Haiti

The Ossington Circle Episode 20: The Great Haiti Humanitarian Aid Swindle with Timothy T Schwartz

The Ossington Circle Episode 20: The Great Haiti Humanitarian Aid Swindle with Timothy T Schwartz

In this episode I talk to anthropologist Timothy T Schwartz, author of The Great Haiti Humanitarian Aid Swindle (and the equally shocking Travesty in Haiti). Schwartz details the workings of the propaganda and malpractice of the charity business to which Haiti is subjected.

 

Haiti 101 Years After US Invasion, Still Resisting Domination

US invaded and occupied Haiti 101 years ago today, and remained there for nineteen years. Accomplishments of the occupation include raiding the Haitian National Bank, re-instituting forced labor, establishing the hated National Guard, and getting a 25-year contract for the US corporation, United Fruit.

There was a pretext for the invasion – the assassination of Haiti's president in 1915. But to understand the event, which has lessons to draw from a century later, it is necessary to look more closely at the invader than the invaded.

In 2016, the United States is living through a presidential campaign with a candidate willing to exploit racism and pander to anti-immigrant sentiment. Police are killing black people in cities across the US. Having drawn down troop levels in its two big wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US still runs air srikes and drone strikes in the region, and covert actions all over the world. The US is still the determining voice in Haiti's politics and economy. In other words, one hundred and one years after its invasion of Haiti, the US retains two features of what it was then: violent racial inequality, and empire.

The US presidential candidates can be looked at from the perspective of Haiti. One candidate has an extensive record there. The other has some historical parallels.

The Clintons have treated Haiti as a family business. In 2010, after an earthquake devastated the country, the Clinton Foundation was among the horde of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that stepped up their role in the still unfinished rebuilding phase. Haiti's social sector had already been taken over by NGOs and its streets, since the 2004 coup and occupation, were patrolled by United Nations troops. The Clinton Foundation received pledges of hundreds of millions of dollars in development aid to rebuild Haiti. The crown jewel of the Foundation's work: the disappointing Caracol Industrial Park, opened in 2012, which promised and failed to expand Haiti's low-wage garment-processing industry, long a source of foreign profits and little internal development.

Elections Theater: Are fair elections too hard for the international community to manage?

For the past eleven years, since the coup and overthrow of the elected government in 2004, Haiti has been deemed so dysfunctional, so failed, a state, that the international community has decided to run it directly. UN troops patrol its streets. Nongovernmental organizations oversee most aspects of social provision. Donors provide the finances. The resources and reach of the government is limited. There were elections in 2010/11 and there will be a runoff presidential election at the end of December – both of these took place under this limited-government, maximum-international-community, regime (which could be called 'donor rule' and which I have called 'Haiti's New Dictatorship'). The 2010/11 elections were politicized and unfair. They banned the most popular party, Fanmi Lavalas, from running. The first round of the current elections have been characterized by massive fraud, and Haitians know it. They have no confidence in the elections. They are protesting, and their protests are met with tear gas from police – one of the few things that the government is allowed to do (though this important duty is often shared with the UN).

Some observers may throw up their hands and say, how could you expect credible elections, Haiti is a poor, dysfunctional country. But Haiti has had fair elections – they occurred in 1995 and in 2000, before the UN took over. The international community, which has been governing Haiti directly since 2004, is the body that is incapable of running a fair election. As in Haiti, so in Afghanistan, where the 2014 presidential elections were won by Ashraf Ghani, after which the international community imposed a power-sharing arrangement with the loser, Abdallah Abdallah. An extraordinary agreement was brokered as part of this, that the exact vote totals would not be made public.

The first-world version of what is happening in Haiti and Afghanistan is what Tariq Ali calls the Extreme Centre, in which political parties are indistinguishable from one another on most important issues, and alternate in power. Under such conditions, with major issues out of contention, fair elections are acceptable to elites.

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"Sovereign" Deportations: The Dominican Republic deportations cannot occur without US blessing.

If the Dominican Republic had decided in 2013 to nationalize its industries, announcing a deadline of June 17, 2015 for the expropriation of all foreign-owned enterprises on its side of the island, it is unlikely that the US would throw its hands up and say nothing could be done because the DR was a sovereign country. We know it is unlikely, because the US overthrew the president on the other side of the island in 1991 and in 2004 for trying to raise the minimum wage. More likely, there would be a regime change in the DR and a more friendly government would be put in place, to much celebration from US elites and media.

But when, a court in the DR pronounced "La Sentencia" in 2013, stripping Dominicans - people born in the DR - to undocumented Haitian parents of citizenship, and the Dominican Congress established a June 17, 2015 deadline for these hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent to establish residency by navigating a bureaucratic labyrinth of unbelievable complexity, US officials mumbled their concern. Since June, tens of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent have left the DR. Greg Grandin, writing in the Nation, has called it a "slow-motion, undercover pogrom". They have left under threat of violence. They have accepted "voluntary" deportation because their only alternative was involuntary deportation. They are living in camps on the border between Haiti and the DR, not unlike the camps where hundreds of thousands of people were forced to live after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Displaced people living in camps have reached the culmination of a process that renders them without power or protection. The natural disaster of the earthquake was prolonged and made vastly more deadly by Haiti's lack of sovereignty. This completely engineered disaster of deportation shows how Haiti's lack of sovereignty is intertwined with the DR's.

Now that North American media have begun to publish on the deportations, many of them discuss Haiti's invasion of the DR in 1822. Historian Anna Ellner helps make sense of this 19th century history, and reveals it to be completely distorted in most accounts. Ellner (whose excellent blog post was linked by Grandin, who has also helped maintain a focus on this issue) presents a different history, one in which Haiti and the DR were "siblings in a struggle for freedom".

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Aristide Summoned: The courts in Haiti's New Dictatorship

First published on TeleSUR english

On August 12, a court in Haiti summoned former President Jean Bertrand Aristide to appear on charges of corruption. Aristide's lawyers quickly filed a motion with the Supreme Court seeking the recusal of the judge who issued the warrant. Lawyer Mario Joseph, from the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, accused judge Lamarre Belizaire of engaging in a political trial, bringing baseless accusations forward, violating due process in the way Aristide was informed of the summons (through the press), and questioning the process by which the case came to be under Belizaire's jurisdiction. Aristide and his lawyers argued that, since due process was not observed in summoning him to the court, he did not have to appear. For his part, neither did judge Belizaire, who left the country (see the AP story, Evens Sanon Aug 14/14, "Haiti tense after summons issued for ex-president").

Judge Belizaire is an interesting character. One of Aristide's lawyers, Brian Concannon Jr., told journalist Kevin Pina (see the Haiti Information Project blog: - August 19/14, "Haiti: IJDH Director Dismisses Allegations Against Aristide As False") that Belizaire was so famous for misusing judicial authority to persecute enemies of president Martelly that he had been banned by the bar association for 10 years; that he was a political appointee, appointed directly from the prosecutor's office without the legally mandated 3-year hiatus; that he lacks the minimum qualifications (either a specialized course or 8 years of specialized practice) to be a judge; and that he didn't have jurisdiction to bring the case.

Supporters of Aristide mobilized in front of his house in Port au Prince to physically prevent an arrest. They remained on vigil for days. United Nations forces, continuing their decade long dishonorable role in Haiti, brought an armored personnel carrier, sirens, tear gas, and soldiers in riot gear to try to make the arrest. From the video of the attack, it is impossible to tell which country the UN soldiers are from - Brazil remains in command of the mission. For all of the excessive and partisan force they brought to bear against Aristide's supporters, international forces didn't manage to kidnap Aristide again.

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Joe Emersberger's review of Haiti's New Dictatorship

Joe Emersberger's got a sharp eye for discerning when media information is misleading or false. When the 2004 coup happened in Haiti, Joe published his correspondence with the Globe and Mail reporter in Haiti at the time, and very ably showed me how someone with a keen eye and decent principles can hold their own in a debate with someone with a privileged position and (undeserved) authority.

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Haiti's New Dictatorship (the short version)

December 19, 2012 Socialist Project Bullet article summarizing Haiti's New Dictatorship

What constitutes a dictatorship? Haiti had an election in 2006, which the popular candidate won. It had an election in 2011, which had one of the lowest turnouts in recent history and which was subject to all kinds of external manipulation. Given these elections, is it unfair to call Haiti, a country that suffered 30 years of classic dictatorship under the Duvaliers from the 1950s to the 1980s, a dictatorship today?

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Haiti's New Dictatorship - Book Tour in November

Hi everyone,

In case you didn't notice the new tab above, my first book, Haiti's New Dictatorship, is set to come out at the end of October.

I will be doing talks about the book all over Canada and probably in NYC in the US as well. Check the book tab for updates on the book tour. It's in the process of being organized now, the largest, Canadian part of which is thanks to the hard-working folks at Between the Lines.

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Help that hurts: An interview with Tim Schwartz about Haiti

First published on ZNet, March 18, 2012

Tim Schwartz is an anthropologist with extensive experience in the foreign aid sector in Haiti. He is the author of the book, Travesty in Haiti, and of an upcoming book studying the nature and problems of the ways nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) operate in Haiti. He answered my questions over email in February and March 2012.

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