In Haiti, machetes are ubiquitous and versatile. As Arielle Castro notes below, they are also the "Excalibur of the Caribbean". In the case of Haiti, machetes were common weapons in the struggle for independence. The short film, "Papa Machete", revolves around a Haitian machete-fighting instructor who lives and practices outside of Jacmel. The film producers have also launched a Kickstarter campaign to construct a new training facility. More information on the history of Haitian machete fighting is available here.
The FY 2013 Department of State Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report notes Haiti is a source, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking including 150,000 - 500,000 children (restaveks) in domestic servitude. Given that, it is highly signficant that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) helped draft an anti-trafficking bill approved by the Haitian parliament. It establishes a National Counter-Trafficking Committee and intends to improve prevention, prosecution, protection, and partnerships.
Below is an article by Dean Nelson in the New York Times about a trip taken to some of Haiti's most beautiful and remote sites. Could these sites one day help promote tourism in Haiti? Perhaps with the right physical and human infrastructure to support it. In any case, it is a reminder that there is a lot to see, much of it beautiful, outside of Port au Prince.
The Brookings Institution and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) recently released a report analyzing solutions for those who remain displaced in Port-au-Prince. A key message is that solutions involve more than just closing camps. Solutions happen over the long-term and require the participation of governments, humanitarians, development agencies and the displaced. The executive summary is below and you can read the full report here.
The UN has released its 2014 Humanitarian Action Plan for Haiti. While 89% of camp residents have moved out and significant progress has been made against cholera, significant challenges remain such as halting environmental degradation and reducing vulnerability to disasters. The plan focuses on meeting the basic needs of those remaining in the camps, addressing the cholera epidemic, increasing food security, and strengthening the leadership and capacity of national authorities. A summary of the plan follows.
Peace Corps is not currently active in Haiti and it remains to be seen whether a program will be re-established. There remains a network of 516 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who served in Haiti and continue to share their experiences. Richard Ireland, senior statesman of the group before me, gave a presentation at his church, now available online. His musings on how Americans and Haitians view time, fear, and joy is well worth a listen as is learning how to say no with an open heart instead of a closed one. You can listen by clicking here.
Below is an article by Ezra Fieser and Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald concerning a Dominican court ruling denying citizenship to Dominican-born children of Haitian immigrants. Many of them have never been to Haiti but nevertheless will be denied access to education and opportunities as they lack citizenship from the country where they were born and raised. Haiti has recalled its Ambassador and protests are planned by human rights activists.
Tolerance for minorities - religious, political, sexual, and otherwise - is an important measure of a democracy. It has never been easy for Haitians to be out but watchdog groups are particularly concerned by a series of threats against Haiti's gay community. More information from the Associated Press follows. If you are interested in local organizations promoting gay rights, the best known are Kouraj and Serovie.
Below is an announcement concerning the launch of a five year project, as part of USAID's Feed the Future Initiative, to bolster agriculture in northern Haiti. In addition to nuts and bolts such as preventing erosion and promoting irrigation, the project will also expand the access of farmers to new(er) technologies such as mobile money. The $87.8 million project will be led by Development Alternatives Inc (DAI) with Haitian firms Agridey and AgroConsult sub-contracting.
Below is a brief Caribbean Journal article concerning yesterday's joint launch by Haitian President Michel Martelly and Dominican President Danilo Medina of a reforestation project in NE Haiti. The project is entitled "Regreening Haiti-DR" and is based on Dominican experience in forest recovery. 2013 has been designated "The Year of the Environment" in Haiti and, by expanding environmental partnerships, both countries stand to benefit.