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Ezili's counter-colonial narrative on Vodun

By Ezili Dantò, Dec. 6, 2008Background - Vodun Links
and Vodun: The Light and Beauty of Haiti).

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Food Donation Rot in New York while Haitian Storm Victims Starve and Die, Sept. 8, 2008

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December 11, 2008 HLLN Update: Governor Paterson's Timeline for delivery of donated goods for Haiti storm victims
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Gov. Paterson apologizes for 3-month delayed relief to Haiti
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Children dying in Haiti, victims of food crisis
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Life gets worse for Haiti's hungry children
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U.N.: High food prices creating more hunger
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Ezili Dantò on Help for the Hurricane Victims in Haiti, Sept. 12, 2008


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HLLN's counter-colonial narrative on deforestation , Haitian Perspectives, Oct. 25, 2008
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HLLN on need for Constitutional Amendment in Haiti - Not A Priority, Haitian Perspectives, Oct. 25, 2008
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What
Haitian Americans Ask of the US Congress and New US President
By HLLN, Haitian Perspectives, Sept. 2008
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HLLN is mobilizing legislative and international support for Haitian-American foreign policy concerns

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Ezili Dantò performs the Yanvalou for
So Much Like Here (See text and RBM 2004 Video Reel)


Dessalines Is Rising!!
Ayisyen: You Are Not Alone!


 


Sam Cooke-It's Been A Long Time Coming...But Change Gonna Come

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HLLN Urgent Action Alert: Help the people of Gonaives, Haiti directly - Also, ask for TPS for Haitians nationals
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HLLN SAMPLE LETTER Asking President Bush to Assist Haiti's Recovery Efforts by Granting Haitian Nationals TPS

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Editorials urging the President to Grant TPS to Haitians
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See our List of Requested Items for the Storm Victims

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Black is the Color of Liberty



Ezili Dantò performs the banda dance as a Gede for Breaking Sea Chain (See also Intro to Breaking Sea Chains and PhotoGallery)

 


To subscribe, write to erzilidanto@yahoo.com
campaigns_button
different_button
zilibuttonCarnegie Hall
Video Clip
No other national
group in the world
sends more money
than Haitians living
in the Diaspora
Red Sea- audio

The Red Sea


Ezili Dantò's master Haitian dance class (Video clip)

zilibuttonEzili's Dantò's
Haitian & West African Dance Troop
Clip one - Clip two


So Much Like Here- Jazzoetry CD audio clip

Ezili Danto's

Witnessing
to Self

zilibutton
Update on
Site Soley

RBM Video Reel

Haitian
immigrants
Angry with
Boat sinking
A group of Haitian migrants arrive in a bus after being repatriated from the nearby Turks and Caicos Islands, in Cap-Haitien, northern Haiti, Thursday, May 10, 2007. They were part of the survivors of a sailing vessel crowded with Haitian migrants that overturned Friday, May 4 in moonlit waters a half-mile from shore in shark-infested waters. Haitian migrants claim a Turks and Caicos naval vessel rammed their crowded sailboat twice before it capsized. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Dessalines' Law
and Ideals

Breaking Sea Chains


Little Girl
in the Yellow
Sunday Dress

Anba Dlo, Nan Ginen
Ezili Danto's Art-With-The-Ancestors Workshops - See, Red, Black & Moonlight series or Haitian-West African

Clip one -Clip two
ance performance
zilibutton In a series of articles written for the October 17, 2006 bicentennial commemoration of the life and works of Dessalines, I wrote for HLLN that: "Haiti's liberator and founding father, General Jean Jacques Dessalines, said, "I Want the Assets of the Country to be Equitably Divided" and for that he was assassinated by the Mullato sons of France. That was the first coup d'etat, the Haitian holocaust - organized exclusion of the masses, misery, poverty and the impunity of the economic elite - continues (with Feb. 29, 2004 marking the 33rd coup d'etat). Haiti's peoples continue to resist the return of despots, tyrants and enslavers who wage war on the poor majority and Black, contain-them-in poverty through neocolonialism' debts, "free trade" and foreign "investments." These neocolonial tyrants refuse to allow an equitable division of wealth, excluding the majority in Haiti from sharing in the country's wealth and assets." (See also, Kanga Mundele: Our mission to live free or die trying, Another Haitian Independence Day under occupation; The Legacy of Impunity of One Sector-Who killed Dessalines?; The Legacy of Impunity:The Neoconlonialist inciting political instability is the problem. Haiti is underdeveloped in crime, corruption, violence, compared to other nations, all, by Marguerite 'Ezili Dantò' Laurent
     
No other national group in the world sends more money than Haitians living in the Diaspora
 
 
 
 
 







 

FreeHaitiMovement
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Oct 17 – Day of Heroes In Haiti- See
Dialogue between Two Haitians


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US lawmaker calls for action against Haiti hunger , Nov. 26, 2008

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Congresswoman Waters Calls on USAID to Save the lives of Children Starving in Haiti
(HLLN on oversight needed on USAID )

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Ezili's counter-colonial narrative on Vodun
by Ezili Dantò for HLLN's Haitian Perspective, Dec. 6, 2008

"Vodun is lifting up sacred energies. It's all night ceremonies to detox, connect with source - the Ancestors and divine within... It's herbal cures, bad vibe make-overs, touching guardian angels, reaching for Gwo Bon Anj, Ti Bon Anj. It's respect for the unconscious, prescient dreams, excavating the unconscious to get to the better angels of our nature, unending community interactions, unchanging relationships and unending familial identity, are a given out there where my parents are from"--(c) 2000 Ezili DantÚ, Excerpted from "Sorry I am Late" from Red, Black & Moonlight (jazzoetry performance series): Between Falling and Hitting the Ground by Ezili DantÚ

HLLN ignored this AP article - "Voodoo priests blast foreign aid, troops in Haiti" - on the December 5th march in Haiti where Vodun adherents gathered near the Haitian National Palace to denounce the foreign occupation, foreign aid and the Christian NGOs so-called "benevolence" because it is incorrect in its declaration about Vodun. And because its disgusting misogynistic title ignored all of Haiti's priestesses - tout Manbo yo!. We who are and have always been the most revered of all in Vodun as the leaders, healers, creators and keepers of the sacred Vodun ways.

But on second thought, for the Ezili HLLN Network, I'll take this moment as a teaching moment and give a brief counter-colonial narrative on Vodun. (See, also, Vodun photo essay: The Light and Beauty of Haiti and Bwa Kayiman, 2008: Reclaiming the Haitian People's Vodun Narrative at Bwa Kayiman).

Number One:
The Haitian way of life is called Vodun, not Hollywood Lalaland's "Voodoo." "Vodou" is also an acceptable spelling of the Haitian spiritual and life system of being. At HLLN we use "Vodun". It is the oldest and most correct phonetic translation from the Fon language word “Vodun” which means Sacred Energies. It has NOTHING to do with Hollywood's Voodoo which is a racist/Eurocentric artistic invention that brings to mind sorcery, bad spells and zonbies and tries to sell it as the way of life of Haitians.

Second:
Vodun IS NOT, as the Associated Press article declares, a mixture of Christianity and West African religions. NO, no, no and NO.

Vodun is the oldest spiritual tradition in the world and its mythologies have risen in all of the religions to be domesticated around the planet. But, it is not Christian. It came before Christianity and doesn't adopt or regurgitate ANY of the major Christian tenets. There is no "Jesus" spirit or Lwa (irreducible spirit of a divine being) in Vodun. Vodun is the union - the "linyon fè la fòs" coalition - that's NEVER, ever wavered in Haiti. Extending the values of Vodun, including those that establishes the African's inalienable right to self defense, self determination is the reason Haiti became free from European chattel slavery and direct colonialism. (See, Haiti's Linyon Fè la Fòs; Boukmann's Righteous Prayer – Lapriyè Boukman; and Chèn Sa Pap Janm Kase! - The three powers lifted up at Bwa Kayiman: Fòs, Pouvwa, Linyon, and Bourgeoisie Freedom).

Haitian Vodun is NOT a syncretistic blend of African religions and Europe/Christianity.

Vodun originated all religions and contains none of the major tenets of Christianity. In the Vodun of my African/Haitian grandmothers, there is no original sin, Jesus Lwa, hell, heaven, tyrannical but benevolent God (we have a distant but Good God (Bondye) and living deities, not dead Saints), living energies, living deities with the frailties of human beings who inhabit us and with whom we may argue with, or energies we may shape with our own goodness in the task of elevating sacred energies, natures bounty, TOGETHER...

I know Maya Deren's book "Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti" says Vodun is a blend of Christianity and West African religions and that the trance where the divinity possesses a worshiper may be described as "White Darkness" and that "Petwo" the Haitian nation of divine energy that inhabited the African warriors and enabled them to win is not African but Taino, but all that is WRONG. It's a well-intentioned but Eurocentric perspectives of what Maya Deren could explain to her own constituents in language and by points of references that would make them be more understanding of Vodun. But it is WRONG.

I know that this book is revered by the Haitian "bourgie scholars" abroad and their sycophants and students who are writing ABOUT Vodun, but there is NO SUCH THING as "White Darkness!!!" in Vodun. That is VERY insulting to a Ginen.

The 1791 Bwa Kayiman, Prophecy and Call that began the great Haitian revolution we extend today, was: "E, e, Mbomba, e, e! Kanga Bafyòti. Kanga Mundele. Kanga Ndòki. Kanga yo!"

Ezili's English translation:

The Supreme Creator (E, e, Mbomba, e, e!), Master of Breath shall foil the black collaborators/traitors (kanga bafyòti). Kill the tyrannical white settlers/blan strangers (kanga mundele). Bind all evil forces/sorcerers (kanga Ndòki). Stop them! (Listen to the Welfare Poets's song Sak Pase and their reciting (2:05) of the Bwa Kayiman invocation: E, e, Mbomba! Kanga Bafyòti. Kanga Mundele. Kanga Ndòki. Kanga li! - )

But I digress. The conversation on the co-option of Vodun to better enable points of references amenable to a Eurocentric/White Supremacist/Christian mind is for another time.

If any of you want to understand what happens or more particularly what is REMEMBERED when the small consciousness is replaced with a Haitian Lwa (a Vodun sacred energy) and what is experienced read, Ezili Dantò description of this, in the performance piece, Anba Dlo, Lan Ginen, or for excavating the textures of this unconscious experience, read also I Just Lost My Way and the *Meaning of Anba Dlo.)

There's no textures of movement, form, blinding light, color or "white" anything about this spiritual journey of the human African's mind, soul and body. (Anba Dlo, Lan Ginen; Intro to Anba Dlo, Lan Ginen, I Just Lost My Way, and Video excerpt of Anba Dlo, Lan Ginen).

Petwo of Ezili Dantò came straight out the CONGO. Vodun is an amalgamation of African spiritual beliefs carried in the heads, soul and spirits of the enslaved Africans from Africa. Not just West Africa, but also the Congo.

The main point to come away from this is that, once again to those writing about my country: Vodun is not “Voodoo” and it is not a blend of Christianity. We know that is what is traditionally repeated. But IT IS NOT.

There is no Jesus prophet in Vodun, no Jesus Lwa, no original sin, no hell, no heaven, sex is not BAD, there's no Holy Spirit, no God that is domesticated and may be prayed to, only the Ancestors - WE ARE PART and PARCEL of all that IS. All THAT LIVES and all is energy. The Ancestors are our emissaries whose irreducible essences are unborn and cannot be destroyed for they are pure spirits as descendants of the Master of Breath that cannot be personalized. So, none of the major tenets of Christianity are in Vodun. Though the enslaved in Haiti did USE the Christian iconography of the Catholic saints to represent but not PARALLEL their African Ancestors so as not to be lynched or be abused for practicing an African way of life that venerates what is found in nature and was quantified in Africa as Vodun. Roman Catholic saints are DEAD PEOPLE.

Haitian deities are more complex.

Haitian deities are LIVING entities, living energies in nature that may be externalized by invading the BODY, which is most NECESSARY in Vodun. The body is CRITICAL in Vodun. It is not just a commodity for the use of liquidating capital through work. NO. And, if the BODY is critical in this philosophy, in this art and Way to the Divine, then so are AFRICA's WOMEN revered, notwithstanding the incursions of patriarchy. Females are the most powerful people in Vodun, the most powerful LEADERS and priestesses. This must be because in Vodun, the African woman’s womb and its capacity, not the schooled mind is ESSENTIAL. The African body can be the sacred transmitter, medium for bringing forth the divine. For, within the body lies the DIVINE energies from the beginning of time that must be nurtured, balanced, protected and EXTENDED. (The Divine Mother: Ezili/Aset/ Isis (photos) and Vodun photo essay: The Light and Beauty of Haiti)

To use a point of reference easily understood by the Western Christian mind, “within lies the KINGDOM (QUEENDOM) OF GOD.”

In Vodun, all African/Haitians are DIRECT descendants of the SACRED. ALL. Cosmologically, they are said to be the descendants of Lè Marasa, lè Mò e lè Mistè. And as such descendants of Gods, they may tap into all that which came before them, lift up divinity and into their human lives by tapping into or using certain sacred sounds of the Vodun drums, sacred chants and songs, by Vodun dance/movement, through trance, prescient dreams - these are part of the meditations by any adept Vodouist. The energies in Vodun are not perfect like the Catholic Saints. NO. They mirror the imperfect world and are found ALWAYS in the universe and may be elevated or not. One does not have to adopt trans-migrated powers or the derogatory mass consciousness that vies for the soul of Black folks. No. There is a choice. When you look in the Cosmic Mirror, what is looking back at you is YOUR OWN face! You are the God, Goddess you've been looking for. You have free will to choose to extend your sacredness or not....In Vodun, there are no middlemen between you and what is good, sacred and divine. Your highest self is in you... or you may allow the mass consciousness to take you over...

In Vodun, knowledge of self, deep wisdom about life, understanding your purpose, et al...cannot be learned from another or, from books. A manbo or hougan, priest or priestess may guide, point out the right direction. But, if all you "know" comes from a book, a source separate from yourself, from other people, then no matter how correct the book or teaching is in expressing absolute or universal truth, it's still not your recognition of who and what you are through your own realization or through your own inner revelation. Part of the purpose, process, potency and practicality of Vodun is that its about stepping into self, facing self, understanding self, extending self. It is not about living parasitically off another's realization of truth - a priest, guru, or any sort of a middlemen's teachings. When what you transmit comes from your own being, your own free soul; when what you know is not derivative knowledge - it carries a spirit that's hard to explain but can clearly be seen, felt and experienced by all onlookers. Moreover, a natural Vodouist may walk into any room or situation without preparation and instinctually know from the energy being transmitted if friend or foe is present or better put, be aware of the level of consciousness present, simply because said Vodun adept is securely connected to his/her self, source. It is not possible for said Vodun-adept to expand ignorance or the lower level of consciousness because the sun can only witness to the sun.

Also, Vodun is not, in the strict sense of the word even a RELIGION - it has no doctrine. There are rituals and regleman, yes. But above all it is a way for the community to govern itself and elevate its sacred values for one and all to participate in at THEIR capacity level. It's an African tradition, a way of life, a psychology, philosophy, art, mythology for taping into and understanding and controlling human nature; it's the use of herbs, prescient dreams, a healing way of being, of excavating the unconscious and bringing forth the SACRED ENERGIES that we all essential are part of. Vodun means the lifting up of sacred energies.... There are cults that surround Vodun, but their function is different than that of Vodun, which is the CENTRAL spiritual and communal system of Afro-Haitians. But Vodun has no central practice methods though - other than the 21 nations and from Rada to Petwo. Rada is at the base of Petwo and vice versa - the Yang at the base of the Yin or vice versa; the pull and the push, the contradiction at the base of all inhale and exhale, creating all LIFE. (For more on Vodun, go to: Vodun Links and Vodun: The Light and Beauty of Haiti).

And while I am at this, let's just get one more misconception out of the way for the clueless AP, Miami Herald and Reuters folks, who make their livings by reporting on Haiti, listen folks, Haitians have a Ginen culture and Kreyòl language, not "Creole" language. Please try and be correct in your Haiti reporting. Ignorance is not professional.

Ginen Fran. Ginen poze and I remain,

Ezili Dantò of HLLN
Zèb Ginen. Ginen depi lan Ginen
Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN) and the Free Haiti Movement
December 6, 2008

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For more on Vodun and Haitian culture, go to:

Vodun Links

Vodun: The Light and Beauty of Haiti

Ezili Dantò Biography, 1791<

Youtube video: Ezili Dantò live in Miami with Sanba Yatande, TiRouj & Manno

Ezili Dantò performs Red, Black & Moonlight: Memoir of a Poet

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*Anba Dlo literally means "beneath the ocean, the waters". It is that primordial, cosmic space where all potentiality lives. It's the mythological "Haitian Heaven" (to use a non-African point of reference). It's where all that ever lived, will live and is living will end up. It is, to the African warriors who founded Haiti, the road back to Manman "Africa" - Nan Guinen, that cosmic space where the world began with "Lè Marasa, lè Mòr e lè Mistè."

Anba Dlo to the Haitian is where the great African Ancestors', where our sacred energies, our strengths and force - the "Lwas," - those sacred irreducible essences of the Haitian/African/Black soul - reside.

Anba Dlo is the sacred stillness, cosmic place, where life sources issue from and return to.


*
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Voodoo priests blast foreign aid, troops in Haiti, Dec. 5, 2008, Miami Herald

Voodoo priests say foreign aid and the presence of 9,000 U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti are holding back the chronically impoverished country.

Voodoo supreme chief Max Beauvoir says Haitians cannot live comfortably among heavily armed U.N. troops and that aid groups accomplish little while preventing locals from helping themselves.

About 300 adherents wearing patron spirits' colors marched Friday near the presidential palace. They poured alcohol before a statue honoring Haiti's rebel slave founders.

Marchers also denounced the Dec. 5 anniversary of Christopher Columbus's 1492 arrival in what is now northern Haiti.

Voodoo is an official religion in Haiti. It mixes Christianity with West African religions.


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Recommended HLLN Links:
Starvation slams Haiti
Kids dying after 4 storms ravage crops, livestock


Haiti: storm victims starve, Nov. 4, 2008

Haiti aid effort unravels by Mike Thomson, BBC News, Oct. 24, 2008

US lawmaker calls for action against Haiti hunger , Nov. 26, 2008

Congresswoman Waters Calls on USAID to Save the lives of Children Starving in Haiti (HLLN on oversight needed on USAID )

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Food Donations Rot in storage in New York as children in Haiti die of starvation : Governor Patterson's Timeline for projected delivery of donated food and goods for Haiti storm victims

For the New York Community concerned about the approximately 77 Tons of goods donated in September, 2008 for the Gonaives/Haiti storm victims, that have, as of three months later, still not been sent to Haiti by New York officials, we can make the following statements:

1. According to Governor Dave Patterson's office, the first package of donated storm goods - approx. 8 tons, left New York via Airline Ambassador by boat and is scheduled to arrive in Haiti 2-weeks from the date of departure or December 23rd.

2. Fed. Express has donated one plane, scheduled to leave this week (by Dec. 13) with approximately 4 tons of food and the contracted recipient for distribution is Catholic Relief Services;

3. The items that are duly packaged and currently ready to be shipped are in storage at Stuart Airforce base.

4. The Federal government DECLINED the Govenor's request for transport. So the remaining bulk of the items donated for Haiti storm victims, an approximate 65 tons of food collected from mostly Haitians living in the Tri-State New York area remains to be shipped once arrangements for transport are made. The bulk of the September Haiti donations - 65 tons - have no transport arrangements, no shipping date.

5. This morning, Dec. 8, 2008, a community hearing was held at the Gov. Manhattan offices on the matter. Reporters where present. But since no press release will be issued on this, HLLN offers the community this brief. Several politicians spoke at the meeting, also attended by the Haitian media we are told, including Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke; Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz; NY councilman Matthew Eugene, as well as, Governor Patterson.

The contact person on this matter for Governor David Patterson's office is, Khari Edwards, the Brooklyn regional representatives of the Governor.

Ezili Danto/Marguerite Laurent
Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
December 8, 2008

See also: December 11, 2008 HLLN Update: Governor Paterson's Timeline for delivery of donated goods for Haiti storm victims
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Haitian Hurricane Relief
Donations ready to be shipped three months after devastating hurricanes

by Matthew Schuerman, WNYC

NEW YORK, NY December 08, 2008 —Governor Paterson says there's a new timetable to deliver long-delayed donations to hurricane victims in Haiti three months after four heavy storms hit the Caribbean nation.

He says 40 tons of water, food and medical supplies that have been stored in a Brooklyn Armory will be put on planes and cargo ships this month.

But Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Michael Balboni says authorities will wait until next year to figure out what to do with 38 tons of donated clothing.

BALBONI: The community was so generous, they gave some things that you don't need in a tropical environment and sorting through that is kind of a laborious process.

REPORTER: Balboni says some clothing may be distributed in New York City instead of Haiti.

The governor says he wasn't expecting such an enormous response when he asked New Yorkers to help out.
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Gov. Paterson apologizes for delayed relief to Haiti

Gov. Paterson apologizes for delayed relief to storm-torn Haiti
The Associated Press
Thursday, December 4th 2008, Daily News

ALBANY, N.Y. — More than two months after New York officials in a Brooklyn armory promised to rush relief to storm-torn Haiti, Gov. David Paterson is expediting the goods along with an apology.

"The fault lies with me," Paterson said during a Manhattan news conference Wednesday.

"It was messed up and it's going to get cleaned up."

Not to be outdone in mea culpas, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said: "Listen, we all messed up."

"I salute the governor, a standup guy who took responsibility even though this was obviously something he delegated and thought was being done," Markowitz said.

"That ability to confront the situation head-on shows what kind of guy he is. The governor is confident that the promise made will be enthusiastically kept."

Paterson said he will revamp a system that failed to pick up thousands of pounds of relief supplies collected for victims of a series of hurricanes and tropical storms that lashed the island nation this fall.

The delay was caused by difficulty getting government clearances and coordinating with a contact in Haiti to receive the donations and make sure they got to victims, said Paterson spokeswoman Erin Duggan.

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Blame me for Haiti relief goof, David Paterson says
By Glenn Blain
DAILY NEWS ALBANY BUREAU
Wednesday, December 3rd 2008, 10:32 PM

ALBANY - Gov. Paterson took the blame Wednesday for a botched effort to deliver supplies to Hurricane ravaged Haiti.


"This situation has been messed up, the fault lies with me," Paterson told reporters. "It's my responsibility to have gotten those supplies there."

Paterson launched the relief effort in late September, asking New Yorkers to donate nonperishable food, clothing and other items. Most of the material - nearly 300 pallets - has remained at the Bedford-Atlantic Armory in Brooklyn.

Erin Duggan, a Paterson spokeswoman, said the delay stemmed from problems finding an organization to work with in Haiti. Those problems have been solved, and the state plans to start shipping the materials soon, she added.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who had criticized the state's effort to deliver the supplies, credited Paterson for taking responsibility for the matter. "Listen, we all messed up," Markowitz said in a statement. "We all knew there would be hurdles, but we assumed this would be further along by now."

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US lawmaker calls for action against Haiti hunger

By JONATHAN M. KATZ – Nov. 26, 2008

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A prominent U.S. congresswoman called on Wednesday for a better-funded, systemic approach to fighting hunger in Haiti following an Associated Press report that child malnutrition is worsening.

California Democrat Maxine Waters, a veteran member of the Congressional Black Caucus, urged the U.S. Agency for International Development to locate Haitian children in danger of starvation, citing a Nov. 21 AP report that malnutrition had contributed to the deaths of at least 26 children in the southeastern area of Baie d'Orange.

USAID needs to make sure malnourished children are receiving appropriate therapy and evacuate them to hospitals or cities if necessary, she said.

"The idea that children are dying of starvation right here in this hemisphere" is unacceptable, Waters said by phone.

The U.S. Congress already pledged about $100 million in relief from the August and September tropical storms and hurricanes that hit Haiti, killing at least 793 people and causing $1 billion in damage. But Waters said not enough is being done."We are going to follow up with a combination of our ambassador and (President Rene) Preval and see if we can help to orchestrate something that's a little more extensive," she said.

Aid workers discovered the pocket of malnutrition after nearly all of the children had died, and officials are still investigating to determine the exact causes of death.

At least 65 more severely undernourished children were evacuated to hospitals or treated in tent clinics on site.

USAID is taking the matter seriously and had already stepped-up ongoing programs to deliver food and health aid to the region, said Mari Tolliver, a U.S. embassy spokeswoman in Port-au-Prince.

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PRESS RELEASE

November 25, 2008

For Immediate Release
Contact: Michael Levin
(202) 225-2201

CONGRESSWOMAN WATERS CALLS ON USAID
TO SAVE THE LIVES OF CHILDREN STARVING IN HAITI Washington, D.C. –

 
Venecia Lonis, 4, who suffers from malnutrition, is weighed at the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Port-au-Prince, Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008. Aid workers fear hunger is worsening in rural Haiti after at least 26 children died of conditions exacerbated by a lack of nutrition, raising concerns that a grave food crisis may be brewing following four devastating tropical storms. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Today, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) called for a redoubling of efforts by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to treat hunger and malnutrition in Haiti. Her comments follow a report from the Associated Press that at least 26 severely malnourished children have died in the last four weeks in a remote region of Haiti. Aid workers fear the death toll could rise much higher.

“I am appalled that children are starving to death in a country so close to America’s borders. I call on USAID to take immediate action to locate all Haitian children who are in danger of starvation and ensure they are receiving appropriate nutrition therapy. Starving children and their families in remote areas should be evacuated if necessary in order to access medical treatment,” said Congresswoman Waters.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western
Hemisphere. Haiti’s unemployment rate is nearly 80%, and an estimated 78% of the population lives on less than $2 per day. During the months of August and September, Haiti was devastated by four deadly hurricanes in rapid succession. According to USAID, these storms killed 793
people and destroyed 14.6% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). More than 150,000 families were displaced from their homes, and more than 845,000 people (9% of the population) were directly affected.

Haiti has also been impacted severely by the international food crisis.

Prior to the hurricanes, the prices for staple foods had increased over 40% since the beginning of the year. Food prices have risen further in the aftermath of these storms, which washed crops away and caused almost $200 million in damage to the agricultural sector.

“Congress is deeply concerned about poverty in Haiti, and we have provided USAID ample resources to address the needs of the Haitian people.

Following the hurricanes, I initiated a request to congressional leaders for disaster assistance for Haiti, and Congress appropriated $100 million. It is
now up to USAID to use these resources effectively to save lives,” said the
Congresswoman.
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Ezili Dantò Note:

HLLN Note: US Congress must provide more oversight guidelines on USAID
https://lists.riseup.net/www/arc/ezilidanto/2008-11/msg00032.html

Since the first foreign-supported coup d'etat in 1806 -the assassination of Haiti's founding father, Jean Jacques Dessalines, who wanted the assets of the new country to be equitably divided amongst all of Africa's children- Haiti has been over-exploited, bullied and terrorized by the Western corporatocracy and their white settlers and adventurers from all the classes, the African-Ayisyen masses excluded from the affairs of their own nation, the countries resources pillaged and plundered by the colonial countries, beginning with the Independence Debt.

Haitians are in need of justice, restitution, reparation, human rights not charity. Fair trade not free trade. Haiti needs to have its indigenous culture and domestic economic development respected. It does not need the failed unholy Western enslavement trinities of political, socio-economic and educational/religious institutions keeping the Blacks in physical and mental chains. Nor does Haiti require further colonial paternalism, false benevolence and to be burden with dependency through World Bank/IMF/IFI's debts and such other modern tools of domination, economic enslavement and financial colonialism. In particular, respect means foreign aid, if it is to be given to Haiti, should go directly to the Haitian government and not through USAID because USAID projects undermine Haitian sovereignty, does not promote sustainable development and the funds allocated to USAID for Haiti generally do not reach the people most in need. (Relevant 2011 Update - False Benevolence in Haiti: The United States makes sure that 80 cents in every aid dollar is returned to the home country.” It’s called "Tied Aid". In fact, 93 percent of USAID aid funds to Haiti go straight back to the U.S. to purchase US goods and services.)

The uses of U.S. foreign aid, as administered through USAID in Haiti, basically serves to fuel conflicts and covertly promote U.S. corporate interests to the detriment of democracy and Haitian health, liberty, sovereignty, social justice and political freedoms. USAID projects have been at the frontlines of orchestrating undemocratic behavior, bringing underdevelopment, coup d'etat, impunity of the Haitian Oligarchy, indefinite incarceration of dissenters, and destroying Haiti's food sovereignty, essentially promoting famine. Recall, for instance, USAID project such as the slaughter of the Kreyòl pigs that greatly impoverished the peasants, the Peligre dam that made landless peasants, the Miami rice that destroyed Haiti's domestic rice, the trade laws that brought sweatshops enticing rural Haitians to the capital and created the slum of Site Soley when the US companies closed shop and went elsewhere. (See, The slavery in Haiti the media won't expose; Death Watch in Haiti's Jails; Matters to be investigated; Pointing Guns at Starving Haitians: Violent Haiti is a myth and, What UN Special Envoy Bill Clinton May Do to Help Haiti.)

USAID was at the frontlines of the irregular warfare creating Coup D'etat, chaos, anarchy and destabilization in Haiti culminating in the 2004 ouster of President Aristide and UN/US occupation.

"The objective of irregular warfare is control over the civilian population and the neutralization of the state, and its principal tactic is counterinsurgency, which is the use of indirect and asymmetric techniques like subversion, infiltration, psychological operations, cultural penetration and military deception." (Cuba: USAID making ever-higher investments in subversion.)

International Foundation for Election Systems ("IFES") in Haiti was one of the USAID projects for destabalizing the Aristide government. According to a National Lawyers Guild report, IFES workers take complete credit for ousting Aristide, the duly elected president of Haiti. "...IFES went out and formulated groups that never existed or united pre-existing groups, gave them sensitization seminars, paid for people to attend, paid for entertainment and catering, and basically built group after group, and then they realized that in order to be successful they had to reach out from beyond the lawyers and judges. They reached out to student groups and business groups to get a bigger economic behind them. They also reached out to human rights groups – which they actually paid off to report human rights atrocities to make Aristide look bad. It just sort of snowballed. They bought journalists, and the IFES associations grew into the Group of 184 that became a solidified opposition against Aristide. What is probably most interesting is that Gerard Latortue, the prime minister, was an IFES member for a couple of years before of the ouster of Aristide last year. The myth that he had been plucked from pool-side on March 1st, the day after the coup, to become prime minister was pretty much debunked – he was in the planning for a couple of years. Bernard Gousse, the justice minister who is in charge of the prisons and the police, was in it for many years. He was a sensitization speaker coming to talk in the US on behalf of IFES." (For more, go to SourceWatch - International Foundation for Election Systems.)

In HLLN's Haiti Policy Statement for the Obama Team, we made seven-points towards a more equitable US-Haiti partnership and asked the US to stop supporting death, dependency and dictatorship in Haiti, through USAID and support inclusion, social justice, democracy, and sustainable development.

Before the $100 million was hastily approved and while Congress was considering appropriating this $100 million to Haiti, after the four 2008 back-to-back storms/hurricanes, HLLN recommended new foreign aid guidelines and oversight of USAID in Haiti and that USAID not be given a blank check for Haiti's welfare. We pointed out the need to ensure foreign aid administered by USAID actually reaches the people in need, doesn't stay in Washington and is not primarily used for USAID's political benefactors, NGOs and non-profit's administrative, salary or shipping/transportation fees.

It is essential that Haiti becomes less dependent on foreign aid and the foreign NGOs and more economically self-sufficient. This cannot manifest if USAID is allowed to empower foreign NGOs in Haiti, deliberately by-passing and marginalizing the duly elected Haitian government and the Ministries charged to protect the welfare, health, safety and national interests of the people of Haiti. A new US-Haiti relationship is required that does not promote foreign aid policies, procedures and reform programs with NGO rules and unfair trade laws that promote famine, instability and eviscerates Haitian dignity, self-respect and sovereignty.

We also made the suggestions, detailed below, be place in the appropriation legislation. Perhaps, if that had been heeded, some of the lives lost would have been saved from starvation and this press release from Congresswoman Waters would not now be necessary. We urge the next Congress to consider some of HLLN recommendation made below and set new oversight guidelines on USAID for funds earmarked for "aid" to Haiti. To wit:


"...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.

Any bill for aid to Haiti must include specificity in terms of what percentage of the money will be used for:

1. Crisis food aid and medicines, and then for

2. Flood barriers in the coastal cities, particularly Gonaives;

3. To repair the six major bridges (Mirebalais bridge, Montrouis bridge, Site
Soley to Croix-des-Bouquets bridge at Route 9, Grand-Goave, Cayes-Jacmel
temporary bridge, Miragoane Bridge at Berquin) broken due to the last four
storms;

4. To repair the major road arteries;

5. To assist Haiti in irrigation, fertilizer and necessary farming equipment
to increase domestic food production in the Artibonite valley and Plaine du Sud farming areas;

6. For ethically and responsibly creating a uniquely Haitian organic
food-for-trade market from Haiti's own traditional fruits and crop staples (Pitimi, ble, pwa Kongo, nwa, yellow rice, avocado, mangoes, white Haitian yam, plantains, St. Marc rice, St. Marc corn, millet, pigeon peas, Vetiver oil,
cashew, et al...).

7. For planting fruit trees to assist the small rural farmers towards self-sufficiency;

8. For creating indigenous Haiti manufacturing and eco-friendly green jobs with an emphasis in helping meet the needs of women and children in Haiti.

9. To support Haitian-led grassroots capacity building organizations;

10. For child health care, medicines, permanent clean water facilities (long lasting bio-sand water filter units instead of just water purification
tablets... et al); and,

11. Educational initiatives that don't deny Haiti's unique indigenous culture.

12. Also, it is essential that Congress add in every such bill for aid to Haiti a requirement that every 6-months and until all the funds have been completely disbursed, a report is filed detailing the specific sustainable development goals that were met - that is, a full report indicating the flood barriers, roads, fruit planting, Gwo Medsiyen biofuel plants constructed, the crisis food aid and medicines that actually reached the intended poor beneficiaries not the open market, and the manufacturing jobs and capital building that were attained..."

For complete statement, go to -
What Haitian Americans Ask of the New US Congress and President

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HLLN currently campaigns and is mobilizing legislative and international support for Haitian-American foreign policy concerns:

Haitian Americans ask the new US Congress and President
to....end the UN occupation; stop unequal immigration treatment of Haitian refugees and asylum seekers; cancel, without condition, Haiti's debt to international financial institutions; void unfair trade laws, start reciprocal trade, restrict free trade so not to dump food and other imports into Haiti that eviscerate Haiti's domestic growth and by also calibrating Haiti's domestic needs for agricultural expansion, public works, job creation, health care, schools, sanitation, infrastructure, and by adding enforceable human rights, labor, environmental rights provisions in US trade laws; permanently stop all deportations to Haiti, grant TPS; stop trading for Haiti with USAID, demand new foreign aid guidelines and oversight of USAID in Haiti. Investigate the role of US in the 2004 coup d'etat where US Special forces forcibly exiled President Jean Bertrand Aristide via an unmarked plane used for renditions.

- U.S. good governance and democratic enhancement policies administered by USAID should result in maximizing, not depleting or obliterating the Haitian Diaspora's $2Billion annual remittances and investments in Haiti; the next US Congress and President should implement new US foreign assistance regulations, guidelines and oversight to ensure foreign aid administered by USAID actually reaches the people in need, doesn't stay in Washington and is not primarily used for USAID's political benefactors, NGOs and non-profit's administrative, salary or shipping/transportation fees. (For complete details, go to: What Haitian Americans Ask of the New US Congress and President)
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Children dying in Haiti, victims of food crisis
By JONATHAN M. KATZ
Associated Press Writer, November 20, 2008


PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - The 5-year-old teetered on broomstick legs _ he weighed less than 20 pounds, even after days of drinking enriched milk. Nearby, a 4-year-old girl hung from a strap attached to a scale, her wide eyes lifeless, her emaciated arms dangling weakly.

   
 
  Venecia Lonis, 4, who suffers from malnutrition, is weighed at the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Port-au-Prince, Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008. Aid workers fear hunger is worsening in rural Haiti after at least 26 children died of conditions exacerbated by a lack of nutrition, raising concerns that a grave food crisis may be brewing following four devastating tropical storms. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

In pockets of Haiti accessible only by donkey or foot, children are dying of malnutrition _ their already meager food supply cut by a series of devastating storms that destroyed crops, wiped out livestock and sent food prices spiraling.

At least 26 severely malnourished children have died in the past four weeks in the remote region of Baie d'Orange in Haiti's southeast, aid workers said Thursday, and there are fears the toll will rise much higher if help does not come quickly to the impoverished Caribbean nation.

Another 65 severely malnourished children are being treated in makeshift tent
clinics in the mountainous area, or at hospitals where they were evacuated in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere, said Max Cosci, who heads the Belgian contingent of Doctors Without Borders in Haiti.

One evacuee, a 7-year-old girl, died while being treated, Cosci said, adding: "The situation is extremely, extremely fragile and dangerous."

At a makeshift malnutrition ward at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the capital, 10 emaciated children were under emergency care Thursday, their stomachs swollen and hair faded by pigmentation loss caused by malnutrition. Several had the puffy faces typical of kwashiorkor, a protein-deficiency disorder.

Five-year-old Mackenson Duclair, his ribs protruding and his legs little more than skin stretched over bones, weighed in at 19.8 pounds, even after days of drinking milk enriched with potassium and salt. Doctors said he needed to gain another five pounds before he could go home.

Dangling from a scale mounted from the ceiling, 4-year-old Venecia Lonis looked as limp as a rag doll as doctors weighed her, her huge brown eyes expressionless, her hair tied with bright yellow bows.

Mackenson's grandmother, who has raised him since his mother died, said she barely has a can of corn grits to feed herself, the boy and her 8-year-old granddaughter each day.

"These things did not happen when I was growing up," 72-year-old Ticouloute Fortune said.

Rural families already struggling with soaring food prices in Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, lost their safety nets when fields were destroyed and livestock wiped out by the storms, which killed nearly 800 people and caused $1 billion worth of damage in August and September.

U.N. World Food Program country director Myrta Kaulard said she fears more deaths from malnutrition in other isolated parts of Haiti, and search and medical teams were fanning out in the northwest and along the southwestern peninsula to check.

The World Food Program has sent more than 30 tons of food aid _ enough to feed 5,800 people for two weeks _ into the remote southeastern region since September, and other groups funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development have sent food as well, she said.

But the steep, narrow paths and poor visibility make it difficult to deliver the food to the mountain communities where hunger is worsening. In one case, a WFP truck flipped over while struggling up a hill and slid into a ravine, killing an aid worker.

"There is always a bottleneck. The same situation that the people are facing is the same situation we're also facing," Kaulard told The Associated Press Thursday.

Haiti in general and the mountain villages in particular have long suffered from chronic hunger. Child malnutrition rates have been high for years _ the WFP reported in 2007 that nearly a quarter of children were chronically malnourished.

Remote rural areas in particular grow only enough staples to feed themselves less than seven months out of the year, Kaulard said.

But throughout the year, aid workers and officials have been seeing hunger get more severe, and now people who live in the mountains and aid groups who are working there say the situation is worse than it has been in the past.

This year, for instance, Haiti's agriculture ministry estimates 60 percent of the harvest was lost in the storms nationwide. Land quality is already poor and farmers lost seeds for next year when the storms hit, Kaulard said.

Effects of the storms vary widely from village to village and even family to family. In some places, food supplies seem intact. In others, Doctors Without Borders has found rates of severe malnutrition as high as 5 percent.

Aid shortages may soon compound the problem. Donor countries have funded only a third of the U.N.'s $105 million aid appeal for Haiti following the storms, and resources could run out in January, Kaulard said.

At the hospital Thursday, Enock Augustin sat beside the bed where his 5-year-old daughter Bertha was sleeping. The fragile-looking child was evacuated by helicopter Nov. 8 with vomiting and diarrhea. When she arrived, nearly a quarter of her body weight was due to fluid retention, a sign of severe protein deficiency.

The swelling gradually receded as she was fed nutrient-enriched milk and treated with antibiotics and anti-worm medicine; she shrank to just 21 pounds.
She has since gained about two pounds but can't go home until she reaches 26 pounds, doctors said.

For months, the Augustin family had gotten by despite the soaring prices of corn grits and imported rice because they grew potatoes, which they could eat or barter for plantains, yams and breadfruit that did not fluctuate with the world market.

But then, in August, Tropical Storm Fay hit, followed by Hurricane Gustav, Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike.

"Every time a hurricane came through, it killed our animals and plants," said Augustin, a father of six. The road was washed out, markets became unreachable and "the price of everything went sky high."

The entire family subsisted on two cups of corn grits, and Bertha began shrinking _ and then swelling _ before his eyes.

"She was really bad. We put her in the helicopter and they brought her here," Augustin said. "I hope the government will hear about us and bring more support."

(Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Children dying in Haiti, victims of food crisis
Life gets worse for Haiti's hungry children
U.N.: High food prices creating more hunger
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Ezili Dantò on Help for the Hurricane Victims in Haiti, Sept. 12, 2008

Zili Dantò performs performs the Nago for Breaking Sea Chain (See also Intro to Breaking Sea Chains)

 


 

Standing on truth, living without fear – Supporting Barack Obama’s vision of what can be…
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The Haitian struggle - the greatest David vs. Goliath battle being played out on this plane

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Dessalines Is Rising!!
Ayisyen: You Are Not Alone!


"When you make a choice, you mobilize vast human energies and resources which otherwise go untapped...........If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want and all that is left is a compromise." Robert Fritz

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