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Livesay Haiti - May. 6, 2014 - 5:07 pm

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Having trouble finding a great Mother's day gift for your loved one?
Check the idea at this link out today! 

Categories: Haitian blogs

Haiti: Minimum Wage Increases

New York Times on Haiti - May. 6, 2014 - 12:00 am
Haiti has slightly raised its minimum wage for the estimated 29,000 workers who sew T-shirts and other clothing in the country’s apparel factories.
Categories: Haitian blogs

A Way to Honor Your Favorite Women This Mother's Day

Livesay Haiti - May. 2, 2014 - 9:00 am

Because we treasure the gift that our mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, and girlfriends are to us, we would like to give you the opportunity to honor them in a unique way this Mother's Day. 
Mother's Day is right around the corner, if you are anything like us, time has gotten away from you. We are excited to offer you a beautiful way to honor those you love. This is the perfect honorary gift for future moms, friends, adoptive moms, sisters, fostermoms, stepmoms, single-dads, or those that are longing to be a mom.

With a donation in honor of your favorite Momma, we will send her a personalized card letting her know you are thinking of her this year.
A donation of $15, $25, $50, $100, and $2300 will do the following:
$15 - Provides the  basic medications needed at a birth for mom and baby
$25 - Provides for a day of post partum care for one woman
$50 - Provides for the supplies (and upkeep of equipment) for one labor and delivery
$100 - Provides for one month of early childhood development classes and support  OR it also fills the ambulance tank with gas 
$2,300- Provides for one woman entering the program in the first trimester, lab-work, necessary monitoring, medicine, prenatal care, educational classes weekly during the entire pregnancy, labor and delivery at Heartline (with a reliable transport option if an emergency dictates transport), 48 to 72 ++ hours round the clock post partum care, six months of weekly classes and scheduled post-partum monitoring of mother and baby
With your donation of $15 or more, we will send the woman you wish to honor a personalized card  (similar to the example above) via email.
To donate in honor of your favorite woman, please go to this page:

You may donate by PayPal or Credit Card.

After you have donated, you will immediately receive an email confirmation of your donation. 

Complete the following steps:

  1.  Make a donation at the link above
  2. When you receive your email receipt forward it to tara.livesay@heartlineministries.org
  3. Include:  The name of the woman you want to honor (My sister, Tina got the example card above) - The email address you would like us to send the card to.  (We will blind copy you when we send it.) All cards will be sent on May 10 or 11, if you have a preference please note when you would like the email to be sent. Please also include the name of the donor/gift giver if you wish to disclose that information.  The subject line will say, "Sarah wanted to honor you this Mother's Day" if you share your name, please share it as you want it used in the subject line.
Your donation makes a difference in the life of Haitian mothers.  Your donation honors the work and sacrifice of the woman you want to recognize.

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To meet and/or pray for some of the women in the program, you can go here.

Heartline Maternity Center and our programs are unique. Yes, we offer a incredibly needed and valuable (life-saving) services. More than that though, we offer love, relationship, friendship, and time. 
We meet women early in their pregnancies. We meet women that are living in a country with thehighest maternal mortality rate in the western hemisphere, where 2 out of 3 of their friends deliver at home without a skilled birth attendant. Because of that, we meet women in a country where the risk of dying during child-bearing years is unusually high and the chances of losing the baby are just as daunting. 
We are able to spend 7 to 9 months of a woman's pregnancy getting to know her story, her needs, her unique situation. Prenatal care is rare for Haitian women, we are thankful to offer the same quality prenatal care in Haiti that our friends and relatives in North America are receiving. By the time a woman delivers her baby with us we know the details of her biggest challenges in life, and we know how to support her in a personal way as she delivers a new life into what oftentimes amounts to hardship and chaos. 
During labor and delivery a woman is able to do the miraculous work of bringing her baby into the world in a calm environment where people offer nurture, gentleness, kindness, and love. If you have visited a Haitian hospital or walked through a crowded neighborhood in Port au Prince, you understand the vast difference our birth-center environment offers a woman.
After delivery we are able to walk with her as she does the work of bonding.  In cultures of poverty this doesn't come as naturally as it does for those of us living with material blessings galore. We love, encourage, and stand with the new mother while she begins to nurse her baby and bond to him or her in the process. We encourage mothers that God has given them the skills and heart they need to love, serve, and raise their children. 

We offer education and ongoing support for the first six months of her baby's life.  We teach about child-spacing and safe and effective methods of birth-control, in order to empower each woman to take the lead in their own health and future.
We are human and we make mistakes, we are not perfect, but we try hard to get it right when we're walking along side our Haitian friends. We work diligently to withhold any judgment and simply offer a place of safety and love and grace to a woman that is coming to us from a life of difficulties we will never fully understand. 
We are so grateful to have never lost a mother in our delivery room - but we are even more proud to share that the women that enter our doors feel valued and honored and loved --- and that is the reason you want to consider supporting Heartline Maternity Center when you give in honor of someone you love this Mother's Day.
Categories: Haitian blogs

Better Than a Light and Safer Than a Known Way

Livesay Haiti - May. 1, 2014 - 11:16 am

This year began for us when we headed home in January to Port au Prince after settling our second oldest daughter, Paige, in Texas to begin college. Technically speaking, all years begin for everyone in January. Clearly, I am a calendar expert. We returned home after taking five months away from life in Haiti at the end of 2013.  

As we flew toward the island we love, I declared this portion of a poem my prayer and hope for the year:
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” 
And he replied:Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
... And just like you, off we went into the unknowable year of 2014.  

* * * * * * * * * * *

Not unlike years past, we entered 2014 with hopes and goals and earnest prayers. My weightiest prayers and concerns are usually for content, healthy, growing, and safe children. Because I have seven of them, and two of them are now very far away, my prayer life can sometimes get hyper focused on them.
I have been parenting for twenty-four years. There are things I would love to go back and re-do and things that I know I got right. In all these years nothing has surprised me quite so much as the change that takes place in our role as parents when we transition children from living under our roof to living on their own. 

It seems like people do this regularly and they even live to tell about it. I don't know how you did it, but my hat is off to each of you. You are truly ninja hero-warrior-let-goers - all of you! 

Troy and I travel in circles of friends that are all mainly 33 to 40 years old, none of the closest friends in our age group have grown up kids yet. We are going first and they are all looking at us for advice and a "how to" guide.  We are glad to be done with diapers but we are far from being able to provide them help.

Friends, we don't know anything. There is no guide. Stop looking at us.

My friend Jamie wrote about this big-kid stuff recently. She was pointing out that all the quotes and blog posts written by mommies are about little kids. She said:"There's a reason there aren't very many blogs from Moms of teens. It's because as they grow, they become like a magnifying glass to all your fatal flaws and the myriad ways you screwed them up as children. Who wants to read about that?! It's depressing." 

I think she is onto something, here. 

Our kids become us, the very best and the very worst of us.  

Maybe that is why letting go is so hard, we are letting go of the unfinished work of ourselves. 

The fact is, we have to let go before it is finished  - because it is NEVER finished. I am not finished. You are not finshed.

Many years back Paige coined a phrase that simply meant "wow, that sucks".  In the weird and unique words of the six year old Paige,  this never being finished thing, "is a LarryGeorge Bummer." 

I find that the line between letting go (that whole give them roots and give them wings song and dance) in a healthy way, and offering too much advice, guidance, cautionary warnings, etc, is a razor thin line.  

Razors cut if you aren't careful.
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Sharing life on the Internet is risky business. It is also a LarryGeorge Bummer at times. Choosing how vulnerable you want to be is tricky. People assume that they know everything there is to know if they simply read a blog or follow a Twitter feed.  As if sharing one deeply personal thing means all writers share all the things going on in their lives. 

One criticism of all social media is that it gives us a false sense of the lives of others. People don't use their 140 characters to say, "My spouse is being a crazy person and we are fighting this week." There is not a lot of, "I don't have money to pay my bills and I am afraid", or, "My kid has stopped communicating with me and I feel really sad and scared." There are some that put a bit of that variety of "real" out there but after a while they learn to regret being vulnerable in the unknowable endless space such as the interweb and they pull back.
People want to find connection. We are people that want to be heard and understood. I think the discontent with social media stems from the truth that there is more connection to be found in hearing that someone you know is experiencing a similar struggle, than there is connection to be found in seeing a perfect, airbrushed life filled with humble brags about the latest house project, perfect family vacation, or job promotion.

I figure sharing the highs and the lows, the celebration and the challenges, while risky, is still a worthy endeavor. Life is not easy for most of us and perfect is not a thing either.

As I started reflecting on these first months of 2014, I looked up the rest of the prayer that kicked off our year. I found that these words followed what I had previously read ...

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.   So heart be still  What need our little life  -  Our human life to know, If God hath comprehension?(the beginning of the poem,"God Knows" - by Minnie Louise Haskins) 
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"So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night."  

The "gladly" part may be a bit of a big stretch.  

We went forth though, right? 

That's something.

* * * * * *

One night early this year  I had a long layover in Dallas on the way home from a midwifery class I took. My oldest daughters and my Mom came to spend the night with me in Dallas. As I climbed into bed in the darkness, Paige said, "Mom, I need to talk to you." I asked, "Oh Paigey, why did you wait until I turned out the light?" She replied, "Because I don't want you to see me." She went on to share with me the fresh news of her pregnancy. 
I can share this now, because we have all worked through a lot. This news took time to digest. We were afraid for her.  At the same time, we were so thankful for her honesty in telling us. We were happy and we were sad. We were upset and we were relieved.  We vacillated between sane and not so sane. 

Mercifully, in the last few weeks most of the fear has lifted and hope and joy have replaced those initial reactions.

In this year that we prayed, "Give us a light that we may tread safely into the unknown", but instead we were told to go forward without the light, simply placing our hands in His, we have experienced something pretty remarkable.  

Even in the darkness, when we cannot see or anticipate what is coming next, we have been able to plod along, step by step, waiting for each unknown thing to be illuminated and known as we need it to be. When we turn and look back, we are able to see God's provision and Goodness to us on the mysterious winding path.
I was surprised by how long the grief had me in its grips. I recognized that I thought I could save Paige from ALL pain or choices that would make her life more challenging. I identified that it felt like failure that I had not saved her from it. Guilt consumed us. The grief had so much to do with things that were and are not even true. I wanted there to be protocols and steps to follow to immediately know what to say, what to do, what to feel next. 

I am here to tell you, no protocols exist. Walking into it, begging God for His grace, is the only way through. 

Paige deserves all the mercy and grace and understanding and support we can offer. She will fly. She has been a foster momma to many little ones in Haiti and she will be a spectacular mom to her little one. I needed to stop being afraid for her and harness the energy I was wasting on fear. We are all throwing our energy into walking along side her and giving her our support and love, that she might tread safely into the unknown ...We are going into the darkness with our hands clasping hers, and our hands in His

That shall be to us better than a light and safer than a known way.

* * * * * * * * 

We are excited to share with you, coming October 2014, a wonderful little baby person to the world outside and to our family.

Pray with us for our first grandchild and for Paige and her boyfriend Michael as they prepare and pray and plan and for their future.

With less fear and more love, anticipation, and hope,

Mojo* and Tito* 
with Uncles Ike ** and Noah - Aunties Hope and Phoebe and Lydia

*While we were in Texas for those months last year we spent a lot of special time with family. Being near Brittany and Christopher (our oldest daughter and her husband) and getting to do some vacations with our extended family were the highlights of those busy months in the USA.  One night we sat around playing games and discussing the prospect of becoming grandparents. Together we determined that better names than Granny and Grandpa needed to be sought out, chosen, and made our own long before we ever needed them. We are too young to be called those names, or so we decided. We began the long and laborious Internet search for the perfect names. I may not have accomplished some of the midwifery study goals I had for the time in America, I didn't read enough books or memorize enough medical terminology, but we chose our future grandparent names and that is obviously SUPER-DUPER important, and as it turns out, we needed to accomplish that task.

**Sharing this news with the younger siblings was so interesting. Each once responded as we might have expected. While Noah was grieving and worried Paige wouldn't be a sister anymore because she would be too busy being a mom, Isaac was saying, "EPIC, I want to be called only Uncle IKE, not Isaac. Doesn't that sound SO cool!?!?"   Hope was asked how she felt about things by a friend of ours and she said, "I am a little worried for Paige but our family does second chances." If we cannot save our kids from consequences or pain, we can at least teach the grace of second chances. Maybe that is the entirety of the "How-To" manual we will send to our friends. 

Categories: Haitian blogs

prayer request for all

Livesay Haiti - Apr. 29, 2014 - 4:45 pm

Photo credit:  ~Esther Havens ~ 
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I don't pray for happiness all the time, I know that is an unrealistic expectation. Happy all the time feels fake and unattainable to me. That is probably why I loathe don't enjoy those worship songs that are all happy happy happy. 

I don't even pray to feel content all the time. The sorrows and injustice of this world always leave a certain discontentment. That is a discontentment I am willing to walk in continually, I want to be troubled by the atrocities.

Now that I have reached the old age of forty, I don't pray for an easy road with a lack of conflict, hardship, or failures. I have learned that with each conflict, hardship, and failure I am able to learn more about myself and so much more about God. This better prepares me for the next conflict, hardship, mistake or failure. We are all drawn most to those that have suffered and failed and are honest about it, their unusual grace is like a magnet. I don't think that level of grace comes free, it costs something. An easy road would be nice, but understanding and empathizing with authenticity about the heartache of others is actually very nice too.

"How can we pray for you?" is a question we are often asked. We ask that those of you that pray would pray for us what I am guessing we might all want prayed ...

...That is, let us pray that we will (all) have strength, endurance, courage, and a sense of humor to lighten the load. May we grasp tightly to an unrelenting hope and may we have an unusual ability to always see the best in people while we try (and sometimes fail) to love them as we want to be loved.

Categories: Haitian blogs

That Time We Went to Boston and the Bathroom Without the Kids

Livesay Haiti - Apr. 26, 2014 - 12:33 am

We so enjoyed our whirlwind trip to the Baaahstin Marathon and the 24 hour layover in NYC on the way back to Haiti. It was a gift to be on John and Beth's (old/past/childhood) turf and listen to other people that sound like them. We rode in the caaaah, we prayed to the Laaaahd, we went out for wicked good seafood.

Besides all that awesome stuff we got to do, we also got to be together on a trip without any extra passengers tagging along. I don't want to brag, but I am going to anyway. We are amazing grown-ups with tons of skills that hardly anyone knows about. Without kids we can get up at 4am and walk out the door at 4:15am. We can arrive places on time. We can arrange things and then actually do them as arranged. Ask our new friends in Boston. They will tell you. 

{To other parents, I bet you still have a lot of abilities that you have long forgotten about too.}

Year after year of running around finding shoes and yelling "Did you brush your teeth? Did you go potty?" while searching for the finished math homework and the right hair bow has stolen our dignity. We have been totally stripped of our confidence. That's right kids, once upon a time we did not take two hours to leave the house. Once upon a time we were efficient. Once upon a time we knew where our keys were. When we wanted to leave, we stood up, grabbed our car keys and wallet, left the house. Just like that. Gone. It wasn't so long ago, really. 

The three nights in Boston and the quick exits each morning were ginormous boosts to our egos.  We needed it. Troy marveled at the ease with which we went to empty our bladders. All you do is stand up and say, "I'm going to the bathroom", and then you walk there and you go.  It.is.awesome. Four kids don't ask to go too. People don't request that you wipe them. Ever. I never once discreetly handed off some child's poop-stained underwear or witnessed a screaming fight over the crayons or coloring books. I did not spill sugary soda on Troy's lap or whine about not having the window seat. Okay, I whined a little...But then he let me have it. We gasped at how wonderful it felt to be small and anonymous, just two regular people traveling without a circus and monkeys.

Sadly, as hard as we tried to enjoy a weekend without any weird-o moments, we still had two separate incidents that required dipping a hand into a toilet. Apparently our children don't have as much to do with bathroom issues as we like to think. I want to protect the innocent. I can only tell you that one incident had something to do with trying not to ruin someone's Easter with an improperly lodged gift, and the other had to do with a poorly placed air freshener in a Walgreens restroom near mile 20. 

Thank The Laaahd for plastic bags, soap and hand sanitizer, right?

Watching the fastest runners in the world fly by us at Heartbreak Hill left us so very verklempt. It is amazing to see strength and talent and endurance in the flesh, especially when you can reach out and touch them if you try (but only if you want to ruin their race and possibly cause them to fall and risk arrest and imprisonment). 

Beth ran her race, start to finish, one foot in front of the other, like she always does. I never doubted she would finish, that is who she is - a finisher - Moxie personified.

The goal she set for fundraising has yet to be met. That is okay, we have time. I don't feel bad continuing to ask all of you that read and are plugged into the work here to spread the word. 

Please share what is happening at Heartline with others that love women, children, and Maternal Health - and those that have a passion to love their neighbors around the world. We are all very lucky to be a small part of this good thing. We cannot keep going or growing without more people to do more small parts of the bigger work. Join us!

Jimmy and Becky (the Burtons, they teach our kids day in and day out) stayed with our kids.  They are loving and kind and tolerant of way so many shenanigans. When I walked in the door I said, "How'd it go with Mr Jimmy and Ms Becky, everybody?"  Lydia said, "Waaaaay better than I thought it would." Well.  Alright then.  I asked, I guess. Jimmy just smiled, he deals with honesty like this every day.  I would probably die a death of embarrassment if I knew all the things the kids have shared. 

We loved every minute of our time away. We loved coming home. 

The day we got back here there was a crazy adrenaline-filled emergency at the Maternity Center. Troy yelled at cops that wouldn't help with traffic, we made record time and the mom and baby are totally fine and hopefully being discharged today.  

Happy weekend.

Becky got this crew looking AMAZING on Easter Sunday - but I doubt they left on time.
This photo on Facebook was the most popular photo EVER shared.
I think John is some sort of enigma and people don't even know
what to do when they lay eyes on him.
(Beth went the distance, John ran at least 30 yards to get a hot dog.
We celebrate both accomplishments of these, our two heroes.)

Times Square
Categories: Haitian blogs

The Question This Earth Day: Will Humanity Survive?

HaitiAnalysis - Apr. 23, 2014 - 9:47 pm
by Berthony Dupont (Haiti Liberte)
The life systems of the planet are in crisis. The climate is warming. Oceans are rising. Deserts are spreading. Wars for dwindling supplies of oil and water are flaring. Some 90% of the ocean’s large fish – tuna, sharks, swordfish and cod -- have disappeared in the past 50 years. According to some expert estimates, about 10,000 species of plants and animals are becoming extinct every year – an average of 27 a day.            In Haiti alone, biodiversity is under huge assault as we are rapidly losing many species of frogs, bees, fish, flowers, and trees every year.            For example, of the 50 frog species on our island, two-thirds -- 30 species -- live only in Haiti and do not occur in the neighboring Dominican Republic, according to Dr. Blair Hedges, a biology professor at Penn State University and a leader of “species rescue missions” in Haiti and other countries in the Caribbean.            “Haiti is on the brink of an era of mass extinctions similar to the time when dinosaurs and many other species suddenly disappeared from the Earth,” wrote Barbara Kennedy on Penn State’s science website in 2010 about Dr. Hedges’ work.            This week, in the midst of this bleak tableau, comes Earth Day, which has been celebrated worldwide since April 22, 1970.            “Happy #EarthDay!” tweeted the US Embassy in Haiti, in both English and Kreyòl, on Apr. 22. “ Today we're celebrating greener cities & cleaner energy.”            The irony of this Tweet, which treats the day as a celebration rather than an alarm, could not be greater. This same embassy, hand in hand with the Martelly regime, is championing investment priorities and policies which devastate Haiti’s natural environment, and promise to devastate it even more, all while wrapping themselves in the words and images of being “green” and “pro-environment.”            If ever there was an example of how capitalism has savaged the natural environment, it is Haiti. When Christopher Columbus landed on our island in 1492, he saw mountains covered with beautiful forests of pine, oak, and mahogany, that reminded him of verdant Spain, and hence he renamed the island Hispaniola in honor of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, the Spanish sponsors of his voyage.            However, the European colonists immediately began to rape this paradise. After killing through massacres, disease, and slave labor in gold mines the Arawak population of over three million in a mere 15 years, the Europeans, particularly the French, began to clear-cut the forests to fuel the first great capitalist enterprise on the island: sugar mills.            Two centuries later, capitalism continues to stoke this deforestation by punishing the descendants of the slaves who worked in the sugar mills. Haiti’s peasantry has been pushed off the land by capitalist-imposed neoliberal policies – agricultural dumping and lowering of tariff walls – and forced to flee to the cities. The ruling groups provide no infrastructure for this influx – housing, water systems, sanitation systems, roads  – not even electricity or gas. So the millions of uprooted peasants who have fled to Haiti’s cities over the past 40 years must rely on charbon, which requires twice as much wood per energy unit output as fresh wood used in the countryside.            The deforestation caused by this IMF-dictated urbanization, which is also killing our frogs, is then blamed on the peasants. About 98% of the forests Columbus saw are now gone.            And what is the Martelly regime doing? Accelerating this rape of the land. On the southern island of Ile à Vache, for example, the government unilaterally cut down the island’s one forest, which used to provide the population with livelihoods harvesting crabs and honey, to put in an airport. They are now going to uproot peasants from food producing land in order to put in hotels, golf courses, and casinos, all without the population’s input or participation.            In Haiti’s North, we see a similar crime with the Caracol Industrial Park, for which authorities bulldozed some of Haiti’s most fertile farmland, destroyed a virgin mangrove forest, and destroyed precious coral reefs. A 2009 study for the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN)  put the “value of ecosystem services” of the mangroves and coral reefs in Caracol bay at US$ 109 million per year.            Now the Caracol Park, which pays its workers pennies an hour, is sure to spawn another Cité Soleil, complete with canals of open sewage, mountains of smoking garbage, and dirty oil and smoke from nearby power plants fouling the slum next door.            Finally, there is gold-mining, which both President Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe are enthusiastically encouraging (and investing in?), despite the Senate’s attempts to block their moves. The Spanish removed most of the big veins of gold five centuries ago. What remains is mostly gold dust, whose extraction requires an extremely destructive and toxic process. Mountain-tops, already denuded of trees, are removed and millions of tons of rocks are “washed” with the deadly agent cyanide, which then poisons streams and groundwater, rendering agriculture and even life nearby unviable.            As we have detailed in past issues of Haïti Liberté, multinational companies like Newmont Mining, after causing massive ecological damage in countries like Peru and Ghana, have been practically chased out of those nations and are now alighting in Haiti. With gold prices at about $1,600 an ounce, they estimate that Haiti has some $20 billion in gold dust in its mountains. They pretend, as they did elsewhere, that they will generate revenue and jobs for Haiti. But in reality, after taking out the precious minerals, they will leave the land defiled and polluted, and the population just as poor but now unable even to practice agriculture due to the poisons they have left behind. Only a handful of local cronies, like Martelly and Lamothe, will get a cut of the riches extracted.            So on this Earth Day, let us remember that we, the Haitian people, are not just fighting against exploitation, oppression, and injustice and for self-determination, equality, and human dignity. We are fighting for the survival of the human species on this planet, starting in Haiti.            “The economic order imposed on the world after World War II has led humanity to an unsustainable situation,” declared Fidel Castro in a Sep. 21, 2009 speech entitled “Humanity is an Endangered Species.” Humanity is facing “a really imminent danger and its effects are already visible.” Fidel gives us a mere 60 to 80 years to avoid mass extinction.
            So don’t be fooled by the happy face the U.S. Embassy and the Martelly regime are putting on Haiti’s environmental destruction. Let us all join in the struggle against the forces of unbridled and destructive capitalism in Haiti today – principally Martelly and MINUSTAH – to build a new sustainable future, where our children will have unpoisoned land, water, and air in this little corner of the world which our ancestors bequeathed to us.
Categories: Haitian blogs

U.N. Struggles to Stem Haiti Cholera Epidemic

New York Times on Haiti - Apr. 20, 2014 - 12:00 am
The United Nations, facing a shortage of supplies to handle the epidemic, refuses to address whether its peacekeepers brought a deadly strain of the disease into the country.
Categories: Haitian blogs

New Report Details Persecution of Public and Private Sector Union Activists in Haiti

HaitiAnalysis - Apr. 18, 2014 - 12:43 pm
by CEPR's Relief and Reconstruction Blog

The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and its Haiti-based partner Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) have released a report outlining recent cases of persecution of organized workers in Haiti as well as Haitian government complicity in allowing illegal attacks against, and terminations of labor activists to occur without judicial consequences.  The report, titled “Haitian labor movement struggles as workers face increased anti-union persecution and wage suppression,” documents attacks and firings of union organizers by both public and private sector companies. In mid-December of 2013, garment workers staged a walkout and demonstrations to protest the low wages and subpar working conditions in Haiti’s garment factories.  As Better Work Haiti revealed in its 2013 Biannual Review of Haitian garment companies’ compliance with labor standards, only 25 percent of workers receive the minimum daily wage of 300 Haitian gourdes (equivalent to $6.81). They also found a 91 percent non-compliance rate with basic worker protection norms.  The BAI/IJDH report explains that on the third day of the December protests, “the Association of Haitian Industries locked out the workers, claiming they had to shut the factories for the security of their employees.”  In late December and January, IJDH/BAI documented “at least 36 terminations in seven factories throughout December and January in retaliation for the two-day protest, mostly of union representatives. The terminations continue.”The report notes that union leaders at Electricity of Haiti (EDH) - Haiti’s biggest state-run enterprise – have also been illegally terminated and even physically attacked.   As BAI/IJDH describe,On January 10, 2014, the leaders of SECEdH [Union of Employees of l’EDH] held a press conference at EDH, as they had countless times over the last several years. The purpose of the January 10 press conference was to allege mismanagement and corruption at EDH. At the last minute, EDH management refused to let journalists in the building, although they had given permission for the press conference the day before. SECEdH’s leaders joined journalists on the street outside EDH’s parking lot gate to convene the press conference. EDH security guards pushed down the metal gate onto the crowd, hitting SECEdH’s treasurer in the head and knocking him unconscious. The security guards stood by while the employee lay on the ground bleeding and witnesses urged them to help. Some journalists took the injured employee to the hospital in one of their vehicles. He was released from the hospital but suffers constant pain in his head, shoulders, arms, and back from the heavy gate falling on him.
The following week, SECEdH’s executive committee, including the injured officer, received letters of termination dated January 10, 2014.The report goes on to describe government complicity with employer infractions of labor laws at the level of the judicial system, where “public and private employers enjoy impunity” and where workers continue to have extremely limited access to the justice system as “court fees and lawyers are too expensive for the poor to afford” and “proceedings are conducted in French, which most Haitians do not speak.”  Moreover, the Ministry of Labor as well as the Tripartite Commission for the Implementation of the HOPE agreement (which mandates garment factory compliance with international labor standards and Haitian labor law) have “backpedalled on the 2009 minimum wage law and issued public statements that support factory owners’ interpretations and non-compliance with the piece rate wage.”  The reports suggests that part of this backpedalling may be caused by President Michel Martelly’s efforts to promote increased international investment in Haitian sweatshops:Making Haiti “open for business” was a core piece of President Michel Martelly’s election platform that has won him political and economic support from the U.S. government, despite low voter turnout and flawed elections in 2010 and 2011. Part of the Martelly administration’s strategy to attract foreign investment has been to keep wages low so that Haiti can be competitive with the global low-wage market. Haiti has the third lowest monthly wages in the apparel industry, surpassing only Cambodia and Bangladesh. This U.S.-backed “sweat shop” economic model is similar to the model in the 1970s and 1980s under former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier.
Categories: Haitian blogs

Open International Adoption, Is that a thing? Part III

Livesay Haiti - Apr. 17, 2014 - 12:54 pm
Please find Part I  and Part II of this series and the additional post 'On opening ourselves up to pain and possibility', if you have not already read them.

Sharing photos and history with one another
  *         *         *         *
Part III has been the hardest to write because it is difficult to determine which things should be kept private and which things are important to share.  Our two older Haitian children are open to sharing a bit about their experiences but their families do not have the access and privilege we have and that makes it feel a tiny bit scary to share with total strangers and trust that our hearts will be heard and understood. The relationships are difficult to describe and we want you to know that what we share is only a portion of the total. Some of the detailed information and history of what we have learned as our relationship has grown with the first families would best be shared face to face. 

These birth-families are 'our people' and we never want to share anything that would feel uncomfortable or embarrassing to them because we deeply respect them and we have learned they do not want or need our pity, they simply want and DESERVE our respect and honor. These are kind, loving, hard-working, capable people that just happen to be materially poor and live in a country where changing that is very, very difficult. 
There is one caveat required on these 'open' international adoption posts that is too important to neglect. Before anyone can consider an open adoption, they first have a responsibility to be sure that the adoption they are doing is ethical and legitimate. I wish I had known more and done better. 

Our two first-mothers don't express any regret whatsoever about their decisions, but they were manipulated at the time of relinquishment (promised things we were not privy to at the time) and we regret that happened to them. 

I understand that lots and lots of North Americans believe that their wealth automatically and unequivocally makes them better suited to raise the poor people's children. I do not agree and there is a large problem with that thinking. For those that don't automatically think that all poor children should be taken from their parents, I urge you to do way more research about your agency and country than seems necessary. I beg you to walk away if you see or sense something is not quite right. The only way to stop the corrupt system from preying on vulnerable people is to refuse to be a part of that system.
  {For more thoughts on the corruption in International Adoption, take some time to read this post and the follow up after it.}
Isaac was adopted when he was 14 months old. He met his Mom again when he was four. We see her once or twice a year as a habit. He met his Dad for the first time when he was ten. His parents are together (again) now and have three other children that they are parenting and one other that they placed for adoption. Recently Isaac visited their home for the first time, prior to that all visits had taken place at the Maternity Center.

I asked Isaac to talk and let me type what he said. This is his stream of consciousness regarding his most recent visit to their home last month.

Isaac said:
"One important thing was that I learned was the story of when I was born and the story of that was pretty awesome and I learned that my grandmother delivered me at the house my family lived at in... (he paused and couldn't remember where) I have the date of my REAL birthday date and now we can celebrate the right day because we had the wrong day and now I get to have a birthday sooner this year. I learned that I have three siblings that have stayed with our Mom and Dad. I felt happy knowing that they are okay and knowing their house is great and they are okay and that one of them had a notebook full of English. It was important for me to know why they decided to place me. I think I look like my dad and my mom and my 14 year old brother a lot. I'd like to see them again and I know they are sad about not seeing other parts of their family that were adopted and I'd like to keep in contact." (I asked Isaac at this point if there was anything he is worried about?) He said: Well, it would be cool for them to be able to go to the States and have some fun and I'd like them to see what I have seen but I know that is probably not very possible.  It is okay that they placed me but I wonder sometimes what it would be like to be with them but that doesn't mean that is what I want, it is just what I wonder. I am glad I have Noah and this family and that is good  - the best actually - but I still wonder of course. It is weird to think that I might be scared of dogs if I had stayed with my first family. I think that they are good people and I love them and I don't speak their language fluently so sometimes that part is hard."

These photos are from our March visit.  We went all together with Isaac's little sister that has also be adopted and lives in the USA. It was the first time the family had all their kids together in one place. Their grandma showed up and is the feisty power behind the scenes. Grandma had TONS to say and shared her frustration with not knowing about some of her grand kids that have been placed in families in the USA. (Isaac has aunts that have placed children too.) She somehow found out that one family that adopted her grand kids went through a divorce and she had some things to say about that. She prayed with lots of energy over the group before we said goodbye.
Isaac's Maternal Grandmother Brothers checking out photos of their little sister that lives in USAThe entire Antoine Family (Mom and Dad with all five kids)Isaac with his Maternal Grandma and his Mom5' 3" 12 year old with his Dad and Mom at their home

If you know our Hope, you know she has less to say than Isaac.  It is not because she has less thoughts or is not a truly deep thinker, it is because she is of the opinion that not everything she thinks needs to be said. :)  (ahem!) 

Hope met her birth mother at age 4 too. She was adopted at 9 months of age and was very ill as an infant. Her kidney surgery at 10 months of age was necessary in-part because she was passing kidney stones. Hope's birth mother wondered if she might die before her adoption was complete but she expressed gratitude to God that it was completed quickly and surgery was possible.  (Back when Hope and Isaac were adopted the process was 6 to 12 months long once you delivered your dossier to Haiti. That has changed over the years into a much longer process.)

Hope's first-mom has seen her at least once a year since she was four years old. Hope and Phoebe are the last two children born to their Mom. (Phoebe is only seven years old and has not been visiting quite as much. She has seen their Mom but always has the choice about visiting. The last time we went she chose to stay back.)  From their biological mother, Phoebe and Hope have three much older siblings that live in Haiti. We have become fairly close with Hope and Phoebe's older sisters, they have both been in the Prenatal Program at Heartline. One delivered with us and one lost her baby after delivering prematurely last summer. They also have three more siblings that live in the USA with two different adoptive families. They have a little contact with the USA siblings and have met one of the three. 

Hope recently visited her Mom's home AND met her birth father for the very first time.  Hope had never been interested in meeting him until this year.  In January she asked if we could find him and we called her birth-mom who promptly made some calls and arranged a day for them to meet. While they are not together, they are friendly and don't mind staying in touch.  (Both Hope and Isaac did not have fathers listed on their adoption paperwork, the orphanage instructed the mothers to claim either not to know who the dad was or to say that the dads had died.) 

Hope said:
"The best part of this is seeing how my face is made, how I can see why I look the way I look." "The worst part is that I don't speak Kreyol well and I cannot understand much of what they say or talk to them by myself. I hope that my Kreyol will improve and one day I will be able to talk to them without my Mom and Dad translating for me."  Hope added that she found it slightly confusing that her (birth) Mom and Dad seem to be friends and like each other and in Hope's mind it is odd that they didn't stay together if they like one another.  

Momma Hope, Hope, Papa Hope

Hope's sister showing us letters from the families that have adopted her child.
Hope's first hug from her first father

We have brutally honest conversations about adoption and we want our kids to have the freedom and ability to bring it up whenever they want. We have made a decision to "do it afraid" when it comes to these relationships.  I don't say that in any self-congratulatory way, I simply share it because you don't need to wait until you are not afraid to enter into these sorts of things.  It is scary but usually the courage you use to do it anyway ends up being its own gift and much can be learned from risking in relationships. We have moved forward carefully in each decision with a desire to do what is best for our kids.  As they have gotten older, these relationships have grown. Our hope and prayer is that it helps our children and their first families have more joy,  more healing, and more peace.

tara and troy 
Categories: Haitian blogs

Haiti: Housing Effort Said to Lag

New York Times on Haiti - Apr. 17, 2014 - 12:00 am
A post-earthquake housing program in Haiti financed by the United States Agency for International Development has delivered only a quarter of the planned number of houses.
Categories: Haitian blogs

How Prenatal Care = Orphan Prevention

Livesay Haiti - Apr. 16, 2014 - 9:46 am

Lisa Rieb is our guest today. She is the adoptive Mother of Moses. A tiny portion of his story can be found here and here. The rest of his story is unfolding in Wyoming right now.

* * * *

By Lisa Rieb

Most women (65%) in Haiti have no access to prenatal care and give birth at home, often resulting in maternal death or infant death. We don't fully know our son Moses' birth history, but putting clues together has led us to believe he suffered a brain injury at birth, causing his cerebral palsy. His birth mother most likely gave birth at home with little to no help, and nowhere to go if she faced complications. The fact that she was able to care for him as long as she did speaks to her great love and nurturing of him until his disability became to great a burden to bear. We are firm supporters of what Heartline Ministries in Haiti offers women. Prenatal care, labor and delivery services, lactation suppor, child development education, midwifery care, and so much more. We know that what they do keeps women and children safe and together. This is orphan prevention. Loving the mothers and children of Haiti like we would love ourselves and our sisters and friends. I can't help but wonder how life for Moses would be different had his birth mom had the love and care available through the Heartline programs. We are privileged to be his parents. He is a precious boy full of Joy, even in disability. We think his life story is meant to be shared as a testimony of how we should care for our neighbors whether near or far. Seeing Beth, Tara, Wini, and Andrema (and many others!) in action while I was in Haiti was an experience I'll never forget. They really do love their jobs, love the people of Haiti well, and do the hard work not only of delivering babies, but of entering into the messy relationships of life in order to be grace and mercy to Haitian women and children. Won't you consider supporting their ministry with a one time donation or monthly donation? Maybe you would like to do this in honor of Moses and his brave birth mom. Perhaps you want to give in honor of a child you or a friend has lost. The gifts are a way to say we are for our neighbors in Haiti and for their families. 
Thank you!

To give, please go here to donate. If you would like to learn about other options for giving, please write to teri.white @ heartlineministries.org
Categories: Haitian blogs

After Being Shot, Boy Comforted Family

New York Times on Haiti - Apr. 16, 2014 - 1:00 am
A 13-year-old Brooklyn boy who was shot twice in the head on Monday stands a 90 percent chance of losing his right eye, his family said.
Categories: Haitian blogs

Sunday is coming ...

Livesay Haiti - Apr. 15, 2014 - 9:52 am

This photo was taken in 2011. It is the area of Haiti where over 100,000 people have relocated post-earthquake to a dusty mountainside area. This is Antoinette.  She is a good friend from the days of the field-hospital. She taught many of us after the quake and continues to do so today. Antoinette lives with hope that Friday's suffering will lead to Sunday's resurrection. 

Photo Credit: Esther Havens
Categories: Haitian blogs

Haiti's Association Nationale des Médias Haïtiens criticizes trend of authoritarianism of Martelly government vis-a-vis the press

Michael Deibert's Haiti Blog - Apr. 15, 2014 - 7:23 am

L’ANMH rejette le recours systématique à l’autoritarisme par rapport aux pratiques de presse

"C’est dans la sérénité que nous devons traiter chaque situation..."

Publié le lundi 14 avril 2014

Radio Kiskeya

(Read the original here

L’Association Nationale des Médias Haïtiens (ANMH) observe avec inquiétude la tendance systématique de recours du pouvoir à l’autoritarisme vis-à-vis des pratiques de presse.

Dans son discours d’investiture, le nouveau Ministre de la Communication, Monsieur Roudy Hériveaux qui, de l’avis général, doit particulièrement aux médias sa projection et son maintien sur la scène politique, a clairement menacé ces derniers dont il dit pourtant reconnaitre les mérites.

Dans la même logique, le Conseil National des Télécommunications (CONATEL) fait un << rappel à l’ordre >> à des médias qui s’adonneraient << systématiquement à la désinformation >>. S’agit-il de simples coïncidences ? Quelle que soit la réponse à cette interrogation, l’ANMH, la corporation des journalistes, l’opinion publique sensible à la sauvegarde des acquis en matière de liberté d’expression doivent être hautement préoccupés par ces manifestations anti-démocratiques, signaux avant-coureurs de graves menaces sur les conquêtes obtenues au prix de longues luttes citoyennes.

La presse haïtienne, dans sa diversité, a joué un rôle d’avant-garde dans la diffusion des valeurs universelles et dans le renforcement de la démocratie. L’ouverture démocratique initiée le 7 février 1986 à la fin de trente années environ de régime autoritaire, a eu pour conséquence de plonger toute la société, du jour au lendemain, dans la jouissance de libertés étouffées pendant trois décennies. La presse, comme guide, n’a pas échappé à cette période d’apprentissage. De son travail dépend l’évolution du nouveau système.

La jouissance de toute liberté peut entrainer des excès. Car, comme l’a observé Alexis de Tocqueville, dans son ouvrage de référence « De la Démocratie en Amérique »

« En matière de presse, il n’y a pas de milieu entre la servitude et la licence. Pour recueillir les biens inestimables qu’assure la liberté de la presse, il faut savoir se soumettre aux maux inévitables qu’elle fait naître. Vouloir obtenir les uns en échappant aux autres, c’est se livrer à l’une de ces illusions dont se bernent d’ordinaire les nations malades... qui cherchent les moyens de faire coexister à la fois sur le même sol, des opinions ennemies et des principes contraires »

On ne saurait renoncer à la jouissance d’une liberté, parce que, soi-disant, elle est violée. C’est en prévoyant la façon de contrer les dérives que l’on préserve la continuité de la jouissance des garanties reconnues par la Constitution et par les lois.

En Haïti, les autorités doivent bien comprendre que notre peuple ne reviendra pas en arrière par rapport aux acquis démocratiques. C’est aux autorités de s’adapter à cette réalité en consolidant l’État de droit, en fortifiant les institutions. Les réflexes autoritaires face au constat de dérives réelles ou prétendues, doivent être abandonnés. L’expérience démocratique en cours est le seul cadre de référence viable pour maintenir notre pays sur la voie du changement. Et, Les premiers qui doivent changer, ce sont nos dirigeants.

La liberté de la presse est au service de la liberté d’expression. C’est dans la sérénité que nous devons traiter chaque situation, en évitant de porter préjudice au travail d’une corporation qui est au centre du débat démocratique et qui s’efforce d’être chaque jour, à la hauteur de sa mission et des attentes de la population.

Il est du devoir des autorités, dans toutes les sphères d’action, de comprendre la mission de la presse, le service inestimable qu’elle rend tous les jours à la société, pour faciliter le débat entre les différents acteurs. Toute volonté de désigner la presse du doigt de manière injustifiée, ne peut qu’aggraver d’inutiles tensions provoquées par de mauvais précédents. Et la suspicion légitime vis-à-vis de toute tentation autoritaire pourrait compromettre la participation de la population à la vie démocratique à partir de la plateforme des médias.

La liberté de la presse, nous le répétons, est un corollaire de la liberté d’expression dans un pays où la population, ayant reconquis les prérogatives de s’exprimer sur ses affaires, n’entend plus revenir au temps du silence imposé par la seule volonté d’un pouvoir de la zombifier.

Les dépositaires et gardiens des libertés publiques doivent agir à tout moment dans le respect des normes et des principes pour enlever aux contempteurs desdites libertés, tout prétexte de remise en question. Il y va de la démocratie, de la stabilité de notre société et de la continuité de cette belle expérience pour le renforcement d’acquis multiples pour lesquels, notre pays a payé un prix fort.

Liliane Pierre-Paul
Présidente de l’ANMH.
Categories: Haitian blogs


Livesay Haiti - Apr. 13, 2014 - 10:31 pm
I find myself in an unusual position.

Or  ... Maybe this happens to you all the time.

Three kids, two dogs, one morning before school.
One morning last week I stood in the kitchen pouring caffeinated goodness, the steaming hot breath of life, into my favorite coffee-mug when Geronne walked up to me and said she had a message from the neighbors.

I jumped immediately into worry knowing that it has taken some time to be decent friends with our neighbors. Loud kids and loud generators make for rough relationships. We have worked so much out over the years, I sure hoped nothing had happened to put us back on their bad side.

Geronne went on to explain that the wife of the couple really thinks our Shih Tzu, Chestnut, is a lovely dog. Geronne has lived with us a long time. She actually used all Kreyol to tell me this, save one word. She used the English word cute. "Yo renmen ti shin ou, yo panse li cute." (They love your little dog, they think he's cute.)

Okay, I said, and so what if they think he is cute?

Geronne went on to explain that they want to know if Chestnut will "fè bagay" with their little female dog. I know what fè  bagay means, but I must have looked at her funny because Geronne clarified and said, "ou konnen, fè sèks". (you know, have sex) 

I laughed it off and said that we have already asked Kelly, the famous Haiti Vet, to roast the nuts of Chestnut and make him into a celibate man. Geronne said, "Yes, I told them that but they want him to come over before Kelly does that."

The week got busy, friends came to visit, some babies were born at Heartline, I did not think about those propositioning neighbors or their ovulating little Chihuahua again.

Friday night there was a knock at the gate. Knocks at the gate after midday are pretty uncommon. Lydia opened the gate and the neighbors (both husband and wife) moseyed on into the yard.  Troy and I went out and did all the kissing back and forth, give yourself vertigo, greetings. 

We regained our balance and made small talk for a tiny second before the wife asked if Geronne had told me how much they love Chestnut and how their dog is looking for a lover.  

I said, yes, yes , she told me.  From there an utterly bizarre conversation, half Kreyol half English and interchanging the two, took place. Things were said that I don't think are normal or even okay.

We stood chatting about how handsome Chestnut is and their little dog's period and then wondering aloud together when they are supposed to hook up? I said during "règ li" (her period) and the neighbor thought afterward. The wife even explained the way she thought the girl dog looks down in her nether regions, when the boy dog is wise to head over wearing his best cologne and cowboy boots for added height. 

(Oh. Wait!?!  Is that just a Troy thing? Scratch that.)  

After lots of speculating between people that have never ever bred dogs we decided that some Google-ing and research (and a lot of stalling on my part) was in order as was a talk with Chestnut about how he feels about being used for his seeds like that. I happen to know that Chestnut is a deep feeler and he is going to want more than just some cheap hook-up. 

Our sons were adamant that if they are going to let Chestnut go do the nasty with some random and unspecial (to them) Chihuahua, they want one of the puppies.  I told them we don't really want another little dog. The boys said, forget it then, Chestnut is not available to be used and thrown away like that if there was nothing for them to gain from it. 

The problem remains that the neighbors still want our dog to come over for a little dinner and hanky panky and we don't really know if we want our little guy doing that stuff.  Their dog doesn't seem good enough for him, number one.  Number two, what if it consumes his mind from then forward and we never get our innocent little Chessy back again? This could lead to a snowball effect of a whole lot of problems that we are simply not savvy enough to deal with well.

I may hide from them for a few days, or claim Chestnut fell very ill, or have Kelly the Vet come declare him infertile, or just make him infertile. 

I want to end this story by saying these funny neighbors are strange and pushy about getting our male Shih Tzu with their girl-dog  ... But the other day Noah took issue with calling people strange.  

I guess it can be said that this whole thing, with hooking dogs up cross culturally, is a kind of different that we just aren't used to yet. 
(also, strange!)
Categories: Haitian blogs

Haiti: In the Kingdom of Impunity

Michael Deibert's Haiti Blog - Apr. 11, 2014 - 10:20 am
Haiti: In the Kingdom of Impunity 

By Michael Deibert

There are many striking sights to be seen in Haiti today. In the north of the country, where over 200 years ago a revolt of slaves began that would eventually topple French rule, a 45-minute journey on a smooth road traverses the distance between the border with the Dominican Republic and Haiti's second largest city, Cap-Haïtien, replacing what used to be a multi-hour ordeal. From Cap-Haïtien itself, a city buzzing with economic activity, travel to Port-au-Prince, the nation's capital, could previously be a 10-hour odyssey, but is now accomplished in around 5 hours via a comfortable air-conditioned bus. Once the traveler arrives in Port-au-Prince itself - a city which, along with its environs, was largely devastated by a January 2010 earthquake - one finds, startlingly, functioning traffic lights, street lights powered by solar panels and armies of apron-clad workers diligently sweeping the sidewalks and gutters of what has historically been the filthy fiefdom of Haiti's myriad of warring political factions. To the south, in the colonial city of Jacmel, which sheltered the South American revolutionary Simón Bolívar at a critical time during his struggle to break South America free from the yoke of Spain, one of the most pleasant malecóns in the Caribbean has been built, facing the tumbling sea and mountains sloping dramatically in the distance.

But perhaps no scene in the new Haiti - governed since May 2011 by President Michel Martelly, now assisted by Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, a former telecommunications mogul - was as striking as that which occurred in the northern city of Gonaives on January 1st of this year. There, at annual ceremony marking Haiti's independence, President Martelly, who in a previous incarnation was known as Sweet Micky and was perhaps the best-known purveyor of Haiti's sinuous konpa music, greeted on the official dais none other than Jean-Claude Duavlier, who ruled Haiti as a dictator from 1971 until 1986, and fled the country amid pillaging of the state and gross human rights abuses.

"Despite everything that has happened in the last 30 years, it is as if they want us to return to the situation that existed before February 7, 1986," says Laënnec Hurbon, Haiti's most well-known sociologist, referring to the date of Duvalier's departure.

Duvalier had taken over from his dictator-father, François Duvalier, a psychopath who lorded over a terrifying police state since 1957, and had created the infamous Tontons Macoutes, denim-clad paramilitary henchmen.

The younger Duvalier was only 19 when he ascended to office, but he grew into the role soon enough. In a speech in October 1977 - the 20th anniversary of his father's assumption of the presidency - the 24 year-old Jean-Claude Duvalier gave a speech in which he heralded the advent of "Jean-Claudism," supposedly a liberalizing trend in Duvalierism that would foster economic development. The near-fatal beating of a prominent government critic, Pastor Luc Nerée, only weeks later gave a flavour for how limited that liberalization would be. Fort Dimanche, a Port-au-Prince prison, during the Duvaliers' reign became known as the Dungeon of Death for the thousands of government opponents and other unfortunate souls who perished there.

In a landmark decision last month, a Haitian court ruled that Duvalier could be tried for crimes against humanity and for abuses committed by security forces during his rule, but deferred a decision as to whether he could be tried on various corruption charges.

"The Duvalier decision is a little victory against impunity and corruption," says Pierre Espérance, director of the Réseau National de Défense des Droits Humains (RNDDH), Haiti's most well-known human rights organization. "But we still have a lot of work to do."

Along with several other organizations, RNDDH is a member of the Collectif contre l'impunité, a coalition of groups advocating for legal action against Duvalier.

Duvalier is far from the only Haitian politician with a trial potentially in his future. The former boy dictator, now grown gray and sallow in old age, returned to Haiti in January 2011 in the midst of the contentious vote that saw Martelly elected. He was followed by another former president, and arch-rival, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

During his 2001 to 2004 second turn in office and immediately preceding it, Aristide was accused of, among other misdeeds, arming and organizing paramilitary youth groups known as chimeres, presiding over brutal collective reprisals by his security forces against the rebellious city of Gonaives, and a ghastly massacre in the town of Saint-Marc in February 2004, the latter killings by a combination of police, security personnel from Aristide's National Palace and allied street gangs having claimed at least 27 lives. In recent testimony presented in a Haitian court, Aristide was also accused of orchestrating the April 2000 murder of Jean Dominique, the country's most well-known journalist. Two separate bodies - the Unite Centrale de Renseignements Financiers (UCREF) and the Commission d'Enquete Administrative - that examined financial irregularities from Aristide's time as Haiti's president found that "Aristide's government illegally pumped at least $21 million of his country's meager public funds into private firms that existed only on paper and into his charities."

Nor can those tasked with checking the power of the executive branch be viewed with great confidence, with Haiti's legislative branch of government often resembling a prison more than a parliament.

Two members of Haiti's lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, Rodriguez Séjour and  N'Zounaya Bellange Jean-Baptiste (who as parliamentarians enjoy immunity from prosecution), have been credibly accused of involvement of the April 2012 murder of Haitian police officer Walky Calixte, but both men remain free with apparent little fear of trial or even arrest. In the slain policeman's Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Carrefour, mournful graffiti still reads Adieu, Walky. Another deputy, fierce Martelly critic Arnel Belizaire, is alleged by the government to have managed to get himself elected despite the fact that he was a fugitive who had broken out of jail a few years before [What is beyond debate is that Belizaire is prone to bouts of physical violence in the parliament itself].

One of President Martelly's chief advisors, Calixte Valentin, was identified as being responsible for the killing of a merchant named Octanol Dérissaint in the town of Fonds-Parisien, near the border with the Dominican Republic, in April 2012. Valentin was never tried for the crime and remains a free man to this day.

It is amid such a discordant background - foreign investment flooding into the country as never before in terms of tourist initiatives and industrial parks even as Haiti's politic milieu remains deeply dysfunctional - that long-delayed legislative elections for two-thirds of the country's senate, the entire chamber of deputies, and local and municipal officials such as mayors are scheduled to take place in October. Several political parties have not as-yet signed on to the electoral plan.

"There are a few parties who chose not to participate, but it was an open process," says Carl Alexandre, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti, known by its acronym MINUSTAH. "It is our hope that those who didn't participate initially will want to join as the process unfolds, because the alternative is unthinkable. If the elections are not held this year, in January there will not be a functioning parliament. There will be no one there."

[The UN mission in Haiti has had its own issues with impunity. A cholera epidemic, all-but-certainly introduced by Nepalese peacekeepers, has killed over 8,000 people in the country, but the UN has claimed immunity from any damages.]

Around the country, the Martelly-Lamothe government seems to remain broadly popular, with one moto taxi driver plying Port-au-Prince's dusty Route de Freres telling me "they are working well for Haiti," a sentiment I heard often in my travels around the country. This despite the fact that  - from the crowds in Gonaives chanting "Martelly for 50 years!" to the huge billboards around the country bearing Martelly's image (in violation of Article 7 of Haiti's constitution, which bans "effigies and names of living personages" from "currency, stamps, seals, public buildings, streets or works of art") -  the government seems to have by no means entirely abandoned the realpolitik of Haiti's past. As they once did for Aristide, graffiti slogans around Port-au-Prince laud the bèl ekip (beautiful team) of Martelly-Lamothe.

Haiti's economy is indeed moving - even roaring - forward, but the old need for a mechanism for crime and punishment of the country's powerful keeps knocking on Haiti's door, unbidden, perhaps unwanted, but there nonetheless. In a marriage of impunity and economy, perhaps the echoes of Jean-Claudism do not appear so distant after all.

"We are talking about the situation of impunity that has been the rule since François Duvalier came to power in 1957, and something has to be done to stop that," says Sylvie Bajeux, director of the Centre Œcuménique des droits humains (CEDH), who also served as one of the officials who investigated Aristide's alleged financial misdeeds. Like RNDDH, the CEDH is a member of the Collectif contre l'impunité. "If we don't, we are going nowhere, we cannot talk about reconstruction."

"Jean-Claude Duvalier's case has become the symbol for the need to put an end to impunity," Bajeux  says. "He's being charged with monstrous deeds. So what is going to happen? What happens with Duvalier's case is something that will affect the whole future of this country, one way or another."

Michael Deibert is the author of In the Shadow of Saint Death: The Gulf Cartel and the Price of America's Drug War in Mexico (Lyons Press, 2014), The Democratic Republic of Congo: Between Hope and Despair (Zed Books, 2013) and Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti (Seven Stories Press, 2005).
Categories: Haitian blogs

Cérémonie de remise de décoration au Palais National

Carel Pedre's Flickr Stream - Jun. 2, 2013 - 8:37 am

carelp posted a photo:

A droite du couple présidentiel, l'artiste Rodrigue Milien et le Père Antoine Occide Jean (Père Sicot). A gauche, le musicien Raoul Guillaume, la Ministre de la Culture, Mme Josette Darguste, et le Dr Didier Armand, représentant de Mimi Barthélémy.

Categories: Haitian blogs

Cérémonie de remise de décoration au Palais National

Carel Pedre's Flickr Stream - Jun. 2, 2013 - 8:37 am

carelp posted a photo:

Vue partielle de l'assistance à la cérémonie de remise de décoratiion au Palais National

Categories: Haitian blogs

Cérémonie de remise de décoration au Palais National

Carel Pedre's Flickr Stream - Jun. 2, 2013 - 8:37 am

carelp posted a photo:

Le Père Antoine Occide Jean (Père Sicot), Sociologue et Ethnologue, est décoré de l'Ordre National Honneur et Mérite au Grade de Grand Officier pour sa contribution au développement communautaire

Categories: Haitian blogs