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mercredi 27 avril 2016

La dangereuse ingérence américaine en Haïti

Publié le 26 avril 2016
Diplomates et politiques américains ne se lassent de multiplier les déclarations incendiaires au sujet d’Haïti. Et leur façon de vouloir perpétuer à tout prix le règne calamiteux de l’ex-président Michel Martelly, par dauphin interposé, manque de discrétion. La lourde artillerie diplomatique Les dernières déclarations du secrétaire d’État américain John Kerry, de l’ambassadeur américain en Haïti, Peter Mulrean, et la lettre des trois sénateurs républicains à l’encontre d’une indispensable vérification des résultats controversés des dernières élections présidentielles et législatives en Haïti, devraient provoquer une franche et unanime désapprobation dans l’opinion nationale et internationale.
Elles soulignent l’hypocrisie de Washington, qui inflige un camouflet à la chancelante démocratie haïtienne en écartant d’un revers de main les revendications de l’opposition politique de manière inexplicable. Sauf, bien sûr, à invoquer des motivations politiques et économiques, qui ne servent l’intérêt du peuple haïtien ni ses aspirations légitimes à une démocratie stable et consolidée.
En les écoutant, on doit se dire qu’ils ne manquent pas d’humour ces tuteurs américains, ou alors ils ont la mémoire bien sélective. Car n’était-ce pas avec leur répréhensible approbation que le président Michel Martelly a tardé quatre ans de son quinquennat avant d’être contraint d’organiser des «sélections» auxquelles il a voulu faire porter le nom d’élections ?
Aujourd’hui, au nom de quoi ces mêmes potentats américains s’arrogent-ils le droit de s’ingérer dans le débat public haïtien, et d’exiger des autorités de transition le respect pour l’ancien président Martelly de principes dont le mandat a été la négation même?
La légende électorale
Leur dernier sophisme consiste à faire croire que les élections sont l’hirondelle qui fera le printemps démocratique haïtien. Nous savons que ce n’est évidemment pas le cas. Si la réalité démocratique se mesurait à l’aune d’élections bâclées et truquées, Haïti arborerait fièrement aujourd’hui l’étiquette d’une des nations les plus démocratiques de la planète tout entière.
Haïti s’inscrit en faux contre cette légende démocratique, pure invention hollywoodienne, qui voudrait que la démocratie prodigue ses bienfaits dès l’instant où les scrutins renouvellent périodiquement les assemblées législatives et le pouvoir exécutif.
Si d’aventure leur venait l’idée de s’instruire sur la question et sur les ingrédients essentiels à la construction d’un État haïtien fonctionnel, ces « amis d’Haïti » pourraient consulter les ouvrages de plusieurs éminents chercheurs, publiés au cours des dernières années, qui ont bien documenté les limites de la démocratie électorale. Comme le fait remarquer Amartya Sen dans La démocratie des autres, « il est capital de se rendre clairement compte que la démocratie a des exigences qui transcendent l’urne électorale ».
En effet, pour Sen :« Les élections sont seulement un moyen [...] de rendre efficaces les discussions publiques, quand la possibilité de voter se combine à la possibilité de parler et d’écouter sans crainte. La force et la portée des élections dépendent de manière critique de la possibilité de l’existence d’un débat public ouvert [...].
Dans la perspective plus large du débat public, la démocratie doit accorder une place capitale à la garantie de la libre discussion, et à une interaction née de la délibération, à la fois dans la pensée et dans la pratique politiques, et cela, pas seulement grâce aux élections ou pour les élections.»
Autrement dit, bien plus que la ritualisation des élections, il importe de s’assurer qu’elles soient « justes et équitables ». Et, bien plus que les élections mêmes, ce qui importe davantage, a montré le politologue Fareed Zakaria dans son livre L’avenir de la liberté : la démocratie illibérale aux États-Unis et dans le monde, c’est « l’État de droit, la séparation des pouvoirs et la protection des libertés fondamentales de parole, de réunion, de religion et de propriété ».
Les principes républicains
Il est temps pour les élites dirigeantes haïtiennes de s’entendre à réaffirmer les principes fondateurs de notre République.
Et, en l’occurrence, rappeler que la direction politique du pays ne tire pas sa légitimité des États-Unis ou de quelque autre puissance étrangère, mais uniquement de la volonté populaire, exprimée souverainement à travers des élections acceptables. Cette légitimité, ils la tiennent par ailleurs surtout du fait de leur attachement aux lois et principes au fondement de la République.
Quant aux relations entre les pays, elles sont basées sur le principe westphalien de la non-ingérence, sauf en cas de raison humanitaire qui, dans ce cas, devrait être déclarée par les Nations unies.
Haïti devrait obtenir des États-Unis que leurs dirigeants et émissaires respectent ces principes et s’abstiennent de tout comportement subversif susceptible de déstabiliser le pays.
Il est temps que l’immixtion américaine croissante dans les affaires du pays cesse d’être admissible à nos yeux et aux yeux de ceux qui nous dirigent !
« C’est au gouvernement [haïtien] de décider », dit l’ambassadeur américain Peter Mulrean, en ce qui a trait à la Commission de vérification électorale largement réclamée.
On serait moins sceptique si, en 2010, son pays n’avait pas usé de son poids démesuré dans la balance des affaires haïtiennes pour imposer Michel Martelly à la présidence du pays au terme d’une élection entachée de fraudes avérées.
Échaudé, quoi de plus normal, peut-on se demander avec l’éditorialiste du journal québécois Le Devoir, Guy Taillefer, qu’aujourd’hui le peuple « refuse de se résigner à la mascarade électorale qui vise à porter non moins frauduleusement au pouvoir son successeur désigné, Jovenel Moïse ».
Du déjà vu ?
La politique étrangère erratique des États-Unis en Haïti a sérieusement fragilisé les acquis démocratiques de ces trente dernières années.
En 2004, l’administration du président George W. Bush a préféré financer la rébellion contre le président Jean-Bertrand Aristide, et dissuader l’opposition de négocier un accord politique à portée de main, qui aurait pu éviter au pays le chaos politique et le bain de sang consécutif dans la foulée du départ précipité en exil d’Aristide.
« Lorsque le secrétaire général par intérim de l’OEA, Luigi Einaudi (lui-même un ancien haut fonctionnaire du département d’État dans l’administration Reagan), a tenté de faciliter des négociations entre les dirigeants de l’opposition et le gouvernement d’Aristide à la résidence de l’ambassadeur des États-Unis, Washington a tué l’idée », rapportait en 2007 dans un article William M. LeoGrande de Washington University, citant lui-même un long article d’investigation du New York Times sur la question.
Cette politique contradictoire fait en sorte que les efforts pour promouvoir la paix politique deviennent « immensément plus difficiles », déplorait alors l’ancien ambassadeur américain à Port-au-Prince, Brian Dean Curran, cité dans l’article du New York Times (Walt Bogdanich et Jenny Nordberg, « Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Toward Chaos », January 29, 2006).
En 2010, c’était au tour du président René Préval d’apprendre à ses dépens l’amère leçon de cette dictature internationale dont les représentants, décomplexés, opèrent désormais de plus en plus à visière levée.
J’en ai rencontré un à l’Université de Montréal en 2013 alors que, invité à un séminaire sur les opérations de maintien de la paix de l’ONU, il en a profité pour parler du dénouement spectaculaire de la plus récente crise électorale en Haïti. Je me souviens encore de ses explications, l’air amusé, à un auditoire incrédule : « Moi et un autre ambassadeur à Port-au-Prince, il nous a suffi de cibler quelques proches de l’entourage du président Préval et de révoquer leur visa, pour que le président cède et se plie à nos exigences ».
Et de se réjouir : « certains protagonistes haïtiens impliqués dans la crise nous ont même suppliés, au bord des larmes, de ne pas toucher au visa de leurs épouse et enfants ».
Suivez-vous bien mon regard ?
Malheureusement, on en voit aujourd’hui de sinistres présages. Les dernières élections ont en effet ouvert la voie à un trafic d’influence similaire des puissances étrangères et montré à quel point il est nécessaire aujourd’hui qu’un nouveau projet politique national authentique émerge, qui visera, entre autres objectifs urgents, à rétablir le pays dans sa dignité.
La crise actuelle a aussi montré à quel point il est urgent pour les forces progressistes de coopérer, tant maintenant qu’après l’échéance électorale. Si nos politiciens et tous ceux qui se doivent de prendre une part active à la vie publique n’ont pas tiré la leçon d’hier, c’est le pays tout entier qui risque d’en pâtir.
Car nous nous retrouverions à coup sûr en proie à une crise encore plus profonde qui ne peut que mener à la catastrophe. Une catastrophe qui serait en partie engendrée par la « communauté internationale ».
Auteur : Par Roromme Chantal chantalro@hotmail.com
- See more at: http://lenouvelliste.com/lenouvelliste/article/158127/La-dangereuse-ingerence-americaine-en-Haiti#sthash.8K8utx3d.dpuf

lundi 25 avril 2016

Dumping peanuts on Haiti



 Posted by 
The people of Haiti deserve better agriculture solutions than extra peanuts from the American people.
When I was working in Haiti for Oxfam following the devastating earthquake in 2010, I became fond of mamba, the local version of peanut butter. It looks a lot like what we would buy here in the USA, but it’s less salty or sweet than the typical American spread. And before taking a big bite out of bread or cassava crackers spread with mamba, you will want to take a much more careful sample, because it’s usually spiced up with Scotch bonnet or habanero chili peppers. Once you get used to this nutty, spicy mix, it is definitely a taste worth acquiring.
The other great thing about mamba is that it is typically made from peanuts grown locally in Haiti.
So I was pretty shocked to read that the US Department of Agriculture is planning to dump 500 metric tons of packaged, dry-roasted peanuts on Haiti as part of its “Stocks for Food” program. This seems to be the offspring of the 1980s giveaway of USDA surplus cheese to food pantries and soup kitchens. It provides commodities that the US government has acquired through its domestic farm price and income support efforts to “feeding programs and food banks both domestically and overseas.”
The peanuts the USDA is shipping to Haiti will feed 140,000 malnourished school children in that country. While that may sound worthwhile, the use of imported peanuts stands in sharp contrast to the way the World Food Programme—with US government support—procures food for school meals from Haitian farmers. For example, WFP gets cheese and milk for 32,000 school children from Lèt Agogo, an initiative of Haitian dairy cooperatives that Oxfam has also supported.
This peanut fiasco sounds way too much like past uses of Haiti as a dumping ground for US agricultural surplus, something that has long concerned Oxfam. In the mid-1990s, the Haitian government acceded to pressure from the United States and others to drop its tariff on imported rice to nearly zero. This led to a flood of foreign rice into the Haitian market, mostly from the US. Haitian rice production plummeted. Bill Clinton, who as President encouraged this trade liberalization in Haiti, has more recently commented: “It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake…. I have to live every day with the consequences of the lost capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people, because of what I did.”
We don’t need Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack or President Obama to engage in similar mea culpas down the road. USDA calls the peanut project in Haiti a “prideful use of the nation’s commodities” to help needy people. But helping Haitian peanut farmers to boost their productivity and improve the quality of what they produce—as the US government’s Feed the Future Initiative is doing, along with the Clinton Foundation and Partners in Health—seems like a much better way to help reduce poverty and provide food for Haiti’s school children.
http://politicsofpoverty.oxfamamerica.org/2016/04/dumping-peanuts-on-haiti/

Rest in Power Toussaint L’Ouverture: Saluting Haiti’s triumph against colonialism

April 7th marks the passing of one of the greatest, most revered and most important figures of African and world history, Toussaint L’Ouverture one of the liberators of Haiti.
By 1801 Haiti, an island made up of half a million slaves, two-thirds of whom had been born in Africa, declared independence from European colonialists.
By April 7th 1803, Toussaint L’Ouverture died in a prison cell in the French Alps of cold and hunger, but not before his work had ensured the Haitian revolution would continue after he was gone, and that slavery would never again return to the Island.
From late 1803, after many years of fighting colonial powers the Africans in Haiti led by Jean-Jacque Dessalines freed the island from the clutches of the Europeans.
To this day, Haiti remains the only successful African revolt against slavery in the occupied European controlled colonies, and in doing so also became the first Black republic with its own constitution, adopting ideals espoused by the French revolution with a greater sincerity and vigor than even the French bourgeoisie themselves.
Today, the island remains one of the poorest countries in the world, as is the price often paid when daring to resist colonialism and occupation. Just look at Cuba today, for example.
Read more Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (L) shakes hands with Haiti's President Michel Martelly © Andres Martinez CasaresDemocracy denied: US turning Haiti into another vassal state
The Haitian revolution, which is not over, represents a tradition which is both important in historical terms and also in the modern context. The so-called free world, or the same system which was built by free labor and human capital extracted from slavery, still operates today on the same terms, exploiting countries to seize resources, ultimately to control capital.
When there is not a direct war for resources, today, more and more, we see ‘proxy wars’ played out in other people’s countries, with super powers jostling for position albeit with different agendas.
At one point in the 1790s Haiti was also a place which was being fought over by different colonial powers in the Caribbean, themselves at war with each other in Europe. A large chunk of the World’s sugar cane came from Haiti, and so even in a time of war, when hundreds of thousands of Haitians were fighting tens of thousands of European occupiers, Haiti was still among the most lucrative islands in the Caribbean to control.
And therein lies one of the keys to Toussaint’s genius; born a slave, but later able to free himself in his 40s, Toussaint was able to enjoy some of the benefits of the emerging privileged class in Haiti. Toussaint was educated, was an astute political analyst, and also a second to none military commander. It would be fair to say, that under Toussaint’s leadership, Africans in Haiti were able to organize and keep at bay several colonial powers at once for more than a decade. At different points Toussaint both sided with the French to fight other European powers in Haiti-and towards the end fought the French, as Napoleon attempted to force the island back into slavery following partial reforms achieved towards emancipation and freedom.
While there is a long tradition of resistance in the Caribbean of fighting colonialists tooth and nail, both from the slave ships and in the islands themselves, Haiti remains the only successful rebellion, able to rid its shores of those who had enslaved its population. The rebellion did not start in Haiti, but began the moment the first Africans were enslaved by the European merchants and capitalists in West Africa.
Toussaint and the other leading figures of African resistance in Haiti, or San Domingue as it was then known, did not spring up out of obscurity. The conditions which produced both the necessity for revolution, and the individuals and visionaries capable of leading it, were built up over several hundreds of years.
The brutal conditions suffered by slaves, which are unimaginable, built up over time a deep resentment. Writers like C.L.R. James, for example, describe in their works in detail, the sophisticated violence, humiliation, and dehumanization that Africans endured at the hands of Europeans in Haiti. The sick pseudo-science which dominated the day, a bit like the perverse modern form of ‘humanitarian intervention’, suggested that Africans were not human, and that therefore to control them as animals required a level of brutality which would both subdue them both physically and psychologically.
It stands to reason then, scientifically and rationally if nothing else, that it would ultimately take a force at least of equal measure from Africans in Haiti to free themselves from the clutches of slavery forever. And the first stages of emancipation in Haiti were indeed bloody, with Europeans being massacred indiscriminately as payback for years of suffering.
The resistance in a sense traced its roots back to Africa, and even by around 1750, there were literally thousands of Africans who had run away from the sugar plantations and were hiding in the hills and harder to access parts of the island. The Voodoo culture, songs of freedom, and determination to once again be free, had existed among the people for as long as they had been enslaved there.
By the time the French, who controlled Haiti, were preparing to do the unimaginable and behead their own King, and indeed anyone deemed disloyal to the class revolution in France, the conditions in Haiti had reached a point whereby the masses were fully ready to grasp the ideals of liberty and equality-more so than any European who had articulated them.
The call of the masses, including the emerging mixed race population of Haiti, to be given the rights of citizenship had achieved some success. Ironically, France caving in to some reforms, if for no other reason than to ensure Haiti did not fall into the hands of other colonial powers, meant that leading up to the complete expulsion of the remaining Europeans in 1804, Africans in Haiti had in a sense become the true French Republicans on the island fighting for France. When Napoleon set his sights on reversing this, the fear among Africans was that Haiti would revert back to slavery which became a catalyst for fighting the remaining French too.
The final defeat of the French in 1804, after Napoleon had sent thousands to reclaim the island, secured Haiti’s place in history as the first and last fully successful slave revolt. Haiti’s constitution and independence and even leadership, like any other, were not without its problems and contradictions.
But Toussaint, and the victory for Haiti, is an example of what is possible for the human spirit to achieve even in the face of insurmountable odds. It shows what Africans were truly capable of in the face of all of the racist pseudo-science of the day.
The revolution in Haiti has been largely ignored or forgotten by mainstream history - perhaps because as an example of resistance, it reflects what is possible in the face of the powers which rule the world today - this is dangerous for any ruling orthodoxy. When slavery is taught in schools, Haiti is rarely mentioned.
Neither for example is the island of St Thomas, which, according to many historians was liberated under the leadership of three women in 1793, and held for a year, before the Dutch eventually with the help of the other colonial powers restored the island to slavery.
Indeed colonization, occupation, oppression and political subjugation still continues today, and still continues largely for profit.
Gilbert Bellamy Decolonizing education: Rhodes must fall
Toussaint stands as a towering figure of resistance to this, but so too do the women and men who raised him, who taught him his history, so that, even in later life when the African uprising in Haiti began, he would not seek to protect his own privilege and status, but rather, would leave it all in a second to go and fight, lead, and ultimately die for his people.
The revolution in Haiti, stands as a beacon of human triumph but also played a huge role in the eventual abolition of slavery. The revolution was influenced by events in Paris, but Paris and the world were also shaped by events on the tiny island.
There are countless examples of resistance to colonialism throughout the world, but today on April 7th we must remember Toussaint, and also all those who fought and died in the fight for freedom and justice.
Toussaint and the revolution emerged as the inevitable consequence of slavery and repression, but also of the unique circumstances which developed in Haiti. Such circumstances were developed over time by Africans in Haiti, who like the oppressed people all over the world, refused to resign and give themselves up to their fate.
As the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass once noted “There is no progress without struggle” and perhaps this is true of Haiti.
But revolution and progress is bigger than one person, and as C.L.R. James once wrote “Toussaint did not make the revolution, the revolution made Toussaint.”
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT. Author:
Richard Sudan is a London-based writer, political activist, and performance poet. His writing has been published in many prominent publications, including the Independent, the Guardian, Huffington Post and Washington Spectator. He has been a guest speaker at events for different organizations ranging from the University of East London to the People's Assembly covering various topics. His opinion is that the mainstream media has a duty to challenge power, rather than to serve power. Richard has taught writing poetry for performance at Brunel University.
https://www.rt.com/op-edge/338798-haiti-slavery-toussaint-louverture/

mercredi 6 avril 2016

Élections en Haïti: encore de multiples obstacles

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haïti – Le président du nouveau conseil électoral en Haïti a affirmé, mardi, que l’organisation de neuf membres faisait face à de multiples obstacles à la conclusion d’un cycle électoral ayant débuté l’année dernière.

Léopold Berlanger a affirmé aux journalistes que les membres assermentés la semaine dernière héritaient d’une crise et ne pouvaient pas soumettre un nouveau calendrier électoral avant la résolution d’une série d’obstacles. Dans le cadre de leur évaluation, les nouveaux organisateurs électoraux tentent même de déterminer combien il reste d’argent pour tenir les élections, a-t-il précisé.

M. Berlanger a tant fait de cas des multiples obstacles qu’il semble impossible que le second tour — pour la présidence et pour une partie des membres de l’assemblée législative — se déroule ce mois-ci comme plusieurs avaient espéré.

Un accord politique négocié en février avait prévu un possible scrutin le 24 avril, mais ces jours-ci, il est difficile de trouver un analyste ou une figure politique croyant possible cet échéancier.
M. Berlanger a affirmé que toute vérification de résultats contestés des rondes électorales de 2015 devrait être autorisée par une «décision politique». Il a soutenu que les organisateurs électoraux ne pouvaient pas prendre la décision de vérifier les votes contestés par des factions politiques.

Sources: http://journalmetro.com/monde/943454/elections-en-haiti-encore-de-multiples-obstacles/

Haïti : vers un nouveau report sine die des élections présidentielle et législatives

La1ere.fr (avec AFP)
Publié le 06/04/2016 | 10:45, mis à jour le 06/04/2016 | 10:56
Le second tour de la présidentielle et des élections législatives haïtiennes, initialement prévus en décembre, ne pourront se tenir le 24 avril comme prévu, a laissé entendre le président du Conseil électoral provisoire mardi.
"On ne peut pas parler de calendrier électoral dans la phase où nous sommes", a déclaré Léopold Berlanger lors d'une conférence de presse tenue au siège du Conseil électoral provisoire (CEP) dans l'aire métropolitaine de Port-au-Prince.
Haïti est plongée dans une crise politique profonde depuis que le processus électoral a été suspendu en janvier, en raison des accusations de l'opposition dénonçant un "coup d'Etat électoral" fomenté par Michel Martelly, l'ancien président. Au premier tour du scrutin présidentiel, le 25 octobre, le candidat du pouvoir, Jovenel Moïse, avait recueilli 32,76% des voix, contre 25,29% pour Jude Célestin, qui a qualifié ces scores de "farce ridicule".
Accord de sortie de crise
En raison des reports successifs du second tour de la présidentielle, Michel Martelly a achevé son mandat le 7 février sans remettre le pouvoir à un successeur élu. Un accord de sortie de crise, signé entre le pouvoir exécutif et le Parlement, a permis l'élection de Jocelerme Privert, à l'époque président du Sénat, au poste de président provisoire, pour un mandat de trois mois. Cet accord indiquait également que les élections laissées en suspens seraient organisées le 24 avril.
Mais ce mardi, le président du CEP s'est défendu d'avoir à respecter cette échéance. "Comme Conseil électoral, nous ne sommes pas partie prenante de cet accord", a expliqué Léopold Berlanger. "Nous sommes une institution indépendante qui a un cadre donné par la constitution et la loi électorale : il est clairement dit que le conseil a l'autorité pour dire dans quel délai les élections peuvent avoir lieu", a-t-il ajouté.
Division de la classe politique
Pour sa première conférence depuis l'installation jeudi dernier du Conseil, Léopold Berlanger a par ailleurs sévèrement critiqué la division au sein de la classe politique qui paralyse le retour d'Haïti à l'ordre constitutionnel. Les résultats des élections municipales, tour unique qui s'est tenu le 25 octobre dernier, sont en effet contestés devant les tribunaux électoraux dans 81 des 140 communes du pays.
"C'est une situation grave car cela montre que le processus est malade", a dénoncé Léopold Berlanger. "Comment pouvez-vous avoir une élection pour laquelle deux tiers des postes sont contestés ?" s'interroge le président du CEP qui dénonce ceux enclins à la corruption. "Certains ont la perception que le contentieux est peut-être un moyen pour acheter et vendre une élection", a déclaré Léopold Berlanger.
En raison de l'important retard sur le calendrier électoral, une quarantaine de sièges parlementaires sont encore non pourvus et, depuis fin 2012, toutes les communes d'Haïti sont administrées par des agents intérimaires nommés sans consensus par Michel Martelly.
Sources: http://la1ere.francetvinfo.fr/haiti-vers-un-nouveau-report-sine-die-des-elections-presidentielle-et-legislatives-347435.html

Official: Numerous hurdles to concluding Haiti elections

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The head of Haiti's revamped electoral council said Tuesday that the nine-member body is facing numerous hurdles in concluding a troubled election cycle that began last year.
Council President Leopold Berlanger told reporters that organizers sworn in last week "inherited a crisis" and can't issue a new electoral calendar until a slew of challenges are resolved. As part of their evaluation, the new electoral organizers are even trying to determine how much money remains to hold elections, he said.
Berlanger ticked off so many challenges that it appeared there would be no way a twice-postponed presidential and partial legislative runoff to take place this month as hoped.
A political accord negotiated in February tentatively set the vote for April 24, but lately it has been hard to find any political figures or analysts who believe that date is possible.
Violent opposition protests and public suspicions of electoral fraud favoring former President Michel Martelly's chosen successor derailed a January runoff. It was first postponed in December.
On Tuesday, Berlanger said any verification of disputed results from electoral rounds last year would have to be authorized by a "political decision." He said Haiti's electoral organizers could not make a decision to verify votes disputed by political factions.

Sources: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/04/05/official-numerous-hurdles-to-concluding-haiti-elections.html

Haiti presidential runoff elections headed to another delay

New chief of elections council says process is broken
Presidential runoffs twice delayed
More than half of the 140 municipal elections in dispute

BY JACQUELINE CHARLES
jcharles@miamiherald.com
It’s not yet official, but the head of Haiti’s newly revamped Provisional Electoral Council made it clear Tuesday that the country’s repeatedly postponed final round, scheduled for the last Sunday of this month, won’t happen that day.

Léopold Berlanger, a media executive who was appointed president of the nine-member council after members were sworn in last week, said they couldn’t talk about an election calendar until they first figure out what’s ailing the nation’s electoral process.

He also punted on the politically thorny issue of a recount. Berlanger said the formation of a verification commission to address the allegations of “massive” fraud and determine who belongs in the second round “is a political decision” best left to others.

“You have to understand what malfunction [the electoral machinery] has, and what needs to be done to fix it before the second [round] can take off,” Berlanger said during the council’s first news conference. “After we determine that, we can continue with the electoral calendar.”

Initially scheduled for Dec. 27, Haiti’s final round to elect a president and complete parliament has twice been postponed after the opposition alleged multiple voting irregularities and ballot tampering.

THE JANUARY POSTPONEMENT FORCED PRESIDENT MICHEL MARTELLY TO DEPART OFFICE IN FEBRUARY WITHOUT AN ELECTED SUCCESSOR, AND A TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT TO STEP INTO THE POWER VACUUM.

The first delay in December was to allow a five-member electoral evaluation commission to address the fraud allegations while also recommending ways to safeguard the integrity of the runoff. The commission found egregious irregularities and a high presumption of fraud. It recommended various changes to the electoral process that it said were necessary in order for a second round to take place.
But those recommendations were never fully adopted.
 Citing that failure, as well as the dismissal of his own recommendations, opposition presidential candidate Jude Célestin declared his boycott of the race against government-backed candidate Jovenel Moïse. Days later, the elections were postponed for a second time as opposition supporters burned polling stations and voting materials, and reiterated their calls for verification of the results.

The January postponement forced President Michel Martelly to depart office a month later without an elected successor, and a transitional government stepped in to fill the power vacuum. Under a Feb. 5 political accord guiding the process, the runoffs were scheduled for April 24.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/haiti/article70110512.html#storylink=cpy

mardi 5 avril 2016

Haitian Wages A meme that claims that the State Department under Hillary Clinton fought to keep Haiti's minimum wage from reaching $0.61 an hour is correct, but lacks context. ORIGIN:Haiti's relationship with the United States and Europe can most charitably be described as complicated. Haiti's earliest days were characterized by oppression and opposition: the country (once the French colony of St. Domingue) was born from a successful slave insurgency and declared its independence in 1804. This beginning characterized an often-antagonistic relationship between countries that profited handsomely from African slavery (such as the United States) and Haiti. Foremost among fears about Haiti was that slaves would learn successful uprisings were possible.
After Haiti formally declared its independence, the United States suspended all diplomatic and trade relationships with the country. While the U.S. eventually re-opened trading routes, America didn't recognize Haiti diplomatically for nearly sixty years after that. Other countries followed the United States' example (and France demanded millions of francs in reparations for its rebellion in exchange for recognizing Haiti as a sovereign nation) plunging Haiti into debt and an economic depression that lasted for years, from which the country never fully recovered.
Multiple invasions and economic and political tinkering followed, leaving Haiti in a turmoil of political instability and corruption, economic crisis, and a ravaged infrastructure, historically one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, despite its fertile land and ability to grow cash crops such as sugar.
Today, child labor and trafficking are endemic in Haiti, particularly in the country's manufacturing sector, which is outsourced to foreign companies (many of them contractors for American companies, such as Hanes, Dockers, and Fruit of the Loom). Even when they are not trafficked, laborers in Haiti's garment industry earn a pittance by the standards of other countries: the minimum wage was $0.24 (USD) an hour for many years.
In June 2009, the Haitian Parliament unanimously passed a law requiring that the minimum wage be raised to $0.61 an hour, or $5 a day. (The average cost of living is estimated to be the equivalent of about $23 a day.) This pay raise was staunchly opposed by foreign manufacturers who had set up shop in the country, and the United States Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development backed those manufacturers. After Haiti's government mandated the raise, the United States aggressively (and successfully) pushed Haiti's president to lower the minimum wage for garment workers to what factory owners were willing to pay: the equivalent of about $0.31 an hour (or $3 per eight-hour day).
In 2011, WikiLeaks released a set of previously-secret diplomatic cables. The American publication The Nation partnered with Haitian news organization Haïti Liberté to cover them, finding (among other things) how strongly the United States had opposed the minimum wage hike:
To resolve the impasse between the factory owners and Parliament, the State Department urged quick intervention by then Haitian President René Préval.
“A more visible and active engagement by Préval may be critical to resolving the issue of the minimum wage and its protest ‘spin-off’—or risk the political environment spiraling out of control,” argued US Ambassador Janet Sanderson in a June 10, 2009, cable back to Washington.
Two months later Préval negotiated a deal with Parliament to create a two-tiered minimum wage increase—one for the textile industry at about $3 per day and one for all other industrial and commercial sectors at about $5 per day.
Still the US Embassy wasn't pleased. A deputy chief of mission, David E. Lindwall, said the $5 per day minimum “did not take economic reality into account” but was a populist measure aimed at appealing to “the unemployed and underpaid masses.”
The Obama administration (and the Bush administration before it) had been closely monitoring the situation in the garment manufacturing sector for a long time. In 2006, Congress passed the HOPE bill (which stood for the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement) and provided duty-free entry to garments manufactured in Haiti for U.S. companies. That body also passed an updated version of the bill (HOPE II) in 2008, which mandated a framework for labor reform in factories. According to cables released by WikiLeaks, it was exactly these efforts that the United States claimed would be jeopardized by a higher minimum wage.
So it's true that the State Department (then led by Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State) strongly opposed a minimum wage increase in Haiti in 2009. However, the State Department's efforts did not occur in a political or economic vacuum, and Clinton wasn't the sole architect of efforts to quash a minimum wage hike (as the meme suggests). It was a concerted effort on the part of Haitian elites, factory owners, free trade proponents, U.S. politicians, economists, and American companies that kept the minimum wage so low, and to lay the blame squarely at the feet of any sitting Secretary of State would be an incomplete assessment, and thus inaccurate.
A law establishing a new minimum wage of $5.11 per workday ($0.64 an hour) was finally approved in 2014, which still fell far short of both the demanded raise by workers (to the equivalent of $11.36 per workday, or $1.42 per hour) and the recommended daily wage of $22.86.
SOURCES:
Alexander, Leslie. "A Pact with the Devil? The United States and the Fate of Modern Haiti." Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, Vol. 4, Issue 5. February 2011.
Coughlin, Dan and Ives, Kim. "Let Them Live on $3 a Day." The Nation. 1 June 2011.
Dubois, Laurent. "Haiti: The Aftershocks of History." Metropolitan Books: Henry Holt and Company, LLC. 2012.
"Milestones: 1784-1800: The United States and the Haitian Revolution." U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian.
TAGS:Minimum WageHaitiState Department
Brooke BinkowskiBrooke Binkowski
Brooke Binkowski is an award-winning journalist and researcher. She has written and produced for CNN, CBS, NPR, the Globe and Mail, AJ+, the Christian Science Monitor, and various other outlets. Brooke speaks two languages well and five languages very badly. She loves to travel, run, play music, and read, and is an avid saber fencer and an accordion enthusiast.
http://www.snopes.com/hillary-clinton-suppressed-haitis-minimum-wage/#

lundi 4 avril 2016

Truth and justice for Haiti

VICTIMS OF HAITI’S raging cholera epidemic got a glimmer of good news recently when a class-action lawsuit seeking recompense from the United Nations for its role in spreading the disease finally got a hearing in a New York courtroom. The three judges on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit panel asked tough questions of both sides — the US government is representing the United Nations — and fortunately seemed determined to focus less on diplomatic protocol and more on the hard reality outside the courtroom walls.
And it’s a hard reality, indeed. New evidence collected by Doctors Without Borders suggests that deaths from the epidemic that devastated Haiti after the 2010 earthquake could be much higher than the 9,200 toll recorded so far. The study, in the March edition of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, found that the surveillance systems in place at the onset of the epidemic weren’t adequate to provide “accurate and timely information.” In four communities, the study found, house-to-house surveys recorded nearly three times more cholera deaths in the first months after the outbreak began. That’s troubling news for a fragile country.
The lawsuit was brought by advocates because most scientists believe that a UN peacekeeping force brought the disease with them when they arrived to help the country rebuild after the quake. The often-fatal scourge is still burning through the population; some 770,000 Haitians have been sickened since late 2010.
The United Nations, citing immunity to claims of damage, has stonewalled and never acknowledged responsibility. There are reassuring signs that the international community is shaking off its torpor on the issue; at a meeting of the Security Council last month, New Zealand called on the United Nations to support those afflicted and to ensure that Haiti’s new government is not left alone with the consequences. Malaysia urged the UN secretariat to work with victims on possible compensation. According to Richard Knox of NPR, the United Nations has spent about $140 million on cholera control in Haiti — not nearly enough to make a dent in the epidemic. Even the United Nations’ own specially appointed experts reported to the body’s Human Rights Council that efforts to wipe out the disease have not taken hold, and recommended a commission on truth, justice, and redress for cholera victims.
This stirring of support is heartening, but US lawmakers and government agencies like the State Department should push for formation of such a commission now. They have a moral duty to lead the way, not follow — outside the courtroom walls.
https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2016/04/04/truth-and-justice-for-haiti/3IrQSPHVsnuzgc5OBIVaOM/story.html

samedi 20 février 2016

JOCELERME PRIVERT ET JEAN BERTRAND ARISTIDE 1/3

Haïti se rappellera pendant longtemps ce 14 février 2016.
Cette date ne sera plus uniquement cette journée dédiée à l’amour et aux amoureux. Elle restera dans les anales la date des élections indirectes pour combler une vacance présidentielle de fin de mandat. Une situation inédite donc sans provision dans les pages de la Constitution.
Le récit serait trop long pour expliquer comment on a pu aboutir à une pareille situation.
Ceux qui suivent avec assiduité l’actualité haïtienne se passeront de cette introduction. Pour ceux qui se trouvent entrain de lire ce texte sans avoir été intéressé par Haïti, je ferai un résumé le plus succinct possible. Ce qui est déjà assez compliqué dans le cas d’Haïti car chaque fois qu’il est nécessaire de remonter à la genèse d’un problème il semble qu’il faut aller à la genèse de cette nation en faillite.
En fait le président dont le mandat a pris fin le 7 Février dernier avec une exigence de passer la main à un autre président élu démocratiquement à l’issue des élections présidentielles libres, crédibles
, inclusives et transparentes dont il avait la responsabilité.
Mais avant les joutes présidentielles, d’autres échéances électorales prévues pendant le quinquennat ont été carrément oubliées. Michel Martelly n’en n’a organisé aucune. Avec un parlement caduc il a pris son pied à gouverner par décret.
Il comptait sur les élections présidentielles et législatives de cette année, avec la bénédiction/indifférence de la communauté internationale pour choisir son successeur à qui il passerait la bande présidentielle.
Ce qu’il n’avait pas prévu arriva.
Malgré une insistance téméraire et menaçante de la communauté internationale, l’opposition rendit impossible la poursuite et la conclusion du processus électoral.
Les forces démocratiques venaient de gifler de plein fouet l’ensemble de la communauté internationale pour qui stabilité rime avec passation de pouvoir entre un président élu à un autre. Peu importe dans quelles conditions. Les standards sont tellement rabaissés en Haïti que ce qui est inacceptable ailleurs est célébré en Haïti avec Caviar et Champagne !
Toujours est-il que le 7 Février arriva sans président élu. Et il fallait bien trouver une solution car la gestion d’un pays est constante et permanente.
Le quinquennat de Martelly s’est écoulé sans que son administration n’ait pensé à aucune institution.
On sait bien qu’en théorie le pouvoir exécutif s’exerce par une structure triangulaire composée du pouvoir exécutif personnifié dans le binôme présidé de la République /Premier Ministre, le pouvoir législatif et le pouvoir judiciaire.
Au sept février 2016, aucun de ces trois pouvoirs jouissait d’un fonctionnement normal capable de lui accréditer une légitimité pour prendre le contrôle de la nation.
En fait Monsieur Evans Paul premier ministre est considéré comme un premier ministre de facto car il a été nommé comme premier ministre d’un faux consensus ou de connivence pour une énième sortie de crise.
Le pouvoir législatif venait à peine de se reconstituer dans une ultime démarche du gouvernement pour valider les résultats des élections contestées alimentant la grogne d’une grande partie de la population.
Le pouvoir judiciaire est lui aussi bancal et peu fonctionnel car Martelly n’avait pas procédé à des nominations surtout au niveau de la Cour de cassation.
Quand il a fallu trouver une solution de sortie de crise, le parlement récemment intronisé devint l’institution regroupant plusieurs identités et sensibilités politiques, se vit attribuer une étiquette de représentativité.
Le Parlement ne demandait pas mieux car certains élus sont contestés et pensent se mettre à l’abri ou en position pour négocier, avec cette prise de pouvoir.
A partir de ce moment, comme l’avait fait les Forces Armées d’Haïti au départ de Jean-Claude Duvalier, cette prise de pouvoir s’est assimilée à un coup d’état dans la mesure où on peut considérer qu’il s’est accaparé du pouvoir de façon absolue et exclusive, sans tenir compte des forces politiques ni de la population qui ont fait échec au plan de Martelly et poussé à l’annulation du processus électoral.
Dans des circonstances particulières Monsieur Jocelerme Privert président du sénat haïtien se porta candidat au poste de Président Provisoire et se fit élire le 14 Février 2016. Cet ancien fonctionnaire de l’administration lavalas de Jean Bertrand Aristide qui, à la chute de ce dernier fit de la prison, scelle avec cette élection non seulement une victoire personnelle et individuelle mais aussi marque le retour de Lavalas au palais national onze ans plus tard.
Comme preuve infaillible circule une jolie photo de famille avec l’ex première dame de la République Madame Mildred Trouillot Aristide et Madame Maryse Narcisse candidate du parti aux élections inachevées.
Ce retour de Lavalas claironne à raison par divers secteurs et acteurs de la vie politique haïtienne a permis des scénarios des plus improbables dont une action de l’actuel Président qui viserait un retour de Jean Bertrand Aristide au pouvoir avec :
- Le renvoi du parlement
- Création d’un CEP lavalaso-compatible
- Des élections parlementaires qu’emporterait avec une majorité absolue la mouvance Lavalas
- Modification de la Constitution
- Nouvelles élections avec Aristide comme candidat

Prise de but en blanc, on serait tenté de qualifier cette réflexion d’utopie caractérisée. Cependant j’ai l’habitude de dire qu’en Haïti et l’imaginable comme l’inimaginable peuvent devenir réels. Tout dépend en effet de celui qui imagine ou cesserait d’imaginer !
Il est vrai que l’aboutissement d’un tel projet relève d’une prouesse d’une envergure telle qu’elle ferait intervenir des actions et des comportements aujourd’hui difficilement acceptables.
Cependant ma réflexion sur ce scénario se porte sur les deux protagonistes : JOCELERME PRIVERT ET JEAN BERTRAND ARISTIDE… (A SUIVRE)

Finding Haiti on Vinyl: A crate-digging journey in search of a lost musical legacy.

By Vik Sohonie
In Jacmel, a sleepy beach town on Haiti’s southern coast, I hit pay dirt: In the archives of a local radio station, stuffed inside a gray metal locker, were hundreds of rare vinyl records, relics of a golden age of Haitian music. I sorted and sifted for hours, previewed each record on my portable turntable, and then entered into lengthy and sometimes frustrating negotiations over cost. Among the stacks was a holy grail of Haitian music: the debut LP of les Loups Noirs—the Black Wolves—titled Jouent Pour Vous, recorded in 1970 when the group members were still in their early 20s. Les Loups Noirs became a key part of a rich musical tradition that few people off the island or outside the Haitian diaspora know exists.

I’d come to Haiti in search of rare and obscure Haitian vinyl records just like these, mainly from the 1960s to the ’80s, in a bid to preserve, remaster, and compile them and issue an anthology of the cosmopolitan Haitian sound at its experimental, revivalist best. During what crate-diggers and curators refer to as the “modern” or “golden era” of Haitian music, musicians experimented with traditional rhythms while balancing a host of outside influences.
There was the jazz-era instrumentation, imported during the early-20th-century American occupation, which introduced horn sections to Haitian ensembles. From Cuba came meringue, mambo, son, guajira, and charanga. Accordion-driven Colombian cumbia and Dominican merengue left their marks as well.
Added to the melting pot of sound were rhythms, drum patterns, and percussion brought across the Atlantic from Africa. Haiti, like Cuba and Brazil, received a far greater number of enslaved Africans than the United States. Nago rhythms from what is today Nigeria and Benin, Kongo rhythms from Central Africa, and Petwo rhythms from the vodou traditions of Guinea, among many other influences, were revived in an age of black consciousness, driven by the Negritude and Noiriste philosophies of Afro-Caribbean intellectuals like Jamaica’s Marcus Garvey and Martinique’s Frantz Fanon and Aimé Césaire.
The lasting result is a rich, layered terrine that spawned Haiti’s Cuban-inspired meringue; the dominant kompa direct of Nemours Jean-Baptiste; the silky tenor sax-led cadence rampa pioneered by Webert Sicot; psychedelic mini jazz; and the dance-floor-filling vodou jazz compositions of the de facto national orchestra, Super Jazz des Jeunes. At its peak, Haitian music was widely distributed, proliferating its unique blend of sound across the Francophone Caribbean and West Africa.

Recordings capturing this vibrant laboratory of colliding influences were produced and pressed in Haiti, the U.S., France, and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Huge catalogs from the heavyweight record labels of the time—IBO Records, Marc Records, and Mini Records—and the smaller, private presses have been largely forgotten in recent decades. Many people have tossed their collections or left them to warp in damp basements. A unique piece of Haitian history and culture was at risk of being lost. Most of the world had never heard these sounds, and I wanted to change that.


LP cover of Ensemble Meridional des Cayes, 1972.
Vik Sohonie
 
The roads of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, are unruly and unpaved, covered in dust and soot. Communal taxis, known as tap-taps, aggressively compete with oil and water tankers, nongovernmental organization and aid agency vans, and armored vehicles carrying U.N. peacekeepers along the main roads. Police roadblocks bottleneck traffic in vital arteries of the city’s center.

But the streets are also home to a unique vibrancy. Roaming “rara” bands play folkloric rhythms with hypnotic horns and haunting percussion. Prim and proper uniformed youths flood the winding hillside roads around the capital to socialize over after-school snacks. The air is filled with smells of goat bouillon, pig feet ragout, and scotch bonnet peppers.

Radio stations were the first port of call in my search for buried recordings. The radio enjoys a special place in the Haitian imagination. It remains the most widely used conduit of information and entertainment for Haitians at home and in the diaspora. More than television, more than the Internet. “The importance of radio among Haitian-Americans has its roots in Haiti, where the illiteracy rate is about 80 percent and most people cannot afford a television,” wrote the New York Times in 1993. “In Haiti, a peasant may not wear shoes, but he has a transistor radio,” Raymond Cajuste, a radio show host, told the newspaper.

Radio’s prominence in Haitian life dates back to 1935, when Ricardo Widmaïer, a German immigrant, set up Radio HH3W, later named Radio d’Haiti, where some of the very first recordings took place. Ricardo’s son, Herby Widmaïer, established Radio Métropole in 1970. It played a key role in developing and advancing modern Haitian music. Word spread throughout certain circles in the city that I was in town looking for records. I continued to be greeted with disbelief and laughter.
Tucked away in a quieter corner of Port-au-Prince, Radio Métropole’s property is one of the best kept in the city. A garden, adorned with a range of flora, surrounds a stone lined walkway leading to the one-story building. I was given a tour by Herby Widmaïer’s son, Joel, who introduced me to a Haitian music insider: George Michelle, an aging man with a large figure and a commanding voice. Michelle was a close Widmaïer family confidant in the station’s early days.

In the backroom of their largest studio, now fitted with state-of-the-art radio technology, Michelle recalled the story of Radio Métropole and its impact on Haitian music culture. During the 1950s and early ’60s, about a dozen AM radio stations were scattered around Port-au-Prince. With the import of new technology from Japan and Europe, Radio Métropole created the first FM radio station in the country. The sound quality increased, allowing for a host of radio programs, talk shows, and phone-in shows. Better technology led to greater influence, and Radio Métropole drove the popularity of Haitian music. Bands were frequently in the studio to play live. Les Difficiles de Pétion-Ville, a seminal electric band from the upscale Port-au-Prince suburb, for example, earned the station’s highest ratings.
Métropole set the standard and inspired the growth of a broadcasting industry across the country. Radio stations like Radio Haiti Diffusion and Radio Caraibe, still standing today, began to spread the gospel of Latin music, especially Cuban music, which, in the same manner as West and Central Africa, had a huge impact on the development of Haiti’s musical identity.



Alongside Cuban sounds, Mexican Ranchera, French music, and popular American jazz and soul made its way to Haiti’s airwaves. Michelle said that at one point Haiti was “overwhelmed” by Latin music. It won by default. But by the ’60s, as more radio stations entered the market, Haitian music began to dominate.
At the time, radio stations still relied on magnetic tapes. Vinyl, Michelle said, was far too expensive and not readily available in Haiti.
 There were only three stores in Port-au-Prince at the time that sold actual LPs. Most of the records were pressed for the U.S. market and for Haitians in the diaspora, who could better afford them. Radio, as a result, played a huge role in the dissemination of popular Haitian music. This would explain the lack of vinyl culture in Haiti as oppose to other islands in the Caribbean, like Cuba and Jamaica, or Colombia’s Caribbean coast.



Super Jazz des Jeunes performing at one of the
Haitian community’s legendary dance parties
in New York, 1970s. Vik Sohonie
 
François “Papa Doc” Duvalier, Haiti’s brutal president from 1957 to 1971, used his secret police, the Tonton Macoute, against broadcasters deemed a political threat. Several radio stations closed, some by force, some voluntarily, and many radio owners and broadcast engineers left the country, Michelle told me. At Radio Jacmel, where I found the stash of rare vinyl, journalists were shot dead. Intellectuals who aired their views were also killed.

Journalists and other personalities at Radio Métropole were killed, jailed, or exiled. Music, however, was not forbidden under Duvalier. Some radio stations, according to Michelle, were forced to play political music supportive of his rule, but, indeed, some of the most exceptional interpretations of Latin and Cuban music, as well as the deepest, darkest big-band vodou jazz cuts, were recorded under Duvalier’s reign. Duvalier chose bands and organized carnivals to promote his rule and enshrine his cult of personality. Haiti’s political elite, closely allied to Duvalier, became the biggest private audience for Nemours Jean-Baptiste and Webert Sicot’s early bands. The rivalry and persistent competition between Jean-Baptiste’s kompa direct style and Sicot’s cadence rampa vitalized the Haitian music scene, inspiring a generation of young musicians to follow their example.

It was here, at Radio Métropole, and at several other radio outlets, where I placed ads for every single piece of vinyl in the city and dug through the radio’s archives. Most people I met were bewildered by my quest. Not far from the presidential palace, I made my way to an old music shop selling only CDs. In response to my queries, a voice shouted from a group of men huddled outside: “Plaques? Plaques??”—as records are known in Haiti— “W ap chèche les plaques? No plaques!”

Roughly translated: “You’re mad.” Eventually the response to my incessant and persistent requests changed from laughter to annoyance. The devastating 2010 earthquake had destroyed many of the archives, and the pain of that loss was reflected in the reaction of radio operators, who rightly cherished these artifacts.

Many radio stations were also ruined during the earthquake. But the owners who lost nearly everything set up shop in makeshift studios on building rooftops, using the most basic of microphones, sound mixing boards, and transistors. One radio operator invited me to be a guest on a show dedicated to Haitian music of the ’60s and ’70s.

“You’re searching for the 33s (33 RPM), yes?” asked the radio operator in French. He was a rotund man with a round face, specks on his cheeks, and quiet grace in his deep voice. “Yes, and 7-inch plaques,” I replied.

Debut LP of Les Loups Noirs, 1970.- Vik Sohonie


“You won’t find much in Haiti, there’s more in the U.S. and France and the other Caribbean islands. The earthquake crushed my radio’s archives and my personal collection,” he said.

Word spread throughout certain circles in the city that I was in town looking for records. I continued to be greeted with disbelief and laughter at my mission. Radio station after radio station shooed me away. My phone remained silent despite a number of ads placed.

After two weeks, a call or two came in. In downtown Port-au-Prince, I scoured old warehouses and garages, finding gems like Tabou Combo’s first LP with the track “Gislene,” a storming accordion-driven ’60s Haitian dance-floor workout.

But I still wasn’t finding the kind of variety I’d come here for. But then one day I got a phone call from a man who said he had collection of 3,000 records. It was exactly what I needed—a goldmine, albeit one covered in dust and insects.

I spent six hours with the man and his family sifting through and listening to the records. Here, in my dusty hands, was a rare piece of Haitian history, largely forgotten but still very much alive.
Vik Sohonie’s upcoming compilation, Tanbou Toujou Lou: Meringue, Kompa Kreyol, Vodou Jazz, and Electric Folklore from Haiti 1960–1981, will be released this spring onOstinato Records. This piece is adapted from the liner notes.

Based in New York and Bangkok, Vik Sohonie is a record collector, DJ, writer, and founder of Ostinato Records, a label dedicated to Afro-Atlantic sounds.
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/roads/2016/02/searching_for_haiti_s_lost_musical_legacy_in_radio_and_records.2.html

jeudi 18 février 2016

Haiti's Roadmap Towards Completion of the Electoral Cycle

Special Briefing
Kenneth H. Merten
Special Coordinator for Haiti
via Teleconference
February 17, 2016
MS PFAFF: Good morning, everyone, and thanks for joining us. We have with us here today Haiti Special Coordinator and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Kenneth Merten. He’s here to discuss the evolving state of play in Haiti’s roadmap towards completion of the electoral cycle. Today’s call will be on the record. We’ll start with some brief remarks at the top, and then we’ll open it up for your questions.
So with that, I’ll turn it over to the special coordinator.

MR MERTEN: Hi, everybody. Thanks for taking the time to join us today. I appreciate it – appreciate your interest in Haiti. I think from – some of you who I know who are on the call I know follow Haiti very, very closely; others perhaps not on such a regular basis. But I hope what we’ll be discussing today will be germane for all of you.
I think we – the United States has been interested in Haiti for – and in democracy in Haiti for a long time. And I think we recently welcomed this February 5th agreement that President Martelly and the presidents of the two chambers of parliament came to. I think we recognize that challenges remain, as Haiti moves towards the completion of its electoral cycle with voting due to take place on April 24th. But the success of the February 5th agreement between these parties depends on the interim leadership’s commitment to implement the terms of the agreement on the timeline that’s outlined in it. Our goal here is to, again, to ensure that the Haitian people have a chance to have their voice heard about who determines their leadership. Their voice has already been heard in terms of populating both the upper and lower house, largely, of parliament, and the presidential election process now needs to run its course.
As one of Haiti’s many international partners, the role of the U.S. is to support and strengthen democracy in Haiti. And we’ve been active in doing that in many different ways for over 30 years. For Haiti’s many challenges, fully functioning and legitimate democratic institutions will also facilitate and make more sustainable the work of the United States and our other international partners, with the goal of improving the quality of life and improving economic opportunity for Haitians. We support the expeditious conclusion of this electoral process with an outcome, as I said, that reflects the will and the desire of the Haitian people.
The upcoming elections and the incorporation of the recommended steps by the Independent Electoral Evaluation Commission to improve the transparency and fairness of this third round of presidential – of the elections will enhance citizens’ overall confidence, we believe. And the swift convocation by the provisional president of concerned sectors within society to designate new members of the provisional electoral council we think is very important because it will give this new CEP a chance to learn their jobs, learn – time to learn to avoid mistakes that have been made in previous CEPs.
So again, once again, we support, the United States supports credible, transparent, and secure elections that reflect the will of the Haitian people, and we believe that only a democratically elected government provides the legal legitimacy to govern Haiti and provides the Haitian people with the transparency we certainly believe that they deserve.
So that’s pretty much it for my opening statement. I’m happy to take some questions.

OPERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, if you’d like to ask a question, please press * then 1. You will hear a tone indicating you have been placed in queue. You may remove yourself from queue at any time by pressing the # key. If you’re using a speaker phone, please pick up the handset before pressing the numbers. Once again, if you have a question, please press *1 at this time. And one moment please for the first question.
Your first question comes from the line of Amelie Baron. Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Yes, hi. This is Amelie Baron from Port-au-Prince. Mr. Merten, you talk about the agenda in the agreement. Are you confident that the election will happen on April 4 – 24th, as you said?
MR MERTEN: I think so. I mean, people chose those dates knowing what they represent. This is, as I mentioned, a Haitian agreement that was reached among Haitian parties. They knew what they were doing when they chose those dates. I think obviously there are chances, as in any country, for dates, deadlines not to be met, but our sincere hope and our efforts are going to be to encouraging people to meet their – the deadlines as they’ve been set, and to do what we can to help – if requested, to help facilitate that process.

OPERATOR: Your next question comes from the line of Carrie Kahn. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: This – thank you so much for doing this. But I just have a question: The statement that you just gave was really nothing changed than what you’ve been saying all along. Are you – why now are you speaking out? Are you concerned about the process as it’s going forward? And also, what gives you more confidence that they can pull off elections February – on the 20 – I’m sorry, April 24th, when they haven’t been able up to date?
MR MERTEN: Well, let’s look back here. I mean, we did have elections in August and we had elections in October, the first two rounds of the three-round series. So elections – we’ve had elections to seat a parliament, which has happened, which we were very – we think is a big step and one we’re very grateful to see. I think we know what is – what happened in the preceding months. Our position hasn’t changed. What we have always believed and continue to believe is that the Haitian president should be chosen, as reflected in the Haitian constitution, by the Haitian people. And the only way to do that is through elections, which is why we have supported elections these many years in Haiti and continue to do so and will continue to do so. So there’s nothing new. I think we – one of the reasons we’re doing this is just to get our point of view out there, to people who have questions; we want to be open and answer questions that you and your colleagues have about where the United States stands in its support for Haiti in this endeavor.

OPERATOR: Your next question comes from the line of Frances Robles. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Hi, good morning. I guess I’m wondering if you could speak a little bit about how much money the United States spent on this electoral process in Haiti, yet it was such a problematic – nonetheless. So when you look back at the 30 million that was spent, have you evaluated to think, okay, maybe we should have spent – redirected this in this direction versus that direction?
MR MERTEN: Well, I think we always do a sort of after-action review of these. And I think we are – obviously, have looked back on what is going on. I think – look, as I mentioned earlier, it is important to note that Haiti has a functioning parliament now for the first time in over a year. Our support of these elections has been in large part to ensure that that happened and that Haitian people have their – have themselves represented in both houses of parliament. So in that respect, I think it is something that we – we’ve certainly been very happy to see as a result of our investment in the elections process. I think you need to – I think we need to note that the elections in October were peaceful. I think in retrospect when we look at the work of the evaluation commission and others, I think people have pointed to things that could have been improved. Our efforts certainly since October have been to work with the then-CEP in place, to work with them, encouraging them to address the shortcomings that were noted by the evaluation commission and by others.
So I think – again, I think it is – I think we recognize that not everything worked perfectly, but I think we and all the other partners, and including the folks in Haiti who ran the election, realized that steps needed to be taken, and they were in the process of taking them to fix those challenges that existed in October. I think our efforts moving forward are going to be to work with the new CEP to give them the benefit of whatever information that our partners such as IFES and other folks on the ground can have. And hopefully they can benefit from that expertise.

OPERATOR: Your next question comes from the line of Calvin Hughes. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Mr. Merten, thank you very much for doing this. And from the last question, I just sort of wanted to follow up on the figures, the numbers for the new election. How much is the U.S. Government going to invest in making sure that the elections go off on April 24th, or whenever they decide to do it? And my second question is this new provisional government and the new president, Mr. Privert, he has the option, I believe, of not using the two candidates who are in the race – Celestin and Moise. He could actually open up the runoff, the presidential runoff, on April 24th to more candidates. Is that true? I heard that when I was over there a couple of weekends ago to interview Martelly. Is it true that he can open up the race to other candidates?
MR MERTEN: Two questions there, so make sure you hold me to answering both of them. So the first one on the expenditures, we’ve so far spent, as I understand it, $33 million in support of these – of the election process so far. I don’t think we have an analysis or a cost estimate from either the – our Haitian partners on the ground or from other folks yet as what, if any, additional funds are going to be necessary. My guess is that there will be additional money necessary, certainly from the Haitians to put into these elections and probably from international partners. I don’t think we have a good figure for that yet, so I’m not going to put out a figure until we know something concrete, until we have a good ballpark figure.
In terms of opening up the elections, I mean, that is – I don’t have the agreement in front of me, but that is not my understanding. I think, as I recall, the agreement talks about a completion of the process. And the process so far, I mean, has resulted in two candidates, Jude Celestin and Jovenel Moise, proceeding to the next round. From what I have understood from observers on the ground that – they understand that that is what the results showed, and my guess is that’s what’s going to happen moving forward.
But I think that is – we will – we’ll see what happens. But I don’t think there is any – any expectation that the election will be opened up to more candidates. I don’t think that is legal according to the electoral decree nor according to the Haitian constitution. It’s my – as I recall, it says the top two vote getters will move on to the final round if nobody gets over 50 percent. So there is no provision, as I understand it, for opening it up to more candidates.

OPERATOR: Your next question comes from the line of Amelie Baron. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Yes. In his (inaudible) speech, Preval spoke on the international – talking on the interference – U.S. and the OAS was at that time much more involved in the election, especially for Martelly, and there’s a lot of suspicion that the international community is also interfering too much in the political affair. What is your answer to Preval’s speech was letting know that the internationals should stay (inaudible)?
MR MERTEN: Well again, I think we’ve been very clear all along in emphasizing that this is a Haitian run process. These are Haitian elections. We, the international community, have been invited in to participate with technical expertise and with the money that we bring to enable these elections to take place. So I don’t necessarily agree that there’s been any interference in the process. I think I would certainly like to underscore the fact that our involvement effectively enables these elections to take place, and I think we’ve been very careful in every Haitian election to not interfere.
But to – again, our goal has been and remains to be to allow the Haitian people to have their voice heard in choosing their leadership, not to have their leadership chosen by other people who may or may not be acting on their behalf, but to have the Haitian people have the ultimate choice in who’s going to represent them in parliament and who’s going to be their leader as president.

OPERATOR: As a reminder, if you’d like to ask a question, please press * then 1. Next we’ll go to the line of David McFadden. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Yeah, thanks for having this call. Just curious if you think that there’s a strategy now by some political factions to make the transitional government last for two years.
MR MERTEN: Well, I mean, I think there are – there have been those people who have been pretty open about their belief that the need for a transitional government – in their belief that a transitional government needs to be out there and needs to be active for, say, a two-year period. That has – that is not our view. Our – again, our view is that elected officials are the ones who need to be representing the Haitian people whether that’s in parliament or whether that’s in the executive branch.
I think a lot of these recipes for transition governments don’t really necessarily follow the strictures of the Haitian constitution, and I think as a partner of Haiti our belief is that in our work that we try to do to be good partners and good neighbors with Haiti as a hemispheric neighbor, we work in a whole broad range of areas, whether it’s health, whether it’s increasing economic opportunity, whether it’s helping develop Haiti’s infrastructure. And having legitimate authorities in place in line with the Haitian constitution makes it much easier, makes it unquestionably easier for us to do that kind of work.
So that’s one of the reasons we are – we really believe that completing the electoral process, having people in power who enjoy that power because they got there legally through the Haitian constitution and through elections is really the best way forward. And I think if you look back at transitional governments in Haiti in the past, I think we have seen these periods as times when work at addressing the chronic challenges that Haiti faces doesn’t really progress very well. People spend a lot of this time focused on the politics and not really on advancing the developmental goals that we want to help Haiti achieve.
So I think – I hope that’s answered your question.

OPERATOR: Your next question comes from the line of Jacques (inaudible). Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Yes, good morning, Ambassador Merten. I am going to ask my question in English, so I will appreciate if you answer in English and Creole as well. Many sectors in Haiti think 120 days is not enough for the president to organize the elections. What is the Washington position?
MR MERTEN: As I said earlier, I think the people who organize – who came to this agreement knew what they were doing when they signed up to it. There is precedent for these dates in the past. I think if everybody is focused on meeting their deadlines, focused on doing their work and moving the process forward, I believe that these deadlines can be met.
So just to say – repeat it quickly in Creole. (In Creole.)

OPERATOR: And at this time there are no further questions.
MR MERTEN: Sure. Anyway, I just wanted to say to everybody thank you again for your interest in Haiti and discussing this. Like I said, Haiti remains of great interest to the United States, and I think getting the election process completed with an outcome that the Haitian people will feel comfortable and confident in is our goal. And we are, again, very eager to continue to work with – work with the Haitians and the Haitian Government to continue to address the challenges, the developmental challenges that Haiti has. And again, thanks again for your interest.
[This is a mobile copy of Haiti's Roadmap Towards Completion of the Electoral Cycle]
Short URL: http://m.state.gov/md252581.htm

US Expresses Confidence in Haiti's Presidential Runoff Process

February 17, 2016 5:30 PM
The United States is confident that Haiti will move forward with a presidential runoff vote on April 24, a senior U.S. official said in Washington on Wednesday, days after Haitian lawmakers chose a Senate chief as the island nation’s interim president.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the State and Haiti Special Coordinator Kenneth Merten told reporters the U.S. stands ready to facilitate the electoral process if requested, adding the U.S. has spent $33 million in support of Haiti’s election process.
“As one of Haiti’s many international partners, the role of the U.S. is to support and strengthen democracy in Haiti,” Merten said.
Merten's remarks came after Haitian lawmakers selected Jocelerme Privert as the interim president over the past weekend.
Under an agreement reached by Haitian leaders to install a provisional government, Privert will serve up to 120 days. The winner of the presidential runoff vote on April 24 will take office three weeks later for a five-year term.
Haiti was left without a president when embattled former president Michel Martelly resigned on February 7 under the requirement of the constitution.
The vote to choose Martelly’s successor was postponed over fears of violence.
“The United States supports credible, transparent, and secure elections that reflect the will of the Haitian people, and we believe that only a democratically elected government provides the legal legitimacy to govern Haiti and provides the Haitian people with the transparency we certainly believe that they deserve,” Merten said.
Haiti's political crisis can be traced to last October, when Martelly's favored candidate won the first round of election. Fifty-four candidates were seeking to succeed Martelly. Opposition presidential candidates criticized the polling, saying there were signs of fraud and the ballots were being manipulated illegally.
A second round of voting has since been postponed following mass protests and the opposition's reported refusal to participate in the process.
Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere. For decades it has been unable to build a stable democracy. Analysts say political turmoil has discouraged much-needed foreign investment for the country’s recovery from a catastrophic earthquake in 2010.
http://www.voanews.com/content/us-haiti-runoff-election/3195424.html

Cape Ann Forum speaker to assess aid to Haiti

Posted Feb. 17, 2016 at 8:55 PM
GLOUCESTER
Essex philanthropist and human rights activist Karen Ansara will share her experiences, both good and bad, with relief and development in Haiti since a devastating earthquake hit the island nation six years ago at the first Cape Ann Forum of 2016 on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. at Gloucester City Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

The January 2010 earthquake wreaked havoc across the country, the Caribbean’s poorest, and left 220,000 dead, 300,000 injured, and two million homeless. Schools and hospitals were destroyed, the main air and sea ports were badly damaged, and debris blocked access to the worst hit areas.

The human needs and challenges were enormous. Donations poured in along with thousands of volunteers in a chaotic and often disorganized relief effort. Many lives were saved, but money was wasted and opportunities were missed. Six years later, much remains to be done.

Karen Keating Ansara, who with her husband Jim Ansara launched a Haiti Fund within hours of the disaster and remained engaged throughout the years since then, now asks what lessons can would-be donors and volunteers take from Haiti and apply to other disasters when they happen.

She boils her takeaways down to three:
• Focus on partners, not plans.
• Focus on empowerment, not impact.
• And focus on depth, not breadth.

“I care far less about measurable impact and much more about signs of empowerment,” says Ansara. “Have our grants helped Haitians find their own voices? Have we enabled and ennobled grassroots leaders to articulate their own visions and celebrate their own collective assets? Have we held these leaders and their organizations to the highest standards of ethics, professionalism, and practice—and given them the tools, training and trust needed to achieve their greatest aspirations for themselves and their communities?”

“I have learned to peel off the layers of the onion in a local context instead of trying to go quickly to scale—because poverty is undeniably multi-layered,” she adds. “It’s not just about lack of income, lack of infrastructure, lack of education, lack of health care, or lack of any particular resource.
“Poverty may also be perpetuated by entrenched social norms, by structural and internalized oppression, by lack of a political voice or right to hold one’s government accountable.
 I have seen that all of these layers must be addressed for an individual or a community to move forward.”
In 2008, Ansara co-founded New England International Donors, a network of 115 donors, grantmakers, social investors, and advisors affiliated with the Boston Foundation, to promote more innovative and effective global philanthropy. She and her husband Jim cofounded the Haiti Fund at the Boston Foundation in 2010, a five-year project to make grants in Haiti and in Boston’s Haitian community, and support anti-poverty efforts in Nepal, another impoverished country recovering from a powerful earthquake.

She is an advisor to the emerging Haiti Development Institute and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and a member of the board of MCE Social Capital in California, the Leadership Council of Oxfam America, the Steering Committee of the Opportunity Collaboration, and the board of Wheelock College in Boston. She recently served on the boards of Partners in Health, Essex County Community Foundation, and Harborlight Community Partners, an affordable housing organization. Ansara holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Wellesley College, a master’s in Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School, and an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from Salem State University.

Future Cape Ann Forums will feature Boston-based author and policy analyst Steven Walt on Sunday, April 3, on whether the United States should or can manage the Middle East, with journalist and commentator Christopher Lydon acting as a respondent; and West Point grad and career-officer-turned-security-analyst Andrew Bacevich on Sunday, May 15 on the challenges, opportunities and limits the U.S. faces on the global stage in the years ahead.

All events are at Gloucester City Hall. For more information, visit www.capeannforum.org.
http://gloucester.wickedlocal.com/news/20160217/cape-ann-forum-speaker-to-assess-aid-to-haiti/?Start=2

Creole Connection: SWFL Haitian Football Stars

Haitian-born running back was one of the most
sought-after  recruits in the SEC.
Southwest Florida is home to thousands of immigrants from Haiti, and their children are making quite the impact on the football field.
In Collier County, the language of football isn’t just english – it’s also Creole.
Several of the area’s biggest football stars are of Haitian descent and speak the country’s native language.
“It’s like a code that only we know,” said Naples running back and Tennessee signee Carlin Fils-Aime.
Fils-Aime was born in Haiti and moved to Naples at age 7 with his father.
“When I lived with him he would always tell me about his struggles in Haiti,” said Fils-Aime.
“What he went through, and and how he doesn’t want me to go through the same thing. How he raised enough money to bring me here – so I could make something out of myself” Mackensie alexander and his twin brother Mackenroe are still the pride of Immokalee.
They helped the Indians reach the state championship game in 2012. Mackensie played for a national championship at Clemson. Mackenroe is currently training to play at South Florida.
“I feel like our parents, when they came to this country, didn’t have much. So we do our best to represent them and all our people in Haiti,” said Mackenro Alexander.
Lely High School starting running back Calerb D’Haiti is one of many Haitians on the Lely football team.
“It’s like a family,” said D’Haiti. “because we’re all trying to make it out of the struggle we were raised in.”
For Haitian football players, speaking Creole is a way to connect.
“It’s awesome,” said Fils-Aime.
It’s also a way to remember.
“Because you don’t want to forget where you came from,” said D’Haiti.
And it’s also a source of pride.
“I am proud to be Haitian,” said Fils-Aime, “and no one can take that away from me.”
http://www.winknews.com/2016/02/17/creole-connection-swfl-haitian-football-stars/

mercredi 17 février 2016

Friends and Neighbors: Haiti Jewish Refugee Project honors Holocaust survivor

- Plaza Construction Golf Invitational to again benefit Miami’s Voices For Children Foundation
- “Around The World in 80 … Minutes!” concert Sunday at the Banyan Bowl in Pinecrest Gardens
- Moonlight Garden Tour at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens on Wednesday, Feb. 24.
BY CHRISTINA MAYO
christinammayo@gmail.com
Miriam Klein Kassenoff was awarded a Tikkun
 Olam Award for her work educating teachers
 about the Holocaust.
 
Photo provided to the Miami Herald

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/community-voices/article60814861.html#storylink=cpy
Miriam Klein Kassenoff has made her life’s work teaching about the Holocaust. She learned her own first lessons as a child survivor who fled Nazi Europe with her parents.
Since then she has trained thousands of teachers as an educational specialist of Holocaust Studies for the University of Miami’s School of Education and Human Development and Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
For her passionate work, Klein Kassenoff recently received an important Tikkun Olam Award from the Haiti Jewish Refugee Legacy Project.
“I am humbled by every award that I have received,” Klein Kassenoff said in a release. “But this one took me by surprise. It shows that if you do the work you love rewards will come to you.”
The award is named for a Jewish principle that translates to “repairing the world.” The honor is given to individuals who have made a considerable contribution to do just that.
It is granted by Bill and Harriet Mohr, who are founders and publishers of the Haiti Jewish Refugee Legacy Project, which was established after the 2010 earthquake to gather information about Haiti’s Holocaust history.
Bill Mohr and his family were among 300 Jews who were given refuge by Haiti during the Holocaust.
“We wanted to recognize the outstanding contributions of a wide range of individuals who are working to raise awareness of important issues that need to be addressed in the context of Tikkun Olam,” said Bill and Harriet Mohr in a written statement. “They have moved forward to ‘repair the world’ and from their perspective, take action in ways that have beneficial results for society and can positively impact the general welfare of humanity.”
HELPING CHILDREN
Miami’s Voices For Children Foundation will again be the recipient of a corporate giving event by Plaza Construction, Miami. Last year, the company’s annual Golf Invitational at La Gorce Country Club in Miami Beach raised $150,000 to help abused, abandoned and neglected children in Miami-Dade County.
Plaza Construction’s Southeast Regional President Brad Meltzer presented the check in 2015 to the nonprofit organization. Last year, more than 110 Plaza Construction staff members, clients, subcontractors, and industry leaders played in the tournament, according to the company website.
This year, the Feb. 29 event will mark the 10th annual Golf Invitational and the second year that Voices For Children has been the beneficiary.
The foundation allows the Miami-Dade Guardian ad Litem Program to recruit, train and support volunteers who serve as “Voices” for children in dependency court proceedings. Voices For Children also helps with the children’s medical, educational and social needs.
Plaza Construction dedicates time to helping local and national organizations. Previous recipients of the annual golf tournament have included the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. The company also has sponsored corporate events for the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center through its participation in the Dolphin Cycling Challenge.
To learn how to become a volunteer with the Guardian ad Litem Program, visit www.weareguardians.org and to help Voices For Children, visit http://beavoice.org/.
CONCERT OF WORLD MUSIC
Enjoy a grand selection of music from around the world at the next Greater Miami Symphonic Band concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21, at the Banyan Bowl in Pinecrest Gardens, 11000 Red Rd.
Bring friends and family members to the “Around The World in 80 … Minutes!” concert featuring classical and popular music from England, France, Korea, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Norway, Russia, Spain and more.
Tickets are $15 for adults, and $5 for students and children over age 5. Buy advance tickets online at www.gmsb.org/ticketsconcerts.html or at the box office day of the show. Admission includes admittance to the gardens one hour before the concert. South Florida-based musicians started the GMSB in 1979. The mission of the group is to keep alive the great American tradition of community concerts, and “to provide audiences with high quality symphonic band music, to highlight the diversity of wind band repertoire in performance, and to give regional musicians a gratifying artistic experience.”
STARGAZING AT VIZCAYA
Here’s your chance to see the stars from Vizcaya’s “backyard” following the museum’s next scheduled Moonlight Garden Tour on Wednesday, Feb. 24. The tour starts at 6:30 p.m. and the Southern Cross Astronomical Society members will have their high-tech equipment set up on the bayside plaza starting at 7 p.m.
You can experience Vizcaya at night only four times a year through a Moonlight Garden Tour. Tickets are $20 for nonmembers and $15 for members, students and seniors, and are available on-site only from 6 to 8 p.m. on the evening of the program. Note: the main house is not open during these tours.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is at 3251 S. Miami Ave. For more go to http://vizcaya.org/programs-moonlightgarden-tours.asp
The Astros also have a free family fun night scheduled for 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, at Fruit & Spice Park, 24801 S.W. 187th Ave., Homestead.
Enjoy moonlight tram rides, and a campfire. SCAS members will set up their high-tech telescopes to focus on the brilliant winter night sky in the dark outback of the park. Bring chairs and blankets, and your own binoculars and telescopes. Bug repellent is recommended. Call 305-247-5727.
WALK FOR THE ANIMALS
Remember to get out for a fun time to support our furry friends at the next big event hosted by the Humane Society of Greater Miami. More than 3,000 animal lovers gather, with and without their dogs, to help the homeless and abandoned animals of our community.
Registration for the Walk For The Animals starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, at Miami’s Bayfront Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd. The one-mile stroll begins at 10 a.m.
You will enjoy a morning filled with fun activities, entertainment and yummy snacks. There also will be the Adoption Center where local rescue groups will bring their puppies, kittens, dogs and cats to help them find a forever home.
To register online for this caring event, go to www.humanesocietymiami.org or call 305-749-1822.
GROWING HERBS
Tropical Fruit & Spice Park is offering a class “Growing Herbs in South Florida” conducted by Carolyne Coppolo, owner of Red-Land Herb Farm. The class is 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, at 24801 SW 187 Ave. Cost is $25.
The class will give tips on winning the battle of heat, humidity, pests and diseases using organic methods. Learn about soil mixtures, fertilizers, and pesticides to use on herbs. A large selection of herbs will be on display and can be purchased after the class. To register, call 305-247-5727 or call Coppolo at 305-246-5825 or email redlandfarm@bellsouth.net.
If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at christinammayo@gmail.com.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/community-voices/article60814861.html#storylink=cpy