Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Phoenix Project... born again?

Haiti Grassroots Watch
January 21, 2013

Port-au-Prince, HAITI, 22 January 2013 – For more than two years, teams of US and Haitian businesspeople have been working on massive public-private business deal: a factory that would transform garbage from the capital into electricity, a resource so rare in Haiti, only 30 percent of the population has access.

But the project involves a technology so potentially dangerous, it has been outlawed in some cities and countries. It would also commit the state to a 30-year contract.

The project emerged from the ruins of the January 12 2010. US businesspeople said they came up with the idea because they wanted to take part in the reconstruction but “do more than make a profit.” [...]

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

What Are 'Peacekeepers' Doing in a Haitian Industrial Park?

By David L. Wilson, Upside Down World
January 14, 2013

The big industrial park near the international airport north of Port-au-Prince actually does look like a nature park. Thousands of Haitians may be inside the complex’s 47 buildings hurriedly stitching tens of thousands of T-shirts for the North American market, but the wide, tree-lined streets between the factory seem peaceful when you drive along them in mid-morning on a workday. It’s as if you were in a gated community in the United States, a thousand miles from the noisy chaos of the Haitian capital.

As in many gated communities, there’s a security force at the Metropolitan Industrial Park, which is identified in Haiti as SONAPI, the acronym for Société Nationale des Parcs Industriels, the semi-governmental agency that runs the park. Haitian guards check you out before they allow you to enter, and once inside you find the grounds patrolled by a white car with a big “UN” painted in black on the side. [...]

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

In $7-Per-Day Fight, Haitian Workers Call for North American Support

By David Wilson, Working In These Times
January 9, 2013
Haitian workers rally for a living wage outside an industrial park on October 8, 2012. (Marty Goodman/Socialist Action)

The small workers’ center in Port-au-Prince’s Delmas district was hot and the electricity had gone out, but about three dozen workers from the city’s apparel plants were willing to sit in the dark and the heat for nearly two hours after work one evening in early October to tell a group of U.S. activists about the struggle for better wages in Haiti.

“We have to pay for our transportation,” said “Jean” (not his real name), an employee at the Multiwear Assembly plant in the big industrial park near the airport. “We can’t do anything with our salary. We start work at 6 a.m. and finish at 5 p.m. The quota is huge. We don’t even have time to eat because we can’t meet the quota.”

Protests had broken out at the end of September and the beginning of October, the workers said, after factory owners stepped up production quotas to circumvent an increase in the minimum wage that went into effect on October 1. [...]

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Haiti Three Years After the Earthquake: NYC, 1/12/13

For immediate release

Contact: Haiti Anti-Sweatshop Committee, 212-781-5157 • 347-792-7091

Haiti Three Years After the Earthquake: A Labor Perspective

When: Saturday, January 12, 2013, 6 pm
Where: CWA Local 1180, 6 Harrison Street, basement, Manhattan (between Hudson Street and Greenwich Street, 1 to Franklin St or A, C, E, 2 or 3 to Chambers St)
What: Forum on Haiti three years after the earthquake

New York, Jan. 10—Three New York-based activist journalists are marking the third anniversary of Haiti's 2010 earthquake this Saturday with a report-back on their visits to the country last October. The forum, held at a union hall in Lower Manhattan, will focus on grassroots organizing by Haitians, especially in the garment assembly plants.

The anniversary has brought a run of articles in the media here. While the coverage notes the failure of international aid to help Haiti “build back better,” it also claims there has been “some progress,” in the words of a New York Times editorial. The paper’s example is “a new industrial park north of Port-au-Prince, the capital, providing the first 1,300 of what are supposed to be many thousands of manufacturing jobs.”

The three New Yorkers got a very different perspective in talks with Haitian assembly workers, who are currently struggling just to be paid the new legal minimum wage of $7 a day. They are looking for grassroots solidarity from the United States, they said--not projects like the new industrial park, built largely with $124 million in U.S. tax money170 miles from the earthquake zone, and mostly benefiting multinationals like Walmart..

The forum will include a photo projection from photojournalist Tony Savino and talks by David Wilson and Marty Goodman. Savino, who visited the northern city of Ouanaminthe in October, has photographed Haiti regularly for a quarter century; a sample of his work can be found at Wilson was in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake struck, and has written about that experience and about the economics of the assembly sector. Goodman, a retired transit worker and former member of the TWU Local 100 Executive Board, began covering Haiti in 1986 with reports on the overthrow of Jean-Claude Duvalier (“Baby Doc”); an article on his most recent trip appeared in the November Socialist Action.

The forum has been organized by the Haiti Anti-Sweatshop Committee and is endorsed by One Struggle (NY) and the Batay Ouvriye Solidarity Network. The presenters are available for interviews. For more information, call 212-781-5157 or 347-792-7091, or visit


Friday, January 4, 2013

Some Key Players in Haiti’s Assembly Sector

SONAPI (Société Nationale des Parcs Industriels): An autonomous agency created in 1981 by then-president Jean-Claude Duvalier to oversee the country’s industrial parks. It maintains the 122-acre Parc Industriel Métropolitain in Port-au-Prince and the new 617-acre Parc Industriel de Caracol in the north. SONAPI’s president, appointed in August 2012, is Georges Sassine, former president of the country’s industrial business association (Association Des Industries d’Haïti, ADIH). Emails:,

CODEVI (Compagnie de Développement Industriel SA): A free trade zone in Ouanaminthe, where the Dominican company Grupo M produces various types of apparel for VF, Levi's, Hanesbrands, and Nautica. This is the only apparel assembly facility with a union contract. The manager is Joseph Blumberg. Number of employees: 4,650. Email:

Genesis S.A: An apparel assembly plant located near the SONAPI park in Port-au-Prince. It supplies T-shirts to Gildan Activewear and Hanesbrands. The president is Gerald Apaid, from a wealthy Haitian family whose best-known member is Haitian American industrialist André Apaid, owner of the Alpha plant. Number of employees: 1,275. Email:

Multiwear Assembly: An apparel assembly plant occupying three buildings inside the SONAPI park. It supplies various types of apparel to Hanesbrands. The president is U.S. entrepreneur Richard Coles. Number of employees: 1,980. Email:,

One World Apparel: An apparel assembly plant located near the SONAPI park. It supplies wovens, scrubs, and uniforms to Superior Uniforms, G&K Uniforms, and Calhoun Clothing. Its president is Charles-Henri Baker, a perennial presidential candidate and brother-in-law of André and Gerald Apaid. Number of employees: 800. Email:  

Palm Apparel: An apparel assembly plant located in Carrefour, a few miles southwest of Port-au-Prince. The plant collapsed during the 2010 earthquake, killing at least 500 workers. Palm Apparel supplies knits and T-shirts to Gildan. Its president is Alain Villard. Number of employees: 900. Email:

Premium Apparel: An apparel assembly plant located near the SONAPI park. It supplies knits and T-shirts to Gildan. The president is Jean-Robert Godefroy. Number of employees: 1,250. Email:

Sae-A Trading: A giant South Korean apparel firm that is the lead tenant in the new Parc Industriel de Caracol. On Oct. 15, a week before the park officially opened, Sae-A shipped 76,000 T-shirts to the US retailing giant Walmart. The company claims it will employ 20,000 workers.