Monday, May 31, 2010

Haiti: Struggle and Solidarity After the Cataclysm

An Interview with Batay Ouvriye

by David L. Wilson, World War 4 Report
June 1, 2010

It is now more than four months since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, leveling much of the Port-au-Prince area and killing nearly a quarter of a million people. Haiti has dropped out of the headlines—predictably—but the crisis hasn't gone away. Earthquake survivors still have very limited access to food, employment, and medical care; most of the 1.7 million people left homeless by the earthquake (according to new figures from the United Nations) go on living in the hundreds of improvised encampments in and around the capital.

I had an email conversation in April with Paul Philomé, a spokesperson for the leftist group Batay Ouvriye (Workers' Struggle), about grassroots organizing in Port-au-Prince since the earthquake. Batay Ouvriye is best known outside Haiti for its unionization efforts over the past two decades in the tariff-exempt apparel assembly plants—the sector that the "international community" is again promoting as an engine of economic development. [...]

Read the full article:

For a video of Conlutas’ March delegation to Haiti, go to:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Agriculture and Haiti's Long-Term Future: An Analysis

By Beverly Bell, Lambi Fund Newsletter
May 2010

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 to no longer 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? [...]

Read the full article:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Monsanto: "A Dangerous New Earthquake"

Open letter from Chavannes Jean-Baptiste
Mouvman Peyizan Papay (MPP, Papaye Peasant Movement)
May 14, 2010


There is a dangerous new earthquake more dangerous for the long-term than than which occurred on January 12. It is not a threat but a very strong attack on peasant agriculture, on the farmers, on biodiversity, on native seeds that we are defending, on what remains of our environment in Haiti.

The Haitian government is using the earthquake to sell or give away the country to the imperialist forces and their principal instruments which are the multinationals. La Via Campesina identified the transnationals as one of the most powerful enemies of the people, and the pesticide businesses as principal enemies of peasant agriculture, the environment in general and the climate in particular.

I remember at the last meeting of the CCI, I said that in Haiti, our campaign against the transnationals begins with the struggle against the agrofuels businesses because the people do not know much about Monsanto, which still doesn't have operations in Haiti. The news of Monsanto's presence through WINNER and USAID arrived about 15 days after COCHABAMBA.
Monsanto is using the earthquake with the anti-national criminal complicity of the government of Rene Preval to enter Haiti to enter through a "gift of death," which is 475 tons of GMO maize. This gift of death has as its objective: to open the door of the country to this powerful company that is destroying the planet, which is destroying peasant agriculture, with the farmers.

We cannot accept that. We must begin to mobilize against this project, against Monsanto in Haiti. We need a strong unit in Haiti and a strong international solidarity to confront Monsanto and all the forces of death that want to end the full sovereignty of this small country that took its independence in the blood of its sons and daughters since 1804.

The MPP gave the sign of the struggle with a statement on RADIO (VWA Peyizan) VOICE OF THE PEASANTS and other Radios asking farmers to bury and burn all the maize seeds given by the Ministry of Agriculture. We are planning a big march from the CEDE of the MPP of Papaye to the city of Hinche on the occasion of International Environment Day on June 5. We will make the march on Friday June 4th. We will invite the the organizations of the LVC and others to be present. It's one step among many that we must take.

We will contact all the peasant organizations and allied organizations to design the strategy of struggle. We ask now for the solidarity of sister organizations and international allies.



Chavannes Jean-Baptiste
Spokesman for the MPP and MPNKP
Member of the CCI of LVC

Monday, May 24, 2010

Poverty-Wage Assembly Plants as Development Strategy in Haiti: An Interview with the Center for the Promotion of Women Workers

By Beverly Bell and Tory Field, Other Worlds Are Possible
May 20, 2010

The U.S. Congress has passed bi-partisan legislation, the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act, that would extend and expand current trade law with Haiti to increase U.S. imports of Haitian assembled textiles. Passed May 5 and 6 by the House and Senate, respectively, the bill is part of the push by U.S., U.N., other international leaders, and businesses to expand the low-wage assembly industry as the linchpin of Haiti's post-earthquake recovery. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.

"This important step responds to the needs of the Haitian people for more tools to lift themselves from poverty, while standing to benefit U.S. consumers,'' said a statement by former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton about the bill. [...]

Read the full article:

See also:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Relief Organizations Help Haitians Fight Hunger

Ten years later, the program feeds 2,000 kids a day, 10,000 meals a week, year in and year out. Trost raises the money, but what makes this program stand out from many international relief programs is that all operations are totally run by a Haitian staff, which Trost says is key.

PBS NewsHour
May 18, 2010

JEFFREY BROWN: Now: Haiti four months later, still coming to grips with the aftermath of the earthquake.

Dave Iverson of KQED San Francisco has the second of two reports on the role of aid groups in the recovery -- tonight's focus, helping Haitians feed themselves. [...]

View video (with transcript):

See also:
"Haitian Communities Need to Be Involved in the Distribution"

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Haitian Farmers Commit to Burning Monsanto Hybrid Seeds

By Beverly Bell, Huffington Post
May 17, 2010

"A new earthquake" is what peasant farmer leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) called the news that Monsanto will be donating 60,000 seed sacks (475 tons) of hybrid corn seeds and vegetable seeds, some of them treated with highly toxic pesticides. The MPP has committed to burning Monsanto's seeds, and has called for a march to protest the corporation's presence in Haiti on June 4, for World Environment Day.

In an open letter sent of May 14, Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, the Executive Director of MPP and the spokesperson for the National Peasant Movement of the Congress of Papay (MPNKP), called the entry of Monsanto seeds into Haiti "a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds..., and on what is left our environment in Haiti."[1] Haitian social movements have been vocal in their opposition to agribusiness imports of seeds and food, which undermines local production with local seed stocks. They have expressed special concern about the import of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). [...]

Read the full article:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ignoring the Grassroots in Latin America

Our independent media tend to ignore grassroots struggles in Latin America and the Caribbean until something happens that gets them covered by NPR or the New York Times.

by David L. Wilson, World War 4 Report
May 1, 2010

During several days in early August 2009, thousands of Haitian workers walked off their jobs at assembly plants near the airport in northern Port-au-Prince and marched into the center of the city to demand an increase in the national minimum wage. Supported by public university students—who back in June had added the wage increase to their own list of demands—the strikers tied up traffic, surrounded government offices, tore down United Nations flags, and threw rocks at vehicles of the 9,000-member UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), a military force which has occupied Haiti since 2004. At one point the vehicle carrying US embassy chargé d'affaires Thomas Tighe was damaged, although the embassy insisted he hadn't been a target of the protests.

These dramatic protests barely got a mention in the US corporate media. This is not surprising: US opinion makers want us to believe that the workers, mostly young women who stitch garments for big US and Canadian apparel companies, are grateful for the chance to work at backbreaking jobs for starvation wages (they were calling for a raise to $5 a day). In fact, just as the workers were protesting, former U.S. president Bill Clinton, now the UN special envoy for Haiti, was pushing a plan to expand Haiti's assembly plant sector. Thousands of wildcat strikers marching on the capital clearly had no place in the corporate narrative.

What is more surprising is the apparent silence of the progressive US media about the protests. [...]

Read the full article:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

From Charity to Solidarity in Haiti: Lessons for the Policy Makers (Part III)

Beverly Bell, Truthout op-ed
Friday 30 April 2010

Humanitarian aid initiatives organized by Haitian communities offer respectful, democratic contrasts to the multibillion-dollar aid effort of the international community, much of which is wasted at best and destructive at worst. "Embedded in the local humanitarian responses is the model of a society premised on generosity and dignity," says a report released April 27 by Other Worlds: "From Disaster Aid to Solidarity: Best Practices in Meeting the Needs of Haiti's Earthquake Survivors."

The report examines the problems of the US- and UN-dominated aid operation in Haiti and documents ten effective alternatives created by Haitian community and peasant groups and by ally organizations throughout the world. The cases are just a sampling of many more. The report offers ten recommendations for how international allies can be most effective and respectful in supporting Haitian-led recovery and reconstruction.[...]

Read the full article:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

US Military Enforces Attacks on Haitian Unions

The Real News
April 29-May 1, 2010

Didier Dominique: US military helping to repress organizing of textile worker's unions in Haiti

Didier Dominique is a trade unionist and a prominent spokesperson for Batay Ouvriye. Batay Ouvriye is an organization that regroups factory unions and committees, workers’ associations and militants, all struggling in Haiti for the construction of an independent, combative and democratic union movement, and to organize wage-workers, self-employed workers as well as the unemployed for the defense of their rights.[...]

View the interviews: