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Posts Tagged ‘Haiti’

Tweeted by Nancy Roc  of Radio Metropole (whom I am now following):

@MetropolisHaiti Nancy Roc METROPOLIS CONFIRME L’ARRIVÉE DE DUVALIER EN HAÏTI.

Well, this is less than helpful, with the country in disarray and the election contested.  While René Préval retains the presidency,  at least nominally, for the time being,  this development does not bode well.  Préval was never a strong president.  This time last year, in the aftermath of the quake,  he did little to reassure his people,  leaving the work of representing the government on the ground to PM Jean-Max Bellerive, who is an excellent and strong leader and did a yeoman’s job.  There may be many who had some kind of local power under both Duvaliers who might wish to return to those days which were not the best for the Haitian public in general.   This comes under the heading of:  Things were not bad enough….

At best, his presence in the country from which he was ousted could contribute to unrest,  not a happy prospect.

Ousted president Duvalier returning to Haiti: diplomat

16.01.2011 – A man holds a poster of former Haitian president Jean-Claude Duvalier during a demonstration in Port-au-Prince in 2010. Duvalier, ousted from power by a popular revolt in the 1980s, is heading back to Haiti where he is expected to arrive later Sunday, a diplomatic source in Paris said.

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Beautiful as she is, Hillary Clinton looked grim and distressed this morning at the White House.  She had flown for ten hours from Hawaii, after cutting her planned Pacific trip short, and gone straight to the White House to address the crisis in a place dear to her heart.  As I have mentioned here before,  Haiti was home to me for ten years during which I was happy, acculturated,  and completely embedded with the local population.  Just knowing how much Hillary cares about Haiti, it is written all over her pretty face, comforts me.  But,  of course, neither Hillary nor I,  as distraught as we are about this, are the ones the most in pain.  It is the people of Haiti, a people I love, that are suffering and in need of the help that Hillary is mobilizing.

Rarely, I have taken advantage of the State Department website function “text the Secretary,”  but last night I did because I watched that little girl Bea rescued on CNN.  She’s 13 and does not have parents anymore.  Suddenly the implication of the huge number of children orphaned by the earthquake hit me, and I realized that among all the enormous problems of every stripe that must be addressed to get Haiti on its feet, hiding under a banana leaf looms the threat, for these children, that is Haiti’s dirty little secret.

It is supremely ironic that in the First Black Republic, born of a slave revolt 206 years ago, a covert form of child slavery is practiced more-or-less in the open even in the 21st century.   Peasants (not a slur, in Haiti there is a rural peasant class, “paysannes”) with more children than they can care for routinely farm small children out to other families.   Sometimes godparents are chosen specifically to receive these children once they are four or five and can accomplish some chores.   In some cases,  the children are even installed with blood relatives of better means.  These children might be afforded a year or two of primary school, but the older and stronger they become, the less likely they are to continue in school and they end up stuck at home and working for their keep.  They do laundry by hand, sometimes at the river.  They iron with dangerous  charcoal irons.  The irons shoot sparks.  If you burn it, you pay to replace.   They carry water.  ALL of them carry water. It is hard work   They have no childhood.  They work – hard – and for no compensation.  They are little Haitian versions of Cinderella and Jane Eyre living with her aunt and cousins.  They are called “rests-avecs.”  It means “live with” or “stay with.”

We tend to have a negative concept of orphanges.  There are orphanages in Haiti.  Perhaps, today, we prefer to call them children’s homes.  Some people who run these homes have been interviewed over the past few days, and over the years some have received coverage by American media.  They are kind, happy places.  Some might think that putting a child in an orphanage is cruel when there are families willing to take them in.  In Haiti, I would exercise a great deal of caution placing an orphan of the earthquake in an unrelated, and perhaps even a related family.  There is a danger that an innocent child, who has been through the worst thing any of us have ever seen,  might be assigned, with all good intentions, to a childhood of servitude.  In planning the social-humanitarian steps for the future weeks and months, we need to ensure that these children-at-risk are not subject to further cruelty of fate.

SO!  Last night I texted my dear, beautiful, and distressed  Madame Secretary to remind her that we cannot let that happen.

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In case you have not visited my other blogs, I want to put a quick update here.  Hillary, Homegirl and Prioritress Extraordinaire,  announced earlier today that she was curtailing her travel to the South Pacific and heading back to D.C. in order to orchestrate State Department response to the catastrophe in Haiti.

For Hillary, it is always first things first.  Before diplomacy, a humanitartian response to this terrible and tragic situation requires her organized and able expertise. So, regardless of what people write in books or post on blogs,  our Head Homegirl is headed to where the work needs to be done, as is her habit.  This is why we love her!

Below is the text number and message released by the State Department today and other important information, links, phone numbers.

To donate: Text “HAITI” to 90999 and a $10 donation will be charged to your cell phone.  It’s easy.  It’s painless.  You can do with one or two fewer lattes, can’t you?  The people in Haiti have no food or water.  WE HAVE TO HELP!

Oh!  And just so it does not go unnoticed, Bill’s Clinton Foundation is working with the U.N. on this.  Well, you know how it goes with “The Clinton Machine”  – they are SO out for themselves. NOT!!!

CLINTON FOUNDATION/HAITI RELIEF

This is crucial to some:

The public number to call for questions or information is in the State Department and that number is 1-888-407-4747.

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When I first went to Haiti in the early 1970s, American Airlines pilots routinely welcomed visitors to “Haiti, 95% Catholic and 100% Voudou.” In the interim between then and now, I am certain that Catholic percentage has dropped due to Protestant Evangelical work by American and European missionaries. I am just as certain that the Voudou percentage has not changed since even back then, the Protestants I knew feared Voudou and its practitioners. Fear is the surest sign of faith.

In addition, between the time I left and now, some breakthroughs have been made permitting insight into the dark and secret world of zombification – a practice associated with Voudou. A professor of mine, Lamarque Douyon, found and managed to revive a zombie, and just before I left, Wade Davis showed up and began his research into the substances used to zombify people.

All of this is interesting in itself, but I bring it up here for several reasons:
1. Zombification tends to occur in outlying rural areas where there is little governmental representation.
2. It has been found to be used as a social control against those who repeatedly violate social rules (some of them laws).
3. The social rules in rural areas of Haiti can differ broadly from the law as it is written and followed in culturally westernized urban areas.
4. Rural areas of Haiti – even some aspects of urban areas – are recognized to be the closest replication of African culture this side of the Atlantic. (This is due to the early revolution – 1804 – and the closeness of many of the slaves who revolted to their African roots).

For my Master’s thesis, I chose to follow the model provided by Phyllis Chesler in Women and Madness to discover whether in rural culture, which represented at the time 85% of the population, women tended to exhibit a high incidence of the psychopathologies associated with men in the urban culture. (They did not). The reason I was curious was because of the structure of the rural, peasant-class family which is very different from the urban nuclear model.

A rural farmer in Haiti might own several parcels of land that are not necessarily contiguous or even in the same Department (state/province). Since one man cannot occupy all of these parcels at once, it is an accepted practice for the man to have as many wives (and families) as he owns parcels of land and to travel from farm to farm as an itinerant husband/dad. The wives are the ones responsible for raising the families, livestock, and crops, transporting the produce to the market, and selling it – all of this is usually done with the help of the children who might enjoy two or three years of school – if any – tops. In other words, the rural culture in Haiti is essentially matriarchal. When you converse with rural women in Haiti, you are very aware that these women are the ones in charge.

This cultural pattern is likely closely related to rural practices in some parts of Africa, particularly tribal areas closely associated with the origins of the Haitian people. One of these areas would be the Congo. Another, Nigeria. Because of time and distance, the two variables we must take into account when performing research in the human sciences, practices may have evolved differently on both sides of the ocean, but the phenomenon of strong matriarchal tendencies in central west Africa and in Haiti are recognizable.

Matriarchy is not legislated. It is a by-product of the larger culture, but it poses a problem for, and is at odds with the patriarchal tribal structure and with, in Haiti, the authority of the husband in the home. When we see, on the African continent, brutal crimes against women, I believe we are looking at something larger than the damage collateral to wars among men. I believe we are witnessing a larger war against women – against the bossy, creative, enterprising, self-sufficient women who hold the fabric of the family together while men are off fighting their wars. It is a war against women as leaders.

A friend (and Hillary loyalist) sent me this article written by our Homegirl Hillary. I think Hillary knows that these crimes against women will not necessarily abate with a ceasefire among the men. This is a separate war, this war against women. It requires its own separate set of negotiations, and its own separate peace.

Hillary Clinton Pledges to ‘Banish Sexual Violence’

From People.com
Originally posted Friday August 21, 2009 12:30 PM EDT

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may be taking some well-earned R&R in Bermuda this week, but last week, the former First Lady and U.S. Senator wrapped up a grueling seven-nation diplomatic mission to Africa.

While much was made back home about her snapping at a Congolese student who asked her about Bill Clinton’s thoughts on a trade issue (“My husband is not the secretary of state, I am,” she retorted), the emotional heart of her tour was also her most dangerous stop – in Goma, inside the war zone in eastern Congo, where she tearfully met rape victims on Aug. 11.

In this exclusive Op-Ed piece for PEOPLE.com, Secretary Clinton shares what she learned on her visit – and what she will do about it.

Read her words.

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