Caribbean Political Economy

Caribbean Conference for the Sovereignty of Haiti: MINUSTAH Out!

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Haitian popular organisations, supported by others from several Caribbean countries and internationally, have issued a declaration analysing the present political situation and calling for an end to the occupation of their country, the first in the Caribbean to declare itself free over 200 years agao. Please circul;ate widely.

Check here for the Declaration

Haiti: White Paper on MINUSTAH Human Rights Abuses, Harvard Group

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On October 4th, 2011, Harvard students as part of a group of Canadian and US human rights advocates, doctors, public health experts, and journalists released an extensively researched white paper reviewing and evaluating the record of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (known by its French acronym, MINUSTAH) and recommending the withdrawal of the force from Haiti…

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MINUSTAH White Paper, Harvard Group

Support the Petition to the UN Security Council for the withdrawal of MINUSTAH from Haiti Jubilee South

Haiti: Occupied Country; Eduardo Galeano

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You can consult any encyclopaedia. Ask which was the first free country in America. You will always receive the same answer: the United States. But the United States declared its independence when they were a nation with six hundred fifty thousand slaves who remained so for another century, and in its first Constitution they established that a black slave was equal to the three fifth parts of a person…

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Speaking Truth to Power: Ricardo Seitenfus, the OAS and Haiti, Kevin Edmonds

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Kevin Edmonds

Kevin Edmonds

On December 25, the Organization of American States removed their special representative, Ricardo Seitenfus, from Haiti. The reason was very simple. He told the truth. In an interview four days earlier with the Swiss newspaper Le Temps, Seitenfus bluntly expressed the popular discontent which the Haitian people have been saying since the arrival of MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Force in Haiti) on June 1, 2004 — simply put, that their presence ” solves nothing, it makes things worse. [They] want to turn Haiti into a capitalist country, an export platform for U.S. market, it’s absurd.”…

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No country would accept what the Haitians are forced to accept, Ricardo Seitenfus

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The dismissed OAS representative in Haiti, Brazilian diplomat Ricardo Seitenfus, has made further revelations about the shameful role of international donors and NGOs in Haiti, including discussion of a proposal to remove President Rene Preval from office before the expiry of his term.

Text of Seitenfus interview

Haiti: An Oppressed State, Latin American Solidarity Coalition

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Report of a delegation of 11 academics, journalists and Latin America solidarity leaders from the United States and Canada that visited Haiti prior to the recent earthquake, from Dec. 28, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010.

The delegation met with over 70 individuals and organizational representatives in Port- au-Prince, including the two most impoverished neighborhoods, Cite Soleil and Bel Air. We took recorded testimony from twelve victims of MINUSTAH violence (people who themselves were wounded by UN troops), or whose family members were killed during UN attacks on their
communities. The delegation also spent two days in Jacmel visiting sustainable development projects…

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The Caribbean and Latin America at the Rendezvous of History, Melanie Newton

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From “In The Diaspora”, Stabroek News, October 19, 2009

Melanie Newton is a Barbadian and Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto

In 2004 two events sent shock waves across the Caribbean Sea, presenting us with two radically different blueprints for future hemispheric relations. In February a combined force of American, Canadian and French troops slipped into Haiti in the dead of night, “convinced” President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to resign, and spirited him out of the country into exile. Over the past five years the United Nations has occupied Haiti, ostensibly helping to build democracy, but, in reality, crushing democratic opposition movements. In a historic turn of events, Brazil, which has emerged in recent years as a regional superpower, has led UN forces in Haiti since 2005.

Meanwhile, in December 2004, the governments of Venezuela and Cuba spearheaded the Bolivarian People’s Alternative (now the Bolivarian Alliance, or ALBA). ALBA has sought a new kind of relationship between independent Caribbean and Latin American states…

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Click here for Bolivar’s ‘Jamaica Letter’

PAPDA’s DECLARATION ON HAITI’S MINIMUM WAGE

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Statement by the Haitian Platform For Development Alternatives PAPDA

Port-au-Prince, June 22, 2009

For several weeks, the question of raising Haiti’s minimum wage has been at the center of political discourse and is the basis of a new round of mobilization and repression. Since May 1, the national police (PNH) and UN (MINUSTAH) have unleashed a wave of repression against the population, particularly those supporting the law passed in the Senate on May 5th to fix the new minimum wage at 200 gourdes ($5) per day.

Several times, PAPDA has already publicly pronounced its support for the new law. But here are a few reasons worth repeating:

1. The lack of augmentation of the minimum wage between April 17, 2003 and June 2009 is a violation of the Haitian labor code (article 137) and a violence that the state and the dominant classes committed against Haiti’s workers and against the nation.

2. Workers’ purchasing power continues to diminish. The minimum wage in the 1970s (5 gourdes in 1971, 6.5 gourdes in 1974) is less than the 1950s. The situation continues to diminish in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. All calculations, taking account of inflation in the past 6 years, would arrive at a reasonable minimum wage between 500 and 600 gourdes per day.

3. During the period between 2003-2009, Haitian dominant classes’ profits have exploded because of several factors, including the tax holiday the Boniface/ Latortue government gave the private sector. Available statistics show that more than 61% of the wealth in Haiti is absorbed by profits – only a small portion goes to workers’ wages.

4. The behavior of the State is shocking, presenting an image of politicians totally in the service of a blind oligarchy, completely foreign to national realities. Contrary to the DSNCRP (Haiti’s strategic plan to the World Bank and IMF), neoliberalism has not contributed to growth in the country, only more misery.

5. PAPDA is scandalized by the fallacious arguments the business owners (ADIH) have used to scare the government and population against raising the minimum wage. Every time the minimum wage has been discussed, ADIH has cried wolf to scare the government against its passage: that raising minimum wage would mean the certain and immediate closure of industry in Haiti and the cause of a sudden loss of jobs. In every case, it was a lie.

6. The question of minimum wage is far from being a simple question-of-the-day. It needs to be posed in relation with the vision and the model of development imposed on the country. Washington and the U.N. want to turn the country into a workshop of the U.S., building more free trade zones, recently brought about by the HOPE II act and repeated by Paul Collier in his report to the U.N. This sub-contracting model does not add to the wealth of the country, but only facilitates it being drained more quickly. To truly develop our country’s wealth we need to do away with this development model in favor of national production.

7. It’s clear that ADIH’s arguments haven’t born fruit. With a daily salary of 70 gourdes for 6 long years under the HOPE law, we still haven’t seen the sudden boom of foreign direct investment (FDI) promised. Haiti has an enormous structural deficit (routes, ports, airports, communication, electricity, etc.) The U.N. and U.S. and foreign press continue to talk about Haiti as a “failed state” which justifies foreign occupation. What investor would be rushing to invest in this country often stigmatized in the foreign press?

8. 70 gourdes per day are largely already passed in CODEVI (Haiti-DR free trade zone) and in certain factories in SONAPI (Port-au-Prince industrial park), so it’s possible to raise the wage. According to ADIH, HOPE II represents a savings of $1.50 per pair of pants, but the cost of all Haitian labor is 12 and a half cents.1 Double this and it’s another 12 and a half cents, a small fraction of the gains already made by HOPE II.

9. The camp of those struggling for the passage of the law for the 200 gourdes minimum wage needs to grow. PAPDA salutes the big mobilization by the Collective for another May 1 who has mobilized numerous demonstrations. We also salute Parliament, particularly the author of the law Steven Benoit. For the past several weeks, State University (UEH) students have been carrying the banner.

In accounting for these elements, PAPDA

1. Exhorts the 2 chambers of Parliament to maintain the 200 gourde minimum wage.

2. Asks the executive to respect the constitution and quickly publish the 200 gourdes minimum wage.

3. Asks the Minister of Social Affairs to honor its mission to reinforce its supervisory capacity to ensure that this increase in minimum wage would trigger a rapid increase in workers’ quotas.

4. Demands the Haitian government to renounce the neoliberal macro-economic framework.

5. Firmly condemns the hateful repression arrived since May 1, 2009

6. Asks that all organizations who truly believe in a better future for Haiti to join in the mobilization for the 200 gourdes and contribute to build a single platform of demands to reinforce the popular movement and its place in the process of decision-making.

Signed,

Camille Chalmers Fruck Dorsainvil Marc-Arthur Fils-Aimé Chenet Jean Baptiste

Bureau Exécutif ANDAH ICKL ITECA

William Thélusmond Lise-Marie Déjean Cilencieux Benoit

CRAD SOFA MITPA

Mervyn Claxton reviews ‘An Encounter With Haiti’, by Reginald Dumas

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Reginald Dumas has written a fascinating, highly readable, well documented account of his experience as U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Adviser on Haiti, in the period immediately following President Aristide’s resignation from power, which was disingenuously described as ‘voluntary’ by certain foreign interests.. His penetrating insight into the dynamics of big power, small country, and international organization politics illuminated his observations and analysis throughout the book…

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