Tag Archive | "Haiti"

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Is Dominican Immigration Policy Obamafied?


By Roberto Lovato,  Latino Rebels

DAJABÓN, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC—On a recent afternoon in this tense border town, a hub for the flow of goods and people between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Haitian immigrants and their Dominican-born children were preparing for the worst: the mass deportations they’d been hearing about for months from railing Dominican politicians and, especially, the local media.

Streets that are usually busy with Haitian street vendors were relatively empty because, migrants’ rights advocates told me, many of them of them were in hiding. At the border crossing, the crush of thousands of people who travel daily between Haiti and the Dominican Republic for work and trade was even more intense than usual as busloads of Haitians voluntarily left their homes in the Dominican Republic rather than be hunted down, jailed and deported as government officials has repeatedly promised in the months leading up a June 17 deadline.

Tensions in Dajabón and across the country have been on the rise since 2013, when the country’s constitutional tribunal decided to revoke citizenship from tens of thousands of people born of foreign-born parents. Then, in 2014, President Danilo Medina issued a decree requiring all undocumented people to register with the government to “regularize” their status in the country by June 17, 2015, further increasing pressure on Haitians in the Dominican Republic. Those providing the required documentation were supposed to be given a two-year temporary status document. Those who don’t will be deported.

Haitian, Dominican and international human rights groups have denounced the process as dangerous, discriminatory and beset by massive bureaucratic failures— including lost papers, understaffed processing offices and corruption. As a result, over 200,000 people, most of them Haitian or of Haitian descent have been left vulnerable to deportation. Many here believe the current crisis follows a well-established pattern of racism against Haitians in the Dominican Republic.

man-beaten-by-dominican-pokice-for-complaining-about-problems-with-regularization-process1-450x600.jpg 

Some Haitians, feeling scared and persecuted, are fleeing even without the government forcing them. “We have reports that Haitian immigrant homes have been burned down,” said the announcer on a bilingual Creole-Spanish radio show last Friday. “And we do not know if the Haitians themselves burned the homes or if Dominican citizens had burned the homes.” (Non-governmental organizations later confirmed that Haitians had burned their own homes to dispose of property they couldn’t take with them back to Haiti.)

But in the end, the predictions of swift, mass expulsions, of government buses overflowing with Haitians deportees, have yet to materialize.

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Editor’s Note: This piece was first published on June 26 at LatinoRebels.com. All photos by the author. 

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Festival to Raise Funds for Haiti


WEST HARTFORD — Tis the season for giving.

And this season, the folks who organize the annual Holiday Craft Festival and Marketplace will raise funds to help  benefit Medical Aid to Haiti.

The festival and marketplace, now in its sixth year, will open Nov. 16 from 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m., and  Nov. 17, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. at the Church of St. Peter Claver, 47 Pleasant St., West Hartford.The event is open to the public; parking and admission are free.

This unique marketplace presents fifty fine artisans of handcrafted goods including pottery, metalwork, woodwork, jewelry, paper art, folk art, photography, painting, wreaths, dried flowers, soaps, and candles. Fiber arts (new, vintage, and “up-cycled”) include hand knits, weaving, felted wool, alpaca, quilting, tie-dye.

Clothing, tote bags, hand bags, scarves and accessories of all kinds. Local farm and gourmet food purveyors offer jams, jellies, hot- sauce, honey, cookies, candy, nuts and more.  Performances by acoustic guitarists and local youth musicians enliven each day.  Extras include live alpacas, professional chair-massage, Café, bake sale, and a teacup auction of handcrafted goods donated by each artisan.

Proceeds fund the mobile medical clinic of Medical Aid to Haiti, serving the health needs of Haitians in hard-to-reach areas of Port au Prince.  MATH’s mission is “Helping Haitians heal Haitians by providing needed resources for the care and treatment of their poor.”

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Haiti on Our Minds: One Year After the Quake


By YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia,

EDITOR’S NOTE: Twelve months after an earthquake devastated the island of Haiti, the crew at YO!TV has kept the people and their struggles in our hearts and minds. YO! gets on the ground to visit a school, the headquarters of a medical clinic and an immigration office.

YO!TV 19 (MHz) from New America Media on Vimeo.


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Rapper is No Friend of Haiti — Wyclef Opposed Aristide


To cut to the chase, no election in Haiti, and no candidate in those elections, will be considered legitimate by the majority of Haiti’s population, unless it includes the full and fair participation of the Fanmi Lavalas Party of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Fanmi Lavalas is unquestionably the most popular party in the country, yet the “international community,” led by the United States, France and Canada, has done everything possible to undermine Aristide and Lavalas, overthrowing him twice by military coups in 1991 and 2004 and banishing Aristide, who now lives in South Africa with his family, from the Americas.

A United Nations army, led by Brazil, still occupies Haiti six years after the coup. Their unstated mission, under the name of “peacekeeping,” is to suppress the popular movement and prevent the return to power of Aristide’s Lavalas Party. One must understand a Wyclef Jean candidacy, first of all, in this context.

Every election since a 67 percent majority first brought Aristide to power in 1990 has demonstrated the enormous popularity of the Lavalas movement. When Lavalas could run, they won overwhelmingly. In 2006, when security conditions did not permit them to run candidates, they voted and demonstrated to make sure Rene Preval, a former Lavalas president, was re-elected.

Preval, however, turned against those who voted for him. He scheduled elections for 12 Senate seats in 2009 and supported the Electoral Council’s rejection of all Lavalas candidates. Lavalas called for a boycott, and as few as 3 percent of Haitians voted, with fewer than 1 percent voting in the runoff, once again demonstrating the people’s love and respect for President Aristide.

Fanmi Lavalas has already been banned from the next round of elections, so enter Wyclef Jean. Jean comes from a prominent Haitian family that has virulently opposed Lavalas since the 1990 elections. His uncle is Raymond Joseph – also a rumored presidential candidate – who became Haitian ambassador to the United States under the coup government and remains so today. Kevin Pina writes in “It’s not all about that! Wyclef Jean is fronting in Haiti,” Joseph is “the co-publisher of Haiti Observateur, a right-wing rag that has been an apologist for the killers in the Haitian military going back as far as the brutal coup against Aristide in 1991.
“On Oct. 26 [2004] Haitian police entered the pro-Aristide slum of Fort Nationale and summarily executed 13 young men. Wyclef Jean said nothing. On Oct. 28 the Haitian police executed five young men, babies really, in the pro-Aristide slum of Bel Air. Wyclef said nothing. If Wyclef really wants to be part of Haiti’s political dialogue, he would acknowledge these facts. Unfortunately, Wyclef is fronting.”

As if to prove it, the Miami Herald reported on Feb. 28, 2010, “Secret polling by foreign powers in search of a new face to lead Haiti’s reconstruction …” might favor Jean’s candidacy, as someone with sufficient name recognition who could draw enough votes to overcome another Lavalas electoral boycott.

Wyclef Jean supported the 2004 coup. When gun-running former army and death squad members trained by the CIA were overrunning Haiti’s north on Feb. 25, 2004, MTV’s Gideon Yago wrote, “Wyclef Jean voiced his support for Haitian rebels on Wednesday, calling on embattled Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to step down and telling his fans in Haiti to ‘keep their head up’ as the country braces itself for possible civil war.”

During the Obama inaugural celebration, Jean famously and perversely serenaded Colin Powell, the Bush administration secretary of state during the U.S. destabilization campaign and eventual coup against Aristide, with Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.”

Jean also produced the movie, “The Ghosts of Cite Soleil,” an anti-Aristide and Lavalas hit piece, which tells us that President Aristide left voluntarily, without mention of his kidnapping by the U.S. military, and presents the main coup leaders in a favorable light. It features interviews with sweatshop owners Andy Apaid and Charles Henry Baker without telling us they hate Aristide because he raised the minimum wage and sought to give all Haitians a seat at the table by democratizing Haiti’s economy, a program opposed by the rich in Haiti.

It uncritically interviews coup leader Louis Jodel Chamblain, without telling us he worked with the Duvalier dictatorship’s brutal militia, the Tonton Macoutes, in the 1980s; that following the coup against Aristide in 1991, he was the “operations guy” for the FRAPH paramilitary death squad, accused of murdering uncounted numbers of Aristide supporters and introducing gang rape into Haiti as a military weapon.

It uncritically interviews coup leader Guy Phillipe, without telling us he’s a former Haitian police chief who was trained by U.S. Special Forces in Ecuador in the early 1990s or that the U.S. embassy admitted that Phillipe was involved in the transhipment of narcotics, one of the key sources of funds for paramilitary attacks on the poor in Haiti.

Wyclef runs the Yele Haiti Foundation, which the Washington Post reported on Jan. 16, 2010, is under fiscal scrutiny because “(i)t seems clear that a significant amount of the monies that this charity raises go for costs other than providing benefits to Haitians in need … In 2006, Yele Haiti had about $1 million in revenue, according to tax documents. More than a third of the money went to payments to related parties, said lawyer James Joseph … (T)he charity recorded a payment of $250,000 to Telemax, a TV station and production company in Haiti in which Jean and Jerry Duplessis, both members of Yele Haiti’s board of directors, had a controlling interest. The charity paid about $31,000 in rent to Platinum Sound, a Manhattan recording studio owned by Jean and Duplessis. And it spent an additional $100,000 for Jean’s performance at a benefit concert in Monaco.” A foundation spokesperson “said the group hopes to spend a higher percentage of its budget on services as it gains experience.”

PLEASE SPREAD THE NEWS: “WYCLEF JEAN IS NOT A FRIEND OF THE PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT OF HAITI.” The floating of his candidacy is just one more effort by the international forces, desperate to put a smiley face on a murderous military occupation, to undermine the will of the Haitian majority by making Wyclef Jean the Ronald Reagan of Haiti.

Let us be clear. Jean and his uncle, the Haitian ambassador to the U.S., are both cozy with the self-appointed czar of Haiti, Bill Clinton, whose plans for the Caribbean nation are to make it a neo-colony for a reconstructed tourist industry and a pool of cheap labor for U.S. factories. Wyclef Jean is the perfect front man. The Haitian elite and its U.S./U.N. sponsors are counting on his appeal to the youth to derail the people’s movement for democracy and their call for the return of President Aristide. Most Haitians will not be hoodwinked by the likes of Wyclef Jean.

Charlie Hinton is a member of the Haiti Action Committee and works at Inkworks Press, a worker owned and managed printing company in Berkeley. He may be reached at ch_lifewish@yahoo.com.

Published opinions are not the view of the staff, volunteers or supporters of The Hartford Guardian.


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Ten Haitians Dead After Boat Capsizes


MIAMI BEACH, FLA. — At least ten Haitians are now dead after a boat capsized at sea on this week, according to US Coast Guards officials.

Rescuers searched an expanding stretch of the Atlantic Ocean off Florida late yesterday for survivors a day after an overloaded boat capsized and sank with about 30 people aboard, mainly Haitian immigrants fleeing their country’s crushing poverty.

At least nine people were known to have died, including an infant, US coast guard officials said. Sixteen more people were pulled out of rough waters after the first survivors were discovered yesterday.

The rescue operation expanded this morning to follow currents farther north, coast guard spokesman James Harless said. The search, which has covered more than 2,500 square miles (6,475 square kilometres), now stretches from off Palm Beach county to just east of Cape Canaveral.

The search started around midday yesterday when a boater first discovered survivors in the ocean and continued through the night, using helicopters, cutters, a jet and a handful of small boats. No new victims were found in the pre-dawn hours, US coast guard Petty Officer Nick Ameen said.

“A lot of those people were out there treading water for a long time,” Ameen said. “Our main goal is everyone’s health right now and safety.”


Although the coast guard hadn’t figured out exactly how many people were aboard or how many might still be missing at sea, it appeared most of the passengers were from Haiti and the trip fit the profile of migrant smuggling.

“The boat was obviously overloaded,” coast guard Captain James Fitton said. “It’s a tragedy that someone would be so callous with human life.”

Illegal migrants from Haiti are almost always deported, a sore point for Miami’s Haitian-American community because Cuban migrants who reach US shores are allowed to stay under federal government policy. Cubans interdicted at sea are usually returned to the communist island.

The ship’s sinking came as Haitian-American leaders met in Washington yesterday to lobby for temporary protective status for those from the country who make it to the US.

It would be an emergency measure to keep people from being deported to their homeland while it recovers from a natural disaster or major political upheaval. It has been granted to countries including El Salvador and Nicaragua but never to Haiti.

Since October, the US coast guard has stopped 1,377 Haitians from trying to get to the US, an increase from 972 during the same seven-month period last year. Four tropical storms and hurricanes battered the western hemisphere’s poorest country during last year’s harvest season, killing 793 people, crippling agriculture and causing $1bn (£660m) in damage to irrigation, bridges and roads.

In January, UN-sponsored groups said more aid was urgently needed to stave off famine in several areas of the country. For those familiar with the plight of Haitians, the escape attempt was no surprise.

“The economic conditions in Haiti are deplorable, and I don’t see them getting any better any time soon,” said Andy Gomez, a University of Miami expert on Caribbean migration. “And the Haitian-American community has developed a pretty good network here in the last five or 10 years, just as the Cuban-Americans have done, so there’s more of a reason to come.”

The boat apparently left Bimini in the Bahamas on Tuesday night and was believed to have capsized or collided with something at about 2am yesterday, the coast guard said. Many Caribbean migrants who try to reach the US arrange trips leaving from the Bahamas.

Officials didn’t learn about the accident until another boater who spotted swimmers called more than 10 hours later about 15 miles off the shore of Boynton Beach, around 60 miles north of Miami. Water temperatures by the afternoon were around 77F.

The boat has not been found, and rescuers believed it sank because it hasn’t been spotted from the air. Besides children, women also were aboard, including a pregnant woman.

Several of the bodies recovered were taken from coast guard boats onto land in Riviera Beach, where dozens of emergency vehicles were waiting. Three of the survivors were taken to hospitals. The Palm Beach Post reported that one woman was in critical condition, but the coast guard said all the rescued people were expected to survive.

Tony Mead, operations manager at the Palm Beach county medical examiner’s office, said autopsies were under way this morning and would likely be completed by the end of the day. In a similar incident in May 2007, an overcrowded boat sailing toward the US capsized near Turks and Caicos islands, killing 54 people.


Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk

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