US revokes visas to pressure Preval on election

PORT-AU-PRINCE — The U.S. State Department said Friday it revoked the visas of about a dozen Haitian officials, increasing pressure on the government to drop its favored candidate from the presidential runoff in favor of a popular contender who is warning of renewed protests if he is not on the ballot.

Revoking visas that let prominent Haitians enter the United States is the latest step in an escalating effort to persuade Haiti's government to accept international monitors' finding that Michel Martelly rightfully belongs on the second-round ballot Read more

Lawyer: Haiti mum on Aristide passport request

Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide: Hopes to return to Haiti in "coming days" (AP photo)Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide: Hopes to return to Haiti in "coming days" (AP photo)A former lawyer for ex-Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide says the ousted leader has applied for a Haitian passport but has never heard back from his homeland's government. The head of the Boston-based Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti says Aristide has repeatedly requested a Haitian passport. Brian Concannon said that President Rene Preval's government ``simply refuses to respond'' to Aristide's requests.

Aristide's current Miami attorney Ira Kurzban says Aristide wants to come back to Haiti. In a statement issued through Kurzban on Thursday, Aristide said, "As far as I am concerned, I am ready. Once again I express my readiness to leave today, tomorrow, at any time. The purpose is very clear: To contribute to serving my Haitian sisters and brothers as a simple citizen in the field of education."

Aristide added that he hoped to "make that happen in the next coming days." Read more

Local reaction to Duvalier’s return largely negative

Jean-Claude Duvalier: Led away by Haitian police on Jan. 18. AP photo/Ramon EspinosaJean-Claude Duvalier: Led away by Haitian police on Jan. 18. AP photo/Ramon EspinosaJean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier’s return to Haiti last Sunday — after 25 years in exile — has prompted strong reactions from Boston’s Haitian community and their elected leaders. Many have called for his arrest and prosecution for the numerous crimes committed and millions in public funds stolen under his regime from 1971-1986.

Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, was not available to comment today personally, but offered comment through a spokesman.

“The Senator’s following the situation very closely and is deeply concerned that Duvalier’s return will aggravate the already-serious tensions, particularly at the moment that the electoral council reportedly has rejected the OAS’s proposed solution to the impasse over who will be in the runoff,” said Frederick Jones, a spokesman for Kerry’s office. “The situation is fluid and dangerous, and the Senator is working hard to support the Administration’s efforts to promote a fair political resolution and help Haiti get back to the task of national rebuilding.” Read more

'Baby Doc' accused of corruption, embezzlement

PORT-AU-PRINCE — A judge will decide whether former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier will be tried on charges that include corruption and embezzlement for allegedly pilfering the treasury before his 1986 ouster, a lawyer for the ex-strongman said Tuesday.

A judge questioned the former dictator known as "Baby Doc" in an hours-long, closed-door court session, defense attorney Gervais Charles said. The decision to move toward a trial makes clear that whatever Duvalier's reasons were for returning to Haiti on Sunday, the government is poised to take the opportunity to seek justice for his long-vanished regime, widely regarded as brutal and corrupt. Read more

'Baby Doc' Duvalier returns to Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, a once feared and reviled dictator who was ousted in a popular uprising nearly 25 years ago, has made a stunning return to Haiti, raising concerns he could complicate efforts to solve a political crisis and the stalled reconstruction from last year's devastating earthquake.

Duvalier's arrival at the airport Sunday was as mysterious as it was unexpected. He greeted a crowd of several hundred cheering supporters but did not say why he chose this tumultuous period to suddenly reappear from his exile in France — or what he intended to do while back in Haiti.

"I'm not here for politics," Duvalier told Radio Caraibes. "I'm here for the reconstruction of Haiti." Read more

Would-be Haitian contractors miss out on aid

In a Port au Prince warehouse loaded with tarps, plywood, corrugated roofing, nails and other building supplies, company owner Patrick Brun says he had hoped to get contracts from the billions of dollars in international aid promised to Haiti.

His 40-year-old company, Chabuma S.A., sells cement blocks, doors, sand bags and other materials for international companies. But what he wants is a more significant role in his country's recovery, which is why he says he keeps bidding — without success — for U.S. government contracts. Read more

Lawsuit opens window onto ex-US envoy's role as rainmaker for American contractor

Lewis Lucke: US official in charge of relief efforts after earthquake went on to consult privately for US contractor.Lewis Lucke: US official in charge of relief efforts after earthquake went on to consult privately for US contractor.SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The U.S. official who was in charge of relief efforts following Haiti's devastating Jan. 12 earthquake has accused a major contractor of shortchanging him for his assistance in securing more than $20 million in reconstruction deals after he left his post.

Lewis Lucke, the former U.S. special coordinator for relief and reconstruction, says the Haiti Recovery Group Ltd., did not pay him enough for consulting services that included hooking the contractor up with powerful people and helping to navigate government bureaucracy. He's owed nearly $500,000, according to a lawsuit he filed last month in his home state of Texas, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

Related story: Would-be Haitian contractors miss out on aid awards

Lucke's lawsuit names the Haiti Recovery Group's two partners: Ashbritt, Inc., a contractor based in Pompano Beach, Florida, that specializes in the removal of debris left by natural disasters; and the GB Group, a conglomerate run by one of Haiti's wealthiest men, Gilbert Bigio. Read more

Patrick’s point person on Haiti Relief discusses challenges still ahead

The Reporter talks to Richard Chacon, Executive Director of Office of Immigrants and Refugees (ORI). Chacon was appointed to oversee the state’s response to last year’s catastrophic earthquake in Haiti. He also covered Haiti and took several trips there as the Boston Globe Latin America correspondent from 1997-2001.

BHR: Walk me through the year in services [provided by the state] to the Haitian community, especially displaced Haitians.

Richard Chacon: There have been a variety of services provided for folks here and in rebuilding efforts in Haiti. Immediately following the earthquake, Governor Patrick made it a priority to have a swift plan to address needs for Massachusetts’ residents. He appointed our agency, Office of Refugee and Immigrants to oversee these efforts, which was unprecedented for an agency like ours. Our primary responsibility was to deal with special refugee cases and work with other agencies to provide emergency resources. It was a new role for us.

We worked with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) because of their experience [in these circumstances]. We were able to develop an inventory of personnel and equipment to help out with immediate needs - if we were asked to send any. We communicated to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) what we had available here in the state. Read more

Lavish & Lush and Mezzi Foundation Presents: Beauty Night Out

Jan. 23, 2011 - 5:00 pm

Lavish & Lush and Mezzi Foundation Presents: Beauty Night Out
Sunday, Jan 23
Event: 5:00 pm
Located at Onyx Hotel, Boston, MA

Lavish & Lush along with Mezzi Foundation will be hosting its first "Beauty Night Out’! Come and pamper yourself to a night with makeovers, beauty tips, top of the line fashion vendors and more.

Start the New Year off right with you and your girls. Shop around for Jewelry, Makeup, and lingerie. Get a massage while you are there. Come enjoy the drinks and complimentary hors d'œuvres, in a sexy atmosphere. Read more

Cambridge MLK Day Commemoration

Jan. 17, 2011 - 12:00 pm

Martin Luther King Day Commemoration and Remembrance
Monday, January 17
Event: 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church,
838 Massachusetts Ave., Central Sq., Cambridge

Please join the Cambridge Peace Commission as we publicly remember and celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Central Square, Cambridge: Read more

Lessons learned by volunteers in post-quake Haiti

Since the January 12th earthquake, Haiti has seen a surge in volunteers from around the world. Their presence could not have come at a more critical time when morale has been low and the country faces a future of uncertainty. Many have made the trip to offer themselves as helpers in the cause. They have documented their experiences to share what they encountered and learned in the relief and rebuilding efforts. Each of the following individuals provides a unique voice, speaking alongside the people of Ayiti.

Last February, Gabriela Fullon volunteered with Asosyason Peyizan Fondwa (APF), situated in the southern coast between Leogane and Jacmel. She worked with APF to empower and educate people in the countryside through the organization’s assorted projects in the radio station, orphanage, university, schools, and convent. Gabriela said, “While the cholera outbreak hadn’t happened yet, the conditions we saw everywhere pointed to the possibility of an outbreak. Overflowing portable bathrooms; unclean, crowded conditions were frighteningly common there.” Read more

Pressure needed to get equal treatment for Haitians

Haitian Americans and their supporters can play a vital role in helping perhaps 600,000 Haitians and Haitian Americans in Haiti and the United States by urging Massachusetts’ U.S. Senators Brown and Kerry to get the White House to instruct Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano to end a glaring double standard which dishonors our community. Let us explain.

Before Haiti’s earthquake, DHS had approved the immigrant visa petitions of 55,000 Haitian beneficiaries who nevertheless today still languish in Haiti on a wait list, in danger from cholera, tent city conditions, hurricanes, and turmoil. They’re slated to stay there another four to eleven years, waiting for visa priority dates to become current, before eventually joining their families here – assuming that they survive the debilitating environment. Read more

New in the Reporter: Edwidge Danticat on art in the aftermath of the quake

BHR 1-11 front pageOur January edition: Now on newsstands across Greater Boston“Art is Haiti’s own ambassador – it can make its own path,” says Edwidge Danticat, who recently talked to the Reporter about her most recent works, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work and Haiti Noir. The former is a collection of essays compiled over the years and completed as part of Toni Morrison’s Society Lecture Series. Haiti Noir is an anthology of stories Danticat edited for the acclaimed Akashic Noir Series. This compilation of dark tales illuminates the complexities and nuances of Haiti and her people. The literary adventure opens with the eerily ominous Odette, a harrowing tale set during the earthquake, written by Boston-based poet Patrick Sylvain.

BHR: When did you first start working on Create Dangerously?

Edwidge Danticat: About two years ago I was invited to do the Toni Morrison Society lecture series. I was only the second invitee, Cornel West was the first – no pressure there. When you’re doing these types of things, it’s good to find something you’re passionate about. If you share your passion, then you can share something meaningful. So I picked “the immigrant artist” as my subject. And part of the series is to publish a book. I’ve been writing these essays for years, although some of them were new.

BHR: In the middle of telling each story you stop to share your thoughts and insights. Is this part of your responsibility as an immigrant artist?

ED: I was trying to interpret my own sense of it – the way I interpret my own path. It’s nearly impossible for me to come from the place I come from - to pretend that I’m just writing. It’s a lot. When you’re writing an essay you hope to interpret your own journey. Happily taking the responsibility and duty to share and tell personal, intimate stories. The artist’s responsibility is to try to represent as truthfully and as carefully what that individual knows (to be true). Read more

Gov. Patrick: Housing Haitians still a work in progress

In an interview with the Boston Haitian Reporter a day before he was sworn into his second term, Gov. Deval Patrick reiterated his campaign pledge to help come up with a comprehensive dwelling strategy for Haitians displaced by last January’s earthquake. Patrick also discussed the state’s involvement in relief efforts and whether he plans to visit Haiti.

Patrick told the Reporter he is charging his undersecretary of housing, Tina Brooks, with the task of coming up with a housing strategy. Brooks will also be charged with engaging with the Haitian community on the strategy.

“Government can’t do it alone,” he said. “We’re going to have to partner, and partner creatively with folks on the ground, in community groups and who are individual neighborhood leaders.” Read more

Edwidge Danticat on art in the aftermath of the quake

“Art is Haiti’s own ambassador – it can make its own path,” says Edwidge Danticat, who recently talked to the Reporter about her most recent works, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work and Haiti Noir. The former is a collection of essays compiled over the years and completed as part of Toni Morrison’s Society Lecture Series. Haiti Noir is an anthology of stories Danticat edited for the acclaimed Akashic Noir Series. This compilation of dark tales illuminates the complexities and nuances of Haiti and her people. The literary adventure opens with the eerily ominous Odette, a harrowing tale set during the earthquake, written by Boston-based poet Patrick Sylvain. Read more

President, key advisor speak out on anniversary of quake

President Obama issued a statement on the anniversary of the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake in which he said "we continue to be inspired by the Haitian people, and our vibrant Haitian American community, who have faced unimaginable loss with extraordinary courage and faith."

Patrick Gaspard, the president's top White House political advisor, is the son of Haitian immigrants. He spoke out about the anniversary in a blog post today on the White House website.

The full statement from the president follows: Read more

"Haiti One Year Later, Dr. Dennis Rosen"

Jan. 18, 2011 - 7:30 pm

"Haiti One Year Later, Dr. Dennis Rosen"
Tuesday, Jan 18
Event: 7:30p to 8:30p
Located at Newton Free Library
Newton, MA

Newton resident Dr. Dennis Rosen will give a first-hand account of his two medical mission trips to Haiti in 2010. A PowerPoint presentation will accompany the talk.

"Fit For Haiti"

Jan. 29, 2011 - 1:00 pm

"Fit For Haiti"
Located at Boston Sports Clubs-Wellesley
Saturday, Jan 29
Event: 1:00p to 6:00p

A fitness fundraiser to raise money for the people of Haiti. There will be boot camp classes, spin classes, and yoga. Minimum $10 dollar donation gets you to any class you would like. There will be prizes, raffles, music, and surprise celebrities. The money raised will go to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.

“Haiti, A Day of Remembrance”

Jan. 12, 2011 - 1:30 pm

“Haiti, A Day of Remembrance”
Thursday, January 13
Located at Norwich Free Academy.
“Haiti, A Day of Remembrance”
Event: 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m

The event will include musical performances, testimony from an earthquake survivor, a short 2-minute video showing the ongoing needs as well as the hope in Haiti and the launching of “35 Seconds for Haiti,” a charitable program of the First Haitian Baptist Church of Norwich and the sponsor of the event.
For more information, call Adam Bowles at (860) 861-4246.

Basic Black presents: "A look at Haiti one year after the devastating earthquake"

Jan. 14, 2011 - 7:30 pm

Basic Black presents: "A look at Haiti one year after the devastating earthquake"
Friday, January 14
7:30pm on WGBH 2
Panelists: Callie Crossley, host, The Callie Crossley Show
Kim McLarin, assistant professor, writing, literature, and publishing
Emerson College Phillip Martin, senior investigative reporter, WGBH Radio
Manolia Charlotin, editor, the Boston Haitian Reporter
Patrick Sylvain, poet and instructor, Brown University’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

PBS presents: "Children of Haiti"

Jan. 11, 2011 - 10:00 pm

Tuesday, Jan. 11
Independent Lens Presents:
"Children of Haiti"
10pm, WGBH 2
"Known as the "soulless," more than 500,000 orphan children wander the
streets doing what they must to survive each day. In Children of Haiti,
three teenage boys, who share a common dream of education, government
assistance, and social acceptance, reflect on their country and their
lives."

PBS presents: "Battle for Haiti"

Jan. 11, 2011 - 9:00 pm

Tuesday, Jan. 11
Frontline Presents:
"Battle for Haiti"
9pm, WGBH 2
"Thousands of criminals escaped from the National Penitentiary after the
earthquake, and a year later the gang leaders are re-asserting control
in the capital. Frontline chronicles the uphill fight to rebuild Haiti
in the face of deep-rooted corruption and intimidation."

PBS presents: Deadliest Earthquakes

Jan. 11, 2011 - 8:00 pm

Tuesday, Jan. 11
Nova Presents:
"Deadliest Earthquakes"
8pm, WGBH 2
"In exclusive coverage, Nova follows a team of US geologists as they
enter Haiti immediately after the tragedy. In a race against time, they
hunt for crucial evidence to find out what happened deep underground and
what the risks are of a new killer quake in hotspots around the world."

Observers wait for Preval to accept OAS report

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – International observers are waiting on Haiti's president to accept a report suggesting his party's candidate be eliminated from a contentious election to choose the quake-ravaged country's next leader.

Haitian electoral officials must make the final decision on what to do, and the recommendations by observers from the Organization of American States could weigh heavily.

But first they have to officially receive the report.

That step was thwarted Monday when President Rene Preval's office declined to grant an appointment to the observation team, OAS assistant secretary-general Albert Ramdin said. Read more

"Teach Young Haitians Construction Skills to Rebuild Their Nation"

Jan. 13, 2011 - 10:30 am

Thursday, January 13

Located in Haiti

Directions: Red Cross of Luxembourg's Centre de Sante de Gressier. Detailed directions from Port-au-Prince: Take Route
Nationale #2 to Gressier. Pass the police station on the right. Go 100 yards and see the Temple Adventiste on left. Across from Temple, turn right at the IDEJEN Ecole Atellier sign onto Rue Guillou (unmarked, dirt road) and go 50 yards. See the Red Cross of Luxembourg's Centre de Sante de Gressier and take the next right. Go 100 yards to the center. Read more