has at times made me mad. "How unfair", I've lamented. However, I long ago decided to see it as a chance to identify more with my Haitian children. Experiencing a tiny bit of ill-will and unfair judgement has taught me how to better identify prejudice and empathize. I feel like it is my chance to walk (ever so briefly and with so much less intensity) in the shoes of my black children and friends. That's incredibly important to me as I raise my Haitian-American children. Prior to living here I had never experienced anything that would have allowed me this unique insight into what they may face. Don't hear me saying I totally understand it, hear me saying, I've begun to understand it and my minuscule experience leaves me wanting better for my children.
I don't want to hear my black friends (or children) saying "This is an ongoing problem for us" and ignore, deny, downplay, or turn away. Would we do that if they came and said they were being abused in other ways? I want to listen and learn. I want to offer genuine concern, care, and empathy. I want to do my part to bring His Kingdom to earth.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Christena Cleveland wrote:
"Privileged people of the cross seek out, stand with, and stick their necks out for people who have problems that are nothing like their own. Privileged people of the cross resist the magnetic draw of our culturally-polarized society. Privileged people of the cross jump every societal hurdle in order to understand the perspective of, stand with and advocate for the other. Just like Jesus did for us."Greg Cary wrote:
"The unity of the church requires that white Christians truly honor the reality our neighbors experience. We cannot isolate our spiritual lives from the rest of our experience. We cannot say, "We love you, but we don't believe your stories." Shallow reconciliation will not do. We cannot expect to pray with black, Latino/a, or Asian American neighbors while we tolerate the absolute negation of their humanity."

Ephrem Smith
"Even with all this, I am hopeful because I know that the Kingdom of God is near. I realize that race is a man-made social construct influenced by Satan to keep the children of God from understanding their true identity and purpose. I will continue to fight with spiritual weapons to bring the reconciling message of Jesus Christ to the lost and the broken. I will not give up."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

I will also continue to fight with spiritual weapons to bring the reconciling message of Jesus to the lost and broken. I will seek out, stand with, advocate for, and jump societal hurdles (allow myself to be utterly uncomfortable) in order to better understand the experience of my neighbors and my children. 

I care. Now you know why.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

(Not in original year old post, added tonight - emphasis is mine.)
Osheta Moore
Today, I raise my hands, because perfect love casts out all fear and because Abba Father sees the suffering of his children.  I raise my hands to bear witness to my  brothers and sisters who were tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets. I raise my hands because my love for them is restless. I can’t do anything tangible with these hands, but raise them high.  Lord, we are restless for change and anxious for hope.  We are witnesses of injustice. We are the women at the foot of the cross, empower us to stay through the torment so that we can be present to bind up wounds and then—see resurrection.

Greg Boyd wrote:
If the church is ever going to significantly manifest the beauty of God’s diverse humanity, it’s going to take place one life at a time. Reach out. Cross ethnic and culture lines. Watch how it challenges your paradigms, enriches your life and expands your worldview. 
Categories: Haitian blogs

Photographing on Ferguson's Streets

New York Times on Haiti - Aug. 14, 2014 - 2:02 pm
Covering the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., has proved challenging as police restrict access and, in some cases, arrest journalists.
Categories: Haitian blogs

Haiti police spokesman: Mass prison escape "a conspiracy carried out from inside the prison"

Michael Deibert's Haiti Blog - Aug. 11, 2014 - 2:34 pm
Lundi, 11 août 2014 09:25  

13 évadés capturés par les forces de l'ordre  

Radio Metropole  

(Read original article here)

Les forces de l'ordre sont à la recherche de plusieurs dizaines de prisonniers en cavale suite à une mutinerie à la prison civile de la Croix-des Bouquets hier dimanche. Parmi les personnes en cavale figure l'homme d'affaires Clifford Brandt, chef d'un important gang de kidnapping.  

Le porte parole de la police, Gary Desrosiers, a révélé que 13 évadés ont été capturés par les policiers quelques heures après la mutinerie dans cette prison de haute sécurité située non loin de la capitale.  

Selon les premiers éléments de l'enquête les mutins n'auraient bénéficié d'aucun appui extérieur pour réussir leur coup. Des riverains ont indiqué que plusieurs centaines de personnes étaient sorties de l'enceinte courant dans tous les sens quelques instants après une intense fusillade.  

"C'est un complot réalisé à l'intérieur de la prison qui a provoqué cette évasion. Il n'y a pas eu d'attaque venue de l'extérieur", a laissé entendre M. Desrosiers démentant ainsi les informations faisant état de l'intervention d'une voiture blindée.  
Les membres du Conseil Supérieur de la Police Nationale (CSPN) ont lancé hier soir l'enquête sur cet évasion spectaculaire de ce centre carcéral de haute sécurité. Les ministres de la justice, Jean Renel Sanon, et de l'intérieur, Reginald Delva, deux ex militaires des FAD'H, ont pu collecter les premières informations sur les circonstances de l'évasion.  

Plusieurs personnalités dont Clifford Brandt et Roodly Ethéard étaient détenues dans cette prison de haute sécurité construit en 2012 grâce à un don du gouvernement canadien. 899 personnes étaient incarcérées dans ce centre carcéral. LLM / radio Métropole Haïti
Categories: Haitian blogs

From the Rearview Mirror

Livesay Haiti - Aug. 7, 2014 - 9:15 am

The seemingly (yet not so) random events of the last nine years ...

  • 2005 - Met Beth McHoul, a missionary to Haiti, in an on-line Marathon/distance running training group - thought she was bad-ass and insanely kind all at once - hoped to meet her someday 
  • 2005 - Met Beth in Haiti on a trip to visit with the mission we were invited to work with - found her wonderful in person too - also met her peculiar husband
  • 2006 - Moved to rural Haiti for 12-18 month commitment and started seeing the McHouls on occasion in Port au Prince, Beth starts talking about the need for change in Haiti and tells me that kids in her orphanage sometimes come because their (poor) moms didn't have any support or encouragement to choose to parent 
  • Met Jen Halverson, a young smart doctor person 
  • 2006 - Held a little girls torn open head together one day while looking for someone to sew her up - realized that I was not freaked out by blood or gore as previously assumed my entire life - a revelation of sorts
  • 2007 - added two little girls to our family while Beth McHoul started her midwifery training
  • 2008 - Stuff fell apart with the place we worked - moved to Port au Prince to work part-time with Heartline Ministries - Beth started a weekly Prenatal Care Program - for sure thought she was weird always talking about birth-stuff but was happy to be her administrative person and helper two days a week while I still had a lot of little ones at home
  • late 2009 - The Prenatal program becomes a labor and delivery program too - Jonna Howard and other midwife people come along side Beth as she trains and learns and I think they are all very odd and I agree to become their charting person during births - all births end with Beth admiring the placentas and I think, "never will I get these people"
  • 2010 - Massive earthquake - did crazy blood and gore things without electricity or sleep along side capable and trained doctors like Jen Halverson and Chris Sizemore and Joe Boyle - everything was weird for a year - in that year I moved into a place of considering becoming a weirdwife and started thinking "how can I become a person that talks about placentas" and other odd behaviors - said very little about it to anyone but Beth McHoul
  • 2011 - Returned to Haiti after time in USA due to earthquake and met Sarah Obermeyer, a crazy smart and encouraging midwife - worked with Cookie Ireland, a sassy and smart-ass midwife that made work fun
  • 2012 - Started doing academic stuff (slooowly and sometimes poorly) learned to say vagina out loud - worked with Melissa Curtice an experienced Haiti nurse midwife and many others that passed though the Maternity Center
  • 2013 - Beth McHoul finishes her training, becomes a CPM in February - she is in her 50s doing scary stuff and learning big medical words - many, including myself, are impressed
  • 2013 - Kept learning, kept studying, kept thinking "I don't know if I can do this studying stuff because, hate studying and hate big medical words and also, not that disciplined"  - love chatting with friends on facebook - rowdy house wrestling with the kids and watching Call the Midwife more than studying and way more than big words 
  • 2013 - Went to USA to finish some requirements for the North American Registry of Midwives and move Paige, attended hospital and home births, messed up my paperwork that proved my clinical experience - messed up bad enough to need more experience - didn't have a preceptor in Haiti anymore - had an epic meltdown
  • 2013 - Beth Johnson, wicked smart midwife, agrees to stay in Haiti beyond her original 3 month commitment and help me finish and sign off on my work for 2014
  • 2014 - Studied even more - Taught by a very great teacher (17 years my junior), encouraged by a dear friend (17 years my senior that proved it can be done), helped by two Haitian RNs that allowed me all sorts of experience by stepping aside at times, instructed to keep going by Dr. Jen, prayed for by lots of kind friends, got wonderful experience at our first twin birth and our first long shoulder dystocia and was moved to keep going by beautiful Haitian mamas
  • This Tuesday - Sat for and passed that flipping test that was the single greatest fear of the last 3.5 years - Certified Professional Midwife  (have learned that many think babies have to be born only to doctors and only in hospitals, would like to say more about what midwives do and don't do but not today) The testing center had strobe lights flashing from fire alarms on the walls. There was another meltdown, a demand to be moved to a new testing center, and some drama, but  that is also a story for another day
  • Today - don't totally believe it but it seems like it is done and real ???? 

In 2005, had anyone told me that one day there would be a cool little maternity clinic in Port au Prince and at that clinic I would work with some of the coolest people in the world and that eventually I would even be trained and qualified to deliver babies and walk along side the coolest Haitian ladies during their pregnancies and the first months of their baby's life, I would have told them to sit the heck down and quiet their crazy mouth.

I never knew what was happening, I doubted God's care for me, I felt like I'd fail, I was almost constantly fighting fear of said failure, and considered quitting at least once weekly. I'm dumb and shallow.

I don't share any of that to tell you how pathetic I can be. 

I share that to tell you that God is working in your fear, your uncertainty, your bewilderment, and doubt.  The 2014 you cannot know what or where the 2018 you will be, and it is better that way because it is better that way.

We always want a light, of course we want to see where we are headed, but it is kind of a wonderful mystery unraveling in the middle of lots of joy and sorrow and celebration and suffering. Who doesn't love a good mystery?  (Rhetorical) 

As the quote goes, 'Go out in to the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God, and that shall be to you better than a light and safer than a known way.'

Thank-you to every CPM, CNM, PA, RN, and MD (Obermeyer, I cannot even begin to know all your letters) that invested time and attention when visiting Haiti or when I came to the USA last year. Your passion and knowledge and willingness to teach were and are a gift to me.

The four eleven most pressing people to thank: Troy Livesay, and all your flippin flexible and awesome kids, Beth McHoul, Beth Johnson, Jen Halverson.  I bawl just thinking of the love shown and sacrifices made in order for this to happen.

Thank-you to each and every one of you that said, "do it, you can do it" when I first started sharing (nervously) about the idea. Thank you for praying, helping us be in Haiti in the first place, and for being generally awesome and kind.

(Words/Photo -Bob Goff, Love Does)

(Forgot to link to August post at A Life Overseas, find it here if interested.)
Categories: Haitian blogs

Manifestations diverses pour commémorer les 50 ans du massacre de Jérémie

Michael Deibert's Haiti Blog - Aug. 4, 2014 - 11:46 am
Haïti-Dictature : Manifestations diverses pour commémorer les 50 ans du massacre de Jérémie  

vendredi 1er août 2014

(Read the original article here)

P-au-P, 1 aout 2014 [AlterPresse] --- Le Comité devoir de mémoire annonce un ensemble de manifestations religieuses et culturelles en vue de commémorer les 50 ans du massacre de jeunes et de familles entières dans la ville de Jérémie (Grand Anse/sud-ouest) en été 1964 sous le règne du défunt dictateur François Duvalier (1957-1971), apprend AlterPresse.

Le lundi 4 août 2014, une veillée de prières sera organisée à la Cathédrale Saint-Louis à Jérémie.
Une messe de souvenir est aussi prévue au même endroit, le mardi 5 août 2014, suivi d’un pèlerinage vers le mausolée des victimes.

Une conférence-débats, suivie de l’inauguration d’une exposition-souvenir sur les 13 membres de « Jeune Haïti » et les Vêpres jérémiennes de 1964, se tiendra à la bibliothèque Carl Edward Peters de Jérémie, le mercredi 6 août 2014.

Des films documentaires comme « L’homme sur les quais » de Raoul Peck, « Le règne de l’impunité » d’Arnold Antonin et « Wòch nan solèy » de Patricia Benoit seront projetés à cette bibliothèque, respectivement les 7, 8 et 9 août 2014.

Des représailles ont été orchestrées par François Duvalier contre treize membres du groupe « Jeune Haïti », dont des mulâtres, après leur entrée dans la ville de Jérémie, en août 1964.
Plus d’une vingtaine de personnes, issues de familles des membres de Jeune Haïti, ont été massacrées dans la ville de Jérémie.

Les treize membres du groupe ont été traqués, tués sur place ou emmenés et exécutés en public devant le cimetière de Port-au-Prince.

Des centaines de mulâtres, femmes, vieillards et enfants ont aussi été torturés puis tués, aux mois d’août, septembre et octobre 1964.

Ces massacres sont aussi dénommées « les Vêpres jérémiennes ».

L’ouvrage titré « Armée d’Haïti après Magloire et Hitlérisme duvaliérien » du professeur Gérard Alphonse Férère livre quelques moments sombres de ces massacres, enclenchés contre ces victimes innocentes à cette époque.

Lors des massacres, des stylets et des cigarettes ont même été utilisés comme instruments de torture à l’encontre des enfants par des macoutes avides de sang.

Capturés par les macoutes, Marcel Numa et Louis Drouin sont torturés et fusillés à Port-au-Prince, en pleine rue, devant le cimetière, en novembre 1964.

La présence des employés de l’État et du secteur privé, des élèves de toutes les écoles (préscolaire, primaire, secondaire) et des facultés fut exigée par Duvalier sur le lieu de l’exécution pour qu’ils en soient témoins.

Des orchestres populaires ont été contraints de s’y rendre pour jouer de la musique. Des boissons gratuites furent distribuées en la circonstance.

Les cadavres tombés en putréfaction furent détachés des poteaux après plusieurs jours. [emb kft gp apr 31/07/2014 13 : 25]
Categories: Haitian blogs

A Creole Solution for Haiti’s Woes

New York Times on Haiti - Aug. 2, 2014 - 12:00 am
Children should learn in the language they speak at home, not French.
Categories: Haitian blogs

When Will the UN Pay For Its Crimes in Haiti? When Will Anyone?

HaitiAnalysis - Aug. 1, 2014 - 7:24 pm
By: Joe Emersberger - first published by Telesur
A cholera outbreak has killed 8,500 Haitians since 2010 and UN forces are responsible, the author argues. Not only that, but the UN helped consolidate Gérard Latortue’s post-coup regime.
Since 2010 the UN has been dodging responsibility for a cholera outbreak that has killed 8,500 Haitians and sickened more than 700,000. Nepalese soldiers with the UN “peacekeeping” forces caused the outbreak by allowing their sewage to leak into Haiti’s largest river. According to the UN itself, cholera could kill 2,000 more people in 2014.             The UN now faces a lawsuit in U.S. courts that was brought by some of the victims. The Obama administration is trying to have the suit dismissed but, this May, Amicus Briefs filed by prominent international law experts refuted the U.S. government’s arguments for dismissal. Scientific evidence of the UN’s guilt is so conclusive that Bill Clinton, a UN special envoy to Haiti, acknowledged in 2012 that UN soldiers brought cholera to Haiti, but he made the UN’s demented excuse that “what really caused it is that you don’t have a sanitation system, you don’t have a comprehensive water system.”            By this logic, if I kill a gravely ill person by knocking them off their hospital bed, my defense should be that a healthy person would have survived the fall. In a civilized legal setting, where the victim cannot be dismissed as irrelevant, making such a repulsive argument might provoke a judge to hand down the harshest sentence allowable. Unfortunately, international law has always been the plaything of the most powerful, and Haitians have long endured the consequences of that fact. Criminal negligence is one of many crimes in Haiti for which UN officials should answer.
            On Feb. 29, 2004 – at about 6:15 a.m. – U.S. troops flew Haiti’s democratically elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, out of Haiti. In fact, they flew him out of the Western Hemisphere – all the way to the Central Africa Republic.  According to the Bush administration’s comically implausible story, Aristide simply asked the U.S. to save him from a small group of insurgents led by a convicted death-squad leader, Jodel Chamblain. The public face of the insurgents was a crooked ex-police chief named Guy Philippe who had long standing ties with local elites and the U.S..  Chamblain was responsible for thousands of murders and rapes under a military junta that ruled Haiti from 1991 to 1994, after the first coup that ousted Aristide. It made sense to put the far younger Guy Philippe in front of cameras, but nobody with any knowledge of the 1991 coup had any excuse for failing to see what was coming in 2004.            The insurgents had been launching hit and run attacks into Haiti for years (since 2000) from the safe haven offered by the Dominican Republic, a U.S. client. Jeb Sprague’s book Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti documents how key players among Aristides’ “peaceful opponents” in Haiti, along with military and government officials from the Dominican Republic, closely supported the insurgents who killed dozens of people while the international press (and the human rights industry) ignored it and depicted some of the financiers as victims of a “crackdown on dissent”.  The “crackdown” was one of the excuses the Bush administration used to starve the Aristide government of funds for years with the help of the OAS. U.S.-led sanctions, among other things, blocked funds for projects to improve Haiti’s water supply to protect against the spread of diseases like cholera. At the same time, tens of millions of U.S. government dollars flowed to Aristide’s political rivals.            Sprague’s book reveals that, after Aristide was overthrown in 2004, hundreds of former rightist paramilitaries were incorporated into Haiti’s police force under the UN and U.S. Embassy’s close supervision.  Anyone familiar with the 1991 coup will find this as unsurprising as it is disgusting. When the Clinton Administration ordered the Cédras military junta to stand down in 1994 (and permit Aristide to serve out what little was left of his first term in office), it did so only after guaranteeing impunity for the junta’s leaders and arranging for some of its henchmen to remain within Haiti’s security forces. Aristide, to some extent, countered those maneuvers by disbanding the Haitian army over strong U.S. objections. The re-constructed Haitian police remained infiltrated by officers close to the U.S. and local right-wing forces. Nevertheless, the U.S. and its allies were forced to a play a far more direct role in the 2004 coup because Haiti lacked its own army, the force traditionally used by the U.S. to bring down governments it dislikes.            A few months after the 2004 coup, UN troops (known by the French acronym MINUSTAH) took over the task of consolidating Gérard Latortue’s post-coup dictatorship.  Roughly 4,000 of Aristide’s supporters were murdered under Latortue according to a scientific survey published in the Lancet medical journal [1].  Hundreds more, by conservative estimates, became political prisoners. Most of the killing was done by the police and death squads allied with them. MINUSTAH generally provided tactical support but also perpetrated its own atrocities. On July 5, 2005, MINUSTAH went on a shooting spree in the shanty town of Cité Soleil that was so murderous (and so well documented) that a MINUSTAH spokesman felt obliged to promptly state that it “deeply regrets any injuries or loss of life during its operation”.  In 2012, MINUSTAH found some of its troops guilty of rape and sexual abuse. The actual perpetrators, to say nothing their commanding officers, have evaded serious consequences even when found guilty. Over a hundred MINUSTAH troops have been sent out of Haiti to “face justice” at home for sex crimes. Little wonder that abusers have been undeterred.            Thanks to Wikileaks, we need not speculate about exactly what the U.S. government wanted to get out of MINUSTAH in Haiti. In a 2008 cable, the U.S. Ambassador to Haiti predicted that the “security dividend the U.S. reaps from this hemispheric cooperation not only benefits the immediate Caribbean, but also is developing habits of security cooperation in the hemisphere…” She identified “resurgent populist and anti-market economy political forces" in Haiti as a threat to the entire hemisphere. She highlighted the importance of having other countries contribute towards neutralizing the threat:            "This regionally-coordinated Latin American commitment to Haiti would not be possible without the UN umbrella. That same umbrella helps other major donors — led by Canada and followed up by the EU, France, Spain, Japan and others — justify their bilateral assistance domestically."            It won’t do for allies to explain to their own people that they are doing the USA’s dirty work in Haiti – helping it contain the political threat posed by “populist and anti-market forces” or, in other words, sacrificing Haiti as a pawn on a regional chessboard imagined by U.S. officials.             After two years of terrorizing Aristide’s supporters – murdering, imprisoning and driving them into exile -the U.S. and its allies allowed Haitians to elect a government to replace Latortue’s dictatorship. The presidency was won by René Préval – a former president and Aristide protégé who had played no role at all in the 2004 coup.  It was a stunning refutation of the propaganda used to justify the coup. Préval won the election in the first round despite barely being able to campaign. Candidates who had been prominent leaders of the coup (Charles Baker, Guy Philippe) received single digit percentages of the vote.            The cables procured by Wikileaks show that Préval worried about being given the Aristide treatment while in office and treaded very carefully around U.S. officials.  Former Brazilian diplomat, Ricardo Seitenfus, says that in 2010 MINUSTAH chief Edmond Mulet explicitly threatened Préval with a coup and exile for opposing U.S. interference in Haitian elections. Préval supposedly responded to Mulet’s threat by saying: “I am not Aristide. I am Salvador Allende”.  Préval and Colin Granderson, head of the CARICOM-OAS Electoral Mission in Haiti in 2010-2011, have backed up the claim that Préval had been “asked” to step down.            Seitenfus has also strongly denounced the corruption and hypocrisy of the key governments that sustain MINUSTAH – in particular the infamous “core group”: the USA, Canada, France, Spain, and Brazil. Commenting on the impact of the 2010 earthquake that may have killed 200,000 people, Seitenfus remarked: “Traditionally in Haiti, the ‘goods’ such as hospitals, schools, and humanitarian aid are delivered by the private sector, while the ‘bads’ — that is, police enforcement — is the state’s responsibility. The earthquake further deepened this terrible dichotomy.”            An “aid” sector made up of foreign NGOs that are not accountable to the vast majority of Haitians breeds corruption and inefficiency, as former CARE employee Timothy Schwartz has also pointed out. It gives many NGOs, with some honorable exceptions, a strong incentive to thwart the development of democratic institutions in Haiti that would hold them accountable and take over many of their functions.             Brazil stepped up to play a leading role in MINUSTAH. Today, despite various MINUSTAH related scandals, Brazil continues to supply the largest contingent of troops. Uruguay supplies the second largest contingent though President Mujica has pledged to withdraw them. Bolivia and Ecuador also supply troops. Venezuela’s Chavista governments, on the other hand, always recognized the 2004 coup for what it was and never took part in MINUSTAH.            Thankfully, the backlash from Latin American governments was fierce when the USA and Canada maneuvered at the OAS to weaken a strong regional response against the 2009 coup in Honduras. Sanderson’s dream of “hemispheric cooperation” with the U.S. to defeat “populist and anti-market economy political forces” quickly became more of a fantasy. Edward Snowden’s revelations of extensive U.S. spying on the Brazilian government also poured cold water on the USA’s imperial dreamers. This year’s upper-class revolt in Venezuela – an undisguised attempt at “regime change” – was strongly opposed by the OAS, much to the Obama Administration’s dismay.            Rejecting coups and coup attempts is very important step in the right direction. However, Latin American governments should move beyond that. They should call for the prosecution of MINUSTAH officials like Edmond Mulet. Eventually, the prosecution of his bosses in Washington, Ottawa, and Paris might become a realistic option.

[1] Athena R. Kolbe and Royce A. Hutson, "Human rights abuse and other criminal violations in Port-au-Prince, Haiti: a random survey of households," The Lancet, Vol. 368, No. 9538, September 2, 2006.
Categories: Haitian blogs

this happened today

Livesay Haiti - Jul. 30, 2014 - 11:16 pm

Michael gave us our assignments. The boys delivered a letter to Paige. They told her to head down to the beach where Michael was waiting. We knew where to be to watch from afar.  Troy had his super powered lens on the camera.  Paige was surprised but stopped crying to say "yes". They are planning a small wedding early next year.  We are so grateful for the work God is doing and insanely happy about what this news means to a very loved unborn baby boy - this is big and wonderful for him (and them).

Lots of preparing, praying, counseling, baby-birthing, and hard work ahead. These two love each other and we are all excited to encourage them on the journey.

Thanks to our little community that rallied tonight and came over to celebrate this engagement with us.

Categories: Haitian blogs

find me in the isolator

Livesay Haiti - Jul. 29, 2014 - 9:31 am

Troy and I have a "first love language" a little off the regular and well known gifts, such as, "words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts" ... etc., etc.

Our strongest (preferred) love language is making each other laugh with excellently executed mockery. 

It is a fine line to find; what will be funny? What will be less ha-ha funny and more "you hurt my feelings" not-so-funny.

 He found this photo and said I need this.

That is dead-on, wonderful, accurate mockery.

That's love!

I need this so bad. 

If there is an airconditioned isolator, better yet.  Please send one.  
Categories: Haitian blogs

adventures in odd and wonderful

Livesay Haiti - Jul. 27, 2014 - 10:12 pm
Freedom from PortAuPrince - Aaaaaahhhh 

On Saturday we did well on our goal of making the most of the last few days with Paige and Michael both in Haiti.  We went on a mountain excursion.

To me the best part of the excursion was the beautiful drive winding up and down the mountain. That is easy for the passenger to say.  I also loved meeting the guy who owned the land near where we were hiking and hearing his story. We exhaled all the Port au Prince out and inhaled the fresh mountain air for a few hours.

When we got back down the mountain into the cement jungle again, we helped with the spaying of Mastiff, CeCe ,in the guestroom of the McHouls home:

Noah thinks he wants to be a Vet - he got to help with his first procedures.
ovary discection - because weirdwifeWe then helped with the neuter of Mastiff, Robbie, in the same surgery suite - you maybe never met him, but trust me, you thank us for ending his options for spreading his DNA.

Kelly Crowdis is the missionary vet of all vets and we all find everything about her wonderful and fascinating. She let the boys numb up the nuts with lidocane (one nut per son) before Robbie kissed his manhood goodbye.

Noah delivering lidocane, because Haiti
We finished the vet-helper-jobs by having delicious homemade noodles made by the Heartline Board President and many time Haiti visitor, Sherri Healy.

Then, because the day had been so boring and nothing exciting had happened, Rosemine (a friend of Heartline, plays in the Presidential Palace Orchestra- well there is no palace, but there used to be a palace and now there is no palace but there is still an orchestra) played saxophone all during dessert while strolling around the dining room.

Back to regular old Monday-variety odd tomorrow.  
Categories: Haitian blogs

Does a Better Haiti Start with Justice or Tourism?

HaitiAnalysis - Jul. 24, 2014 - 5:32 pm
[This is a great story that sheds light on the incredible work (and life story) of BAI Managing Attorney Mario Joseph and makes clear why there is no way around justice for cholera victims. It not only portrays Mario’s struggle to bring justice Haitians but also contrasts it with the current Tourism Minister’s opposing view that attracting tourists will create a better future for Haiti.]

Samiha Shafy - Der Spiegel

July 18, 2014

Human rights attorney Mario Joseph and Tourism Minister Stéphanie Villedrouin are both trying to improve Haiti, but they are following radically different paths. The one wants justice, the other wants tourism.
       The attorney stares at a hut next to the grave. It’s made of wood and mud, and is covered with a plastic tarp. “I used to live like that,” Mario Joseph says quietly, more to himself than to the three women crouching behind him in the shade of a tree.
        The women are keeping watch over a rectangle of freshly dug up earth, surrounded by loose stones. One of them, Itavia Souffrant, says it is the grave of her mother. Two weeks ago, the mother had diarrhea and was vomiting, but because of heavy rains the family was unable to take her to the doctor. The mother died of cholera, the same fate suffered previously by Souffrant’s three-year-old daughter and by so many others in the vicinity of Mirebalais, north of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince.
The three women at the gravesite have also had cholera, but they survived. They knew that they shouldn’t have been drinking from the river, they say, but it was the only water available. The tablets to disinfect it are unaffordable, and they don’t have enough charcoal to boil it.

Attorney Joseph believes that he has found a way to help them and all other victims of the cholera epidemic in Haiti. About 750,000 people have been infected with the disease and the death toll now stands at 8,500. Officials expect there to be about 45,000 new cases in 2014.

The culprit is the international community. A few months after the earthquake that rocked Haiti on January 12, 2010, United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal emptied their latrines into the Artibonite River, and thus introduced the pathogen to Haiti. Until then, cholera was one of the few plagues that this poor country had been spared.

This explains why the attorney is now standing in front of a mud hut on a humid green hill, from which vapor rises in the heat. He has returned to the world from which he came in the hopes of changing it.

Joseph, 51, is a burly man with a moustache. Wearing a long-sleeved shirt, jeans, a straw hat and sunglasses, he takes large gulps from his Diet Coke. He is asking the women questions in the search for information could help him realize his plan. It is as obvious as it is ludicrous: He wants to take the United Nations to court.

Justice for Haiti’s Victims

It isn’t actually possible to sue the UN; the organization invokes the principle of immunity, which seems cynical in this case. Nevertheless, Joseph, a well-known human rights attorney in Haiti, has filed a class action lawsuit in a federal court in New York, where the UN has its headquarters. “The peacekeepers knew that Haiti is a poor country without a waste water system,” says Joseph. “They should have been extra careful, instead of dumping their fecal matter into the river!”

Joseph wants justice for Haiti’s victims. In addition to his fight against the UN, he wants to see former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier brought to trial in Port-au-Prince. He also represents women who were raped in tent cities in the capital after the earthquake.

Joseph believes that for wounds to heal, they need to be examined and cleaned — so that his wounded country can eventually recuperate. He wants to prevent the world from forgetting Haiti’s suffering.

Joseph’s adversary is sitting in her office in a yellow government building in Port-au-Prince. Stéphanie Villedrouin, Haiti’s tourism minister, doesn’t want the world to constantly hear any more tales of suffering coming from her country. She wants a Haiti that looks to the future and markets itself more effectively.

Four PR consultants are gathered around a table in Villedrouin’s office. They have flown in from France, Great Britain, the United States and the Dominican Republic to hear about Villedrouin’s vision of Haiti as the next vacation paradise in the Caribbean. The minister wants the marketing specialists to campaign for this vision in their respective countries.

“Which language should we speak?” asks the minister, smiling at her guests. She is fluent in English, Spanish, Creole and French. At 32, Villedrouin is the youngest and undoubtedly most attractive minister Haiti has ever had.

On this afternoon, she is wearing a pink silk blouse, black trousers, pumps, a diamond ring and diamond earrings. She has slightly wavy, caramel-colored hair, a smooth face and light skin. In Haiti, skin color is still a sign of social status. The poor are mostly black while the country’s few white citizens usually have money and influence. Villedrouin is from the upper class.

Changing the Image

“The first thing people always tell me is that Haiti is a devastated country,” she says. “We have to change that image.”

The earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince in January, 2010, was the worst in a series of natural disasters that have ravaged vulnerable Haiti, a country torn by regime changes and civil wars. More than 220,000 people died.

Still, something bordering on hope emerged for a short time after the tremor. Might it this time be possible to build a better country out of the ruins? When, if not now — now that Haiti was in the global spotlight and governments and private donors alike were promising billions of dollars for reconstruction? Aid organizations had muddled along in Haiti for decades. This time, though, they pledged to do everything differently — and everything right.

More than four years later, most Haitians have given up hope. The tent camps in Port-au-Prince have all but disappeared, but they have been replaced by new slums on the surrounding hillsides. They look as if the next heavy rain could flush them into oblivion. The government had some of the shacks painted in bright colors so that the view from new hotels in Pétionville wouldn’t be quite so depressing.

And yet, despite everything, does hope still exist in Haiti?

Villedrouin embodies the way she would like to see Haiti: dynamic, modern and elegant. She grew up in Venezuela, where her father served as the Haitian ambassador under the Duvalier regime. When the dictator was ousted in 1986, the family returned home, where it owned restaurants and hotels. Villedrouin attended a tourism school in the Dominican Republic, returned to Haiti and began convincing important people to support her vision. The fact that she became a cabinet minister at 29 is partly due to her connections, but also a result of her talent to fill people with enthusiasm for ideas that sound almost as audacious as Mario Joseph’s plan to take the UN to court.

“We have to start with France,” says Villedrouin. France, she notes, has a large community of Haitian immigrants who could easily be won over as tourists. She also points out that the French have a historic connection to their former colony and might be interested in visiting the country.

The next stops in the marketing campaign are Germany, Great Britain, Spain and Russia.

Saving Haiti

Villedrouin believes that her plan could help Haiti pull itself out of poverty. Tourist attractions and hotels create jobs. Hotel owners can support Haitian farmers by buying local meat and produce. And the general population also benefits from the roads and airports built primarily for tourists, such as the Hugo Chávez International Airport in Cap Haïtien, modernized with Venezuelan aid. Once the tourists arrive, says Villedrouin, things will begin looking up for Haiti.

From listening to Villedrouin and Joseph, it becomes apparent that although they represent contradictory approaches, they sometimes have the same goal: to save Haiti. Many have failed at the task. Indeed, everyone who has tried has failed, and some have even spent their entire lives in the process. Haiti was once the richest colony in the world. Today, countless tragedies later, it is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.

The current list of the “25 most interesting people in the Caribbean,” published by the magazine Carib Journal, lists names such as Usain Bolt and Rihanna, but it also includes two Haitians: Mario Joseph and Stéphanie Villedrouin. After being made aware of that fact, Joseph is so amused that he almost chokes on his Diet Coke. “The government would be overjoyed if the minister were the only Haitian on that list,” he says.

Joseph walks down the path leading from the shack and the old woman’s grave to the road, where his car is parked. One of the three women, whose name is Lizette Paul, walks behind him so that he can give her a lift. Joseph drives past a gray shell of a building without windowpanes. Inside, small children are sitting on wooden benches, singing at the top of their lungs.

Looking grim under his straw hat, the attorney says that missionaries built the school. Only a 10th of all schools in Haiti are government-run, he explains, while foreign aid workers operate the rest — a shameful state of affairs, Joseph says. Lizette Paul concurs. In fact, she says, she voted for singer Michel Martelly in the presidential election because he had promised free schools for the poor. But now, three years into Martelly’s term, she still cannot send her three children to school.

Paul, 43, first met Joseph in a church. He had come to Mirebalais to speak with victims of the cholera epidemic and tell them about his plan to file a class action suit on their behalf. Paul’s one-and-a-half-year-old daughter died in the epidemic, as did her father and her brother, who had supported her and the children financially.

“At least there is someone like him in the government, someone who does his job,” says Paul, pointing at the attorney. She says that she very much hopes to receive her compensation from the UN soon. Joseph shakes his head. He looks tired. “I’m not part of the government, Lizette, you know that,” he says. “I’m an opponent of the government.” The woman looks at him uncomprehendingly and says nothing.

‘This Is About Emotions’

Joseph’s Haiti, the land of the wounded, is everywhere. One would have to be blind to ignore it. Villedrouin’s promising Haiti also exists, but it isn’t immediately apparent.

The minister has sent her PR advisers on a tour. “This is about emotions — either you love Haiti or you hate it,” she told them as they left. “To find out, you have to see it, sense it, taste it and feel it.”

The four men are now sitting in a white, air-conditioned minibus as it rattles along hellish roads throughout the country. They say nothing as the bus passes piles of debris, mountains of garbage and slums. Finally, they arrive in gated oases of calm: hotels with private beaches that charge between $15 and 20 (€11-15) for their use.

Most Haitians live on less than $1 a day. Most of the people basking in the sun on the hotel beaches are aid workers, UN employees and groups of American missionaries. They are no tourists yet.

Two of the tourism experts, the Frenchman and the Dominican, visit a place that is normally off-limits to anyone arriving by land: the Labadie Peninsula. It lies 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Port-au-Prince, and is hidden behind a tall, black, barbed-wire fence patrolled by security guards.

About two dozen men are loitering outside the fence. They watch silently as a gate into the restricted zone opens for the visitors. Royal Caribbean, the American cruise line, has leased the peninsula and developed it into a sort of high-security playground for cruise-ship passengers. Those who go on land here remain behind the fence, where they can swim, snorkel and go jet-skiing.

The two men are taken along the coast in a boat. Wild, green and untouched mountains rise from the blue waters of the Caribbean. Citadelle Laferrière, a 19th-century fortress on the UNESCO World Heritage list, sits atop a 970-meter (3,180-foot) mountain in the distance.

He sees potential, says the Frenchman. What a gorgeous landscape, and what a pretty little spot of sand, that tiny island back there, he exclaims.

One-Eyed Among the Blind

That’s Amiga Island, says the skipper. Christopher Columbus supposedly landed on that spot of sand in 1492 during his voyage of discovery to the New World, and gave it its name. The Frenchman looks at the captain with amazement.

Tourism? In Haiti? Attorney Joseph shakes his head. “You’d have to sprinkle sand in the tourists’ eyes so that they’d see a different reality,” he says. But his next words are surprising: The minister’s ideas aren’t all that preposterous. Perhaps she can achieve something positive, he says, even if she is part of an incompetent government. “She’s a one-eyed person among the blind.”

On his way back to Port-au-Prince, Joseph travels along dirt roads filled with potholes, past scrawny horses carrying heavy loads and garishly painted vehicles to which too many people are clinging. Joseph drives an air-conditioned SUV with bulletproof windows, which he had installed because of the death threats that come with his work.

The road passes through the village of his childhood. Frail goats wobble around, and there are mud huts, but there are also small concrete houses and a small school. Joseph slows down to look out the window. “My life here wouldn’t be any different that Lizette’s,” he says, “if I hadn’t been lucky enough to go to school.”

Raised by their mother, Joseph and his three siblings grew up in a mud hut. Their father left the family when they were small. His mother took in washing for a living and sometimes sold rice. “The primary school cost nine Gourdes a year, and my mother could hardly scrape together the tuition for us,” he says.

As one of the most gifted pupils, Joseph was permitted to attend secondary school and a group of missionaries paid his tuition. Beginning in the 10th grade, he started working as a teacher, which enabled him to continue going to school, graduate and study law.

“Baby Doc” ruled Haiti at the time. Nineteen-year-old Jean-Claude Duvalier came into power in 1971 after the death of his father and he ruled the country the way he had learned from “Papa Doc” François. Joseph remembers how the Tontons Macoute, Duvalier’s paramilitary force, would beat farmers in his village. His aunt’s husband was arrested one day and then disappeared, he says, and the family never found out what had happened to him.

Indifference and Friendliness

Joseph began campaigning for human rights. In 1996, he joined the Bureau Des Avocats Internationaux in Haiti, which had been founded a year earlier with the support of American attorneys, and Joseph now runs the institute’s office in Port-au-Prince. “I was really excited when Duvalier returned,” he says. “His return could be an opportunity to show the world that abuse of power will no longer remain unpunished in Haiti.”

“Baby Doc” accumulated an estimated $800 million before he was forced to flee in 1986. Some 25 years after his ouster, he returned unexpectedly from French exile, where he had squandered much of his fortune. Since then, he has been seen dining with politically influential friends in the better restaurants of Port-au-Prince.

The political elite received the former dictator with reactions ranging from indifference to friendliness. Joseph, however, announced on the radio that he was searching for witnesses to Duvalier’s crimes. More than 50 people contacted him, he says, and told him about people who had been arrested for no reason, spent years in prison without trial and were tortured.

Since then, Joseph has been spending a lot of time in court. The trial was already suspended once and now it is proceeding very slowly. Still, the dictator was at least summoned once to appear in court, where Joseph and other lawyers were allowed to question him. It was a historic victory, says Joseph, but not enough. “We cannot build a country without principles.”

Joseph has a wife and three children. Ten years ago, they fled to Miami because life had become too dangerous in Haiti and he visits his family once a month. “My wife understands me, sometimes,” Joseph says with a smile.

Stéphanie Villedrouin hasn’t seen her husband and three children very often in recent years, either. She travels around the world, searching for partners to convince of Haiti’s potential as a vacation destination. She has been traveling in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Dominican Republic in recent days. In the spring, she spent a day at the International Tourism Exchange in Berlin. A travel agency in the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg now wants to attempt to “bring Haiti closer” to its customers, as an employee puts it.

Keep Investing

When the minister is in Haiti, she frequently attends the openings of new luxury hotels, like the Royal Oasis and the El Rancho. There are plans to build a luxury resort on an island in the south. A Marriott is under construction in Port-au-Prince, signs are being made for the city’s chaotic streets so that tourists can find their way around and a tourist police force of 110 officers patrols the areas around hotels and sights. Villedrouin is developing a strategy document for the next 15 years although she has less than two years remaining before a new government is elected, provided the current administration can remain in power until then.

Villedrouin is sitting in a suite in one of the new hotels in Pétionville, enjoying a quiet moment between appointments. The El Rancho, part of a Spanish chain, has pleasantly bland rooms and a pool, and it’s easy to forget where you are if you don’t leave the premises. Villedrouin says that she hopes to attract private investors. “I always say to them: You guys have to keep investing in tourism in this country.”

And what about her? She smiles. “Well, three years ago I had no idea that I would assume such an important position for my country.” She says that she is grateful for the opportunity to promote her vision. Then she abandons the attempt at modesty, which doesn’t suit her. “In any case, I also want to be in a leadership position in the future. That’s just the way I am,” she says.

Villedrouin seems to be winning her personal battle. But can she change Haiti? She says that she respects Mario Joseph for the fact that he wants to help his country, in his way. “The Carib Journal honored him because he is apparently a capable attorney,” she says. “He is doing something that he believes is helping his sisters and brothers.”

The minister has no budget to build roads and she has no power to make poverty and disease disappear. The question is how far optimism goes in making things happen in Haiti’s reality.

The Perfect Photo

On the tour of Haiti, Villedrouin’s PR advisers visit a former sugar plantation on the Côte des Arcadins that is now a hotel. With them are two French travel writers, guests of the ministry who have been invited to write a promotional article.

A museum in the garden commemorates a bloody colonial history. Haiti is the only country in the world where slaves were able to depose their tormentors and establish their own country. The PR agents learn how brutally the country was victimized, exploited and occupied by foreign powers. To this day, Haiti has never had a chance to become a healthy country.

To lighten the mood, the hotel owner takes the group out to a reef in a speedboat, and they splash around in the water and drink chilled fruit punch. And then, just once during their tour, the two Haitis collide, that of the minister and that of the attorney.

A fisherman in a dilapidated little boat paddles up to the group. He looks like the old man in Hemingway novel: toothless and with leathery skin, calloused hands and cracked fingernails. He says nothing. He merely gazes in astonishment at the scene and waits. The group on the speedboat looks down at the fisherman, equally astonished. The foreigners ask the old man to hand them a fish, and then they take pictures and hand it back to him. It’s the perfect photo, they say.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
Categories: Haitian blogs

Opposition Parties Denounce Martelly’s Electoral Council

HaitiAnalysis - Jul. 24, 2014 - 5:31 pm

This article explains why elections in Haiti have been delayed so long: After the executive branch stalled for years, President Martelly has appointed an unconstitutional Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), which is biased in his favor.  Opposition parties refuse to accept this CEP. If elections, scheduled for October 26, 2014, don’t occur this year, Martelly will rule by decree.Opposition sides claim Haiti elections jeopardizedAssociated Press, The Washington Post
July 10, 2014

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Leading opposition factions are alleging that Haiti’s presidentially appointed electoral council is stacking the deck in favor of President Michel Martelly, who has scheduled long-delayed legislative and municipal elections for October.Parties complaining of exclusion and unfair advantages include the Unity party of former President Rene Preval and the Lavalas Family founded by former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. They are among the major opposition groups that boycotted election talks earlier in the year and have refused to register with the Provisional Electoral Council, which they contend is rigged.An accord setting Oct. 26 as election day has not been authorized by the Senate, where a group of staunch Martelly opponents argue it is unconstitutional.The electoral council picked by Martelly has only seven of its mandated nine members and its president, Fritzo Canton, is a lawyer who is defending former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier against charges of embezzlement and human rights abuses.
“What Haiti needs is an impartial electoral council that won’t take sides for either the government or the opposition,” said Dieudonne Saincy, Unity’s spokesman. “We are now in a political crisis because this electoral council is entirely under the control of Martelly.”Former Lavalas senator Louis Gerald Gilles asserted that Martelly’s government “is doing everything it can to take over the election process.”Martelly’s administration has brushed off the criticism as the intransigence of his political opponents, some of whom have organized street protests to demand his resignation. Martelly insists he has made several concessions to opponents, including forming a new Cabinet, and has actively tried to make compromises with members of the Senate.Despite pressure from the United Nations, the U.S. and other major supporters of Haiti, previous efforts to hold the legislative and municipal vote over the last couple of years were snarled by political infighting between the executive and legislative branches. In April, Washington warned Haitian authorities that $300 million earmarked for the country’s coast guard, health ministry and various projects was at risk because of the tardy vote.In May, Martelly announced he had appointed a new council to oversee the balloting in Haiti, where elections have never been easy. The Oct. 26 election date was announced in early June, and Martelly said late last month that the Caribbean country was committed to that date.The Organization of American States has said it will provide support. But political observers have expressed skepticism that the elections can take place in late October, and opposition figures are promising a fresh wave of street protests in coming days.The long-overdue elections would fill 20 seats in the 30-member Senate, all 99 seats in the lower chamber and 140 municipal positions. The terms of 10 senatorial seats are due to expire in January, which would leave the body with only 10 senators, not enough for a quorum. If the election isn’t held by then, Martelly would rule by decree.
Categories: Haitian blogs

Follow the new blog Haiti: Then and Now

HaitiAnalysis - Jul. 24, 2014 - 5:30 pm
We suggest to all of our readers to follow the excellent new blog "Haiti: Then and Now".
You can view it here: http://haitithenandnow.blogspot.com
Categories: Haitian blogs

a mid-summer inventory

Livesay Haiti - Jul. 24, 2014 - 9:24 am
As much as we all try to say that we enter into things without expectations, we are all liars.

We always enter in with expectations.  Claiming that you are not, doesn't MEAN you are not.

All that to say, this summer has not been what I said I wasn't expecting.

Troy and I have always mainly assumed one day in the distant future all our kids could be grown ups - maybe married with their own families. 

It seems feasible, yes?  

Believing it is feasible, we spent some time and we thought ahead to what that might look like. We both felt that we would be super exhausted and tired and achy from all the years of trying to get them grown up and gone.   We envisioned a day when we will be all old and shrinky-dink sized and tired  - when we might get a little tiny love-shack apartment in a quiet downtown of some dusty abandoned city to take long naps and blend up our food to make it easier to eat without our teeth. We talked about this time as if it were decades away. 

Ironically, the same season and year that Paige and Michael will make us grandparents, we were visited by a virus that made us old, weak, and fall-asleep-sitting-up-tired.  We can still chew food, but please don't hear me getting pompy and braggadocios about that.  I truly wanted to grow old with Troy, just not so freakin soon.

Sigh.   Becuase there has been so much illness, our summer hasn't been an epic family adventure like I had hoped.

The time with Michael and Paige here in Haiti has flown by and is already on the winding down side.  June was obliterated by Chikungunya. As a result we moved Paige's travel back a week and cut seven precious days from our time with her.  July was then obliterated by the respiratory virus that came to crush us while we were down. We took turns with high fevers, coughing, and putting on sleep clinics. One night I ran a 14 hour clinic.  Who sleeps for 14 hours in loud, bright, Haiti?!?! An old granny, that's who.

SOMEHOW both Paige and Michael are STILL healthy.  Neither of them has fallen to mosquito-borne OR other-borne viruses and they may actually escape the island in the same or better condition than they arrived.

I think we ALL felt nervous about getting to know one another in Haiti this summer.  
Troy and I wanted to see Paige and Michael together and have peace.  We wanted to see if they handled stress well and if they were kind to one another. Michael wanted to be loved and accepted by Paige's people.  Paige wanted our approval. The kids wanted to know that their much adored big sister was going to be okay and still be theirs.  We entered into this summer with a fair amount of trepidation for sure.

I have loved watching the kids get to know Michael and decide what they think of him.  The biggest challenge Michael faced was always going to be Noah and Phoebe. Noah, because he thinks Paige belongs to him.  Phoebe, because she just doesn't give a damn about getting to know anyone.

I think he has won everyone over. Even the two difficult ones.

A week or two ago we were talking about the future and probable wedding plans.

Noah got all wistful and said, "I wish I could walk Paige down the alley."  

The nut. He is more than welcome to walk her down any alley he would like.  

As he was listening in on the discussion he said, "I'll tell you right now where NOT to get married.   Honduras.  They are fighting private wars there."

(????)  No idea.  He says things that make sense to him.

So, fine.  The wedding will not take place in Honduras. 

We are watching Paige's cute tummy grow and we are watching she and Michael make big decisions and plans.  We are seeing their hearts and desires and hopes and dreams and we want to support them in all the ways we can. 

We have ONE week left with both of them here in Haiti and we are taking our jointritis pills, gathering up the memories of our spry/younger Chikun-free days, and taking them to do some fun Haiti things with our last full week together on the island.  If the summer failed to meet expectation, maybe the last week will not.

~          ~           ~    

Jimmy and Becky also had a way different summer than they originally planned. Chikungunya kept Becky and the girls in the USA a bit longer. We were all hoping to help Becky not get it in her first trimester.  Also, in case you missed that: The Burtons are EXPECTING number 3 in December!!! They are back in Haiti now and planning to begin their fourth year teaching  -  we are just ridiculously blessed to have them teaching our kids.

An entirely random collection of photos and explanations from past 30 days:

Hope got braces on her top teeth, Noah is up next, this fall.

all the June and July babies have arrived, we expect a little week or two break from births now
Chestnut has no nuts anymore, the boys watched him get fixed and were offered his nuts in a jar.
Because, Haiti.
an out to eat night with the whole crew (sweatshirts for the airconditioned room)
My friend, Dieula, from Dallas (via Haiti) visited and taught at the Maternity Center
 - she brought such an important message.Rebecca came to show us her report card. This young woman is overcoming.
(I hope to write more about what happened the day she visited.)
Heading to "camp" at school (they have had special four day camps for several weeks this summer)
At the end of each Haiti day, Paige and Michael have a little break-down-the-day session.

Remember the teen Moms home?  Joanne and Ricardo are doing great, they came to visit.
Ricardo hates us but we accept it. It has been so hot, Troy finds a way to sleep in a 93 degree room.
Lydia and I made a bedroom outside on the porch. I will never sleep inside again.One beach day down, hoping for one more before they go.
Categories: Haitian blogs

in need ...

Livesay Haiti - Jul. 23, 2014 - 5:57 pm

Discouragement comes in the form of illness, fatigue, and "failure" to accomplish what we hope. It comes from women that don't immediately have a heart of fierce love or protection for their little ones, or stories of rape, abuse, hunger and homelessness.

Sometimes it comes in all the forms in quick succession.

When the discouraging stuff piles up enough that you find out you've lost your joy or your hope or simply just your remembrance of the good things - we all need a giant pause button, reminders of triumph,  renewed prayers, and a review of God's faithfulness to us in the past.

If you are feeling like this too, if you are missing your usual hopeful outlook or joyful attitude ...
Pray that love catches you unaware and lights the dark (and hidden) corners of your heart and ask Jesus that we all quickly be brought face to face with a beauty and a joy that takes our breath away and calms our doubts. 
Categories: Haitian blogs

Maryse Narcisse "imposed" on Aristide's Lavalas by US Embassy, USAID, says oft-ranting Haiti Senator Moïse Jean-Charles

Michael Deibert's Haiti Blog - Jul. 17, 2014 - 11:13 am
Maryse Narcisse imposée à Aristide comme candidate à la présidence par l’Ambassade US et l’USAID, selon le sénateur Moïse Jean-Charles  

Aristide, sous contrôle des impérialistes, ne peut rien faire pour des candidats, ajoute le parlementaire 

Publié le mercredi 16 juillet 2014

Radio Kiskeya

(Read original article here)

« C’est l’Ambassade américaine et l’USAID qui ont imposé Mme Maryse Narcisse à l’ancien président Jean-Bertrand Aristide comme candidate à la présidence en 2015 », a déclaré mercredi le sénateur Moïse Jean Charles (Nord), en réaction à ce choix annoncé officiellement mardi par des dirigeants Lavalas.

« Jean-Bertrand Aristide étant sous contrôle des pays impérialistes, il ne pourra rien faire pour un quelconque candidat aux prochaines élections », a ajouté le parlementaire. Il appelle de ce fait ceux qui cherchent à bénéficier du support de l’ancien président à le laisser en paix.

Sur un autre plan, Moïse Jean-Charles considère que la précipitation de Fanmi Lavalas à désigner une candidate à la présidence participe d’un plan visant à déstabiliser l’opposition au pouvoir Martelly/Lamothe. Il annonce que, de concert avec de nombreuses personnes éprises de l’idéal du 16 décembre 1990, il œuvre à la formation d’une large plateforme électorale.

En ce qui concerne la visite au pays du secrétaire général des Nations Unies, Ban Ki moon, Moïse Jean-Charles soutient qu’elle résulte des pressions exercées sur le Conseil de Sécurité par des pays prêts à opérer le retrait de leurs troupes de la mission onusienne présente en Haïti. Ce serait en vue de discuter de la question avec les autorités haïtiennes que le numéro 1 de l’ONU a effectué le voyage, avance Jean-Charles. Il réaffirme sa détermination à œuvrer en faveur du retrait de l’ensemble de la mission.

Il dénonce enfin la révocation par le chef du gouvernement du secrétaire d’Etat à l’Economie Alfred Métellus sous prétexte qu’il lui aurait fait part du projet du gouvernement d’augmenter les prix des produits pétroliers et le détournement de 300 millions de dollars par le premier ministre Laurent Lamothe, une somme qui était destinée à des compagnies en charge de travaux d’infrastructure. Le parlementaire affirme n’avoir jamais rencontré M. Métellus. Il le reconnait tout de même comme un cadre important de l’administration publique. [jmd/RK]
Categories: Haitian blogs

IPS: Harkening Back to Dark Days in Haiti

HaitiAnalysis - Jul. 16, 2014 - 1:52 pm
Analysis by Nathalie Baptiste - Inter Press Service

WASHINGTON, Mar 12 2014 (IPS) - On Oct. 16, 1993, Alerte Belance was abducted from her home and taken to Titanyen, a small seaside village used by Haiti’s rulers as a mass grave for political opponents. There she received machete chops to her face, neck, and extremities. Despite her grave injuries, Belance was able to save herself by dragging her mutilated body onto the street and asking for help.

Belance’s survival was extraordinary, but not all were so lucky.
On Jan. 18, 1994, Wilner Elie, a member of the Papaye Peasant Movement, was knifed to death by a group of masked men in his own home. His 12 children were handcuffed by the assailants and forced to watch helplessly as their father was brutally murdered.Elie and Belance’s tragic stories were not anomalies. Not long ago in Port-au-Prince, decapitated bodies littered the streets, warnings to would-be dissidents. Violent men sexually abused young women seemingly for sport.People were ambushed in their homes and shot to death for attempting to escape. Thousands of Haitians fled in shoddy boats through treacherous waters to the United States, only to be sent back despite outcries from human rights groups.Though it reads like a horror script or dystopian novel, this is not fiction. This was reality for millions of Haitians living under military rule. And now, as the Haitian government moves to rebuild its once-banished army, some Haitians are wondering whether a sequel is in the works.

A dark legacyHaiti has a lengthy history of military and state-sanctioned violence. Shortly after coming to power in 1957, the infamous dictator Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, feeling threatened by the regular armed forces, created a paramilitary force to protect himself.Nicknamed the Tonton Macoutes (Uncle Gunnysacks) after an old tale about a bogeyman who abducted unruly children and placed them in gunnysacks to be eaten at breakfast, these men carried out unimaginable murders and sent tremors of fear throughout the nation.Accountable to virtually no one, they continued their reign of terror after Papa Doc’s death and through the rule of his successor and son, Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. After Baby Doc was forced to flee in 1986, the Tonton Macoutes were officially disbanded, but other paramilitaries continued in their footsteps.Meanwhile the military itself continued to interfere in Haiti’s politics. On Sep. 29, 1991, Jean Betrand-Aristide, Haiti’s first democratically elected president, was ousted by a military coup just eight months into his presidency.The coup, led by Lieutenant General Raoul Cedras, plunged the nation into a particularly violent and turbulent period. For three years the Haitian military and its paramilitary arm, the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti, ran an exceptionally brutal regime, kidnapping, torturing, and murdering supporters of the ousted Aristide. By 1994, the death toll had reached an estimated 5,000.Following an intervention by the United States, Aristide was restored to power in late 1994 on condition that he implement economic reforms favored by Washington. He dismantled the military the following year. The disbandment of the military did not cure Haiti of all its ills, but the dissolution was followed by three successful transitions of presidential power – in 1996, 2000, and later in 2010.In 2004, however, a paramilitary force consisting of former soldiers with help from United States, France, and Canada organised a second successful coup against Aristide, who had been elected to a second term in 2000 after serving out his first in 1996. Even after their official disbandment, former soldiers were still able to influence political outcomes in Haiti.A return to formAnd now, after two decades in the shadows, the military is back: Haitian President Michel Martelly has followed through on a campaign promise to reconstitute the Haitian military. The new force launched its first operations this February.This has left many Haitians wondering why a country with no external threats, a history of violent, military-led repression against its own citizens, and an abundance of more pressing problems would need—or even want—a new military. “Given the history of Haiti’s military,” warned Mark Weisbrot, its “existence alone could be considered a threat to security.”Martelly’s personal history provides some clues about his own sympathies. Before he began his political career, Michel Martelly was a provocative konpa singer who went by the name Sweet Micky. During the Duvalier era, he ran a nightclub named Garage that was frequented by military officials and other members of Haiti’s tiny elite.Around this time Martelly befriended Lieutenant Colonel Michel Francois, the man who would later become chief of the secret police under Raoul Cedras. Martelly remained a “favourite” of the thugs who worked for the Duvalier regime and, after its collapse, would even accompany the death squads organised by Francois to murder Aristide supporters.While death squads hunted dissidents by night, Martelly taunted them by day. Lavalas, the massive pro-democracy movement launched by Aristide after Baby Doc was ousted, quickly became the target of Martelly’s biting lyrics. Throughout Aristide’s presidency, Martelly remained an outspoken critic of the president and his supporters, eventually emerging as a politician in his own right.After a hotly contested and controversial election in 2011, Martelly was elected president of Haiti. Later that year, an anonymous Haitian official leaked a document to the Associated Press outlining a plan for the revival of the Haitian military.Solving the wrong problemsThe document cited several reasons why Haiti supposedly needs to spend 95 million dollars building up a new military force: to provide opportunities for young people, to rebuild Haiti’s infrastructure, to patrol its border with the Dominican Republic, and – perhaps most ominously – to “keep order” during times of chaos.Although Haiti is well within its rights to establish an army, the purpose of a military is not to provide internal security, but to combat external threats. A Haitian official claims that it’s embarrassing to have the United Nations providing security in Haiti.But although its mission in Haiti has been marred by scandal, the U.N. is training a national police force to provide security and keep order once the peacekeepers finally leave. It’s unclear why a military would be preferable in this regard to a civilian security force.And it’s similarly unclear why Martelly thinks he needs to build a military to create jobs or invest in infrastructure. Haiti is in desperate need of construction workers – even before the 2010 earthquake leveled buildings and destroyed homes, Haiti’s infrastructure was already in a precarious position.If Martelly truly wanted to provide opportunities for the young people of Haiti, he could initiate a programme that would train men and women in construction and create jobs for the multitudes of unemployed Haitians. Instead, the new military will supposedly be rebuilding the country while millions of Haitians continue to languish in poverty.In a country with a sparse amount of cash and a government unable to provide even the most basic necessities to its own population, it seems fiscally irresponsible and morally bankrupt to spend 95 million dollars on rebuilding an army that has such an atrocious record of human rights abuses.The cholera outbreak, food insecurity, and the 500,000 squatters lacking permanent homes are just a few of the litany of problems facing Haiti today. The lack of a military force is not high on that list of priorities.Although Haiti’s elite and powerful seem to support the new military, a poll conducted over five years found that fully 96 percent of Haitians oppose its recreation. Defying the widespread opposition and pressing need for other development projects, Michel Martelly’s plan has finally come to fruition.Despite assurances from officials that this military force will not have the means to imitate its predecessors, the horrors from the recent past still linger in the minds of those who remember. If history repeats itself like it is prone to do, Haiti could revert back to the days where standing on the wrong side of the ideological fence means certain death.Nathalie Baptiste is a Haitian-American contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus who lives in the Washington, D.C. area. She holds a BA and MA in International Studies and writes about Latin America and the Caribbean. You can follow her on Twitter at @nhbaptiste. This article originally appeared on Foreign Policy in Focus.
Categories: Haitian blogs