Policy Statement for the Obama Team
Ezili's Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network ("HLLN") January
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: A New US-Haiti Partnership is essential.
Below is the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN)'s policy statement.
It outlines what Haitian-Americans are working to change in collaboration
with the new US Congress and President Obama so to implement a more
effective foreign polity with Haiti that centers on promoting sustainable
development, self-sufficiency, and a sovereign, prosperous and stable
The issue for development of the Southern Hemispheric nations are very
similar. As in Africa, Haiti has been ravaged by neocolonialism and
its attendant power grabs through the tools of endless debt to the former
colonial powers, their plundering of Africa's and Haiti's resources,
unfair trade that promotes famine and dependency. The U.S. Congress
and new U.S. president should support the institutionalization of the
rule of law, support human rights, workers rights, food sovereignty,
and stop promoting global corporate interests that promote coup d'etat,
instability, financial colonialism and containment-in-poverty. Ideology
of all sorts, including "democracy," "neo-liberalism,"
"free trade", "globalization" and/or all such "privatization"
- schemes ought not to be more important than the welfare of humanity,
peaceful co-existence, environmental protection and the future survival
of humanity and planet earth.
Haitian-Americans proposal for
1. Stop Deportations
Stop the United States' unequal immigration treatment of Haitian refugees,
grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and work permits to Haitian nationals
in the US with a specification to stop all deportations until Haiti
has recovered from the ravages of hurricanes, floods and instability.
Haitians in the United States should receive equal treatment and protection
under all the immigration laws. Four tropical storms and hurricanes
battered Haiti during last year's harvest season, killing almost 1,000
people nationwide, decimating Haiti's agriculture and causing $1 billion
in damage to irrigation, bridges and roads. Haiti qualifies for Temporary
Protected Status (TPS) and should be granted this disaster relief.
But, the U.S. has never granted Haitians TPS, which permits short-term
residency to nationals from countries that are enduring political or
environmental turbulence. In 2002 the Bush administration renewed TPS
for Nicaraguan and Honduran immigrants owing to Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
At this point, Haiti is in much worse shape than Central Americans were
at the time. The damage in Haiti is worst than three times the damage
left after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. In Haiti, mudslides still
cover entire towns. Houses are flooded. Schools have collapsed on children
and people are starving. It's inhumane to deport Haitian back to Haiti
under these devastating conditions, where they will find no home, no
employment, no food, no personal safety and security.
Update: TPS was granted
after the Jan 12, 2010 earthquake but deportation resumed under Obama
in Jan. 2011. Stop deportations and expedite entry of the 55,000 Haitians
approved to join their familes in U.S. If allowed to work
in the United States, the 55,000 beneficiaries would send remittances
to Haiti supporting an estimated 550,000 to one million persons in Haiti.
Such capital flow is by far the largest source of foreign aid to Haiti
and more important to Haitians per capita, than to any other nation
in the world.
2. End the UN military occupation
In 2007, the U.N. troops in Haiti were paid $601.58
million per year and have been in Haiti for four years. That
is $50.13 million per month, $1.64 million per day. Yet, during the
recent floods and hurricane season in Haiti, the Haitian President had
to call for international help from the international community. Wasn't
that help already in Haiti, to the tune of 9,000 U.N. - MINUSTAH- troops
already cashing in $1.64 million per day? Why are they there, if incapable
of providing emergency help? If they had not one amphibious unit, temporary
bridge, caravan of trucks or equipment to reach Haitians in distress,
what use are they to the people of Haiti? Are their war tanks, heavy
artillery, guns and military presence in Haiti making Haitians more
secure, more safe, more free, more prosperous, better nourished, educated
and healthier than before they landed four years ago? No.
End the UN military occupation. Haiti needs development/infrastructure
assistance, poverty reduction assistance, tractors not tanks and guns.
Community policing, not war soldiers. (Oil
in Haiti - Economic Reasons for the UN/US occupation
Haiti's Riches: Interview with Ezili Dantò
on Mining in Haiti.)
3. Cancel immediately and without conditions all Haiti debt to international
financial institutions, including old Duvalier-dictatorship debts
Haiti is suffering famine, the repercussions of the 2004 US-supported
coup d'etat and the ravages of the greatest natural disaster in remembered
history, three times greater than the Katrina damage. Yet, instead of
using its resources to provide relief for its people, Haiti is forced
to pay out in excess of one million dollars, per month, to foreign banks.
4. Began reciprocal trade.
Support fair trade in Haiti, not sweatshops or "free trade"
Void grossly unfair free trade deals and ineffective
initiatives such as - the Caribbean Basin Initiate Investment Support
("OPIC"), or the Special Export Zones ("SEZ") under
the Hope Act which bans trade unions to protect workers' rights, or
other such sorts of agreements - pummeling, bullying and beating Haiti
into the dust of misery, debt and poverty. And, instead, support Haitian
food production and domestic manufacturing, job creation, public works
projects, sustainable development and a good working culture that values
human rights. After the storm emergency, calibrate food aid so to assist
and not further destroy Haiti's food production.
5. Stop failed USAID policies and interventions, provide
US support directly to government of Haiti and grassroots Haiti-led,
Haiti-capacity building organizations
Stop failed policies, effectively trading with USAID for Haiti and merely
enriching USAID cronies, USAID-supported churches, predator NGOs and
their corresponding Haiti
oligarchs/mercenary families. A great portion of food aid
from such entities do not reach the intended beneficiaries in Haiti
and, end up for sale in the marketplace. Start fair trading with Haiti
and supporting grassroots, indigenous Haiti capacity building organizations.
USAID denies Haitian sovereignty and progress by blocking, declining,
subverting any direct assistance to empower the Haitian government while
engineering so that the majority of Haiti's national budget (provided
by the international community as a consequence the 2004 Bush/USAID
regime change) is currently managed by its approved non-governmental
organizations. For instance, some 800 NGOs control part of the budget,
thoroughly undermining the state's ability to deal with the famine and
Direct that the U.S. re-orientate its resource allocation to Haiti to
trade with the Haitian government, not, in effect, with the U.S. Agency
of International Development ("USAID"), foreign NGO's, churches
and charities in the name of Haitians. For this US foreign policy effectively
forms a shadow government enchaining Haiti that undermines Haiti’s
sovereignty, emboldens and empowers NGOs with no public responsibility
or accountability to Haitians or Haiti’s long term well-being.
It is in the best interest of the United States to directly support
Haitian democracy, good governance, development, self-reliance and self-sufficiency.
This cannot be done if the Haitian government has to compete with foreign
funded NGOs and charities who are not elected or accountable to the
people of Haiti, but are predatory and promoting dependency and their
own organizations' interests for self-perpetuation in Haiti.
To effectively support grassroots, indigenous Haiti capacity building
organizations, the US Congress must demand greater fiscal accountability,
transparency and quantifiable evidence of sustainable development achievements
from reform projects designed, supervised and financed through USAID
and their subcontractors, corporate consultants and charity workers
using federal funds in Haiti. And, in particular these new Haiti foreign
assistance guidelines should ensure, that food and other aid actually
reach their intended beneficiaries and not end up for sale in the open
market or stay in Washington or used in Haiti mostly on administrative
salary, fees and expenses for USAID's political benefactors, shipping
companies and nonprofits.
Support post storm rebuilding and reconstruction of environmentally
degraded areas (Invest in Haitian-led projects to built flood barriers
and better drainage as in La Gonave; support food sovereignty, energy
and reforestation such as planting of fruit trees for food, capital
building and trade and use of indigenous Haiti plant, such as Jatropha,
for biofuel - energy. In the process of providing crisis assistance,
the U.S. must promote Haitian self-reliance wherever possible instead
of the cycle of dependency. For instance, instead of water purification
tablets, add also, whenever possible, the more long term and permanent
bio-sand filters' apparatus that will last forever and purify toxic
water on a continual, not just on a one time basis.)
6. Support the institutionalization of the rule of law
The U.S. Congress and next U.S. president should support the institutionalization
of Haitian laws, not USAID/IRI/NED "democracy enhancement"
projects that promote coup d'etat, instability and financial colonialism
and containment-in-poverty in Haiti through neo-liberalism - "free
trade," "globalization" and other such "privatization"
- schemes. (See, HLLN
on oversight needed on USAID).
Every time the United States supports the destabilization of a duly
elected government it visits enormous economic pressures and political
turmoil upon Haiti. The turmoil and pressures undermine Haitian justice,
participatory democracy, self sufficiency, sovereignty, self-determination
and promotes insecurity, debt, dependency, foreign domination, injustice,
a rise in fleeing refugees and a structural containment in poverty.
This instability has widespread and deep and disturbing repercussions.
It keeps Haiti underdeveloped, dependent and contained-in-poverty.
The US may begin to support the Haitian Constitution by assisting with
return of President Aristide to Haiti and thereby reinforce the rule
of law and
interests of the majority of Haitians, not just that of the undemocratic
morally repugnant Haitian elites. (See, The
Slavery the Haiti the Media Won't Expose; the FreeHaitiMovement
Demands and Proposed
solutions to create a new paradigm.)
7. Encourage Maximum leveraging
of Diaspora remittances
The Haitian Diaspora invests $2
billion dollars per year in Haiti. That investment is destroyed,
diluted and undermined when it must be used to bury family members killed
in political turmoil, kidnapped in the chaos of anarchy, instability
that follows coup d'etats, or to move and help rebuilt the family of
a relative or friend traumatized by the UN soldiers' rapes, molestation,
arbitrary detention and indefinite incarcerations of their children
relatives and friends in Haiti, instead of being used to buy books for
their children and relatives to go to school, to buy supplies to carry
out a viable family business, seeds to plant next year's harvest, or
invest remittances in Haiti's tourism, schools, reforestation, agriculture,
road construction, flood barriers, communication, energy, sanitation
or health needs. Moreover, when the US deports an income earner to storm-ravaged
and famine Haiti, this decreases remittances and further impoverish
family members who depended on the remittances from family members abroad.
Diaspora remittances are the most effective and direct aid to the Haitian
poor in Haiti.
The Obama candidacy promised change and a return to the rule of law
and diplomacy as opposed to US pre-emptive strikes, war, terror and
torture to attain perceived US foreign policy interests in the world.
Candidate Obama promised human rights, workers rights, environmental
protection and reciprocal trade. President Obama may assist with sustainable
Haitian development, democracy, self reliance and sovereignty if he
supports TPS and equal treatment for Haitian refugees, ending the UN
military occupation, calls for justice for the 2004 Bush coup d'etat
victims and for the immediate release of the thousands upon thousands
of political prisoners in Haiti, assist Haiti with poverty reduction
through domestic agricultural investments, not sweatshops and repugnant
free trade wages and failed policies of dumping US goods in Haiti, supports
community policing, support canceling -without conditions- unfair debt
to international financial institutions and promotes the return to Haiti
of President Jean Bertrand Aristide. All these actions would support
stability, participatory democracy, stop the flow of refugees and illegal
immigration and meet the policy interests of the United States.
For further information, see the complete policy statement at: What
Haitian Americans Ask of the New US Congress and President.
Marguerite 'Ezili Dantò' Laurent, Esq.
President, Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network ("HLLN")
January 17, 2009
*Last updated, Aug. 2009
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Slavery the Haiti the Media Won't Expose
solutions to create a new paradigm
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Riches: Interview with Ezili Dantò on Mining in Haiti
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