Help Haiti

Thousands protest visit of French president Sarkozy to Haiti
Supporters of Jean-Bertrand Aristide call for his return to help in relief and recovery efforts  
Stories, photos at http://www.haitiaction.net/News/HIP/2_18_10/2_18_10.html
by Kevin Pina

 

Port au Prince, Haiti - HIP — Thousands of supporters of ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide took to the streets on Wednesday as French president Nicolas Sarkozy toured the earthquake ravaged capital of Port au Prince. Holding pictures of the ousted president aloft they chanted for France to pay more then 21 billion dollars in restitution and reparations and to return Aristide as Sarkozy's helicopter landed near Haiti's quake damaged national palace. Their demands stem from a long held dispute over compensation a nascent Haiti was forced to pay French slave owners in exchange for recognition of their independence and France's role in ousting Aristide in 2004.

 

Aristide, who remains widely popular among Haiti's poor, first raised the issue of restitution and reparations in April 2003. His government argued that an agreement reached in 1825 forcing Haiti to pay 90 million gold francs to compensate their former slave masters severely crippled Haiti's economic development. The debt included massive interest and took 122 years to pay off with the final installment made in 1947. His government calculated that the total sum of the debt Haiti was forced to pay with interest, along with reparations for the unpaid labor of millions of slaves kidnapped from Africa and forced to work on French plantations in Haiti, came to more that 21 billion dollars.  Aristide's administration pushed the issue on the international stage while airing commercials several times a day in Haiti that said, "We demand reparations and restitution. France, pay me my money, $21,685,135,571.48."

 

Aristide was forced out of the country in a coup ten months later on Feb. 29, 2004 and flown to the former French colony of the Central African Republic. Although the main author of the coup is still seen as the administration of George W. Bush, Haitians have never forgotten the role that France played in supporting the opposition movement to Aristide and their demands that he resign.

 

Several weeks before Aristide was forced onto a plane and flown into exile, the government of then French president Jacques Chirac dispatched Véronique Albanel and Régis Debray to demand that he resign. In an interview with writer Claude Ribbe one year after his ouster Aristide said, "These two French personalities came to the National Palace and asked me so. That is already known. The threats were groundless, they were evident and direct. As good Haitians, we are respectful but we demand to be respected and we replied with respect and dignity. The threats were evident and direct: you resign or you might be [killed]!"

Before his tour of the destruction in Haiti's capital and during an address to Haitian dignitaries, French president Sarkozy offered $400 million dollars in emergency assistance, reconstruction funds, and support for the Haitian government's operating budget. This was in addition to France's earlier decision to cancel Haiti's debt of $77 million dollars.

Paulette Joseph, a member of the Lavalas Mobilization Commission and one of the organizers of the demonstration responded, "That's great that Sarkozy has come to give France's support to the Haitian people in this difficult moment after the terrible earthquake that killed so many of our people and now forces us to live in greater misery." Joseph continued, "But $477 million dollars doesn't even come close to the damage France inflicted upon Haiti before the earthquake.  We were suffering from poverty before this crisis as a result of the debt Haiti was forced to pay the slave masters to recognize our independence. If our country is not equipped to handle this crisis and we are suffering more after the earthquake it is a direct result of that debt."

"We need Aristide to return!" shouted demonstrators as Haitian president Preval made a rare appearance on the lawn in front of Haiti's destroyed seat of government following Sarkozy's visit. Waving photos of Aristide they also began chanting, "If Aristide were here he would be suffering along with us!" as Preval turned his back on the crowd and withdrew to his luxury jeep amid tight security.

 

©2010 Haiti Information Project

 

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URGENT APPEAL FOR THE PEOPLE OF HAITI
 
From the Canada Haiti Action Network
 
 
 
 
January 14, 2010 Two days ago at 5 pm local time, a powerful magnitude-7 earthquake struck in Haiti. It was centred near the capital city Port-au-Prince and has caused massive destruction. The Canada Haiti Action Network urges Canadians and others around the world to contribute generously to emergency relief.
 
You can contribute to the Haitian Red Cross through its international partners in the International Red Cross. Contributions are tax deductible. The Canadian Red Cross is at: http://www.redcross.ca/article.asp?id=33900&tid=001. We also encourage contributions to the following organizations. Remember that you must provide a name and return mailing address in order to receive a tax-deductible receipt:
 
 
 
Zanmi Lasante/ PARTNERS IN HEALTH
 
 The Zanmi Lasante medical center is located in the remote Central Plateau of Haiti and delivers health care through a network of clinics in that region of the country. It is also an education center that trains and graduates Haitian doctors and other health professionals. It is the culmination of 20 years of work by Dr. Paul Farmer and his Partners in Health. Farmer, a graduate of Harvard University Medical School, currently serves as assistant to former President William Clinton, Special UN Envoy on Haiti. The health center survived the earthquake and is moving rapidly to receive  the injured and dispatch teams to the earthquake zone. See below for how to donate.
 
 
By mail, "Haiti Earthquake Relief" in cheque memo line to:
Partners In Health
P.O. Box 845578
Boston, MA 02284-5578
 
 Doctors Without Borders/ Medecins sans frontières
 
Doctors Without Borders operates clinics in Port au Prince and surrounding neighbourhoods. It has expertise in disaster relief. Donations in Canada and the U.S. are tax deductible. Go to:
 
 
By mail, "Haiti Earthquake" in memo line:
Doctors Without Borders
720 Spadina Ave, Suite 402
Toronto ON  M5S 2P9
 
 Sawatzky Family Foundation-SOPUDEP School
 
SOPUDEP is a pioneering school in Petionville with an enrolment of 600 students from elementary to senior high school grades. The school was not in session when the disaster struck; we do not know if the building survived. The resources of the school and its teachers are being mobilized to assist the neighbouring population. The Sawatzky Family Foundation is a registered charity in Canada and issues tax deductible receipts. Go to: http://www.sopudep.org/donate .
 
By mail:
The Sawatzky Family Foundation
PO Box 626, 25 Peter Street North
Orillia, Ontario, Canada  L3V 6K5
 
 
Haiti Emergency Relief Fund
 
In association with the Haiti Action Committee in San Francisco/Bay Area, this fund delivers resources directly to grassroots organizations in Haiti. It was founded 04 following the 2004 coup d'etat that forced the elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, from office and imposed a two-year regime of human rights violations whose consequence continues today. Go to: http://www.haitiaction.net/About/HERF/HERF.html
 
By mail:
Haiti Emergency Relief Fund/EBSC
East Bay Sanctuary Covenant
2362 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA   94704
 
 For more information, including telephone contact, go to the website of the Canada Haiti Action Network http://canadahaitiaction.ca/

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If you are concerned that your donation will not get to Haiti for several weeks or more, here is a local-to-local solution sent by Roger Annis of Haiti Solidarity BC, an affiliate of Canada Haiti Action Network.
 
January 16, 2010
Readers of this list and message have a unique opportunity to contribute directly to earthquake relief in Port au Prince. Vancouver filmmaker Elaine Briere returned from Haiti two days before the earthquake and is returning next week. She will join her partner, David Putt, and his two colleagues from Nelson BC who travelled to Haiti in December to volunteer on installation of water purification projects in the Delmas 33 district of Port au Prince. They work with Pure Water for the World. For more information on its work, see the web link below.

The project, its staff and volunteers have survived the earthquake. They are able to continue building and distributing purification units. Elaine has asked Haiti Solidarity BC to issue this appeal on her behalf for financial support so that the project can hire Haitian staff, expand its work and train Haitians as it grows. Their initial goal is to hire five more people locally. The need for this kind technology in Haiti is more critical than ever.

Donations to this project can be made online, BUT WE DO NOT KNOW WHEN THIS MONEY WOULD ARRIVE BECAUSE OF BROKEN COMMUNICATIONS WITH HAITI. SO INSTEAD, we are asking for pledges over the next four days so that funds will be transported directly. This is now the only way for funds to reach Haiti.

We hope to raise several thousand dollars before Elaine's departure. Please let us know your pledge by phone or e-mail, and you can mail cheques to:
Haiti Solidarity BC
3528 Seagull Place
Vancouver BC V5S4E9

If anyone knows of a fundraising effort looking for a very worthy recipient such as this one, please let us know. For other projects, you can go to the website of the Canada Haiti Action Network,http://www.canadahaitiaction.ca .

To pledge, or to assist in other ways:
By phone: 778 858 5179
By e-mail: Send a reply to this note, or email rogerannis@hotmail.com

In solidarity,

Roger Annis
For Haiti Solidarity BC

You can read about Pure Water for the World and communicate with it at the website below. The website can receive donations, but it is not known when funds could arrive in Haiti. It is a registered charitable organization in the U.S. only, not in Canada.
http://purewaterfortheworld.org/post-hatian-earthquake-news/

 

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Dear Peace Coalitioners

 

 
The gravity of the situation in Haiti is all the more alarming when on-the-ground reports reveal that aid workers and supplies are not reaching the trapped and dying.  The rescue teams in the slums have mostly been people digging with their bare hands. There is something systemically wrong here.
 
Below the article are some aid organizations that are highly recommended by Canada Haiti Action.
 
WHERE IS THE AID IN HAITI?
By Roger Annis

January 15--Evidence of monstrous neglect of the Haitian people is mounting following the catastrophic earthquake three days ago. As life-saving medical supplies, food, water purification chemicals and vehicles pile up at the airport in Port au Prince, and as news networks report a massive international effort to deliver emergency aid, the people in the shattered city are wondering when they will see help.

BBC World Service reports that Haitian officials now fear the death toll could rise to 140,000. Three million people are homeless.

BBC reporter Andy Gallagher told an 8 pm (Pacific Time) broadcast tonight that he had traveled "extensively" in Port au Prince during the day and saw little sign of aid delivery. He said he was shown nothing but courtesy by the Haitians he encountered. Everywhere he went he was taken by residents to see what had happened to their neighbourhood, their homes and their lives. Then they asked, "Where is the help?"

"When the Rescue teams arrive," Gallagher said, "they will be welcomed with open arms."

CBC Radio One's As It Happens broadcast an interview this evening with a spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross. He said he spent the morning touring one of the hardest hit areas of the city (the district was not named), in the hills that rise from the flat plain on which sits historic Port au Prince. "In three hours, I didn’t see a single rescue team."

The BBC report contrasts starkly with warnings of looting and violence that fill the airwaves of news channels such as CNN and are being voiced by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. He was asked by media in Washington why relief supplies were not being delivered by air. He answered, "It seems to me that air drops will simply lead to riots."

Gates says that "security" concerns are impeding the delivery of aid. But Gallagher responded directly to that in his report, saying, "I'm not experiencing that."

Describing the airport, Gallagher reported, "There are plenty of materials on the ground and plenty of people there. I don't know what the problem is with delivery."

Nan Buzard, a spokesperson for the American Red Cross, was interviewed on the same BBC broadcast about the problem with aid delivery. She implied that there were not, in fact, many supplies at the airport to be moved, that many of the planes that have been landing were filled with people, not supplies.

When pressed by the BBC host why aid was not being moved into the city, Buzard conceded she was "surprised" that it was not being airlifted in.

The BBC's is not the only report to contradict exaggerated security concerns. The daily report on the website of Doctors Without Borders one day after the earthquake said, "Some parts of the city are without electricity and people have gathered outside, lighting fires in the street and trying to help and comfort each other. When they saw that I was from MSF they were asking for help, particularly to treat their wounded. There was strong solidarity among people in the streets."

An e-mailed report received by the Canada Haiti Action Network describes a city largely bereft of international aid. "Thus far," it reports, "the rescue teams cluster at the high profile and safer walled sites and were literally afraid to enter the barrios. They gravitated to the sites where they had secure compounds and big buildings.

"Meanwhile, the neighbourhoods where the damage appears to be much wider, and anywhere there were loose crowds, they avoided. In the large sites, and in the nice neighbourhoods, and where the press can be found, there would be teams from every country imaginable. Dogs and extraction units with more arriving, yet with 90% or more of them just sitting around."

"Meanwhile, in the poor neighbourhoods, awash in rubble, there was not a foreigner in sight.

"News crews are looking for the story of desperate Haitians that are in hysterics. When in reality it is more often the Haitians that are acting calmly while the international community, the elite and politicians have melted down over the issue, and none seem to have the remotest idea what is going on."

The report says that most of the staff of the U.S. embassy and US AID complex (located a stone’s throw from the oceanfront) have fled and buildings are largely empty, even though the streets in the area are clear.

Yesterday, BBC broadcast an interview with Mark Stuart, a director of an orphanage in Jacmel, a city of 50,000 on Haiti's south coast, 50 km south of Port au Prince. Aerial footage showed catastrophic damage. Stuart appealed for international relief, saying that food and water supplies would soon run out and no aid whatsoever had arrived.

An article on the website of a Chicago publication says a trickle of aid arrived today but the road between Port and Prince and Jacmel is impassable.


Roger Annis is a coordinator of the Canada Haiti Action Network in Vancouver. He can be reached at rogerannis(at)hotmail.com.

 
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Update

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