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Related Categories: Haiti | San Francisco
View other events for the week of 10/ 7/2004
Haiti report back
Date Thursday October 07
Time 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Location Details
The Kitchen, site of event, is on the 22 Fillmore bus line, Potrero and 16th St. stop
Event Type Fundraiser
Organizer/AuthorHaiti Action Committee
[also below: Kevin Pina on illegal U.S.-backed coup regime's exacerbation of tropical storm crisis]


Report back from Haiti: presentation by members of a recent delegation
which
investigated prison conditions under the current illegal coup regime

San Francisco educator Robert Roth
longtime feminist activist Leslie Mullin
Stanford PhD candidate Sasha Kramer (who will show her slides)

Thursday October 7, 7pm

The Kitchen
225 Potrero Avenue (between 15th and 16th Streets)
San Francisco

this event is a fundraiser for the entirely
volunteer-run
Haiti Action Committee
admission: $5 to $50 sliding scale

co-sponsored by Haiti Action Committee
and War Resisters League/West

For more information:
510-483-7481

http://www.haitiaction.net




Since 1923 the War Resisters League has affirmed that war is a crime
against humanity. We therefore are determined not to support any kind
of war, international or civil, and to strive nonviolently for the
removal of all the causes of war.

++++

The San Diego Union-Tribune
http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20040928/news_lz1e28pina.html


Victims of the storms over Haiti

By Kevin Pina
September 28, 2004

A political storm hit northern Haiti long before
Tropical Storm Jeanne came along. On March 20, Interim
Prime Minister Gerard Latortue flew into Gonaives
where a huge and boisterous crowd of thousands
welcomed him.

Latortue embraced gang elements and the former
military that helped overthrow the democratic
government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide as
"freedom fighters." Since then, Latortue and his
government have done little to take control of Haiti's
third largest city and have allowed gang leaders like
Buteur Metayer and Wilfort Ferdinand to run it like a
private fiefdom. This has had serious consequences
since Tropical Storm Jeanne arrived to stake her claim
to Haiti's misery. An estimated 1,500 Haitians were
killed, and more than 300,000 were left homeless after
winds and rains from Tropical Storm Jeanne lashed the
island nation over the weekend of Sept. 18 and 19.

The political storm took many victims as well and left
Haiti ill-prepared for the devastation brought about
by Jeanne. One of its first victims was the Civil
Protection Office following a rampage led by the
"freedom fighters" against suspected Aristide
supporters. This politically benign institution had
been established in cooperation with the local
municipal government by grants provided by the United
States Agency for International Development and
administered through the Pan American Development
Foundation. PADF's own Web site confirms that, "PADF's
emergency response and reconstruction efforts are
complemented by community training in disaster
preparedness. Mitigation training promotes the
development of civil action plans that enable
communities to identify priorities and reinforce key
infrastructure.

Last year, 23 local civil protection committees were
formed, and over 5,000 people were trained in disaster
awareness, leading to safer communities."
Unfortunately, with Washington, Paris and Ottawa
ushering in a man-made disaster with the destruction
of constitutional authority in Haiti, all of the tax
dollars USAID invested in preparing for natural
disasters like Tropical Storm Jeanne were wasted as
well.

Tropical Storm Jeanne is exactly the type of disaster
USAID and PADF's programs were set up to manage. There
were components that monitored incoming tropical
storms and provided an advanced warning and
preparedness network designed to plan a response
before disaster struck. Plans included advising
communities in advance of approaching storms and
preparing for them by storing large supplies of
drinking water, food, medical supplies and portable
tents for those displaced from their homes.

When Tropical Storm Jeanne hit, these structures no
longer existed and the trained and competent
participants in the program had long been driven out
of the area after their offices were pillaged and
burned. Nowhere was this more evident than in
Gonaives, where many associated with the Aristide
government and the Lavalas Party were reportedly
dragged through the streets and burned alive.

Instead of reasserting control of the state and
rebuilding the necessary infrastructure that was
destroyed following the coup of Feb. 29, Latortue
followed a policy of benign neglect and accommodation
with thugs in the region that has led to needless
death and suffering in the wake of Tropical Storm
Jeanne. In all fairness, the fault does not lie
entirely with the U.S.-installed government. The Bush
administration shoulders much of the blame for the
current situation with an ill-conceived regime change
that has replaced what they considered a failed state
with an even more failed state.

The United Nations also bears a large responsibility
for the armed gangs and elements of the former
military currently hampering relief efforts in
northern Haiti. Like Latortue's accommodation of the
gangs in Gonaives, the U.N. forces have stood by while
the former military has taken over several towns in
the north. The official excuse of the United Nations
has been that they do not have enough forces on the
ground to challenge the former military from seizing
control of the region. It seems that by the time there
are enough forces in the region, they will wake up to
find themselves bunkmates with the very people they
claim to want to keep out of power. This does not bode
well for the inhabitants of Port-au-Prince should a
natural disaster ever strike the capital to combine
with the current political disaster as it has in
Gonaives.

In the end, the United Nations and Latortue have
become victims of their own failed policies and
ultimately the failed policy of the Bush
administration in Haiti. The ones who will suffer the
most as a result of these failures are the very people
they claim to have come to this island nation to help.

The disregard for institutions destroyed during the
latest regime change and the lack of planning and
response for natural disasters is only a symptom of a
political storm that is far from over in Haiti â•„ a
storm that is being fed by poor political judgment.
Sadly, this has resulted in more needless suffering
for the people of Haiti during this latest crisis.

Pina is an independent journalist and filmmaker. He
is associate editor of the Black Commentator and
currently resides in Haiti.


Added to the calendar on Wednesday Oct 6th, 2004 5:59 PM
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