Citizen Organizing & Politics

A LETTER FROM THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS AND MOVEMENTS OF THE AMERICAS TO THE DEFENSE MINISTERS

October 8, 2012

 

In this letter to defense ministers of the Americas, an agglomeration of social justice organizations across the Americas rebuke the recent (and longstanding) militarization of development on the continent, calling for both an ideological and a practical paradigm shift on the part of the United States. 

On the occasion of the X Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas to take place in Punta del Este, Uruguay, on October 8-10, 2012, we make the following statement:...

What dreams are made of: Haiti Kanpé

October 3, 2012

Cross-posted from the Trinidad & Tobago Review Column, posted on Miriam Chancy's website.

Trinidad & Tobago Review Column, Sept. 2012

Prince Luc, artist, Director, FOSAJ, w/Papier Maché Carnival Puppets, Jacmel 2012©MJA Chancy

Who has never dreamed? Of a desired object, person, or state of being? Who has never dreamed? Who has never dared to dream?

A week ago today, I sat in Cyvadier, on the outskirts of Jacmel in southern Haiti, and listened to Guerda Constant tell me the story of her ad-hoc work with rural youth, work she does in addition to her full time occupation working with NGOs.  I listened to her telling me of how she speaks with young Haitians, especially in rural areas, hoping to raise in them an awareness of their own gifts, of the beauty of their country, despite all evidence to the contrary.  Guerda told me the story of one little girl gifted with a beautiful singing voice.  She asked the girl what was her dream and the girl responded that she had none.  Guerda pressed her, asking her what she thought of when she let loose with her friends, what she wondered about.  The girl responded that she did not wonder about anything.  And when you are alone? Guerda asked, what do you think about.  And the girl answered that she did not think about anything in particular but that, occasionally, when a day, or two had gone by and she had not eaten, she would make her way to the side of a river running close to her house, find a spot, and sing there, alone, until she felt better, until the pangs of hunger left her and the song lifted her beyond the pain and despair.  This gift, this song, Guerda asked, thinking of the long history of Haitian troubadours, don’t you dream of doing something with it, of singing for others?  No, the girl answered. Here, I can’t afford to dream.  Guerda is one of many Haitians working to restore the capacity to dream and to hope to the youth of Haiti.  But we may well wonder what it means when a generation of children cannot dare to dream, refuses to dream, because they have already seen too much, or too little, to warrant what must strike them as reckless optimism.

Some Haitians Are Still Waiting for Permanent Housing

October 3, 2012

Cross-posted from PRI's The World.

By Amy Bracken October 1, 2012

Haitian activist tours U.S. demanding housing rights for the country’s 400,000 displaced

September 11, 2012

Housing activist Reyneld Sanon is beginning a tour to key cities in the United States. The tour will raise awareness about Under Tents, the international campaign for housing rights in Haiti. The campaign is a joint initiative of Haitian grassroots groups and more than 30 international organizations that are demanding a solution for Haiti’s homeless.

"Homelessness, Displacement, Evictions . . . This Sounds Familiar": New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center

July 23, 2012

Cross-posted from the New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center.
Posted on 05. Jul, 2012 by

By Hannah Adams, Guest Contributor

There are a number of obvious parallels between housing needs in New Orleans after the 2005 hurricanes and housing needs in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

In both disasters, large regions lost the majority of their affordable housing stock, resulting in massive spikes in homelessness and displacement.  UNITY of Greater New Orleans reports that homelessness rates effectively doubled in the city from January 2005 to January 2009. [1] The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center adds that New Orleans experienced a population loss of over 140,000 according to the 2010 census, and that poor New Orleanians and families with children under eighteen were among those less likely to return. [2] Meanwhile, the Under Tents Campaign reports that 400,000 Haitians remain homeless in displacement camps where they face gender-based violence, disease, unsanitary living conditions, and flooding.

“Under Tents”: International Campaign Launch for Housing in Haiti

July 2, 2012

"The quantity of people who are homeless in Port-au-Prince today is not acceptable. We need the support of other governments, like the US, to demand that the Haitian Government create a social housing plan. We are looking for allies to help our advocacy. We are asking simply for quality homes where people can live." - Jackson Doliscar of the grassroots group Force for Reflection and Action on Housing (FRAKKA).

Social Movements' Letter to UNASUR Demands Withdrawal of MINUSTAH Troops from Haiti

June 21, 2012

Last week, Latin American social movements sent the following letter to defense ministers of UNASUR member states, demanding accountability from the UN and withdrawal of MINUSTAH troops from Haiti. Distributed by our friends at Jubilee South.

Dear Sirs:

We commend the Ministers of Defense and the High Representatives for Foreign Relations of UNASUR’s Member States for the consideration given at their meeting at Asunción, Paraguay, on June 5, to the situation in our fellow country Haiti, and we support the recognition expressed in their Declaration of the importance of consolidating a policy, on behalf of UNASUR, of a sustained cooperation which “respects the sovereignty and the self-determination of the Haitian people” and which achieves “a tangible improvement in the living conditions” as the necessary basis of security and lasting peace.

We therefore urge UNASUR’s member states to take firm and effective measures in that direction, including the immediate withdrawal of the 4,929 occupying troops (including both soldiers and military police) currently deployed in Haiti by 10 of UNASUR’s 12 Member States; an end to the MINUSTAH mission and of all other foreign military presence; and furthermore an end to the impunity and absence of justice that have allowed the continued toleration of violations of human rights by these forces.

BIRTHING JUSTICE: And You, What Are You Waiting For?: A World without Slavery

June 16, 2012

 By Beverly Bell
June 16, 2012

Helia Lajeunesse |Port-au-Prince, Haiti

The restavèk system is modern slavery. When a family takes in a restavèk to live with them, they stop doing any work in the house. The restavèk child has to do everything. If the child doesn’t work hard enough, they beat them. The child can’t eat with the family, and usually doesn’t even eat the same food – just scraps. He or she sleeps on the floor, often in the kitchen. They don’t pay the child; they just give them a little food. They never send him or her to school. The family views that child as an animal.

Fighting Fire in Haiti

March 28, 2012

By Alexis Erkert
March 28, 2012

When police and the landowner commanded Michelène Pierre to vacate her tent on a Sunday afternoon so that they could light it on fire, she responded: “If you want to light me on fire along with this entire camp, go ahead. I’m not leaving.” The police bypassed her tent, but continued to threaten other residents of Camp Kozbami, setting flame to six tents.

Camp Kozbami is the fifth camp to be arsoned in two months. As landowners and the government push to close camps inhabited by those displaced by the earthquake that rocked Haiti 26 months ago, a reported 94,632 individuals are facing forced eviction.

“When it rains, we will grow again”: Haitian women observe International Women’s Day

March 14, 2012

 

by Alexis Erkert, photos by Ben Depp

March 14, 2012


“As activists, we commemorate this as a day of struggle, a day to make our voices heard until someone pays attention and helps provide solutions to our problems." Facing the Haitian parliament with a throng of banner-waving and singing women at her back, Rachelle Fondechaine of Women Fighting for the Development of Haiti continued, "Today is March 8th! It's a day when women workers in New York first took to the streets in to demand their rights in 1857. This day is marked in our memories, and as women in Haiti, we have no support, we are left in the street, our children don't have access to school...”

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