Monday, May 31, 2010

How to Support Haiti's Sovereignty and Independence

Excerpts from Q & A by The Haitian Blogger @

What [can] us non-Haitians who sincerely want to give [do] to add something positive to the situation?

Non-Haitians need to pressure the U.S. government to change their foreign policy towards Haiti. It's clear that the IMF, World Bank, IDB et al's structural readjustment programs haven't worked. It's clear that "free-trade," privatization and other neoliberal measures have devastated local industries and destroyed food production in Haiti.

While some priorities have changed (the top priority is rebuilding) and TPS [Temporary Protected Status] has been granted to Haitian immigrants (for now). The list of priorities from this report by Haitian Lawyer's Leadership Network (HLLN) remains relevant: What Haitian-Americans are asking of the next US president

Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.
--Martin Luther King, Jr.

Are our voices as important as our house plans?

Non-Haitian voices are best used when raised in support of Haitian voices and Haiti. Although corruption, injustice and other violations of human rights must be addressed and are top priorities, perspective, sensitivity and context would go a long way in assuring Haitians that there is good will and that Haiti's best interest is at heart behind calls for transparency, integrity and accountability.

[It does not] make sense to dispense democracy from behind the butt of a gun. Pointing guns at hungry, dispossessed and destitute people is criminal. Most Haitians don't support the UN military occupation. Abuses by MINUSTAH are growing. MINUSTAH should either put away the tanks and guns for tractors and construction equipment or they must all go home.

Or should we with particular skills that are necessary right now be apolitical?

POLITICS: Haitians have been struggling for autonomy and independence for 200 years. The main issue Haiti has faced vis-a-vis the international community has been a lack of respect for Haiti's sovereignty, Constitution, laws, government and people. There is a paternalistic nature inherent in the "aid" that Haiti receives.

SKILLS: The problem with most NGOs in Haiti is that they're not building permanent, long-lasting structures or institutions. The fact is, permanent structures would put many of them out of business and that's not the plan for most.

Questions for us: Are we building permanent infrastructures and institutions in Haiti? Ones that we would want to live in and be governed by?

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