The Border-Industrial Complex Goes Abroad

“Nothing will stop our national security officials from making this country more secure from one of the least pressing dangers Americans face: terrorism.”
In this Nov. 12, 2013 photo, a Haitian man crosses into Haiti along the border with Jimani, Dominican Republic. In September, the Dominican Constitutional Court ruled that being born in the country does not automatically grant citizenship, including people born to non-legal residents going back to 1929. The ruling is a reflection of deep hostility in the Dominican Republic to the vast number of Haitians who have come to live in their country, many brought in to work in the sugar industry and their descendants. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

In this Nov. 12, 2013 photo, a Haitian man crosses into Haiti along the border with Jimani, Dominican Republic. In September, the Dominican Constitutional Court ruled that being born in the country does not automatically grant citizenship, including people born to non-legal residents going back to 1929. The ruling is a reflection of deep hostility in the Dominican Republic to the vast number of Haitians who have come to live in their country, many brought in to work in the sugar industry and their descendants. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

It isn’t exactly the towering 20-foot wall that runs like a scar through significant parts of the U.S.-Mexican borderlands. Imagine instead the sort of metal police barricades you see at protests. These are unevenly lined up like so many crooked teeth on the Dominican Republic’s side of the river that acts as its border with Haiti. Like dazed versions of U.S. Border Patrol agents, the armed Dominican border guards sit at their assigned posts, staring at the opposite shore.  There, on Haitian territory, children splash in the water and women wash clothes on rocks.

One of those CESFRONT (Specialized Border Security Corps) guards, carrying an assault rifle, is walking six young Haitian men back to the main base in Dajabon, which is painted desert camouflage as if it were in a Middle Eastern war zone.

If the scene looks like a five-and-dime version of what happens on the U.S. southern border, that’s because it is. The enforcement model the Dominican Republic uses to police its boundary with Haiti is an import from the United States. Continue reading

US opposition to minimum wage increase in Haiti revealed

Sweat shop in Haiti (file foto)

Sweat shop in Haiti (file foto)

WikiLeaks public cables have showed how the U.S. Embassy in Haiti worked closely with factory owners contracted by Levi’s, Hanes and Fruit of the Loom to block an increase to the minimum wage for Haitian workers.

In 2009, the minimum wage was $1.75 per day. In June 2009, responding to workers’ pressure, a parliamentary bill proposed to raise it to $5 per day. Factory owners opposed it saying they would only pay $2.50 “to make T-shirts, bras and underwear for US clothing giants like Dockers and Nautica”. Backed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Embassy, they urged then Haitian President René Préval to intervene.

The Haiti cables reveal how closely the US Embassy monitored widespread pro-wage increase demonstrations and the political impact of the minimum wage battle. UN troops were called in to quell workers and students protests, sparking further demands for the end of the UN military occupation of Haiti.

Because of these fierce demonstrations, sweatshop owners and Washington were unable to keep the minimum wage as low as they had wanted to for long.

In August 2009, President Preval negotiated a deal with Parliament to have two minimum wages: $3.13/day for textile workers and $5/day for other workers. But Parliament also adopted a progressive increase over three years so in October 2012 textile workers minimum wage finally went up to $5/day ($6.25 for other sectors).

200 Gourdes ($5) right now!”

UN washes its hands of Haiti epidemic

The organisation ducked responsibility for the cholera outbreak in denial of the ideals set out in its own charter

By Ian Birrell, Gulf News, March 5, 2013

Image Credit: Luis Vazquez/©Gulf News

Image Credit: Luis Vazquez/©Gulf News

Imagine if a multinational company went to one of the world’s most impoverished countries and, while saying it was there to help, contaminated the water supplies, unleashing a new disease that killed thousands of people. Hundreds of thousands more develop a hideous sickness, suffering such debilitating loss of liquid their eyes sink into their face, their skin wrinkles, their body shivers uncontrollably. Then there is a cover-up as the firm evades responsibility and, when finally taken to court, it simply refuses to play ball with the legal process.

Such a story sounds like something created in the febrile mind of a Hollywood scriptwriter, which in real life would lead to a huge and justified outcry.

But this is precisely what has just happened to the people of Haiti, except with one big difference — it was the UN at the centre of events, not a multinational. And there was no furore, just a few murmurings of mild concern. Yet such behaviour is worse coming from the body that is supposed to serve as the conscience of the world rather than a profit-hungry firm. The UN purports to exist in order to guard human rights, to spread the rule of law, help the poor and defend them from conflict and disease. It has all too often fallen woefully short of these noble ideals, but rarely has it shown such wilful contempt for them in its own actions.

Consider the facts. In 2010, UN peacekeepers went to Haiti to protect stability and prevent the spread of disease following a devastating earthquake. Instead, Nepalese soldiers almost certainly imported cholera, a condition not seen in the country for more than a century, then spread it by dumping sewage into a river. More than 8,000 Haitians have died so far, with another 647,000 people infected, yet from the start media and public health investigators met obfuscation from officials. Continue reading

NGOs and the repeated re-colonization of Haiti

March 5th, 2013

A Tale of Two NGOs: In Haiti, Disaster Aid or Aid Disaster?

By Beverley Bell, Other Worlds

This review of Killing With Kindness was written by Other Worlds’ founder and coordinator Beverly Bell

Three years after the deadly earthquake in Haiti, what has become of the commitments made on Red Cross billboards, the promises from telethon hosts, the moving declarations of Presidents Obama and Clinton? What has happened to the nearly $10 billion that was pledged to assist survivors and to rebuild, most of which was entrusted to the large non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that Professor Mark Schuller terms “non-profiteers”?

Not much. Almost nothing has improved for the millions who survive on an even thinner razor’s edge than before the earthquake. As for the nearly 350,000 displaced people who continue to live under shredded plastic, the only plentiful resource is scarcity. Cholera stalks the land, still growing two and a half after the global community learned of its introduction to Haiti through UN occupation soldiers. (Last month, Secretary General Ban Ki Moon cited the UN’s diplomatic immunity in rejecting a legal claim for compensation filed on behalf of Haitian cholera victims.)

Anthropologist Mark Schuller’s new book Killing with Kindness: Haiti, International Aid, and NGOs (Rutgers University Press) examines why abundant foreign aid dollars and agencies have not improved the socio-economic status or security of Haiti’s people. Continue reading

Haitian police clash with student protesters


Nov 15, 2012 by VideoTopNews
Hundreds of students march in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, shouting and waving signs against the National Police. They’re angry over the weekend death of a university student — allegedly shot by a police officer at a party. But the protest erupted into clashes as demonstrators threw rocks at police, who responded with tear gas. The unidentified police officer accused of fatally shooting twenty-four-year-old Damael d’Haiti on Saturday has been taken in for questioning. The investigation, however, has done little to quell anger. According to authorities, several students were injured in the clashes.

International Business Times: “Food Shortage Fears In Haiti After Hurricane Sandy”

Post-Sandy devastation in Haiti

by Ryan Villarreal, International Business Times, October 31 2012

Haiti is suffering one of the worst impacts of Hurricane Sandy as torrential rains and flooding damaged more than 70 percent of the country’s crops, further weakening its already insecure food supply.

Hurricane Sandy caused major flooding in Haiti, resulting at least 52 deaths and damaging more than 70 percent of the country’s crops.

Staple crops like maize, plantains and bananas have been affected, which means Haiti will have to rely even more on increasingly expensive food imports as record summer droughts have driven up prices.

According to the U.N. World Food Program, Haiti depends on food imports for half of its required supply. Continue reading

Book Exposes Violent Role of Paramilitaries in Haiti

Paramilitaries destroyed the free school buses that had been operating in Cap Haitian under Aristide’s government. Credit: Judith Scherr, Cap Haitian, Haiti, August 2004.

By Judith Scherr, Inter Press Service

OAKLAND, California, Aug 16 2012 (IPS) – Haiti’s brutal army was disbanded in 1995, yet armed and uniformed paramilitaries, with no government affiliation, occupy former army bases today.

President Michel Martelly, who has promised to restore the army, has not called on police or U.N. troops to dislodge these ad-hoc soldiers.

Given the army’s history of violent opposition to democracy, Martelly’s plan to renew the army “can only lead to more suffering”, says Jeb Sprague in his forthcoming book “Paramilitarism and the Assault on Democracy in Haiti”, to be released mid August by Monthly Review Press.

The role of Haiti’s military and paramilitary forces has received too little academic and media attention, says Sprague, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He hopes his book will help to fill that gap.

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Sprague researched the book over more than six years, traveling numerous times to Haiti, procuring some 11,000 U.S. State Department documents through the Freedom of Information Act, interviewing more than 50 people, reading the Wikileaks’ files on Haiti, and studying secondary sources. Continue reading

Report From Haiti: Where’s The Money?

At an earlier protest of disappeared relief funds

By Bill Quigley

07 October, 2011
Countercurrents.org

Broken and collapsed buildings remain in every neighborhood. Men pull oxcarts by hand through the street. Women carry 5 gallon plastic jugs of water on their heads, dipped from manhole covers in the street. Hundreds of thousands remain in grey sheet and tarp covered shelters in big public parks, in between houses and in any small pocket of land. Most of the people are unemployed or selling mangoes or food on the side of every main street. This was Port au Prince during my visit with a human rights delegation of School of Americas Watch – more than a year and a half after the earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands and made two million homeless.

What I did not see this week were bulldozers scooping up the mountains of concrete remaining from last January’s earthquake. No cranes lifting metal beams up to create new buildings. No public works projects. No housing developments. No public food or public water distribution centers. Continue reading

UN to reduce its occupation force in Haiti

MINUSTAH has more than 8,700 soldiers and 3,500 police in the French-speaking Caribbean country. Its mandate expires October 15.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Monday September 19, 2011 – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced plans to discuss with the Haitian government, the gradual reduction of MINUSTAH’s peacekeeping force in the country.

This follows violent protests about a sexual assault on an 18 year old resident, allegedly by five Uruguayan peacekeepers who left the country on Friday.

In a broadcast, Ban apologized for the incident, which he termed “totally unacceptable.”

While he praised MINUSTAH’s contribution to the country since 2004, he said he also understands the frustrations of the Haitian people. Continue reading

US makes a case for keeping UN troops in Haiti

[The US, sponsor of the 2004 coup d'etat in Haiti which removed the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and the overseer of the occupation of Haiti ever since, responds to the protests demanding an end to the occupation with another call--for more occupation. The mis-information in the US call is wearing thin as even the most slavish supporters of the occupation--from the puppet president of Haiti, to the occupation forces from Brazil and Honduras, to even the UN Secretary General--are calling for reductions and retreats on forces in Haiti. -- Frontlines ed.]

Monday, September 19, 2011

NEW YORK, USA (CMC) — The United States is calling on the United Nations to keep its peacekeeping troops in Haiti even as it note that strong rules of engagement will be important to deal with a stable but fragile security situation in the French speaking country.

In an article in the Herald Tribune, the US Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs to the United Nations, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, said Washington supports the renewal of the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti’s (MINUSTAH) mandate for another year under broadly the same terms as the 2010 mandate.

“MINUSTAH has been working tirelessly in Haiti to restore a secure and stable environment, to promote the political process, and to strengthen Haiti’s Government institutions and rule-of-law-structures, as well as to promote and to protect human rights.

“MINUSTAH has provided vital security and logistical support during presidential and legislative elections, supported programs designed to strengthen the rule of law, and conducted capacity building work with the Haitian National Police (HNP) through the 2006 HNP Reform Plan.

“The United States commends the UN role in previous elections, and underscores the importance of UN assistance with the next round of partial national and local elections in Haiti”. Continue reading

Minustah’s filthy record in Haiti

The overwhelming evidence is that the UN force in Haiti caused the cholera that has killed thousands: a highly symbolic tragedy

guardian.co.uk, Sunday 11 September 2011

haiti cholera outbreak

Independent reports concur that the cholera outbreak that has killed 6,200 Haitians was caused by reckless sewage disposal by Minustah troops. Photograph: Ramon Espinosa/ AP/AP

How much is a Haitian life worth to the UN? Apparently, not even an apology.

On 6 August, a unit of the 12,000 member United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (Minustah) based in the central plateau city of Hinche was caught dumping faeces and other waste in holes a few feet from a river where people bathe and drink. After complaints by locals and an investigation by journalists, city officials burned the waste near the Guayamouc river. The mayor of Hinche, André Renaud, criticised Minustah’s flagrant disregard for the community’s health and called for the expulsion of some foreign troops.

On 21 August, the UN was again accused of improper sewage disposal, 10 miles from Hinche.

As is their wont, Minustah officials simply deny dumping sewage. Last week, the UN released a statement claiming they had no reason to dump waste since the base in Hinche built a treatment plant and sewage disposal on 15 June.

“The United Nations Mission for Stabilisation in Haiti (Minustah) formally denies being responsible for the dumping of waste in Hinche or elsewhere in the territory of Haiti.”

For anyone who has followed Minustah’s operations this denial rings hollow. Ten months ago, reckless sewage disposal at the UN base near Mirebalais caused a devastating cholera outbreak (pdf). In October 2010, a new deployment of Nepalese troops brought the water-borne disease to Haiti that has left 6,200 dead and more than 438,000 ill. Continue reading

Protesters in Haiti demand UN troop withdrawal following alleged abuse of young man

By Associated Press

September 14

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Protesters calling for the withdrawal of U.N. peacekeepers from Haiti clashed with police Wednesday outside the earthquake-damaged Haitian National Palace.

The protesters hurled rocks at Haitian police in riot gear as they wanted to see a withdrawal of the U.N. troops who have helped keep order in Haiti since 2004, when political violence engulfed the country. The officers responded by firing volleys of tear gas canisters toward the crowd of several hundred demonstrators.

As the crowd dispersed, many protesters fled into the Champs des Mars, the park that became a huge encampment of tents and shanties following the January 2010 earthquake, and camp residents rubbed lime on their nostrils in an effort to keep the stinging gas at bay.

Several local journalists told The Associated Press that two of their colleagues were beaten by riot police. One of the injured reporters was taken to the hospital for a broken bone in his right foot, the journalists and Haitian newspaper Le Matin reported. Continue reading

Anti-MINUSTAH Protests Continue in Haiti

Port au Prince, Sep 16 (Prensa Latina) The civilian organization that organized the protests to demand the pullout of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) announced that demonstrations will continue as long as those forces remain here.At least one person was wounded in clashes with police on Wednesday, as protestors chanted slogans demanding the withdrawal of the international military body.In a communiqué sent to Prensa Latina, the Group for Compensation of Cholera Victims explained that the objective of the mobilization is to change de stand of senators and of President Michel Martelly, who defend a phased pullout.

“We cannot give more time for MINUSTAH to continue its violations,” says the document.

Protests were triggered by release of footage of five soldiers subduing a young boy in a barrack in southern Port Salut, 174 km from the capital. Continue reading

Haiti: Endgame for Brazil’s role in MINUSTAH?

Brazilian MINUSTAH occupation troops in Haiti

[Brazil's role and interest in the occupation of Haiti is given historic background in this article issued at the time of growing protests of MINUSTAH (the UN occupation force funded and largely directed by the US). -- Frontlines ed.]

Council on Hemispheric Affairs

by Alex Sanchez
August 29, 2011

Brazil’s leadership in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) may be coming to its end. The newly-appointed defense minister, Celso Amorin (most recently he served as foreign affairs minister from 2003 to 2011) recently declared to the Brazilian media that he “supports the withdrawal of Brazilian troops from Haiti.” Should this happen, it would be a major departure from the status quo, and would greatly affect MINUSTAH’s operations, as well as jolt Brazil’s role as the Caribbean’s major arbiter of security. Furthermore, Brasilia’s quest for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has been partially based on its role in MINUSTAH as an example of its readiness for a UN seat, which may now be called into question.

Brazil’s role in Haiti

Brasilia racked up a huge leadership role in MINUSTAH, which had as its mission to aid the transitional government that gained control of Haiti (via the UNSC’s resolution 1542) after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in early 2004. The mission was controversial at the time and drew heavy criticism from its inception as it was regarded as a type of colonial government by the UN in the wake of Aristide’s abrupt forced departure from power, following major national protests and violence. At the time, there were persistent accusations that the U.S., Canada and France had a role in the Haitian head of state’s ouster.

Brazil has provided the military commanders for MINUSTAH along with a significant number of its forces over the past seven years. Continue reading

Haiti: Riots against UN’s MINUSTAH in Port-au-Prince

September 15, 2011

Port-au-Prince (Reuters) – Haitian police on Wednesday clashed with demonstrators who demanded the withdrawal of United Nations peacekeepers in a protest against the alleged rape of a local man by a group of Uruguayan Marines.

Police in the capital Port-au-Prince used teargas to stop about 300 protesters from entering a square in front of the damaged presidential palace where survivors of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake are still sheltering in a tent and tarpaulin camp.

Traffic was disrupted as pedestrians and camp dwellers, many clutching small children, fled to escape the swirling teargas. Some demonstrators hurled stones at police officers.

The UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has faced a public outcry since the emergence earlier this month of a video shot by a cellphone camera that shows laughing Uruguayan Marines pinning a young Haitian man face down on a mattress and apparently assaulting him sexually. Continue reading