Haiti–Security: A situation of terror reigns within religious communities…
The Platform of Haitian human rights organizations (POHDH) is deeply concerned over the increase in acts of insecurity in the country, indicating that no individual or sector is spared, POHDH stressed that religious communities have become the target of armed bandits for some time (link) [an aggression on average every 4 days since November 16, 2014].
List of aggressions:
- Montfort Institute for Deaf Children of the Daughters of Wisdom in Croix-des-Bouquets Montfort Institute for Deaf Children of the Daughters of Wisdom in Croix-des-Bouquets ;
- The Little Sisters of St. Teresa in Boucan-Carré on November 16, 2014 – to Marfranc on December 18, 2014 – Vieux-Bourg d’Aquin on January 20, 2015 and February 4, 2015 in Mirebalais ;
- The Daughters of Mary in Croix-des-Bouquets in the nights of 16 to 17 and from 21 to 22 January 2015 ;
- The Sisters of St. Joseph of Saint-Vallier in Saint-Raphaël on 26 and 29 January 2015 ;
- The Daughters of Mary Immaculate Queen in Saut-d’Eau, on December 3, 2014 ;
- The Sisters of Charity of St. Louis in Petite Riviere de l’Artibonite, on December 8, 2014 ;
- Missionary Sisters of Christ-Roi in L’Estère, on the night of 11 to 12 December 2014 ;
- Missionaries of the Immaculate Conception in Dubuisson, on 27 December 2014 ;
- Little Sisters of the Incarnation in Pandassiou in Hinche, on the night of 19 to 20 January 2015 ;
- The Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi in Maniche, 30 on January 2015 ;
- Franciscan auxiliary in Latremblay, Croix-des-Bouquets, on February 6, 2015 ;
- The Sisters of Wisdom in Kenscoff, on February 9, 2015 ;
- The servants of the Sick in Marin, on February 21, 2015 ;
- Little Sisters of the Incarnation in Pandassiou, Hinche, on February 22, 2015 ;
- The Sisters of the Holy Union in Saint Michel de l’Attalaye, on February 23, 2015 ;
- The site of the Charismatic Renewal in Tabarre in the night of 27 to 28 February 2015 ;
- The Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul in Sibert, on March 4, 2015 ;
- The Daughters of Mary Verrettes, on March 5, 2015 ;
- Benedictine Monks and Christian Brothers attacked in the street. And recently, on March 14, 2015, the rector of the University of Notre Dame d’Haiti, Mgr Pierre-André Pierre was attacked by gunmen in Delmas 33 ;
- On March 15, the Boucan-Carré Sisters were attacked ;
- On March 16, the Sisters of Thomazeau were violently attacked.
“The gravity of these acts experienced by religious and communities lies not only in their repetitive nature, but also the torture and humiliation inflicted to the victims,” said the Haitian Religious Conference (CHR), which describes a “situation of terror who reigns today within religious communities.” The victims are asking the justice to play its role in addressing this situation of growing violence (link).
Pastor Sylvain Exantus, President of the Protestant Federation of Haiti (FPH) “expresses its profound solidarity with the Catholic Church in general and victims of these odious acts in particular. He also took the opportunity to encourage the National Police to be more vigilant and seek the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Furthermore, the FPH urges all components of Haitian society, especially the Christian churches, schools, training center and directors of conscience to continue to teach the universal Christian values: the practice of justice, respect for life, respect for the human person, caring, active solidarity and respect for the property of others.”
For its part, the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince has assimilated to a plot to destroy the Catholic Church in Haiti, the multiple attacks against religious congregations in many parts of the country. Mgr. Guire Poulard, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, wondered on whether to close the congregations where the safety of men and women religious is not assured.
See also :
Mercy & Sharing Welcomes Robin Hamill as New President
MERCY & SHARING | PRESS RELEASE
Media Contact: Robin Hamill, President. Ph: 1970-925-6520
Aspen, Colorado. February 18, 2015, Mercy & Sharing announces the appointment of Robin Hamill to the position of President effective February 1, 2015.
Robin Hamill has joined Mercy & Sharing as it’s President. Robin, 49 years old, has over thirty years of experience in philanthropic work, the majority of it in fund development. Robin retired from the reinsurance and technology industries five years ago having moved to Aspen in the Fall of 2009. Since that time Robin has been actively involved in the Aspen Education Foundation (“AEF”) the last three years as it’s volunteer President. Under Robin’s leadership AEF has generated over $10M of funding for the Aspen School District.
Susie Krabacher, co-founder of Mercy & Sharing, will assume the newly created position of CEO of Mercy & Sharing effective February 1, 2015.
Commenting on the appointment of Robin, Susie said, “My husband Joe and I are thrilled to have attracted someone with extensive business and not-for-profit experience to Mercy & Sharing. This appointment represents our commitment to creating sustainability for the organization for a very, very long time. Robin is a pro and our team is thrilled to welcome him aboard!”
Robin commented, “What Joe and Susie have created in Mercy & Sharing is unbelievably inspirational. From its humble beginnings twenty years ago Mercy & Sharing now provides full time care to 128 abandoned children, educates over 1,200 students every day and provides nutrition and/or water to over 5,000 people every day. In addition, Mercy & Sharing provides medical care to our resident abandoned children, our school and to three villages that neighbor the Mercy & Sharing campus. It is an honor for me to join this organization in a leadership role. We are changing the expectations of Haiti each and every day.
Mercy & Sharing has been providing diverse services to the most vulnerable of Haiti’s citizens for 20 years. Besides giving a home and 24/7 care to 126 children, Mercy & Sharing also runs three schools to educate over 1100 students, serves 2,000 nutritious meals to the areas poorest villagers every day, supplies clean water daily to over 5,000, operates a medical care and therapy center, and employs 220 Haitians. Mercy & Sharing’s administrative staff of four in the United States is funded directly by its Board of Directors, so all donations raised go directly to programs in Haiti. Mercy & Sharing is supported by loyal private donors (no public funding), dedicated volunteer Board members and officers, and numerous volunteers. To learn more about Mercy & Sharing and how you can help, visit www.haitichildren.org, or call 970-925-1492.
The Aspen Sports Summit Presented by Bill Fabrocini & The Aspen Club
Bill Fabrocini and The Aspen Club are proud to present the Aspen Sports Summit March 27th/ 28th at the Aspen Meadows Resort Doerr-Hosier Center. The first annual Summit represents a unique concept in bringing together the leaders in the field of health, fitness, and sports medicine with the common goal of providing an interactive learning experience while benefiting philanthropic causes caring for the impoverished children in the world.
The Summit has received a letter of support from Walter Issacson, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, “Your impressive line-up of speakers, along with your continuing education certification, is sure to make your conference a success. It is going to be a wonderful community program, a great opportunity for professional advancement for people in the field, and a way to support two deserving local charities.
The Aspen Sports Summit will feature distinguished presenters including Greg Roskopf, the developer of Muscle Activation Techniques, who works with the likes of Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, the Denver Broncos and Nuggets. Dr. James Kelly, a neurologist and Director of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence and considered to be one of the foremost experts in the country on concussions and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Presentations will cover some of the critical issues and trends in the world of sports and fitness including performance training, concussions, back and hip pain, exercise innovation, pilates, yoga, nutrition, breathing, and more.
Most importantly a significant portion of the proceeds will go towards two selected philanthropic organizations that are providing care and direction for many improvised children in the world. The Marshall Direct Fund whose mission is to provide education, economic development and exchange opportunities to deserving youth and young women in conflict countries to help secure peace and prosperity. Mercy & Sharing is a U.S. based non-profit organization providing care and education to abandoned, orphaned and disabled children in Haiti. Aspen Sports Summit Founder Bill Fabrocini, has been working with Mercy & Sharing for several years in an effort to optimize the Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Center protocols, operations, and medical staff education to help better provide for the needs of the disabled children.
“I have always believed that sports and health can be a powerful engine to bring people together and make a difference in the world.” Says founder Bill Fabrocini. “We welcome the community to come out to listen to a unique line up of speakers and to learn, interact and share our compassion for something much bigger and meaningful”.
For more information and to register, please visit AspenSportsSummit.com
The Aspen Club & Spa
Director of Sales & Marketing
Tel: (970) 920-5849
U.S. Worried about International Criticism of Post-Quake Troop Deployment
Article written by Ansel Herz
Even before the Haitian government authorized it, Washington began deploying 22,000 troops to Haiti after the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, despite U.S. Embassy officials saying there was no serious security problem, according to secret U.S. diplomatic cables provided to Haïti Liberté by the media organization WikiLeaks.
Washington’s decision to send thousands of troops in response to the 7.0 earthquake that rocked the Haitian capital and surrounding areas drew sharp criticism from aid workers and government officials around the world. They criticized the militarized response to Haiti’s humanitarian crisis as inappropriate and counterproductive, claiming Haiti needed “gauze not guns.” French Cooperation Minister Alain Joyandet famously said that international aid efforts should be “about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti.”
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez also decried “Marines armed as if they were going to war,” in his weekly television address. “There is not a shortage of guns there, my God. Doctors, medicine, fuel, field hospitals, that is what the United States should send. They are occupying Haiti in an undercover manner.”
The earthquake-related cables show that Washington was very sensitive to international criticism of its response, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mobilized her diplomatic corps to ferret out “irresponsible journalism” worldwide and “take action” to “get the narrative right.”
Meanwhile, the UN in Haiti claimed its 9,000 occupation troops and policemen were sufficient to ensure security. On Jan. 19, with Resolution 1908, the UN Security Council unanimously approved sending more than 3,500 reinforcements to Haiti “to support the immediate recovery, reconstruction and stability efforts,” increasing MINUSTAH (UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti, as the occupation force is called) to 12,651.
But Obama administration officials said the additional U.S. troops were necessary.
“Until we can get ample supplies of food and water to people, there is a worry that in their desperation some will turn to violence,” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told reporters six days after the quake. “And we will work with the UN in trying to ensure that the security situation remains good.”
Seeking to avoid the appearance of a unilateral U.S. military action, the U.S. asked Préval to issue a joint communique with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Jan. 17.
Haiti “requests the United States to assist as needed in augmenting security,” said the communiqué, providing the rationale for what would be the third U.S. military intervention of Haiti in the last 20 years.
The revelations that US officials in Port-au-Prince did not believe there was, in fact, a security threat to justify a military intervention come in a trove of 1,918 cables made available to Haïti Liberté by WikiLeaks.
Deployment First, Authorization Later
After the quake, Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince resembled a warzone. Bodies lay strewn, collapsed buildings spilled into dust-filled streets, while Haitians frantically rushed to dig out survivors crying out from under hills of rubble. Several flattened neighborhoods looked as if they had been destroyed by bombing raids.
But the one element missing from this apocalyptic scene was an actual war or widespread violence. Instead, families sat down in the street, huddled around flickering candles with their belongings. Some wept, some sat in shell-shocked silence, while others sang prayers, wailing for Jesus Christ in Kreyòl, “Jezi!”
In the quake’s chaotic aftermath, Haitian President René Préval and his prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, were out of touch with U.S. government officials for about 24 hours. When they did connect, the Haitian leaders held a 3 p.m. meeting on Jan. 14 with U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten, the Jamaican Prime Minister, the Brazilian and EU ambassadors, and UN officials.
President Préval laid out priorities: “Re-establish telephone communications; Clear the streets of debris and bodies; Provide food and water to the population; Bury cadavers; Treat the injured; Coordination” among groups amidst the catastrophic destruction, a Jan. 16, 2010 cable explains. Préval did not mention insecurity as a major concern. He did not ask for military troops.
But the same cable reports that “lead elements of the 82nd Airborne Division arrived today, with approximately 150 troops on the ground. More aircraft are expected to arrive tonight with troops and equipment.”
The U.S. government had already initiated the deployment of considerable military assets to Haiti, according to the secret State Department cables. At its peak, the U.S. military response included 22,000 soldiers — 7,000 based on land and the remainder operating aboard 58 aircraft and 15 nearby vessels, according to the Pentagon. The U.S. Coast Guard was also flying spotter aircraft along Haiti’s coast to intercept any refugees from the disaster.
A Jan. 14 cable from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to U.S. embassies and Pentagon commands worldwide said that the U.S. Embassy in Haiti “anticipates significant food shortages and looting in the affected areas.” But subsequent dispatches from Ambassador Merten in Haiti repeatedly describe only “sporadic” incidents of violence and looting.
In those early post-quake hours, it appears that Préval was reluctant to call in U.S. troops. A Jan. 19 cable reported that a “radio talk show host blasted President Préval on Signal FM on January 18 for hesitating to authorize the U.S. military to deploy.
But Washington wasn’t waiting for authorization apparently. In a Jan. 15 cable, Clinton told diplomatic posts and military commands that “approximately 4,000 U.S. military personnel will be in Haiti by January 16 and 10,000 personnel by January 18.” However, not until two days later, on Jan. 17, did Clinton and Préval issue the “joint communique” in which Haiti requested the U.S. “to assist as needed in augmenting security.”
Aware that there would be international dismay about U.S. troops playing a security role, Clinton outlined a series of “talking points” for diplomats and military officers in her Jan. 22 cable. She said they should emphasize that “MINUSTAH, has the primary international responsibility for security,” but that “in keeping with President Préval’s request to the United States for assistance to augment security, the U.S. is providing every possible support… and is in no way supplanting the UN’s role.”
UN Says It Should Provide Security
In the Jan. 18 meeting between Préval and international officials in Santo Domingo, former Guatemalan diplomat Edmund Mulet, MINUSTAH’s new chief, said that his troops “were capable of providing security” in the country. (Mulet had flown into Haiti on a Pentagon plane to take over from MINUSTAH chief Hédi Annabi, who was killed with 101 other UN personnel when the Hotel Christopher, which acted as UN headquarters, collapsed in the quake.) Mulet “insisted that MINUSTAH be in charge of all security in Haiti, with other foreign military forces limited to humanitarian relief operations.”
In fact, many Haitians looked on in disbelief as heavily armed UN soldiers, after rushing to rescue their own personnel, resumed driving through the devastated capital and its suburbs in armored troop carriers, bristling with the guns. Many Haitians have long resented and denounced the MINUSTAH as a flagrant violation of Haiti’s 1987 Constitution and an affront to Haitian sovereignty. The UN troops brandishing guns in front of devastated earthquake victims added insult to injury
Even before the earthquake, President Préval had called on the UN to change its mission from costly, mostly pointless, and sometimes repressive military patrols to building desperately needed infrastructure. “Turn your tanks into bulldozers” Préval pleaded in his 2006 inaugural speech. UN and U.S. officials repeatedly and dismissively rebuffed the request.
After the quake, Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim and Organization of American States (OAS) Representative to Haiti Ricardo Seitenfus echoed Préval’s call. Even Mexico “sought an unproductive debate on reviewing MINUSTAH’s mandate” at the UN Security Council, a proposal which was thankfully “avoided,” a Feb. 24, 2010 cable from the U.S. Mexican Embassy reported.
Even though the UN boosted its force, US troops in and around Haiti eventually outnumbered it by almost 2-to-1, and they remained for six months. Those troops poured into Haiti as U.S. officials fretted about the Haitian police force’s ability to reorganize itself and maintain order, the cables show. (At the same time, the cables reported no marked increase in violence.
But following her boss’ “talking points,” Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s Chief of Staff, “assured Préval… that the [U.S.] military was here for humanitarian relief and not as a security force,” explains a Jan. 19 cable.
But that’s not what journalists on the ground saw.
On Jan. 19, 2010, Democracy Now’s crew along with Haïti Liberté’s Kim Ives arrived at the General Hospital around 1 p.m., shortly after troops from the 82nd Airborne Division. There, they found the soldiers, guns in hand, standing behind the hospital’s closed main gate. The troops had orders to provide “security” by denying entrance to a crowd of hundreds, including injured earthquake victims and family members of patients bringing them food or medicine. “Watching the scene in front of the General Hospital yesterday said it all,” said Ives in a Democracy Now! interview the next day. “Here were people who were going in and out of the hospital bringing food to their loved ones in there or needing to go to the hospital, and there were a bunch of… U.S. 82nd Airborne soldiers in front yelling in English at this crowd. They didn’t know what they were doing. They were creating more chaos rather than diminishing it. It was a comedy, if it weren’t so tragic… They had no business being there.”
The journalists finally managed to get into the hospital and alerted the hospital’s interim director, Dr. Evan Lyon, about the problem. He immediately sent word down that the soldiers should stand down and open the gate. They did, but then assumed positions in the hospital’s driveway, continuing to act, among the injured hobbling into the hospital, as a completely unnecessary and unrequested “security force,” contrary to what Mills had promised Préval.
The entry point for much of the military personnel and equipment was the capital’s Toussaint L’Ouverture Airport. Timothy Schwartz, an anthropologist who has consulted for USAID, rushed into Port-au-Prince the day after the quake to help. “Ben and I are at the airport, on the tarmac, helping soldiers of the 82nd Airborne load thick, heavy metal plates into the back of my pickup truck,” he writes in a forthcoming book. “Then it occurs to me, ‘what the hell are these things?’”
“‘Body armor,’ Ben says.”
Schwartz reflected: “Fear must be the reason why all this military hardware and these soldiers around us are setting up base camp behind a ten foot fence. Fear must be why they are walking around in the near sweltering heat with 80 pounds of gear strapped to their bodies and machine guns swung over their shoulders.”
One doctor from Colorado who flew in with colleagues (at their own expense) on Jan. 17 to help the injured was shocked by the military deployment he saw at the airport. “We need gauze, not guns,” he told the Democracy Now crew.
The enormous influx of U.S. military personnel, weapons and equipment into the airport prompted a chorus of protest from mid-level French, Italian, and Brazilian officials, as well as the aid group Doctors Without Borders. They were outraged that planes carrying vital humanitarian supplies were prevented from landing, or delayed, sometimes for days.
“We had a whole freaking plane full of the friggin’ medicine!” Douglas Copp, an American rescue worker, exclaimed outside a UN base not long after the quake. The U.S. military, which had taken over the Port-au-Prince airport, would not give clearance for the Peruvian military plane to land. It had to divert to the Dominican capital, 150 miles away. “In Santo Domingo, we got a bus, and we came into Haiti with just the things we could fit in the bus,” he said.
Getting the Narrative “Right”
Secretary Clinton brooked no criticism, which was growing worldwide, of the U.S. military’s role in the relief effort.“I am deeply concerned by instances of inaccurate and unfavorable international media coverage of America’s role and intentions in Haiti,” she wrote in a stern Jan. 20 message to embassies across the globe. “It is imperative to get the narrative right over the long term.”
She asked that Embassies report back to her, “citing specific examples of irresponsible journalism in your host countries, and what action you have taken in response.”
In countries all over the world, from Luxembourg to Chile, diplomatic officials scrutinized the media and hit back against criticism of the U.S. military’s build-up in Haiti, sending back dozens of detailed reports.
For example, a Jan. 20 cable from Doha describes an Al Jazeera English report on the relief effort’s militarization which compared the US-run airport to a “mini-Green zone.” This report resulted in a phone call “during the early morning hours of January 18″ from the U.S. Embassy in Doha to Tony Burman, managing director of Al Jazeera English.
But the airport story was accurate. “They had taken over the place,” said Jeremy Dupin, 26, about the U.S. “joint coordination” of the airport. After his home had collapsed, Dupin, a Haitian journalist, had wandered the streets for a day until linking up with an Al Jazeera English crew to work as a producer.
“There were 20,000 soldiers so this was a big move,” Dupin said. “We pointed out there were serious problems, and that’s why the U.S. didn’t like the news, but we told the truth. And if we had to say it again, we would say it again… This wasn’t something we just said, it’s something we showed with images and footage. I mean, this was the truth.”
Many cables reported generally positive coverage in their countries. But any instance of negativity towards the United States, no matter how small, was flagged and dealt with. In Colombia, for example, “the only negative coverage” was from a newspaper cartoonist who drew “a colonial soldier planting a U.S. flag on the island of Haiti,” the Bogota Embassy reported on Jan. 26. “Post will meet with the cartoonist this week to discuss this cartoon with him and provide information refuting its inference, as well as engage with El Espectador’s editor to express our strong concerns.”
The Buenos Aires Embassy reported on Jan. 26 that the “pro-government, left-of-center Pagina 12 protests the excessive U.S. troop deployment, noting that ALBA (Bolivarian Partnership for the Americas) voiced its ‘concern over the excessive presence of foreign troops without any reason, purpose, venues or time of permanence,’ in veiled reference to the U.S. troops.
Factory Owners Demand “Security at All Levels”
Back in Haiti, Embassy officials worried that only 30-40% of the police were showing up for duty, while some 4,000 prisoners had escaped from the National Penitentiary. There were “numerous gang member/leaders” among the escapees, a Feb. 16 cable noted, but “many were not hardened criminals and were being held in lengthy pre-trial detention, never having been sentenced.”
“The security situation is worsening,” said a Jan. 18 cable issued just after midnight. “[E]scaped inmates have formed gangs to kidnap and perpetuate [sic] other crimes.”
Only nine hours later, however, another dispatch: “Embassy Port-au-Prince reports security is ‘pretty good,’ with ‘sporadic outbreaks’ of violence, despite news stories of a growing number of looters roaming the streets of Port-au-Prince and of gunfire and police using tear gas to disperse crowds.”
A Jan. 23 cable shows the situation unchanged: “Embassy Port-au-Prince reports the security situation on the ground remains relatively calm.”
Many news stories dishonestly described a sensational and imaginary eruption of violence in Haiti. “Gangs Rule Streets of Haiti,” CBS reported the day after the quake. On Jan. 19, CNN.com’s lead headline was “Security fears grow in Haiti’s tent cities,” and the caption below, “with 4,000 convicted criminals on the loose, nothing and no one is safe.”
But the U.S. Embassy was reporting the opposite. One Jan. 19 cable said that the “security situation in Haiti remains calm overall with no indications of mass migration towards North America.” Another Jan. 19 cable said: “Despite hardships in devastated neighborhoods, residents appear to be calm and civil, though isolated reports of roving armed gangs continue.” It continued: “Residents were residing in made-shift [sic] camps in available open areas, and they had not yet received any humanitarian supplies from relief organization. Nonetheless, the residents were civil, calm, polite, solemn and seemed to be well-organized while they were searching for belongings in the ruins of their homes. However, isolated reports continue of roving armed gangs engaged in looting and robbery.”
The U.S. moved aggressively to beef up the Haitian police (PNH), giving police chief Mario Andrésol “command and control advice and mentoring” from Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and FBI agents while trying to ensure that Haitian police officers were paid and well-equipped. The DEA advisor was Darrel Paskett, whose first post-quake priority was directing his “well-armed” bulletproof-vested DEA agents to guard the U.S. Embassy from “huge crowds” of desperate Haitians that might overrun it, FOX News reported. The crowds never materialized.
Before the end of the month, three separate State Department cables relayed that “Canadian Embassy contacts in Port-au-Prince report verbal orders were allegedly given by police leadership to shoot escaped prisoners on sight. UN Civilian Police officers close to prison authorities also heard unconfirmed reports of extra-judicial killings by police.”
The cables do not identify what action, if any, the PNH’s U.S. advisors took to investigate or stop the unlawful killings. Nor is there any mention of the numerous so-called “looters” in downtown Port-au-Prince’s rubble-filled commercial district who were shot on sight by the Haitian police, like 15-year-old Fabienne Cherisma, who grabbed some paintings from a collapsed structure.
Not surprisingly, Haitian business owners were the most worried about security, especially for their factories. Five days after the quake, Ambassador Merten met with representatives of Haiti’s business sector, who said “their major concern is security at all levels, to include security of goods, at marketplaces, and for ports of entry.” Later, they asked the UN occupation troops “to provide security for reopened factories, and pledged to re-open in weeks.” Embassy officers met again with Haitian business leaders one week later.
In a Jan. 26 cable, Merten commented that “apparel manufacturers in Haiti operate on a high volume, thin margin, low capitalization basis where cash flow is extremely important for the business to survive.” He relayed a factory owner’s suggestion for a $20 million loan to the sector. Days later, he applauded the introduction of legislation in the U.S. Senate “intended to provide short-term relief to Haiti’s apparel sector” by extending trade preferences.
Militarization of Humanitarian Aid
There is no doubt that the U.S. soldiers deployed to Haiti helped many earthquake victims. The 82nd Airborne Division helped set up one of the capital’s largest and best equipped IDP camps of over 35,000 with actor Sean Penn at the Pétionville Country Club, which was their operational base.
The Pentagon’s earthquake response also included one of the largest medical outreach efforts in history. Service men and women treated and evaluated thousands of Haitian patients, including more than 8,600 on the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort. Surgeons aboard the ship completed nearly 1,000 surgeries.
However, even more impressive results were obtained by Cuba’s 800 doctors in Haiti and the Henry Reeve Medical Brigade, a 1,500 member contingent of doctors from Cuba and many other nations who graduated from Cuba’s medical school. In the six months after the quake, according the Cuban Embassy in Haiti, the Brigade treated over 70,300 patients, performing over 2,500 operations, all without deploying soldiers or bringing in weapons. (Cuba’s medical missions are still in Haiti and remain a bulwark against cholera’s spread.)
In fact, there is a growing movement among aid groups worldwide, and even in the UN, against the militarization of humanitarian aid. The report entitled “Quick Impact, Quick Collapse: The Dangers of Militarized Aid in Afghanistan” by Actionaid, Oxfam International, and other NGOs could have been as easily written about Haiti, where the Pentagon’s “government in a box” strategy was being applied in late January 2010, when the study was released.
“As political pressures to ‘show results’ in troop contributing countries intensify, more and more assistance is being channelled through military actors to ‘win hearts and minds’ while efforts to address the underlying causes of poverty… are being sidelined,” the report’s introduction reads. “Development projects implemented with military money or through military-dominated structures aim to achieve fast results but are often poorly executed, inappropriate and do not have sufficient community involvement to make them sustainable. There is little evidence this approach is generating stability…”
But no matter where one comes down on the question of the U.S. military’s role and contribution in post-quake Haiti, one thing is for sure. The massive troop deployment was set in motion before President Préval had given any green-light, putting him before a fait accompli which he had little choice but to go along with.
“It is certain that one important reason for the U.S. troop deployment to Haiti after the quake was to bar any revolutionary uprising that might have emerged due to the Haitian government’s near collapse,” said Haitian political activist Ray Laforest, a member of the International Support Haiti Network. “Also the perception of Haitians in Washington, since the time of its 1915 occupation, is that they are savage, undisciplined and violent. In fact, the 2010 earthquake proved the opposite: Haitians came together in an exemplary display of heroism, resilience and solidarity. Washington’s military response to the earthquake indicates how deeply it misunderstands, mistrusts and mistreats Haiti.”
Haiti-Politic : New Outbreak of Violence in Petit-Goâve
Wednesday, the partisans of the new political alliance of opposition in Petit-Goâve composed of Block of Democratic Opposition (BOD) [affiliated MOPOD] “Rezo Pitit pep”, “3 vwa” and of collective of Vialet, again took the streets to demand once again the restoration of the electricity and a large drop in the prices of petroleum products, among other things…
Arrived near the Parquet, protesters chanting about hostile not only against the investigating judge, Me Legène Léccius but also against the Government Commissioner, Me Alix Civil whose they demand the resignation, they threw stones against the police.
Our correspondent, the journalist Guyto Mathieu was injured by a stone’s throw to the left leg, when he questioned, Louicito Benjamin, a member of the New Alliance.
Many observers have strongly condemned the violent behavior of protesters who then blocked the national road #2.
Moreover, in Wednesday morning, young lawyers of Petit Goâve, wearing their robes and very angry, also started a violent protest against the presence of the investigating judge, Me Legéne Leccius, at the First instance court, which went to his office, under heavy police escort.
Thereafter, lawyers blocked the entrance of the court with chairs and desks. They loudly expressed and displayed placards against the judge Leccius that they accuse of corruption and seller of Justice “We no longer want to see Me Leccius in court. That he leave immediately because he made arbitrarily arresting Me Milord Anthony last week (link) ” declared lawyers.
Because of the protest movement, the judge Leccius prematurely left the court with the help of the police to take refuge to the police station of Petit-Goâve.
In an interview with journalists, on the Police station’s court, the judge Leccius rejected of a backhand the corruption charges against him and gave his version of the arrest of Me Anthony saying “I gave the order to arrest my colleague Me Milord, because he had uttered threats against me and violently struck my office, in addision he is charged in the burning of the home of Madame Anaise.”
— — —
HL/ HaitiLibre / Guyto Mathieu (Correspondant Petit-Goâve)
Haiti: Tear gas, burning cars as THOUSANDS join anti-govt rally
Feb 4, 2015 | Clashes erupted between police and anti-government protesters in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday after thousands marched against Haitian President Michel Martelly over fuel prices.
Mercy & Sharing Helps Haiti Grow its Future
Original article written by Angelyn Frankenberg
When Aspen humanitarian Susie Krabacher first visited Cite Soleil, the poorest and most dangerous section of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 20 years ago, she knew she had found her life’s work. With her husband, Joe Krabacher, she started a food program that was the first step in building Mercy & Sharing, a nonprofit that has grown to serve more than 5,000 Haitians.
Krabacher’s book, “Angels of a Lower Flight,” tells her story in detail. Her childhood was marred by sexual abuse, being passed among foster homes and her younger brother’s suicide. She had to quit school at age 15 to go to work full time because “no one was taking care of me at all,” but she always kept the fire to do something in a big way to improve life for a large group of children. She could not realize her dream of joining the Peace Corps without a high school diploma, but that made her more determined to start her own program.
Today, the Carbondale-based Mercy & Sharing provides housing, education and hope for Haitian children who would otherwise fall through the cracks. Its programs help the least of the least, children whom orphanages will not accept — Mercy & Sharing does not call its housing facilities “orphanages” — because they are too sick and disabled. The organization does not participate in adoptions because its broader mission is to help Haitian children grow into adults who will improve their country from within.
Mercy & Sharing’s mission is spiritually driven and is affiliated with Crossroads Church in Aspen and Fellowship Bible Church in Tennessee. It also partners with sister congregations that help support its Village Community Church. To further its mission of caring for and educating Haiti’s disabled, abused and abandoned children, though, Mercy & Sharing partners with diverse religious and secular organizations including the Vibrant Village Foundation and Catholic Relief Services.
ASPEN THERAPIST HELPS
The organization’s U.S. and in-country staffs also partner with professionals from multiple disciplines.
One such partnership is in its physical therapy center. Bill Fabrocini, with the Aspen Club, is a clinical specialist in orthopedic physical therapy who oversees the center. He worked with the organization in Haiti three years ago to develop structure and set protocols for the clinic and to help evaluate the children’s needs. He also improved the minimal education most of the local service providers had by recruiting qualified physical and occupational therapists to train them. Though the therapy center now has an on-site director, Fabrocini and volunteers he recruits travel to Haiti several times per year.
The Mercy & Sharing Village in Williamson, about 30 miles northwest of Port-au-Prince, features three residential centers and two schools. Besides traditional classroom education, children receive instruction and experience in building trades and agriculture.
The organization’s president, Robin Hamill, described how its education programs are changing expectations. He said students in Mercy & Sharing schools have a 99 percent pass rate at all grade levels compared with a national rate of 22 percent, and added that no amount of outside aid will solve Haiti’s vast problems — ultimately help has to grow within. He would “bet money that one of our kids will end up leading [Haiti] in our lifetime.”
Krabacher explained that helping the children can run head-on into entrenched voodoo beliefs that attribute the children’s disabilities to curses and evil spirits and often result in poor families paying everything they have to priests for potions and remedies that harm rather than help the children.
Working against those practices, however, does not mean dishonoring Haiti’s history and culture. In the schools and on field trips, Krabacher said, Mercy & Sharing staff teaches children to be proud and hopeful for their country.
Krabacher and Hamill, who criticize a lack of transparency in the “global aid-industrial complex,” pointed out that Mercy & Sharing practices the financial transparency that it promotes. The organization’s 501(c)(3) Determination Letter as well as annual reports, financial statements, and tax forms are available on its website. In addition, its five-member board of directors pays all of its administrative costs to ensure that all donations go directly to helping Haitian children.
Staying true to its mission of helping Haitian children grow and develop so that they in turn can help develop and lead their country to a brighter future, Mercy & Sharing is working to educate Haitian mothers about unscrupulous adoption agents. Krabacher said that many orphanages in the country cooperate with such brokers while other individuals approach mothers directly promising a better life for their children. She emphasized that non-Haitian parents who adopt children through these agents are not aware of the high-pressure tactics that many of them use.
Instead of trying to work with the Haitian government to stop the practice, though, Mercy & Sharing is making progress through education. The organization is beginning a series of public service announcements that encourage mothers to resist the adoption brokers’ high-pressure tactics and to “Just say NO!” to anyone who tries to persuade them to give up their children.
Like Mercy & Sharing’s first food program in 1994, this mission to teach Haiti to “hold on tightly to your kids!” is starting small. But it is another example of the organization’s focus on programs that grow organically and ultimately help Haiti’s children develop pride and skills to help themselves.
Is USAID Helping Haiti to Recover, or US Contractors to Make Millions?
The international community pledged enough aid to give every Haitian a check for $1,000. The money went elsewhere.
The corrugated metal fences surrounding construction sites in downtown Port-au-Prince are covered with a simple message: “Haiti ap vanse,” or “Haiti is moving forward.” Where once many thousands of people made tattered tents and makeshift shelters their home, now massive concrete shells and cranes stand tall amidst the rubble. Returning to Haiti, along with much of the world’s major media, for the fifth anniversary of the earthquake that killed more than 200,000 and displaced 1.5 million, it’s impossible not to see some signs that Haiti is in fact “moving forward.” The large camps of internally displaced persons, the most visible sign of the quake’s lasting impact, have for the most part been cleared, though certainly some remain. But beneath the veneer of progress, a more disturbing reality is apparent.
Eighteen kilometers north on the dusty hillsides overlooking the sea is Canaan, an informal city now home to hundreds of thousands of people and, according to the State Department, on its way to becoming the second-largest city in Haiti. “It’s a living hell,” says Alexis, one of the area’s residents, as we sit overlooking a new $18 million sports complex built by the Olympic Committee for Haitian national teams at the foot of the hills. “I’ll stay here because I can’t afford to go anywhere else,” she adds. Like many others here, Alexis received rental support from an NGO to move out of the camps in Haiti’s capital, but when it ran out, she was displaced all over again. While no longer facing the constant threat of eviction, Alexis faces a new set of problems: there are no government services in Canaan, water is scarce, employment even more so.
Five years ago, it took just seconds for hundreds of thousands of homes to crumble and crack. More than a million Haitians took to the streets, sleeping under the stars wherever space allowed, taking comfort that the only thing that could still fall was the sky. Almost just as quickly, the global aid-industrial complex was set in motion; the first no-bid contracts for groups responding to the crisis were awarded just days after. In a few months, the international community would come together, pledging $10 billion in relief and promising that this time would be different. No more of the failed policies of the past, in which the flow of foreign aid undermined the Haitian government; this time Haiti would “build back better.” But after five years and billions of dollars, just 9,000 new homes have been built.
And so, the big question five years later remains: “Where did the money go?” The funds pledged were enough to hand every single Haitian a check for $1,000. Yet compared to the lofty expectations, the internationally led reconstruction process has been a failure. To answer the question, you have to forget the notion that foreign aid is simply an altruistic endeavor to better the lives of those in need.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which has spent more than $1.5 billion in Haiti, explains its goal as “furthering America’s interests.” In a more candid assessment, contained in a document now over a decade old and no longer publicly available, USAID explained that “the principal beneficiary of America’s foreign assistance programs has always been the United States.” Evidence from Haiti backs this up. For every $1 that USAID has spent, less than one penny went directly to Haitian organizations, be it the Haitian government or in Haiti’s private sector. More than 50 cents went to Beltway firms handling everything from housing construction, rubble removal, health services, security and more located in DC, Maryland and Virginia. As a jobs creator back home, USAID’s Haiti reconstruction effort has been an astounding success. The single largest recipient of USAID funding in Haiti was a for-profit, DC-based firm, Chemonics International, through USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives. In an earlier contract with Chemonics released through Freedom of Information Act requests, USAID clearly explained: “While humanitarian aid is distributed on the basis of need alone, transition assistance is allocated with an eye to advancing U.S. foreign policy objectives and priorities.”
A relevant example of just that philosophy is that the vast majority of USAID-financed houses were built many hours north of Port-au-Prince, where the need is greatest, in Caracol, the site of a shiny, new industrial park, which received high-level support from Bill and Hillary Clinton. And while the plan had been to build 15,000 houses, only 900 currently have been built. At the same time, a reliance on foreign contractors and imported materials led costs to balloon from $55 million to over $90 million. In October 2014, barely a year after the first families moved in to homes in Caracol, USAID awarded $4.5 million to yet another American firm to oversee massive repairs needed to fix the faulty work of the first contractor. This is the damage caused by putting political priorities and American business interests over the needs of those on the ground.
But Chemonics, whose contract with USAID explicitly states that decisions about what programs to fund “will be based upon US foreign policy interests in consultation” with the State Department, worked to further USAID’s objectives of “counter[ing] the destabilizing effects” and the “growing discontent” with the pace of reconstruction. It ran PR for the new industrial park, installing benches and flower planters in nearby areas to “project a positive image.” An audit later noted that the flowers soon died “from lack of care,” while the mayor decried the lack of community involvement. But business was good for Chemonics, whose CEO at the time received a $2.5 million bonus.
If you try to dig deeper into how USAID money is actually spent, you’ll find a black box. While it is relatively easy to look up online how much money Chemonics has received for work in Haiti since the quake (over $200 million), it is impossible to identify the thousands of subcontractors that actually implement the various programs USAID supports. Interested in how much money contractors are able to take off the top for their headquarters back home? Too bad — that information is a tightly protected trade secret that USAID and its contractors refuse to disclose.
When I submitted a FOIA request for more specific information about Chemonics’s work in Haiti, every document I received was heavily redacted. USAID explained that to “release the information…could willfully stir up false allegations…and cause strife within the target communities,” adding, “the release of the information…would likely instigate demonstrations and create an unsafe environment” to work in.
The international aid effort in Haiti has been plagued from the beginning by a lack of transparency and a lack of community participation. A reliance on opaque NGOs and unaccountable contractors has shielded programs from scrutiny. Decisions are expressly guided not solely by the needs on the ground but by powerful actors in Washington, New York and elsewhere. But this isn’t a mistake, it’s the system we’ve created, and it’s time to change it.
Hallett Academy Raises Funds for M&S Kids
Mercy & Sharing
Debra Muzikar | Development Director
On Friday, November 14, 2014, Susie Krabacher, Co-Founder of the non-profit Mercy & Sharing which serves children in Haiti, and The Links Organization of Denver kick-started a school philanthropy program called “Change for Change in Haiti.” Hallett Fundamental Academy’s goal is to raise $2,000 for the organization by collecting loose change over the next month. The mission of the International Trends and Services facet is to expand the global platform for programs designed and developed to service the educational, health, and cultural needs of people of African descent throughout the world. As part of the project, six students will travel with Susie to Haiti to see firsthand what their efforts have accomplished and the work that Mercy & Sharing is doing.
For over twenty years, Aspen-based philanthropists Susie and Joe Krabacher have dedicated much of their lives to bringing desperately needed care to the youngest and most vulnerable residents of the Caribbean island through their Haitian-registered humanitarian organization, Mercy & Sharing. “We believe that the best way to heal these children is in their own country,” says co-founder Susie Krabacher. “That’s why we work so hard to provide the children with the local support and services they need to heal and thrive.”
# # #
About Mercy & Sharing | Mercy & Sharing provides diverse services to the most vulnerable of Haiti’s citizens. Besides giving a home and 24/7 care to 126 children, Mercy &Sharing also runs three schools to educate over 1100 students, serves 2,000 nutritious meals to the areas poorest villagers every day, supplies clean water daily to over 5,000, operates a medical care and therapy center, and employs 220 Haitians. Mercy and Sharing’s administrative staff of four in the United States is funded directly by its Board of Directors, so all donations raised go directly to programs in Haiti. Mercy & Sharing is supported by loyal private donors (no public funding), dedicated volunteer Board members and officers, and numerous volunteers. To learn more about Mercy & Sharing and how you can help, visit www.haitichildren.org.
Interview: Susie Krabacher, Co-Founder/President of Mercy & Sharing
Interview by Nicole Weaver
Recently, I had the distinct honor to meet Susie Krabacher, co-founder and president of Mercy & Sharing, an organization dedicated to Haitian children’s relief. Susie is a relentless advocate for children, and was the recipient of the prestigious 2000 International Humanitarian Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Haitians in Washington, DC. Mercy & Sharing believes in equipping children with the tools and skills they need to become productive, responsible citizens. Go here to read about Mercy & Sharing’s 2014 Gala for Haitian Children’s Relief. Thank you Susie for taking time to do this interview.
Can you explain in detail all the work you are doing with Haiti’s children through your foundation, Mercy & Sharing?
The main focus of Mercy & Sharing is to rescue children who are not picked by any orphanage in Haiti. 99% of orphanages in Haiti do not accept children with disabilities. However, 50% of the babies with a handicap can become functional and completely normal [with] medical intervention. This is what we do. Then we raise these little Haitian heroes in their own country with the highest level of education in Haiti. [Students helped by] M&S [are] consistently in the 99-100% [range] of passing the State exams. The Haitian average is 22%. All of our children are introduced to leadership programs. Many will lead their country in the future. We do not avoid teaching values and all the children pray to our Heavenly Father for themselves and each other.
Do you have any short and long-term goals for Mercy & Sharing? If so, what are they?
I would like to see financial stability. I would like to have every program annually funded. We have challenges in keeping every program operational from year to year. This is always on my heart. I am always looking for faith-based partners who will join me in this great privilege of serving the poor and saving children’s lives.
How many times a year do you travel to Haiti? How are you able to remain safe?
I try to maintain a schedule of five weeks in the U.S. to raise funds and every sixth week in Haiti. Mercy & Sharing employs 212 local Haitians to run our 11 life-saving programs.
Let’s say someone wants to donate to Mercy & Sharing. What urgent, immediate needs do you have right now?
Any amount is a blessing. Keeping all the programs open is such a challenge. We serve 5,200 Haitians every single day. They get clean water, or their children get an education in our schools. We often provide the only meal they get per day. Our clinics offer care to entire villages. You can’t put a value on keeping people from suffering. But the best part is when they get hope from knowing about Jesus. We can ease the suffering but we get to spend eternity with them if they know him.
I understand all the proceeds from your book Angels of a Lower Flight go to Mercy & Sharing. Where can one can purchase a copy of your book?
The book can be purchased at Amazon or you can always order from your local bookstore. I would love to sign anyone’s copy and answer questions. I am now writing book two. Again, all names will be changed!
. . . . . .
If you would like to learn more about Mercy & Sharing and make a donation, please visit its website. You can also follow Mercy & Sharing on Twitter and Facebook.