Rule of Law

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The president of the Haitian Bar Association, Carlos Hercule, knows that the rule of law in his country is tenuous, and that people have little faith in the justice system. “We have attorneys who [single-handedly] represent both parties in real-estate deals. We have people representing themselves as attorneys who have not been accredited. And we have judges and officials who accept bribes,” he recently explained to me in French, through a translator.

His French is impeccable, but that’s another problem. French is the official language of the courts in Haiti, but as much as 95 percent of the population speaks only Creole, so most defendants—if they can even afford to hire a lawyer—can’t fully grasp what goes on during the court proceedings. There are no public defenders, and available legal aid is extremely limited. Adding to the disparity, as experts have pointed out, is the fact that many Haitian lawyers are typically invested in their own elite social status and rarely offer direct defense to the poor, which they perceive as debasing the profession. The result is that the vast majority of the country’s 10.3 million-plus people—roughly three-quarters of whom live on less than $2 a day—have no real access to justice.

Read more: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/04/establishing-the-rule-of-law-in-a-country-where-justice-hardly-exists/391113/?utm_content=buffera1062&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Child Slavery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Haiti, a 9-year-old girl leaves her poor village to work as a domestic worker for a family in Port-au-Prince, the island’s capital. She will not earn money, but the family will pay for her to go to school. She cooks, cleans and performs whatever domestic responsibilities are required in exchange for a promise of safety and and a better quality of life.

Read more: http://miamitimesonline.com/news/2015/apr/22/child-slavery-active-haiti/?utm_content=buffer8c318&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin.com&utm_campaign=buffer

The Clintons and Haitian contracts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Clinton Foundation lists the Brazilian construction firm OAS and the InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB) as donors that have given it between $1 million and $5 million. Those relationships are worth learning more about.

OAS has been in the news because it is caught up in a corruption scandal centered on Brazil’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras. In November Brazilian police arrested three top OAS executives for their alleged roles in a bribery scheme involving inflated contracts and kickbacks. OAS denies the allegations. Closer to home the 2013 OAS donation to the Clinton Foundation deserves attention because of the power that Bill Clinton has in Haiti, where OAS has been awarded IDB contracts.

Development banks are the butt of jokes among economists because while they claim to fight poverty they are mostly good at empire building. The same might be said of the Clintons in Haiti. A few months after Hillary Clinton became secretary of state in 2009, Bill Clinton was named the U.N. special envoy to Haiti. That gave the Clintons a lot of power over U.S. foreign-aid decisions in the small country.

Read more: http://www.wsj.com/articles/mary-anastasia-ogrady-the-clinton-foundation-and-haiti-contracts-1425855083

Carnival tragedy

 

A Haitian singer who was shocked by a high-voltage wire during Carnival is giving his account of what may have caused an accident that resulted in 16 deaths.

The hip-hop performer known as Fantom from the group Barikad Crew says a man on their Carnival float responsible for moving power lines moved two of three wires when their float abruptly moved forward.

The singer whose real name is Daniel Darinus was standing atop a speaker. He instantly lost consciousness when he was shocked and the sparks set off a deadly stampede.

Darinus spoke to journalists Wednesday in the hospital where doctors say he is in good condition despite his burns.

The accident occurred as thousands of people filled the streets of downtown Port-au-Prince for the raucous annual celebration.

Prime Minister Evans Paul said 16 people were confirmed dead and 78 were injured. He declared three official days of mourning for the impoverished Caribbean country. Haitian officials canceled Tuesday’s third and final day of Carnival events and announced a state funeral and vigil on Saturday for the victims.

Dr. Joel Desire, a doctor at General Hospital, said most of those killed appeared to have been trampled to death as the crowd surged away from the Carnival float, one of 16 in the downtown parade.

Witnesses said panic ensued when people jumped off the float to avoid being electrocuted.

Protests gain momentum..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A nationwide uprising against the regime of business partners President Michel Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe continued to gain steam this week with massive demonstrations in several major cities, including Port-au-Prince, Léogane, Petit Goâve, Cap-Haïtien, Fort-Liberté, Ouanaminthe, and Aux Cayes.

Feeling the protests’ heat, Martelly made a short televised national address on Nov. 28 to announce his formation of an “advisory commission” made up of 11 people whom he called “credible, honest, and trusted by society” to provide him “in eight days” with “a recommendation” on what path to take out of Haiti’s political imbroglio, saying that “the nation is divided, the problems are many, the problems are complicated.”

Read more:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/nationwide-uprising-gains-strength-in-haiti/5417866

Children of Haitian descent in Dominican Republic being barred from school, forced into labor

Children of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic are increasingly being barred from attending school following a court ruling that could lead to tens of thousands of people being stripped of their citizenship, according to a report released Friday.

Dozens of families with school-age children say they are being turned away or harassed due to arbitrary interpretations of the court ruling and Dominican laws, according to researchers at the Human Rights Institute at Georgetown University Law Center who compiled the report.

As a result, some children drop out of school or lose scholarships while others are forced into underage labor, said Kimberly Fetsick, one of the report’s authors.

“Children are being harmed, and their human rights are being violated,” she said. “Action must be taken to protect these children.”

 

Read more:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/children-haitian-descent-dominican-republic-barred-school-article-1.1754213#ixzz30DAevwf5

 

 

 

Ice cream adds sweet taste for farmers in Haiti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entrepreneurs from one of the grittiest cities in the United States have joined forces with peasant farmers in Haiti to help transform the country’s bitter poverty into delicious and life-sustaining ice cream.

A white former human sexuality professor from Alabama and a black Baltimore gourmet ice cream maker are being recognized for their efforts to help Haitian farmers find a market for their high-value vanilla beans and cacao in a product they like to call “ice cream with a purpose.”

The unusual pair teamed up two years ago to market Haitian vanilla-flavored ice cream to upscale Baltimore area restaurants.

The Vanilla Project, which provides income for some 650 farmers in rural Haiti, on February 1 earned its creators the Citizen Diplomat Award from Global Ties U.S., a non-profit partner of the U.S. State Department.

The vanilla venture owes its origins to a chance encounter 14 years ago when Alabama mother and daughter Anne and Stephanie Reynolds befriended a Haitian street artist.

They decided on a lark to join the artist, Gracia Thelisma, on a bus trip to the north of Haiti to visit the mother he had not seen in years.

The mother-daughter duo was struck by Haiti’s beauty and its people – as well as its poverty.

After they returned to Alabama they collected clothes to send to Haiti and raised money to start a school in Thelisma’s home town of Plaisance.

That soon evolved into seeking a long-term solution to employ the children who graduated from the school.

“Haiti once exported some of the finest vanilla products to Paris. They can do it again,” said Anne Reynolds, 57, a former professor at Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with a poverty rate of 77 percent and an average per capita income of $760, according to the World Bank.

After testing the plants in Haiti, and planting 70,000 vanilla vines, the project went into full businessmode last year with the creation of the De La Sol Haiti company in Plaisance, a rural farmingcommunity of 65,000.

Stephanie Reynolds, 27, with a graduate degree in Latin American studies, runs the company, which has 8 employees, 5 women and 3 men from Plaisance.

While waiting for the vines to mature, De la Sol Haiti is turning cocoa bought from local producers into chocolate.

The company is training farmers in new techniques to grow the vanilla vines on cacao trees and Thelisma hopes vanilla exports could start next year. It takes up to five years for the vanilla plants, which are related to the orchid family, to reach maturity.

“My dream is for De la Sol to become a leading force for Plaisance development,” said Thelisma. “In the region, people do not have jobs. With the vanilla businessDe la Sol could be able to expand and benefit a larger part of the population,” he added.

Reynolds was looking for culinary partners when she got a call out of the blue from Baltimore ice cream maker Taharka Brothers.

Owned and operated by young, college-aged African-Americans from tough neighborhoods, Taharka, founded in 2010, was introduced to Haiti in 2012 through Global Ties U.S., which hosts international visitors sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

Taharka’s marketingmanager, Darius Wilmore, a former graphic artist with Def Jam Recordings, the hip hop label, was immediately struck with the idea of helping Haitian producers.

Wilmore Googled “vanilla in Haiti,” and found Reynolds.

She told him her vanilla beans were still two years away from maturity. In passing, Reynolds mentioned growing vanilla bean vines on cacao (chocolate) trees.

“What are you doing with the chocolate?” asked Wilmore.

While vanilla is the No. 1 flavor in the world, chocolate comes in a solid second.

Today, Taharka orders between 20 to 50 pounds of chocolate bi-monthly from De La Sol Haiti for its ice cream, which it delivers to 50 of Baltimore’s fanciest restaurants  grocery stores and ice cream shops. Wilmore hopes to see a profit next year, and start taking delivery of some Haitian vanilla beans.

Taharka Brothers joined Del La Sol Haiti in Washington, DC, this month to receive the Citizen Diplomat Award, adding their names to a list of luminaries such as U.S. Senator William Fulbright and celebrated poet-activist Maya Angelou.

Both Reynolds and Wilmore share a belief that the best way to help those less fortunate is through collaboration, and that giving creates dependency.

While Wilmore disapproves of handouts, he believes he owes the people of Haiti a debt of gratitude, because their bloody, decade-long revolution in the late 18th century began the end of slavery in the western world.

“It is race, class and history wrapped into this. Here we are, young black men, working with white women from Alabama, buying chocolate from poor Haitians. We are shining the light on social injustice through ice cream,” Wilmore said in his award acceptance speech.

He added: “Ice cream tastes better than poverty.”

 

The Discontented

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN HAITI the year is ending with squalls of street protest. Shows of public anger have been going on for weeks in Port-au-Prince, the capital, and other major cities. The protests are amorphous. Gatherings of differing sizes and intensities have been called by various entities, ranging from opposition parties to the trade unions.

If there is a thread running through them, it is a general discontent with President Michel Martelly’s 27-month-old administration. The country is still traumatised by 2010’s devastating earthquake and years of what Mr Martelly calls “bad governance”. (He means the period before he came into office; his critics say the maladministration continues.) This despite a slew of populist programmes to build things like stadiums and the attempts of Mr Martelly, a former entertainer, to win people over: he has even broadcast his own commentary of a big football match from Miami.

Even his supporters admit Mr Martelly himself is partly to blame for the trouble. He has been dilatory in pushing through a new electoral law, which has meant a two-year delay to elections for the Senate and in local municipalities. That gave the opposition a potent reason to mobilise protesters. One of the biggest and most violent demonstrations so far—on November 18th, the 210th anniversary of the battle that secured Haiti’s independence from France—focused on the overdue elections. That protest left one person dead as a few thousand Martelly supporters clashed with thousands of opposition marchers.

Under pressure—from the unquiet streets at home and from foreign diplomats—Mr Martelly has belatedly pushed through a new election law, which was published last week in Haiti’s official gazette. That earned him congratulations from the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Haiti, Sandra Honore, and from seven ambassadors of the international donors’ “core group” (America, France, Brazil, Spain, Canada, the European Union and the Organisation of American States). Read more:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2013/12/protests-haiti