Friday, December 2, 2011

"Haiti--Open for Business" and Interview With Batay Ouvriye's Yannick Etienne

Haiti--Open for Business
Haiti Grassroots Watch/Ayiti Kale Je
November 29, 2011

From Haiti Grassroots Watch
“Haiti is open for business.”

That’s what President Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly said on November 28 at a ceremony inaugurating a giant industrial zone being built in the north of Haiti.

Across Haiti and abroad, Martelly, his government, and “advisors” like former President Bill Clinton have been pushing Haiti as a foreign investor’s dream come true.

“We are ready for new ideas and new businesses, and are creating the conditions necessary for Haiti to become a natural and attractive destination for foreign investment,” the new president said last fall in New York City. [...]

See the full report:

Controversy over Haiti’s development
The Stream, Al Jazeera
November 30, 2011

A new industrial park in Haiti will create jobs, but is it leading the country in a “race to the bottom”? [...]

[Includes discussion with Yannick Etienne, a spokesperson for Batay Ouvriye, which is involved in organizing the SOTA union for assembly plant workers.]

See the full report:

See also:
Investigation Finds Evidence of Violations of Union Rights in Garment Industry

"Rebuilding Haiti" -- the Sweatshop Hoax

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Five years for a drop of water

Ayiti Kale Je-Haiti Grassroots Watch
November 3, 2011

Port-au-Prince, 4 November 2011 – Two-and-a-half million dollars (US$2.5 million) to supply water to several marginal neighborhoods in the capital. Approved in 2006. But, five years later, the water isn’t running yet. Children are still in the streets bearing bottles and buckets.

The project is almost finished. “The end of October,” according to the funder. But not yet.

Why? And why five years? Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW) and the students at the State University’s Faculty of Human Sciences investigated. [...]

Read the full article:

Friday, August 26, 2011

January 12 victims - Abandoned like a stray dog

Ayiti Kale Je-Haiti Grassroots Watch
August 22, 2011

Eighty thousand tiny houses dot the cities and countryside in the capital and other parts of Haiti devastated by the January 12, 2010, earthquake that killed up to 230,000, damaged or destroyed 171,584 homes and displaced over a million people.

The Bill Clinton-led Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) has approved $254.5 million worth of housing repair and reconstruction projects that will reportedly fix, upgrade or build about 41,759 housing units.

The new government – led by singer Joseph Michel Martelly – recently organized “Reconstruction Week.” Among other activities, Clinton and the president inaugurated a “housing exposition” with over 60 model homes and a new mortgage program called “Kay Pa M” (“My House”).

Does that mean the reconstruction is off to a good start? Will the 634,000 people still living in Haiti’s 1,001 camps, and the undoubtedly tens of thousands of others living in unsafe and even condemned structures, soon move to safe housing?

Far from it, Haiti Grassroots Watch discovered. [...]

Read the articles, watch the video:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cash for Work – At What Cost

By Haiti Grassroots Watch
July 18, 2011

“You have to ‘negotiate’ to get a job in the program.”

“Some of us put up with sexual harassment in order to get the tiny amount for survival.”

“The foremen… give the jobs to their relatives and girlfriends.”

“Around here, we don’t think these jobs are really in our interest.”

These are just some of the comments from participants in a so-called “humanitarian” program in the Ravine Pintade neighborhood in the Haitian capital.

The comments aren’t just random, and the program is not unique. It's one of dozens of “Cash for Work” programs, employing thousands of people, going on around the country. [...]

Read the full article:

Haiti Grassroots Watch is a partnership of AlterPresse, the Society for the Animation of Social Communication (SAKS), the Network of Women Community Radio Broadcasters (REFRAKA) and the community radios of the Association of Haitian Community Media (AMEKA).

Friday, July 1, 2011

Haiti 1994: The Forgotten Intervention

Lessons for Libya?

One thing that was striking about the run-up to the invasion is how rarely we heard from the many Haitians who struggled for Aristide's return but opposed any US military action.

by David L. Wilson, World War 4 Report
July 1, 2011

On the night of September 29, 1991, Haitian army officers launched a coup d'état against the country's elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. By the next afternoon, soldiers had arrested Aristide and had started gunning down coup opponents in the street. The toll would reach more than 3,000 over the next three years.

US liberals didn't take long to see that the Haitian crisis could provide a good test case for the newly fashionable doctrine of "humanitarian intervention." [...]

Read the full article:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Growing Ties Between Mexican and U.S. Labor

By David Bacon, Americas Program
June 14, 2011

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth article of a series on border solidarity by journalist and immigration activist David Bacon. All articles in the series were originally published in the Institute for Transnational Social Change’s report Building a Culture of Cross-Border Solidarity. To download a PDF of the entire report, click here.

IN Mexico, the NAFTA debate led to the organization of the Action Network Opposing Free Trade (RMALC), which in turn helped to spark the relationship between the U.E. and the Authentic Labor Front (FAT). That relationship, examined in detail in several books, remains a model for solidarity between two unions, based on equality and mutual interest, preserving each union’s ability to make its own decisions autonomously. It has been a relationship based on real campaigns on the ground – organizing drives, strikes, and resistance to proposals like the PRI labor law reform. Rank-and-file workers in both unions have played an important part in those efforts. [...]

Read the full article:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Behind the closed doors of Port-au-Prince “reconstruction”

Port-au-Prince, June 9 2011 – Why hasn't reconstruction begun in downtown Port-au-Prince, the area of Haiti most savagely hit by the January 12, 2010, earthquake?

Why are there still tent cities surrounding the National Palace?

Why is planning conducted and decided behind closed doors, with secret contracts nobody sees?

Why are the beneficiaries – the capital’s poor majority – also kept out of the planning and in the dark?

Two new investigations by Haiti Grassroots Watch and students from the Laboratoire de Journalisme at the State University of Haiti tried to figure out what is blocking the reconstruction of downtown, and why the Champ de Mars is still home to thousands of families.

Journalists found a lack of transparency, lack of coordination, rivalry and sometimes even outright disagreement, in a context where no single authority seems to have a complete picture, or accept complete responsibility.

The results of the apparent impasse? Thousands of families braving the rains, winds and cholera under tarps and infrahuman conditions, undisbursed funding, and a rubble-strewn downtown characterized by empty plots and dying businesses.

Read the two series here

Impasse ? What’s blocking the capital’s reconstruction?

While the heroes are watching

Haiti Grassroots Watch is a partnership of AlterPresse, the Society for the Animation of Social Communication (SAKS), the Network of Women Community Radio Broadcasters (REFRAKA) and the community radios of the Association of Haitian Community Media (AMEKA).

Friday, June 3, 2011

Haiti: July 2011 Delegation with the Mouvman Peyizan Papay

Subject: A 5-day delegation to Haiti from July 15 to 19

Greetings everyone,

Bassin Zim Education and Development Fund / Seeds for Haiti Program invites all to a 5-day delegation to Haiti to visit the Papay Peasant Movement (MPP) and its projects, peasants' farms, farmers' market, several other sites and institutions. You will meet and have the opportunity discuss with MPP leaders, a women's group, a youth group, displaced people, etc. You will be staying at the MPP training center.

The delegation meets in Port-au-Prince on July 15th and travels to Hinche in the Central Plateau, where the whole time will be spent. The return date to Port-au-Prince is July 19th in the morning. All participants are to arrange for their air travel (we urge all to book their flights in advance to find the best rates). Room, board and transport will cost $300.00 altogether and a deposit of $50.00 should be paid to Bassin Zim EDF no later than June 30th. The balance should be received by July 7th.

Please contact us at (917) 378-2192 or at


Bazelais Jean-Baptiste
President of Bassin Zim EDF


The Mouvman Peyizan Papay (MPP) is a large movement of peasant cooperatives based in the small town of Papaye near Hinche in Haiti's Central Plateau. It is affiliated with Via Campesina, the international campesino movement, and it has been a leading force for sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty in Haiti. The MPP organized a large demonstration in June 2010 to reject the "poisoned gift" of hybrid seeds from the giant US corporation Monsanto; in contrast, the Seeds for Haiti program, which MPP supporters started in response to the hurricanes and tropical storms in 2008, supplies peasant families with locally produced seeds that are appropriate to Haitian farming conditions.

For more information on the MPP and the Seeds for Haiti, go to these English-language websites (which may be slightly out of date):

For information on the campaign against Monsanto seeds, go to:

Haitian Farmers Commit to Burning Monsanto Hybrid Seeds

For a slide show on an earlier delegation and the Monsanto demonstration, go to:
MPP Delegation, January 2010, and Monsanto Protest, June 2010

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Haiti: January 12, 2011 - Frustration, Anger, Exclusion

This is coverage of the first anniversary of Haiti's massive earthquake. It's by Haiti Grassroots Watch-Ayiti Kale Je, a partnership of several Haitian grassroots media groups. The articles are available in English, but as of this evening there still aren't subtitles for the video.

One of the demonstrations in the video is a call for justice for Jean Anil Louis-Juste, a professor at the public university who was murdered in broad daylight in downtown Port-au-Prince just a few hours before the earthquake. The protesters are chanting "Justice for Anil, prison for [Haitian president Rene] Preval." As far as we know, no one has been charged in the murder. Another demonstration is by residents of the displaced persons' camps. The big banner reads: "January 12, 2010 - Misery [or poverty] for Haitians, Millions for NGOs; Thanks, Papa Preval, for 2010 Under the Tents; Network of Organized Camps (Reko)."