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Haiti Liberte: Hebdomadaire Haitien / Haitian weekly news

Edition Electronique

Vol. 8, No. 28
Du  Jan  21  au  Jan 27. 2015

Electronic Edition

Kòrdinasyon Desalin: Conférence de presse


Vol. 8 • No. 6 • Du 20 au 26 Août 2014


Haiti: Where Will the Poor Go?
by Seth Donnelly

Jean Claude Duvalier sera-t-il transféré

(The second of two parts) 

As President, Clinton pushed this strategy when he pressured the Haitian government to open up its economy to U.S.-subsidized, big business rice exports, thereby driving many Haitian rice farmers out of business and crippling Haiti's domestic rice industry. (6) Though Clinton publicly apologized for this "trade policy," he has been pursuing a similar corporate strategy through his handling of "aid" as head of the Clinton Foundation and the IHRC since the 2010 earthquake. (7) He has been a vigorous supporter of the new Caracol Industrial Park, funded in large part by USAID. The "park" consists of garment sweatshops that offer substandard, unlivable wages. This has been a boon to companies that can have clothing assembled in Haiti by workers receiving near-slave wages, then sold in the U.S. without having to pay any customs. (8) However, as investigative reporter Jonathan Katz notes, the "park" has not been such a boon to the local Haitians:

"But less than a year after Caracol Industrial Park's gala opening — with Bill and Hillary Clinton, Sean Penn, designer Donna Karan and Haiti's current and former presidents among the guests — the feeling these days is disappointment  Hundreds of smallholder farmers were coaxed into giving up more than 600 acres of land for the complex, yet nearly 95% of that land remains unused A much-needed power plant was completed on the site, supplying the town with more electricity than ever, but locals say surges of wastewater have caused foods and spoiled crops.

 "Most critically, fewer than 1,500 jobs have been created — paying too little, the locals say, and offering no job security. ‘We thought there was going to be some benefit for us,' says Ludwidge Fountain, 34. He worked for two months at the park as a guard, taking home about $3.40 a day, until his contract ran out. ‘Maybe it's good for some of the people inside the park. Everyone else got nothing.'" (9)

 Since coming to power, Martelly has been rebuilding the Duvalierist system in which the elite get rich in ventures with foreign interests (e.g., Clinton), while the poor majority is further marginalized, immiserated, and increasingly subjected to selective repression.

 Likewise, Bill Clinton has funneled aid money to establish a business venture between Coca-Cola and local mango farmers, using existing mango groves and using land for new groves to produce exports for Coca-Cola and its "Haiti Hope" project (an Odwalla drink). About the project, Clinton stated: "The Coca-Cola Company responded to Haiti's urgent immediate needs with financial support and beverages. The Haiti Hope Project goes a step further and exemplifies the innovative role that partnerships with the private sector can play in the reconstruction of Haiti.” (10)

According to Coca-Cola's website, $9 5 million has been raised since 2010 to launch this project in a public-private partnership Coca-Cola claims to have 19,000 mango farmers "enrolled" in the project, frequently organized into co-ops, and that half of these farmers are women. Moreover, Coca-Cola claims that 10 cents on every bottle of "Odwalla Mango Tango Smoothie" purchased will go back to "Haiti Hope.” (11) The Clinton-Bush Fund gave a grant of more than $500,000 to the project. (12) Projects such as this do not advance Haiti's vital need for food security, but instead tether the well-being of Haitian farmers to the fickle tastes of more affluent, primarily "First World" consumers.

The Clinton Foundation is also funding similar agricultural, "supply chain" projects involving peanut and coffee farmers. The Foundation claims to be assisting these farmers by funding the construction of regional depots, providing marketing and technical assistance, as well as linking the farmers to buyers elsewhere, such as the Four Seasons Restaurant chain. (13) As with the Coca-Cola Project, this "market-driven" and export-led approach to agricultural development fails to directly address Haiti's vital need for domestic food production and security  While Haitians produce more coffee, peanuts, and mangos for export, they remain dependent upon overpriced, U.S. corporate food imports, while growing tracts of their land are being leased of to "foreign investors" for "industrial parks" and tourist sites.

 Then there is the infamous Oasis Hotel in Port-au- Prince, a huge, elite structure built to court rich tourists and foreign investors. It is "awkwardly" close to the houses and shacks of the poor that lack decent sanitation, plumbing, and electricity. The Clinton-Bush fund allocated $2 million in "aid" to construct this hotel. (14) Clinton is likewise allocating more Foundation aid into the construction of a new Marriott Hotel.

 Tourism, sweatshops, and export-agriculture: these are integral components of Clinton's vision for Haiti. Undoubtedly, some of this "development" will require the coercive dispersal of the rural poor who occupy land that will be turned into "free trade zones" and of the urban poor who occupy space — either in tent cities or popular neighborhoods — slated for tourist projects and up-scale commercial zones.

 And what of Martelly, the other award recipient? Has he doubled the rate of Haitian children going to school, as claimed in the Happy Heart Fund ceremony? This claim is patently false, according to Haitian grassroots educators who we interviewed. Martelly pledged to provide payments to schools on a per pupil basis, but this funding reportedly only covers a fraction of all pupils and, to date, has not even been received by schools for this past school year. Many teachers have not been paid in months, resulting in the recent, widespread teacher and student protests. Apparently, super-model Petra Nemcova was unaware of these basic, easily verifiable realities on the ground in Haiti when she awarded Martelly.

 Martelly came to power in 2011 through sham elections — what many Haitians call “selections” — because the largest political and most popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas, the party of the poor majority, was excluded from participation. Only 22% (or less) of the electorate voted and, of that fraction, Martelly received the winning fraction. This was reportedly the worst voter turn-out in the Americas since 1947. (15) The Obama Administration financed the selections (including legislative positions) to the tune of at least $14 million. (16) Moreover, the administration exerted considerable pressure, including threats to cut of aid to Haiti, in order to insure that Martelly was included in the runoff elections, even though he technically placed third in the first round. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Haiti and personally intervened to help push Martelly into power.” (17) Martelly, himself a very wealthy entertainer, spent considerable sums of his own fortune to leverage his "victory" (the equivalent of $15 billion in the U.S.).  Martelly's Duvalierist ties in Haiti and his far right connections abroad have been well documented by reporter and historian Greg Grandin, among others. (18)                            

 Predictably, since coming to power, Martelly has been rebuilding the Duvalierist system in which the elite get rich in ventures with foreign interests (e g , Clinton), while the poor majority is further marginalized, immiserated, and increasingly subjected to selective repression.  Martelly has attempted to rebuild the dreaded Haitian army, (19) he has integrated Duvalierist elements into his regime, and he has established a supportive, friendly environment for "Baby Doc" Duvalier, now back in Haiti. (20)

 Grassroots activists of the poor reported to our team that they are experiencing threats on their lives by a growing network of repressive agents. The Martelly regime has postponed legislative elective and mayoral elections, with Martelly instead selecting many mayors across the country, including in Port-au-Prince. A high-level judge who was calling for an investigation into Martelly and his family for corruption mysteriously died several days after meeting with and reportedly being verbally attacked by Martelly and his Prime Minister (Lamothe). Many Haitians suspect death by poisoning. (21)

 In ostentatious displays of their wealth, Martelly and his family are well-known for their extensive travels abroad and lavish life styles. He is an excellent junior partner for Bill Clinton and the Obama Administration.

The people in downtown Port-au-Prince whose homes and businesses have been destroyed are demanding justice and reparations. They have just experienced another earthquake, and they are clear that this one is human-made, in the service of "economic development" that discards the poor. Now is the time to join our voices with them in demanding justice and reparations. Now is the time to join our voices with those of Haitian grassroots activists in the Lavalas movement struggling courageously for the restoration of democracy in Haiti. 

This article was first published in Haiti Solidarity, the newsletter of the Haiti Action Committee. Seth Donnelly is a member of the Haiti Action Committee and a Bay Area high school teacher. He regularly travels to and works in Haiti. 


6. See Katz, “With Cheap Food Imports, Haiti Can’t Feed Itself ”  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/20/with-cheap-food-imports-h_n_507228 html.

7. See his filmed apology on “Democracy Now”, Apr. 1, 2010  http://www.democracynow.org/2010/4/1/clinton_rice.

8. For excellent coverage, see Edmonds, “Sweatshops Over Homes”  http://nacla.org/news/sweatshops-over-homes-haiti.

9. Katz, “A Glittering Industrial Park in Haiti Falls Short” http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/9/10/a-glittering-industrialparkfallsshortinhaiti.html.

10. "Coca Cola Scheme Brings Hope to Haiti" on www.coca-cola.co.uk.

11. See Moye, "Hope in Haiti: Why Job Creation and Economic  Development Will Drive Nation’s Recovery” http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/hope-in-haiti-why-job-


12. See the "Haiti Hope Project" fact sheet on Clinton Bush Fund website.

13. See official website for the Clinton Foundation.

14. For a detailed examination of this "aid" project, see Wilentz, "Letter from Haiti: Life in the Ruins " http://www.thenation.com/article/172101/letter-haiti-life-ruins.

15. For a summary of the many problems with these "selections", see Weisbrot, "Haiti Election: a Travesty of Democracy" and IJDH, "The United States Should Support Fair and Inclusive Elections in Haiti " http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jan/10/haiti-oas-election-runoff

16. Beeton, "Haiti's Elections: Parties Banned, Media Yawns " http://www cepr net/index php/op-eds-&-columns/op-eds-&-columns/haitis-elections-parties-banned-media-yawns.

17. Grandin, "Martelly: Haiti's Second Great Disaster,” http://www aljazeera com/indepth/opinion/2011/05/20115413435816393 html.

18. Ibid

19. The Economist, "Haiti's Army: Who Needs Them?" http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21588085-michel-martelly-pushes-ahead-reviving-army-who-needs-them.

20. CEPR, "Former Dictator Lives the Good Life " http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/relief-and-reconstruction-watch/former-dictator-lives-the-good-life-as-haitian-government-has-deliberately-stalled-investigation.

21. Geffrard, "Haiti: Political Assassination?" http://www.globalresearch.ca/haiti-political-assassination-suspicious-death-of-judge-who-called-for-prosecution-of-presidential-family/5343313.
Vol. 8 • No. 6 • Du 20 au 26 Août 2014  

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