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Haitians Worry World Bank-Assisted Mining Law Could Result in “Looting”
January 25, 2015, 7:10 pm
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With Haiti’s Parliament having dissolved on Tuesday, civil society groups are worried that the Haitian president may move to unilaterally put in place a contentious revision to the country’s decades-old mining law.

Starting in 2013, that draft was written with technical assistance from the World Bank. Last week, a half-dozen Haitian groups filed a formal appeal with the bank’s complaints office, expressing concern that the legislation had been crafted without the public consultation often required under the Washington-based development funder’s own policies.

The aim of the new draft mining law appears to be a massive expansion of Haiti’s mining sector, paving the way for the entry of foreign companies already interested in the country’s significant gold and other deposits.

“Community leaders … are encouraging communities to think critically about ‘development’, and to not simply accept projects defined by outsiders,” Ellie Happel, an attorney in Port-au-Prince who has been involved in the complaint, told IPS.

“These projects often fail. And, in the case with gold mining, residents learn that these projects may threaten their very way of life.”

Haiti’s extractives permitting process is currently extensive and bureaucratic. Yet the new revisions would bypass parliamentary oversight altogether, halting even a requirement that agreement terms be made public, according to a draft leaked in July.

Critics worry that this streamlining, coupled with the Haitian government’s weakness in ensuring oversight, could result in social and environmental problems, particularly damaging to a largely agrarian economy. Further, there is question as to whether exploitation of this lucrative minerals wealth would benefit the country’s vast impoverished population.

“The World Bank’s involvement in developing the Draft Mining Law lends the law credibility, which is likely to encourage investment in the Haitian mining sector,” the complaint, filed with the bank’s Inspection Panel on Wednesday, states.

“[T]his increased investment in the mining sector will result in … contamination of vital waterways, impacts on the agriculture sector, and involuntary displacement of communities. Complainants are also concerned about the exclusion of Haitian people from the law reform process, particularly when contrasted with the reported regular participation of the private sector in drafting the new law.”

An opaque process

The complaint comes five years after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, and as political instability is threatening reconstruction and development progress made in that catastrophe’s aftermath. Elections have been repeatedly put off for more than two years, and by Tuesday so many members of Parliament are slated to have finished their terms that the body would lack a quorum.

On Sunday Haitian President Michel Martelly indicated that a deal might be near. But the leftist opposition was reportedly not part of this agreement, and has repeatedly warned that the president is planning to rule by decree.

The Inspection Panel complaint, filed by six civil society groups operating under the umbrella Kolektif Jistis Min (the Justice in Mining Collective), contextualises its concerns against this backdrop of instability. “[T]he Haitian government may be poised to adopt the Draft Mining Law by decree, outside the democratic process,” it states.

Even if the political crisis is dealt with soon, concerns with the legislation’s drafting process will remain.

The Justice in Mining Collective, which represents around 50,000 Haitians, drew up the complaint after the draft mining law was leaked in July. No formal copy of the legislation has been made public, nor has the French-language draft law been translated into Haitian Creole, the most commonly spoken language.

“The process has been very opaque, with a small group of experts from the World Bank and Haitian government officials drafting this law,” Sarah Singh, the director of strategic support with Accountability Counsel, a legal advocacy group that consulted on the complaint and is representing some Haitian communities, told IPS.

“They’ve had two meetings that, to my knowledge, were invite-only and held in French, at which the majority of attendees were private investors and some big NGOs. Yet the bank’s response to complaints of this lack of consultation has been to say this is the government’s responsibility.”

The Justice in Mining Collective is suggesting that this lack of consultation runs counter to social and environmental guidelines that undergird all World Bank investments. These policies would also call for a broad environmental assessment across the sector, something local civil society is now demanding – to be followed by a major public debate around the assessment’s findings and the potential role large-scale mining could play in Haiti’s development.

Yet the World Bank is not actually investing in the Haitian mining sector, and it is not clear that the institution’s technical assistance is required to conform to the safeguards policies. In a November letter, the bank noted that its engagement on the Haitian mining law has been confined to sharing international best practices.

Yet Singh says she and others believe the safeguards do still apply, particularly given the scope of the new legislation’s impact.

“This will change the entire legal regime,” she says. “The idea that bank could do that and not have the safeguards apply seems hugely problematic.”

A World Bank spokesperson did confirm to IPS that the Inspection Panel has received the Haitian complaint. If the panel registers the request, she said, the bank’s management would have around a month to submit a response, following which the bank’s board would decide whether the complaint should be investigated.

Parliamentary moratorium

Certainly sensitivities around the Haitian extractives sector have increased in recent years.

Minerals prospecting in Haiti has expanded significantly over the past half-decade, though no company has yet moved beyond exploration. In 2012, when the government approved its first full mining permit in years, the Parliament balked, issuing a non-binding moratorium on all extraction until a sector-wide assessment could take place.

Meanwhile, Haitians have been looking across the border at some of the mining-related problems experienced in the Dominican Republic, including water pollution. Civil society groups have also been reaching out to other countries in the Global South, trying to understand the experiences of other communities around large-scale extractives operations.

Current views are also being informed by decades of historical experience in Haiti, as well. Since the country’s independence in the early 19th century, several foreign companies have engaged many years of gold mining.

That was a “negative, even catastrophic, experience,” according to a statement from the Justice in Mining Collective released following the leak of the draft mining law in July.

“Mining exploitation has never contributed to the development of Haiti. To the contrary, the history of gold exploitation is one marked by blood and suffering since the beginning,” the statement warned.

“When we consider the importance of and the potential consequences of mineral exploitation, we note this change in the law as a sort of scandal that may facilitate further looting, without even the people aware of the consequences.”

By Carey L. Biron

Source: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/28696-haitians-worry-world-bank-assisted-mining-law-could-result-in-looting

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Impeach Martelly: A Solution For Civil Society In Haiti
January 7, 2015, 12:17 am
Filed under: Caribbean, Haiti | Tags: , , , ,

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Tear gas fired at protesters demanding Martelly and Lamothe resign, Dec 6, 2014 / Source:Aljazeera/Reuters

There’s is no acceptable and peaceful solution to the current Haiti constitutional crisis other than the immediate impeachment of Michel Martelly by the only active democratic entity left in Haiti: The Senate. The Deputies are out of session and when their vacation is over, so is their terms in office. The terms of 10 out of the 20 remaining Senators will also be over on January 12, 2015.

The people of Haiti have not remained silent as Martelly -Lamothe tried to sell-off – by decree – the country’s offshore islands, pristine areas, mineral wealth and to give away Haiti assets to the imperialists, amongst other things.

The issue raised is how to legally remove Martelly from office even though he was far from legitimately elected? This is an issue that Haitians participating in the rising protests throughout Haiti have put in the background. It urgently needs to be brought to the forefront. We do not want Haiti’s traditional enemies to capitalize off the current Haiti protests and chaos and launch their military to “bring order back” to Haiti. A Haiti solution must be administrated that is a ratification of the protestors’ very legitimate concerns for democratic governance and to free Haiti.

Martelly can legally be removed from office through impeachment. Haiti has always added an unofficial public referendum to that official procedure.

For whatever reason, perhaps the US mid-term election changes to a Republican majority in both the House and Senate in the United States or the world situation, but for the first time since the Martelly sham election in 2011, the Internationals have pulled back their UN-PMSC guns in Haiti and allowed more and more space for the people of Haiti to protest against the US puppet regime in Haiti.

Almost every day, there are anti-government demonstrations. Some call it Haiti’s “Operation Burkina Faso”. It’s meant as a peaceful, nationwide mobilization, like the one that occurred in Burkina Faso, to take down dictatorship and install a sovereign Haiti. On December 6, 2014, there were major anti-governmental protests in the three major cities of Port au Prince, Aux Cayes and Cap Haitian. For nearly the first time since the direct US occupation of Haiti began in 2004, the protestors in the capital where not blocked by US Marines, US-MINUSTAH, the Haiti police or their paramilitary wings. Although tear gas was fired, the protestors actually reached thefront of the National Palace. (See, Haitians Protest Current Government, Urge President Putin to Help and Violence erupts at Haiti protests.)

If the rising protests throughout Haiti are any indication of people power in a democracy, than the people have publicly impeached the Martelly-Lamothe regime many times over. This time, it’s not the fake US-George Soros, NGO-created “populous uprising” of Haiti 2004. This 2014 Haiti referendum – Pèp souvren pran lari, li ba Mateli Kanè – openly and dangerously confronts the military, economic, diplomatic and political commands of the all-powerful United States and their UN troops in Haiti.

The UN troops act as the old bloody Haiti army to keep the neoDuvalierist, Martelly-Lamothe regime, in power. We’ve seen this with the OAS sanctions of Martelly’s questionable election in 2011, as well as Bill and Hillary Clinton’s various take over initiatives after the catastrophic earthquake. Not to mention the Internationals’ over friendly relationship with the Martelly-Lamothe regime as represented by US Ambassador Pamela White’s relationship in Haiti and the International community’s complete lack of censure for their unpopular puppet government’s blatant corruptions and human rights violations these last three years. (See, Statement by Haiti Counselors, Andre Michel and Newton Juste, and Open Letter From Haiti Human Right Activists to US Congress: No to Sham Elections and US Occupation.)

Haiti is under occupation with nearly 10,000 foreign troops on its soil and the illegal and unpopular Martelly-Lamothe regime has been allowed to run amok with no Parliamentary oversight for three years.  (See, Haiti Message to US Ambassador Pamela White ; Haiti Dreads Demand a Stop to their Profiling and Persecution;Haitians at Fort Liberte and Ouanaminthe Protest Caracol Monopolizing Electricityand Tens of Thousands of Haitians take to the streets demanding the Martelly/Lamothe regime stand down, leave office; US terrorism in Haiti, US Crowds Next; Basic Haiti rights repealed and US to Rewrite Constitution to Better Serve the One Percent.)

There’s a small window of opportunity open for the 20 Senators, who are the only active political authority left in Haiti with a semblance of legal power to impeach Martelly and move the country forward with fair and honest elections.

Every other idea out there to handle this sham democracy without taking down the UN presence; every notion to keep the facade going with an extension of the expiring Parliamentary terms of office, or an amendment to the Constitution or for Martelly to remain in office, et al, risks delaying Haiti’s brutal suffering and plunging Haiti into more crisis, more extra-constitutional institutions and more clashes with the US-trained, Ferguson-style, Haiti militarized police. Last week, police tear gas killed a 3-month old baby at home. Black lives matter. A bloodbath, the slaughtering of more innocent lives, more mass incarcerations, and imprisonments of protestors should be avoided by any peaceful means necessary.

Where are the UN troops in Haiti? Haitians in their right minds see that this is a tactical decision and not a desire, as the head of the UN Mission (MINUSTAH) in Haiti, Sandra Honoré, has put forward to suddenly respect the protestors’ rights to peacefully protest, exercise of free speech and assembly. That UN hypocrisy unfurls, whole clothe, in the red blood of the many protesting Haitians the UN occupational forces have shot dead since the US occupation, behind UN mercenary guns, began in 2004. The UN is a criminal organization carrying out the biddings of empire in Haiti.

Nothing it does is about Haiti human rights as the cholera victims will testify. Its pronouncements as “the world arbiter of human rights” increasingly has no footing anywhere on planet earth, least of all amongst besieged Haitians in UN-terrorized Haiti. A Haitian Senator put it correctly:

“Why would you expect certain people to care about fair policies in Haiti when in the US Black lives do not matter. Why would they care about Haitians when in the US Blacks are choked like animals and grand juries justify the slaughter.” (See also, Free Haiti Movement photo essays:The Global War Against Black Men and Global War Against Black Women.)

Time is of the essence to save Haitian lives and property before the ruling psychopaths complete their agenda to slaughter and silence the protesting Haitians as the January 12, 2014 fifth anniversary of the earthquake approaches and the repugnant international media, lands in Haiti, once again, to feed their ratings on the “failed Haiti” spiel,  “the proud and suffering Haitians” spiel and the “failed-Haiti-reconstruction-after-the-quake” chorus line.

This would serve as a good time for the UN/PMSC, already in Haiti, to come out of their Haiti compounds to shoot innocent Haitians as back-up to the Haiti militarized police. Think of the footage!

The Euro media would get to film the natural Haiti push back and write tomes on “those uncivilized, violent, unable-to-rule-themselves Blacks!”

To reinforce democratic institutions, the 20 Senators should listen to the people of Haiti who they serve, stop allowing Martelly-Lamothe to make their parliamentary existence futile and in one legal motion: lower the majority to 11, indict and impeach Martelly BEFORE December 12, 2014, or as soon as possible.

The majority of Senators need only reinstate/reconfirm the 2013 resolution they already issued to impeach Martelly for high treason, remove Lamothe for corruption and the de facto Minister of Justice. The PRI Deputies and other deputies who are out of session may decide to send in a letter of support recognizing the Senate’s authority to indict, impeach and remove Martelly IMMEDIATELY to protect the population, avoid a bloodbath, reinforce democratic institutions, and have some institutional continuity. But the Senate does not need this input to do their job. As of January 12, 2014, 10 of the Senators’ terms will end and there will only be 10 left.

Martelly-Lamothe have ruled Haiti by decree and obstruction of Parliamentary duties for three years. They’ve blocked general elections, unilaterally appointed their cronies to mayoral, municipal and regional offices and blocked indictment for impeachment in the lower house for three years. They have no right to benefit from their ill gotten gains. Today, the Lower House gridlock can be resolved without their impediments by the only remaining active parliamentary authority with any semblance of legal authority in Haiti: The 20 Senators. And no one is qualified to call into  question procedural deficiencies or the integrity of this process if carried out by the Senate to safeguard Haitian life and national security.

The Senate must not wait anymore but take responsibility to avoid a further bloodbath, property damage and chaos in the streets. The people have publicly impeached Martelly-Lamothe and do not want them in power. The Deputies are constructively gone because they’re out of session and their terms are effectively over when Congress comes back into session. What’s left is for the 20 Senators remaining to legalize the departure of Martelly-Lamothe; proceed as a unit towards setting the legal framework for fair and free elections as early in 2015 as possible.

The Senators are the obvious legal transitional body that must meet the people’s Constitutional demands towards sovereignty, release of the political prisoners, setting up commissions with the people’s participation to investigate corruptions and guard against further foreign interference in Haiti’s political, civil and economic life. This would be the beginning of a Haiti solution to the current crisis.

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HAITI: Profit-Driven “Slum Reconstruction” Will Cost “Hundreds Of Millions”
July 27, 2013, 10:55 am
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By: Haiti Grassroots Watch, 17 June 2013
 
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Three years after its star-studded launchby President René Préval, actor Sean Penn and various other Haitian and foreign dignitaries, the model camp for Haiti’s 2010 earthquake victims has helped give birth to what might become the country’s most expansive – and most expensive – slum.

Known as “Canaan,” “Jerusalem,” and “ONAville” – the new shanty-town, spread across 11 square kilometers, is here to stay, Haitian officials told Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW). Taxpayers and foreign donors will likely spend “many hundreds of millions” to urbanize the region, and as much as another US$64 million to pay off the landowners who are threatening to sue the government and the humanitarian agencies.

Three years after the launch of the temporary model camp “Corail-Cesselesse” – located about 18 kilometers northeast of the capital and named after the nearby habitation (plantation) that was once home to sugarcane and sisal fields – the landscape differs from the orderly camp visited by celebrities. Surrounded by tens of thousands of squatters’ shacks and homes, today it is a cause of embarrassment for local and international actors alike.

Before the earthquake, most of this arid, rocky expanse running from the northern outskirts of Port-au-Prince up to Cabaret was largely empty. Much of it is owned by the Haitian firm NABATEC, S.A.. Since 1999, the firm had been developing it into an “integrated economic zone” (IEZ) called “Habitat Haïti 2020” that would have industrial parks, single- and multi-unit housing for various income levels, schools, green spaces, and a shopping mall. A Korean company and a U.S.-based humanitarian group had already purchased land within the perimeter, and NABATEC was in discussions with a number of foreign firms.

...      “It was a 15-year, US$2 billion project, and everyone had already given their approval, including the Haitian government and the World Bank,” according to architect Gérald Emile “Aby” Brun, NABATEC’s president and vice president of TECINA, S.A., a planning and construction firm. A 2011 World Bank study of potential IEZ sites ranked it best out of 21 possibilities around the country, calling it potentially “high-performing” and “the clearest application of the IEZ concept among any proposed project in Haiti.”

But today, the land – equal to about three Central Parks – is home to between 65,000 and 100,000 people: 10,000 in the planned camps and the rest squatters. And they aren’t going anywhere.

“We can’t move them out,” Haitian government planner Odnell David told HGW in an exclusive interview. “The idea is to reorganize the space so that people can live.”

Urbanizing about half of the wasteland will cost Haitian and foreign taxpayers “many hundreds of millions of dollars,” noted David, an architect and the director of the housing section of the government’s Unité de Construction de Logements et de Bâtiments Publics (UCLBP or Unit for the Construction of Housing and Public Buildings). The price tag for initial infrastructure work already tops US$50 million.

Model Camp Leads to Disaster’s Disaster

Opened in April 2010, the Corail “Sector 3” and “Sector 4” camps together represented the reconstruction’s model resettlement. They sit on two sloping parcels of 50 square kilometers of private land declared “of public utility” by the central government in March 2010. Right from the start, the choice to move people to the desert-like plain was controversial, for two reasons. First, some critics accused Brun and NABATEC of seeking to profit from the disaster, and next, many said the land under the camps, and indeed much of the region itself, is not appropriate to any kind of settlement, temporary or permanent, for environmental and economic reasons. [See sidebars Capitalizing on Disaster? and Controversy over Corail Camp.]

Despite the controversies, humanitarian agencies like the International Organization for Migration (IOM), World Vision, and the American Refugee Committee (ARC) together spent over US$10 million to build the two “sectors” – which have schools, playgrounds, latrines, and some electricity, but which still lack water. They had planned to build many more camps, including “Sectors 1 and 2” which sat close by. However, as soon as the first U.S. Army bulldozers started to level the land, tens of thousands of people – some but not all of them earthquake victims – invaded those areas as well as land around and north of the camps, “buying” parcels from racketeers, marking off their plots and pitching makeshift tents.

...

Nobody in the central government said anything to prevent the land seizures, which continue today. Many say the land was offered to supporters of Préval’s “Inite” political party for US$10 per square meter. The new “landowners” got fake “titles” in exchange for cash and their votes in the upcoming presidential elections, according to Brun and other sources who asked not to be named.

“It was an electoral thing,” said Brun.

Planned or not, and political scheme or not, today those tents have turned into houses built every which way, in what the UCLBP’s David calls a “savage urbanization… no infrastructure, no water, no electricity, no sanitation: people just appropriated land and are trying to accomplish their dreams of becoming homeowners.”

“The state has a moral obligation to intervene,” David continued. “You can’t leave it like it is… Those people are living in difficult conditions.”

Police and local authorities have already set up offices in tractor-trailer containers.

Life in the camps

Despite the unforgiving sun and its sweltering heat, Joel Monfiston is working. Hammering a piece of worn plywood to a battered two-by-four, watering flowers, and picking the weeds out from between rocks and pebbles.

The 34-year-old father of three crouches in front of his one-room home in Sector 3. Monfiston and his family first lived in a tent. Now they have a 24-square-meter “temporary shelter” built mostly of plywood and sheet metal by World Vision for US$4,500, according to the agency. Like most Haitians, he survives with a day job here and there and through help from friends and family. And, he tries his hand at commerce.

“Things are not easy. Imagine: they put you here, but there’s no work,” he said.

Monfiston has dreams. He hopes to set up a shop in the little shed he is building. He would like to grow more in his garden. But those remain dreams. For now, all he has are a few flowers and a few walls for his “store”… no shelves, no door, no cooler, no products.

And, like other Corail residents, while he does have access to latrines, electricity (solar-powered street lamps), playgrounds, a clinic, and schools, water is not so easy to find.

Back in 2011, the UN and Oxfam promised that a new system of cisterns and kiosks would soon provide residents with water from the state water agency. Two years later, the faucets remain dry. Residents buy water at 5 gourdes (about US$0.12) a bucket from private vendors or from the committees that manage the few still-functioning water “bladders” left over from the camp’s early days when water and food were free and when agencies provided “cash for work” jobs and start-up funds for would-be entrepreneurs.

Today, all of the big agencies have abandoned the Corail camp and its 10,000 residents. Trumpeting their success and claiming to have prepared a “transition” to the local authorities, IOM, ARC and World Vision all pulled out (although World Vision still supports the Corail School, which it built).

“Mayor of Croix-des-Bouquets is the New Camp Manager,” a cheery article from the UN military mission declared in a May 27, 2011 bulletin. But HGW found no evidence of any local authorities, or assistance, on two different visits. The “City Hall Annex” at the Corail camp was shuttered. Residents told journalists that they could not remember when they last saw anyone from the government. [See Controversy over Corail Camp.]

“Nobody from the mayor’s office has set foot here for many months,” said Racide d’Or, a member of the Corail residents committee. “They were only around when they knew there was land in the area they could ‘sell,’” continued the mother of two, who lost her Delmas home in earthquake. “There is no ‘government’ or ‘state’ for those of us who live here. We have to figure out everything ourselves.”

The Croix-des-Bouquets City Hall annex in Canaan is sweltering at midday. The “office” is an empty container and a “conference room” of plywood and a blue plastic tarp roof. Two men there said they worked for City Hall but refused to give their names or allow their voices to be recorded.

“They just dumped us here,” said one, aged about 30. “We don’t have the means to work. Our supervisor never comes to see how we are doing.”

“I’d like to know what they were thinking when they put this office here,” said the other one, older, who was slouched in a plastic chair. “We don’t do anything.”

The absence of humanitarian agencies has one benefit. When agencies were handing out food, jobs, and cash, gangs and “mafias” ran various parts of the camps. An Oxfam program that handed out up to US$1,000 to some – but not all – small business-people led to disagreements, rumors, protests, and eventually arrests.

“The NGOs divided us. People fought with each other,” Auguste Gregory told HGW. Gregory was sitting with friends next to his telephone-charging business: a table covered with power strips and chargers. “Some people went to prison. Others went into hiding. We were all there for the same reason, but they divided us,” he remembered.

For much of 2010, a gang calling itself “The Committee of Nine” threatened residents and aid providers alike, so much so that ARC Camp Manager Richard Poole quit his job and left the country.

“My three months at Corail were one of the most difficult periods I have experienced in my 30 years as a humanitarian worker,” Poole later told HGW in an email interview. ARC received about US$400,000 to manage the camp for eight months in 2010.

But, some humanitarian actors say the Corail settlement was not a complete failure.

“It is important to look at where the families were at the beginning of the earthquake and where they are now,” World Vision told HGW in an email. The agency says it spent about US$7 million on 1,200 shelters, a school, playgrounds, and various programs.

People “came from areas which were prone to flash flooding, mudslides, and disease outbreaks, but now they are in a safer and more secure community,” the agency pointed out. “The families have homes and are protected… We are pleased with these outcomes.” [See also Controversy over Corail Camp]

Not everyone is pleased

NABATEC president “Aby” Brun is not pleased.

At first, Brun said he and NABATEC hoped the government and the major reconstruction actors would intervene to eject the squatters and camp residents, or to at least turn the camp’s temporary shelters into permanent houses so that they could become the beginning of Habitat Haïti 2020 [see Capitalizing on Disaster?].

In the meantime however, Brun deplored the fact that the Michel Martelly government decided “follow the same abusive logic” and seize two other pieces of NABATEC land: one at the corner of Highway #9 and Highway #1 to build a waste treatment facility on what was slated to be an industrial park, and another, across the road, to build the offices of the Haitian Olympic Committee. Those two pieces had been valued by the government tax office – theDirection Générale des Impôts (DGI) – at US$10 million, according to Brun.

As months went by, the NABATEC partners – some of them members of Haiti’s most economically powerful families – realized their project would no longer be possible.

“The country lost a great opportunity,” Brun said. “I have been working on that project for 16 years.”

Now, NABATEC wants to be indemnified, according to the law and the Constitution. The company has submitted paperwork to the DGI and to each of the three Finance Ministers who have held office since the “public utility” declaration.

“The last ‘refresher’ meeting was under Marie-Carmelle Jean-Marie about three months ago,” Brun said. Jean-Marie resigned in April, allegedly over differences of opinion concerning a series of no-bid contracts and other expenditures.

All told, if the government reimburses NABATEC for that land and the land currently occupied by the camps and the squatters, NABATEC is due US $64 million.

“We have submitted all the papers and titles,” Brun said in May. “Verbally, in conversations, they say, ‘Yes, we recognize it’s your land,’ and they say they are going to pay us, but… nothing on paper.”

Hoping to confirm Brun’s statements, HGW made almost a dozen requests for interviews with DGI officials, in writing and in person, over the course of three months. Finally, in February 2013, Raymond Michel, head of the DGI’s property division, promised an interview, noting: “This dossier is very, very sensitive.” Michel never contacted HGW again.

Brun, meanwhile, is growing impatient. NABATEC is open to the idea of negotiating, but the company is also thinking about suing both the government and the humanitarian agencies that are continuing to do projects at Corail or are helping the squatters in the areas outside the camps, for “infringing on property owners rights.”

“It’s been three years now,” Brun said. “I understand the difficulties facing people who don’t have a house, or work, or schools… but that doesn’t allow for mafia and extortionists to use people’s distress to make money, and we sit there with nothing.”

Seeking funding from, and for, the promised land

While NABATEC lobbies the Finance Ministry and the DGI for monetary compensation, another branch of the Haitian government is also seeking monies, but not to pay the landowners.

Instead, the UCLBP hopes to take NABATEC’s place and build its own project: the urbanization of about 500 hectares for a population of 100,000.

According to David, an initial plan is ready, thanks to the Canadian firm IBI/DAA and the Haitian firm SODADE. Asked about the plan and how much it cost, the architect declined to give the price tag and added that it had not been put out for bid. Instead, it was tacked onto another plan already being drawn up by IBI/DAA, which is a frequent beneficiary of government contracts.

“It is a very perfect plan. It has roads, it has water systems, it has sanitation,” David added, but he said that HGW could not see because it had not yet been approved.

Preliminary infrastructure work for a site will cost “about US$50 million.” But the proto-slum won’t turn into an organized neighborhood any time soon. Among other challenges, the residents who have marked out “their” land will have to be convinced to move to make way for infrastructure.

“It’s a very long term project,” David admitted.

Finding the money will not be easy, either. “We will need a lot of resources and the state doesn’t have all the funding it would need… We are seeking financing so that we can at least begin,” he said. “It won’t happen tomorrow.”

In the meantime, newcomers continue to arrive at the no man’s land with bundles of belongings, tent stakes, and a few cement blocks.

Haiti Grassroots Watch is a partnership of AlterPresse, the Society of the Animation of Social Communication (SAKS), the Network of Women Community Radio Broadcasters (REFRAKA), community radio stations from the Association of Haitian Community Media and students from the Journalism Laboratory at the State University of Haiti.

Capitalizing on Disaster?

Writing about the Corail-Cesselesse disaster in an article and his recent book, Associated Press reporter Jonathan Katz accused NABATEC President Gérald Emile “Aby” Brun of pulling off a “backroom deal” by recommending NABATEC land for emergency refugee camps so that he could eventually offer foreign companies “a ready-made workers community.” Brun was a member of a presidential commission that recommended the site.

In extensive interviews with Haiti Grassroots Watch, Brun did not deny that he had hoped the camps might one day be integrated into “a decent and modern housing scheme that had already been approved” as part of the Habitat Haïti 2020 project. But he also noted that the expanse of territory owned largely by NABATEC is the only open space left near Port-au-Prince, which is bordered on one side by mountains and a lake and by the Caribbean Sea on another.

“When they were looking for land for debris, land for recycling, and eventually land for settlements, they realized that the state did not have any land larger than the size of a soccer field,” Brun said.

Numerous sources, including officials at UN-Habitat, confirmed that “the land problem” was one of the biggest challenges of the reconstruction.

Katz never spoke with Brun in person.

Brun – who resigned from the commission after Katz’s Jul. 12, 2010 article – said he never dreamed squatters would soon overrun the property.

“Why in the world would I have dropped a 14-year planning and investment dream and effort?” he asked HGW in a December 2012 email.

Once the land invasions started, foreign companies that had been negotiating with NABATEC, including Korean clothing firm SAE-A, dropped out of the project. (Today SAE-A is the “anchor tenant” of an industrial park in the north championed by Clinton and Martelly.)

“A dreamed of new city was killed by narrow minded and greedy people, under the tolerant observation of the international community,” according to Brun, who said NABATEC had spent over US$1.5 million on its project. “Habitat Haïti 2020 has been most likely killed by Corail and Canaan!”

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HAITI: Massive March Signals Resurrection of Aristide’s Lavalas Movement
June 19, 2013, 3:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Well over 15,000 people poured out from all corners of Haiti’s capital to march alongside the cortege of cars that carried former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide back to his home in Tabarre from the Port-au-Prince courthouse he visited on May 8.

Thousands more massed along sidewalks and on rooftops to cheer the procession on, waving flags and wearing small photos of Aristide in their hair, pinned to their clothing, or stuck in their hats.

Led by Fanmi Lavalas party coordinator Maryse Narcisse through a gauntlet of jostling journalists, Aristide had entered the courthouse (the former Belle Époque Hotel) at exactly 9:00 a.m., the time of his appointment to testify before Investigating Judge Ivickel Dabrésil. Aristide had waited with Narcisse in a car outside the court’s backdoor for about 45 minutes. It was only the second time that Aristide had left his home (and the first time publicly) since returning to Haiti on Mar. 18, 2011 from a seven-year exile in Africa following the Feb. 29, 2004 Washington-backed coup d’état which cut short his second government.

Lawyer Mario Joseph said that he was “very satisfied” with the reception given by Judge  Dabrésil, who is investigating the April 2000 murder of radio journalist Jean Dominique and his radio’s caretaker Jean-Claude Louissaint, for which Aristide is one of many prominent Haitians, including former President René Préval, interviewed for testimony. Joseph said the three hour deposition was very “cordial and relaxed.”

But many Haitians feared that the summoning of Aristide – even if only for testimony –  was a trap set by President Michel Martelly, who, as the former vulgar konpa musician “Sweet Micky,” was the principal cheerleader of both the 1991 and 2004 coups d’état against Aristide.

“This summoning of Aristide is a political act remote-controlled by the Martelly government, the same as the now discredited legal suits brought a few months ago by Ti Sony [a former resident of the Lafanmi Selavi orphanage who claimed that Aristide had “exploited” him and other orphans] and some who lost money when the cooperative banks went bust [while Aristide was in power in 2002 and 2003],” said outspoken Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles. “Those previous efforts to smear and destroy Aristide failed, so now they are trying this.”

Many Haitian radio commentators point to Judge Dabrésil’s postponement of Aristide’s deposition from its original date of Apr. 24 as proof that there is a political hand in the judge’s proceedings. The deposition, and the expected anti-Martelly pro-Aristide outpouring, would have taken place during the 5th Summit of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) from Apr. 23-26 held in Pétionville and attended by many regional leaders.

Furthermore, on Mar. 7, the Defend Haiti website reported that “Presidential Adviser Guyler Delva admitted, earlier this week, to giving Judge Ivekel Dabrésil a car, and Senator John Joel Joseph said on Radio Scoop FM on Wednesday [Apr. 30] that the administration had purchased a house in Florida for the judge.”

Another impetus for the massive turn-out came on the evening of May 7 when Haitian National Police (PNH) Director General Godson Orélus took to the airwaves to announce that the PNH had “received no formal notification of the demonstration” as required by law and that therefore “any demonstration is formally forbidden” along the route between Aristide’s house and the courthouse.

“The police don’t want any demonstration,” he concluded, throwing down a gauntlet which the Haitian people took up the next morning.

Lavalas leaders, including Narcisse, responded that the march was not a “demonstration” but an “accompaniment” of Aristide by the Haitian people. Many Lavalas leaders came to the courthouse to show their solidarity including Senators Moïse Jean-Charles, John Joel Joseph, Francky Excius, and Jean Baptiste Bien-Aimée; Deputy Saurel Hyacinthe; former senator Gérard Louis Gilles; former deputies Jacques Mathelier and Lionel Etienne; former Justice Minister Calixte Delatour; activists Farah Juste, Claudy Sidney, and Volcy Assad.

About 100 people had spent the night in a vigil across the street from Aristide’s home. At 6 a.m., hundreds more joined them to mass on the sidewalks in front of Aristide’s house.

But the real “accompaniment” began after the hearing. Leaving the courthouse at noon, Aristide’s ride home took five hours, passing slowly through downtown Port-au-Prince, the Champ de Mars, the hillside slum of Belair, Delmas 2, then the roads through the old military airport and past the international airport.

Parallel solidarity demonstrations were held in Cap Haïtien, Aux Cayes, and Petit Goâve.

Alongside the 20 or so cars that followed Aristide’s silver jeep, young and old walked, jogged, and ran, singing, chanting, and laughing. The river of humanity included motorcycles, bicycles, wheelchairs, and the occasional person on crutches.

Marchers also tore down pink government propaganda posters from lampposts along the way. Several posters declaring “With the Martelly/Lamothe government, Haiti is advancing” were torn up and left in pieces in the street for vehicles and marchers to pass over. (Martelly’s long-time business partner Laurent Lamothe is Haiti’s Prime Minister.)

Three times Aristide got out of his car to wave to the crowd — outside the courthouse gate, in Belair, and in front of his home — causing people to sprint toward his car and raise their arms, creating a sea of hands. Afterwards, people hugged and high-fived each other, some laughing, some crying.

One man dressed in rags moved down the line of cars following Aristide, wiping each car clean with a dirty cloth but asking for no money in return.

“Se pa lajan non, se volontè wi,” (It’s not for money, I’m here of my own free will) was the refrain of crowds which turned out for Aristide’s massive campaign rallies when he first ran for President in November and December 1990. The song was heard again on May 8, 2013 in the largely spontaneous march, which grew in size and volume as it made its way through the capital.

In contrast, when Martelly organized a carnival-like rally of a few thousand in the Champ de Mars on May 14, many participants were paid 1000 gourdes (US$24) a head to turn out. They were also given a t-shirt – either pink or white – to put on. But after taking the money, many “celebrants” discarded their t-shirts in the street, Haïti Libertéreporters observed. (A Haiti Liberté photographer was prevented from accessing a media stand at the May 14 rally after presenting his press credentials.)

Some pundits tried to banalize the historic march, saying it was merely the beginning of the electoral campaign of the Lavalas Family (FL), the party that Aristide founded in 1996. (Many Haitian political leaders, including those in the FL, strongly doubt whether free and fair elections can be held under Martelly, or whether he even wants to hold them. “No matter what, Martelly has to go” was another chant heard during the march.)

But May 8, 2013 was much more than a mere campaign rally. It was a watershed event, a popular show of force which has changed the political calculus of Haiti in the near-term. Haitian history has shown that when the Haitian people begin to move in such numbers, major political change is imminent. The weeks ahead will reveal exactly what that political change will be.

By: Kim Ives, 15 May 2013
(Additional reporting was done by Haiti Liberté staff reporters Wendell Polynice and Daniel Tercier)

See: http://www.haiti-liberte.com/

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HAITI: Massive March Signals Resurrection of Aristide’s Lavalas Movement
June 19, 2013, 3:41 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Well over 15,000 people poured out from all corners of Haiti’s capital to march alongside the cortege of cars that carried former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide back to his home in Tabarre from the Port-au-Prince courthouse he visited on May 8.

Thousands more massed along sidewalks and on rooftops to cheer the procession on, waving flags and wearing small photos of Aristide in their hair, pinned to their clothing, or stuck in their hats.

Led by Fanmi Lavalas party coordinator Maryse Narcisse through a gauntlet of jostling journalists, Aristide had entered the courthouse (the former Belle Époque Hotel) at exactly 9:00 a.m., the time of his appointment to testify before Investigating Judge Ivickel Dabrésil. Aristide had waited with Narcisse in a car outside the court’s backdoor for about 45 minutes. It was only the second time that Aristide had left his home (and the first time publicly) since returning to Haiti on Mar. 18, 2011 from a seven-year exile in Africa following the Feb. 29, 2004 Washington-backed coup d’état which cut short his second government.

Lawyer Mario Joseph said that he was “very satisfied” with the reception given by Judge  Dabrésil, who is investigating the April 2000 murder of radio journalist Jean Dominique and his radio’s caretaker Jean-Claude Louissaint, for which Aristide is one of many prominent Haitians, including former President René Préval, interviewed for testimony. Joseph said the three hour deposition was very “cordial and relaxed.”

But many Haitians feared that the summoning of Aristide – even if only for testimony –  was a trap set by President Michel Martelly, who, as the former vulgar konpa musician “Sweet Micky,” was the principal cheerleader of both the 1991 and 2004 coups d’état against Aristide.

“This summoning of Aristide is a political act remote-controlled by the Martelly government, the same as the now discredited legal suits brought a few months ago by Ti Sony [a former resident of the Lafanmi Selavi orphanage who claimed that Aristide had “exploited” him and other orphans] and some who lost money when the cooperative banks went bust [while Aristide was in power in 2002 and 2003],” said outspoken Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles. “Those previous efforts to smear and destroy Aristide failed, so now they are trying this.”

Many Haitian radio commentators point to Judge Dabrésil’s postponement of Aristide’s deposition from its original date of Apr. 24 as proof that there is a political hand in the judge’s proceedings. The deposition, and the expected anti-Martelly pro-Aristide outpouring, would have taken place during the 5th Summit of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) from Apr. 23-26 held in Pétionville and attended by many regional leaders.

Furthermore, on Mar. 7, the Defend Haiti website reported that “Presidential Adviser Guyler Delva admitted, earlier this week, to giving Judge Ivekel Dabrésil a car, and Senator John Joel Joseph said on Radio Scoop FM on Wednesday [Apr. 30] that the administration had purchased a house in Florida for the judge.”

Another impetus for the massive turn-out came on the evening of May 7 when Haitian National Police (PNH) Director General Godson Orélus took to the airwaves to announce that the PNH had “received no formal notification of the demonstration” as required by law and that therefore “any demonstration is formally forbidden” along the route between Aristide’s house and the courthouse.

“The police don’t want any demonstration,” he concluded, throwing down a gauntlet which the Haitian people took up the next morning.

Lavalas leaders, including Narcisse, responded that the march was not a “demonstration” but an “accompaniment” of Aristide by the Haitian people. Many Lavalas leaders came to the courthouse to show their solidarity including Senators Moïse Jean-Charles, John Joel Joseph, Francky Excius, and Jean Baptiste Bien-Aimée; Deputy Saurel Hyacinthe; former senator Gérard Louis Gilles; former deputies Jacques Mathelier and Lionel Etienne; former Justice Minister Calixte Delatour; activists Farah Juste, Claudy Sidney, and Volcy Assad.

About 100 people had spent the night in a vigil across the street from Aristide’s home. At 6 a.m., hundreds more joined them to mass on the sidewalks in front of Aristide’s house.

But the real “accompaniment” began after the hearing. Leaving the courthouse at noon, Aristide’s ride home took five hours, passing slowly through downtown Port-au-Prince, the Champ de Mars, the hillside slum of Belair, Delmas 2, then the roads through the old military airport and past the international airport.

Parallel solidarity demonstrations were held in Cap Haïtien, Aux Cayes, and Petit Goâve.

Alongside the 20 or so cars that followed Aristide’s silver jeep, young and old walked, jogged, and ran, singing, chanting, and laughing. The river of humanity included motorcycles, bicycles, wheelchairs, and the occasional person on crutches.

Marchers also tore down pink government propaganda posters from lampposts along the way. Several posters declaring “With the Martelly/Lamothe government, Haiti is advancing” were torn up and left in pieces in the street for vehicles and marchers to pass over. (Martelly’s long-time business partner Laurent Lamothe is Haiti’s Prime Minister.)

Three times Aristide got out of his car to wave to the crowd — outside the courthouse gate, in Belair, and in front of his home — causing people to sprint toward his car and raise their arms, creating a sea of hands. Afterwards, people hugged and high-fived each other, some laughing, some crying.

One man dressed in rags moved down the line of cars following Aristide, wiping each car clean with a dirty cloth but asking for no money in return.

“Se pa lajan non, se volontè wi,” (It’s not for money, I’m here of my own free will) was the refrain of crowds which turned out for Aristide’s massive campaign rallies when he first ran for President in November and December 1990. The song was heard again on May 8, 2013 in the largely spontaneous march, which grew in size and volume as it made its way through the capital.

In contrast, when Martelly organized a carnival-like rally of a few thousand in the Champ de Mars on May 14, many participants were paid 1000 gourdes (US$24) a head to turn out. They were also given a t-shirt – either pink or white – to put on. But after taking the money, many “celebrants” discarded their t-shirts in the street, Haïti Libertéreporters observed. (A Haiti Liberté photographer was prevented from accessing a media stand at the May 14 rally after presenting his press credentials.)

Some pundits tried to banalize the historic march, saying it was merely the beginning of the electoral campaign of the Lavalas Family (FL), the party that Aristide founded in 1996. (Many Haitian political leaders, including those in the FL, strongly doubt whether free and fair elections can be held under Martelly, or whether he even wants to hold them. “No matter what, Martelly has to go” was another chant heard during the march.)

But May 8, 2013 was much more than a mere campaign rally. It was a watershed event, a popular show of force which has changed the political calculus of Haiti in the near-term. Haitian history has shown that when the Haitian people begin to move in such numbers, major political change is imminent. The weeks ahead will reveal exactly what that political change will be.

By: Kim Ives, 15 May 2013
(Additional reporting was done by Haiti Liberté staff reporters Wendell Polynice and Daniel Tercier)

See: http://www.haiti-liberte.com/

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Iran’s Election and US – Iranian Relations | Stephen Lendman

* * * * *

18 June 2009

Source: Global Research

In the run-up to Iran’s June 12 presidential election, early indications suggested the media’s reaction if the wrong candidate won. On June 7, New York Times writer Robert Worth reported “a surge of energy (for) Mir Hussein Mousavi, a reformist who is the leading contender to defeat Mr. Ahmadinejad (and) a new unofficial poll (has him well ahead) with 54 percent of respondents saying they would vote for him compared with 39 percent for Mr. Ahmadinejad.” No mention of who conducted the poll, how it was done, what interests they represented, or if Mousavi winning might be the wrong result. More on that below.

Writing for the influential far right Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Fariborz Ghadar described the contest as “pit(ting) the hard-line Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against two relatively moderate and one conservative challenger.” In spite of one or more independent polls showing Ahmadinejad way ahead, he suggested that “the outcome (isn’t) Continue reading

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