News

Mar 3, 2011

Sen. John KerrySen. John KerrySenator John Kerry (D-MA) introduced legislation today that— if enacted— will allow 35,000 Haitians who have been approved to join family members in the U.S. to come here and work legally until they become eligible for permanent residency. The HELP Act— short for "Haitian Emeregency Life Protection Act of 2011"— would temporarily expand the V nonimmigrant visa category to include Haitians whose petition for a family-sponsored immigrant visa was approved on or before Jan. 12, 2010— the date of last year's catastrophic earthquake.

In a statement issued this afternoon, Sen. Kerry said, “I’ve heard tragic stories from many Haitians in Massachusetts who haven’t seen or heard from their loved ones for months and if bureaucracy is the only thing standing in the way then we need to fix it, end of story. Our legislation creates a commonsense process to reunite families as quickly as possible.”

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Feb 17, 2011

Dr. Paul Farmer, co-founder of Boston-based Partners in Health, talks about the long-awaited construction of a new teaching hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti in this video posted by PIH. The state-of-the-art, 320 bed facility has been planned in partnership with the Haitian Ministry of Health, according to Farmer, and will include a women’s outpatient facility that will be completed in the coming months. The hospital is scheduled to open in early 2012.

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Feb 15, 2011

Boston Public Schools didn’t get additional funds from the federal government to help handle an influx of Haitian students after last year’s earthquake, but they’ve been able to accommodate most of the students, school officials said.

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Feb 11, 2011

One our cover: Devalon Beatrice, 27, holds her daughter inside a tent in Champ de Mars, Port-au-Prince. Photo by Allyn GaestelOne our cover: Devalon Beatrice, 27, holds her daughter inside a tent in Champ de Mars, Port-au-Prince. Photo by Allyn GaestelTucked next to a gated office building off Delmas 60 in Port-au-Prince, staggered tents and makeshift shelters are packed in tiers cascading over twin hillsides. Along a path scattered with ti machans (small-scale vendors) and men playing cards beside hand-painted Michel Martelly campaign signs, live Natasha Seraphin and Cesar Emanuele Junior, a young married couple with their baby Charles.

Their shelter, like so many others filling formerly open terrain throughout the city, is meticulously designed as a tiny house. The entryway leads to a thin sitting area, with a television, powered by electricity pirated from lines along the two main thoroughfares nearby. In the corner, shelves hold dishes and utensils, and Natasha washes plates and clothes in a two-foot-wide hallway. Clothes hang along the walls, and in the back is a cramped cooking area. A bedroom packed with a makeshift bed and the rest of their belongings, closed off by tarpaulin walls and a curtained doorway, fills most of the space.

More than one year after last January’s deadly earthquake, Natasha and Junior are among the 800,000 displaced people still living in a tent camp.

But, this is not the couple’s first tent camp experience.

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Feb 8, 2011

The human rights group Amnesty International has posted the video above to mark the 25th anniversary of ex-dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier’s departure from Haiti in February 1986. Duvalier abruptly and unexpectedly returned to Haiti last month and remains there as authorities investigate charges and plan a possible prosecution of the ex-president.

The video includes archived testimonies from victims of human rights abuses committed during Duvalier’s rule. The interviews — conducted in 1985— include Evans Paul, detained and tortured in 1980, Mark Roumain, unfairly detained for three years and Sylvio Claude, arbitrarily arrested and ill treated in several occasions.

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Feb 7, 2011

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Haitian President Rene Preval will stay in office for another three months as his country chooses a successor in a delayed election, his chief of staff said Monday.

Chief of Staff Fritz Longchamp confirmed Preval's exit date of May 14 in a phone interview with The Associated Press following uncertainty about the Haitian leader's plans.

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Feb 3, 2011

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haitian electoral officials dropped the government-backed candidate from the upcoming presidential runoff on Thursday, ending a standoff with the U.S. and other international powers over the results of a first-round of voting that was marred by fraud and disorganization.

The electoral commission said the March 20 runoff will match former first lady Mirlande Manigat against Michel Martelly, a carnival singer known as "Sweet Micky." The announcement, which came after dawn following more than 13 hours of deliberations, means government-backed candidate Jude Celestin is out of the race.

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Jan 31, 2011

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The United States has no plans to halt aid to earthquake-ravaged Haiti in spite of a crisis over who will be the nation's next leader but does insist that the president's chosen successor be dropped from the race, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday.

Clinton arrived Sunday in the impoverished Caribbean nation for a brief visit. She met with President Rene Preval and earlier met with each of the three candidates jockeying to replace him.

Only two candidates can go on to the delayed second round, now scheduled for March 20. The U.S. is backing an Organization of American States recommendation that the candidate from Preval's party, government construction official Jude Celestin, should be left out in favor of populist rival Michel Martelly.

The top U.S. official at the United Nations, Susan Rice, said recently that "sustained support" from the United States required the OAS recommendations be implemented. Many Haitian officials, including leaders of Preval's Unity party and Martelly, interpreted that to mean the U.S. was threatening an embargo and cutting off aid.

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Jan 31, 2011

Gov. Patrick to deploy National Guard unit to Haiti: The governor, left, made the announcement at a Jan. 30 ceremony. Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry is shown at right. Photo courtesy Governor's Office.Gov. Patrick to deploy National Guard unit to Haiti: The governor, left, made the announcement at a Jan. 30 ceremony. Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry is shown at right. Photo courtesy Governor's Office.

(Update 6:20 p.m.) — Governor Deval Patrick has ordered elements of the Massachusetts National Guard to prepare for an April deployment to Haiti. The 125th Quartermaster battalion out of Worcester, along with the 220th Quartermaster detachment from Bridgewater, will assist in humanitarian efforts, mainly water filtration. More than 100 service people from the Massachusetts National Guard will take part in the deployment. More details on the deployment are expected soon.

Patrick's surprise announcement came during a noontime event in the State House, where he issued a proclamation to establish a statewide Haiti remembrance month to commemorate the one year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti. The governor was joined by State Representative Linda Dorcena Forry and other leaders from the Haitian community.

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Jan 24, 2011

PORT-AU-PRINCE — The U.S.

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Jan 20, 2011

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."

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Jan 19, 2011

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.”

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Jan 19, 2011

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 T

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Jan 16, 2011

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."

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Jan 14, 2011

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.

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Jan 14, 2011

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.

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Jan 14, 2011

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.

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Jan 14, 2011

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.

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Jan 14, 2011

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).

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Jan 13, 2011

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.”

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