Haiti-an Oppressed State-report on U.S. and other repression

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Barb
Posts: 140
Joined: Fri Dec 29, 2006 1:36 pm

Post by Barb » Sun Mar 07, 2010 5:05 pm

And the solution is?

Is it your own blood you are willing to shed or only some one else's?

Barb
Posts: 140
Joined: Fri Dec 29, 2006 1:36 pm

Post by Barb » Sun Mar 07, 2010 5:48 pm

US troops withdraw from streets of Haitian capital, leaving behind gratitude, anxiety


By: Ben Fox,Jennifer Kay, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - U.S. troops are withdrawing from the shattered capital, leaving many Haitians anxious that the most visible portion of international is ending even as the city is still mired in misery and vulnerable to unrest.

As troops packed their duffels and began to fly home this weekend, Haitians and some aid workers wondered whether U.N. peacekeepers and local police are up to the task of maintaining order. More than a half-million people still live in vast encampments that have grown more unpleasant in recent days with the early onset of rainy season.

Some also fear the departure of the American troops is a sign of dwindling international interest in the plight of the Haitian people following the catastrophic Jan. 12 earthquake.

"I would like for them to stay in Haiti until they rebuild the country and everybody can go back to their house," said Marjorie Louis, a 27-year-old mother of two, as she warmed a bowl of beans for her family over a charcoal fire on the fake grass of the national stadium.

U.S. officials say the long-anticipated draw down of troops is not a sign of waning commitment to Haiti, only a change in the nature of the operation. Security will now be the responsibility of the 10,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force and the Haitian police.

A smaller number of U.S. forces - the exact number has not yet been determined - will be needed as the U.N. and Haitian government reassert control, said Gen. Douglas Fraser, head of U.S. Southern Command, which runs the Haiti operation.

"Our mission is largely accomplished," Fraser said.

American forces arrived in the immediate aftermath of the quake to treat the wounded, provide emergency water and rations and help prevent a feared outbreak of violence among desperate survivors. They also helped reopen the airport and seaport.

There has been no widespread violence but security is a real issue. A U.N. food convoy travelling from Gonaives to Dessalines on Friday was stopped and overrun by people, who looted two trucks before peacekeepers regained control, U.N. officials said.

They managed to escort the other two back to Gonaives. There were no reports of injuries.

The military operation was criticized by some Haitian senators and foreign leaders as heavy-handed and inappropriate in a country that had been occupied by American forces for nearly two decades in the early 20th century. But ordinary Haitians largely welcomed the troops, many out of disenchantment with their own government.

"They should stay because they have been doing a good job," 35-year-old Lesly Pierre said as his family prepared dinner under a tarp at an encampment in Petionville. "If it was up to our government, we wouldn't have gotten any help at all."

U.S. soldiers said they had nothing but warm encounters with the Haitian people.

"They're real good people. They just want help," Army Private First Class Troy Sims, a 19-year-old from Fresno, California, said as he prepared to board a flight back to the U.S. "I feel that us being here helped a lot. If we weren't here, things probably would have gotten out of control."

There are now about 11,000 troops, more than half of them on ships just off the coast, down from a peak of around 20,000 on Feb. 1. The total is expected to drop to about 8,000 in coming days as the withdrawal gathers steam. The military said more than 700 paratroopers left this weekend.

Soldiers are now gone from the General Hospital, where they once directed traffic and kept order amid the chaos of mass casualties. There are no more Haitian patients on board the USNS Comfort, which treated 8,600 people after the quake. At a country club in Petionville, where some 100,000 Haitians are living in rough shelters in a muddy ravine, only a few soldiers remain of the several hundred there after the disaster.

Alison Thompson said she was nervous about the smaller U.S. troop contingent.

"Soon we are not going to have any security," said Thompson, medical co-ordinator of the Jenkins/Penn Relief Organization, which runs a field hospital at the edge of the ravine. "Everybody is just so worried that they are pulling out because it's going to get dangerous."

It was the same concern for Louis at the national stadium.

"If the troublemakers see that there is some kind of force here, they will think twice before they do anything," she said. "They are already getting ready to stir up trouble."

But Ted Constan, chief program officer for Partners in Health, said that the way to address security is to get adequate shelter and other aid to the hundreds of thousands of people who are now stranded in squalid encampments.

"The real solution is to deliver services ... rather than turn Haiti into a military state," he said.

Barb
Posts: 140
Joined: Fri Dec 29, 2006 1:36 pm

Post by Barb » Sat Mar 20, 2010 3:51 pm

Post-quake Haiti wants to feed itself — and for once, world leaders are listening
By: JONATHAN M. KATZ
Associated Press
03/20/10 12:10 PM PDT



PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI — The earthquake not only smashed markets, collapsed warehouses and left more than 2.5 million people without enough to eat. It may also have shaken up the way the developing world gets food.

Decades of inexpensive imports — especially rice from the U.S. — punctuated with abundant aid in various crises have destroyed local agriculture and left impoverished countries such as Haiti unable to feed themselves.

While those policies have been criticized for years in aid worker circles, world leaders focused on fixing Haiti are admitting for the first time that loosening trade barriers has only exacerbated hunger in Haiti and elsewhere.

They're led by former U.S. President Bill Clinton — now U.N. special envoy to Haiti — who publicly apologized this month for championing policies that destroyed Haiti's rice production. Clinton in the mid-1990s encouraged the impoverished country to dramatically cut tariffs on imported U.S. rice.

"It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake," Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 10. "I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else."

Clinton and former President George W. Bush, who are spearheading U.S. fundraising for Haiti, arrive Monday in Port-au-Prince. Then comes a key Haiti donors' conference on March 31 at the United Nations in New York.

Those opportunities present the country with its best chance in decades to build long-term food production, and could provide a model for other developing countries struggling to feed themselves.

"A combination of food aid, but also cheap imports have ... resulted in a lack of investment in Haitian farming, and that has to be reversed," U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes told The Associated Press. "That's a global phenomenon, but Haiti's a prime example. I think this is where we should start."

Haiti's government is asking for $722 million for agriculture, part of an overall request of $11.5 billion.

That includes money to fix the estimated $31 million of quake damage to agriculture, but much more for future projects restoring Haiti's dangerous and damaged watersheds, improving irrigation and infrastructure, and training farmers and providing them with better support.

Haitian President Rene Preval, an agronomist from the rice-growing Artibonite Valley, is also calling for food aid to be stopped in favor of agricultural investment.

Today Haiti depends on the outside world for nearly all of its sustenance. The most current government needs assessment — based on numbers from 2005 — is that 51 percent of the food consumed in the country is imported, including 80 percent of all rice eaten.

The free-food distributions that filled the shattered capital's plazas with swarming hungry survivors of the Jan. 12 earthquake have ended, but the U.N. World Food Program is continuing targeted handouts expected to reach 2.5 million people this month. All that food has been imported — though the agency recently put out a tender to buy locally grown rice.

Street markets have reopened, filled with honking trucks, drink sellers clinking bottles and women vendors crouched behind rolled-down sacks of dry goods. People buy what's cheapest, and that's American-grown rice.

The best-seller comes from Riceland Foods in Stuttgart, Arkansas, which sold six pounds for $3.80 last month, according to Haiti's National Food Security Coordination Unit. The same amount of Haitian rice cost $5.12.

"National rice isn't the same, it's better quality. It tastes better. But it's too expensive for people to buy," said Leonne Fedelone, a 50-year-old vendor.

Riceland defends its market share in Haiti, now the fifth-biggest export market in the world for American rice.

But for Haitians, near-total dependence on imported food has been a disaster.

Cheap foreign products drove farmers off their land and into overcrowded cities. Rice, a grain with limited nutrition once reserved for special occasions in the Haitian diet, is now a staple.

Imports also put the country at the mercy of international prices: When they spiked in 2008, rioters unable to afford rice smashed and burned buildings. Parliament ousted the prime minister.

Now it could be happening again. Imported rice prices are up 25 percent since the quake — and would likely be even higher if it weren't for the flood of food aid, said WFP market analyst Ceren Gurkan.

Three decades ago things were different. Haiti imported only 19 percent of its food and produced enough rice to export, thanks in part to protective tariffs of 50 percent set by the father-son dictators, Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier.

When their reign ended in 1986, free-market advocates in Washington and Europe pushed Haiti to tear those market barriers down. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, freshly reinstalled to power by Clinton in 1994, cut the rice tariff to 3 percent.

Impoverished farmers unable to compete with the billions of dollars in subsidies paid by the U.S. to its growers abandoned their farms. Others turned to more environmentally destructive crops, such as beans, that are harvested quickly but hasten soil erosion and deadly floods.

There have been some efforts to restore Haiti's agriculture in recent years: The U.S. Agency for International Development has a five-year program to improve farms and restore watersheds in five Haitian regions. But the $25 million a year pales next to the $91.4 million in U.S.-grown food aid delivered just in the past 10 weeks.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization also distributed 28 tons of bean seeds in mountainous areas this month, with plans this week to distribute 49 tons of corn.

The G8 group of the world's wealthiest nations pledged $20 billion for farmers in poor countries last year. The head of the FAO called this week for some to be given to Haiti.

President Barack Obama's administration has pledged to support agriculture in developing nations. U.S. Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana has sponsored legislation to create a White House Global Food Security coordinator to improve long-term agriculture worldwide, with a budget of $8.5 billion through 2014.

Even Haiti's most powerful food importers have joined the push for locally produced food.

"I would prefer to buy everything locally and have nothing to import," said businessman Reginald Boulos, who is also president of Haiti's chamber of commerce.

But one group staunchly opposes reducing food exports to Haiti: the exporters themselves.

"Haiti doesn't have the land nor the climate ... to produce enough rice," said Bill Reed, Riceland's vice president of communications. "The productivity of U.S. farmers helps feed countries which cannot feed themselves."

Barb
Posts: 140
Joined: Fri Dec 29, 2006 1:36 pm

Post by Barb » Sat Mar 20, 2010 4:02 pm

[quote]Is there a reason why Americans always assume bloodshed is necessary for anything worthwhile to be accomplished? And I don't want to hear yet another Anglo-American interpretation of "human nature" they always insist the entire world must accept!

Stop your imperious preaching![/quote]

I'm not sure a troll fest of hurling imprecations is very helpful here. We probably agree on far more than you would ever suspect.

Barb
Posts: 140
Joined: Fri Dec 29, 2006 1:36 pm

Post by Barb » Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:21 pm


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