Argentine Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel expressed indignation at the vote to renew the mandate of the UN Mission for Stabilization in Haiti (MINUSTAH) for another year, a decision he indicates that fails to take into account the urgency of a profound transformation of international policies towards Haiti.
"This is a vote to continue the military and economic occupation of Haiti," stated Pérez Esquivel. "It is a decision that undermines the sovereignty and self determination of that country`s people, usurps resources they need for their welfare and fails to address the MINUSTAH´s serious record of murder, rape and other human rights abuses." Pérez Esquivel further noted on 14 October, 2011 that "decisions like this deepen the Security Council´s loss of prestige and legitimacy, by continuing to affirm that Haiti, rather than foreign intervention, is the problem, and by not recognizing that the Haitian people have the ability and the right to build their own country and future."
Notwithstanding the recent vote, Beverly Keene, the international coordination of the Jubilee South network, ratified the call to governments throughout Latin America, and the South in general, to immediately withdraw their troops which constitute almost the entire Mission. "We support the demands of our partner organizations in Haiti, who reject the presence of this occupation force and demand that the UN, instead of bringing new problems such as rape, murder and the cholera epidemic that has so far claimed more than 6000 lives, proceed to apply exemplary sanctions and offer compensation to the victims."
"We have a ‘debt of gratitude’ to Haiti,” emphasized Nora Cortinas, Mother of May Square- Founders’ Line, echoing the words of Eduardo Galeano during his recent visit to Buenos Aires. "Haitians were the first people in the world to throw off the double yoke of slavery and colonialism - and it is unfathomable that they continue to be trampled on as is now the case. We must support them in the struggle against impunity, to regain what has been stolen from them, to ensure that they are not further indebted and that reparations are made for the historical, social, and ecological debt that is due to them. "
From Sao Paulo, the secretary of the Jubilee South Brazil Network, Rosilene Wansetto, reinforced the commitment to advancing the Haiti NO Minustah campaign, noting that there will be an important Continental Act for Troop Withdrawal in that city in brief, a hearing with the Brazilian Defense Minister, and in February 2012, the II International Solidarity and Fact-finding Mission to Haiti. "It is not enough to reduce troop levels to what they were before the earthquake - said Wansetto -. The troops are still an occupying force, they continue to train in Haiti to return to the slums and shantytowns of our countries to suppress and control the population, and this is unacceptable. We must redouble our efforts to achieve a true partnership with the people of Haiti, like the kind of solidarity that Cuba has carried out for years, or Venezuela, or what the MST is doing today. Policies of real cooperation are possible. "
Perez Esquivel, fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Mairead Corrigan Maguire and Betty Williams, the Mothers of May Square-Founder’s Line Mirta Baravalle and Nora Cortinas, writer Eduardo Galeano, the musician Victor Heredia, theologians Leonardo Boff, Frei Betto, and Ofelia Ortega, World Council of Churches’ president for Latin America, Raffaele Salinari – President of International Alliancel Terre des Hommes TDH, Vinod Raina - Alternatives Asia (India), European MEP Jürgen Klute (GUE-NGL Germany – www.guengl.org), Nick Dearden – Jubilee debt Campaign (UK), Boaventura de Souza Santos, director of Centro de Estudios Sociales - Coímbra University (Portugal), Patrick Bond, University of KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), Marta Harnecker, Centro Internacional Miranda (Venezuela), Joao Alier Martínez (Spain), among other prominent peace and human rights activists, academics, community leaders, and hundreds of organizations from 45 countries and all regions of the world, including the Jubilee South global network and the Service for Peace and Justice in Latin America, recently addressed an Open letter to UN and OAS Secretary Generals, members of the Security Council and the MINUSTAH and the international community as a whole, calling for an end to the MINUSTAH and the adoption of a new paradigm of cooperation with Haiti.
The letter was delivered as part of the Global Week of Action on Debt and IFIs (8 to 16 October), in further recognition of the need to achieve total and unconditional cancellation of the debts still being claimed of that country and the reparation of historic, financial, ecological, and social debts due to the Haitian people (http://www.cadtm.org/Movilizacion-m... ).
In the text of the open letter, the undersigned demanded the withdrawal of the blue belts, the so-called UN stabilization mission in Haiti (Minustah) because the Antilles state could not be considered a threat to peace and international security. For over seven years, soldiers from our Latin America countries have participated in an unjustified and immoral military occupation that serves the agenda of foreign powers and continuously violates the sovereignty and dignity of the people of Haiti. In the letter they call the governments to begin pulling their troops from this mission and the need of changes for this country, the only responsible for its own life and builders of their own history and the presence of Cuban medical brigade (in Haiti) in a reliable probe that any other cooperation is possible.
Nobel Peace Laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, who together with fellow laureates Mairead Corrigan Maguire and Betty Williams headed up the list of signatures, made a strong call for an end to the MINUSTAH farce in the press conference held in Buenos Aires to launch global presentations of the Open Letter. He emphasized the hypocrisy and impunity of the big powers who year after year pressure the Security Council to certify that Haiti is a threat to global peace and security in order to hide their military, political, and economic intervention in Haiti. "The big threat to Peace in Haiti is cholera, earthquakes, hunber, the lack of housing and healthcare, the presence of foreign interests. These are the real threat to Peace in the world, and for the people of Haiti, and what Haiti needs is respect and cooperation, not military occupation."
Concluding the Buenos Aires launching of the Open Letter, union leader and President of the Popular Unity political formation, Víctor De Gennaro, called on the governments of Argentina and other South American countries to withdraw their troops immediately from Haiti. "It is immoral and shameful that governments that express their desire to advance in the integration of Latin America are doing it with arms and the presence of a military occupation. Our governments can, and must, decide to withdraw those troops now." De Gennaro went on to explain that "one can only understand the presence of those troops in Haiti by knowing that it is a new school - like the notorious US School of the Americas which trained Latin American military in other decades to repress their own peoples. Today our military and police are "practicing" in Haiti, as the Brazilian military commander in Rio de Janeiro himself confessed, to return to the "favelas" and slums of our countries, prepared to carry out new forms of social control."
Participants in the Buenos Aires press conference, which also called attention to the complementary Letter to Latin American Presidents, launched by School of the Americas Watch, and the presentation in the Argentine Chamber of Deputies of a proposed Declaration for the withdrawal of Argentine troops from Haiti and support for a policy of true regional support and cooperation. They also announced preparations for a II International Solidarity and Fact-finding Mission to Haiti, projected for February, 2012, and similar to the one organized by Jubilee South/Americas in 2005 which opened a real window on Haitian reality throughout the region and the launching of numerous people-to-people solidarity initiatives.
"Haiti’s history is characterized by the most extreme exploitation, which continues today in different guises. The rich world owes an enormous debt to Haiti and must repay it now" said Nick Dearden, director of Jubilee Debt Campaign (UK), to Selvas Observatory.
Debts can be described as illegitimate if their legitimacy is doubtful and questionable due to political or moral reasons. Even by the narrowest legal and economic parameters; most if not all debts claimed from the South can be considered illegitimate. In general, the term "illegitimate" means "against the law, illegal or not authorized by law; improper" or "wrongly inferred" and to some extent "illogical". Defined thus illegitimate debts include odious debts, loans secured through corruption, usurious loans, and certain debts incurred under inappropriate structural adjustment conditions.
The debt has represented a significant drain on development in Latin America since the crisis of the early 1980s,
triggered when Mexico defaulted in 1982 on its extreme obligations. Payments on debt service alone could consume over half of government’s annual expenditures, frequently at the cost of investment in infrastructure and social programs.
Haiti’s ex-leader Jean-Claude Duvalier, the dictator known as Baby Doc who was overthrown in 1986, is arrived unexpectedly in the capital Port au Prince from exile in France. Mr Duvalier has been charged with theft and misappropriation of funds during his 1971-1986 rule. He is also being sued for torture and other crimes against humanity.
The sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein, world-systems analyst (he was Directeur d’études associé at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and was president of the International Sociological Association), declares to SELVAS Observatory that “in a world in which, in virtually all countries in the world, officials regularly abscond with public funds, Duvalier pushed the envelope, as we say in English. His degree of public theft of the funds of his poor country was a monumental exaggeration. One can only hope that he will meet his just rewards at the hands of a Haitian court” in an important note that it’s on line in the EUROPEAN UNITED LEFT/NORDIC GREEN LEFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENTARY GROUP web (Repay historic debt to Haiti -http://www.guengl.eu/showPage.php?I...) and in the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung – South Africa web (http://www.rosalux.co.za/index.php/... ).
Jonathan Glennie wrote in The Guardian that “in the 20th century, western support for the despotic Duvalier dynasty included turning a blind eye to grand theft, while the IMF and World Bank certified "Baby Doc" Duvalier, president of Haiti from 1971 to 1986, worthy of loans and grants. Baby Doc’s successors estimated that, when he left the country in 1986, he took $900m with him, secretly invested in western banks and tax havens. Haiti spent more money on servicing its debt during the 1990s than on education. About half the population remains illiterate. Refusing to acknowledge any responsibility for odious debts, the World Bank suspended disbursements to the country between September 2001 and January 2005 because of overdue payments.
Malnutrition among under-fives rose between 2000 and 2006. Then, rather than cancel debt, creditors perpetuated the absurd process of lending to repay debts. Creditors finally bowed to pressure to substantially remove Haiti’s odious debt in 2009 and 2010. Then there is the neoliberal destruction of Haiti’s productive capacity, which Clinton apologised for so dramatically. Rajiv Shah, head of USAid, says: "On the logo of USAid, it says: ’From the American people’, but our work has to be seen as for the American people." He means that the US prospers when other countries do. But given the US’s involvement in Haiti to date, his words may be taken quite another way by Haitians. Without taking anything away from the humanitarian effort following the 2004 storms and the 2010 earthquake, no amount of aid from the west can make up for the harm done to the prospects of this once bountiful country – especially when it comes with strings attached. The nations that have done so much damage could do worse now than humbly walk away and allow a new generation of countries to lead the international co-operation effort. South-south co-operation offers a new rhetoric and techniques to assist poor countries; as it grows in stature, and the pernicious effects of the west’s involvement in Haiti are laid ever barer, could there be a better case than Haiti for this more realistic form of international co-operation? The "traditional" donors could still finance much of the work, but the lead would be taken by southern development partners” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-de... ).
Beverly Keene, spokesperson for Jubilee South, a network that brings together movements, organizations, and campaigns in more than 50 countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, who struggle against debt domination for a world of sovereignty, equity, and justice, said that “the participants of the International Forum "What Finance for What Reconstruction?" – realized in Port-au-Prince, April 29, 2011 - warned of the urgent need to reverse the present situation in the country and its people. They denounced the surrender of the country’s sovereignty, called for a 5 year moratorium on all neoliberal trade and investment agreements, rejected any new borrowing for reconstruction, called for the audit, nonpayment and reparation of the illegitimate debts that are still being collected from the Haitian people. And demanded restitution of the historic, social, and ecological debts of which the people recognize themselves to be the creditors.
They discussed the impacts of global crises and the new scenarios that have emerged, especially in our region with the ALBA initiative that has shown that it is possible to finding ways of partnership and complementarity among countries when there is political will to advance in that direction. Participants in the Forum emphasized the need to prevent the earthquake catastrophe from becoming consolidated as a new opportunity for foreign capitalist imperialist interests to deepen their penetration and looting of what was once one of the most prosperous colonies in the region. For this reason, they argued that the rights and needs of the population and of the natural environment should be the basis for building the ¡¥other Haiti¡¦ that they know is possible, drawing on the rich experience and traditions of the Haitian people to build a fully functioning economy of social solidarity.
For this reason the participating organizations also gave great importance to strengthening their work of training, mobilization and coordination to build a participatory democracy capable of ending the impunity enjoyed by the political leadership of the country whom they also hold responsible for the surrender and ransacking of the country.
This international forum was organized by the Haitian Advocacy Platform for Alternative Development (PAPDA), with the support of its member organizations SOFA, ICKL, ANDAH, MITP, CRAD and ITEC. International participants included networks such as Jubilee South and the Assembly of Caribbean People, the Latin American Political Economy Society, the Oilfield Workers¡¦ Trade Union and the Independent Federation of Trade Unions and NGOs of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as a large number of academics and professionals from Haiti and the University of the West Indies (http://canadahaitiaction.ca/content...).
Charities point out that this will bring Haiti’s total debts close to the unmanageable $1.3bn level hit in 2005, when it qualified for debt relief from the international community as a "heavily-indebted poor country". "Much of this money was lent at a time when Haiti had massive, odious debts," said Nick Dearden, director of Jubilee Debt Campaign (UK).
"To build a Latin America of our own means to integrate the differences and cultures, and also to respond to the Haitian crisis. It is imperative that we pay attention to Haiti. At present we have only the responses of the imperialists. Unfortunately, some governments are teaming up with them and the democratic forces remain silent in the face of the scandal of the foreign military occupation of Haiti" said the Haitian Camille Chalmers.
Chalmers is the leader of the Haitian Platform for Alternative Development (PAPDA), a coalition of labor and peasant organizations – that formed the political backbone of rural resistance to the dictatorship of Jean Claude Duvalier— without which, he says, "there is no hope of carrying out the basic tasks of development and creation of democratic institutions that the Haitian people both need and deserve".
The resistance of the Haitian people is manifested by the fact that it has never been possible to impose a neoliberal project in its totality. But now the crisis resulting from the earthquake is being exploited to transform the country in the service of the transnational companies, which would bring more misery and marginalization for the population and will lead to fragmentation of society, which is already being atomized by the imperial presence. It employs the pretext of a country in chaos to justify this intervention.
We have a web of strong farmers’ organizations which was strengthened in 1986 with the struggle against the Duvalier dictatorship. The republic is sustained by their labor. The peasants produce 46% of the daily diet of Haitians, while in other Caribbean countries it’s just over 20%. But although this is basic to the economy, it is not recognized in dominant economic discourse.
There is a process of reconstitution of new farmers organizations which are seeking other forms of interconnection to build a national movement and which in recent years has focused on two struggles: against genetically modified (GM) products and against agrofuels. There is also a struggle against the establishment of free zones, which employ 70% of female labor in conditions of over-exploitation.
The women’s movement is very well structured and has registered successes not just in overall gender awareness but also in the fight against rape. As part of PAPDA, the SOFA group comprises more than 52 000 across the country with clinics that provide services to battered women. They carry out educational work. There is also a labor movement, although it has been seriously weakened by corruption financed from abroad. And there are the neighborhoods movements that played an important role in the 90’s. With the return of Jean Bertrand Aristide they were highly manipulated, but now they are rebuilding themselves. The problem is that these social groups have no political representation. The agenda of the elite is oblivious to the concerns of the people. There are political parties which, like President Michel Martelly, are inventions of the U.S. media, and carry out the plans for imperial domination. None of them has the resources, the will or the vision for a genuine break with the system”, talk Chambers.
UN Expert calls for urgent cancellation of Haiti’s remaining multilateral debt
The UN Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, Cephas Lumina, called thursday 4 February 2010 for an immediate cancellation of Haiti’s debt with multilateral creditors, and the provision of unconditional grant-aid, "not new loans whatever the degree of concessionality." The UN expert welcomed the recent announcement by the Paris Club - an informal group of 19 creditor countries - that its members would cancel the US$214 million debt owed to them by Haiti. However, he warned that "the decision is insufficient to assure the country’s sustainable recovery effort, given that the bulk of its external debt is owed to multilateral creditors."
Haiti currently owes about US$890 million to international creditors. Approximately 70 per cent of its total external debt is owed to multilateral creditors, mainly the Inter-American Development Bank (41 per cent) and the World Bank (27 per cent). "What is required is an immediate moratorium on debt service, as UNCTAD and others have recently argued," said Mr. Lumina, who has been mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights. "In addition," he stressed, "Haiti’s remaining multilateral debt must be unconditionally cancelled as a matter of extreme urgency in order to afford the country the necessary fiscal space as it recovers from the recent devastating earthquake and moves towards reconstruction."
Mr. Lumina warned that the IMF was ignoring its own advice by the recent approval of a ’highly concessional’ and ’interest-free’ loan of US$114 million to Haiti, repayment of which is due after a five-and-a-half year ’grace period.’ The IMF loan is an augmentation of Haiti’s existing $178 million programme under the Extended Credit Facility. "What Haiti needs is urgent, unconditional grant-aid, not new loans - whatever the degree of concessionality - as well as guaranteed local ownership of the national policy agenda. A new build-up of unsustainable debt must be avoided," Mr. Lumina said, noting that independent assessments indicate that it will take at least ten years for the country to recover from the devastating earthquake. "The extension of Haiti’s loan programme in circumstances where the IMF acknowledges the country’s high risk of debt distress, and particularly in view of the fact that the country’s economy has collapsed and its debt service capacity is non-existent, runs counter to the IMF’s own advice and is profoundly inappropriate," the UN expert said. In July 2009, the IMF stated that Haiti’s risk of debt distress would remain high even after debt relief and that therefore ’new borrowing policies must remain cautious’. "It is unrealistic to expect that the people of Haiti can muster the resources to start servicing this debt in five years’ time. It is also inappropriate to make Haiti pay back its emergency assistance," the Independent Expert said. "Haitians have already endured much suffering - as a consequence of repression, lack of ownership of the national policy agenda, poverty, natural disasters and unsustainable debt levels - for much of their history as an independent nation."
After the European Parliament vote on the resolution on the situation in Haiti, one year after the earthquake, GUE/NGL MEP Jacky Hénin (France – www.guengl.org) made the following statement:
"Most of my group decided to abstain because the events taking place in Haiti are a clear illustration of the limitations of current workings of the UN. In Haiti, humanitarian intervention is showing its incapacity to put sustainable solutions in place for the Haitian people.
11.5 billion dollars were pledged by the international community to rebuild the country. How much of this aid has actually arrived there? Who decides where it should go? It still remains to be seen what reconstruction we’re talking about. Will we see, once again, a people becoming unemployed and watching while large multinational companies rebuild their country?
The compromise resolution adopted today only addresses the situation in Haiti in humanitarian terms; there is no mention of the responsibility of certain countries in the political crisis reinforced by the recent elections. The European Union and the United States would do well to follow the Cuban example, rather than wallowing in the media hype, which ultimately serves primarily their economic and political interests at the expense of a sustainable reconstruction of the Haitian state and its economy. In our opinion, the European Union, and France in particular, have a historical responsibility towards the country and the situation in Haiti cannot be solved by a paternalistic vision, which would amount to considering the Haitian people like children incapable of making their own choices. We should keep in mind that it took the worst disasters to occur so that the World Bank and the IMF finally decided to cancel Haiti’s debt." (http://www.guengl.eu/showPage.php?I...).
Eva Joly, Isabelle Durant (Vice President of European Parliament), Daniel Cohn-Bendit of the Greens/EFA Group calls on the United Nation to review MINUSTHA’s mandate with the authorities of Haiti to respond to the post disaster need of the country, particularly focusing on the security issues, expresses its serious concern as regard to the illicit adoption and child trafficking, taking advantage of the current chaotic situation and calls on the EU and the UN to help the Haitian authorities in controlling this phenomenon and to take all the necessary measures to facilitate family regrouping and transparent and controlled adoption through recognised institutions, Calls for an immediate cancellation of all Haiti’s outstanding debts and stresses that any emergency earthquake assistance is provided in the form of grants, not debt-incurring loans (http://www.greens-efa.eu/de/haiti-1... ).
Michèle Striffler, Honorable Member of the European Parliament (EPP, FR) 1st Vice-Chair of the European Parliament Development Committee and Permanent Rapporteur for Humanitarian Aid and the Red Cross/EU Office held a discussion forum on 18 January 2011 regarding the progress in Haiti one year on. One year after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the international community is facing some hard truths: reconstruction in Haiti is not progressing as quickly and efficiently as everyone would like; Haitians most of all. What is the EU doing? How are the billions donated to international organisations being used? What are the next steps?
The European Union has been an unwavering supporter and generous donor to Haiti pledging €1.2 billion and delivering €331.9 million to date. The European Commission pledged €522 million over the coming years and disbursed €74 million in 2010. EU commitment to all aspects of Haiti’s short, medium and long term reconstruction is clear. The humanitarian community was represented at this discussion forum by the French Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), UN OCHA, and Coordination Europe-Haiti. The humanitarian community has been tireless in its efforts in Haiti and while undeniable progress has been made and countless lives saved, outside observers continue to bemoan the slow rate of progress. No one can deny the enormity of the challenges in recovery and reconstruction in Haiti. A disaster of this magnitude occurring in such a poor, densely populated, urban context is rare and carries unique challenges. Progress has been made but much more remains to be done. The humanitarian community and ordinary Haitians depend on the political will on the part of the Haitian government and the international community, including the European Union, to build a stronger and more resilient Haiti (http://www.redcross-eu.net/en/Disas...).
Recently Released Documentary Offers Searing Indictment of UN Intervention in Haiti
While the world focuses on the one-year anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti, a recently released documentary is a welcome reminder that Haiti’s history didn’t start in 2010. Haiti: We Must Kill the Bandits offers an uncompromising perspective on the years 2004-2005, when Haiti went through a coup that ousted democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and a subsequent occupation by foreign troops under a UN Security Council mandate. The director, Kevin Pina, a Creole-speaking American journalist who has lived in Haiti on and off for 15 years, tells a story that has so far largely been outshone by the official narrative.
The title of Pina’s documentary is borrowed from General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira, the military commander for the UN peacekeeping force in Haiti from 2004 to 2006. Pereira allegedly claimed that “we” – presumably the UN in conjunction with the Haitian police – had to “kill the bandits – but it will have to be only the bandits, not everybody.” He was referring to the armed gangs reportedly operating from the Cité Soleil slum in Port-au-Prince. The thought of an officer in charge of a UN peacekeeping mission describing his mission as “killing” is disturbing enough, but the term “bandit” also has a heavy historical background. During the 1915-1934 US occupation of Haiti, the Marines were already rounding up “bandits,” as all the young men who were fighting against the US military presence were called. “Bandits” became a popular term to label the resistance movement. That the UN should embrace it decades later is disturbing.
Haiti: We Must Kill the Bandits follows what happened in Haiti after President Aristide was ousted by a coup in February 2004. While Aristide was forcibly flown to Africa, the Multinational Interim Force (MIF) – mainly US, Canadian and French troops – was sent to Haiti under a Security Council mandate, supposedly to offer “humanitarian” protection to the population.
The voice of these people is rarely heard in the establishment media. When it is mentioned, it is often to dismiss it as “propaganda.” As journalist Isabel MacDonald underlines in her review of the documentary, “Haiti: We Must Kill the Bandits provides a rare account from the other side of the vast racialized class divide that separates the international press from Lavalas’ base of support.” Kevin Pina may show only one side of the story – he acknowledges it at the beginning of the documentary – but it’s a side that remains badly underreported. His documentary is a must-see for anyone trying to go beyond the worn-down clichés the media use to describe the crisis in Haiti (http://haitiinformationproject.blog...).