Sunday, September 14, 2014

U.S. Actor and Human Rights Activist, Danny Glover and other Human Rights Activists Signed a Letter to Support Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the Lavalas Movement

Stop the Attacks on Former President Jean Bertrand Aristide and the Lavalas Movement

On August 21, Haitian police wearing black masks and carrying heavy arms appeared in front of the home of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide as a Haitian judge issued calls to arrest him. Hundreds of people courageously surrounded the house to protect him.

One week before, President Aristide was summoned to court on false corruption charges.  This is the fourth time since his return to Haiti in 2011 that he has been the target of a politically motivated legal case. (Previous charges were dropped before he could even challenge them in court.) The judge in this case, Lamarre Bélizaire, has been suspended for ten years from practicing the law by the Port-au-Prince Bar Association for using the court to persecute opponents of the present regime. His suspension is due to begin once he steps down as judge.

President Aristide, a former priest, was Haiti’s first democratically elected president. He is loved and trusted by the majority of Haitians. While in office he built schools and hospitals, encouraged agriculture and doubled the minimum wage. He was removed and forced into exile with his family in 2004 by a US-backed military coup.  Thousands of members of his Lavalas movement were killed, raped or falsely imprisoned in the aftermath of the coup.

In 2011, after seven years of grassroots organizing in Haiti backed up by an international campaign, President Aristide and his family returned home.  Tens of thousands of people welcomed him. He promised to work for education and the inclusion of all Haitians in the democratic process. He has done just that – reopening the Aristide Foundation’s university, UNIFA, where today over 900 students from all sectors of society, including those who cannot afford higher education, are training to become doctors, nurses and lawyers. 

Legislative elections due to take place in Haiti in October are triggering a new chilling wave of repression aimed at President Aristide and his supporters.  Lavalas has overwhelming won every election in which it has participated, but since the 2004 coup the party has been barred from elections.  As a result, fewer than 20% of Haitians turned out for the flawed election that brought the current President Michel Martelly to power in 2011.  The Martelly government has not held an election since, and legislative elections are now three years overdue. Determined to consolidate dictatorial power, the Martelly government has systematically attempted to defame Lavalas, throwing out one set of accusations after another against President Aristide and other respected Lavalas leaders such as former Senator Myrlande Liberis-Pavert. 

While President Aristide is being threatened with arrest, former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier – who is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Haitians during his rule – is living freely in Haiti, and has been openly embraced by Martelly.

Since the devastating earthquake and the cholera epidemic, doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals training at UNIFA are needed more than ever. President Aristide must be able to carry on with his vital work as an educator.

The last time President Aristide was summoned, thousands of people surrounded the courthouse, chanting: “If they call our brother, they call all of us.” We echo their voices. Enough is enough. It is time for food, housing, health care and education.  It is time for free, fair, and inclusive elections in Haiti, not dictatorship, so the urgent needs of the population can be addressed. The arrest warrant and other false charges aimed at President Aristide and his supporters should be dropped once and for all.

Signers:
Danny Glover, Actor and Human Rights Activist
Selma James, Author and International Coordinator, Global Women’s Strike (GWS)/UK
Pierre Labossiere, Co-founder, Haiti Action Committee
Mumia Abu-Jamal, Journalist and death row prisoner
Jerry Acosta, Senior National Representative, Utility Workers Union of America
Dr. Adrianne Aron, Liberation Psychologist
Kali Akuno, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM)
ALBATV (Venezuela)
Alexandria House, Los Angeles, CA
Bilal Mafundi Ali, Organization of African American Unity
Jahahara Amen-RA Alkebulan-Ma'at, Founder, Africans Deserve Reparations
Akubundu Amazu-Lott, Central Committee AAPRP
Jack Albert, Windsor Peace Coalition, Windsor, Ontario
A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition - Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (U.S.)
Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)
Ayuko Babu, Pan African Film Festival
Michael Bass, School of the Americas Watch
Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Committee (BALASC)
Richard Becker, A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition - (U.S.)
Dennis J. Bernstein, Executive Producer KPFA/Flashpoints
Johanna Berrigan, House of Grace Catholic Worker, Philadelphia, Pa.
Diana Block, California Coalition for Women Prisoners
Diana Bohn, Nicaragua Center for Community Action, Berkeley, CA
Blase and Theresa Bonpane, Directors, Office of the Americas
Richard Brown, San Francisco 8/Committee for Defense of Human Rights
Dr. Siri Brown, Chair of Ethnic Studies, Merritt College
Mark Burton, Visiting Professor, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK
Reverend Richard Meri Ka Ra Byrd
Joey Cain, SF LGBT Pride Celebration Committee Board Member
Rossana Cambron, member of Military Families Speak Out
Dolores Canales, Organizer and activist
Laura Carlsen
Andrea Casher, PsyD, ABPP 
Chiapas Support Committee – Los Angeles
CIP Americas Program
Terry Collins, KPOO
Brian Concannon, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH)
Shandre Delaney, Human Rights Coalition-Fed Up and Abolitionist Law Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Jacques Depelchin, Historian
Dignity and Power Now – Los Angeles
Emory Douglas, former Minister of Culture, Black Panther Party
Sister Maureen Duignan, Executive Director, East Bay Sanctuary Covenant
Carolina Dutton, Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition (BALASC)
Derethia DuVal, PhD, MFT, SFSU Director of Counseling & Psychological Services Center
Mia Engberg, Documentary Filmmaker, Sweden
Ecumenical Peace Institute/CALC
Linda Evans, Organizer, All Of Us Or None
Leslie Fleming, Director, Anthropology Program, Merritt College, Oakland, CA
Laura Flynn, Author
FMLN - Northern California
Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular (Honduras)
Cindy Forster, Professor, Scripps College, California
Tova Fry, Workers World Party
Mattias Gardell, Professor Comparative Religion, Uppsala University, Sweden
Anna-Maria Gentili, Professor History and Politics, Bologna University, Italy, retired
David Gespass, former President, National Lawyers Guild
David Gibson, Peacehome Campaigns
Eric Gjertsen and Dean Kendall, Payday men’s network
Andy Griggs, LA Laborfest
Deeg Gold, LAGAI Queer Insurrection
Sister Stella Marie Goodpasture, OP, Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose, CA
Guerilla Food Not Bombs
Ben Guillory
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Archdiocese of Detroit
Professor Shadrack Gutto, PhD, University of South Africa
Daletha Hayden, RN and activist
Genesy Hernandez, Union Salvadorena de Estudiantes Universitarios, UC Berkeley
Charles Hinton, Inkworks Press, worker-owned collective
Marcus Holder, ILWU Local 10 delegate to San Francisco Labor Council
Hondurans in Resistance – NorCal
Gerald Horne, Historian
Phil Hutchings, Civil Rights activist (SNCC)
Nehanda Imara, AAPRP Organizer & Faculty at AFRAM Merritt College
Dr. Nia Imara, Harvard University
International Action Center
Kokayi Kwa Jitahidi, Campaign Director LAANE (Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy)
Sister Gloria Marie Jones, OP, Congregational Prioress Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose
Hank Jones, Committee for the Defense of Human Rights
Phoebe Jones, PhD, Quaker, Global Women’s Strike
James Jordan and Chuck Kaufman, National Co-Coordinators, Alliance for Global Justice
William Joyce, Chair, Fr. Bill O'Donnell Social Justice Committee
Malaika Kambon, Photojournalist
Sara Kershnar, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Nadine Khoury-Quesada, RN, Trauma Nurse, San Francisco General Hospital
Nunu Kidane, Director, Priority Africa Network
Marcus Kryshka, Executive Vice President, National Lawyers Guild
Eusi Kwayana, Caribbean Activist Without Borders
Tchaiko Kwayana, Educator
Labor Community Strategy Center (Los Angeles)
Regina Day Langhout, PhD, Provost, Oakes College, University of California at Santa Cruz
Marilyn Langlois, Richmond CA Planning Commissioner
Gloria La Riva, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
Rev. Dr. Phil Lawson, Pastor Emeritus, Easter Hill United Methodist Church
Richard Lichtman, Professor Emeritus, Philosophy, The Wright Institute, Berkeley, CA
George Lippman, Vice-Chair, Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission [for identification only]
Rev. Dr. Lewis E. Logan, II
Jose Lopez, Executive Director, Puerto Rican Cultural Center, Chicago
Nina Lopez, Coordinator Latin America working group GWS/Argentina, UK
Jacqui Lovell, PhD Candidate, York St. John University, U.K
Barbara Lubin, Director Middle East Children’s Alliance
M. Brinton Lykes, Associate Director, Center for Human Rights & International Justice, Boston College
Robert Majzler, University of California at Santa Cruz
Claude Marks, Freedom Archives
Gayle McLaughlin, Mayor, City of Richmond, CA
Anita Schrader McMillan, Warwick Medical School, Coventry, UK
David McPhail, Ruling Elder, St. John's Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, CA
Judith Mirkinson, San Francisco Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Wazir Mohamed, Associate Professor, Sociology
Alejandro Molina, National Boricua Human Rights Network
Movimiento Cumbe Afrosalud Barlovento (Venezuela)
Leslie Mullin, San Francisco Women in Black
Michael Neocosmos, Director UHURU program, Rhodes University, South Africa
Robert Nixon, School of the Americas Watch – Oakland, East Bay
Kwazi Nkrumah, Co-Chair, Martin Luther King Coalition of Greater Los Angeles
Kiilu Nyasha, Host/Freedom is a Constant Struggle
Oakland-Santiago de Cuba Sister Cities Association
Ofraneh (Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña, Honduras)
Catherine Owen, Human Rights Committee & District Labor Council, Windsor, Ontario
Tanalis Padilla, Professor of History, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, U.S.
Rosa Peñate, FMLN – Northern California
Peter Phillips, PhD, President Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored
Kevin Pina, Documentary Filmmaker
Richard Pithouse, Professor Politics and International Studies, Rhodes University
Suyapa Portillo, Comité Solidario Graciela Garcia
Margaret Power, Professor of History, Illinois Institute of Technology
Margaret Prescod, Host “Sojourner Truth,” Pacifica Radio & Women of Color/GWS/US
Porfirio Quintano, Coordinator, Honduran Resistance FNRP Northern California
James Quesada, PhD, Chair and Professor, Department of Anthropology, San Francisco State University (SFSU)
Kate Raphael, Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT), KPFA Women's Magazine
Mary Ratcliff, Editor, San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper
Dr. Willie Ratcliff, Publisher, San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper
Barbara Rhine, Attorney
Wilson Riles, Oakland C.A.N.
Walter Riley, Attorney, Chair of Board, Haiti Emergency Relief Fund
William I. Robinson, Professor of Sociology, University of California-Santa Barbara
Robert Roth, Co-founder, Haiti Action Committee
Alex Sanchez, Executive Director, Homies Unidos
Carolyn Scarr, Ecumenical Peace Institute/CALC
Azadeh Shahshahani, President, National Lawyers Guild
Dan Siegel, Attorney, Oakland, CA
Dr. Vito Signorile, Professor Emeritus, Windsor, Ontario
Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, National Council of Elders
AJ Smith, Artist, Windsor, Ontario
Bob Smith, Brandywine Peace Community
Susan Gold Smith, Professor Emerita, Windsor, Ontario
Dale Sorensen, Director, Marin Interfaith Task force on the Americas
Jeb Sprague, Author and Instructor, UCSB
Patricia St. Onge, Seven Generations, Nafsi ya Jamii: The Soul Community
Ruth Todasco, Every Mother is a Working Mother Network
Clarence Thomas, member ILWU Local 10
Willie Thompson, Professor Emeritus Sociology, City College of San Francisco
Walter Turner, President, Board of Directors, Global Exchange
Akinyele Umoja, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of African American Studies, Georgia State University
Lisa Valenti, US Cuba Sister City Association
Sister Judy Vaughan, CSJ
Gloria Verdieu
Margaret Villamizar, Chair, Windsor Peace Coalition, Windsor, Ontario
Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, Congolese Historian, Philosopher
Kristin Wartman, Author and Journalist
Tom Webb, Oakland Catholic Worker
David Welsh, delegate, San Francisco Labor Council
Michel Wenzer, Documentary Filmmaker, Sweden
Laura Whitehorn, former political prisoner
Witness For Peace Southwest
Michael Wong
Workers World Party
Pauline Wynter
Mario Zelaya, Father Bill O'Donnell Social Justice Committee, Berkeley, CA

Affiliations listed for identification purposes only


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Loyola Graduate Singer and Songwriter Riva Précil's Band Bohio Music Releases Its First Single Song titled "1492"

By Michelle Karshan Communications

Photo from Riva Précil's Facebook page.
Bohio Music releases first single “1492” -- an upbeat World music song in Haitian Creole incorporating traditional Haitian roots/racine, jazz, Ibo rhythms with a Mali influence.

August 5, 2014, Brooklyn, New York – Monvelyno Alexis and lead singer, Riva Nyri Précil, of the recently formed Bohio Music band, are pleased to announce the release of their first single. Written by Alexis, 1492, a 5.25 minute single, is an upbeat World music song in Haitian Creole encompassing Haitian roots/racine, West African Ibo rhythms and infused with jazz and a Mali influence.  1492 is a powerful anthem that will move its audience to jump up and dance as it recounts the history of Haiti's colonization and calls out loudly for renewed sovereignty of Haiti today.  See 1492 on CDBaby.com  See English translation of 1492.

The song’s release is timely as Haiti celebrates Bwa Kayiman, the anniversary of the birth of its slave uprising in 1791 that successfully freed Haiti from French rule and slavery in 1804. And, very shortly, the United Nations Security Council will once again vote on whether to continue its controversial peacekeeping mission in Haiti that many Haitians look upon as an occupying force that also brought the deadly disease, Cholera, to Haiti. Bohio Music’s 1492 calls on Haitians for renewed hope, strength and mobilization.

Currently based in Brooklyn, New York, both Alexis and Précil grew up in Haiti during a hopeful time. Following the overthrow of the Duvalier dictatorship, Haiti’s vibrant democracy movement blossomed permitting the flourishing of uncensored arts and music. Both Alexis and Précil enriched themselves studying the diverse arts and culture of Haiti.
Monvelyno Alexis, an acoustic guitar player, singer/songwriter, as well as an artist, originally performed with the prominent Haitian Vodou-rock band, RAM, in Haiti, and has several albums under his belt, including Kouzen AzakamedeConscience State of Mind, and Nou La together with Markus Schwartz. Most recently Alexis sang three songs on the soundtrack of Assassin’s Creed, the Ubisoft game that sold more than 73 millions copies by the end of 2013.
Riva Nyri Précil is a singer, songwriter, dancer, jeweler and author of a forthcoming children’s book in Haitian Creole. Précil attended New York City’s Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts and earned her degree in Music Therapy at Loyola University in New Orleans.
Lois Wilcken, Ph.D., an ethnomusicologist, Executive Director of La Troupe Makandal, and author of The Drums of Vodou and co-editor of Island Sounds in the Global City,  writes that “1492 mixes a sonic brew that blends Haiti's traditional Ibo beat (recalling the resistance to enslavement of Ibo ancestors) with soaring jazz horns, the West African kora (harp-lute), and the magical voices of Monvelyno Alexis and Riva Nyri Précil.  Lifting the silence around the Haitian Revolution, which defeated the world's most powerful army of the day, the song sends out a new and improved ‘Yes we can’ message, evoking history and culture as the necessary means.  Bohio Music, ayibobo!”

Additional Reviews: See 1492 on CDBaby.com 

Please contact Michelle Karshan Communications at Michelle.Karshan@gmail.com for additional info, high-resolution images, interviews, etc. 

Twitter:         https://twitter.com/BohioMusic

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

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

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.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

New Charges in Dominique Case are meant to Draw Attention Away from Martelly's Narco Controversy

By: Jeb Sprague - HaitiAnalysis

 Like other cases of political violence in Haiti, it is vital that the killers of Haitian journalist Jean Dominique (murdered in 2000) be brought to justice. Over the years though it is clear that the case has been politicized and exploited for political gain on different occasions. From what I have gathered the new charges related to the Jean Dominique case became known in December and do not implicate Aristide. The charges also appear to rely solely upon one account from a former security official who was implicated in drug trafficking and previously cut deals with the U.S. justice department to shorten his time in U.S. federal prison.

The story and the inaccurate way in which it has been covered has been pushed by Martelly's press agent Guy Delva. Guy Delva formerly worked for Reuters, but currently is a press agent for the Martelly regime. 


The timing of the court charges and the inaccurate way in which Delva has explained the court charges (picked up by Reuters and repeated uncritically and ad nauseum by groups like reporters sans frontiers and rightwing commentators) are meant to draw attention away from the growing crisis over the Martelly government's connections with the narco trade.  By this, I refer to the arrest in late 2013 of Martelly's close friend Daniel Evinks with two dozen kilos of marijuana. Since then Evinks has gone missing. The Martelly government does not want coverage of the missing narco trafficker/Martelly associate Daniel Evenks (sometimes spelled “Evinx”).


Other than a piece in the Sentinel, the Evinks story has not been getting coverage in the international media and the English speaking press, even though it is a big story in Haiti. 

Evinks supposedly threatened to talk if he was arrested and it has been reported that he met with the DEA in late December and disappeared in early January.

The Martelly government does not want this story coming out in the international press, especially in the lead up to elections. They are rushing now to collect voter ID numbers and telephone numbers as the "international community" is pushing for them to finally think about an election. According to a well placed source, Martelly's people by gathering voter IDs  are then able to use these to buy food kits (for distribution) from aid agencies and then resell them to the Haitian government at double or triple the cost. This is one way in which Martelly regime officials have been funneling money to themselves.

For more background on the Dominique case see my 2007 interview with IJDH attorney Brian Concannon and BAI attorney Mario Joseph on the Jean Dominique murder investigation. Also listen to these recent talks on Flaspoints radio for other perspectives. The flash points interviews are especially important because they look critically at the source of the recent allegations made against Myrlande Liberis-Pavert, Aristide, and others. They also provide more historical context.

Since 2004 Haiti's sovereignty has been undermined. The post-coup regime and its allies ransacked Aristide's house. For years they've had the best possible opportunity, and ample incentive, to find any credible evidence against Aristide and not just for Jean Dominique's murder but for countless other allegations that were made. They've found nothing. They now resort to the same tactics of insinuation that helped set up the 2004 coup that made Haiti safe for Jean Claude Duvalier's return.


Monday, January 13, 2014

In Memory of those Who Died in Jan 12 Haiti’s Earthquake: A New Direction for a Better Haiti


by Wadner Pierre
Yesterday, in Haiti and around the world, people remembered the tragic images of dead bodies on the streets of, Haiti’s Capital, Port-Au-Prince and those who were fortunate enough to survive this natural tragedy.

On the 4th anniversary of this tragedy, Pope Francis gave Haiti its first cardinal, Monsignor Chibly Langlois, the bishop of Southern Haiti, to lead a church that intensely needed new leadership and new blood.

Yet, let us reflect--four years after this tragedy, what have we done to change the living conditions of the people who are still living under makeshifts tents? What we have done to effectively rebuild a better country? Four years later, what and/or how have we learned to do a better job and to bring social change that is needed in this country? The latter is a lot to ask, but it is the right question to pose?

 Haiti’s political establishment needs to come together to present to Haitian people a social project that will fit all classes—poor, rich, and middle class (if there is one). A social project that will include better school for all children, hospitals, universities and better pay for wage-workers.

It is obvious that the country is tired of “Aba,” “fok li ale,” and “rache manyok.” We need a new political approach that is based on the democratic process, which is: “One person, One vote.” Everybody should be in—included.

Our judicial system needs to be challenged to work efficiently and functionally, so those who committed atrocities against the Haitian people can be tried for their wrongdoings, whatever the political group they belong to.

Haiti will rise when all Haitians can have access to their basics needs. We all have to agree that the social inequality that plagues this country is too wide. Something needs to be changed to move this country forward. We have to be more open for dialogue than fighting each other because we do not share each other’s political belief.

It is undoubtedly crucial that Haitians from all walks of life have to stand and say, “We need a new Haiti. And it is possible to have this new Haiti.” We should not look back to only praise those who died in gifting us this nation, but also to build on what they earned to make this country a better place for its people.

May we learn from this Earthquake to come together when our national interest is at stake, and knowing that the wellbeing of each Haitian is the wellbeing of all Haitians. May God bless Haiti, and may He bless Haitian people and the country’s leadership.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nelson Mandel/Madiba (1918-2013): The Leader that Brings the World as One

 by Wadner Pierre

President Nelson Mandela brings the world leaders together to honor him in a memorial service that lasts nearly ten hours. At the forefront of the service was President Barack Obama. President Obama will be remembered for his historical,  passionate and  political speech in a foreign land, and his handshaking with Cuba's president, Raul Castro.

No surprise that President Barack Obama was the right speaker for the memorial service of  late South African President Nelson Mandela.

 What a beautiful and historical day, what an extraordinary moment, what a coincidence that the world had never seen before and will probably never see again. Madela was the first black president of South Africa, and  Obama is the first African-American president of the United States.

President Omaba's speech at President Mandela memorial service will be known as his best political speech in a foreign land, his father's continent for years to come.


President Obama tells South Africans that their leader is unique and that the world will never have another Mandela.

 "We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again," he said in his speech to praise Mandela's fight for freedom and equality in South Africa.

President Obama thanks and praises South African people for their contribution to freedom in the world through  their leader. 


He said, "To the people of South Africa -- people of every race and every walk of life -- the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us."

Even after his death, Mandela can help bring peace in other part of the world. President Obama's handshaking with President Raul Castro was a sign that the US is ready to make peace and reconcile to his political foes. This handshaking adds to the telephone call Obama made  to the Iranian President  Hassan Rouhani last September.


 Madiba, Mandela's clan's name,  once again, brought the world together. Thank you Madiba for being such an example of what a powerful leader should do to make his country and  the rest world a better place.

Ayibobo pou ou Madibo.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

President Obama Told Republicans in Congress He Won't Negotiate Obamacare


By Wadner Pierre

Speaking  at the 43rd Annual Congressional Black Caucus Phoenix Awards Dinner, President Obama urged America to pay its debt and to fund his landmark signature, the Affordable Care Act know as Obamacare. The U.S. Supreme  last year upheld the Affordable Care Act and made it the law of the land.

 He said, “You'd be willing to shut down the government and potentially default for the first time in United States history because it bothers you so much that we're actually going to make sure that everybody has affordable health care. Let me say as clearly as I can: It is not going to happen.”

Conservative Republicans/Tea Party, vow to fight to defund Obamacare. Moderate republicans see this battle as a threat for their struggling party, and  could put the GOP at risk in the 2014 and 2016 presidential elections failing to avoid the shurtdown the government.

President has said Obamacare will allow millions of uninsured Americans to buy health care, but others have said Obamacare will hurt some by making them paying more for their premium.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Billions to Haiti, Little to Haitians


60-year-old Georgian, Robert Norman Chantal hands himself to military police at the School of Americas. Chantal as many did in the past, crossed the SOA's fence as via a latter to express himself. Photo by Wadner PierreIn this photo, lawyer Bill Quigley talks to thousands of SOA Watch supporters in Fort Benning, Ga in Nov. 2012. Eh urged the matchers to keep the pressure on until the School of Americas is closed.  Photo by Wadner Pierre.
 By Bill Quigley- Originally published on HuffingtonPost
Despite billions in aid that were supposed to go to the Haitian people, hundreds of thousands are still homeless, living in shanty tent camps as the effects from the earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010, remain.
The earthquake devastated Haiti in January 2010, killing, according to Oxfam International, 250,000 people and injuring another 300,000; 360,000 Haitians are still displaced and living hand to mouth in 496 tent camps across the country, according to the International Organization of Migration. Most eat only one meal a day.
Cholera followed the earthquake. Now widely blamed on poor sanitation by UN troops, it has claimed7,750 lives and sickened more than half a million. The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and its Haitian partner Bureau des Avocats Internationaux have filed legal claims against the UN on behalf of thousands of cholera victims. Recently the Haitian government likewise demanded more than $2 billion from the international community to address the scourge of cholera.
Haiti was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 55 percent of the population living below the poverty line of $1.25 a day. About 60 percent of the population is engaged in agriculture, the primary source of income in rural areas. Haiti imports more than 55 percent of its food. The average Haitian eats only 73 percent of the daily minimum recommended by the World Health Organization. Even before the earthquake 40 percent of households (3.8 million people) were undernourished and 3 of 10 children suffered from chronic malnutrition.
Despite an outpouring of global compassion, some estimate as high as $3 billion in individual donations and another $6 billion in governmental assistance, too little has changed. Part of the problem is that the international community and non-government organizations (Haiti has sometimes been called the Republic of NGOs) has bypassed Haitian non-governmental agencies and the Haitian government itself. The Center for Global Development analysis of where they money went concluded that overall less than 10 percent went to the government of Haiti and less than 1 percent went to Haitian organizations and businesses. A full one-third of the humanitarian funding for Haiti was actually returned to donor countries to reimburse them for their own civil and military work in the country and the majority of the rest went to international NGOs and private contractors.
With hundreds of thousands of people still displaced, the international community has built less than 5,000 new homes. Despite the fact that crime and murder are low in Haiti (Haiti had a murder rate of 6.9 of every hundred thousand, while New Orleans has a rate of 58), huge amounts of money are spent on a UN force which many Haitians do not want. The annual budget of the United Nations “peacekeeping” mission, MINUSTAH, for 2012-13, or $644 million, would pay for the construction of more than 58,000 homes at $11,000 per home.
There are many stories of projects hatched by big names in the international community into which millions of donated dollars were poured only to be abandoned because the result was of no use to the Haitian people. For example, internationals created a model housing community in Zoranje. A $2 million project built 60 houses that now sit abandoned, according to Haiti Grassroots Watch.
Deborah Sontag in the New York Times tells the stories of many other bungles in a critical article which reported only a very small percentage of the funds have been focused on creating permanent housing for the hundreds of thousands displaced. Many expect 200,000 will be still in displacement camps a year from now.
The majority of the hundreds of thousands of people still displaced by the earthquake have no other housing options. Those who were renters cannot find places to stay because there is a dramatic shortage of rental housing. Many of those who owned homes before the earthquake have been forced to move back into their despite the fact that these homes are unsafe. A survey by USAID found that housing options are so few that people have moved back into more than 50,000 “red” buildings that engineers said should be demolished.
Most of the people living under tents are on private property and are subjected to official and private violence in forced evictions, according to Oxfam. More than 60,000 have been forcibly evicted from over 150 tent camps with little legal protection. Oxfam reports many in camps fear leaving their camps to seek work or food worried that their tents and belongings will be destroyed in their absence.
Dozens of Haitian human rights organizations and international allies are organizing against forced evictions in a campaign called Under Tents Haiti.
The fact that these problems remain despite billions in aid is mostly the result of the failure of the international community to connect with Haitian civil society and to work with the Haitian government. Certainly the Haitian government has demonstrated problems but how can a nation be expected to grow unless it leads its own reconstruction? Likewise, Haitian civil society, its churches, its human rights and community organizations, can be real partners in the rebuilding of the country. But the international community has to take the time to work in a respectful relationship with Haiti. Or else the disasters of the earthquake and hurricanes will keep hammering our sisters and brothers in Haiti, the people in our hemisphere who have already been victimized far too frequently.
Bill Quigley is the Current director of Loyola Law Clinic at New Orleans, and CCR Associate Legal Director
 Amber Ramanauskas  contributed to this articleco