Over 4,400 volunteers have served in the Dominican Republic. According to CNN's Mariano Castillo, three former Peace Corps/Dominican Republic Country Directors and 560 former volunteers have sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting that the United States suspend military aid to the Dominican government over human rights abuses and a crackdown on Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent. This high level advocacy from former volunteers shows how connected they remain to the country in which they served, and their concern for the human rights of all people living within its borders. The full article follows.
Earthspark, a renewable energy NGO, has expanded Haiti's first pre-pay solar micro grid in the town of Les Anglais. It has a 90 kW solar PV array which is enough to provide clean, reliable power to 430 households and businesses. Earthspark will hold two launch events – one on June 1st in Les Anglais and a fundraiser on June 11th in Washington DC. More information is attached and below.
Below is an excellent Foreign Policy article by Jacob Kushner explaining how Haiti's unclear land tenure policies undermine investment and cause displacement on Ile a Vache. While the article focuses on one small island, these issues are playing out throughout the entire country. Improving the climate for investment and human rights requires high-level committment for addressing one of the most politically sensitive issues in Haiti. The full article follows.
Haiti is more than the sum of its problems. In reality, much of the country - art, scenery, people - is beautiful. Below is an interesting Beta Fusion Article by Tim Rogers about young Haitians using Instagram to show others the beauty of their country. Instagram gives people a chance to post the aspects of Haiti that they know, appreciate, and would like to share with others. Please feel free to share links to other sites with Haiti-related photography.
American Airlines will become the first major carrier to offer daily, direct flights to Cap Haitian. The combination of historic sites and beaches might prove a draw for both the Haitian Diaspora and those interested in visiting Haiti without having to transfer through Port-au-Prince. Growing the tourism industry in Haiti will take time - but having the option of flighting in through the north certainly helps.
Last month, the U.S. State Department released the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report. As in previous years, the report noted serious shortcomings in the Haitian government's efforts to prevent and respond to human trafficking. There is some good news, though - in 2014 the Haitian government enacted a law to criminalize human trafficking which is a welcome and much-needed step. The country narrative for Haiti follows below.
Solutions to displacement take time, coordination and resources. According to a recent update by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the total number of households living in camps has decreased by 92 percent compared to four and a half years ago. The government-led rental subsidy program, supported by IOM and donors, has been instrumental in helping households transition. For more information, view the full report.
The government of the Dominican Republic recently passed a nationality law which, by no means perfect, represents a step forward in addresssing statelessness. The main difficulty now lies in its full implementation across the country. Below is an article by Associated Press writers Ezequiel Abiu Lopez and Danica Coto that notes both positive and negative reactions to the nationality law.
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.