I will be posting updated information and commentary about the unfolding situation in Haiti here.
We have put out a call to groups, collectives and individuals to attend an emergency meeting to discuss collective action in response to the situation in Haiti. Please send a representative of your group if you can, or email us so we can keep you informed of further action / meetings.
Sunday 24 January 2009
2.00 – 4.00 pm at the Do you remember Olive Morris? exhibition that has meeting space available.
Gasworks, 155 Vauxhall Street, London SE11 5RH (tube: Oval / Stockwell)
I am currently working on a brief historical overview of the situation in Haiti and information about how best to get charity to the right places most effectively and most immediately. I should have this done for the meeting on Sunday and will post it here.
I’ve also uploaded some video footage from the Ghetto Biennale here. It shows Grand Rue artist Alex Louis interviewing the toy Tap Tap makers during the opening event.
I have also posted some images from the Ghetto Biennalehere.
And I just uploaded a clip of Reggie Jean Francois here telling the story of how Sri Lankan troops in the UN mission to Haiti performed a ceremonial ritual on the sculpture of a boar in Port-au-Prince in 2004.
Please feel free to use and circulate.
Donations to Organizations active on the ground in Haiti
Given that the social sector of Haiti is now run almost entirely by NGO’s these are the organizations that are likely to be delivering aid and assistance on the ground there. However the massive involvement of international NGO’s has the long term effect of undermining Haiti’s powers of democratic self-determination.
For people wishing to get their donations directly to the communities in most urgent need I suggest the following organizations, most of which are run largely by Haitians in Haiti:
PAZAPA staff, who survived the quake, indicate that there is an immediate need for food, clean drinking water, shelter and medical care. They describe virtually no distribution of emergency food (with much of the disaster relief efforts centred in Port au Prince) and have stated that the primary work of emergency relief agencies in that community has focused on search and rescue. The price of food is rising and water and fuel is becoming dangerously scarce. They need our help with funds to immediately purchase essential food supplies such as rice, beans and oil, that can be distributed to the centre’s children and families most effected by the quake. PAZAPA staff are working, despite suffering their own losses, to locate and assess the needs of the centre’s children who will be terribly affected by this tragedy. For more information about the centre, link to a recent video , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OKK1T-zgdA.
2) Konbit Pou Ayiti/KONPAY
Konbit Pou Ayiti/KONPAY (Working Together for Haiti) strengthens existing organizations, builds national networks, creates relationships between individuals and organizations in the U.S. and Haiti, and and supports collaboration and the sharing of technology and expertise. KONPAY focuses on Haitian solutions to environmental, social and economic problems and provides training and funding to grassroots and community-based projects.
3) Honor and Respect for Bel Air, a big community-based network in Port-au-Prince, and Coordination Régionale des Organisations de Sud-Est (CROSE), which brings together some of the most active community groups in the south (via Avaaz.org)
4) The Lambi Fund of Haiti
The Lambi Fund’s mission is to assist the popular, democratic movement in Haiti. Its goal is to help strengthen civil society as a necessary foundation of democracy and development. The fund channels financial and other resources to community-based organizations that promote the social and economic empowerment of the Haitian people.
5) Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development (PAPDA)
PAPDA is a coalition of nine Haitian popular and non-governmental organizations which work with the Haitian popular movement to develop alternatives to the neo-liberal model of economic globalization. When the Haitian government moved to privatize certain industries, PAPDA worked with the unions and the business community to create strategies that would improve production and minimize cost without privatization.
6) The Haiti Emergency Relief Fund
Fonkoze is Haiti’s alternative bank for the organized poor. In fact, it is a family of three institutions working together shoulder-to-shoulder towards a single compelling mission: building the economic foundations for democracy in Haiti by providing the rural poor with the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty. This mission is reflected in our name, Fonkoze, which is an acronym for the Haitian Creole phrase “Fondasyon Kole Zepòl” meaning “Shoulder-to-Shoulder Foundation.”
8 ) Partners in Health
PIH has been working on the ground in Haiti for over 20 years. We urgently need your support to help those affected by the recent earthquake. Partners In Health (PIH) works to bring modern medical care to poor communities in nine countries around the world. The work of PIH has three goals: to care for our patients, to alleviate the root causes of disease in their communities, and to share lessons learned around the world.
I await news from Leah Gordon who is now in Port-au-Prince about what is the most effective way to get aid working on the ground.
According to a CNN report from Sunday one of the few working hospitals in Port-au-Prince is La Paz hospital.
This hospital is being run by Cuban medics supporting the strong argument for more Cuban-US cooperation in the aid mission.
Here is a video report from MediaHacker Ansel on the ground in Haiti the day after the quake in which local citizens express their anger at the absence of assistance from either UN or US forces.
Activists and citizens both in and outside of Haiti are concerned with what they see as a lack of response by the UN authorities in Haiti and by recurrent stories of immanent violence on the part of the Haitian people which we fear may be used to justify violent intervention by both the UN and US forces against the Haitian people. Articles like Tim Padgett’s ‘Will Criminal Gangs Take Control in Haiti’s Chaos‘ and Mark Lander’s ‘Clinton, in Visit to Haiti, Brings Aid and Promises Support‘ set the tone for this kind of ideological scare-mongering. Lander warns that “As Haitian and international officials try to coordinate an effective relief response to what is probably the worst disaster to ever hit the western hemisphere’s poorest country, they’ll need to be mindful of the human rats that come out of the capital’s woodwork at times like these”.
He goes on to say that “unless the international community can exert some semblance of street-level law enforcement in the coming days and weeks, gangs are likely to lay down the law in its place”.
Outside the mainstream media reports from the ground tell a very different story, such as this one from Dave Belle, director of the Cine Instute there.
Regarding the historical politics of debt and aid in Haiti this article by Richard Kimin The Nation is one of the most thorough and informative, exposing precisely that ‘history’ which Bill Clinton, in his speech accepting the job of coordinating the US aid mission in Haiti, said that Haiti was on the verge of ‘escaping’.
Clinton’s complicity in UN Human Rights abuses in Haiti is discussed here.