Magnitude Earthquake Hit Haiti’s Capital

(CNN) — “A magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Tuesday near Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, the U.S. Geological Survey. Several witnesses reported heavy damage and bodies in the streets of the Haitian capital.

There was no estimate of the dead and wounded Tuesday evening, but the U.S. State Department has been told to expect “serious loss of life,” department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters in Washington.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Earthquake struck near coast of capital Port-au-Prince on Tuesday
  • Witnesses: Heavy damage reported, bodies in streets
  • U.S. State Department: ‘Serious loss of life’ expected”

Source: CNN:  Haitians wait for daylight for full look at quake devastation

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Petition to cancel Haiti’s debt

Dear friends,

As the world sees the horror of Haiti’s earthquake, charitable donations are flooding in — Avaaz members alone have donated over $500,000 in less than a day.
These funds are desperately needed. But even as they flow in, Haiti is sending money out–to pay off national debts run up by corrupt governments in years past.
Haiti should not be worrying about debt to the International Monetary Fund as families are digging through rubble. At a moment like this, global financial institutions won’t be able to ignore a worldwide outcry. Help lift a massive burden from Haiti’s ability to rescue, recover, and rebuild — let’s raise a million voices for emergency debt relief for Haiti:
http://www.avaaz.org/en/drop_haitian_debt/98.php?CLICK_TF_TRACK
Even before the earthquake, Haiti was one of the world’s poorest countries — due, in part, to a legacy of unjust debt stretching back to France’s demand for reparations after its 1804 revolution.
In recent years, the tremendous worldwide campaign for debt relief has shown the power of public pressure to support poor nations. Today, Haiti still owes more than $600 million USD, much of it to global financial institutions — and is scheduled for millions in payments in 2010 alone.
Recovering from the earthquake will take years, even decades. As the headlines fade, donations will slow–but the burden of paying debts incurred by unelected governments will continue, unless we take this moment to make a change.
After the tsunami in 2004, the world suspended debt payments from affected countries. Today, if we take action, we can achieve a permanent victory: the cancellation of Haiti’s debt. Haitians are urgently appealing for all of our help. Our donations make a difference. But our voices as citizens are needed as well. Join the call for debt relief, and pass this message to those who feel the same:
http://www.avaaz.org/en/drop_haitian_debt/98.php?CLICK_TF_TRACK
As we watch the images on our televisions and computers, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed. But if moments like this can trigger our consciences and move us to act in solidarity with those most affected, they can help us to move to a better world — one where we move as one to address the man-made poverty and inequality that has left our brothers and sisters in Haiti so vulnerable to natural crises. There is not enough that we can do. But let’s all do everything we can.
With hope in the face of tragedy,
Ben, Iain, Ricken, Alice, Sam, Milena, Paula, and the whole Avaaz team
PS: To donate to support Haiti, click here:
https://secure.avaaz.org/en/stand_with_haiti/

SOURCES
Jubilee (debt campaigning group) information page on Haiti’s debt:
http://www.jubileeusa.org/jubilee-act/haiti-debt-cancellation-resolution/resources-on-haitis-debt.html
“Cancel Haiti’s Debt” – Foreign Policy blog
http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/01/13/cancel_haitis_debt
“Haiti: the land where children eat mud” – history of Haiti’s debt from The Sunday Times, 17 May 2009
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article6281614.ece

Haiti Needs Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Re: Aristide and Haiti
From:
Abdul Alkalimat <mcworter@ILLINOIS.EDU>

Add to Contacts

To: H-AFRO-AM@H-NET.MSU.EDU  

// From: MOLEFI K. ASANTE <masante@temple.edu>

Haiti Needs Jean-Bertrand Aristide

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is the one contemporary Haitian
who brings the heroic legacies of L’Ouverture, Dessalines, Christophe, and Petion, the four horsemen of Haitian political history, to the current crisis. Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest and Haiti’s first democratically elected leader was President of Haiti in l991, and was overthrown by a military coup in September l991. However, he was once again President from l994 to l996, and President from 2001 to 2004. In February 2004, after he disbanded the army because of corruption and its attacks on civilians, a criminal band of less than one hundred men terrorized the nation and Aristide was physically removed from the palace, supposedly for his safety. The American government was complicit in this action and flew the President to Africa. The democratically elected President of Haiti has been forced to live in exile in South Africa.

Yet Haiti has always been on his mind. He is a child of the soil,
the most distinguished image of a fighting Haiti, and at this time of
natural disaster, political instability, and governmental weakness, however much Hillary Rodham Clinton wants to shore up President Rene Preval, the country needs its most potent political figure. Aristide has always been ready to inspire and rally his nation; this time is no different. At this moment when one considers the grim realities of death, destruction, and the enormous need for reconstruction, Aristide, the healer, teacher, philosopher, orator, leader, and the first truly democratically elected president of Haiti should be called upon by the international community. I believe that he is the only Haitian who can command both national and international respect at this time. President  Rene Preval, by all accounts, is a good public servant, but he has not been able to grasp the immensity of the situation in Haiti. Furthermore, he has been unable to convey a vision for the future. This has to be done by Haitians.

President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and General Colin Powell
are not Haitians, however grand their objectives; they do not have the
credibility and the ability to rally Haitians like Jean-Bertrand Aristide.  They know it, the Haitians know it, and the world knows it. Before President Aristide was exiled to South Africa from his own nation, he had received more votes than any president in Haiti’s history, and just a gang of thugs supported by the enemies of a progressive Haiti were allowed to threaten the peaceful democracy. In spite of the apocalyptic scope of the earthquake, this is an opportune time for the country to make social, medical, economic, and political progress.

However, we are confronted with what appears to be a leadership
vacuum. Therefore, I call for the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. I am
asking that the UN Head, Ban Ki Moon and the US President, Barack Obama
guarantee the safe and secure return of President Aristide. I believe that President Rene Preval will grow in stature if he agrees to this return. In fact, Preval was once the second in command to Aristide. Perhaps nature has given the politicians what they could not have envisioned themselves, that is, a way to resolve the constitutional issue of two elected presidents. Why can’t President Preval now form a joint presidency as Sekou Toure and Kwame Nkrumah formed in Guinea? This is an African solution to the political crisis and to the moral and psychological issues facing the country.  President Aristide, one of the most generous, intelligent, and consistent leaders in Haiti’s history will certainly use his powers to rally the Haitian people once again to resilience and victory. I know President Aristide and I know that he is in pain about the conditions in Haiti. Let the international community call for his return to help minister to and rally his people.

Haiti: the Land of bitter tears!

Haiti: the Land of bitter tears!

By Celucien L. Joseph (January 14, 2010)

 

Oh the most merciful and gracious God, why Haiti again?

Have we not had enough?

Is this what you call love?

This justice is bitter

We who are left, how shall we look up?

 

God of our bitter tears,

Where’s grace when it’s most needed?

Where’s hope for our wretched souls?

Where’s love when hate abounds?

Kindness has left us

Joy is no more

Peace has renounced us

 

God of our endless wounds,

Has the land of freedom black become a graveyard, and a jungle-folk?

Mourning their tragic loss…

A hundred drop of tears

In Children face they come…

 

God of our weary years,

Long ago Négrier betrayed us

300 years of bitter herbs…

Of poignant and despairing spirituals, we shall sing no more

Trampled under the strength of the mighty ones…

200 years of failed justice and false hopes

 Of foreign uses and abuses of Ayiti Cherie

What will happen next…?

In peaceful solitude of death we will be remembered.

 

God of our silent nights,

Have not our weary feet stumbled?

Who will write our story?

Who will write you songs of praise…?

Sing joy in the realm of the loss…?

How about morning melody?

Have we all been together erased and excommunicated?

 

God of our heavy sorrows,

If we must die, let it not be like orphans or dogs,

Nor those without hope

May we forever forget…?

May we evermore trod…?

It’s a long road to Guinea, of eternal dark days ahead

No sun will shine for us, in our dark land

We know all the roads of the world

Since we were sold in slavery, long ago…

 

God of our darkened days,

Will the moon guide our sleepy paths?

Will we sing the spirituals of the age-old Nile, in the new land?

Silence, separation, tears, lynching, all we know

We are fragmented and split between…

We also know hope and hope still…

Will another song spring forth from our voice to the sky?

Will we count still…?

 

God of our forgotten trials,

On your unqualified loving-kindness, 

Unconditional mercy and unreserved love

We shall stand and fall…

Upon the Lord above, in hope our soul shall rest

Standing tall at thy summit…

Lest we forget Thee…

Lead us into thy Light…

Toward freedom we shall march…

Oh God of our weary years

 

 

An Open Letter to David Brooks on Haiti

An Open Letter to David Brooks on Haiti 

Dear Mr. Brooks, 

In your January 15, 2010 opinion piece in The New York Times, “The Underlying Tragedy,” you present what you seem to believe is a bold assessment of the situation in Haiti and what you certainly know is a provocative recommendation for Haiti’s future. You also offer some advice to President Obama. In order to successfully keep his promise to the people of Haiti that they “will not be forsaken” nor “forgotten” the President, you say, has to “acknowledge a few difficult truths.” What follows, however, is so shockingly ignorant of Haitian history and culture and so saturated with the language and ideology of cultural imperialism that no valuable “truths” remain. Please allow us, therefore, to present you with some more accurate truths.

First, Haiti is not a clear-cut case of the failure of international aid to achieve poverty reduction. For almost its entire existence Haiti has been shouldered with a load of immense international debt. The Haitian people had the audacity to break their chains and declare independence in 1804 but were later forced by France to re-purchase their freedom for 150 million Francs, a burden that the country has had to carry throughout the twentieth century.

What’s more, the “aid” Haiti has received from its powerful neighbor to the North has never been the sort that would help the country reduce poverty or achieve meaningful development. In the early-twentieth century the principle “aid” Haiti received from the United States came in the form of a brutal military occupation that lasted from 1915 to 1934. After “Papa Doc” Duvalier ascended to power “aid” meant assistance to a ruthless (but conveniently anti-communist) dictator. The U.S. gave Duvalier $40.4 million in his first four years in power, briefly suspended military and economic assistance to the dictator in 1963, but resumed shortly thereafter, restoring full military and economic aid to Duvalier by 1969. In the early 1970s and 1980s when “Baby Doc” Duvalier was at the helm, the “aid” the United States and other international agencies contributed failed to reduce poverty but did enrich foreign investors in the newly constructed assembly industry. Economic policies that the U.S. forced upon Haiti decimated its agriculture for the benefit of American farming while driving Haiti’s peasants into Port-au-Prince and other cities where they found few jobs and scarce housing. Four years after Baby Doc’s departure the Haitian people decided to help themselves by democratically electing a new leader, but the United States aided Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s domestic opponents in the coup of 1991 and did so again in 2004. It is no wonder then that that such “aid” from the United States has failed to lift Haiti out of poverty.

Equally unconvincing is your argument about “progress-resistant cultural influences,” which brings us to important truth number two: Haitian culture is not “progress-resistant” as anyone familiar with the examples you yourself provide can attest to. If Vodou or “the voodoo religion” as you put it, “spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile,” how do the majority of Haitians manage to survive on scant resources and less than two dollars-a-day? How do so many Haitians manage to travel abroad, find and maintain difficult jobs, and send money back home if not through careful planning and a fierce defense of precious life? How do the nationwide customers of Fonkoze, the Haitian banking operation that teaches literacy and business practices to curbside marketers to whom it makes small loans, achieve such strong records of loan repayment? In fact, it might be Haitian culture itself (and even Vodou) which allows Haitians to persist. After all, the Vodou spirit Ogou (St. Jacques) is honored as a clever planner and master of skills. So was the champion of Haiti’s war of independence, General Toussaint L’Ouverture, a onetime slave who entered history as a military and diplomatic genius.

The third important truth we have to offer (and we hope President Obama is listening as well) is the opposite of your call for “intrusive paternalism” as the solution to Haiti’s woes: Haiti does not need nor does it want the paternalism of the United States. Haiti is literally dying of cultural imperialism.

Whenever America’s leaders and pundits speak of subordinate peoples, the ideology of imperialism shines through. As it does in your words, Mr. Brooks, so it has done for far too many earlier Americans. President William McKinley, for example, facing the difficult question of how he was to govern the newly-conquered Filipinos worried that left “to themselves they are unfit for self-government-and they would soon have anarchy and misrule . . . [So] there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them.”

Closer to home, those who worried about an earlier form of “progress-resistant cultural influences” decided it was better to remove the children of Native American families than to let them absorb the backwardness of their pagan and uncivilized parents and community. A common refrain by these “reformers” was “kill the Indian, save the man.” And now, Mr. Brooks, you propose to save the Haitians from themselves by replacing Haitian cultural values and institutions with “middle-class assumptions, an achievement ethos and tough, measurable demands.” Imperialism, whether economic or military, is the primary reason for the conditions that so worsened the impact of the earthquake on January 12. Haitians need less imperialism, not more.

During the Vietnam War an American officer famously stated that “it became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it.” Today Haiti is virtually destroyed. The earthquake having done the hard part, Mr. Brooks, you think “intrusive paternalism” will save it. Lacking a foundational understanding of Haitian history and culture, and bearing the familiar colors of American imperialism you and your ilk will do vastly more harm than good.

Tom F. Driver
Paul Tillich Professor Emeritus of Theology and Culture
Union Theological Seminary

Carl Lindskoog
Doctoral Candidate, Dept. of History
The Graduate Center, City Univ. of New York

To see the list of signatories please click here, http://bit.ly/6H39HA

Haitian-American Author, Edwidge Danticat Won the the prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship

Haiti-born writer Edwidge Danticat has won the prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship, which comes with $500,000.

BY JACQUELINE CHARLES

jcharles@MiamiHerald.com

Miami writer Edwidge Danticat was holding her 9-month-old daughter, Leila, while trying to read the computer screen when the phone rang.

“Are you sitting down?” the caller asked.

“Yes. I am holding my baby,” she said.

“Put the baby down.”

An award-winning author who was born in Haiti, Danticat, 40, learned she had just won the biggest honor of her career: the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation `Genius Award,’ which carries a $500,000 “no strings attached” prize.

“I am extremely grateful,” said an ecstatic Danticat, one of 24 winners named this year as a fellowship winner. “I am still wrapping my brain around it, trying to see how I can do it justice.”

Daniel Socolow, who directs the fellows program and called Danticat with the news, said the writer emerged from a pool of hundreds of creative leaders, nominated by individuals for their creative genius and potential.

The final selection, he said, was made by an anonymous 12-member committee and after writing “thousands and thousands of other people about them.”

In addition to Danticat, this year’s winners include Jill Seaman of Sudan, an infectious-disease specialist, Lynsey Addario of Turkey, a photojournalist, and Peter Huybers of Massachusetts, a climate scientist at Harvard.

“We look at the work they’ve done, but at the end of the day it’s a calculation this is somebody worthy of our investment,” Socolow said. “We don’t know what they will do next; we just know they are likely to do something spectacular. It is betting on their future.”

Socolow said Danticat, a compelling novelist known for capturing human endurance and perseverance through her books, “has wonderful promise yet ahead to do even more powerfully what she does.”

Danticat made her debut as a novelist in 1994 with Breath, Eyes, Memory. In all, she has written eight books, recently finished a collection of essays and is working on a new novel.

HAITIAN LIFEThrough her works, she has amassed a wide range of fans with her simple prose and themes of isolation, human struggle, cultural survival — all set against the complex backdrop of Haiti’s complex history and immigrant life.

 

Her most recent book was the semi-autobiographical Brother, I’m Dying. The memoir is a tribute to her 81-year-old uncle, Joseph Dantica, a minister who fled to Miami seeking refuge from Haiti’s political and gang-ridden turmoil only to die in the custody of U.S. immigration authorities. His plight and life are chronicled through Danticat’s memories as a child growing up in Haiti under his care. The book won the National Book Critics Circle Award, among others.

Past notable winners including Dr. Paul Farmer, a Harvard anthropologist and infectious-disease specialist who won the award in 1993 for his work combating HIV/AIDS in Haiti.

`IT LIBERATES YOU’As a writer, Danticat says she always yearns for the time and peace of mind as she brings her characters — ordinary people facing hardship and struggle — to life. This award gives her that, she said.

 

“What this does is it liberates you to really concentrate on your work,” she said. “I have always tried to pace myself not to live extravagantly, so I can earn the time I need to write.”

After receiving the news, Danticat said she gasped, then called her husband Faidherbe “Fedo” Boyer and told him the news. He and daughter Mira were the only ones who knew for a week.

Her mother, who lives in New York, only learned the news Monday.

Meanwhile, she says she has no idea who nominated her, but is extremely grateful.

“You just get this call one day,” she said. “It is so gratifying to know people out there think I deserve more time to work.”

Source: Miami Herald http://www.miamiherald.com/news/top-stories/story/1245126.html

Antenor Firmin and Barack Obama

Worth reading :

Antenor Firmin predicted America’s first Black president in 1885! by Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban