Resumo da Mídia MINUSTAH-Haiti em 17abril08

On Haiti & MINUSTAH

 

Le Monde: Haïti, les raisons de la colère

 

United Press International: Haiti: Food shortage strains aid groups

OhmyNews International: Haiti‘s Suffering, Washington’s Shame

Voice of America: Haiti‘s Rising Cost of Food  Worries Aid Groups

 

Party for Socialism and Liberation : Movement to cap food prices brings down Haiti’s prime minister

 

BBC Monitoring Latin America: Contingent of Brazilian peacekeeping troops from Amazon region to go to Haiti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Le Monde: Haïti, les raisons de la colère

 

AUTEUR: Bérengère Guy

 

Entretien avec Dominique Guy-Chevanne, consultante internationale qui a vécu en Haïti pendant un an et demi.

 

Manifestations, pillages, violences : Haïti est le théâtre d’affrontements entre la population et la police depuis quelques semaines. Parties de province, de la ville méridionale des Cayes, les “émeutes de la faim” se sont étendues à la capitale, Port-au-Prince. Dominique Guy-Chevanne, consultante internationale dans le cadre de projets européens, a vécu près d’un an et demi sur l’île. Partie deux jours avant que les émeutes ne commencent, elle n’est pas étonnée de la tournure des événements.

 

Juste avant son départ, Mme Guy-Chevanne avait identifié les prémices de la crise. Parmi les “marchandes de rue”, deux mots “cherté” et “faim” dominaient déjà les discussions.

 

Selon elle, la surpopulation à Port-au-Prince aggrave la crise alimentaire.

 

Au fond, explique la consultante, ces émeutes traduisent aussi le désespoir de la population très majoritairement pauvre qui a tourné sa colère contre la classe aisée qui la dirige.

 

16 Avril 2008

 

 

 

 

 

United Press International: Haiti: Food shortage strains aid groups

 

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, April 17 (UPI) — The food crisis in Haiti has ratcheted up pressure on international aid groups already feeding the country’s poor, a relief official said.

 

Catholic Relief Services’ director in Port-au-Prince, Bill Canny, said his group relies on funding from the U.S. government to feed Haitians unable to afford rising food prices, Voice of America reported Wednesday.

 

Last week, thousands of Haitians took to the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, to protest against food price hikes and called for the resignation of President Rene Preval and his prime minister.

 

“He (Preval) wants to try to share the burden of the price increase. How sustainable is that? The answer is that it is not sustainable,” said Joel Boutroue, deputy special representative of the United Nations’ secretary-general.

 

 

 

OhmyNews International: Haiti‘s Suffering, Washington’s Shame

Haiti briefly entered the US news last week, thanks to a new round of protests in that much-beleaguered land. Food riots throughout Haiti were reported as part of a world-wide wave of uprisings responding to increasing food prices (brought on by various factors including extreme weather, likely linked to global warming, and competition for food crops from biofuel production).The broader context of years of heartless US policies toward Haiti and the ongoing UN military presence in the island nation were missing from most coverage.

MINUSTAH, the UN mission in Haiti, was put in place to defend the US-backed coup regime which ousted the democratically-elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. After the coup, thousands of pro-Aristide dissidents were killed, raped or forced into exile, thousands more jailed without charge.

Last August, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon visited the sprawling seaside slum of Cite Soleil and boasted, “In an operation lasting six weeks, amid fierce firefights, UN forces took control of the slum.” He told reporters, “I am convinced that Haiti is at a turning point. Long the poorest country in the western hemisphere, seemingly forever mired in political turmoil, it at long last has a golden chance to begin to rebuild itself. With the help of the international community — and the UN in particular — it can.” Ban Ki Moon went on to warn against the UN leaving “too soon” and pushed for a renewed mandate for MINUSTAH.

But Brazilian soldier Tailon Ruppenthal is less starry eyed about MINUSTAH. In a recent memoir of his tour of duty, Rupenthal writes, “After a few months even getting out of bed is hard. You remember that you will cross paths with all those people who are starving but there’s nothing you can do.” The Brazilian, who now suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome, concludes, “we are losing the real war: against poverty … Only the fight against poverty will bring peace. When will they see that?”

“We are hungry and have given up on the UN and the Preval government to help us,” Sonia Jeanty, 32, told the Haiti Information Project in early April. “After all the money they have spent here most of us are eating only one meal a day. It’s unacceptable especially as we hear the UN trying to tell us every day on the radio that things have gotten better. It’s a lie!” Rene Preval was elected president in 2006 with broad popular support, but observers note that most ministries in his government remain dominated by coup figures installed with US backing. Those pro-coup officials were approved by a parliament also dominated by pro-coup individuals. Repression and illegal imprisonment kept progressives who might have been elected to parliament from effectively running.

The Haiti Information Project also reports that information officer with the 1000-strong Chinese force in Haiti Zhang Jin said in 2007, “We have the firepower and technology to control any situation that may arise here. What we gain from this experience is a real life situation where we can practice strategic and tactical deployment. That is invaluable to any fighting force.”

Mark Schuller, an anthropologist at Vassar College who writes about the political economy of Haiti, told me that “Washington consensus” economics are at the root of the current situation in Haiti. He points out that the country has “the greatest inequality in the hemisphere, with more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the Caribbean.”

Schuller referred to anthropologist and medical doctor Paul Farmer’s writings about “structural violence” — long-standing foreign control and underdevelopment — which has kept the majority of Haitians in misery, and notes that the “interim” coup government of Gerard Latortue promoted local and multinational capitalist interest at the expense of the poor majority. Schuller points to the three year tax holiday which Latortue gave large companies, while doling out millions in “back pay” to the notoriously brutal former military (which Aristide had disbanded), all of which contributed to an increase in the cost of living for the poor.

Schuller told me, “It behooves us not to think of it as a ‘failed state.’ Rather, it is best understood as a successfully failed state. As of last estimate, 65 percent of Haiti’s government revenue comes from international agencies, 84 percent of its rice grown abroad. This is because of US and other Northern countries’ economic policies wherein Haiti’s ability to feed itself with domestic rice production was wiped out by Washington-subsidized imports that US agribusiness has profited from.

At Ronald Reagan’s behest, Haiti initiated a series of neoliberal measures in the 1980s, including trade liberalization, privatization and decreasing investment in agriculture, that led to the disappearance of Haiti’s cotton and sugar export industries. During the 1990s, the US conditioned its food aid — sent to alleviate a hunger crisis — with demands that Haiti lower its tariffs and open its markets to US imports. This subsidized US rice was much cheaper than Haitian rice, forcing local farmers out of business.

Over the same period, Haiti became increasingly more reliant on the International Financial Institutions, which imposed more neoliberal conditions on its help. Since 1980, when Haiti started receiving the Banks’ help in earnest, its per capita Gross Domestic Product has shrunk by 38.3 percent. Haiti is left with a 1.4 billion dollar multinational debt, with a debt service next year of almost 80 million. In addition to draining resources from needed sectors – such as health, education, or developing national production, this debt has served as leverage for the IMF and World Bank to impose even more neoliberal measures.”

In an email to me earlier this week, Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste, a popular liberation theologian who works closely with Aristide’s Lavalas movement, wrote, “Some Haitians and foreigners are swimming in wealth while the poor ones are down deep in the pit of misery. A near famine situation reduces many people in skin and bone. As thousands of needy ones could not take it anymore they took the streets and let out their anger. I wish the wealthy ones in Haiti could accept to share and stop looking down at the lowly ones. We are all God’s children. Exclusion of a majority in dire need is not the answer. A policy of inclusion and sharing is the answer.”

There is some good news. The Jubilee USA Network-backed Jubilee Act, which would advance debt cancellation for Haiti and extend it to 23 other poor countries, looks likely to pass the House of Representatives. Voters in the US should gear up to urge their Senators to support this legislation.

 

 

Voice of America: Haiti’s Rising Cost of Food  Worries Aid Groups

Foreign aid groups in Haiti say they are hurt by the high cost of food just as much as ordinary citizens whose anger over the rising prices led to violent protests in the Caribbean nation last week. In Port-au-Prince, VOA’s Brian Wagner reports pressure on food costs is showing little signs of easing.

Food market in Haiti

Haitians who live on less than two dollars a day rely on food aid and other assistance from abroad. Catholic Relief Services is one of several organizations that seeks to aid working poor, handicapped and other residents.

The group’s director in Port-au-Prince, Bill Canny, says it relies on funding from the U.S government, which appropriates two billion dollars each year for humanitarian aid spending, under a program called title two.

He says U.S. funding levels have held steady in recent years, but soaring food costs mean that aid groups can no longer buy as much as they used to. “You would have to increase that allocation by the U.S. government of two billion dollars by 900 million dollars to get back to buying the levels of food we were at a couple of years ago,” he said.

Responding to violent protests over rising food prices, Haitian President Rene Preval has promised to work with international aid groups and local suppliers to cut rice prices by 15 percent. For some of the poorest Haitians, who have been unable to make ends meet for some time, this may not be enough.

The plan is also raising concern at the United Nations. Joel Boutroue is deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General. “He [the president] wants to try to share the burden of the price increase. How sustainable is that? The answer is that it is not sustainable,” he said.

Boutroue says Haiti also needs to focus on long-term economic programs, such as expanding the farming sector and creating other employment opportunities.

Another key reason behind rising prices is the high price of oil imports, which pushes up transportation costs for international and domestic products. Energy experts say there is little sign that oil prices will decline anytime soon.

 

Party for Socialism and Liberation : Movement to cap food prices brings down Haiti’s prime minister
Wednesday, April 16, 2008

By: Silvio Rodrigues

Food crisis sparks mass demonstrations

Pressured by mass protests and riots against rising food prices, Haitian lawmakers dismissed Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis in hopes of defusing the crisis. Just days before, 16 of 27 Haitian senators signed a letter calling for the resignation of Alexis.

Demonstrations began on April 2 in Les Cayes, but quickly spread to other areas of the country. For several days, Haitians erected barricades of burning tires and old cars in the streets.

On April 8, thousands of Haitians marched to the presidential palace to protest the sharp increase in food staples and to demand the resignation of the President René Préval. (Utah Independent, April 8)

Demonstrators rammed the palace gates with a rolling dumpster in an attempt to storm the building. U.N. occupation forces in jeeps and assault vehicles responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. Soon, the U.N. troops were overwhelmed by the size and fury of the crowds, who turned their anger against the surrounding stores. (Times Republic, April 8)

Opposition lawmakers spearheaded the vote against Alexis, a close ally of Préval, in hopes of mitigating popular anger and capitalizing on the crisis. Youri Latortue, nephew of former prime minister Gerárd Latortue, played a key role in the opposition campaign. Gerárd Latortue became prime minister following the 2004 coup against Aristide, working hand in hand with Washington and its imperialist allies. (Reuters, April 10)

Whether the opposition’s move will be effective remains to be seen. About 25 demonstrators gathered to chant “Aristide or death” outside the parliament following the vote. “”Alexis left? What’s the difference?” asked a Haitian chicken vendor. (International Herald Tribune, April 12)

Alexis’ dismissal will do little to fill the stomachs of hungry Haitians. The poorest Haitians live on less than $2 a month. The country suffers from scarce arable land and imports most of its food, including more than 80 percent of its rice. (CTV News, April 12)

Cookies made from dirt, salt and shortening are a staple of the Haitian diet, costing only around 5 cents as of January. Doctors say that relying on the cookies for sustenance can be dangerous; for Haitians, they alleviate the pain caused by hunger. (National Geographic, Jan. 30)

The rising price of foodstuffs is a global phenomenon—protests have erupted in Egypt, Morocco, Senegal, Burkina Faso and elsewhere.

The crisis springs from the inherent anarchy of capitalist production. Producers make economic decisions that affect the lives of billions with only their own short-term gains in mind. Among other factors, the growing demand for ethanol has shifted agricultural production away from food crops.

Because capitalists must constantly seek the most profitable alternatives in order not to be driven out of business by their competitors, they are unable to avoid such crises—or to offer a way out of them, for that matter. Subsidies or international “aid” are at times provided to temper popular unrest when it threatens imperialist interests.

It is hard to say whether such “relief” would appease the ire of Haitians at the present juncture. For the impoverished masses, the food crisis was the catalyst for an explosive outburst of deep-rooted hatred for the occupation. The February 2004 coup that toppled Aristide left an indelible mark in the consciousness of a people already well-familiar with imperialist intervention.

René Préval was elected to the presidency in 2006, supported by poor Haitians largely because of his past association with former president Aristide. At the time, two years had passed since the coup and Haiti was already under U.N. occupation. Some sectors of progressive and liberal opinion believed that the 2006 “democratic” elections indicated that things were getting better.

The imperialist occupation under the U.N. flag has continued throughout Préval’s presidency. One only remains in power under occupation by adhering to the framework stipulated by the occupiers. The Préval government has not—and cannot—end the imperialist occupation.

With neither the government nor the opposition offering a way out, poor and working Haitians are growing increasingly reliant on the most powerful force for change—themselves.

BBC Monitoring Latin America: Contingent of Brazilian peacekeeping troops from Amazon region to go to Haiti

Text of report by prominent, pro-government Brazilian newspaper Correio Braziliense website on 15 April

[Report by Fernanda Odillado: “New Contingent Goes to Haiti at a Difficult Moment”]

Maraba (PNA [Para]): Starting next month, Brazilian military forces will have the site of their combat and defence exercises changed from the tropical forest to a stone jungle, without infrastructure and with great poverty. A new group of 1,200 members of the military is leaving for Haiti to man the peacekeeping troops of the United Nations Organization (UN). For the first time, the contingent will consist of soldiers and officers who have been operating in the Amazon Region. The task will not be easy, because the Caribbean country is experiencing its most critical time since the fall of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in 2004. The increase in prices caused by the limited food supplies kindled a revolt which, last week, killed at least eight persons and overthrew Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis.

The Amazon region had not yet contributed to any of the eight contingents that were shipped to Haiti. The Amazon Region commander, General Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira, explains: “Sending soldiers was being avoided, so as not to deprive an area with many real demands, especially the work done on the borders.” The general, who commanded the first contingent of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Minustah) between 2004 and 2005, added: “But we reached the conclusion that, to motivate and train the troops, it is worth the trouble.” Brazil still heads the military operations in Haitian territory. The Brazilian troops will depart on 18 May and 5 June. There will be 150 men in the Army’s Engineering Company, 215 naval marines, and 840 soldiers in battalions from Maraba, Belem, and Manaus. Nevertheless, Brazil did not manage to respond to the UN’s request for increasing the number of engineering area troops from 150 to 250 men. Defence Minister Nelson Jobim, himself, advocated the increase in military forces to help in the reconstruction.

The Army reports that the increase in the number of engineers needs to be approved by the Congress, which must acknowledge and vote on the change in the purpose of the mission, currently dedicated to the maintenance of peace. Since 2004, Brazil has spent R130m dollars to maintain two contingents per year in Haiti, responsible for patrol, combat, and humanitarian activities.

Darkness

“There will be six months of specific preparation, with simulations and reproductions of what could be confronted during the other six months of the mission’s participation. Our men will spend two days providing security for the mayor of Maraba, because while in Haiti they will be responsible for protecting the president.” This is explained by General Jose Wellington Castro Ferreira Gomes, commander of the 23d Jungle Infantry Brigade, in charge of training the military forces in Maraba. The group also is learning the basics of international law, human rights, and the local language, Creole.

General Heleno recalls: “The action in Haiti has changed greatly. The first contingent was virtually in the dark.” Last week, he made a point of motivating the troops that were marching on the grounds of the 23d Brigade, in Maraba. Lieutenant Washington Amador, aged 27, anxious for the day of departure, explains: “Unlike the first contingent, which did more shooting, we are going to help the population now. But we can’t be careless, because the situation there is completely unstable.” Leaving Brazil for the first time, he will be responsible for commanding 30 men and, he claims, for putting everything he has learned in the Army until now into practice.

Source: Correio Braziliense website, Brasilia, in Portuguese 15 Apr 08

LOAD-DATE: April 17, 2008

 

 

*** FIN ***

 

 

 

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