Saturday, January 28, 2012

Reflections on Oprah, Kim and Rory in Haiti


by Paul W. Miller

The conditions in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti should serve as an indictment of the inherent injustice that exists in a world where the haves have money beyond any possible use other than to mark the number of zeros behind their net worth and the have-nots are subject to the dreadful whims of nature because they are forced to live in the unsafe dregs of the material world.

It is ironic that some of the leading icons in the world of haves that should be most looking inward in this structural system that creates winners and losers are the ones newly offering their empathy to the poor, to be pitied children of the have and have not system where the aftermath of the earthquake is only the latest inhumanity served up to them.

So now we have Kim Kardshian, Oprah Winfrey and Rory McElroy tripping over each other to get involved in Haiti to show their humanity and to burnish their images with the backdrop of Haiti’s ongoing suffering.  Do they, for a moment, question their access to grotesque wealth by being on TV, on the PGA tour, and for starring in a sex movie leading to fame and fortune for being, well, famous?  Do they look inward to ask how it is they can earn millions and billions of dollars for trivial pursuits while people live and die for want of a drink of clean water?  I doubt it. 

It is an indictment that the world’s greatest super power could not lead the efforts to rescue trapped human beings in the critical days after the earthquake.  Medicine, water and rescue efforts could not be delivered, in the year 2010, as needed and many human beings died due to the politics of Haiti’s role in the world.

Haiti lies a scant 681 miles from the southern most state in the continental United States.  The country that produced “Shock and Awe” of the weapons variety produced shock and awe of a different sort in Haiti.  The shock and awe of a country left to its own resources for the better part of a week to recover from one of the most devastating natural and unnatural disasters of our lifetime.  The news announced that teams of 8 – 12 were sent out to rescue victims under the rubble that would claim upwards of 200,000 lives.  The indifference needed for the US to not be able to respond is its own “Shock and Awe”.

Where was Oprah when the US sponsored coup of 2004 created the weak infrastructure and poor governance that would be unable to respond to the earthquake?  Where was Rory when the US government was undermining the latest election in Haiti?  Where was Kim when US sanctions against Haiti killed water projects that would have minimized the impacts of the recent cholera epidemic?  And indeed where were we on those grave occasions?  We are all complicit in a system that allows centuries of suffering in a country that has contributed greatly to our own well being through the fruits of slavery, land acquisition and its citizens fighting in our wars.

Haiti deserves to have a place of dignity in the world community.  Pity from the iconic figureheads of our inhumanity will not provide Haiti with the rights that will create a just world.  Why would anyone who has benefited with wealth beyond their wildest imaginations challenge the structural injustice that created Haiti’s conditions?  Not helped to create those conditions, created those conditions.

To say that their efforts are well intentioned has no meaning in the bigger picture.  That may or may not be true.  Until we look inward to the grotesque injustice we live with everyday the conditions in Haiti will serve only the purpose of letting our leading citizens use Haiti to show, that despite their extreme wealth, they aren’t heartless, for God’s sake.

Haiti is an indictment.  Not of Haiti’s inability to govern itself, not of Haiti’s God forsaken place in the world, but an indictment of our choices as human beings to let people suffer in inhumane conditions while we feast at the table of excess in our land of indifference to the world’s great suffering.  Sean Penn says we need Haiti.  After all we have done and continue to do to create the conditions in Haiti, Haiti sure doesn’t need us.

About the author:
Paul W. Miller is the Director of the Haiti Justice Alliance

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Congresswoman Waters to Host Briefing on Who Runs Haiti


January 24, 2012                                                                              Contact: Mikael Moore
For Immediate Release                                                                    Phone: (202) 225-2201

Washington - Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-California), a strong advocate for the Haitian people in the U.S. Congress, will host a briefing tomorrow entitled, "Who Runs Haiti?  A Discussion of Governance, Political Power, and Democracy in Haiti, Two Years After the Earthquake."  The event will be cosponsored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-California) and feature several prominent speakers from both Haiti and the United States.


*      Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Member of Congress

*  Thomas C. Adams, Haiti Special Coordinator, U.S. Department of State
*  Minister Rene Magloire, Vice-President, Haitian Presidential Commission on Justice Reform, and former Minister of Justice  (1995-96, 2006-2008)
*  Brian Concannon, Director, Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH)
*  Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)
*  Marguerite Salomon, Haitian grassroots activist and leader of a Haitian women's organization
*  Peter Sollis, Senior Advisor in the Haiti Response Group, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
*  Michelle Karshan, Founder and Director, Alternative Chance

WHAT: Briefing on "Who Runs Haiti?  A Discussion of Governance, Political Power, and Democracy in Haiti, Two Years After the Earthquake."

WHEN: Wednesday, January 25, 2012, 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM

WHERE: 2456 Rayburn Building, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

WHY: Stable, effective and democratic governance is essential for Haiti's recovery and development following the devastating 2010 earthquake.  This briefing will examine Haiti's political process, including the roles of the President, the Prime Minister, and members of Parliament; the various political parties in Parliament and who they represent; and the influence of various interest groups and stakeholders, including the wealthy elites, the business sector, and the impoverished majority.  Panelists will also discuss proposals for judicial reform, human rights issues, and the opportunities and challenges facing grassroots activists.

To read more about Congresswoman Waters' longtime work on Haiti, click here.<>

Kathleen Sengstock
Senior Legislative Assistant
Rep. Maxine Waters
(202) 225-2201
Visit the Office of Congresswoman Waters Online:
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Senator in Haiti continues to press for investigation

Haitian Senator Moise Jean-Charles (l) continues to press investigation into
Haitian president Michel"Sweet Mickey" Martelly's (r) having provided false
information to run for office in the last elections.

Haiti Information Project (HIP) News Flash: President Michel Martelly's woes concerning allegations of holding a US passport are multiplying in Haiti. If true, he would be indicted by the Haitian Senate for having lied on his candidate forms when registering in the last elections. The irony is that he would be indicted for providing a false declaration to the very same Provisional Election Council (CEP) his government is currently prosecuting for fraud. 

The US Embassy has not commented on the authenticity of the US passport presented by Senator Moise Jean-Charles to the Haitian Senate. Jean-Charles and the Senate Investigating Commission will be traveling to Washington to meet with US Senators John Kerry (D) and Richard Luger (R). They are expected to forward an official request to the US Department of State to ascertain the validity of Martelly's alleged US passport. Either way, the controversy does not bode well for the Martelly administration which is already facing growing discontent at home and waning support from the international community.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sweet Mickey invites Baby Doc to Commemorate Haiti's Earthquake

President Michel "Sweet Mickey" Martelly and his wife greet former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier at a ceremony to commemorate the earthquake that struck Haiti two years ago. Duvalier is under orders not to leave the capital of Port au Prince before he stands trial for crimes against humanity including political murder and torture. (note: Bill Clinton is in background with jaw agape as Martelly greets Duvalier).

Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier was the main attraction at the official government ceremony to commemorate the second anniversary of the earthquake of January 12, 2010.

The former dictator and president-for-life attended the ceremony and sat on the same platform as president Michel "Sweet Mickey" Martelly. During the ceremony he was seated next to former military strongman General Prosper Avril.

Duvalier was also greeted by former U.S. President and current UN Special Envoy William Jefferson Clinton. Most Haitians felt as disconnected from the commemoration as they do from the current government of Martelly.  The former musician known as Sweet Mickey was elected president by less than 16% of eligible voters in the final round of controversial elections sponsored by the US government and the "international community."

After recovering his composure, Clinton follows his instincts and extends his hand to the former dictator-for-life in a clear gesture of legitimization.