Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Aid and Reconstruction for Haiti: The Grassroots Perspective

Three articles by Beverly Bell.

Raising Up Another Haiti
Common Dreams, February 23, 2010

As Haiti moves forward from the current point of devastation of its population, capital city, and economy, what could a different nation look like?

Who knows better than the Haitian majority? Why not ask them what they need and want?

Their perspectives have been sorely lost from the post-earthquake plans of some of the world's strongest powers. [...]

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Haiti: Peasant Organizations Provide Humanitarian Aid
Daily Kos, February 24, 2010

Yon sèl dwèt pa manje kalalou,” says Christroi Petit-homme, a member of a peasant farmer organization. You can’t eat gumbo with one finger. Peasant groups throughout rural Haiti form the fingers of the hand, reaching out with humanitarian aid for those left bereft after the earthquake.

U.S. Ambassador Ken Merten said at a February 12 State Department briefing, "In terms of humanitarian aid delivery, frankly, it's working really well, and I believe that this will be something that people will be able to look back on in the future as a model for how we've been able to sort ourselves out as donors on the ground and responding to an earthquake." Judging from hundreds of interviews, that impression is not shared by survivors of the earthquake. [...]

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A Future for Agriculture, A Future for Haiti
Upside Down World, March 2, 2010

"We plant but we can’t produce or market. We plant but we have no food to eat. We want agriculture to improve so our country can live and so we peasants can live, too."

- Rilo Petit-homme, peasant organizer from St. Marc, Haiti

What would it take to transform Haiti’s economy such that its role in the global economy is no longer that of providing cheap labor for sweatshops? What would it take for hunger to no longer be the norm, for the country no longer to depend on imports and hand-outs, and for Port-au-Prince’s slums no longer to contain 85% of the city’s residents? What would it take for the hundreds of thousands left homeless by the earthquake to have a secure life, with income? [...]

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Beverly Bell coordinates Other Worlds, , which promotes social and economic alternatives. She is also associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies.

Reminder: People in the New York metropolitan area can learn more about grassroots perpectives at "Haiti Beyond Disaster: Planting Seeds of Change," a discussion about Haiti's Mouvman Peyizan Papay (Papaye Peasant Movement, MPP) and the Seeds for Haiti campaign, with special guests Joanne Veillard and Bastien Jean-Baptiste, Haitian-American New Yorkers who visited Haiti's Central Plateau with a Seeds for Haiti delegation January 7-11, then survived the earthquake in Port-au-Prince.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

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Friday, March 5, 2010

"Rebuilding Haiti" -- the Sweatshop Hoax

When the professors and politicians say they will help Haitian workers by giving them jobs, what they really mean is that they plan to take the jobs away from Dominican, Mexican, and Central American workers -- and pay the Haitians even less for doing the same work.

by David L. Wilson, MRZine
March 4, 2010

Within days of a January 12 earthquake that devastated much of southern Haiti, the New York Times was using the disaster to promote a United Nations plan for drastically expanding the country's garment assembly industry, which employs low-paid workers to stitch apparel for duty-free export, mainly to the U.S. market. This, according to several opinion pieces in the Times, is the way to rebuild Haiti.

The outlines of the plan were drawn up a year earlier, in January 2009, by Oxford economist Paul Collier, but the leading proponents of development through sweatshops have been liberal Democrats in the United States. [...]

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