Monday, February 05, 2007

How are things in Haiti?

 Jan 2007

By Josette Perard

As you already know, governments in Haiti do not fulfill their institutional role. Thus, Haitian society is left alone to now deal with all sorts of crises. The symptoms (of that deep crisis) are visible everywhere: permanent political instability; mounting controversies within the state institutions (Parliament – Police – CEP); a suffocating form of misery that has engulfed the general population; constantly mounting inflation; a staggering 70 percent of the population out of work; a panicked middle class; the technical cadre of the country leaving in droves; armed groups rendering the country unsafe with their misdeeds: kidnappings, rape, and assassinations. In less than three months, armed bands burned as many as three public markets in the capital city of Port-au-Prince.

The year 2006 ended deplorably!!

Government officials are still making beautiful speeches, promising plenty but yet, they are still unable or unwilling to face head on the current conjuncture (reality) in order to earn the confidence of the overall population.

As for the economy, there is a gap between what government is offering and the real needs of the population. The Project “HOPE” for Haiti, as approved by the U.S. Congress, is nothing more than an attempt to reinvigorate the Assembly Industry, or it is at least the same ideas of pushing forth the garment industry in Haiti, but now rearranged, corrected in the Neo-liberal Political Context. In other words, government officials have no plans of their own to get the country off the underdevelopment road.

The International Community, represented it in-country through its own institutions, only want one single thing done: for the current Haitian government to strictly adhere to its “Structural Adjustment Program”.

The only raison d’ĂȘtre for MINUSTHA in Haiti is to prevent the class contradictions in Haiti to implode resulting in uncontrollable violence. MINUSTHA has succeeded in putting the armed bands on the defensive; they have not been able to uproot them however, because the problems of armed bands are not simply military. You can find this same type of violence, now enveloping Haiti, in countries like Jamaica, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, and Colombia. Why? Because the same causes produce the same results. When MINUSTHA attacks poor neighborhoods to get rid of bandits, even if they find a few among those, they also make many innocent victims within the civilian population. The problems however remain intact, unresolved.

We understand that life, for the civilian population, is extremely difficult in this context. During the holiday period, even before schools were closed for the Christmas holidays in Haiti, parents kept their children home because the spike in kidnappings was indiscriminate, with even school children as such victims. Many schools were forced to close their doors before the prescribed holiday vacation period in December. Schools reopened their doors in January. However, even if the security situation has improved a bit, both parents and their school children are experiencing paralyzing fear.

Poverty, found everywhere, forced the poorest to function in what is known as “the Informal Economy”. In reality, it’s an economy of subsistence where the poor little merchant sells goods like avocado, oranges, cosmetic products, etc..., in the middle of the streets. These kinds of economic activity do not bring much positive changes in the poor man’s life.

And now … it’s the Carnival season… it’s like a dose of vaccine, with the drum playing its role of helping the masses forget about their misery and desperation.

Every Sunday thousands, if not millions, of young men and women take to the streets, in urban and rural areas throughout the country to sing and dance as though they were trying to bypass, forget about their miserable conditions.

In other places, in rural communities, concerned individuals and citizens get together trying to fight this abject poverty. Organizations that the Lambi Fund supports have not stopped the fight to obtain their rights. The organizations that are part of this struggle are only getting stronger. Once more, the members of these organizations say loudly: Haiti will not die! Things have to change! But change will only happen from the grasroots up. Lambi Fund partners with grassroots organizations in Haiti to support the economic and social empowerment of Haitian people. Through the grasroots, true change will happen.