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Haiti on the second anniversary of the earthquake

On this, the second anniversary of the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the website of the Canada Haiti Action Network contains a rich collection of articles and studies looking at the perilous conditions still prevailing in the country and the challenges that lie ahead. Here is a selection of some of the articles:

Haiti After the Quake: Seven Places Where the Money Did and Did Not Go. This article is a remarkable insight into how aid pledges made in early 2010 have played out.

Home: From Displacement Camps to Community in Haiti. A moving account of the dire housing and shelter conditions facing Haitians. Written by two researchers and activists with the vital grassroots organization Other Worlds Are Possible.

Haiti's hard road to recovery. The author, Isabeau Doucet, is a Montreal born graduate student in London England who spent most of the past two years bringing the truth of Haiti to world attention through her work with news agencies, including Al Jazeera.

Struggling to Survive: Sexual Exploitation of Displaced Women and Girls in Port au Prince, Haiti. This is just-published and is the latest of many studies looking at the difficult conditions faced by women in Haiti.

Aid agencies urge Canada not to forget ravaged nation. This article was published in many daily newspapers in Canada via the Postmedia chain, featuring the views of the Canada Haiti Action Network and one of its coordinators, Roger Annis.

A right-wing, pro-Martelly critique of NGOs in Haiti

Former Canadian Governor General Michaëlle Jean has issued a sharp critique of the post-earthquake situation in Haiti, saying that the predominance of charities and NGOs is a hindrance, not a help, to moving the country forward. Her statement was published by the Postmedia news chain on the earthquake anniversary.

Mme. Jean's views were featured prominently on CBC reporting of the earthquake anniversary, including on CBC Radio One's The Current, January 10, 2012 and As It Happens, January 12, 2012 (first item in part two).

Mme. Jean issued a similar critique of the NGO world in Haiti last year, on the first anniversary of the earthquake. She also voiced support to the sham election that would deliver the neo-Duvalierist Michel Martelly into office two months later.

This year, her defence of President Martelly's record since in office during the interview on The Current caused the host to react with surprise. Criticism of the poor performance of Martelly's government has been widespread, including by ministers of the Harper government.

Her support to the president is direct and strident. She says his plan to increase schooling for children by subsidizing the dilapidated patchwork of private schools is "brilliant." She hints that the Martelly governing regime has an "authentic development plan that is sustainable, fair and decentralized..." That "plan," pushed hard by the U.S./Bill Clinton-dominated Reconstruction Commission, is the same, failed one as characterized the Duvalier era. It places a priority on attracting foreign, sweatshop factory investment and pays scant attention to agricultural development. (Here is a recent article on how U.S. aid and agricultural policy has destroyed Haitian agricultural capacity.)

The critique of the NGO and charity model that has long been voiced by social justice advocates in Haiti traces the origin and ascendancy of the model to the destructive interference in the country by the big powers of the world. Military and political intervention by the U.S., Europe and increasingly Canada has trampled on the sovereignty of the Haitian people and sought to block their social justice aspirations. Any critique of the model that avoids examing its big power origin is, at best, misleading and, at worst, demagogic.

Mme. Jean never breathes a word about the long history of intervention in Haiti, including the coup of 2004 that removed the elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from office and shut down all the other institutions of elected government. And if she opposes the drive by the "brilliant" Michel Martelly to revive the Haitian army, she does not say. The army was abolished by Aristide in 1995 because it had never served any purpose but to suppress the Haitian people. It was created by the United States during its ruthless military occupation of 1915-34.

Meanwhile, doubts are running high in Haiti about President Martelly's duration in office. There is a storm of controversy about how he, his family members and his entourage are handling the national treasury. Expense accounts for government business and travel have risen sharply, while family members have been tapping into the treasury for pet projects. The newspaper Haiti Liberte is reporting this unfolding story each week, causing no end of headache for the administration. One outspoken senator calls the Martelly government a 'cesspool' of nepotism and corruption.

The newspaper is also reporting on the unresolved and ongoing controversy over the uncertain citizenships of Martelly, his prime minister, Garry Conille, and other cabinet members. The Haitian constitution is crystal clear--a person cannot hold elected office in Haiti if he or she is a citizen of another country.

Haiti and Wikileaks: Editor of Haiti Liberté weekly, Kim Ives, will speak in Canada

The events page of the CHAN website lists the forthcoming speaking engagements in Winnipeg, Victoria, Vancouver and Seattle of Kim Ives. He is the principal author of the series of articles published last year by Haiti Liberté and The Nation magazine in collaboration with the Wikileaks organization. Wikileaks entrusted the release of its trove of U.S. diplomatic cables on Haiti from 2003 to 2010 to the two publications.

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