Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Aid Distribution Catastrophe in Haiti

SOS, We Need Food and Water.
Melindayiti's Photostream – Flickr
The Saints won the Superbowl... good for NOLA. New Orleans residents and supporters needed a win like this to lift their spirits. New Orleans is still suffering from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the disastrous "rescue" operation, which was stalled and inadequate. So many families were broken up and shuffled off to all parts of the U.S. It was the largest loss of wealth for African-Americans in history – or it was, before the sub-prime home loans disaster hit Black folks (State of the Dream 2008-pdf). Louisiana had the largest percentage of homes owned by Blacks in the country.

In discussing his book "Come Hell or High Water," Michael Erick Dyson says, "Well, before Katrina, you know, Louisiana’s the second poorest state in the nation. Mississippi is first." This is illustrative of another devastating fact; where there is a high percentage of Black home ownership (similar fact in Haiti), the economy is poor, where there is a high percentage of White home ownership, the economy is described by the economist as poor. (poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere – sound familiar?).

Come Hell or High Water: Michael Eric Dyson on Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster
"We turn now to the issue of race and the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. President Bush is expected to pay a visit to the Gulf Coast this week. Back in Washington, meanwhile, congressional hearings on the government response to the disaster continue. The Senate appropriations committee spends two days inspecting Bush’s latest spending request for hurricane recovery. On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs examines “Hurricane Katrina: Recommendations for Reform.”

This comes following last week’s release of confidential video footage of President Bush’s final briefing before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. It shows the President was given dire warnings the storm could breach levees and threaten the lives of residents of New Orleans. Yet days later, President Bush said the breach of the levees hadn’t been anticipated."
Four plus years later and the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina has faded so from the minds of Americans that it is now possible for the U.S.' first Black President to install George W. Bush as the co-head (with Bill Clinton) of Haiti Relief fund-raising efforts. What of the Bush administration's catastrophic failures during Hurricane Katrina? What dark irony! No pun intended.

Redlining Haiti into Disaster Zones

Someone pointed out to me when I was railing about the "redlining" of Haiti into disaster zones – no aid goes into the "red" areas (more about that below), makes a good argument for integration. That stopped me in my tracks. In any case, there are teams of people looking out for the reputations of places like the Bahamas and the vacation spots and resorts must be protected. Unfortunately, The Bahamas has the highest HIV aids rate in the Caribbean (3%), while Haiti's HIV rate is high, but not the highest at 2.2%.

Same breaking up of families is occurring in Haiti as did for Hurricane Katrina survivors.

Speaking of family tragedies, today a Haitian judge ordered the release of eight of the 10 Baptist Ministers accused of child trafficking... two remain in custody. Can't help feeling that there is some miscarriage of justice, especially when I see the coverage of the event on CNN. Anderson and other "journalist" are sympathetic to the point of showing undo bias for the accused group. They had no intention of letting the parents ever see their children again. They were planning an adoption center in the DR! CNN ironically, has obtained the business plan for the adoption enterprise. It was a business. They were going to sell these children -- someone mentioned a five digit dollar value on the head of "orphans" in Haiti. It is unconscionable that help being offered these desperate parents was to take away their kids. Notably, the group leader Laura Silsby, told a boldface lie right on camera on CNN, claiming that the group had no plan for adoptions for these children. The Breaking News blog has a detailed timeline of events as they occurred in this plot to transport 33 Haitian children across the Haitian border into the Dominican Republic.

An American survivor's story

Read a good survival story... more on that follows below. It is about an American woman who refused the offer by the U.S. to fly out with other Americans. By the way, the delay of aid to survivors was an abomination, as she describes in her account.

The Haitian survivors are not getting the aid they need and there are red zones where aid does not go at all! A color code system has been established by the powers that be and some don't get aid at all – talk about death panels! So, it is taking a grassroots effort by activist to get help to those who are ignored. I am seriously thinking about putting up a website with zones and asking people to adopt a zone in Haiti to support 'til they get on their feet. If anyone has ideas and wants to help me with that contact me please!

There was an event at The Greene Space in New York's Soho district on Feb. 12, 2010 to commemorate the one month anniversary of the Haiti earthquake --- "NEXT New York Conversation Summit 2010 - Haiti's Future: New York City Speaks." It was a great event. It brought so many personalities together in a conversation about Haiti and issues surrounding the catastrophe... journalists, performers, activist, caregivers, doctors... even a psychologist and those who paid the admission price. There were tributes to Haiti, in prayer, in song, in rap and with instrumental music. Hope to have a video of the event I can post at some point. Unfortunately, did not bring my camera!

Some Highlights from The Greene Space Event

Ezili Danto gave a stirring speech and offered a prayer for the victims. She stated poignantly that they are human beings. She said they are not stereotypes. She said Haiti does not have the highest HIV Aids rate in this Hemisphere at 2.2% – unfortunately, Washington, DC (3%) does (another place where poor Black folks reside). Also crucial was her next statement, that Haiti is not a violent place statistically and she named a Caribbean locality and U.S. one that had higher crime stats. She urged those who are in Haiti with other agendas like the UN to start helping Haitian survivors of the earthquake. There were 9,000 UN "peacekeepers" in Haiti at the time of the earthquake, she said. Of the 9,000, one hundred were at the UN headquarters in Port-au-Prince, but where were the rest? Her point was that no one came to the aid of survivors for over three days after the disaster.


Tent City at Monument (Toussaint). Melindayiti's Photostream – Flickr

George Casimir, a Haitian psychologist, spoke about the internal issues the earthquake victims face. Many are experiencing psychological trauma. He related one instance of a family sleeping outside and not in their tent because a member was afraid the tent would fall down on them while inside. He made the observation that some attempt to establish a reason for the catastrophe. One reason he mentioned was that some Haitians feared that the earthquake signified the unhappiness of the leaders of the Haitian Revolution with the way that Haitians have conducted the country since independence. These Haitians view the survival of statues, like the Negre Maron which still stands intact in front of the destroyed Haitian Presidential Palace as significant in that regard. Dr. Casimir ascribes the term "resignation" to the way most Haitians are feeling now, rather then the term "resilience" used by pundits on cable TV. He reached this conclusion in light of the fact that the Haitian people, en masse feel that they are alone and that no one is coming to help them.

I receive calls and emails everyday with aid requests. In my last conversation with a survivor, I asked if he was hungry. He related that he was and added that a truck with aid had come through that day, but after it was gone, men in SUVs picked up the aid and left. "There was nothing we could do," he said. No one knows who these men are. This bears investigation and I will definitely question him closely next time we speak. The aid is inadequate, if the distributors of that aid do not stick around to make sure that survivors are getting it. This would not happen if they did.

A Scientist Investigates an Endangered Species in Anse-a-Pitres, Haiti
Dr. Masani Accimé marking iguana nest with Haitian youth.
At The Greene Space event, Dr. Masani Accimé, a Veterinarian who leads a wildlife conservation research project in Anse-a-Pitres, Haiti, spoke about her experiences helping earthquake survivors. She is truly a unique person. Dr. Masani Accimé is seeking grant funding to continue her wildlife conservation project. She is studying an endangered species of giant Iguana called Ricord's Iguana.
"With the help of the IIF, Dr. Accimé conducted a series of socioeconomic studies in the Anse-a-Pitres community to help understand the human impacts on this very fragile species. This work was done with the help of a very dynamic local youth group, OJAA (Oganizasyon Jenès Aktif Ansapit). This youth group proved to truly care about the presence of Ricord’s iguanas near their community when they staged a protest against construction activities at the Ricord’s iguana nesting site in September 2009. The protest was successful and the threat was abated, and so far this nesting area remains safe under the watchful eyes of these very dedicated young Haitians and several field guides.

Current conservation goals are to begin studying the nesting biology of Ricord’s iguana in 2010 to help strengthen what is known about the species, and help educate local government officials and the community. The IIF has pledged its support of the conservation efforts in Anse-a-Pitres, Haiti for the next 3 years."

Joel Dreyfuss, is the new Managing Editor of The Root, he was one of the featured speakers. Speaking with him at the reception, I learned that he is a Haitian of French Jewish extraction. His ancestor, was a General (Jean-Baptiste Riche) who was the last of the Generals who served in the Haitian Revolution to be president of Haiti. It was also fascinating to learn that his cousin was the sculptor who sculpted the Negre Maron statue. Joel is a very proud Haitian indeed!

Haitian sculptor/architect, Albert Mangones – 1917-2002 was commissioned by Francois Duvalier circa 1968-69 to create the Negre Maron Statue. The Negre Maron (Escaped Slave) statue, holds a left leg extended, a broken chain on his ankle, a machete is in his right hand, and his left hand holds a conch shell to his lips calling to the people. The statue survived the earthquake and commemorates the enslaved who revolted against the French.

Joel's cousin Christopher C. Stout, a representative from “Free the Kids”, a refuge for orphaned and vulnerable children outside Les Cayes, Haiti, was also one of the featured speakers.

"Joel Dreyfuss brings more than 35 years of experience as a journalist, editor and news executive to The Root. He has been editor-in-chief of Red Herring and Information Week, editor of PC Magazine, executive editor of Black Enterprise, a senior writer at Bloomberg Markets and editor-in-chief of Urban Box Office, an Internet startup.

He also served two stints at Fortune, first as an associate editor and Tokyo bureau chief, and later as a senior editor and personal technology columnist. Earlier he worked at USA Today and The Washington Post. He was also a news producer at KPIX in San Francisco and on-air reporter for KQED's Newsroom and WNET's 51st State.

He is co-author of The Bakke Case: The Politics of Inequality (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989). Many of his articles and essays have been included in anthologies.

A native of Haiti, Dreyfuss grew up in Paris, France; Monrovia, Liberia, and New York City. He earned a B.S. degree at the City College of the City University of New York and was an Urban Journalism Fellow at the University of Chicago. He is a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations."
Read a personal story from an American survivor at the Trees for Life website. Her name is Glenna Stinson and she has lived in Haiti for 20 years. Glenna is supporting her neighbors and friends in Haiti (500 families!) and refused to be flown out of Haiti like other Americans in the aftermath of the devastation.
The airport in the capital, Port-au-Prince, is now an American military base and relief flights have been re-routed to the Dominican Republic. All flights stopped for three hours for the arrival of Hillary Clinton. Critically injured Haitians waited unaided as 800 American residents in Haiti were fed, watered and evacuated. Six days passed before the US Air Force dropped bottled water to people suffering thirst and dehydration."
"The Kidnapping of Haiti" by John Pilger | 01.28.2010

HLLN posted an appeal on Glenna Stinton's behalf today.

_____________________________
Background:
Haiti to free eight U.S. missionaries, hold two
Timeline of Hurricane Katrina
The Greene Space in New York
The Invisible Immigrants by Joel Dreyfuss | The New York Times - Sunday, May 23, 1993
Haiti, a Historical Timeline by Joel Dreyfuss | The Root
Saving Haiti | Seeking hope for my native land. by Joel Dreyfuss | The Root
International Iguana Foundation: Ricord's Iguana

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7 comments:

Platypus5 said...

I must ask a question:

Is there anything left of Haiti's national identity?

thezenhaitian said...

Thank you for your comment. I must answer in the affirmative, with a resounding, YES!!

Haitians have a rich cultural, historical, societal, religious and political identity. If you are interested in learning more -- please check Haiti's demographics and statistics, i.e. national language, flag, religions...etc. You can get started by checking out Wikipedia... under Haiti and under The L'Ouverture Project.

Best of luck, Zanmi mwen.

thezenhaitian said...

I wouldn't count Haitians out just yet. The government of Rene Preval is a puppet government set up by the int'l community led by the US, France and Canada -- the people voted Preval in because they wanted Aristide returned to Haiti.

At The Ottawa Initiative -- search ezilidanto.com, on Google or on other search engines for details -- the so-called "international community" had it's backroom dealings, that took place just before the Coup D'etat of Haiti's democratically elected government.

It was a coup-knapping that they (The West) planned and executed -- no Haitian government official was invited to the deliberations of Haiti's fate. Don't buy the stereotypes about the failures of leadership, corruption, disease...etc. Haiti ended up in this catastrophic conditions primarily because of the Western powers' machinations. The Western powers control the money... The Paris Club, IMF, The World Bank, IDB, WTO... They use these autocratic institutions to strangle and destroy countries of the global south--particularly Haiti and Africa where they keep the people impoverished -- the rich get richer the poor stay destitute -- while their natural resources are stolen and exploited.

Haitians are down... but you can bet that they are not out.... they may have cheered Americans they thought were arriving to help. But the way the soldiers came, arriving paratroopers landing at the National Palace and walking out loaded down with their guns -- the symbolism of that was not lost on Haitians witnessing and retelling the event. They came armed with guns, not with water, food or aid. The cheers and expectations of some will soon give way to resignation and cynicism, then dissent and rebellion will rise again.

Haitian sovereignty cannot be stolen at the point of a gun... this is where the Americans, Candadians, French and MINUSTAH are in deep error. We have seen from American aggression in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia/Africa, Venezuela, Cuba and numerous other countries where the neo-colonials (lead by the U.S.) have attempted to stifle democracy, dissent and oppress the people... militarism does not "win hearts and minds."

thezenhaitian said...

By the way, unlike yourself, if people were dying by the hundreds of thousands, regardless of their nationality... I would feel some emotion...

thezenhaitian said...

Glenna Stinson was on Free-Speech radio news and talked about the issue of people not coming to the area where she lives (on Boutilier Mountain, north of PAP) with aid. She says the many nations and resources are congregated in downtown Port-au-Prince and trucks and supplies are sitting idle, while the aid goes undistributed. They are not delivering, she recounts, because they "fear" Haitians are violent. Here is a link to her interview (02.19.10) -- she became quiet choked up about the "inhumanity" of the aid workers:

http://www.fsrn.org/audio/newscast-friday-february-19-2010/6242

thezenhaitian said...

"We have seen from American aggression in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia/Africa, Venezuela, Cuba and numerous other countries where the neo-colonials (lead by the U.S.) have attempted to stifle democracy, dissent and oppress the people... militarism does not 'win hearts and minds.' "

This statement also applies to the embattled people of Palestine. The American proxy force of Israel is cruel, genocidal and criminal.

One love Palestine!

dog collars said...

The cheers and expectations of some will soon give way to resignation and cynicism, then dissent and rebellion will rise again.

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