Haiti is a troubled but beautiful country, more sinned against than sinning, betrayed at times even by even those who claim to be its friends. Many who have lived or worked in Haiti know the kindness, the decency, and the resiliency of the Haitian people - this is where the true beauty of the country lies. For those who have not had the chance, take a bit of time to learn about Haiti. Here is a brief National Geographic Video about Haitian photographers who portray their communities as they, rather than others, see them. Older blogs on "Haiti in Photos" (Part One and Part Two) show Haiti as it really is rather than people perceive it to be. Finally below is an article by Mother Jones writer Nathalie Baptiste on the responsibility that countries such as the United States and France bear for Haiti's current situation.
In the excellent New York Times article below, Catherine Porter states that death is a plentiful resource in Haiti given that the life expectancy of Haitian is 63.4 years - twelve years below the Latin American and Caribbean average. Dying in Haiti is expensive - families often take out loans at exorbitant rates to provide funerals for loved ones while other families are forced to abandon their remains. These bodies would be dumped like garbage, as was the case in the past, but for the efforts of St. Luke Foundation volunteers who transport them for simple, cost-free burials. Haiti is full of heroes, and the volunteers who provide dignity in death to those who lacked it in life, are amongst them.
If someone, be it an individual or a politician, supports a project in Haiti it is usually an orphanage. The problem is that orphanages in Haiti are a business albeit one with almost no oversight and accountability. The vast majority of the children in orphanages have at least one parent. The smarter investments would be promoting access to family planning so families have only as many children as they can afford and establishing a foster care network throughout the country so that children can be in safe family environments instead. This is not to say all orphanages are bad - but there is a better way and the Haitian government has failed to protect children from the abuse, sexual and otherwise, that often takes place in these institutions. More information follows in a CNN Freedom Project article by Lisa Cohen.
The Trump Administration has announced it will end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians in 2019 meaning they must return by then or face deportation. While such status is meant to be temporary, Haitians have integrated, are working, and part of their American communities. It is clear that the Haitian government does not have the capacity to reintegrate tens of thousands of its citizens - particularly given the impact of Hurricane Matthew and the ongoing cholera outbreak. This could further destablise Haiti. The full article the Miami Herald's Jacqueline Charles follows.
Haiti and the Dominican Republic have always had a complicated relationship. Much of this is due to different interpetrations of, and not coming to terms with, historical events. One such event was the "Parsley Massacre" of 1937 during which the Dominican military executed both Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent. It is unclear how many were killed during the massacre. An article by NPR contributors Marlon Bishop and Tatiana Fernandez on the impact of the massace for families on both sides of the border dollows.
On October 5th, the UN Peacekeeping Force in Haiti (MINUSTAH) concluded after thirteeen years and was replaced with a force of 1,300 international civilian police officers. While MINUSTAH did help stabilise the country during a fragile period, its efforts were marred by, as in so many other countries, sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers. In addition, UN reluctance to take responsibility for the still ongoing cholera epidemic caused by peacekeepers is shameful. The emphasis now is on buiilding Haiti's law enforcement capacity. The full article by Al Jazeera follows and is accompanied by a short video regarding the MINUSTAH transition.
As the United States has stepped back from humanitarian leadership, Canada and Mexico have stepped up. Rather than deporting Haitains who had become stranded in Mexico trying to reach the United States, the Mexican government has offered them one year renewable visas allowing them to work. This has benefitted the Haitian migrants and it has also benefitted Mexico, which now has a new and manageable pool of very hard workers. It is a good example of solidartiy in a world that is sorely in need of more of it. The full article by AP journalist Elliot Spagat follows.
Haitians are increasingly seeking asylum in Canada for fear of being deported when a six month Temporary Protected Status extension concludes on January 22nd . According to the Miami Herald copied below, the Montreal City Council estimates that half of the 6,500 asylum seekers arriving since January are Haitian. In the United States, civil society groups continue to advocate for another extension.
Linked and copied below is a BBC article about yet another effort by the Haitian government to re-create a military force. The reasons given are job creation, disaster response, and border patrol. Costa Rica also does not have a military and is able to patrol its borders and respond to disasters through civilian institutions. In addition, Costa Rica creates jobs by encouraging investment. Given the sordid history of the Haitian military, donors would much prefer that Haiti continues to focus on strengthening the national police force. Recreating the military could very well result in more instability and uncertainty - as was the case in the past.
The U.S State Department has released the 2017 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reports. The Haiti Country Narrative (copied below) notes that while Haiit does not meet minimum standards for preventing and responding to TIP, it is making significant efforts to improve. This included strengthening its interministerial anti-trafficking commision, working more closely with international organizations, improving investigations and prosecutions and obtaining convinctions under the 2014 antri-trafficking law. In short, progress is being made although much more remains to be done.