Saturday, February 27, 2010

From rubble to recovery

From rubble to recovery

Published: February 13, 2010

Foreign Direct Investment

(Read the original article here)

A huge recovery challenge lies ahead for Haiti after its devastating earthquake, but could the rebuilding programmes bring about an essential economic restructuring? Michael Deibert reports from Port-au-Prince.

The incremental economic progress that Haiti, an impoverished Caribbean nation of 9 million people, had been experiencing over the past several years was brought to a cataclysmic halt late on the afternoon of January 12, when a 7.0 earthquake centred just south of the capital city sent the pillars of state and industry crashing to the ground in a heap of dust.

In a matter of seconds, Haiti’s Palais National, Palais de Justice, Parliament and many government ministries were either totally or partially destroyed. The top command of the UN mission, whose troops had been supporting the government of president René Préval since his 2006 election, lost their lives, along with an estimated 200,000 Haitians. Factories collapsed onto their owners and workers alike, and entire neighbourhoods tumbled down the brooding mountains that surround the capital city’s bay.

Further devastation

Haiti, already desperately poor but having experienced its first sustained period of political calm and stirrings of foreign investment interest in many decades, seemed as if it would be reduced to an even graver level than it had been before: mortally wounded, traumatised, ungovernable. In addition to the buildings destroyed, Haiti had also lost some of those best placed to aid its tenuous economic recovery, among them one of the country’s most respected economists, Philippe Rouzier, as well as Jean Frantz Richard and Murray Lustin Junior, the director-general and director of operations, respectively, at the Direction Générale des Impôts, the country’s main tax office in the capital.

According to the International Organisation for Migration, as of early February at least 460,000 people were still living in 315 spontaneous settlements throughout Port-au-Prince, while the World Food Programme said that more than 1.6 million people had received ­supplies since the start of the earthquake response.

Economic focus

But Haiti’s industrious population knows a little something about struggle and perseverance, even in the face of such a devastating tragedy. Within days of the earthquake, the country’s market women, taxi drivers and other labourers had returned to the streets, resuming commerce among the hundreds of thousands camped out between the shells of ruined buildings. Capital residents began to flow back into Haiti’s countryside, seeking family solace among the loss.

From a terrible misfortune, some hoped that Haiti might still have set in motion the seeds for a new beginning. Despite the ousting of a popular prime minister last autumn, Haiti’s modest economic engine, buoyed by an extended period of relative political tranquillity and an improved security situation, continued chugging along under a new prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, seemingly bearing out a December 2008 UN report asserting that it was striking “how modest are the impediments to competitiveness relative to the huge opportunities offered by the fundamentals” in the country.

Last year, billionaire George Soros’s Economic Development Fund announced plans to create a $45m industrial park in Cité Soleil, one of the capital’s poorest neighbourhoods, while two new hotels were set to open along the country’s lush south coast.

At the same time, the OTF Group, a competitiveness consulting firm credited with breathing new life into Rwanda’s tourism, coffee and agro-industry sectors following the country’s 1994 genocide, praised the business opportunities in Haiti. Focusing on several key “growth clusters” to drive economic development, it hoped to help create 500,000 jobs in Haiti within three years.

Following the earthquake, though reassessed, the group said its conclusions did not necessarily need to be shelved, just pushed back for six months to a year.

“The outmigration from [Port-au-Prince] is a huge opportunity to reverse the migration trends of the past two decades,” says OTF director Robert Henning. “If reconstruction can create opportunities and jobs outside of the capital, this will achieve an important goal of redistributing the influence and economic weight of Haiti.”

Trade possibilities

Though the country’s interior has been severely deforested over the past few decades, local groups, such as the Mouvman Peyizan Nasyonal Kongrè Papay, have worked for years on reforestation and irrigation projects and some areas, such as the Artibonite Valley, remain relatively fertile. With Port-au-Prince’s harbour severely damaged and the likelihood of recurrent large-scale earthquakes extremely high, according to the US Geological Survey, international attention has for the first time begun to look seriously at developing Haiti’s long-neglected interior with manufacturing and agricultural initiatives.

A long border with neighbouring Dominican Republic, which lends itself to the possibility of free-trade zones, and possible ports that might conceivably be expanded around the country – including Miragoâne (in the country’s west), Saint-Marc (in the middle region) and Cap-Haïtien (in the north) – would seem to support this possibility for future investment.

Following a decision last year by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank to cancel $1.2bn of Haiti’s debt – with the latter institution approving an additional $120m in grants for investments in key sectors such as infrastructure, basic services and disaster prevention, the G-7 countries told Haiti after a post-earthquake meeting in Canada in February that the country’s debts to the body did not need to be repaid.

New beginning

None of this in any way minimises the grievous shock – physical, psychological and economic – that Haiti’s people and its government have suffered because of those terrible moments in January. But, day by day, it appears to be picking itself up, dusting itself off and trying to decide where it will head from here.

“The extent of this disaster is also due to the fact that this country has not been managed, or rather has been ill-managed, for the past 50 years,” says Michèle Pierre-Louis, a civil society leader and former prime minister of Haiti. “Maybe after mourning our dead and saving the lives of the survivors, we should start thinking about ways to put together our energies, our solidarity, our creativity to rebuild our capital under some kind of strong leadership… [which] could eventually lead to rebuilding the entire country. Now is the time.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Haitians Find Help Through the Airwaves

My interview (along with Emilio San Pedro) on WNYC's The Takeaway this morning on the importance of Haitian radio can be heard here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thoughts on recent Haiti commentaries

As a progressive reporter and analyst working on the ground in Haiti, I have gotten fairly used to reading ignorant commentary on the Caribbean nation of 9 million over the years.

Last month, the dust had not even settled from the earthquake that destroyed large sections of Port-au-Prince and killed some 2000,000 people when the voices of intolerance and opportunism set about savaging a country that was already on its knees.

The irony of Rush Limbaugh - a man so obese that he can barely stand maligning a nation of the chronically underfed - telling listeners not to support the hundreds of thousands made homeless by the quake met the venomous snake-oil rhetoric of Pat Robertson, who denounced those buried under the rumble for having made “a pact with the Devil.” Further libeling the dead, the American basketball player Paul Shirley wrote that “shouldn’t much of the responsibility for the disaster lie with the victims of that disaster,” a remark that got him wisely fired by ESPN.

Unfortunately, though, the right are not the only ones whose views of Haiti seems to have been colored by political prejudice and misunderstanding. In recent years, a small but noisy sector of the international left has been equally irresponsible in its commentary about Haiti, with some commentators wishing to see all foreign countries in terms of facile good guy-bad guy scenarios

Center for Economic and Policy Research co-director Mark Weisbrot - a man so intellectually lazy he often gets the basic details of Haiti’s history wrong - characterizes despotic former Haitian ruler Jean-Bertrand Aristide as “Haiti's democratically elected president...kidnapped by the US and flown to exile in Africa,” Naomi Klein, interviewing Aristide in his gilded South Africa exile (where the South African government underwrites his expenses to the tune of that of a government minister), wrote that Aristide is proof of her own anti-globalization credo, as she credulously repeats Aristide’s contention that he was ousted because of his resistance to the “privatization” of Haiti’s state industries. Writing in the Guardian after having spent only two months in Haiti and having written of his support of Mr. Aristide before having ever set foot in the country, the academic Peter Hallward concludes that “Aristide's own government...was overthrown by an internationally sponsored coup in 2004 that killed several thousand people and left much of the population smouldering in resentment.”

These assertions would likely be news to the people I spoke to in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, when the city was still reeling from the impact of the quake, the fires still smoldering and the bodies still perfuming the air with the sickly-sweet decay of human flesh. To the people I did speak to in places like the capital’s crowded Delmas road, along, the busy Route Freres and even in Aristide’s former home of Tabarre, the reaction to the former president’s January offer to be flown to Haiti veered between disparaging comments that Aristide was a criminal to bitter observations that Aristide should buy a ticket and come dig with his hands through the rubble like everyone else, rather than waiting to be ferried home like a returning emperor. During a visit to Haiti’s countryside last summer, I found the response to the mention of Aristide’s name even more hostile. The president’s Fanmi Lavalas party, badly divided and unwisely banned from upcoming legislative elections, can still rouse a few thousand people for street rallies in the capital, but the movement seems largely a spent force and Haitians seem largely to have moved on.

In Haiti, a small, poor country where few people can speak or write English proficiently, the left, like the right, seems to feel that they have found the perfect canvas on which to outline their own theories and agendas, no matter how irrelevant they may be to the struggles of Haitians as whole. This cock-eyed view of history is only heightened by the habit of visiting foreigners to surround themselves with the capital’s political class, a strata of society that the Haitians themselves have learned to despise to such a degree that many poor people I spoke to last month openly hoped for a U.S. occupation of the country (something I think would be a mistake).

Perhaps the palme d'or of recent ignorant commentary on Haiti may belong to Lawrence Harrison, director of the Cultural Change Institute at the Fletcher School of International Affairs at Tufts University and the former director of the USAID mission to Haiti from 1977 to 1979.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Harrison lays the blame for Haiti’s ills at the altar of the country’s indigenous religious construct of vodou, opining that “its followers believe that their destinies are controlled by hundreds of capricious spirits who must be propitiated through voodoo ceremonies...a species of the sorcery religions that Cameroonian development expert Daniel Etounga-Manguelle identifies as one of the principal obstacles to progress in Africa.”

Further, Harrison informs his readers, following the overthrow of the French in 1804, free Haitians “were left with a value system largely shaped by African culture” and quotes the economist Sir Arthur Lewis (“himself a descendent of African slaves”) as saying that former slaves “inherited the idea that work is only fit for slaves."

Let me say this plainly: Lawrence Harrison would collapse of exhaustion if he put in half a day’s work that I have seen peasant farmers and urban laborers put in during the course of a single day in Haiti. In Haiti, securing the most basic necessities of existence is a daily, titanic struggle that people like Harrison, Limbaugh,Weisbrot et al, secure behind their desks and probably never having had to put in a strenuous day’s work in their lives, will never understand as they hide behind their pompous theories.

Vodou and its value system, in the nearly 15 years I have been traveling to Haiti, are no more arcane or nonsensical than the cosmology of Christianity, Judaism, Islam or Hinduism. I have, in fact, seen vodou it act as an important spiritual succor for people in a place where death, premature and unnatural, is a blighted daily companion, and a sense of disconnect from one's heritage a real concern.

Several years ago, while chatting with a vodou priest known as Ti Papi in the crowded Bizoton quarter of Port-au-Prince, he told me the following:

When there's tires burning in the streets, when there's coup d'etat, when there's everything else, we are still doing our ceremonies, we are still beating our drums. Politicians come and go but voodoo is always here. If it wasn't for voodoo, we would already be occupied, either by the Americans or the Dominicans. Voodoo? It's been our sovereignty, over the years.

It’s a Haitian point of view, like the political point of view of Haiti’s people, that outsiders would do well to listen to.

Between the corrosive racism of some on the right and the tired rhetoric of some on the left - each based in no way in the reality on the ground in Haiti - we have an irresponsible, ahistorical approach to the country that in no way helps to ameliorate the situation of Haiti’s poor majority. When novice commentators try and shove Haiti into their own unsophisticated binary worldview, it damages, rather than advances, the cause of Haiti’s poor. By attempting to bestow a sheen of legitimacy on a disgraced leader or by maligning Haitians’ spiritual beliefs, these commentators, far from engaging in genuine inquiry and scholarship, are in fact showing the most grievous disrespect to Haiti and its people.

Haiti deserves better than this, and it is time that foreign commentators on the country actually spent some time there, away from their comfortable desks and apartments, speaking to actual Haitians in the back of sweltering camionettes, in crowded shantytowns and in hardscrabble peasant fields, far away from the echo-chamber of the intelligentsia in which so much of the right and the left often marinate.

The Haitians, the everyday Haitians who have struggled so long against such great odds to build a decent country and to provide for their families despite so many obstacles, deserve to have their voices heard without the filter of the prejudices of perhaps well-meaning but ignorant foreigners. We owe them at least that, I think. The Haitians have a lot more to teach us about their country than we can teach them.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Addicted to Haiti

The New York Times

February 7, 2010

Op-Ed Contributor

Addicted to Haiti


(Read the original article here)

Dallas - IN 1999 I made a day trip from the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, up to the wanly charming town of Kenscoff, a couple of hours drive into the mountains. I’d done this journey before, but not in several years, and as the road wound upward I couldn’t help being astonished by the sprawling mansions that had taken over the hillsides.

Where this road had once offered peaceful views of terraced fields, patches of forest, clusters of modest farmhouses, there now hulked villa after mind-boggling villa, as if the McMansions from Dallas’s flat-as-a-pancake suburbs had been transplanted to the mountains overlooking Port-au-Prince. Had oil been discovered in Haiti? As every turn revealed new vistas of architectural bombast, my Haitian friend in the passenger seat was shaking his head, muttering the same word over and over:

Drogue. Drugs.

Since Haiti’s devastating earthquake, much attention has been focused, rightly so, on the convergence of economic, political and cultural forces that rendered the country so vulnerable to this catastrophe. Many have looked to the past for guidance, and recent weeks have given us earnest and often perceptive analyses of Haitian history, reaching back to its brutal colonial origins, its proud, improbable and staggeringly violent war of independence, and continuing on through the next 200 years of mostly miserable governance, that depressing catalog of revolts, coups, betrayals and interventions — usually aided, if not procured outright, by foreign powers — that drained Haiti of so much of its wealth and promise.

But if Haiti is to be rebuilt, or not merely rebuilt but transformed, then drug trafficking needs to be recognized for what it is, a primary force — arguably, the dominant force — in Haitian political life for the past 25 years.

A 1993 memo, written by John Kerry as the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations, asserted that “there is a partnership made in hell, in cocaine, and in dollars between the Colombian cartels and the Haitian military.” At the time, Haiti was well on its way to becoming the Caribbean’s leading transshipment point for cocaine entering the United States from South America, and while the individual actors may have changed in the years since then, the partnership has continued to thrive. Today, drug trafficking is a billion-dollar-a-year enterprise in Haiti, generating tremendous profits in a country where most people survive on a few dollars a day.

In any country, this kind of wealth would provide ample incentive and means for acquiring power, but in Haiti the drug trade exerts an influence out of all proportion to other sectors of society. The narrative of Haitian politics since the fall of the Duvalier regime in 1986 closely tracks the rise of drug trafficking. As Haiti struggled to hold elections in the years immediately after President Jean-Claude Duvalier’s ouster, compelling evidence pointed to the involvement in cocaine trafficking of Col. Jean-Claude Paul and other high-ranking officers, a faction of the Haitian military that was, perhaps not coincidentally, especially pitiless in its suppression of the democratic movement.

The military continued to be closely linked to the drug trade during Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s brief first turn as president, cut short by the coup of Sept. 30, 1991, and little changed after his ouster. Indeed, Port-au-Prince’s chief of police, Lt. Col. Joseph Michel François, emerged as the next key man in Haitian drug trafficking, presiding over a notorious network of soldiers and paramilitary attachés that, in addition to expanding the country’s drug trade, carried out a ruthless program of political terrorism in which thousands of Haitians were murdered.

Those years of intense repression coincided with Haiti’s rise as the region’s major transshipment point for cocaine, a distinction it maintained even after civilian rule was restored in 1994. By 2000, an estimated 75 tons, or 15 percent of the cocaine consumed annually in the United States, was being channeled through Haiti. Drug-related corruption and violence became endemic during Mr. Aristide’s second term as president, with many in his inner circle — including the National Palace security chief, the director of the Haitian National Police, the head of an investigations unit of the National Police, and the president of the Haitian Senate — eventually serving time in American prisons for violations of American narcotics and money-laundering laws.

At virtually every turn over the past two and a half decades, Haiti’s attempts to establish the institutions and standards of civil society have been subverted or crushed, often with the hand of the drug trade clearly evident. President René Préval’s administration made greater strides than any previous government toward true reform, yet progress even before Jan. 12 was tenuous. The National Police remained a weak and uncertain force; the judiciary was dysfunctional; government ministries were highly politicized and rife with corruption; concepts of transparency, human rights and the rule of law were fragile at best.

At present, there is no lack of debate on how best to go about remaking Haiti. Plan better. Build better. Push for institutional reform. Pour in many billions of dollars in international aid, with stronger oversight, firmer resolve, greater involvement of the Haitian public and private sectors. An opposing school of thought says that aid should be cut off completely, forcing Haitians to take ownership of their country’s fate; only shock therapy can break the enduring cycle of dependence, dysfunction and self-inflicted poverty.

Whichever way you lean, chances are that the power and profits of drug trafficking will doom your prescription to irrelevance. Yes, Americans have shown tremendous generosity toward Haiti since Jan. 12 — more than $20 million in text donations to the Red Cross, $57 million and counting raised by the Hope for Haiti Now telethon, the private planes stacked up at airports in southern Florida, waiting for a landing slot in Port-au-Prince. That’s the part of the story that makes us feel good.

Then there’s the other part. The United States leads the world in cocaine consumption, which means there is a line that goes straight from our stupendous drug habit back to the conditions in Haiti, all those years of toxic governance that set the stage for so much destruction, so much death and injury.

So it’s come to this: the richest country in the hemisphere and the poorest, the first republic and the second, trapped together in the New World’s most glaring modern failure, the war on drugs. It would be naïve to hope that Americans will quit their cocaine any time soon for Haiti’s sake. But it would be equally naïve not to recognize this huge obstacle standing in Haiti’s way, and the role we’ve played in creating it. Our aspirations for Haiti lead straight through our addictions.

Ben Fountain is the author of the short-story collection “Brief Encounters with Che Guevara.”

Friday, February 5, 2010

Haitian Radio Returns to the Air

Haitian Radio Returns to the Air

By Michael Deibert

Posted Friday, Feb. 5, 2010


(Read the original article here)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti's radio journalists, many of whom have long experience of operating under dictatorships and elected governments with little tolerance for critical press coverage, know a thing or two about adversity. But nearly a month ago, when Haiti's capital was devastated by an earthquake that leveled large sections of the city and killed at least 150,000 people, local reporters were suddenly faced with a whole new set of challenges.

"We try and orient people to where aid is being distributed, and every day we announce messages about people who are still missing," says Wendell Theodore, the silken-voiced news director of Radio Metropole in the capital's Delmas region. His own home destroyed, Theodore now broadcasts the names of the missing from under a tree in the radio station's yard, next to the tent he has slept in since his house collapsed.

"I saw our building shake," says Rotchild Francois, director of the capital's RFM radio in the Pétionville district, who was at his desk in the studio when the earthquake struck and dashed into the street with a dozen other employees. The station lost a reporter in the quake and was knocked off the air for five days. Reporters from Radio Galaxie, Radio Magic 9, and Radio Télé Ginen were also killed.

Francois now spends his days combing the capital, trying to paint an audio picture of what is happening and to get information on the air about where aid is being distributed, the location of feeding and medical centers, and other important information. Many of the station's employees, fearful of aftershocks, refuse to enter the building.

"People come here to send messages to their relatives that they are OK or to have people call to say that they are OK," says Francois. "We do that every day."

Why journalists might be fearful was illustrated vividly when I was in the studio of Radio Kiskeya interviewing its director general, Marvel Dandin. As Dandin explained how the station, which had been knocked off the air for a week, had resumed broadcasting on an abbreviated schedule, a brief aftershock set the damaged, cracked building trembling and sent people running from the studio into the street.

Radio has historically played an important and politically significant role in Haiti's civic life, where newspapers are few and far between and difficult to decipher for a population often unable to avail themselves of proper schooling.

Radio Soleil, a Catholic station, played a key role in spreading information during the ouster of the Duvalier family dictatorship, which ruled Haiti from 1957 until 1986, during which time freedom of the press was practically nonexistent.

Independent journalism was a dangerous business during the revolving military juntas that controlled the country after the Duvalier regime collapsed. Under the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in office from 2001 until 2004, reporters were physically attacked by government partisans while covering demonstrations; they were also imprisoned and forced to flee the country as a result of threats against their lives.

Several journalists have been killed in Haiti in recent years, among them Radio Haiti-Inter Director Jean Dominique in April 2000, Radio Echo 2000 reporter Brignol Lindor in December 2001, and Jacques Roche, a TV host, poet, and an editor at the daily newspaper Le Matin, who was kidnapped and murdered in 2005.

But despite powerful forces arrayed against independent reporting, Haiti's journalists have persisted in the face of such adversity—good preparation, some might say, for today's challenges.

"I ran to my house and found that my wife had died," says Marcus Garcia, director of Radio Mélodie FM, a station that has continued broadcasting with the aid of generator despite the lack of electricity or telephone service. "But life has to continue, and if my wife was alive, she would want me to continue as I am doing, working for the people."

Michael Deibert is the author of Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

René Préval : "La communauté internationale a confiance"


René Préval : "La communauté internationale a confiance"

LE MONDE | 02.02.10 | 14h23 • Mis à jour le 02.02.10 | 14h23

(Read the original article here)

Port-au-Prince Envoyé spécial

René Préval, président d'Haïti depuis 2006, après un premier mandat de 1996 à 2001, défend son bilan anti-corruption.

L'ONG Transparency International s'inquiète de possibles détournements de l'aide qui afflue vers Haïti. Ces craintes sont-elles justifiées ?

J'ai fait de la bataille contre la corruption une priorité. Mais compte tenu de la faiblesse actuelle de l'administration haïtienne, nous n'allons pas nier qu'il y a des possibilités de corruption. Depuis que je suis président, que ce soit sous mon premier ou mon deuxième mandat, je crois avoir eu des premiers ministres au-dessus de tout soupçon. On ne peut pas dire, parce que le président ou le premier ministre ne sont pas corruptibles, qu'il n'y a pas de corruption. C'est une lutte que l'on doit mener avec les moyens que l'on a, et il faut renforcer ces moyens.

L'administration a été durement touchée par le séisme. Avez-vous les moyens d'éviter que la corruption sévisse ?

Transparency International exprime la perception de la corruption, pas la réalité de la corruption. Si cette ONG a des dossiers, qu'elle les rende publics pour que tout le monde soit édifié. A propos de la crainte que certains ont que l'aide internationale soit détournée par le gouvernement haïtien, je dis tout de suite que nous essayons de définir les priorités, mais que nous ne gérons pas l'aide. L'aide est gérée par l'USAID (l'agence de coopération américaine), par l'ACDI (son homologue canadienne), etc. L'aide des Nations unies est gérée par la Croix-Rouge, par le Programme alimentaire mondial (PAM).

La communauté internationale a-t-elle confiance ? Oui. La preuve, ce sont les transferts directs au budget de la République par la Banque mondiale, par la Banque interaméricaine de développement (BID) et le Fonds monétaire international (FMI). S'il n'y avait pas confiance, ils ne laisseraient pas la gestion de millions de dollars au gouvernement haïtien.

Etes-vous satisfait de la coordination de l'aide ? Cherche-t-on à vous imposer des choix ?

Après la catastrophe, il y a eu un mouvement spontané d'aide à Haïti. La coordination n'existait donc pas au départ. Mais au fur et à mesure, les agences essaient de coordonner leurs interventions, et c'est une bonne chose. Quand un Etat est faible, quand il est instable, les pays qui veulent l'aider passent par les ONG et on peut les comprendre. Il faut que les Haïtiens arrivent à la stabilité pour renforcer l'Etat afin que celui-ci puisse gérer ce pays.

Propos recueillis par Jean-Michel Caroit
Article paru dans l'édition du 03.02.10

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

In Memoriam : Les disparus du 12 janvier


In Memoriam : Les disparus du 12 janvier

Liste actualisée des nombreux responsables et personnalités d’horizons divers emportés par le monstre

mercredi 3 février 2010,

Radio Kiskeya

(Read the original article here)

Voici une nouvelle liste partielle de certains des nombreux dirigeants politiques, intellectuels, universitaires, parlementaires, fonctionnaires de l’Etat, leaders religieux, responsables onusiens, professionnels et militants brutalement emportés par l’horreur du 12 janvier. Ils ont pratiquement laissé un vide en ressources humaines qualifiées impossible à combler et un déficit majeur pour Haïti déjà à bout de souffle avant le tremblement de terre.

. Professseur Hubert Deronceray, 77 ans, tué en compagnie de sa sœur à Christ-Roi (nord-est de Port-au-Prince), l’un des quartiers les plus ravagés. Leader du Grand front centre-droit (GFCD), ex-candidat à la présidence et docteur en sociologie, il fut notamment ministre des affaires sociales sous Jean-Claude Duvalier (1971-1986).

. Professeur Micha Gaillard, l’un des dirigeants de la Fusion des sociaux-démocrates, décédé peu après avoir été victime de graves blessures dans l’effondrement du ministère de la justice où il participait à une réunion. Fils de l’historien Roger Gaillard et professeur à l’université, Micha était un militant impénitent caractérisé par sa jovialité, sa tolérance, une grande ouverture d’esprit et même une bonhomie qui frisait la naïveté.

. Alix Auguste, coordonnateur général du parti UCADDE. Une nouvelle figure qui commençait à peine à faire ses premiers pas sur la scène politique.

. Professeur Pierre Vernet, mort en même temps qu’au moins une centaine d’enseignants et étudiants de la Faculté de linguistique appliquée (FLA), l’une des onze entités de l’Université d’Etat d’Haïti (UEH) transformée en quelques secondes en une montagne de gravats.

Véritable autorité dans le domaine des sciences du langage en Haïti où il a fondé (en 1978) et dirigé pendant plus de 30 ans la Faculté de linguistique appliquée tout en assurant une promotion courageuse du créole, Vernet était notamment membre du Centre de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), en France.

Membre du conseil de l’université et militant discret de la cause démocratique, Pierre s’est brutalement séparé de son épouse et de leurs deux enfants.

. Wesner Mérant, vice-doyen de la FLA et ancien collaborateur de Radio Kiskeya

. Yves Alvarez, membre du corps professoral de la FLA

. Professeur Georges Anglade, célèbre géographe et l’un des rares théoriciens haïtiens. L’écrivain, universitaire et chroniqueur est mort dans l’effondrement de la maison de Philippe Rouzier. Les deux hommes avaient épousé chacun une sœur.

Anglade fut ministre des travaux publics sous Lavalas, première version.

. Mireille Neptune Anglade, écrivain et épouse du disparu. Elle dirigeait ces derniers mois une organisation féminine Lig Pouvwa Fanm (LIPOUFANM).

. Philippe Charles Claude Rouzier, ex-économiste en chef du bureau du Programme des Nations Unies pour le développement en Haïti (PNUD). Il était attaché depuis un certain temps au bureau des affaires civiles de la MINUSTAH.

Rouzier est mort en compagnie du couple Anglade et du jeune Olivier Neptune, petit-fils de feu le journaliste Jean Dominique.

. Professeur Serge Petit-Frère, universitaire et pédagogue très respecté

. Mgr Joseph Serge Miot, 63 ans, archevêque coadjuteur de Port-au-Prince. Le prélat a péri en compagnie de plusieurs autres personnes à la suite de l’écroulement de l’archevêché.

De nombreux autres religieux, prêtres, frères et sœurs appartenant à différentes congrégations n’ont pas non plus survécu à la catastrophe.

. Me Roc Cadet, 46 ans, doyen du tribunal civil de Port-au-Prince.

. Jean-Claude Rigueur, juge d’instruction, natif de Fond des Nègres (sud).

Les deux magistrats se trouvaient parmi la trentaine de victimes de l’effondrement du Palais de justice de la capitale.

. Jacques Jean Wilbert, Sénateur sortant du Plateau Central (centre), Elu en 2006 sous la bannière de la plateforme d’alors du Président Préval "Lespwa", le parlementaire figurait sur la liste des candidats de la nouvelle coalition présidentielle "Inite" aux sénatoriales partielles de février-mars, reportées sine die.

. Louis Michelet, Sénateur sortant de l’Artibonite (nord). Il avait été élu pour seulement quelques mois sous le label "indépendant" lors des législatives controversées du 21 juin 2009.

Les deux élus sont morts sous les décombres du Palais Législatif désormais totalement en ruine.

. Jean Frantz Richard et Murray Lustin Junior, respectivement directeur général et directeur des opérations de la Direction générale des impôts (DGI)

. Nicole Grégoire, responsable des affaires dominicaines à la chancellerie.

. Patrick Isidor, beau-frère de Nicole, chef du cabinet particulier de la ministre des affaires étrangères, Marie-Michèle Rey.

. Pierre Richard Jean-Pierre, chef de cabinet de la ministre de la culture et de la communication, Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassègue. Il était aussi l’animateur à la télévision de l’émission littéraire "Absolument livre".

. Hédi Annabi, représentant spécial du Secrétaire général de l’ONU et, à ce titre, chef de la Mission des Nations Unies pour la stabilisation en Haïti (MINUSTAH). De nationalité tunisienne, il était un fin diplomate et reconnu comme l’un des plus grands spécialistes onusiens en matière d’opération de maintien de la paix à travers le monde.

Un hommage appuyé lui a été rendu lors de ses émouvantes funérailles célébrées le 22 janvier à Tunis.

. Luis Carlos da Costa, brésilien et chef adjoint de la MINUSTAH. Le Président brésilien Luiz Inàcio Lula da Silva a rendu hommage au disparu et à une vingtaine de casques bleus brésiliens qui avaient également péri.

. Riquet Michel, présentateur des émissions radiophoniques de la MINUSTAH et ancien journaliste à Radio Métropole, une station privée de Port-au-Prince.

Une centaine de militaires, policiers et employés civils de la force onusienne ont disparu dans l’effondrement du QG de la mission (Hôtel Christopher). Parmi eux, Riquet Michel, membre de la section communication et ancien journaliste à Radio Métropole, une station privée de Port-au-Prince.

. Myriam Merlet, 53 ans, économiste de fornmation, féministe et militante convaincue, décédée à son domicile. Grâce à une production intellectuelle de premier ordre axée sur l’équité de genre, elle a énormément contribué à la lutte menée, ces dernières années, en faveur de l’émancipation des femmes et a été chef de cabinet de la ministre à la condition féminine et aux droits de la femme.

. Magalie Marcelin, féministe versée surtout dans un activisme jugé souvent audacieux et sans concession. Elle était l’une des dirigeantes de l’organisation Kay Fanm.

Celle qui se révéla au public pour sa prestation de jeune actrice dans "Anita", un film du cinéaste haïtien Rassoul Labuchin, réalisé en 1979, laisse sa fille unique, Maïlé.

. Anne-Marie Coriolan, militante sociale et féministe discrète, mais qui s’efforçait d’atteindre une rigueur intellectuelle certaine dans ses démarches et interventions.

Membre fondatrice de l’orgabnisation féministe Solidarite fanm ayisyen (SOFA) et diplomée en sciences du langage (Faculté de linguistique appliquée d’Haïti + cours à distance dans une université française), Anne-Marie était mère de deux enfants.

Elle est partie tragiquement, comme son frère Fred Coriolan mort électrocuté le 26 avril 1986 lors d’une manifestation anti-duvaliériste devant le sinistre Fort-Dimanche qui s’était terminée dans le sang.

. Ginna Porcena, directrice de l’institut national géospatial (INGS). Cette jeune femme très dynamique, ancienne journaliste à Radio Galaxie et Tropic FM, deux stations privées de Port-au-Prince, était devenue l’une des valeurs sûres de la fonction publique haïtienne. Ironie du sort, Gina faisait partie d’une task force scientifique à l’état embryonnaire qui visait à doter Haïti de stations sismologiques capables de relever les données essentielles sur les mouvements géologiques à l’origine des tremblements de terre.

Carlo Lochard, ancien directeur départemental de l’Ouest de la Police Nationale (DDO) et candidat à la Députation dans la deuxième circonscription de Port-au-Prince sous la bannière du parti Konbit de Claire-Lydie Parent, la mairesse de Pétion-Ville.

Plusieurs membres de sa famille ont également disparu.

. Moïse Chérubin, avocat et fonctionnaire du ministère de la justice. Frère du militant bien connu Jean-Claude Chérubin, il fut dans le temps un collaborateur bénévole de Radio Kiskeya à l’occasion de la couverture d’événements sportifs internationaux comme la Coupe du monde de football.

. Pierre-Richard Perraut, directeur de vente à la Auto PLaza, concessionnaire de véhicules asiatiques. L’entreprise est la propriété du Dr Réginald Boulos, actuel président de la chambre de commerce et d’industrie d’Haïti (CCIH).

Connu et très apprécié pour son affabilité, Pierre-Richard était un modeste citoyen qui, comme beaucoup d’autres, rêvait d’un véritable changement social en Haïti.

. Garry St-Germain, ex-cadre de la mairie de Port-au-Prince et président-fondateur de la JAMA, une fondation qui tentait de proposer une alternative en matière d’offre culturelle à travers les journées annuelles de l’art, de la mode et de l’artisanat.

. Guercy Antoine, spécialiste des questions haïtiano-dominicaines et professeur à l’université. Décédé à son domicile.

. Me Jean Rosier Descarde, anthropolgue et professeur à l’université, décédé sous les décombres du Caribbean Supermarket.

. Yolène Lhérisson, professeure à la faculté des sciences de l’Université d’Etat d’Haïti.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Declaration de la Fondation Héritage pour Haïti

Pétion-Ville, Haïti, le 2 février 2010 – La Fondation Héritage pour Haïti (LFHH), section haïtienne de Transparency International (TI), présente ses sincères sympathies à la nation haïtienne et à toutes les familles endeuillées et affectées par le séisme dévastateur du 12 janvier 2010. Elle salue le courage de tous les haïtiens et haïtiennes qui ont fait preuve d’une grande solidarité et d’une profonde dignité dans ce moment de détresse. Honneur! Respect!

Plus que jamais, la famille haïtienne devra s’unir, se supporter les uns les autres, se montrer à la hauteur des défis titanesques que nous confrontons et s’atteler à construire notre pays en ruine.

La Fondation est extrêmement préoccupée par les possibilités qui se dessinent de plus en plus que certains se serviraient de cette situation de détresse incommensurable pour s’enrichir illicitement tant au niveau de la mise en place de marchés noirs qu’au niveau de détournements des fonds et de l’aide d’urgence (équipements, produits pharmaceutiques et alimentaires) voués aux victimes. Elle est aussi consternée par les faiblesses organisationnelles qui engendrent un délai inexcusable dans la distribution de l’aide.

Cette situation de souffrance humaine atroce que connaît nos concitoyens depuis le 12 janvier 2010 interpelle chaque haïtien et chaque haïtienne a s’élever au dessus de tout intérêt égoïste et mesquin qui ne ferait qu’aggraver le désarroi de notre peuple meurtri.

LFHH exhorte tous les gestionnaires de l’aide humanitaire, tant du secteur étatique que du secteur non-gouvernemental, à faire preuve de transparence dans l’utilisation et la distribution de l’aide. Sachant que les risques de corruption sont exacerbés dans les situations post-désastre, LFHH demande à toutes les institutions impliquées dans les programmes de secours et de reconstruction à mettre en place les mécanismes garants de probité et d’imputabilité. Tout détournement de l’aide sera considéré comme un outrage aux victimes.

LFHH est prête à collaborer avec les institutions en partageant les mécanismes anti-corruption développés par Transparency International.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Michael Deibert interviewed on KDVS

My interview on KDVS radio's It's About You, hosted by France Kassing, was broadcast today and can be heard here. The show also features a section about Howard Zinn and an interview with Nick Buxton about the United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen. My portion begins around the 30 minute mark.