vendredi 4 septembre 2015

How Gregory Peck Fought Hollywood Bigotry

he recent publication of Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” has left many fans of her 1960 novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” disillusioned. Some who regarded “Mockingbird”’s central character Atticus Finch as a moral paragon fighting Southern racism have been deeply disappointed by “Watchman” (actually an earlier draft of “Mockingbird”), in which Atticus is rendered as a racist curmudgeon.
Readers unhappy about losing a fictional Atticus might, however, reclaim the “real” one. Gregory Peck, who so famously embodied Atticus in the film version of “Mockingbird,” passionately opposed racial prejudice. And now, unpublished documents in the Margaret Herrick Library (the Oscars archive) reveal Peck’s personal opposition to racism, long before Harper Lee even wrote “Mockingbird.” The young actor attacked bigotry against both blacks and Jews.
Peck expressed some of his earliest anti-racist views with regard to Haiti. The U.S. had occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934, and Hollywood films from the era depicted the country as a land of bizarre “voodoo” rites and zombies. However, Peck had visited the country in the 1940s, and when Darryl Zanuck of Fox Studios sought to persuade him to star in “Lydia Bailey,” an adventure-romance set during the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804), Peck asked to make a more serious film about Haiti.
He wanted to highlight the egalitarian ideals of Haiti’s revolution, in which African slaves had successfully revolted and made their country the first free black republic in the Americas. Peck likened Haitians’ fight for independence to the American Revolution. He spoke of how Haitian revolutionaries “carried on democratic ideals… against all the efforts of the French to retake the island and continue the exploitation of the people, their former slaves.” Peck compared the suffering of Haitians and “the poor negroes in the [American] South,” who he felt were even worse off.
Peck also denounced anti-Semitism, most notably through his role in the 1948 film “Gentleman’s Agreement.” It is easy today to forget the strength of anti-Semitism in the U.S. before the 1960s, where Jews faced widespread discrimination in housing and the workplace, as well as at prestigious universities and resorts. Anti-Semites such as Congressman John Rankin of Mississippi even used the word “kike” on the House floor. Though many Jewish studio executives were afraid to acknowledge the problem, for fear of a backlash, Daryl Zanuck, one of Hollywood’s few non-Jewish studio heads, decided to tackle the subject. He sought to turn Laura Hobson’s 1946 novel “Gentleman’s Agreement” into a film, personally entrusting the story to Peck. Peck’s stirring portrayal of Phil Green, a gentile journalist who goes undercover to expose everyday anti-Semitism, has become legendary. The role earned Peck an Oscar nomination.
Peck’s spirited defense of egalitarianism in the film was not merely an act. He took the role against the advice of his agent, who told him that challenging anti-Semitism could make him deeply unpopular. When asked by Coronet Magazine what the film meant to him, Peck responded, “To me ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’ was a picture about Americanism.” As the House Un-American Activities Committee had begun targeting many of Peck’s liberal colleagues, Peck remarked pointedly that the best defense against communism was to live up to America’s noblest ideals: “We can best fight communism by practicing democracy.”
Though “Mockingbird” fans can safely reclaim Peck, it would oversimplify the history of racism and anti-Semitism in the U.S. to treat him as the uncomplicated paragon Atticus once appeared to be. It is perhaps a fool’s errand to search for unblemished heroes, given how deeply rooted prejudice can be even among those seeking to free themselves from it. Even before “Watchman”’s publication, scholars of race had noted that Atticus, despite defending an accused African American, did little to attack the larger structure of racism in his society.
In Peck’s case, his actions may not have always lived up to his pronouncements. For his proposed film about Haitian history, he wanted to occupy the starring role himself rather than hire an African-American actor — which would have meant his appearing in blackface. More notably, even as he crusaded on screen against “gentleman’s agreements” barring Jews, he may not have challenged them as forcefully in person. At the same time that he was filming “Gentleman’s Agreement,” he was founding the La Jolla Playhouse in his hometown of San Diego. Though Jews numbered among San Diego’s founders in the 19th century, the coastal area of La Jolla remained one of the city’s most fervent strongholds of prejudice. Mary Ellen Stratthaus has chronicled the restrictive covenants there, dating from the 1920s, that excluded anyone whose “blood was not entirely of the Caucasian race” from purchasing property. Real estate agents also used more subtle means to prevent Jews from moving to town, which residents feared would ruin the community and drive down property values. While conducting oral histories, Stratthaus was told that, when the Playhouse held cast parties at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, Jewish actors were not allowed to attend, something that Peck apparently did not protest (though Peck denied this to her in a 1996 letter).
Today, La Jolla is home to a thriving Jewish community — one of the most vibrant on the West Coast. However, it was not Peck who effected this sea change, but rather Roger Revelle, founder of the University of California, San Diego. Revelle insisted to town fathers in the 1950s that restrictive covenants must disappear if he were to build a world-class research institution that could attract Jewish faculty.
Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to underestimate Peck’s influence in creating a new America in the postwar period, one in which anti-Semites found themselves on the wrong side of history. In “Antisemitism in America,” Leonard Dinnerstein has written of the explosive impact that “Gentleman’s Agreement” had in “unmask[ing] those who tried to hide their bigotry under the mask of gentility and conformity.” The film, Fox’s highest grossing of 1948, deeply affected those who saw it. Zanuck told Peck, “I have never received half as many telegrams or phone calls on any previous picture and many people believe it is the best picture they have ever seen.” Peck himself was deluged with letters from Jews who suffered from anti-Semitism in their daily lives, and who were overwhelmed with gratitude at seeing him denounce these practices openly. “Gentleman’s Agreement” went on to win Best Picture at the 1948 Oscars, beating “Crossfire” (an equally well-intentioned film on anti-Semitism that had a lesser impact).
It was Peck’s deep belief in the words he spoke in “Gentleman’s Agreement” that allowed him to deliver them so powerfully — and that inspired both Jews and blacks to imagine a world without prejudice. At a time when parallel films about blacks were not being made, one African-American teenager wrote Peck that “Gentleman’s Agreement” gave her the “courage to fight” to achieve her dreams. She noted that Peck should not feel bad about having lost the Best Actor award to another nominee, since “In Gentleman’s Agreement you weren’t acting. Your sincerity, honesty and belief in what you said rang as clear and true as a church bell.”
Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall is a professor of history at California State University, San Marcos.
Read more: http://forward.com/culture/320336/how-gregory-peck-fought-hollywood-racism/#ixzz3kn3mjYlk

The Clintons’ Haiti Screw-Up, As Told By Hillary’s Emails

It’s hard to find anyone these days who looks back on the U.S.-led response to the January 12, 2010, Haiti earthquake as a success, but it wasn’t always that way. Right after the disaster, even as neighborhoods lay in rubble, their people sweltering under tarps, the consensus—outside Haiti—was that America’s “compassionate invasion” (as TIME Magazine called it) had been “largely a success” (Los Angeles Times), offering further proof that “in critical moments of the history of mankind … the United States is, in fact, the indispensable nation” (Expresso, Portugal).150902_katz_clintons_gty.jpg
As the latest release of Hillary Clinton’s personal emails by the U.S. State Department Monday revealed, that perception was not an accident. “We waged a very successful campaign against the negative stories concerning our involvement in Haiti,” Judith McHale, the under-secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, wrote on February 26, 2010. A few weeks before, the public affairs chief had emailed newspaper quotations praising U.S. efforts in Haiti to Secretary Clinton with the note “Our Posts at work.” Clinton applauded. “That’s the result of your leadership and a new model of engagement w our own people,” she replied. “Onward!”
But one person even closer to the secretary of state was singing a different tune—very, very quietly. On February 22, after a four-day visit to the quake zone, Chelsea Clinton authored a seven-page memo which she addressed to “Dad, Mom,” and copied their chief aides. That informal report tells a continuing story of the unique brands of power and intelligence wielded by the Clinton family in Haiti and around the world—and of the uniquely Clinton ways they often undermine themselves.
First off, there was the secrecy. The memo—by a Clinton, with a master’s in public health from Columbia University, pursuing a doctorate in international relations from Oxford and with a prominent role at her family’s foundation—would have obliterated the public narrative of helpful outsiders saving grateful earthquake survivors that her mother’s State Department was working so hard to promote. Instead, like so much of the inner workings of the Clintons’ vast network, it was kept secret, released only in an ongoing dump of some 35,000 emails from Hillary’s private server, in response to a Freedom of Information Act Lawsuit wrapped up in the politics of the 2016 presidential election.
Chelsea Clinton was blunt in her report, confident the recipients would respect her request in the memo’s introduction to remain an “invisible soldier.” She had first come to the quake zone six days after the disaster with her father and then-fiancé, Mark Mezvinsky. Now she was returning with the medical aid group Partners in Health, whose co-founder, Dr. Paul Farmer, was her father’s deputy in his Office of the UN Special Envoy for Haiti. What she saw profoundly disturbed her.
Five weeks after the earthquake, international responders were still in relief mode: U.S. soldiers roamed Port-au-Prince streets on alert for signs of social breakdown, while aid groups held daily coordination meetings inside a heavily guarded UN compound ordinary Haitian couldn’t enter. But Haitians had long since moved on into their own recovery mode, many in displacement camps they had set up themselves, as responders who rarely even spoke the language, Kreyòl, worked around them, oblivious to their efforts.
“The incompetence is mind numbing,” she told her parents. “The UN people I encountered were frequently out of touch … anachronistic in their thinking at best and arrogant and incompetent at worst.” “There is NO accountability in the UN system or international humanitarian system.” The weak Haitian government, which had lost buildings and staff in the disaster, had something of a plan, she noted. Yet because it had failed to articulate its wishes quickly enough, foreigners rushed forward with a “proliferation of ad hoc efforts by the UN and INGOs [international nongovernmental organizations] to ‘help,’ some of which have helped … some of which have hurt … and some which have not happened at all.”
The former first daughter recognized something that scores of other foreigners had missed: that Haitians were not just sitting around waiting for others to do the work. “Haitians in the settlements are very much organizing themselves … Fairly nuanced settlement governance structures have already developed,” she wrote, giving the example of camp home to 40,000 displaced quake survivors who had established a governing committee and a series of sub-committees overseeing security, sanitation, women’s needs and other issues.
“They wanted to help themselves, and they wanted reliability and accountability from their partners,” Chelsea Clinton wrote. But that help was not coming. The aid groups had ignored requests for T-shirts, flashlights and pay for the security committee, and the U.S. military had apparently passed on the committee’s back-up plan that they provide security themselves. “The settlements’ governing bodies—as they shared with me—are beginning to experience UN/INGO fatigue given how often they articulate their needs, willingness to work—and how little is coming their way.”
That analysis went beyond what some observers have taken years to understand, and many others still haven’t: that disaster survivors are best positioned to take charge of their own recovery, yet often get pushed aside by outside authorities who think, wrongly, that they know better. Her report also had more than an echo of the philosophy of her Partners in Health tour guides. More than five years later, her candor and force of insight impress experts. “I am struck by the direct tone and the level of detail,” says Vijaya Ramachandran, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development.
But then came the recommendations—and a second classic pitfall. Far from speaking uncomfortable truths to her parents’ power, Chelsea was largely agreeing with their own assessments. At a March UN donors’ conference for Haiti over which Bill and Hillary Clinton presided, the secretary of state would tell the assembled delegates that the global community had to start doing things differently. “It will be tempting to fall back on old habits—to work around the [Haitian] government rather than to work with them as partners, to fund a scattered array of well-meaning projects rather than making the deeper, long-term investments that Haiti needs now,” she said, nearly repeating her daughter’s dismissal of the “ad hoc efforts” that had defined the early response.
Bill Clinton had also long been scathing in his assessments of aid work there. As the Associated Press correspondent in Port-au-Prince before, during and after the quake, I’d followed him on his visits since becoming UN Special Envoy in mid-2009. In public, the former president called for better coordination between NGOs and donors. In private, after long, frustrating days in the Caribbean heat, he’d sometimes just go off, lighting into the nearest staffer about partners’ missed meetings and broken promises. The former president also loved to apologize for his own past actions—destructive food policies which flooded the Haitian market with cheap Arkansas rice, and ordering a crippling embargo that destroyed the Haitian economy during the reign of a 1990s military junta (some of whose members had been on the CIA payroll).
Yet those introspections rarely extend to the present. As anyone who’s covered the Clintons can tell you, they armor themselves with staffers who hit back against almost any hint of criticism—especially when an election is near. The one thing the Clintons never seem to question is the idea that they, personally, should remain in charge. And that is precisely what Chelsea recommended in her report: “The Office of Special Envoy—i.e., you Dad—needs authority over the UN and all its myriad parts—which I do believe would give you effective authority over [the NGOs].” Her father, the former president, should be a “single point of authority,” she said—overseeing a replacement for the organizational system of government agencies, militaries and NGOs.
The truth is that Bill Clinton was already by far the most powerful individual in this flawed system, with Hillary close behind. She was guiding the U.S. response as secretary of state. He was already UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Envoy for Haiti, head patron of the Clinton Foundation and co-leader of the newly formed Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund. Weeks later the couple would share the dais at the donors conference, where governments and aid groups pledged some $10 billion for Haiti’s recovery. Her father would soon accept the co-chairmanship of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, the quasi-government body charged with allocating many of the funds. (“Finally,” chief of staff Cheryl Mills wrote to the secretary in a March 29, 2010, email, when news of the appointment leaked to the Haitian press.)
The irony is that, after pages of scathing analysis about the failure of international responders to understand and respect ordinary people in Haiti, Chelsea Clinton’s plan would have created an even more powerful foreigner operating at an even greater remove. She did call on this new Super Clinton-led structure to “support the Haitian government,” but noted that it could only build “local capacity and capabilities, where feasible”—a logical loophole the U.S. government would fall back on time and again as it kept to old habits after all, including refusing to provide Haiti’s government with direct budget support.
As it was, that personality-driven leadership style meant the response to the Haiti quake would focus on priorities set by those surrounding them, rather than those of majority of Haitians. The new email tranche shows how quickly the construction of low-wage garment factories and prioritizing exports to the U.S. market came to the center of the U.S.-led response in Haiti. That strategy, authored by economist Paul Collier, was what Bill Clinton had come to Haiti to promote as special envoy before the quake. Little more than two weeks after the disaster, Mills, a former Clinton White House counsel who became her point woman on Haiti, forwarded the secretary a New York Times op-ed by Collier and consultant Jean-Louis Warnholz rebranding the pre-quake strategy as a form of post-quake reconstruction. “He now works for us,” she noted for her boss, referring to Warnholz.
The new emails also show how Hillary’s staffers brought former Liz Claiborne Inc. executive Paul Charron into the fold to collaborate with Hillary Clinton and Warnholz on helping to make the garment factories a reality. “As I communicated to Jean-Louis, I am happy to be helpful to you and the State Department on this project,” Charron wrote Mills in August 2010. Around that time, Charron made a key phone call to a former Liz Claiborne colleague now working as an advisor for the South Korean garment giant Sae-A Trading Co. Ltd., to encourage that company to come up with an investment plan in Haiti, the New York Times reported two years later. In 2012, Bill and Hillary Clinton attended the opening of the brand-new, $300 million Caracol Industrial Park in northern Haiti, with Sae-A as the anchor tenant. Today, there has been little reconstruction in Port-au-Prince. Most quake survivors have moved back into precarious homes, hoping another disaster doesn’t strike. The country is still being ravaged by a cholera epidemic that began nine months after the earthquake and has killed nearly 9,000 people. Both Bill and Hillary Clinton have publicly acknowledged this epidemic, unrelated to the quake, was caused by United Nations peacekeepers—who in turn, as Chelsea correctly foresaw, have been able to avoid any semblance of accountability. President Michel Martelly, who Hillary Clinton helped put in office as secretary of state, is struggling to hold the country’s first elections since he took power, with observers watching warily to see if he will leave office next spring.
As for Caracol, the northern industrial park has created just 5,479 out of a promised 60,000 jobs when I visited in the spring, as workers complain about the long hours and low pay. Farmers who once tended land on the property complain they were pushed off without proper compensation (a claim the park’s boosters deny). Many of those living around the park now see it as the embodiment of the powerful Clintons’ disconnect. “They go to the park, but they don’t come to our village, because they care more about the park,” said Cherline Pierre, a 33-year-old resident who signs up would-be laborers near her home, a few miles from the park’s high gates. All a reader plowing through the email tranche can do is wonder, what might have gone differently had Chelsea Clinton’s insights reached more people in real time, and if the Clintons had applied more of them to themselves. “I wish this had been made public when it was sent,” Ramachandran said of the report. “It might have helped.”
Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/09/hillary-clinton-email-213110#ixzz3klj7usxq Jonathan M. Katz won the James Foley/Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism for his coverage of the 2010 Haiti earthquake and cholera epidemic, and the Overseas Press Club of America’s Cornelius Ryan Award for his book, The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster. He reported on the Clintons in Haiti for POLITICO on a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Follow him on Twitter @KatzOnEarth. Authors: Jonathan M. Katz Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/09/hillary-clinton-email-213110#ixzz3kkbqtaAl

lundi 31 août 2015


Politicians from all parties fear the power of a Haitian-Bahamian voting block and are complicit in the illegal and unconstitutional policies regarding citizenship in the Bahamas, Fred Smith argues
#I am a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due. I agree with Dr Andre Rollins who said that Fred Mitchell poses a “clear and present danger” to the continued development of democracy in The Bahamas. #In my opinion, Fred Mitchell is a long term racist schemer and political opportunist.
#And, as Nicki Kelly so accurately said in her article in The Punch on August 13: “There is little that Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell does without malice aforethought”. She goes on to say, again historically accurately: “And since it is always Mr Mitchell’s wont to fire up racial discord as part of his political arsenal.”
#So, permit me to share the full extent and objectives of what I suspect these malicious multi-pronged racist and ethnically targeted policies are towards the Haitian-Bahamian community in the Bahamas.
#First, the policies are not the personal expressions of Fred Mitchell, although he is no doubt the architect of these malignancies.
#Second, the policies have been 100 per cent supported, adopted, encouraged and fully executed and maintained by the current Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government.
#Third, the policies, from inception, have been 100 per cent embraced by the Free National Movement (FNM), the official Opposition, which has maintained that they stand “shoulder to shoulder with the government.“
#Fourth, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) have likewise fully supported and encouraged the policies.
#Fifth, after all the abuses manifested by the policies were exposed, the FNM have been invited - and have been provided with multiple opportunities - to distance themselves from the government policies but have failed to do so.
#In the lower and upper houses of Parliament, the FNM voted unanimously to support the 2015 Amendments to the Immigration Act which have purported to legalise some aspects of the PLP policies.
#One of the main reasons that all three political parties find the policies attractive is their political insecurity and fear of what they are now observing as the potential “Haitian-Bahamian political voting block”.
#It is one that they cannot control; it has the potential for growing extremely large, powerful and articulate; and it is legally entitled to grow and therefore must be “contained”. Which is why Fred Mitchell becomes overly excited every time I publicly urge the Haitian-Bahamian community to politically organise, to promote and protect their interests and rights, and make sure that he and other abusive MPs are not re-elected and/or get their own MPs elected.
#The unstated but long term full extent and objective of the PLP, and adopted by default, by the FNM and DNA, is to rid The Bahamas of as many people who are identified ethnically as “Haitians”, lest the Haitian “pestilence” overrun and overwhelm The Bahamas.
#This ethnic cleansing objective is being achieved by making it as difficult as possible for those who are here and have legal, moral, ethical and internationally recognised rights to have those rights recognised and/or to be accorded the legal status to which they may be entitled by various provisions of the Constitution, the Immigration Act, International Conventions or otherwise.
#That is quite a different policy than the one which is perfectly legal pursuant to the provisions of the Bahamas Immigration Act and accepted by international norms and practices, which is to humanely prevent illegal immigration. I have no quarrel with enforcement of the law, and neither does the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association or other NGOs.
#But once again, Fred Mitchell is not only holding the Rule of Law and the Constitution in contempt by threatening to burn it as he did in 1989, but now that he is an actual power, he is using the police and executive power of the State to execute illegal and unconstitutional policies.
#The underpinning of these illegal policies is the overarching illegal requirement that Fred Mitchell has illegally proclaimed by ministerial diktat that all persons in The Bahamas are required to be “documented”.
#There is no such law passed by Parliament; there is no such law found in our Constitution; there is no such common law; there is no such judge-made law; there is no international convention or law to that effect. Being “documented” is the aberrant brainchild of Fred Mitchell.
#Being documented was the fulcrum of Hitler’s discrimination against the Jews, the United States’ internment of American citizens of Japanese heritage during World War II, and South Africa’s abuse of blacks under Apartheid.
#This illegal and discriminatory policy is being achieved by various means, but ultimately by forcing every person in The Bahamas who is of Haitian ethnic origin and who does not currently hold a Bahamian passport, to get a Haitian passport even though they were
#1 born in The Bahamas before independence in 1973 and entitled to be a Bahamian citizen; or
#2 born in The Bahamas after 1973 and are entitled to be registered under article 7 of the Constitution; or
#3 entitled to apply after 19 to be naturalised and get citizenship.
#I suspect that when these persons of Haitian heritage, all born in The Bahamas, pursue their applications for citizenship, their applications will either never be determined or will be refused, by the thousands, and when not dealt with (as has been the historical position) or refused, they will then be directed to make arrangements to leave The Bahamas because, perversely, their Haitian passports, issued in The Bahamas, will not have a visa from the government entitling them to be here.
#This will then be used as the lawful reason to deport them. Many more thousands will simply be left in a “Belongers Permit Limbo Land”.
#This is not a short term policy objective. This policy has been embraced by the PLP administration, the FNM and the DNA.
#Accordingly, it is a policy that will become embedded, ubiquitous and endemic in Bahamian political governance and will continue to be implemented aggressively by successive administrations of whichever flavour of the day.
#The government will, on a continuous and ongoing basis, effect mass deportations of every person who is not a citizen, ie those whose applications have not been determined and/or have been refused.
#So in The Bahamas, the government will use this legal justification, just as in the Dominican Republic, where they have passed a law stripping all Dominican Republicans of Haitian ethnic origin of their Dominican citizenship going back generations.
#The new “Belongers Permit“ will not be of any assistance to:
#1 Those who apply for citizenship after the age of 19 as the government has already stated that such a permit will only be given to persons who have applied under article 7 (2).
#2 Those who apply for citizenship under article 7 (2) but who cannot show and produce documentation for the legal status of their parentage; those persons, despite their entitlement by being born in The Bahamas will simply not be able to apply for the belongers permit
#3 Those who are born in The Bahamas before 1973 as they, too, will be unable to produce documentation for the legal status of their parentage as required by the belongers permit application form.
#Deviously, the children of persons born in The Bahamas of Haitian heritage are also being required to obtain a passport from Haiti. Accordingly, when the continuous deportations begin of the Bahamian-born persons who have children, in accordance with what The Bahamas government will proclaim as “humanitarian internationally recognised norms”, their children, all of whom are second or third generation born in The Bahamas, will also be deported on the perverse basis that, “humanely”, they should remain with their parents.
#This is a malevolent master plan that the Fred Mitchell and the PLP have cooked up and which the FNM and the DNA have - without one dissenting voice - embraced.
#And, the master plan and objective will then be easily executed on a continuous basis, because all of the targeted deportees, including all of their children, will now have valid Haitian passports to be shipped back to Haiti ... A country none of them have ever seen or known, even though they were born in The Bahamas and have rights to be here.
#The courts of The Bahamas will not be able to deal with this as there will be too many cases of abuse. The judicial system is already clogged with thousands of unheard cases and the delays unavoidable; the Executive branch of the government does not recognise any judicial precedent set for one person as being a principle applicable to all persons in a similar category; there is no publicly funded legal aid; most persons will not be able to afford legal representation for these kinds of immigration human rights matters; most persons will not even know what their legal rights may be; and lastly there are very few lawyers (out of nearly 2,000) who are available on a pro bono basis to assist.
#Let it not be forgotten also that the Haitian government is complicit in this illegal policy, by going along with the programme and providing, at the insistence of the Bahamas government, passports to persons born in The Bahamas, notwithstanding that the Haitian government knows that these Bahamian-born applicants do not wish to be citizens of Haiti, but are being forced to obtain Haitian passports by the illegal policies of the Bahamian government.
#Lastly, I maintain there is no legal requirement for anybody to be “documented” in the Bahamas.
#Indeed, as can be seen from the accompanying official publication of the Registrar General of The Bahamas, responsible for registering births and deaths in The Bahamas, the only document we really need if born here is a birth certificate.

vendredi 28 août 2015

Dominican Republic-Haiti Crisis Simmers as the OAS Comes Down Hard on the D. R.

Dominican leaders are defensive and in denial, as investigators document 'forced' migration of Haitians out of the DR.
By Nathalie Baptiste / AlterNet August 27, 2015
A new Dominican policy that could leave hundreds of thousands of Haitians and their descendants without citizenship has renewed old tensions between the neighboring countries and has created an oft-ignored but very serious humanitarian crisis. Haitians and their descendants are living in fear and thousands have already fled. Despite reports from international organizations and journalists on the ground, the Dominican Republic is outright denying that a crisis exists.
In September 2013, a high court in the Dominican Republic ruled that anyone born after 1929 to undocumented people were not Dominican citizens; some 200,000 people are now at risk of being deported and becoming stateless. The 2014 Dominican Republic Human Rights Report published by the U.S. State Department identifies discrimination against Haitians and their descendants as the most serious human rights problem facing the country.
After a small backlash (mostly from human rights organizations), the Dominican Republic announced that anyone who could prove that they had registered with the government or had Dominican birth certificates by June 17 of this year would not be at risk of deportation.
It was supposed to fix the looming crisis, but providing documentation proved to be a lot harder for Haitian immigrants and their Dominican-born children. Undocumented Haitians are often unable to or actively prevented from registering the births of their children with the civil registry. And much like in the United States, undocumented immigrants in the Dominican Republic had trouble receiving the proper documents from their employers.
As activists worldwide began to advocate for the plight of those at risk for deportations and journalists ramped up their coverage of the crisis, the international community finally stepped in to propose a resolution between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, whose officials had been engaged in a war of words.
Last month the Organization of American States sent a fact-finding mission to the border region between Haiti and the Dominican Republic to gather information, listen to the views of government and non-governmental players, and present the Secretary General with observations and recommendations. The mission found what activists had been saying for months. There are people at risk of being stateless and displaced persons living in precarious conditions.
The recommendations included OAS facilitating dialogue to solve the problem and urging the Dominican government strengthening the registration process; finding a way to help vulnerable displaced persons also made the list.
The Dominican government’s response to the OAS was to deny and defend. In an official statement from the Office of the Presidency, the government essentially called OAS’s findings false. “The descriptive part of the report presents clear evidence that the accusations voiced in recent weeks against the Dominican Republic are false and unfounded,” read the official statement, “specifically those referring to a humanitarian crisis and alleged systematic violations of human rights that do not exist.”
Everyone has a right to a nationality, so by stripping away citizenship from hundreds of thousands people the Dominican government is, in fact, in violation of international human rights law.
The statement also mentioned that the Dominican government did not request the presence of the OAS because “there is no currently existing conflict between the two nations that may warrant the need for said mediation,” but that dialogue between Haiti and the Dominican Republic can begin again “as soon as the Haitian government moves away from its attitude of discrediting the Dominican Republic, as a means of evading its responsibility with the people of Haiti.”
The Dominican government has managed to pretend that a crisis of its own doing does not exist, while still placing the blame for the crisis on the Haitian government. But try as they might, the human rights crisis cannot be denied.
The June 17 deadline to register with the Dominican government passed without mass round-ups, but rather with thousands of people pouring over the border into Haiti out of fear of deportation, violence, and harassment. So far, an estimated 37,000 Haitians and their Dominican-born descendants have crossed the border into Haiti.
The International Organization for Migration monitored several border crossings between the two countries and interviewed 1,133 people sheltered inside of a school. Nearly 59 percent of those interviewed said they “spontaneously” returned to Haiti. However, an alarming 36 percent of interviewees said police, military, or immigration officials had forced them out. The majority of interviewees were born in Haiti, but 33 percent of them were born in the Dominican Republic—forced out of the country they used to call home.
In Haiti, along the Dominican-Haitian border, Dominican-born descendants of Haitians and Haitian immigrants have settled in makeshift camps in squalid conditions. The conditions are similar to the tent cities that emerged in the country after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake toppled buildings and killed scores of people in 2010.
It is not lost on critics and activists that the people affected by the 2013 ruling are overwhelmingly black. Antihaitianismo—or anti-Haitian sentiment—is not uncommon in the Dominican Republic. “I have lots of Haitian friends, including undocumented ones whom I’ve helped to get their papers in order,” a Dominican man told Huffington Post in July. “I can go to their homes, spend time with them. But I can’t completely trust them, because you help a Haitian today and he hurts you later. It’s in their blood.” Dominican government officials deny that this kind of racism and discrimination exists.
Much like the rampant discrimination, the Dominican government is trying to evade responsibility for the citizenship crisis by simply pretending it doesn’t exist. Officials seem more concerned with accusing the international community of discrediting them. The Haitian government, international groups, and activists will not be able to discredit the Dominican government but denying the existence of a humanitarian crisis will.
Nathalie Baptiste is a writing fellow at The American Prospect. She has worked as a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus and written for Inter Press Service.

CARICOM Wants Ground Monitoring System to Stop Potential Dominican Republic Abuse of Haitian Immigrants

The Caribbean Community, or CARICOM, will ask the United Nations to install a ground monitoring system to ensure the Dominican Republic does not violate human rights during the process of repatriating people of Haitian descent, an official told EFE via phone on Wednesday.

The CARICOM official said that organization’s secretary-general, Irwin LaRocque, and Haitian Foreign Minister Lener Renaud agreed during a meeting this week that the international community must intervene to ensure immigrants’ rights are not abused.
Though no specific details were provided on this request, the official said this initiative follows on the heels of an agreement by the heads of government of the 15-member CARICOM.
The Dominican Republic is not a member of CARICOM although it has applied for membership. Haiti is one of the 15 members along with Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

During CARICOM’s annual summit in early July, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stressed the importance of respect for human rights and human dignity.

“I have discussed this with the president of the Dominican Republic and trust there will be further progress in resolving this matter, protecting the rights of affected persons, and preventing the loss of nationality,” Ban said at the opening ceremony.

Many people born in the Dominican Republic to Haitian parents faced immense obstacles when trying to obtain the right documentation to register for the National Regularization Plan and only around 240,000 applications were received ahead of a June 17 deadline.
The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, with Haiti in the western portion.

Though both countries are poor, Haiti is destitute, and Haitians cross the border to do work that many Dominicans will not do such as harvesting sugarcane.

Haitians have been the target of mob violence on many occasions in recent years and the Dominican government has been widely criticized for its treatment of the migrants.
Read more at latino.foxnews.com


mercredi 19 août 2015

Following Outcry, the Red Cross Is Shifting Its Priorities in Haiti

y Jacob Kushner
August 18, 2015 | 6:50 pm
When an earthquake decimated Haiti's capital and nearby cities in 2010, people around the world pledged $13 billion in aid, $488 million of which was donated to the American Red Cross — the largest branch of the world's largest relief charity.
In June, an NPR/ProPublica report alleged that the Red Cross had misused and wasted funds it devoted to housing, building only six out of 700 planned homes and failing to shelter anywhere near as many displaced Haitians as it had claimed. US Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) urged the House Oversight Committee to hold congressional hearings on the matter, calling the allegations "extremely disturbing," but none have yet been scheduled.
In a letter last month to Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern, US Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said he was "deeply concerned" by indications that "the Red Cross failed to meet many of its objectives in Haiti," and asked for a detailed accounting of its programs.
Rather than assert that its spending information amounted to "trade secrets," as it did when it initially declined to detail its spending on Hurricane Sandy relief last year, the Red Cross replied that it had spent $76.5 million on temporary or provisional shelter, another $34 million on repairing damaged houses and helping families relocate, and $62 million on neighborhood renovation programs, which also included the repair of permanent homes. (Grassley's office told VICE News that he still wants the agency to disclose overhead costs and other spending details.)
Five years after the earthquake, some 64,000 Haitians remain officially displaced, and tens of thousands more reside in temporary shelters or on land from which they face eviction. Roughly 150,000 of them live in a desolate stretch of land at the foot of the mountains north of Port-au-Prince that Haitians call Canaan — the biblical Promised Land.
It is located just southeast of Titanyen, a settlement whose grassy plains have long served as a dumping ground for the bodies of political opponents and, more recently, for victims of the earthquake and a cholera epidemic, sourced to UN peacekeepers, that quickly followed.
With more homesteaders arriving each week, the Red Cross has partnered with USAID to invest $14 million in a series of projects over the next two years to support them as they build a permanent community. There is much work to be done: Canaan lacks paved roads, electricity, plumbing, and public services, while heavy rains and hurricanes make it vulnerable to severe flooding and landslides.
The Canaan projects are part of a $56 million investment that the Red Cross says it has committed to development and disaster preparedness in Haiti. It expects to spend most of this by the end of 2016, but will continue to sponsor various initiatives into 2017 and perhaps beyond.
The agency's adjustment of priorities in Canaan illustrates its evolving understanding of the infrastructural challenges that disaster recovery entails, but critics of its effort in Haiti insist that this does not absolve it of what they say were harmful mistakes.
'Helping people live more permanently in Canaan… is that a good idea?'
"They raised more money than they knew what to do with," Jonathan Katz, the Associated Press bureau chief in Haiti at the time of the earthquake and author of The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster, told VICE News. He argues that the ineffective use by the Red Cross and other aid agencies of hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions shaped many of the problems the country faces today.
"When people criticize the Red Cross they say, 'We gave half a billion dollars to the Red Cross and five years later there are still some tent camps — where did the money go?' " he remarked, referring to temporary shelters for people whose homes had been destroyed or damaged. "Answer: into the tent camps. They built tent camps."
Habitat for Humanity estimated in 2013 that $500 million in total aid had been spent on emergency aid and transitional shelters, leaving just $200 million for reconstruction.By spending so much on temporary accommodation, charities left thousands of Haitians entrenched in precarious lodging conditions while allocating insufficient funds to permanent housing or services.
"If the response to the earthquake had been competent, Canaan wouldn't exist," Katz said. "The amount of work that would be put into making it safe to live in would be tearing it down and building it from scratch."
Missing from this discussion is the role of Haiti's government. There was no one living in Canaan at the time of the earthquake, but after Haiti's government declared the area a public utility, government officials and some relief agencies began promoting the area as a viable location for Haiti's displaced masses. Many heeded the call, creating a disorderly sprawl of improvised housing.
Clement Belizaire, the head of the country's housing agency, agrees that the humanitarian response was chaotic.
"There was a lack of coordination," he told VICE News. "International agencies were not responding to the will of the Haitian government, and that was a shame."
Belizaire noted that the Red Cross closely aligned its spending with the government's wishes, however. If the agency misappropriated its resources, he suggested, it did so at the direction of Haiti's leaders.
Leslie Schaffer, the American Red Cross's current Latin America regional director, told VICE News that this is why, apart from funding temporary shelters, the agency allocated millions of dollars to projects like Campeche, the urban housing project described as a major failure because only six houses of a promised 700 were constructed.
"The government of Haiti said, 'Listen, if you build new communities, there are land tenure issues, and we have to provide all the other services that accompany it. What would be better is if you would help us to reconstruct our inner cities,' " she recalled.
Belizaire believes that it is misguided to blame the Red Cross for not crafting a comprehensive housing plan when Haiti's government itself didn't have one. It took more than two years to create the housing policy agency that Belizaire now directs and for that agency to compose a national policy.
"You can't build houses when there's no housing policy," he said.
Meanwhile, he added, the government's preliminary plan contained what were in retrospect poor directives. Released two months after the earthquake, it urged swift and largely temporary solutions to shelter. The plan called for the immediate relocation of 100,000 people squatting in precarious Port-au-Prince locations, saying it had identifying five sites for relocation where "provisional shelters should be installed." But it did not name these sites, making it impossible to know if Canaan was among them.
By the time it formulated a national housing policy, Haiti's government had changed its tune drastically. "The construction of housing is the responsibility of families," it declared at the outset of the 72-page document. The plan called for increased loans and credit as well as incentives and support for Haitians to build or rebuild homes and communities themselves.
"That's what the Red Cross is doing now," Belizaire said.
'This is recognizing that this will be a massive city to come.'
Just three years after the disaster, homesteaders had already spent $90 million of their own money on construction in Canaan, according to an estimate by Habitat for Humanity.
Some of Canaan's areas have markets, schools of varying quality, and even two-story buildings and spotty, informal electricity. But newer arrivals must settle in areas with little more than dirt paths snaking between tiny structures made of sticks, tarpaulin sheets, and salvaged scraps of metal. The Red Cross and USAID have designed a series of projects to help change that. A nonprofit called Global Communities won the bid to implement the project, but it won't be building houses. It will instead lead from behind, working with the Red Cross to provide technical assistance for Canaan residents to accomplish their own goals.
Anna Konotchick, who is managing the Canaan program on behalf of the Red Cross, told VICE News that this strategy reflects the Haitian government's new approach to housing.
"Instead of 'get a government to build a house, get an NGO to build a T-shelter,' now it's shifted to providing communities support in leading the process," she said.
Red Cross funding will be used to help a Haitian bank set up microfinance lending and banking locations so that Canaan residents can benefit from long-term financial services and planning. People will receive loans to start small enterprises, ranging anywhere from wheeled coffee carts to cellphone charging stations. A second microfinance institution will extend loans to those who might not otherwise qualify — people without assets or who seem less likely to repay a loan.
Other projects are structural. The Red Cross will pay for a Haitian contractor to build Canaan's first paved road and fund its first water pipeline. (Residents currently buy water that is brought in on trucks.) It will also bankroll the construction of Canaan's first school to be approved by the Ministry of Education, and help establish a proper electrical grid.
Most importantly, the Red Cross will work with nearly a dozen different government agencies and utilities to coordinate Canaan's future development.
"This is recognizing that this will be a massive city to come," Konotchick remarked. "It's not just trying to react to what this is now, but trying to react to what it will be years from now, knowing that it will double or triple in size."
From funding technical studies on soil quality, to ensuring that each part of the Canaan is accessible by road, to creating local governance structures, the Red Cross will support residents as they "plan what Canaan will look like five years, ten years from now," she said.
To everyday donors, that may not sound coherent or even measurable. But it's what the Red Cross, USAID, and Haiti's government agree is the best way forward.
"Infrastructure, roads, electricity — this is our vision, and the Red Cross is supporting this," Belizaire said.
But Canaan's fate remains uncertain. Some believe the land may be a flood zone, and that heavy rains or hurricanes could jeopardize the homes and lives of its residents. A study released in April warns that "large areas of the settlement are currently exposed to flood hazard." If those risks aren't properly mitigated, Canaan could be another disaster in the making.
Global Communities is currently drafting a proposal due in mid-September that will lay out how Red Cross funding can mitigate these risks — by supporting the planting of trees to reduce soil erosion, for example. Belizaire has also acknowledged that the government will likely have to resettle Haitians residing on steep hillsides and other hazardous zones.
Critics like Katz counter that the premise of assisting the development of a city in a disaster-risk area is ill-advised.
"Helping people live more permanently in Canaan… is that a good idea?" he asked. "If in five years there's a hurricane and 2,000 people are dead in Canaan, [the Red Cross] better not say that they had nothing to do with that and then try to raise more money."
But Belizaire says there's little alternative.
"Yes, the area has a very high risk of flooding," he said. "We are a natural disaster risk country."
Follow Jacob Kushner on Twitter: @JacobKushner
TOPICS: americas, haiti, 2010 earthquake, international red cross, american red cross, disaster relief, canaan, housing, shelters, development, habitat for humanity, global communities, usaid, charles grassley, rick nolan, gail mcgovern

Editorial: Red Cross faces questions on Haiti relief

Posted Aug. 17, 2015 at 11:00 PM
The world reached out in grand fashion when a massive earthquake struck Haiti five years ago. Former President Bill Clinton raised millions of dollars. Celebrities organized high-profile benefits. The Times-News held a fund-raiser at the Williams High School auditorium starring our very own Alamance County humorist and star Jeanne Robertson. Thousands of dollars were raised here. Millions elsewhere.
The American Red Cross joined in the effort in a big way, promising to rebuild homes, schools and infrastructure in a country that was in desperate shape before the earthquake. The Red Cross raised almost $500 million, more than any other group.
Where did the money go? That has come under question in an investigation by ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization, and National Public Radio.
The chief executive of the Red Cross said in 2011 that the agency would “provide tens of thousands of people with permanent homes.” The actual number of permanent homes built through the Red Cross in Haiti is six, according to the ProPublica/NPR investigation.
Overall, reporters found “a string of poorly managed projects, questionable spending and dubious claims of success.”
The reporting has prompted an inquiry by U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. In a letter to Red Cross officials, Grassley said he had been “assured that the Red Cross had made substantial steps forward in improving efficiencies and reducing waste, fraud and abuse within the organization. However, the recent news articles cast doubt on some representations made by the Red Cross.”
The Red Cross’ initial plan, according to the ProPublica/NPR reports, was to build roughly 700 homes with toilets and showers — luxuries in Haiti. They would start in Campeche, a hillside neighborhood in Port-au-Prince where residents lived in mud and sheet metal shacks.
No homes were built there.
According to the reports, the Red Cross was unable to deliver on many of its projects in Haiti. Red Cross leaders were reluctant to rely on the Haitian people or native speakers for help navigating the cultures and politics of a complex, poverty-stricken nation. So the Red Cross gave millions to outside groups, didn’t properly track the money, and spent too much on overhead and bureaucracy.
The Red Cross continued to raise money for Haiti “well after it had enough for the emergency relief that is the group’s stock and trade,” ProPublica/NPR reported.
The Red Cross has challenged the reporting.
In a letter to Grassley, Red Cross officials said they spent $400.5 million of the $487.6 million raised. They used the money to repair homes, provide rental subsidies and shelters. They also trained Haitians on first aid and jobs skills, and provided soap, buckets and rehydration packets during a cholera outbreak. The money bought mosquito nets. It helped toward rubble removal efforts. And it helped repair infrastructure.
Page 2 of 2 - “For a disaster of the scale of the Haiti earthquake, the needs were so great that we could not in good conscience halt donations or imagine at the outset what precise amount of donations would be needed,” the agency wrote to Grassley. “We are confident that those donations were needed and we spent and committed them well.”
But Grassley’s frustration has only grown. The senator has criticized the Red Cross for not being more transparent about how it spent the money it raised for Haiti. Red Cross frontline workers over the years, decades, have done tremendous work, often under extremely difficult conditions. Locally in Alamance County they’re the first to lend a hand to those touched by fires or other tragic events. Their work here is a godsend for families.
But it’s essential that not-for-profit fundraising organizations be utterly transparent to donors, to recipients, to the broad public. They deal with disaster. But first they have to earn trust.
Parts if this editorial were previously published in the Chicago Tribune.

Haiti’s critical test — and ours

wilson.house.gov Haiti faced a critical test last week when voters headed to the polls to cast ballots for the men and women who will serve in the next Parliament. The election, three years overdue, was the first of three to be held by December and will measure the nation’s ability to hold fair and transparent elections and self-govern.

In this first round, more than 1,800 candidates vied for approximately 130 seats, which in itself is extremely problematic. During the inevitable October runoffs, voters will also cast ballots to elect a new president from yet another overcrowded field of more than 50 candidates.
Its current head of state, President Michel Martelly, has governed by decree since January, when the last Parliament coincidentally dissolved on the fifth anniversary of the 2010 earthquake that killed 200,000 people. Without the same checks and balances that most democracies enjoy and not enough lawmakers to even form a quorum, Martelly has been unable to achieve much in the past eight months.

Haiti took its first tentative steps toward true democracy just days after the United States marked the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. It was a bittersweet occasion since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling that eviscerated the heart of the landmark law — the coverage formula that required certain states and jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to first clear election changes with the Department of Justice. So, instead of serving as model that Haiti can emulate, we are still creating barriers to voting for certain Americans, including minorities, poor people, seniors and young adults.

Haitian voters faced obstacles at the polls that were reminiscent of that unfortunate period in American history before the VRA when African Americans, especially in the South, were denied the right to vote. At some polling stations in Haiti, they were forced to wait for hours before they were able to cast ballots, while at others, they were turned away because their names were not on the official lists of registered voters. In too many instances, voters could not cast their ballots in privacy. Fifty-four polling stations were closed because of violence and there were also allegations of ballot stuffing and missing election materials. At least two people were killed.

Yet according to a report from the Organization of American States, which sent 28 monitors to observe the elections, “most polling stations were able to conclude their operations as planned, and characterized the holding of the elections as a step forward for Haitian democracy.”
That’s not good enough, and I believe that Haitian voters, who have waited three long years to have their say, deserve much, much better. I also have a vested interest in seeing democracy grow and thrive in Haiti. South Florida is a gateway to it and other Caribbean nations. But practicalities aside, I consider the Haitian people to be both friends and family.

Fair and credible elections are a critical first step toward showing the world that the Haitian people are ready to move beyond the disasters, natural and man-made, that have adversely affected their nation. There is no more fundamental way of doing that than through the power of the ballot box.
It may be a while before the election results and details about turnout are made public. I am hoping that Haitian voters defied expectations of low turnout and that millions went to the polls en masse. And, I hope they will be ready to do it again in October and December.

I urge Haitian voters to not be discouraged by any obstacles they may have faced because voting is the foundation on which all other changes, from the political to the economic, will be built. As my colleague and civil-rights icon Rep. John Lewis recently noted, “When it comes time to get out and vote, we have to do so. The right to vote is the most powerful nonviolent, transformative tool we have in a democracy, and the least we can do is take full advantage of the opportunity to make our voices heard.”

The world will be waiting and watching.
It will be watching us, too, and waiting to see whether the United States will hold itself to the same expectations that it has for others by ensuring that the Voting Rights Act fully reflects its original intent and the promise of fair and credible elections here at home.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article31340492.html#storylink=cpy

Cholera, climate change fuel Haiti's humanitarian crisis: UN

By Amelie Baron
 Port-au-Prince (AFP) - Climate change, cholera and the return of thousands of emigrants from the neighboring Dominican Republican are fueling a humanitarian crisis in Haiti, the UN warned. The impoverished Caribbean nation is facing a deluge of problems, pushing an already vulnerable population closer to the edge, said Enzo di Taranto, who heads Haiti's UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Among these pressures is a new cholera outbreak. Cases are up 300 percent in the first months of 2015 compared to the same period last year, di Taranto said in an interview with AFP. Haiti -- the poorest country in the Americas -- is already suffering from chronic instability and struggling to recover from a devastating 2010 earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people and crippled the nation's infrastructure.

A cholera outbreak after the quake was blamed on UN peacekeepers' poor hygiene.
According to UN data, nearly 20,000 people have been affected and 170 killed by the disease since the beginning of the year.
More than 8,800 Haitians have died of cholera since it appeared in October 2010 and, even today, cases recorded in Haiti surpass the total number of people with the disease elsewhere in the world.
Beyond the increase in cholera, the humanitarian situation in the country is worsening because of a "convergence of several factors," di Taranto said.

"The devaluation of the gourde (Haitian currency), which means an increase in the price of baseline products like medicine, food and water; the drought which has hit many regions in the country; and also the repatriation of Haitians from the Dominican Republic," are all contributing, he said.
- Families with nothing -
In June, the neighboring Dominican Republic introduced a tough new immigration policy, prompting 60,000 Haitians to leave the country.
Many ended up back in Haiti, straining an already vulnerable system.
The uncontrolled flow is exerting a "demographic pressure on the already very weak health system in Haiti and on the supply of food and water," di Taranto said.
He said the problems are especially bad in the southeastern community of Anse-a-Pitres.
Many families who returned from the Dominican Republic are living hand-to-mouth in shanties.
The effects of climate change are also encroaching. The summer drought previously confined to country's north has crept into the south.
"In the Cayes region and the Macaya natural park, water sources are dry," di Taranto said. "It's a problem that's spreading."

Haiti, which has lost 98 percent of its forest cover, has seen worsening agricultural conditions and topsoil erosion.
Because of this, the warm air current from "El Nino" is affecting Haiti more than other countries in the region.
"We need to launch public rural development programs which let us confront these climatological dynamics that we can't control," di Taranto said.
To address the immediate humanitarian emergency, OCHA estimates it will need around $25 million in the next four to six months.
But five years after the devastating earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people, international aid for Haiti is diminishing.
It's a situation that directly threatens help for more than 60,000 victims of the quake who are still living in camps.
To access a broader pool of potential donors, the United Nations is planning an online crowdfunding campaign and also using celebrities to draw attention to the cause.
The last such visit was from the singer Beyonce in May.

Haiti Elections 2015: Violence At Polls Results In 14 Candidate Disqualifications

By Clark Mindock @clarkmindock on August 18 2015 6:37 PM EDT

Fourteen candidates for national office in Haiti were disqualified Tuesday by state election officials following violent disturbances at voting stations across the country earlier this month. Accusations of violence during the elections spanned from allegations that one candidate asked their supporters to attack their opponent to allegations that a candidate shot a gun in the air at a polling station.

Voters went to the polls Aug. 9 to choose two-thirds of the country's 30-member Senate and to elect the entire Chamber of Deputies class. Whether or not those who were disqualified had won, according to the Associated Press, is uncertain because the winners had not been announced yet. In January, the country disbanded its parliament, and it had been three years since the last vote in the country took place.

Of those disqualified was Arnel Belizaire, a former opposition member of the Chamber of Deputies who was accused of firing a weapon at a polling site. He has denied the accusations.
In spite of the violence concerns during the polling, which was the first of three scheduled dates to renew the government, international observers considered the voting to have gone pretty well overall. Still, there has been concern that the violence and intimidation kept many people at home when they should have been casting their votes.

"The consensus is that, while there were some problems -- including more than two dozen polling places that were shut down for some reason or another -- the process did go on fairly smoothly," said senior correspondent for Al-Jazeera Rob Reynolds at the time.

The country is slated to vote again in October, when presidential voting will also begin. A third round could take place in December. International allies have been pitching in to cover the $74 million price tag of the elections, and citizens have been encouraged to vote in all three rounds of voting. Every two years, a third of the Senate seats are normally replaced; however, voting was suspended in 2012.


lundi 17 août 2015

Red Cross CEO Tried to Kill Government Investigation

Despite public vows of transparency, CEO Gail McGovern lobbied a congressman to spike an inquiry by the Government Accountability Office.
by Justin Elliott
ProPublica, Aug. 17, 2015, 5 a.m.
This story was co-produced with NPR.
American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern has long portrayed her organization as a beacon of openness, once declaring “we made a commitment that we want to lead the effort in transparency.”
But when the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, opened an inquiry last year into the Red Cross’ disaster work, McGovern tried to get it killed behind the scenes.
“I would like to respectfully request that you consider us meeting face-to-face rather than requesting information via letter and end the GAO inquiry that is currently underway,” McGovern wrote in a June 2014 letter to Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.
McGovern sent the letter, which was obtained by ProPublica and NPR, after meeting with Thompson, the ranking member of the homeland security committee. At the request of Thompson’s office, the GAO had earlier that year started an inquiry into the Red Cross’ federally mandated role responding to disasters and whether the group gets enough oversight.
In her letter, McGovern suggested that, in lieu of the investigation, the congressman call her directly with questions. She provided her personal cell phone number.
In a statement, Thompson criticized McGovern’s request to spike the investigation.
“Over time, the public has come to accept the American Red Cross as a key player in the nation’s system for disaster relief,” he said. “It is unfortunate that in light of numerous allegations of mismanagement, the American Red Cross would shun accountability, transparency and simple oversight."
Craig Holman, a veteran observer of congressional investigations as an advocate with the watchdog group Public Citizen, said he couldn’t remember another instance in which the subject of a GAO inquiry asked for the inquiry to be called off.
“This is both a unique and particularly brazen lobby campaign by Gail McGovern to bring an end to an independent GAO investigation,” he said.
In a written statement, Red Cross spokeswoman Suzy DeFrancis said the group worked “cooperatively” with the GAO, providing documents and making at least a dozen senior officials available for interviews.
“We had discussions with the GAO and members of Congress about the purpose and intent of the GAO study so we could respond in a way that would meet their goals, which we are doing,” DeFrancis wrote.
The GAO inquiry continued despite McGovern’s appeal. The agency’s final report is expected to be released next month, according to a GAO spokesman.
McGovern’s effort echoes other instances in which the Red Cross has resisted requests for more information about its work. Last year, the Red Cross fought a ProPublica public records request about its Superstorm Sandy response by hiring a law firm and citing “trade secrets.” (The group later reversed its stance.)
The Red Cross has also declined to detail its spending in response to the Haiti earthquake. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, recently questioned the Red Cross for including rules barring the release of financial information in its Haiti contracts.
In her letter to Thompson, McGovern said dealing with the GAO was taking up too much staff time.
“Responding to the questions and participating in interviews (particularly because of the broadness of the questions) is using a great deal of staff resources while we are preparing for hurricane season and simultaneously responding to tornadoes, storms, wildfires and floods across multiple states,” McGovern wrote. “In addition, I feel that I can better address your concerns when we have a two way dialogue.”
According to its website, the Red Cross employs six full-time government and congressional relations staffers, as well as retaining an outside lobbying firm.
A GAO spokesman said the agency was not aware of McGovern’s letter and “it didn’t have any impact on our work.”
Thompson’s close scrutiny of the Red Cross goes back years. He led an effort to review the group’s troubled response to Hurricane Katrina, which hit his home state of Mississippi.
The Red Cross was chartered by Congress over a century ago and operates as a kind of public-private hybrid. It responds to disasters hand-in-hand with the federal government but that work is largely funded through private donations. A law passed after Hurricane Katrina reforming the Red Cross explicitly empowered the GAO to investigate the group.
If you have information about the Red Cross, email justin@propublica.org.
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Haiti: Elections & Democracy in reversal

By EvanPallis

| Posted 17 août 2015 00:36
| Port-au-Prince, Haiti 1 There is nothing promised in the upcoming Presidential Elections in Haiti. With legislative Elections nearly four years over due and a society reeling from the pressures of compatriots being deported from Dominican Republic, some of which do not speak French nor Haitian Creole.
Many who are second generation Dominicans find very little assistance from the current administration. The current Head of State Michel Martelly seems determined to awaken his Jekyll & Hyde persona and run an election for his party PHTK . Sweet Mickey his alias most commonly used when performing his carnival like anthems. This persona is as unpredictable as a North Korean Missile.
Michel Martelly also know as Sweet Mickey may be one of the most colorful heads of States. From wearing women under garments to entertaining reveling concert goers, interviews where he admits to the abuse of crack-cocaine, gyrating on men at concerts to potently verbally abusing women on his most recent campaign trail. Michel Martelly a.k.a Sweet Mickey has arguably represented a reversal in Democracy, for a fragile society still finding its foothold on defining how democracy will look like in Haiti.
With nearly five years in office Martelly’s mandate as head of State has accumulated to 5 essential failures:
1. The lack of educational institutions for the youth in the country that represents nearly 60% of the population under the age of 35
2. 172,000 people still live in make shift housing homeless from the January 12th 2010 Earth Quake
3. Prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) amongst Haitian children under 5 has risen to 6.5 percent
4. The corrosion of Democratic values during his term  impunity for the rule of law
5. The lack of fiscal accountability during his governments term

With August 9th 2015 Elections still in political paralysis, the media, the voters and the candidates seem intoxicated from the polluted voting environment which was presented to the citizens of Haiti.
After 10-Years of MINUSTAH United Nations Peace keeping Forces and the current Haitian Government provided the electorate with nothing short of a devilish carnival like atmosphere. Chaos, violence and ballot stuffing by Bouclier, P.H.T.K and Verite ruled the day with impunity.

The only people whom were satisfied with the conditions for voting were Michel Martelly, United Nations, Washington D.C, Paris and Canada.

But the questions lies; in a democratic society would any of these countries accept these conditions for there citizens? why should then the people of Haiti? are they any less deserving?

The Presidential Haitian Election seems to narrow down to five viable candidates from the crowded field all jockeying for the post of the hardest job in the Western Hemisphere.
Jude Celestin
Maryse Narcisse
Jean Charles Moise
Steeve Khawly
Steven Benoit
The world awaits as democracy in Haiti seems to be in jeopardy once again. The citizens of Haiti thirst democracy but there seems to be a simmering tension on the verge of implosion if free and fair elections is not at the forefront of everyone's agenda.
A former professor of London School of Economics and now and adjacent professor at Geneva University in Switzerland Evan Pallis is now based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti covering the Presidential and Senatorial Elections.

UN official criticizes violence in Haiti election

Port-au-Prince (AFP) - A top United Nations official who observed Haiti's elections has condemned the violence and other shortcomings that marred the polling day in the impoverished Caribbean nation.
At least two people were killed during voting August 9 that was disrupted by attacks and other problems that forced the early closure of at least 26 polling centers.
Sandra Honore, who heads the UN mission for stabilization in Haiti (MINUSTAH), told AFP the incidents were "regrettable."
"If you impose your position by force or violence, this means that your position is weak," Honore said.

The elections, which were four-and-a-half years overdue in a country still struggling from the effects of a devastating 2010 earthquake, were held to choose the Chamber of Deputies and two thirds of the Senate.
Haiti's 5.8 million registered voters had to make their selections from a field of more than 1,800 candidates from 128 parties.
Most political parties are calling for the creation of a commission to assess the impact of violence on the election process, and some even want results from the vote scrapped.
Honore, who is from Trinidad and Tobago and has run MINUSTAH since July 2013, said she wants Haitians to make their objections known peacefully using legal means.
Voters heading to the polls faced a litany of troubles. Even finding the correct voting station and then a voter's name on the electoral list was a challenge.
When people finally got to vote, they often had to deal with poorly designed booths that afforded little privacy.
Some voting centers were extremely small and had to cast their ballots from behind flimsy cardboard partitions, sometimes sharing the same table with officials checking election rolls.
Honore said that in many schools, which had been converted for the day into polling stations, "space was rather limited. The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) will have to review the layout of the polling stations to ensure voters have an easier time exercising their democratic rights."
- Electoral marathon -
Haiti is undergoing something of an electoral marathon, with two other polling days planned by the end of the year.
The second round of legislative elections is set for October 25, and the first round of presidential and local elections will take place at the same time, raising the specter of even more cramped voting stations.
Honore said she was confident the CEP would take into account problems with available voting spaces.
Even though the elections are mainly financed by the international community, Honore says there is no foreign interference in the process.
Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, suffers from chronic instability and is still grappling with the havoc caused by its 2010 earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people and crippled the nation's infrastructure.
Parliament was dissolved on January 13, 2015 after lawmakers' terms were not extended, and the legislative chambers have remained empty for months.
In addition to violence, the August 9 elections also suffered from low voter turnout. Honore called on Haitians to vote in greater number at the next poll.
"The Haitian population can present its demands and ensure that its voice is heard and counted," she said.

Haitian Hearts Twentieth Anniversary Photo Exhibit

This year Haitian Hearts celebrated its 20th anniversary with a photography exhibit that was held last week at Prairie Center of the Arts in Peoria.
We have brought approximately 200 patients for surgery…the majority being pediatric heart surgery for congenital heart disease and valvular disease secondary to rheumatic fever.
Thank you, Maria, for putting this show together at Prairie Center and for posting all of the photos and their explanations on your Facebook page.
I also want to thank all of the Haitian Heart supporters, host families, and numerous medical centers and care givers in the United States, Dominican Republic, and Cayman Islands for your invaluable help during the past two decades.
John A. Carroll, MD


UN must step up, apologize, and help drive cholera from Haiti

By The Editorial Board AUGUST 12, 2015
When an earthquake ravaged Haiti in 2010, rescue workers from all over the world responded with medicine, food, and supplies for rebuilding. Unfortunately, a crew of United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal seems to have brought something else entirely: a deadly cholera epidemic that has killed 9,000 and sickened more than 700,000. This year’s rainy season has brought a new spike in cases, and health care workers dread the late-summer onset of hurricane season.

But justice for Haiti is slow in coming. Although there is ample genetic evidence that the peacekeepers contaminated a tributary of the Artibonite River with the virulent vibrio cholerae microbe, the UN has been tone deaf to international appeals for help and has prevailed in federal court, citing immunity to claims of damage. The case is now being appealed in the US Second Circuit in New York. Scores of human rights groups and legal scholars filed friend-of-the-court briefs in June. “There has never been a case like ours,” says Brian Concannon, executive director of the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, which brought the suit. “The liability is so clear and the damage is so great.”

Immunity in the court system is one thing, but moral leadership is another. The UN should set a high-level example in Haiti and should correct its mistakes and work with the world community to give Haiti clean water and sanitation.

Massachusetts officials should be commended for pressing the issue. Last year, State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry and other members of the National Haitian-American Elected Officials Network were there early, urging Secretary of State John Kerry to lead a concerted UN response to the epidemic. In late 2014, four Massachusetts congressmen joined more than 70 other lawmakers in calling for immediate action. The Haitian government can play a role as well. Haitian citizens voted in parliamentary elections on Aug. 9 — a glimmer of hope in a country embroiled for years in political turmoil. Any large-scale public health program will benefit from an accountable, stable government.
More immediately, a number of low-cost solutions are worth exploring and expanding.
Hundreds of thousands of Haitians have been given a low-cost vaccine against cholera, according to Dr. Louise Ivers, a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital who is an adviser for Partners in Health. And UN officials should heed a team of researchers from the UK, Haiti, and Holland who urge new rules for hygiene and sanitation in emergency situations and who are testing simple chemical waste-water treatments that could be used for cholera, Ebola, or other diseases.

The UN should end this stalemate by acknowledging its responsibility for the epidemic and work with international aid organizations to drive cholera from the island once and for all.


mardi 11 août 2015

« Justice pour les Dominicains d'origine haïtienne! »

Jacques Bangou
Jacques Bangou s'inquite des conséquences de la décision de la Cour suprême de République dominicaine de supprimer le droit du sol. Il dénonce la situation inacceptable sur le plan humanitaire pour 250 000 Dominicains dont le seul tort est d'avoir des parents haïtiens ou d'origine haïtienne, l'arbitraire des expulsions en nombre et le climat xénophobe à l'égard des plus pauvres et des plus noirs.
A quelques centaines de kilomètres de nos côtes, dans la toute proche République dominicaine, une décision de la Cour suprême en 2013 a modifié la constitution de ce pays en supprimant le droit du sol qui prévalait depuis près d'un siècle. Elle donne aujourd'hui une interprétation restrictive de la constitution précédente dans ses dispositions relatives aux migrants dits « en transit » , avec des effets rétroactifs qui rendent de fait apatrides 250 000 Dominicains nés dans ce pays et dont le seul tort est d'avoir des parents haïtiens ou d'origine haïtienne.
Cette décision crée une situation de fait inédite, inextricable juridiquement, inacceptable sur le plan humanitaire. Elle alimente dans ce pays un climat xénophobe qui précarise les 250 000 autres ressortissants haïtiens présents sur le sol Dominicain, mais également tous les Dominicains, souvent très pauvres, assimilés par la couleur de leur peau à des « étrangers Haïtiens » .
Au-delà des explications données par les autorités dominicaines, la décision de la cour constitutionnelle est alarmante, injuste et contraire aux principes du droit international. Comme beaucoup, je souhaite que les multiples agences internationales et ONG qui se penchent sur cette question puissent contribuer à faire évoluer les autorités dominicaines, dans le respect de la souveraineté de ce pays certes, mais plus encore dans le respect de la condition et de la dignité humaine.
Malgré les premiers efforts du Président de la République dominicaine pour adapter cette décision, les mesures visant à donner une carte de travail à certains Dominicains s'ils renoncent à leur nationalité et acceptent le statut de travailleur étranger sur le sol où ils sont nés, ne réussiront pas, à l'évidence, à régler la situation actuelle. D'autres efforts doivent encore être entrepris, d'autres solutions doivent émerger.
J'ajoute ma voix à celles qui dénoncent l'arbitraire des expulsions en nombre de ressortissants haïtiens depuis plusieurs semaines. Je dénonce le climat xénophobe à l'égard des plus pauvres et des plus noirs. Après nos luttes historiques contre l'esclavage, après les combats de Mandela contre l'apartheid, après les luttes de Martin Luther King et à quelques jours seulement de la visite de Jesse Jackson ici même en Guadeloupe, la couleur de la peau ne peut nulle part et en aucune circonstance constituer un élément discriminant.
Je m'inquiète enfin de la catastrophe humanitaire qui se prépare, si elle n'est pas déjà là, dans les camps de réfugiés apatrides aux frontières des deux pays, où les conditions de vie sont inhumaines sur le plan sanitaire. Cette situation, qui ne sert ni la cause de la République dominicaine, ni celle d'Haïti, ni celle de la condition humaine, me pré-occupe profondément. Avec une importante communauté Haïtienne et Dominicaine sur notre sol et un nombre important de Guadeloupéens issus de ces communautés, nous ne pouvons rester insensibles aux malheurs de nos voisins frères.
Alors que l'exposition permanente du Mémorial ACTe rappelle aux peuples de la Caraïbe combien leur histoire est intriquée, il faut, sans ostracisme à l'égard des gouvernements souverains de la région, rappeler avec fermeté nos convictions et notre espoir d'une résolution de cette situation inacceptable.
J'en appelle au droit international, aux institutions internationales et plus particulièrement aux institutions caribéennes comme le Caricom pour qu'elles participent au dénouement de ce drame qui se joue devant les yeux, et trop souvent dans l'indifférence, du monde entier.
Jacques Bangou, Maire de Pointe-à-Pitre (PPDG)

Elecciones en Haití: ¿por qué el país más pobre de América no levanta cabeza?

Owen Bennett Jones, BBC
9 agosto 2015
Elecciones, Haiti
Más de seis millones de haitianos podrán votar este domingo para escoger a 119 diputados y 20 senadores.
Cuando Haití fue azotado por un devastador terremoto hace más de 5 años, la comunidad internacional se volcó con el país más pobre de América. A la capital, Puerto Príncipe, llegó la promesa de miles de millones de ayuda extranjera.
Pero pese a esos compromisos -no siempre cumplidos-, el país sigue sumido en la pobreza y no ha conseguido superar la inestabilidad política.
De hecho, muchos creen que las elecciones parlamentarias que se celebran este domingo y que han sido postergadas por más de medio año, podrían estar marcadas por la violencia política.
Hay más de 1.800 candidatos registrados para las elecciones parlamentarias.
Los cerca de seis millones de haitianos convocados a las urnas deberán elegir 119 diputados y 20 senadores entre los más de 1.800 candidatos registrados, en unos comicios que son vistos como una prueba de la estabilidad del país.
En enero de 2010, el mundo vio en sus televisores y en internet las imágenes de destrucción que dejó el terremoto de 7,0 grados de magnitud.
Conmocionados por las ingentes cifras de víctimas -se cree que más de 250.000 haitianos perdieron la vida, 300.000 resultaron heridos y más de 1,5 millones tuvieron que ser desplazados-, casi la mitad de los hogares estadounidenses contribuyeron con las organizaciones que se comprometieron a trabajar en la reconstrucción de Haití.
La comunidad internacional se volcó tras ver las imágenes de desolación que dejó el terremoto en enero de 2010.
La imagen se repitió en todo el mundo: campañas de ayuda, compromisos de gobiernos y planes de organizaciones internacionales.
Naciones Unidas calcula que desde el terremoto, los donantes internacionales prometieron más de US$10.000 millones de ayuda. Más de la mitad de ese dinero ya ha sido gastado.
El Congreso estadounidense calcula que si al dinero comprometido hasta ahora se le suman los montos de ayuda previstos hasta 2020, la cifra ascendería a los US$13.400 millones.
Miles de refugiados
Y todo ese dinero ayuda a mantener a miles de organizaciones no gubernamentales extranjeras que operan en Haití.
Pero más de un lustro después, miles de haitianos siguen viviendo en campos de desplazados, donde tienen acceso limitado o nulo a servicios básicos, como agua, inodoros, servicios de salud y escuelas.
De hecho, pese a todas las organizaciones extranjeras que operan en programas de ayuda en el país, algunos haitianos nunca han salido de los campos que fueron creados justo después del terremoto.
Se calcula que más de 250.000 haitianos murieron, 300.000 resultaron heridos y más de 1,5 millones quedaron desplazados a causa del terremoto de 2010.
Otros viven en barriadas sin agua corriente, electricidad ni alcantarillado.
Pero aunque algunas familias nunca se recuperaron del azote del terromoto, las agencias de ayuda humanitaria trasladaron sus recursos de la ayuda de emergencia a proyectos de reconstrucción de largo plazo.
La Fundación Clinton es una de las organizaciones extranjeras que lidera los esfuerzos de reconstrucción en el país. Ha sido un donante activo desde el terremoto.
"República de ONGs"
Mientras que el expresidente de EE.UU. Bill Clinton fue enviado especial de Naciones Unidas a Haití, su esposa, Hillary Clinton, tanto como secretaria de Estado como a través de la Fundación Clinton, ha tratado de mantener la atención internacional en lo que pasa en el país.
Los críticos a los programas de ayuda como los que promueven los Clinton argumentan que en Haití se ha desarrollado una cultura de dependencia de las ayudas y que los sistemas de gobierno del país son débiles en parte porque el personal de las ONGs y los organismos internacionales está desempeñando funciones que deberían llevar a cabo las autoridades locales.
¿Se llevan las ONGs lo mejor del talento local?
Un informe del Insituto Estadounidense de Paz sugiere que Haití es una "República de ONGs", capaz de quedarse con lo mejor del talento local ofreciéndoles salarios más altos de los que el gobierno puede permitirse.
Otras críticas incluyen las acusaciones de que la mayoría de la ayuda estadounidense se ha destinado a contratos con compañías de ese país o que los empleados de muchas organizaciones que trabajan sobre el terreno no hablan francés ni la lengua local, el creol.
También se han dado casos de donaciones a las que se han descontado gastos administrativos por parte de las organizaciones antes de ser entregados a otra ONG que, por su parte, también impone sus gastos.
"Seis casas con US$500 millones"
Y a principios de este año, una información de la agencia independiente estadounidense ProPublica y la radio pública de ese país, NPR, sostenía que de los cerca de US$500 millones que recaudó la Cruz Roja estadounidense para Haití, sólo salió una serie de proyectos mal gestionados y de dudoso éxito.
La asistencia de los niños al colegio tras el terremoto se incrementó a un 90%.
"La Cruz Roja asegura que ha provisto de casas a más de 130.000 personas, pero sólo ha construido seis casas permanentes", indica el artículo de NPR.
Y pese a que Haití sigue siendo el país más pobre de América con un producto interior bruto per cápita de US$846, los datos de los últimos cinco años no son desalentadores.
Según el Banco Mundial, la asistencia de los niños al colegio tras el terremoto se incrementó del 78% al 90%.
Y entre 1980 y 2013, la esperanza de vida de los recién nacidos subió 12,3 años. Además, hay proyectos que claramente han transformado la vida de sus beneficiarios.
República Dominicana sigue atrayendo a miles de inmigrantes haitianos.
Pero Haití sigue lejos de romper el círculo de su pobreza crónica y está sumamente rezagado respecto a su vecino caribeño, República Dominicana, con quien comparte la isla de la Española.
Si hace medio siglo ambos países tenían PIB per cápita similares, hoy en día hay una gran brecha entre ellos.
Además, pese a tener una población similar en cuanto a tamaño, República Dominicana tiene más de 500.000 empleados gubernamentales frente a los menos de 60.000 de Haití.
Las pobres infraestructuras, una historia de interferencias extranjeras, la represión e inestabilidad política crónica y la enorme desigualdad se suelen citar como motivos por los que Haití no consigue levantar cabeza. Pese a los esfuerzos de la comunidad internacional, es probable que muchos de sus problemas subyacentes sigan siendo un lastre para el país en los próximos años.