links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic

Follow us on Twitter



Posted on on January 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Haiti revival after quake could take generations says UN chief: Bleak outlook for decades to come and fears of health calamity when rainy season starts in May.

Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent, and Tom Phillips in Port-au-Prince,     Friday 29 January 2010

Rebuilding Haiti will take generations because the earthquake-shattered country was starting from “below zero” and logistics remained a “nightmare”, the United Nations warned today.

The bleak long-term assessment came as basic medical supplies in Port-au-Prince ran dangerously low and concerns grew of a public health calamity with the onset of the rainy season.

Several hospitals and clinics reported shortages of painkillers and antibiotics for patients with fractures, amputated limbs and infections. Relief agencies said there was also an urgent need for tents.

Edmond Mulet, acting head of the UN mission in Haiti, warned that emergency relief efforts were the start of a commitment that would be much longer than the international community might realise. “I think this is going to take many more decades … this is an enormous backwards step in Haiti’s development,” he told the BBC. “We will not have to start from zero but from below zero.”

Foreign governments this week pledged to back a decade-long rebuilding effort but that timescale could need revising at a donor conference in the coming months.

The US military signalled plans to start transferring authority to the state and aid agencies within three to six months.

The magnitude-seven quake on 12 January caused the deaths of an estimated 200,000 people, left 1.5 million homeless and 3 million in need of aid. It destroyed much of Haiti’s infrastructure.

Some 200,000 heavy-duty tents have been ordered to cope with the rainy season, which typically begins in May, and the hurricane season soon after. Only about a 10th of that number of tents has reached Haiti. Salvage crews have started clearing rubble in Port-au-Prince but with ­three-quarters of the buildings mostly demolished the task is immense. There are plans for “tent cities” outside the capital and suggestions the city could be moved to a site less vulnerable to quakes.

Some relatively unscathed neighbourhoods show a semblance of normality: markets, shops and banks were working today and schools were due to open on Monday. Water, food and medicine is reaching more of the improvised camps.

Mullet, who is also the UN’s assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping, said coordination between Haitian police and UN troops was improving aid delivery but relief logistics remained a “nightmare”.

That was apparent in hospitals where doctors and nurses complained of scarce medical supplies as they struggled to treat 200,000 survivors in need of post-surgery medical care as well as an unaccounted number with untreated injuries.

Nancy Fleurancois, a volunteer doctor at Jacmel, told a visiting UN official her team desperately needed antibiotics and surgical supplies. “You see people come here and they are at death’s door,” she said. “More help is needed.”

Kathleen Sejour, a hospital administrator, told AP: “Malaria is becoming a big problem and we don’t have enough anti-malaria drugs. Most of the kids right now have it. We had a good supply but we can’t keep up.”

Large amounts of aid have reached Haiti but the need is so vast, and the infrastructure so ruined, many survivors have been left to cope on their own. The maternal mortality rate was expected to jump.

Unicef said the disaster was likely to have separated thousands of children from their parents or guardians, and the agency repeated warnings about the threat of child traffickers.

Bo Viktor Nylund, Unicef’s senior children protection adviser, said hospitals had been alerted. “We are informing all hospitals that they should not discharge unaccompanied children without getting in touch with us or the government.”

In Port-a-Prince, Solveig Routier, a Canadian child protection specialist from Plan International, said that her group had received reliable reports of at least 15 cases of children being snatched from hospitals.

Aid groups estimate that there were 300,000 orphaned children here even before the recent disaster, and the devastation of Port-au-Prince means things have now become much worse.

Following the earthquake dozens of children were taken to the Sunshine House, a cramped concrete social centre in Pétionville which is home to 44 orphaned or abandoned children.

Sultane Ganthier, the orphanage’s 77-year-old director, said she had had to turn away children for lack of space. “Many people have asked us to take children [since the quake]. But we can’t do it. I can’t handle it,” she said.


Posted on on January 28th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

U.N. rights council’s Haiti parley is harmful diversion

January 27, 2010

GENEVA — Today’s 13th emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council, on Haiti, was a harmful waste of the organization’s precious time, resources, and moral capital.

Haiti is certainly a dire emergency, but the council, which is supposed to address human rights violations, has no budget, authority or expertise on humanitarian aid, and is simply the wrong forum.

According to one UN estimate, a day of conference and translation services can cost up to $200,000. Instead of being used for today’s questionable exercise, that money should have gone to Haiti’s needy victims.

Unlike other UN bodies, the Human Rights Council has neither the power of the purse nor of the sword, only the power to turn a spotlight on the worst abusers.

Tragically, however, the council has refused to hold special sessions to try and stop Iran from massacring student protesters, terrorists from killing civilians in Baghdad and Kabul, or China and Cuba from arresting bloggers, journalists and dissidents. Yet today it convened — to do what, exactly? Condemn the earth for quaking? It’s nonsensical.

Brazil, whose military has commanded the UN forces in Haiti for the past several years, was the one who requested today’s session. The leading power in South America, Brazil is determined to preserve its regional influence, with its rule over Haiti becoming a way to flex its muscles, as well as to gain UN credibility and one day win a seat on the Security Council.

The sudden, post-earthquake arrival of US forces and other actors challenges Brazil’s position. Hence today’s meeting, with Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim given an outsized role at the session. (Click here for summary of speeches.)

Also today, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva blamed wealthy nations for Haiti’s poverty and misery, saying he hoped the quake would shame world leaders into doing what they should have done decades ago.

Beyond Brazil’s use of the special session to jockey for international influence, the larger question is why the session won such wide and easy support, when requests for urgent meetings on massive abuses elsewhere are routinely ignored by the council members.

Dominated by repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia, Russia and China, the council majority prefers to waste time on an issue that involves no violation or perpetrator. It’s a public relations exercise that diverts attention from examining genuine human rights abuses, and aids member states that want the world to believe the council is nevertheless doing something.

The council was similarly misused last year with an urgent meeting on the financial crisis, and the year before that on the rise in food prices. Because it’s inherently the wrong forum, both meetings amounted to futile political exercises that produced nothing but paper.

The United States and the European Union should not have lent their names as co-sponsors to this equally futile exercise. It only takes the council further away from its stated mission of protecting individual human rights, and sends the wrong message.
Interestingly, the EU and other Western countries had previously demanded that all special sessions include a specific description of the human rights violations at issue (see par. 64 at p. 17 here). However, many of the same countries who took that position co-sponsored today’s session, despite the absence of any such description or violations.

The UN titled the meeting a “Special Session on Support to Recovery Process in Haiti: A Human Rights approach.”


Posted on on January 26th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

IDF Haiti Mission: After two weeks, Israel team winds down Haiti mission.

By Amos Harel, HAARETZ, January 26, 2010

The Israel Defense Forces team in Haiti is finishing up its mission and will return home on Thursday.

The decision was based on the recommendation of the Home Front Command, whose senior officers feel hey have fulfilled their role in helping the earthquake victims. In view of the large number of personnel and resources the command is deploying in Haiti and the U.S., it is believed the time has come to wrap up the mission.

Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, the head of the Home Front Command, returned to Israel last Friday after spending a few days with the Israelis in Haiti, commanded by Brig. Gen. (res.) Shalom Ben-Aryeh.

The command and the IDF Medical Corps are now preparing for the next stages of their mission: closing up shop and leaving behind a large part of the equipment brought there as a final goodwill gesture to the people of Haiti.

The winding up of the mission involves assisting the members of the team in returning to normal life back home after the complex experiences they they had, as well as drawing the necessary professional conclusions from the Haiti operation.

On the professional level, the IDF learned much about running a field hospital under such difficult conditions and operating rescue teams; and about dealing with a mass disaster that thankfully Israel has never experienced. The up close experience of dealing with an earthquake and its aftermath – a number of aftershocks occurred while the Israel mission was there – increased awareness of the enormous danger of such a natural event, but the upper echelons of the Home Front Command believe the situation in Israel is very different. While the earthquake in Haiti reached a magnitude of 7 on the Richter scale, it seems the incredible destruction resulted more from the poor-quality construction there. Two similar strength earthquakes in California in recent decades resulted in only a few dozen killed in each quake.

Members of the rescue team who toured the area were surprised to discover there are almost no buildings built with reinforced concrete in Haiti. “You wander through the ruins and see no iron bars. Everything is made out of simple concrete, which turns into a brittle material in an earthquake of this magnitude. Everything collapses,” said one member of the Israeli mission.

In Israel, by way of comparison, a far stricter building code was adopted in the mid-1970s, making buildings far less vulnerable to earthquakes.

The main conclusion of the Haiti mission from an Israeli perspective, said one senior officer, concerns the “awareness of the citizens and local authorities of the possibility of an earthquake. It is possible that more exercises are needed, but if you prepare properly for a missile attack on the home front, then you have 95% of the tools [needed] at your disposal for dealing with an earthquake,” said the officer.

An analysis of the decision making process on sending the team once again shows that time is the critical factor. Israel moved quickly, in terms of making its decision and making the necessary preparations.

This provided effective help at a very early stage. In the case of Haiti, the rescue operations among the ruins – even though they drew huge media coverage – were downplayed. “It is very exciting to pull out survivors, but it’s a drop in the bucket. We rescued or aided in the rescue of four people, while all the rescue teams from all the countries saved 132 people altogether. It seems almost 200,000 people died in the earthquake,” said the senior officer.

Israel’s main accomplishment was in the quick deployment of the field hospital in Haiti. “For five critical days, it was the best hospital in Port-au-Prince,” said the officer. “We provided timely medical care to about 1,000 people, we conducted 300 operations and delivered 16 babies. In the past few days the Americans arrived and then you can put things in proportion and become more modest in the face of their airlift and the scope of their aid. You need to understand that those who will continue to treat the main suffering there are the Americans,” he added.

For Israel, this is further proof of the importance of field hospitals; the IDF closed the last one five years ago and only reopened them as part of the lessons learned from the Second Lebanon War.

Next week the Home Front Command and the Medical Corps will hold a two-day seminar, with the help of psychologists, for those returning from Haiti to prepare them for returning to their routine.

The IDF has praised the cooperation with the Foreign Ministry and El Al during the mission to Haiti.

The good public relations is seen as being of only secondary importance: “Our people went to Haiti to save lives, to provide the best medical care they can and to represent Israel. That is the proper order of priorities. They did not think constantly about the blue and white flag flying overhead,” said the senior officer.


Alan Dershowitz – Lawyer and author
Posted: January 24, 2010

As most objective observers throughout the world marvel at Israel’s efficiency and generosity in leading the medical aid efforts in Haiti, some bigots insist on using these efforts as an occasion to continue their attack on the Jewish state. Both the neo-Nazi hard right and the neo-Stalinist hard left cannot help but to demonize Israel, regardless of what Israel does.

The neo-Nazi website features a blog entitled “The Zionization of Disaster Relief.” It accuses Israel of “exploiting the suffering of poor, defenseless Haitians on behalf of Israeli Triumphalism.” It complains that Israel is rendering medical aid to Haiti only to deflect attention from its crimes against the Palestinians.

The hard left, even in Israel, complains that Israel should not be sending medical assistance to such a faraway place. Instead it should be sending it to nearby Gaza.

Even the New York Times, in an otherwise thoughtful analysis of the controversiality of the aid among some Israelis, failed to note the difference between Israel sending its limited resources to faraway Haiti and to nearby Gaza. Haiti is not at war with Israel. Haiti has not pledged itself to Israel’s destruction. Haiti has not fired 8,000 rockets at Israeli civilians. Gaza, on the other hand, has a popularly elected government that has done and continues to do all of the above. Moreover, there is no comparison between the tens of thousands of Haitians who have died from a natural disaster, and the people of Gaza who suffer far less from what is, essentially, a self-inflicted wound.

Nor do the perennial enemies of Israel emphasize the comparison between tiny and resource-poor Israel, on the one hand, and the enormous and resource-rich Arab and Muslim nations, on the other hand. While Israel digs deeply into its treasury and manpower to send medical assistance a quarter of the way around the world, Arab and Muslim nations are generally missing in action when it comes to relief efforts. This is true not only in Haiti, which is a Catholic nation, but it was equally true when tsunamis and other natural disasters have devastated Muslim nations.

For those who argue that Israel is sending this aid to Haiti for its own selfish reasons, there are two answers. First the realpolitik answer: All nations have interests; and all act, at least in part, out of self interest. When the United States government is asked by Americans to justify its multibillion dollar foreign aid grants, it generally responds by arguing that these grants are serving the interests of the United States. When it comes to Israel, however, a double standard is always applied. Israel must act only out of altruistic motives, while all other countries are entitled to leaven altruism with self interest. The second answer is that Israel is doing far more in Haiti than would be required to satisfy its self interests. It is sending more aid per capita than any country in the world. It is doing it with extraordinary efficiency and real impact. Isn’t it at least possible that the millennia-long Jewish tradition of tzadakah — that is, charity based on justice — is at least part of the explanation for Israel’s generosity?

The fact that so many Israelis are advocating medical and other assistance to Gaza certainly supports this latter theory. Has any other country in the history of the world ever provided medical and other assistance to a people with whom it is at war — to people who continue to support rocket attacks and other forms of terrorism against its own civilians? Again, a double standard. The reality is that Israel will be extremely generous to the people of Gaza if and when they stop supporting attacks on Israeli civilians, stop making martyrs of their suicide murderers, and stop encouraging their children to don suicide vests. Contrast Gaza with the West Bank, which today has an improving economy, better travel conditions and among the best health care available in any Arab or Muslim country in the area. The peace dividend the Palestinian people will reap from making peace with Israel is incalculable.

So continue to criticize Israel when it fails to live up to generally applicable international standards, but praise it when it exceeds those standards in rendering aid that has saved and will continue to save many lives. Israel will continue to send disaster relief regardless of how the world reacts to it because Israelis understand how it feels to be subject to disasters. But fairness requires that Israel not be condemned for its humanitarian efforts, and that its rendering of aid to Haiti not be used as yet another occasion for applying a double standard to its actions.


Posted on on January 26th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Exporting Misery to Haiti.
By James Ridgeway, Reader Supported News
Monday, 18 January 2010

“Le ou malere, tout bagay samble ou,” says one of the Creole proverbs that are a staple of Haitian popular culture. When you are poor, everything can be blamed on you. It’s a truth we can see played out in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake.

Exporting Misery to Haiti: How Rice, Pigs, and US Policy Undermined the Haitian Economy.

è ou malere, tout bagay samble ou, says one of the Creole proverbs that are a staple of Haitian popular culture. When you are poor, everything can be blamed on you. It’s a truth we can see played out in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. While many Americans are reacting to the disaster with genuine compassion and generosity, there’s another kind of response afoot as well – one that extends well beyond the sickening remarks made by Pat Robertson or Rush Limbaugh.

Why can’t the Haitians ever seem to take care of themselves? ask the denizens of web chat rooms and radio call-in shows. The place was a mess before the earthquake, and nothing we do ever seems to help – so why bother? In more elevated circles, the comments are more subtle: “Development efforts have failed there, decade after decade,” noted a piece in Sunday’s Washington Post, “leaving Haitians with a dysfunctional government, a high crime rate and incomes averaging a dollar a day.” With rescue efforts still underway, it said, “policymakers in Washington and around the world are grappling with how a destitute, corrupt and now devastated country might be transformed into a self-sustaining nation.”

You’d never guess, from this discourse, how much US policy has actually undermined Haiti’s ability to be a “self-sustaining nation,” especially its ability to feed itself. America’s history of invasion, occupation, and intervention into Haiti’s political and economic life stretches back two centuries, with plenty of help from homegrown Haitian despots. But since the 1980s, in particular, the United States has helped turn a nation of low-tech subsistence farmers into a dumping ground for American agribusiness.

The most glaring example of this trend is rice, which was once a staple crop. Today, little rice is grown in Haiti; instead, the nation is a market for the subsidized rice crop grown in the United States. Human Rights lawyer Bill Quigley, now at the Center for Constitutional Rights, wrote about this trend in the spring of 2008, as food riots shook Haiti and other parts of the developing world:

In 1986, after the expulsion of Haitian dictator Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loaned Haiti $24.6 million in desperately needed funds (Baby Doc had raided the treasury on the way out). But, in order to get the IMF loan, Haiti was required to reduce tariff protections for their Haitian rice and other agricultural products and some industries to open up the country’s markets to competition from outside countries. The US has by far the largest voice in decisions of the IMF. “American rice invaded the country,” recalled Charles Suffrard, a leading rice grower in Haiti, in an interview with the Washington Post in 2000. By 1987 and 1988, there was so much rice coming into the country that many stopped working the land.

Quigley interviewed Father Gerard Jean-Juste, a Haitian priest and human rights advocate. “In the 1980s, imported rice poured into Haiti, below the cost of what our farmers could produce it,” Fr. Jean-Juste said. “Farmers lost their businesses. People from the countryside started losing their jobs and moving to the cities. After a few years of cheap imported rice, local production went way down.” By 2008, Haiti was the world’s third largest importer of US rice, receiving some 240,000 tons that year alone.

US rice growers are heavily subsidized by the government. Between 1995-2006 they received $11 billion. The American rice industry is also protected by tariffs – the same sorts of tariffs the IMF demanded Haiti remove. With the average family income standing at about $400 a year, most Haitians couldn’t afford to pay international prices for a product they once grew for themselves – so they had to have aid. The US sponsored the aid, but half the money didn’t go to buy the food; it went to US farmers, to processors and to shipping companies, because the food had to be transported in US ships. A good part of the so-called handout to Haiti actually went to US agribusiness, which needed markets for its overflowing bins of farm products.

Another infamous “aid” story involves the destruction of native pig farming in Haiti, following an outbreak of swine fever in the late 1970s. As described by Paul Farmer, the physician and anthropologist legendary for his work among Haiti’s poor, pigs were once a centerpiece of Haiti’s peasant economy, providing a reliable source of income and an insurance policy against hard times. The hardy Haitian creole pigs seemed to be remarkably resistant to swine fever. But American agriculture experts feared that Haiti’s pigs could spread the disease to the United States and destroy its massive hog business, and bankrolled a $23 million “extermination and restocking program.”

By 1984, all of Haiti’s 1.3 million pigs had been killed. USAID and the Organization of American States thereupon announced a plan to replace the Creole pigs with brand new Iowa pigs – provided that the peasants committed to building pigsties to US standards and demonstrate they had enough money to buy feed. Even the peasants who could afford these “free” pigs found that they couldn’t flourish under Haitian conditions. The fragile kochon blan (“foreign” or “white” pigs) frequently fell ill and had to go to the vet; they wouldn’t eat scraps and required expensive feed; and they had few litters. Soon, the project was abandoned – leaving Iowa hog farmers enriched, and hundreds of thousands of Haitian families without a key means of survival.

These changes in many ways served US economic interests in the Caribbean, which since the 1980s have been oriented towards knitting the area into a common free trade zone, first in the Caribbean Basin Initiative and then under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Forced out of small-scale farming by the elimination of two basic staples, Haitians moved to the cities, where they were available to work in sweatshops producing panties, bras, and dresses for such places as Sears, WalMart, and JC Penney. US aid programs have supported the effort to turn countries such as Haiti into low wage assembly platforms that supply a cheap, easily exploitable workforce for American and international business – and at the same time, relieve pressure on immigration by keeping the desperate Haitians working at home for what is barely a living wage.

After coming to Haiti en masse in the 1980s and 1990s, some of these companies moved on to even cheaper – and more “stable” – countries. Yet recent development initiatives, including the US’s HOPE II program to encourage duty-free trade with Haiti, continued to emphasize the low-wage, export-oriented garment industry over sustainable agriculture or other projects that would build Haiti’s self-reliance. At the same time, Western companies looked toward the prospect of an expanded tourist industry, owned by foreigners and once again exploiting cheap labor. The purported return of the luxury tourist hotels targeted such places as Jacmel, which now lie in ruins.

Even before the earthquake, these economic actions, driven by outside economic forces, offered little promise of restoring and reinvigorating indigenous farming, or providing any sort of real, homegrown economic base for Haiti. Such has been the nature of the US’s “help” to its impoverished Caribbean neighbor.

As the Haitians say, Bel dan pa di zanmi. A beautiful smile doesn’t mean he’s your friend.
James Ridgeway, an investigative journalist, is senior Washington correspondent for Mother Jones. His books include “The Haiti Files,” an anthology of history, politics and culture.


Posted on on January 22nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

UN Dodges on Search and Safety, 278 National Staff Unaccounted For, Blames Media

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 19 — As UN officials in Haiti lash out at the media for reporting on looting, they are unable or unwilling to answer Press questions about the safety of their building, rescue efforts made or a helicopter “crash” that they themselves reported.

Top UN Peacekeeper Alain Leroy on Tuesday morning told Inner City Press he had heard the same reports of a helicopter crash in Haiti, but to ask his deputy Edmond Mulet, who was appear at noon by video link for Haiti.

When he did, Mulet said “I’ve heard about this crash” but that “the UN and MINUSTAH have nothing to do with it.” But the UN says it is playing the central coordinating role. Inner City Press asked for an update on MINUSTAH’s inquiry into the safety of its 1200 national Haitian staff, on whom at first it did not report. Mulet responded that 278 are still unaccounted for, adding that perhaps some are “dealing with their own grievances.” Video here, from Minute 21:26. Speaking of grieving, Inner City Press asked what had been done to try to find and save staffer Alexandra Duguay, an energetic Canadian who until recently worked at UN headquarters, as well as running marathons.

During Sunday’s whirlwind tour of Port au Prince by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and some hand selected media, complaints were made that not enough was done to find Ms. Duguay. Since then, the National Post quoted her parents that she had been found, dead. Still, MINUSTAH spokesman David Wimhurst replied that he had no information, “I don’t have” ID’s, while mentioning another building that collapsed with ten people inside. Video here, from Minute 32:20. On Monday evening, Inner City Press directed to Mr. Wimhurst a question about the helicopter crash on which UN sources were reporting, without any further information being given. Rather, the UN’s communications strategy appears to be to attack media which reports on looting or rioting in Haiti.

Ruins of UN’s rented Hotel Christopher, with copter in background

Mr. Mulet calls such reports “irresponsible” — he also called looting “normal” — while Mr. Wimhurst, pointing out that he attended Columbia School of Journalism and was “well trained,” chided media for “looking for conflict,” for trying to blame the UN for things. One wonders what Mr. Wimhurst, and others in the UN, thought of the media’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina and responses in New Orleans. It is known that the Secretariat and Spokesman have reacted angrily to this comparison. Mulet said he wasn’t aware if the UN’s headquarters in the Christopher Hotel, for which it paid out $94,000 a month, had been brought into MOSS compliance. Mulet said all the records were destroyed. It seems strange that records on a contract and lease of this size were stored in the building itself. Mulet said this would be followed up on. We will be following up.

* * *

At UN on Haiti, Ban Dodges on Immigration, Armenians Rebuffed, No Copter

By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, January 19 — As the UN Security Council voted to authorize 3500 more peacekeepers for Haiti, including 1500 more police, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on member states to step forward with offers of troops.

Inner City Press asked about the Dominican Republic’s offer of a battalion, said to number 800, and whether Ban and the UN think that countries should be less stringent with their immigration restrictions after the Haitian earthquake. Mr. Ban replied by praising the Dominican Republic for its troop offer — which some see as simply blue helmeting a border guarding force — and for its help with the humanitarian effort. He is aware, he said, of the Dominican Republic’s attempt to accommodate Haitians within the Republic’s “rules and regulations.” Inner City Press asked Ban about reports that the UN had run out of fuel for its trucks to deliver aid. Top humanitarian John Holmes passed a note to Ban Ki-moon, who read out that last night 10,000 gallons of fuels had arrived. When Holmes himself took to the custom made podium brought out for Ban Ki-moon, Inner City Press asked him about a reported complaint by Armenia’s Mission to the UN, that they had offered a rescue team last Thursday but were never told of any UN acceptance or decision.

Holmes replied that he was unaware, but that there are always issues of matching needs with offers. But from member states? Inner City Press, which reported exclusively Monday evening about what UN sources said
was a helicopter crash in Haiti
, asked chief Peacekeeper Alain Leroy for an update. I’ve seen those reports, he said, but I have no new information this morning. He said to ask Edmond Mulet, who will be appearing later on Tuesday by video link from Haiti.

UN’s Ban and former spokeswoman, answers on immigration not shown

The Ambassador of China Zhang Yesui , this month’s Security Council president, came out at announced the Council’s vote. While usually he leaves the stakeout without taking any questions — on Monday he walked away as Inner City Press asked about the attacks in Afghanistan — this time he called on Xinhua, and offered a long answer on camera, in Chinese. It concerned the UN’s role in responding to Haiti. Asked if China would offer any more troops — its 125 member contingent is, as Inner City Press has reported, a “riot squad” that when rotated has flown back to Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region — Zhang Yesui said it would be taken under advisement. The last speaker at the stakeout was U.S. Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff, who came prepared with an answer to Inner City Press’ question of Monday, whether the $100 million of aid announced by President Barack Obama would be part of the UN’s flash appeal.

No, Ambassador Wolff said, the $100 million is “bilateral.” But he said that the US will be contributing generously to the UN’s flash appeal, in the coming days. We’ll see. Footnote: because the UN and even Security Council has become all Haiti, all the time for now, Inner City Press asked the U.S.’s Alejandro Wolff about reports of bombing in Darfur, requests to protect civilians, and Chad’s statement it does not want the mandate of the Darfur related MINURCAT peacekeeping mission renewed. Wolff said the U.S. is concerned and is seeking more information. Inner City Press has asked the UN too, and hopes to be able to write more on this topic shortly. Watch this site.

From the UN’s January 19 transcript:Inner City Press: Mr. Secretary-General, the Dominican Republic has offered a battalion – it has been said publicly – they’ve also said that they are very concerned about immigration and people crossing the border. Does the UN have anything to say whether countries should loosen their immigration restrictions on Haitians, or otherwise, after this crisis? And also, does the UN still have gas to run its trucks? There was a report in USA Today that the UN was running out of gas for its food distribution trucks.

SG Ban Ki-moon: From the beginning of this crisis, the Dominican Republic Government has been providing very generously and swiftly all possible assistance to their neighbouring country, Haiti, and we are very much grateful to them. I am also aware of the Dominican Republic’s intention to dispatch troops there – that is also welcome. For the immigration issues, I am also aware that the Dominican Republic Government is trying to accommodate as many as possible, those people within the existing rules and regulations of their country, but they have been very generous. Of course, this fuel is quite limited in Haiti. Ten thousand gallons of fuel, I think, arrived last night from the Dominican Republic. That will help more, as we continue our operations.


Among UN P-5, France and UK Talk Secret, US Fetes New Diplomat, Russia Dubious on Yemen, China Flew in 3 Hours

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 19 — Amid the Haitian earthquake emergency, attacks on Kabul, in Yemen and in Darfur, the US Mission to the UN on Tuesday night welcomed a diplomat into the fold, on the 42nd floor of the Waldorff Towers.

As U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative Alejandro Wolff put it in his introduction, Rick Barton has represented the US in 30 countries in ten years. And on his family vacation, he went to post-Katrina New Orleans to build homes. The well attended reception, complete with miniature grilled cheese sandwiches and brownies, began with somber statements for Haiti. In the crowd, many asked Inner City Press if the coverage of the UN was too negative, unfair, sensational. CNN’s Anderson Cooper showed looters; the Washington Post’s new Turtle swung for the fences dubbing Haiti “Ban’s Katrina.” At a UN Foundation luncheon on Tuesday, Ban Ki-moon took that author to task for several minutes, publicly. This, apparently, is the new take-charge Ban, more general than secretary, at least for now. From Haiti via video link Ban’s former spokesman Michele Montas also said the media is being too negative. Ban envoy Edmond Mulet called the Press irresponsible. The Missions to the UN of the UK and France take a different approach to the media. Each has an off the record briefing scheduled January 20 for selected reporters. The two used to hold such briefings on different days, but then even the “Western diplomat” moniker was too transparent.

Now they hide behind each other, only because few file stories between the UK’s early morning briefing and France’s 5 p.m. follow up. Call them the taciturn twins. One knows what was said but it not supposed to report it. What then is the point?

Here’s one the UK Ambassador should be asked: is it true, as Middle Eastern sources say, that the UK is trying in the Security Council to bring up the conflict in Yemen, specifically targeting Iran’s support for some parties?

UK’s Lyall Grant and US in Council, Yemen and secret briefings not shown

In this account, the Russians balked, saying as Missourians do, Show me. Or at least wait until the conference on Yemen in London on January 27. Before that, on January 25 in Montreal, there’s a conference on Haiti. France’s Ambassador Araud — who initially put the date at February 25 — took a decidedly different stance on the U.S. in Haiti than did his foreign minister and Cooperation minister.

The ministers questioned U.S. domination, while Araud stepped back and said, we are grateful, we live here. But what will he say behind closed doors?

A French journalist, while suggesting to Inner City Press that Araud was being diplomatic — imagine that! — also lambasted the Obama administration’s resurrection of the Monroe Doctrine. “They have spoken with the Brazilians and the Canadians,” he said, “as if that is enough.” So the US hardly briefs anymore, and the UK and France do so mostly on deepest background. What has happened, some wonder, to these P-2, P-3, even P-5? Chinese Ambassador Liu on Tuesday night told Inner City Press that China had its search and rescue team in the air to Haiti three hours after the earthquake. He asked, of disaster forecasting, “But why didn’t they have notice?” Why indeed.

Ironically the Chinese mission can be more open than the UK or France. With decided irony, a Chinese diplomat told Inner City Press that the Council first Press Statement on Haiti was only unobjectionable because of the UN presence there. Otherwise, he said with a wink, it would be an internal matter.

Meanwhile the UN Missions of the UK and France, while espousing free press, play a more elite game, casting aspersions on background, what some call a secret club of slander and others call diplomatic. They want their positions put in a positive light, but provide only selective illumination.

Tuesday night Rick Barton, after a stirring speech of the type that perhaps shouldhave been deployed earlier in Massachusetts, ended with a folksy talefrom his childhood. He lived in Bronxville — connected he said toworld affairs by one who died with Dag Hammarskjold in his Central African plane crash — and visited the UN. His mother ran across First Avenue, causes taxi after taxi to screech to a stop.

“Heylady,” the last cabbie shouted, addressing his mother as he had never heard before. “Next year, the Olympics!” Barton related this challenge to his UN work, a marathon of plenary speeches. But that’s only the onthe record part. Watch this site.

* * *

AtUN, It’s “All Hail” to US in Haiti, While Elsewhere Franceand Brazil Are Critical

ByMatthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 18 — As the UNSecurity Council emptied out Mondayat noon, sources told Inner City Press that in closed consultations,the U.S. said that to strengthen the mandate of the UN Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, would “send the wrong message… that the Haitian government is weak.”Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff, who represented the U.S. in the meeting and spokeafterwards to the Press, said that the U.S. is supporting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s request for a vote authorizing 2000more troops and 1500 more police for MINUSTAH. InnerCity Press asked Ambassador Wolff if it is true that the U.S. thinking strengthening the mandate would send some wrong message. Wolffr eplied that the UN, including chief Peacekeeper Alain Leroy, has not identified any deficiency in the mandate. AsBrazil’s A mbassador left the Council, Inner City Press asked her about publicquotes from Brazil that MINUSTAH’s mandate should, in fact, bebolstered. She, however, called the mandate “sufficient.”

When askedabout any difficulties Brazilian NGOs have had gettinginto Haiti through the airport, now run by the U.S., she said therehave been “no such problems.”

French Ambassador Gerard Araud, too, was over the top in his praise of the U.S.,telling the Press that “we are living in the US after all.” Inner City Press asked if, as reported, France supported Medecins Sans Frontierescomplaints about having planes blocked by the Americansfrom the Portau Prince airport.

French Ambassador Araud, ministers’ critiques of U.S. not shown

Araudquickly answered (video here)that the Americans are doing a good job, that the airport is small by international standards, and that “we are living inthe US after all.” Infact, French Cooperation Minister AlainJoyandet made a complaint about the blocking of MSF’s plane. And Araud’s boss Bernard Kouchnerhas said the airport has become an “annex or Washington,” according to France’s Ambassador to Haiti Didier Le Bret.

So what is France’s position — these two statements, or Araud’s?

From the French Mission’stranscription, of question dubious, ofanswer less so:

Inner City Press:Médecins sans frontières complained that its planes couldn’t get in to the airport and blamed the Americans. Does France confirm that?

Amb. Araud: Of course, no.I think we areextremely grateful and personally I said it in the Council, extremely grateful for what the US government is doing, and especially managing the airport. You know, frustrations are understandable. You have asmall airport, in international terms, which was devastated by the earthquake and you have hundred of planes which want to land. So it’s totally normal that there are delays, but I think that the situation has dramatically improved. Yesterday, you know, it was possible tohave sixty planes landing and today it will be one hundred planes landing. But the most important will be to work on the port. We have to rehabilitate the port where we can bring most of the aid.

Once again, we are living in the US after all, and we want to express our gratitude for the mobilization of the US administration and the US people.

From the US Mission’s transcript:Inner City Press: Someone said on this idea of strengthening the mandate that the U.S. had a concern that this would send a message some how that the Government of Haiti was too weak. I just want to know whether you think there is a danger in that type of message being sent. And also whether the U.S. will be participating in the UN’s Flash Appeal that was announced on Friday, whether the $100 million announced by President Obama in any way is related to that or should be counted towards that.

Ambassador Wolff: I’ll get back to you on the later question, I want to make sure I have the right information for you, exactly how that $100 million fits into that,into the Flash Appeal. As to the mandate issue, there is no indication, indeed neither the Secretary-General nor Undersecretary-General Le Roy mentioned any deficiency in the current mandate. And so, if the UN is satisfied and the troop contributors are satisfied and the force commander is satisfied then we should focus on what we need to do under the current mandate. Of course, asyou indicate, we will need to look and evaluate over the longer term,as we assess the long term impact of this tragedy on the country andon the UN’s ability to function, and whether the requirements for the UN have to be adapted in any way. That is something that we dowith any mandate and we will obviously do it with particular attention in this case.

Watch this site.

Footnote: Since the Security Council has other matters on its agenda, Inner City Press tried to ask this month’s Council president, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui, if and when heexpects the Council to address Afghanistan. But having been asked if the Chinese search and rescue team stopped after finding the Chinese delegation who’d met with Hedi Annabi, Zhang Yesui just walked away. Who will replace him as China’s Ambassador is not yet known.


Posted on on January 22nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

nbsp; is working with strong local organisations in Haiti mobilising community-based relief efforts. They say – let’s send a worldwide wave of donations to the front lines, to save lives now and help people recover and rebuild. Avaaz  partners to make sure the help reaches those who need it most.…

Based on expert advice from leading humanitarian NGOs who have been working in Haiti for over 20 years, we’re offering donations to trusted local organizations, including:

Honor and Respect for Bel Air, a big community-based network in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, which is also supported by our friends at the respected Brazilian NGO Viva Rio.

Coordination Régionale des Organisations de Sud-Est (CROSE), which brings together some of the most active community groups in the South of Haiti where the earthquake struck hardest. These groups include: women’s groups, schools networks and local cooperatives.

Zanmi Lasante, sister organization of Partners in Health (PiH) in Haiti. PiH and its partners have been among the first to respond with emergency medical services to the most vulnerable.

In 2008, Avaaz members donated over $2 million for Burmese monks to respond to the devastating Cyclone Nargis. Our money made an incredible difference there — because it went directly to local people on the front lines of the aid effort.


Posted on on January 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The end of Slavery in Brazil and Haiti: Cultural similarities that led to the Zumbi semi-mythical events of 1695 in the Northeast of Brazil, and to the playing out of the local and global forces in Haiti of the post-French Revolution of 1789. Condomble and Voodoo, black natural generals and  politicians. Reasons we think that Brazil involvement in Haiti could be most understanding.

Brazil abolished slavery in 1888.

Unipalmares – a University in Sao Paolo is named after rebel slave Zumbi dos Palmares.

Zumbi also known as Zumbi dos Palmares (1655 – November 20, 1695, pronounced: ‘zoombee’) was the last of the leaders of the Quilombo dos Palmares, in the present-day state of Alagoas, Brazil.

Quilombos were fugitive slave settlements or slave refugee settlements. Quilombos represented slave resistance which occurred in three forms: slave settlements, attempts at seizing power, and armed insurrection. Members of quilombos often returned to plantations or towns to encourage their former fellow slaves to flee and join the quilombos. If necessary, they brought slaves by force and sabotaged plantations. Slaves who came to quilombos on their own were considered free, but those who were captured and brought by force were considered slaves and continued to be slaves in the settlement. They could be considered free if they were to bring another captive to the settlement.

Quilombo dos Palmares was a self-sustaining republic of Maroons escaped from the Portuguese settlements in Brazil, “a region perhaps the size of Portugal in the hinterland of Bahia”. At its height, Palmares had a population of over 30,000. Forced to defend against repeated attacks by Portuguese colonial power, the warriors of Palmares were expert in capoeira, a martial arts form that was brought to or created in Brazil by African slaves circa the 16th century.

An African known only as Zumbi was born free in Palmares in 1655, but was captured by the Portuguese and given to a missionary, Father António Melo, when he was approximately 6 years old. Baptized Francisco, Zumbi was taught the sacraments, learned Portuguese and Latin, and helped with daily mass. Despite attempts to pacify him, Zumbi escaped in 1670 and, at the age of 15, returned to his birthplace. Zumbi became known for his physical prowess and cunning in battle and was a respected military strategist by the time he was in his early twenties.

By 1678, the governor of the captaincy of Pernambuco, Pedro Almeida, weary of the longstanding conflict with Palmares, approached its leader Ganga Zumba with an olive branch. Almeida offered freedom for all runaway slaves if Palmares would submit to Portuguese authority, a proposal which Ganga Zumba favored. But Zumbi was distrustful of the Portuguese. Further, he refused to accept freedom for the people of Palmares while other Africans remained enslaved. He rejected Almeida’s overture and challenged Ganga Zumba’s leadership. Vowing to continue the resistance to Portuguese oppression, Zumbi became the new leader of Palmares.

Fifteen years after Zumbi assumed leadership of Palmares, Portuguese military commanders Domingos Jorge Velho and Bernardo Vieira de Melo mounted an artillery assault on the quilombo. February 6, 1694, after 67 years of ceaseless conflict with the cafuzos, or Maroons, of Palmares, the Portuguese succeeded in destroying Cerca do Macaco, the republic’s central settlement. Before the king Ganga Zumba was dead, Zumbi had taken it upon himself to fight for Palmares’ independence. In doing so he became known as the commander-in-chief in 1675. Due to his heroic efforts it increased his prestige. Palmares’ warriors were no match for the Portuguese artillery; the republic fell, and Zumbi was wounded in one leg.

Though he survived and managed to elude the Portuguese and continue the rebellion for almost two years, he was betrayed by a mulato who belonged to the quilombo and had been captured by the Paulistas, and, in return for his life, led them to Zumbi’s hideout. Zumbi was captured and beheaded on the spot November 20, 1695. The Portuguese transported Zumbi’s head to Recife, where it was displayed in the central praça as proof that, contrary to popular legend among African slaves, Zumbi was not immortal. This was also done as a warning of what would happen to others if they tried to be as brave as him. Remnants of quilombo dwellers continued to reside in the region for another hundred years.


A Black Spartacus in the Northeast of Brazil – some reality – some myth – but from that myth reality in Brazil was born.

Excerpts from –  ZUMBI DOS PALMARES

(Slave Freedom Fighter: 1655-1695)

by Fernando Correia da Silva

c. 1600: Blacks who have escaped slave labour on the sugar plantations in Pernambuco found the maroon community, or quilombo, of Palmares in the Serra da Barriga hills.  The population grows incessantly, later reaching 30 thousand.  For the slaves, Palmares is the Promised Land. – 1630: The Dutch invade the Northeast of Brazil. – 1644: Just as the Portuguese failed, the Dutch also fail in their attempt to destroy Palmares. – 1654: The Portuguese drive the Dutch out of the Northeast of Brazil. – 1655: Zumbi is born in one of the many settlements of Palmares. – 1662(?): Still a child, Zumbi is taken prisoner by soldiers and given to Father António Melo.  He is baptised Francisco and later learns to help at mass and studies Portuguese and Latin. – 1670: Zumbi runs away and returns to Palmares. – 1675: In the battle against Portuguese soldiers commanded by Sergeant-Major Manuel Lopes, Zumbi shows himself to be a great warrior and military organiser. – 1678: Pedro Almeida, governor of the captaincy of Pernambuco, is more interested in the submission of Palmares than its destruction and approaches chief Ganga Zumba with a proposal of peace and freedom for all runaway slaves. Ganga Zumba accepts, but Zumbi is opposed to the idea; he cannot accept that some blacks should be free while others remain in slavery. – 1680: Zumbi becomes the leader of Palmares and commands the resistance movement against the Portuguese soldiers. – 1694: With the help of heavy artillery, Domingos Jorge Velho and Vieira de Mello lead the final attack against Cerca do Macaco, the main settlement of Palmares.  Although wounded, Zumbi manages to escape. – November 20, 1695: Turned in by an old companion, Zumbi is hunted down, taken prisoner and beheaded.


I become good friends with Ricardo, a fair-skinned mulatto, considerably older than myself.  He is an economist with a good job at Banco do Brasil.  But he has never been promoted.  His white peers, who started at the same time as he did, are already on double the salary.  He tells me sarcastically, “My friend, I’m not white enough to be the boss but too white to mop the floors.”

Richard points out a Banco do Brasil office clerk, Zé Pelintra, ebony black, a weak figure, lacklustre, timid, modest.  But when he is possessed by his orixá, Ogum, in Candomblé rites, he becomes dominating and belligerent.  I interrupt:

“Ogum is Saint George, isn’t he?

Ricardo becomes irritated.

“At this altar, Ogum is Ogum, not Saint George; Iansã is Iansã, not Saint Barbara; Xangô is Xangô, not Saint Jerome, Oxalá is Oxalá, not Jesus Christ.  There is no confusion; it’s all authentic, not a carnival for the tourists.  It is not a sect – it’s the religion of the oppressed.  Understand, my friend?”

I understand, but I want to see it with my own eyes.  He hesitates.  Only blacks go to this temple.  And people would be suspicious of or even opposed to the presence of a white.  I don’t let the opportunity slip:

“Wait a minute, Ricardo.  What’s the story?  Is this racism in reverse?

He decides to take me.  It’s the night of November 19, this I remember.  They really do eye me with mistrust.  Some even snort and snarl in hostility.  There is a rhythmic beating of drums.  Babalorixás and Ialorixás, priests and priestesses chant canticles, alaluê, alaluá, and goodness knows what else in an African language or dialect.  Zé Pelintra slips into a trance, foams at the mouth, shudders and falls to the ground, writhing.  He gets up quickly and really has changed personality; his eyes even spark.  Saravá! Ogum has arrived.  Always commanding, counselling and protecting his followers, some of whom also go into a trance when touched by his hands.  Suddenly, he looks at me and points.

“You don’t believe, do you?”

I nod my head, but he insists.

“Seeing is believing, like St. Thomas, right?  You want a beer?”

“Wine if there is any.  I prefer red.”

“That’s the drink of Xangô, your orixá, by the looks.  Let’s call him…”

He comes closer to me, places his hands on my forehead.

I black out.

When I recover my senses it’s already the 20th.  There is a beating of drums and people singing: “Zumbi, Zumbi, oia Zumbi!  Oia Zumbi the saviour.  Oia Zumbi!


Early morning at the Candomblé temple, the ground is scattered with wilted flowers.  Ogum has gone.  There is just Zé Pelintra, that weak figure, his timidity resurfaced.  Ricardo tells me that in spite of the fact that I’m white, Axé, the life force of God, revealed himself through me.  Xangô, the orixá of justice, possessed me.  Then Princess Aqualtune spoke through me, followed by her sons, Ganga Zumba and Gana Zona, and finally her grandson, Zumbi dos Palmares.  Today is the 20th of November, the date on which Zumbi was executed.  Perhaps that is why…

If an orixá used me to reveal itself in this world, I, on the other hand, used it to see the other.  Ricardo tells me that this cannot happen, it is not possible, ever!  I shake my head.  Never?  But I see everything, everything, and how I see it!

I see the swaying sugar cane fields along the entire north-eastern coast of Brazil.  I see the slave ships weighing anchor in Recife, having set sail from the West Coast of Africa.  Is white always the colour of oppressors?  What about the African chieftains and rulers that sold other blacks – their prisoners – to the white slave traders?

Transported like cattle in the hold, I see Yorubas, Angolas, Benguelas, Kongos, Cabindans, Monjolos, Kilwans, Minas and so many others; men, women, even children being offloaded in Pernambuco.

I see Princess Aqualtune being sold at a slave auction.  I see her being taken to a plantation owner’s manor house.  She is given a bath and new clothes and will be trained to wait on the table.

I see her brothers and sisters and her people crammed into the slaves’ quarters.  I see that they are woken with whips before sunrise, and driven to the cane fields where they begin cutting.  Some blacks are promoted to foremen and they also use whips.  Is white always the colour of oppressors?  I see the captives gathering and bundling up cane.  I see them carrying the bundles on their backs to the sugar mill.  I see the rollers, boiling house, furnaces, coppers, sheds and deposits, blacks toiling endlessly.  Much work, little food, they’ll live another six or seven years at the most.

“Let them die!” says one slave-owner.  “In Africa there is no shortage of them.  The important thing is to produce!”

I see the demand for this sugar in the European markets.  I see an exhausted captive slacken the pace of his work.  A foreman (black, black…)  whips him across the back.  Another whacks him across the buttocks.  They rub salt into his wounds, live flesh.  This is the punishment for laziness; the pain will be forever branded in his memory.

o freedom…

“Palmares must be destroyed, and those runaway slaves brought back, sold or killed!” say the plantation owners and the Portuguese soldiers.  And they try, I see them trying to destroy the quilombo again and again, but they are always fought off.  The settlement of Cerca do Macaco alone is protected by three stockades, each of which is guarded by 200 men.  The defence of liberty is, without a doubt, the great organising force of the people of Palmares.

First the Portuguese are fought off, followed by the Dutch in 1644.  I see that the Dutch finally give up their siege on the quilombo.  They have other more pressing wars…

In 1654 the Portuguese drive the Dutch out of the Northeast of Brazil.  After 24 years of guerrilla warfare, life in the captaincy returns to normal, and so does sugar production.

“Now we must bring down Palmares!” I hear the plantation owners protesting and I see the Governor agreeing with their demand.

But I also see that the following year one of Princess Aqualtune’s daughters gives birth to a baby boy who is given the name Zumbi, meaning The Spirit!  How I know this, I’m not exactly sure…


Zumbi returns to Palmares.

I see that the young Zumbi is free to roam through the cultivated land of his home settlement, Cerca do Macaco.  I see that at the age of seven Portuguese soldiers catch him off guard and haul him off with other blacks to Porto Calvo.  I see the boy being offered to Father Antönio Melo.  The priest christens him Francisco and teaches him Portuguese and Latin.  He learns quickly and begins to help at mass.  He is considered a bright boy and a trustworthy captive, his watch slackens and he plots his escape.  I see that at the age of fifteen he finally flees the parish and returns to Palmares, to his own.

I see that in this same year, 1670, Ganga Zumba, son of Princess Aqualtune, Zumbi’s uncle, becomes leader of the quilombo.  After a bloody battle in 1675 the troop commanded by Sergeant-Major Manuel Lopes occupies a settlement with more than a thousand huts.  The blacks retreat.  I see that five months later the blacks counter-attack, there is fierce fighting and Manuel Lopes is obliged to retreat to Recife.

The leader of the guerrillas is Zumbi, already revered at only 20 years of age.  I push aside the souls in my path, find him, and say:

“Is that you, black Spartacus?

He eyes me suspiciously.  He has a seriousness that reminds me of Agostinho Neto.

“Who’s that?

“He was a rebel slave leader in ancient Rome.”

“What happened to him?”

“He fought to the end, was taken prisoner and executed.  He died on the cross.

“Better that than the one that Father Melo wanted to force on me…”

I protest:

“Why do you say that?  Especially you, who learned Latin and helped at mass…”

He grins and I recognise the smile of Amilcar Cabral.  It is all I need to get caught up in another time warp and I find myself suddenly in the mother church of Olinda.  The famous preacher Ricardo was referring to was, after all, Father António Vieira himself.  Preaching docility, he addresses the blacks gathered before him:

“If only the blacke people taken from the thickets of their Æthiopia and brought to Brazil knew how indebted they were to God and the Holy Mother for what might appear to be exile, captivity and misfortune, yet is nothing less than a miracle, a great miracle!”

Antonio Vieira then speaks of Korah, referring to Calvary.

“David reveals the identity of the workers of these laborious workshops in the title of the last psalm; they are the sons of Korah:  Pro torcularibus filiis Core.  There is no work, nor life in this world that better resembles the cross and the passion of Christ than yours on these plantations.”

And he concludes:

“Blessed are those of you who recognise the grace of your state, a great miracle of providence and divine mercy.”

I see and hear everything, the time warp smoothes out and I return to Palmares.  I want to continue talking but Zumbi, smiling like Amilcar, waves goodbye and take his leave.  He has more pressing things to see to, his guerrillas await him.


I see that in 1686 there is a new Governor of Pernambuco, Souto Maior, and the war against Zumbi and Palmares is as bloody as ever.

I see that Souto Maior sends for Domingos Jorge Velho from the state of São Paulo who, with his troop of fierce soldiers, was capturing and killing the Piauí Indians.  I see that he is invited to take part in the war against Palmares in return for a fifth of the value of the blacks recaptured, plus land and pardon for any crimes committed by his men.  The government will provide weapons, ammunition and supplies.  I see that they sign an agreement in 1691.  I see a thousand men attacking Palmares and Zumbi and the Young Guard resist them at Cerca do Macaco. Domingos Jorge Velho retreats to Porto Calvo.

But I also see that the Governor sends Captain-Major Vieira de Mello to help Domingos Jorge Velho.  The soldiers try to break through the stockade twice between the 23rd and 29th of January of 1694, and are driven back twice.  Even women throw boiling water on the Portuguese soldiers from above.  But on February 6 bombard cannons arrive from Recife and, under heavy fire, manage to break through the settlement’s triple stockade.  The soldiers invade the citadel through this opening; there is face to face fighting, massacre, puddles of blood.  I see that Zumbi is shot twice but manages to escape.  The blacks pray:

“Zumbi won’t die, oia Zumbi! He can’t die, oia Zumbi! He is protected against evil, oia Zumbi!”

I see that in 1695, on the road from Penedo to Recife, an old quilombo dweller is captured.  He is promised his life if he tells them where Zumbi’s hideout is.  He agrees.  André Furtado de Mendonça leads the siege, succeeds, takes Zumbi prisoner and beheads him.  It is the 20th of November, 1695.  His head is taken to Recife, the bells toll, and the day is declared a public holiday, a day of thanksgiving.

“Zumbi, Zumbi, oia Zumbi!  Oia Zumbi the saviour. Oia Zumbi!”

I see that the imprisoned blacks are all sold to faraway captaincies, nipping in the bud any hope of regenerating the quilombo.  The lands of Palmares are divided into lots and given to the victorious captains.

From 1600 to 1695…  For almost one hundred years, a thorn in the side of the slave owners of Pernambuco…  Those of the manor houses and slave quarters; that Luso-tropical myth…

Today – Zumbi dos Palmares International Airport is an international airport serving Maceió in Brazil. The airport has connections to several major airports in Brazil and international connections to Milan in Italy and Buenos Aires in Argentina.

To this day the Quilombo dos Palmares, its history, still lives on for it is recognized by some as the birthplace of Capoeira. Zumbi, as ruler of the quilombo, is largely responsible for that. Being the warrior he was Zumbi earned the respect and loyalty of the people fighting and dying for their freedom. He led the slaves of the Palmares in their struggle and resistance against the Portuguese and, eventually, to their emancipation. He may have lived over 300 years ago, but Zumbi exists today as a symbol of the African slaves fight for freedom and social equality. (a few notes from a School of Capoeira in New Orleans, Louisiana. Further, an activity as recent as November 12, 2009 mentions this….


From the above – forward to Haiti:  The shortest account which one typically hears of the Haitian Revolution is that the slaves rose up In 1791 and by 1803 had driven the whites out of Saint-Domingue, (the colonial name of Haiti) declaring the independent Republic of Haiti. It’s certainly true that this happened. But, the Revolution was much more complex. Actually there were several revolutions going on simultaneously, all deeply influenced by the French Revolution which commenced In Paris in 1789.

– The planters’ move toward independence.
– The people of color’s revolution for full citizenship.
– The slave uprising of 1791…

From an essay by Bob Corbett I gleaned this convoluted history of how Haiti became independent of France – in wars that involved the British and Spain, as well as influence from the newly independent United States. Further, the internal structure of the this richest French colony was such that it provided for many different alliances. Reading this, one sees the roots of Haiti’s problems, but one still remains perplexed why the economy of this western one third of the Hispaniola Island has deteriorated to its present situation.

The colony of Saint-Domingue, geographically roughly the same land mass that is today Haiti, was the richest colony in the West Indies and probably the richest colony in the history of the world. Driven by slave labor and enabled by fertile soil and ideal climate, Saint-Domingue produced sugar, coffee, cocoa, indigo, tobacco, cotton, sisal as well as some fruits and vegetables for the motherland, France. Where has all this potential gone?

When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, there were four distinct sets of interest groups in Saint-Domingue, with distinct sets of interests and even some important distinctions within these many categories:

– The whites
– The free people of color
– The black slaves
– The maroons

The Whites

There were approximately 20,000 whites, mainly French, in Saint-Domingue. They were divided into two main groups:

The Planters

These were wealthy whites who owned plantations and many slaves. Since their wealth and position rested entirely on the slave economy they were united in support of slavery. They were, by 1770, extremely disenchanted with France. Their complaint was almost identical with the complaints that led the North American British to rebel against King George in 1776 and declare their independence. That is, the metropole (France), imposed strict laws on the colony prohibiting any trading with any partner except France. Further, the colonists had no formal representation with the French government.

Virtually all the planters violated the laws of France and carried on an illegal trade especially with the fledgling nation, the United States of America. Most of the planters leaned strongly toward independence for Saint-Domingue along the same lines as the U.S., that is, a slave nation governed by white males.

It is important to note at the outset that this group was revolutionary, independence-minded and defiant of the laws of France.

Petit Blancs

The second group of whites were less powerful than the planters. They were artisans, shop keepers, merchants, teachers and various middle and underclass whites. They often had a few slaves, but were not wealthy like the planters.

They tended to be less independence-minded and more loyal to France.

However, they were committed to slavery and were especially anti-black, seeing free persons of color as serious economic and social competitors.

The Free Persons of Color

There were approximately 30,000 free persons of color in 1789. About half of them were mulattoes, children of white Frenchmen and slave women. These mulattoes were often freed by their father-masters in some sort of paternal guilt or concern. These mulatto children were usually feared by the slaves since the masters often displayed unpredictable behavior toward them, at times recognizing them as their children and demanding special treatment, at other times wishing to deny their existence. Thus the slaves wanted nothing to do with the mulattoes if possible.

The other half of the free persons of color were black slaves who had purchased their own freedom or been given freedom by their masters for various reasons.

The free people of color were often quite wealthy, certainly usually more wealthy than the petit blancs (thus accounting for the distinct hatred of the free persons of color on the part of the petit blancs), and often even more wealthy than the planters.

The free persons of color could own plantations and owned a large portion of the slaves. They often treated their slaves poorly and almost always wanted to draw distinct lines between themselves and the slaves. Free people of color were usually strongly pro-slavery.

There were special laws which limited the behavior of the free people of color and they did not have rights as citizens of France. Like the planters, they tended to lean toward independence and to wish for a free Saint-Domingue which would be a slave nation in which they could be free and independent citizens. As a class they certainly regarded the slaves as much more their enemies than they did the whites.

Culturally the free people of color strove to be more white than the whites. They denied everything about their African and black roots. They dressed as French and European as the law would allow, they were well educated in the French manner, spoke French and denigrated the Creole language of the slaves. They were scrupulous Catholics and denounced the Voodoo religion of Africa. While the whites treated them badly and scorned their color, they nonetheless strove to imitate every thing white, seeing this a way of separating themselves from the status of the slaves whom they despised.

The Black Slaves

There were some 500,000 slaves on the eve of the French Revolution. This means the slaves outnumbered the free people by about 10-1. In general the slave system in Saint-Domingue was especially cruel. In the pecking order of slavery one of the most frightening threats to recalcitrant slaves in the rest of the Americas was to threaten to sell them to Saint- Domingue. Nonetheless, there was an important division among the slaves which will account for some divided behavior of the slaves in the early years of the revolution.

Domestic Slaves

About 100,000 of the slaves were domestics who worked as cooks, personal servants and various artisans around the plantation manor, or in the towns. These slaves were generally better treated than the common field hands and tended to identify more fully with their white and mulatto masters. As a class they were longer in coming into the anti-slave revolution, and often, in the early years, remained loyal to their owners.

Field Hands

The 400,000 field hands were the slaves who had the harshest and most hopeless lives. They worked from sun up to sun down in the difficult climate of Saint-Domingue. They were inadequately fed, with virtually no medical care, not allowed to learn to read or write and in general were treated much worse than the work animals on the plantation. Despite French philosophical positions which admitted the human status of slaves (something which the Spanish, United States and British systems did NOT do at this time), the French slave owners found it much easier to replace slaves by purchasing new ones than in worrying much to preserve the lives of existing slaves.

The Maroons

There was a large group of run-away slaves who retreated deep into the mountains of Saint-Domingue. They lived in small villages where they did subsistence farming and kept alive African ways, developing African architecture, social relations, religion and customs. They were bitterly anti-slavery, but alone, were not willing to fight the fight for freedom. They did supplement their subsistence farming with occasional raids on local plantations, and maintained defense systems to resist planter forays to capture and re-enslave them.

It is hard to estimate their numbers, but most scholars believe there were tens of thousands of them prior to the Revolution of 1791. Actually two of the leading generals of the early slave revolution were maroons.

Pre-Revolutionary Moments and Complex Alliances

The French Revolution of 1789 In France was the spark which lit The Haitian Revolution of 1791. But, prior to that spark there was a great deal of dissatisfaction with the Metropolitan France and that dissatisfaction created some very strange alliances and movements.

All the whites of Saint-Domingue began to sport the red cockade of the revolution, and the French bureaucrats were painted with the white cockade of French monarchy. However, this was an uneasy alliance. The white planters were not revolutionaries in the French sense at all. Nor did they want full rights for the petit blancs. It was a doomed alliance and didn’t last long.

On the other hard, the natural allies of the white planter’s were the free people of color. Both were from the wealthy class, both supported independence and slavery and neither wanted to change the traditional control of society by wealthy propertied people. The change would have been to allow the wealthy free persons of color their share in power, wealth and social prestige in this union. This was extremely difficult for the white planters to do until it was too late.

Rich Saint-Domingue mulatto, Vincent Oge had been in Paris during the debates of March, 1790. He had tried to be seated as a delegate from Saint- Domingue and was rebuffed. He and other Saint-Dominguan men of color had tried to get the General Assembly to specify that the provision for citizenship included the free persons of color. Having failed in all of that, Oge resolved to return to Saint-Domingue and one way or the other, by power of persuasion or power of arms, to force the issue of citizenship for free persons of color.

Oge visited the famous anti-slavery advocate Thomas Clarkson in England, then went to the United States to meet with leading abolitionists and to purchase arms and munitions. He returned to Saint-Domingue and began to pursue his cause. Upon seeing that there was no hope to persuade the whites to allow their citizenship, Oge formed a military band with Jean-Baptist Chavannes. They set up headquarters in Grand Riviere, just east of Cape Francois and prepared to march on the stronghold of the colonists. It is important to note that Oge consciously rejected the help of black slaves. He wanted no part of any alliance with the slaves, and regarded them in the same way the whites did — a property.

The Deaths of Oge and Chavannes

In early November Oge and Chavannes’ forces were badly beaten, many of their tiny band of 300 captured while Oge and Chavannes escaped into Santo Domingo, the Spanish part of the island. The Spanish happily arrested the two and turned them over to the whites in Cape Francois. On March 9, 1791 the captured soldiers were hanged and Oge and Chavannes tortured to death in the public square, being put on the rack and their bodies split apart. The whites intended to send a strong message to any people of color who would dare to fight back.

Thus ended the first mini-war in the Haitian Revolution. It had nothing to do with freeing the slaves and didn’t involve the slaves in any way at all. Yet the divisions among slave owners, the divisions among the whites, the divisions among colonial French and metropolitan French, the divisions among whites and free persons of color, all set the stage to make possible a more successful slave rebellion than had previously been possible.

The Slave Rebellion of August 21, 1791

Typically historians date the beginnings of the Haitian Revolution with the uprising of the slaves on the night of August 21st. While I’ve given reasons above to suspect that the revolution was already under way, the entry of the slaves into the struggle is certainly an historic event. And the event is so colorful that not even Hollywood would have to improve upon history.

Boukman and the Voodoo Service

For several years the slaves had been deserting their plantations with increasing frequency. The numbers of maroons had swollen dramatically and all that was needed was some spark to ignite the pent up frustration, hatred and impulse toward independence.

This event was a Petwo Voodoo service. On the evening of August 14th Dutty Boukman, a houngan and practitioner of the Petwo Voodoo cult, held a service at Bois Caiman. A woman at the service was possessed by Ogoun, the Voodoo warrior spirit. She sacrificed a black pig, and speaking the voice of the spirit, named those who were to lead the slaves and maroons to revolt and seek a stark justice from their white oppressors. (Ironically, it was the whites and not the people of color who were the targets of the revolution, even though the people of color were often very harsh slave owners.)

The woman named Boukman, Jean-Francois, Biassou and Jeannot as the leaders of the uprising. It was some time later before Toussaint, Henry Christophe, Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Andre Rigaud took their places as the leading generals who brought The Haitian Revolution to its final triumph.

Word spread rapidly of this historic and prophetic religious service and the maroons and slaves readied themselves for a major assault on the whites. This uprising which would not ever be turned back, began on the evening of August 21st. The whole northern plain surrounding Cape Francois was in flames. Plantation owners were murdered, their women raped and killed, children slaughtered and their bodies mounted on poles to lead the slaves. It was an incredibly savage outburst, yet it still fell short of the treatment the slaves had received, and would still continue to receive, from the white planters.

The once rich colony was in smoldering ruins. More than a thousand whites had been killed. Slaves and maroons across the land were hurrying to the banner of the revolution. The masses of northern slaves laid siege to Cape Francois itself.

In the south and west the rebellion took on a different flavor. In Mirebalais there was a union of people of color and slaves, and they were menacing the whole region. A contingent of white soldiers marched out of Port-au-Prince, but were soundly defeated. Then the revolutionaries marched on Port-au-Prince. However, the free people of color did not want to defeat the whites, they wanted to join them. And, more importantly, they didn’t want to see the slaves succeed and push for emancipation. Consequently, they offered a deal to the whites and joined forces with them, turning treacherously on their black comrades in arms.

This was a signal to the whites in Cape Francois of how to handle their difficult and deteriorating situation. On September 20, 1791 the Colonial Assembly recognized the Paris decree of May, and they even took it a step further. They recognized the citizenship of all free people of color, regardless of their property and birth status. Thus the battle lines were drawn with all the free people, regardless of color, on the one side, and the black slaves and maroons on the other.

Meanwhile, in France word of the uprising caused the General Assembly to re-think its position. The Assembly thought it had gone too far with the May Decree and had endangered the colonial status of Saint-Domingue. Consequently on September 23rd the May Decree was revoked. Then the Assembly named three commissioners to go to Saint-Domingue with 18,000 soldiers and restore order, slavery and French control.

When the commissioners arrived In December, 1791, their position was considerably weaker than the General Assembly had suggested. Instead of 18,000 troops they had 6,000. In the meantime the whites in the south and west had attempted to revoke the rights of free people of color, and broken the alliance. Not only did the free people of color break with the whites and set up their own struggle centered in Croix-des-Bouquets, but many whites, particularly the planters, joined them. Thus thus south and west were divided into three factions, and the whites in Port-au-Prince were in a most weakened position.

In Cape Francois the Colonial Assembly did not move against the free people of color, but the slaves intensified their struggle and the whites were virtual prisoners in the town of Cape Francois. Most of the northern plain was in ruins.

Back in France it became apparent that the First Civil Commission with its 6,000 troops could not bring peace back to Saint-Domingue. When the authorities in France debated the issue it was clear to them that the problem was to bring unity between the free people of color and the whites against the rebelling slaves. Thus once again Paris reversed itself and with the historic and landmark Decree of April, 4, 1792, the free people of color were finally given full citizenship with the whites.

The Assembly in Paris prepared a Second Civil Commission to go to Saint- Domingue and enforce the April 4th decree. This commission contained Felicite Leger Sonthonax, a man who was to figure importantly in the future of The Haitian Revolution.

The French National Assembly was deeply worried by the independence movement among the white planters and free men of color. There are even those historians who believe the French government itself engineered the initial slave uprising of 1791 in order to drive the land owners back into the arms of France’s protection. If so, the Assembly unleashed a Pandora’s box of ills for France!

By early 1792 the slaves controlled most of the rich northern plain, and Cap Francois (modern Cap Haitien) was under constant siege. Hundreds of whites had been killed, the plantations were in ruins and the slaves were learning their military skills. Yet it was not the slaves whom the Assembly feared. It was the struggle between free persons of color and the white planters. Many of the planters openly favored independence. They were carrying on an illegal and profitable trade with the newly formed United States. Not only were they profiting economically, but the U.S.’s recent revolution against Britain was a model which the planters studied well.

On the other hand, the free persons of color looked to France as their sole hope. Britain, France, Spain and the United States did not allow citizenship to blacks. The French had at least declared the universal Rights of Man, and this ambiguous principle seemed to offer free men of color the right of citizenship. This position was further clarified and emphasized with the king’s signing of the decree of April 4, 1792 providing citizenship for property owning free men of color.

It was the belief of the Assembly that if the struggle between the white and black property owners (and slave owners) could end, and their loyalty be won back to France, then the “slave question” would be a simple issue. The rebellion would be quickly broken and the slaves returned to their plantations. There had been rebellions in the past, there would be rebellions in the future. But, reasoned the Assembly, slaves could be managed in the long run.

But a decree announcing this citizenship was one thing; to enforce it another. On June 2, 1792 the French National Assembly appointed a three man Civil Commission to go to Saint-Domingue and insure the enforcement of the April 4th decree.

Toussaint Louverture and the Slave Rebellion:

The primary black generals in the earliest days of the slave rebellion were Jean-Francois, Biassou and Jeannot. Jeannot was soon put to death by Jean-Francois and Biassou for excessive cruelty. Shortly after the 1791 uprising, Toussaint Louverture, a former slave who was over forty years old, joined the camp of the rebels as a medical officer. Toussaint practiced herbal and African healing, but unlike most such healers, he was not a Voodoo houngan. However, Toussaint did not remain a medical officer for long. His ability to organize, train and lead men became immediately apparent. Toussaint rose from his position of aide-de-camp to become a general, first fighting under Biassou, and then a general of his own troops.

Sonthonax and the other commissioners realized the British would probably attack Saint-Domingue, as would the Spanish and their Saint-Domingue slave army. They began to prepare their defenses as best they could. However, they were immediately betrayed from within. General Galbaud, a Frenchman, had been left in charge of Cap Francois while Sonthonax joined the other commissioners to prepare the defenses of Port-au-Prince. Galbaud, himself a land owner, conspired with the planters to deport the commissioners and to work with the British to return the ancient regime, negating the citizenship of free men of color. Sonthonax learned of this and returned to Le Cap with a large force of free men of color. They surprised Galbaud and he seemingly agreed to return to France. However, he convinced 3000 sailors and French troops to fight with him and the battle was joined on June 20, 1793.

It looked as though Galbaud’s forces would triumph. Sonthonax took the ultimate plunge — he offered freedom and the rights of French citizenship to 15,000 slaves, part of the slave army encamped just outside Le Cap, if they would fight for France and the commissioners. They accepted and Galbaud was quickly defeated.

Sonthonax, now faced with 15,000 new citizens, had a problem. Most of these men had wives and children who were still slaves. Thus, in short order he also freed the entire families of the new French soldiers.

AUGUST 23, 1793: Sonthonnax’ Emancipation

The engines of emancipation had been set in motion. Sonthonax had long protested that he came to Saint-Domingue to defend the free persons of color. He had explicitly stated that he DID NOT intend to free the slaves. However, the Galbaud affair had forced him to free 30,000 to 40,000 people to protect his position.

Now he was in a major bind. The white planters and petit blancs were totally outraged. Even his allies, the free persons of color, were appalled. They were mainly slave holding property owners. They did not want any more slaves freed. Yet Sonthonax knew his time was running short. The British were preparing to invade, the Spanish were training, arming and supplying a large slave army in Santo Domingo.

Sonthonax’ position was difficult. There was no hope of reinforcements or even supplies from France. The European war precluded that. How could he possibly save the colony for France? The slaves seemed his only hope. There were 500,000 of them. Toussaint, Jean-Francois and Biassou had a well-armed, well-trained army in Santo Domingo. Other slaves were not armed or trained, but their sheer numbers might provide some defense. Would they fight to defend France? Certainly not. Would they fight to defend their freedom? It was a gamble Sonthonax felt he had to take.

On August 29, 1793 Sonthonax unilaterally decreed the emancipation of slavery in Saint-Domingue. Robert Stein, Sonthonax’ biographer, calls this “…the most radical step of the Haitian Revolution and perhaps even of the French Revolution.” But, would the slaves respond? Would the gamble pay off? Sonthonax could only wait and see.

The British Campaign Begins

Sonthonax was right to expect the British to invade. Saint-Domingue had been the richest colony in the Caribbean. Since the British navy controlled access to the Caribbean, Saint-Domingue seemed easy pickings. British General Cuyler assured British officials in London that he had “no apprehension of our successes in the West Indies.” On September 19, 1793 the British landed at Jeremie. They were welcomed by the white property owners, who had already signed a secret accommodation with Britain. In exchange for their support, Saint-Domingue would become a British colony. Slavery would be reinstated, people of color would be stripped of citizenship, and the conditions of Britain’s economic policies would favor the colonists more than did France’s exclusif.

By June 4, 1794 the British had captured Port-au-Prince and held most of the port towns from St. Nicholas in the north to Jeremie at the southern tip. It looked as though the French forces, with little support from Saint- Domingue land owners, could not hold out against the Spanish supported British onslaught.

The Volte-Face of Toussaint Louverture

Like Stein, one may well regard Sonthonax’ freeing of the slaves as the most significant event of this period, nonetheless, the volte-face, the changing sides, of Toussaint Louverture, had the most immediate practical effect. Republican France’s position in Saint-Domingue was pushed to the wall. The British held many port towns and the white planters were mainly in the British camp. The bulk of the slaves under arms were with the Spanish. However, France’s enemies were not without their own problems. France was prohibited from supplying Sonthonax and the commissioners by the British fleet and the press of the war in Europe. But, that same war left the British without supplies and reinforcements too. The British army, suffering desperately from yellow fever, and seemingly ignored by London, was quickly being depleted and suffered from extremely poor morale. The Spanish were in grave difficulty in the European war, and were declining as a force to be reckoned with. Finally, the free persons of color, despising Sonthonax’ freeing of the slaves, were nonetheless becoming convinced that neither the British nor Spanish were any real hope for them. More and more of the people of color were returning to the French banner.

The war in Saint-Domingue was going badly for the French, but, despite the British gains in the south, the situation was improving, though it was grave and dangerous.

Clearly the turning point in this war and in all Haitian history was the return to the French side of Toussaint Louverture and eventually all his black and mulatto forces. But when and why did Toussaint return? This is a very difficult question and scholars are not in agreement. I find myself persuaded by the arguments of David Geggus who fixes the date of the volte-face at around May 6, 1794. The reasons for the turn are not quite certain, but Geggus argues it was a collage of several factors:

Toussaint was sincerely fighting for general emancipation of slavery, and Sonthonax’ emancipation weighed on him. By May 6th it is unlikely that Toussaint knew that the French National Assembly had already ratified Sonthonax’ move on Feb. 4th. However, Toussaint had a close relationship with the French General Laveaux, and seems to have already been negotiating with him to come over to the French side. Laveaux may well have convinced him that France was sincere in the emancipation.
Toussaint was having serious problems with the Spanish. They did not trust him, perhaps knowing of his discussions with Laveaux.
Toussaint knew that the Spanish position in Europe was not strong and perhaps sensed that he was fighting for a loosing side.
Toussaint was having serious problems with both Jean-Francois and Biassou and wanted not only to break with them, but to become superior to them.
Whatever the full complement of reasons, Toussaint made his change and that made all the difference. His army fought a guerrilla war and he was known for his lightening attacks, covering territory at seemingly impossible speeds. He attacked both Jean-Francois and Biassou, his former associates and defeated them. He harassed the British, though he could not dislodge them from the coastal towns they held. One chronicler says: “He disappears–he has flown–as if by magic. Now he reappears again where he is least expected. He seems to be ubiquitous. One never knows where his army is, what it subsists on, how he manages his supplies and his treasury. He, on the other hand, seems perfectly informed concerning everything that goes on in the enemy camp.”

The Spanish soon ended their war. The French in defeated them Europe and signed a peace treaty on July 22, 1795. A significant part of the treaty was that Spain ceded Santo Domingo to the French, though it was some time before Toussaint’s army actually took over the eastern part of the island. The Spanish black armies were disbanded, though many came over to Toussaint. Jean-Francois retired to Spain and Biassou went to Florida. By this time Toussaint had become an important part of the French forces and was promoted to brigadier general.

Toussaint turns out to be the primary force for four years, May, 1794 to October, 1798. In that time he had driven the British out of Saint- Domingue, overseen the retreat of the Spanish, ousted all genuine French authority and become commander in chief and governor general of the Saint- Domingue. As he saw it there were only three challenges left to his supreme authority.

– the belief of the National Assembly that he was not loyal to France.
– Andre Rigaud and the mulatto forces.
– the existence of Spanish Santo Domingo next door. Toussaint took up the challenge of these three threats.

The French, fearing Toussaint’s growing power and suspecting that he had sentiments toward independence, sent special agent Thomas Hedouville to save the colony for France. Hedouville managed to hammer home the fatal wedge between Toussaint and mulatto general, Andre Rigaud.

Toussaint and Independence

Thomas Hedouville fled Haiti on Oct. 22, 1798. Toussaint was the leading figure in the colony and playing both ends of his spectrum — apparent loyalty to France; apparent sympathy to the United States’ pushing Saint- Domingue toward independence. Not only was the U.S., herself a newly free nation, a model that Toussaint might follow, but Secretary of State Timothy Pickering was presenting a very friendly and supportive position. Finally, Toussaint felt much more comfortable with the small, fledgling United States than with either Britain or France.

The primary interest which Toussaint felt toward the United States was the better deal Saint- Domingue could get in trade. France imposed the “exclusif” on Saint- Domingue. Under this law of colony to metropole, Saint-Domingue could only trade with France, who then had the power to set the prices. Further, manufacturing of finished goods from the raw farm products was forbidden by France. All manufacturing of Saint-Domingan goods was reserved for France. The United States, on the other hand, paid a more competitive price for Saint-Domingan goods and placed no restrictions on their form. Even the landowners supported trade with the United States. At first it would seem that this was not in their economic interests. Sonthonax had freed the slaves and Toussaint would certainly uphold this emancipation. This meant that the former slaves became paid field hands, and the landowners would lose approximately 50% of their income to the government and to farm labor. Nonetheless, the 50% that they could earn on the free market was more than 100% of what France was willing to pay under the exclusif.

Nonetheless, Toussaint kept up the appearance of loyalty to France and appointed Philippe Roume, French agent in Santo Domingo, to replace Hedouville as France’s representative in Saint-Domingue. Toussaint’s loyalty to France was not all posturing. There was a very strong call of culture from France. This was especially true among the affranchais, the blacks and mulattos freed before the general emancipation. They wanted to separate themselves from the slaves. They had adopted French culture and customs as their identity, scorning anything African. They spoke French, dressed in European fashion, practiced the Catholic religion and, in general, idealized France and French culture. Even Toussaint was pulled in this direction and had a strong bond to France.

The War of Knives

On June 16, 1799 Rigaud attacked Petit Goave, putting many people to death with the sword. It was from Rigaud’s violence with the sword that this civil war got it’s name — The War of Knives.

The first five months of war were characterized by gruesome excesses on both sides. Finally, by mid-November, the war centered on Rigaud’s stronghold at Jacmel, defended by Alexander Petion. Jean-Jacques Dessalines was the besieging general for Toussaint. Dessalines was to become the first president, then emperor of free Haiti in 1804, and Petion was to become the president of The Republic of Haiti in 1807. On March 11, 1800 Jacmel fell, virtually ending Rigaud’s resistance. Nonetheless, he hung on until July, finally fleeing to France until he returned as part of Napoleon’s invasion force in 1802.

Toussaint had a reputation for clemency and avoiding unnecessary bloodshed. But, he appointed the blood thirsty and violent Dessalines as pacifier of the south. Dessalines butchered many mulattos (the estimates range from 200 to 10,000!). When Toussaint finally halted the massacre he reportedly said: “I did not want this! I told him to prune the tree, not to uproot it.”

The Conquest of Santo Domingo

By August, 1800 Toussaint was ruler of all Saint-Domingue and no foreign power was on Saint-Domingue soil. He was governor general of the whole colony. However, Santo Domingo, present day Dominican Republic, was an intolerable situation to him. The Spanish had ceded Santo Domingo to the French in the Treaty of Bale on July 22, 1795. Nonetheless, the Spanish never turned the colony over to the French, and the French, unsure of Toussaint’s loyalties, never pressed the issue. Spain’s presence in Santo Domingo was in France’s interest. They could keep an eye on Toussaint. But he now set out to claim France’s (and his own) authority over the entire island of Hispaniola.

After initial resistance on the part of Roume, who, recall, had been the French agent in Santo Domingo before Toussaint appointed him to the Saint-Domingue post, Roume was pressured into approving the unification movement. However, Spanish Captain-General Don Joaquin Garcia y Moreno was unwilling to turn over command to black Haitians. He prepared to resist, and his resistance gave Roume the courage to rescind his order. This gave Toussaint a pretext to charge Roume with disloyalty to France — after all, France owned Santo Domingo by treaty — and Roume was held prisoner for nearly a year. Meanwhile Toussaint massed his troops for the invasion of Santo Domingo. He encountered only tentative resistance and entered the capital, Santo Domingo City on Jan. 26, 1801. He quickly consolidated his power and emerged as the governor-general of Hispaniola.

Toussaint’s Constitution:   The Document that Tweaked Napolean

On July 26, 1801 Toussaint published and promulgated a new constitution for Saint-Domingue which abolished slavery, but did allow the importation of free blacks to work the plantations. The constitution recognized the centrality of sugar plantations to the Saint-Domingue economy, and accepted Roman Catholicism as the state religion. Perhaps two of the most significant items were that Toussaint was governor-general for life and that all men from 14 to 55 years of age were in the state militia. Nonetheless, the constitution professed loyalty and subservience to France. The most galling thing for Napoleon was that Toussaint published and proclaimed the constitution without prior approval from France and the First Consul.

Thus by July of 1801 Toussaint had emerged as the leading figure in Saint-Domingue, and seemed headed toward declaring an independent republic. He had defeated the Spanish and British, maneuvered the French Commissioners out of the colony, defeated Andre Rigaud in a Civil War, taken possession of the eastern portion of the island, eradicated slavery on the entire island and promulgated a constitution in which he was declared governor general for life.

Both Britain and the United States treated with Toussaint as though he were the head of an independent state, though Toussaint’s constitution and public demeanor claimed that he was a loyal French citizen who had saved the colony for France.

Virtually no one believed Toussaint’s claims of loyalty to France. Britain and the United States wanted to deal with Toussaint to ensure an end of French privateering from Saint-Dominguan waters. Both nations hoped to contain the slave rebellion to Saint-Domingue alone. Both nations strove to out do one another in establishing trade relations with Toussaint’s government, in defiance of France’s regulations for the colony. Thus Napoleon might well be excused if he took with a healthy dose of salt Toussaint’s claims of being a loyal son and protector of French rights in Saint-Domingue.

For Napoleon, the die was cast. “This gilded African,” as he called Toussaint, would have to go. Bonaparte chafed at the power of the black first consul, but there was little he could do while France was at war with Britain. However, on Oct. 1, 1801 France and Britain signed a peace treaty and Napoleon’s hands were free to deal with Toussaint.

It is important to note that Bonaparte’s personal detestation of Toussaint was only one factor in his decision to retake Saint-Domingue to more trustworthy French rule. The French Directory, before Napoleon’s coup d’etat of Nov. 9, 1799, had already set a West Indian policy in which Saint-Domingue was the center piece. Napoleon inherited this foreign policy and inherited the constant political pressure of the French planters who had been disenfranchised by the liberation of the slaves. Bonaparte needed the wealth of Saint-Domingue and there seemed a grave danger that Toussaint would lead the colony toward independence. All of these issues, and others, weighed in Bonaparte’s decision to launch an invasion against his own governor-general of Saint-Domingue.

The Leclerc Invasion:

Once committed, Napoleon sent a well-outfitted troop of 12,000 soldiers under the leadership of his brother-in-law, General Charles Leclerc. In Leclerc’s invasion force Toussaint was going to have to deal with many old enemies including Alexander Petion and Andre Rigaud.

Napoleon gave Leclerc a set of secret instructions which demanded Leclerc give his word of honor about many things and then violate it. The general plan was to first promise the black leadership places of authority in a French-dominated government. Then, once having established control, to move to the second stage of arresting and deporting any black leaders who seemed troublesome, especially Toussaint Louverture. The third and final stage was not only to disarm all the blacks, but to return the colony to slavery and the pre-Revolutionary colonial state. Virtually no one in Saint-Domingue was fooled by Leclerc’s protestations of benevolent purpose.

On Feb. 2, 1802 Leclerc arrived in the bay of Cap Francois, the city governed and defended by Henri Christophe, one of Toussaint’s most important generals, and later on Haiti’s second president and first and only king. Christophe would not allow the French to disembark, and prepared to burn the city to the ground if they tried. Leclerc pressed the issue and, true to his word, Christophe torched this Paris of the Americas. The black armies retreated to the interior to fight a guerilla war and Leclerc took over a huge pile of ashes. The final stage of the Haitian Revolution had begun.

The Leclerc Campaign

Phase 1:   Crete-a-Pierrot

Leclerc’s forces quickly took most of the coastal towns, though Haitians burned many of them before they retreated. Eventually a decisive moment came as Dessalines and his second in command, Lamartiniere, were asked to hold the small former British fort, Crete-a-Pierrot, an arsenal of the Haitians.

Both sides claimed victory. It sort of depends on what measure one uses. The French ended up with the fort, but they lost twice as many men as the Haitians, and were shocked to discover how well the blacks could fight in a pitched battle. The Haitians took great solace in their ability to hold off the French for so long. For the rest of the war they used Crete-a-Pierrot as a rallying cry. After abandoning the fort, the Haitians retreated into the Cahos mountains and fought a guerrilla war from then on.

Phase 2:   Surrender

By April 26 Christophe and his troops surrendered to Leclerc. Toussaint followed on May 1st. Even though things had not gone as Napoleon planned, within two months Leclerc had achieved Napoleon’s first goal–pacification of the leaders. Now Leclerc was free to implement phase 2 — the arrest and deportation of “trouble makers.”

The Arrest and Deportation of Toussaint Louverture

After Toussaint’s surrendered, he ostensibly retired to his plantation at Enery to live out his days. However, there is a good deal of historical controversy about this. Some argue that Toussaint immediately began to plot anew against the French. I really don’t know which way the factual evidence leans, but the logic of the situation leads me to suspect that these charges against Toussaint were true. First of all it is not like Toussaint to simply walk away and abandon the struggle of the past 10 years. Further, he had to have suspected that the French would reinstate slavery and the old colonial system. Again, it’s not like Toussaint to quietly acquiesce in such a turnabout. Finally, he must have known how weakened the French were becoming from the ravages of yellow fever. How long and how seriously could the French fight with only a fraction of their men?

But all of this is mere logical speculation, not factual knowledge. What we do know are the details of Leclerc’s dishonorable subterfuge to arrest and deport Toussaint. On June 7 Toussaint received a message from French General Brunet to meet with him at a plantation near Gonaives. Brunet assured Toussaint that he’d be perfectly safe with the French, who were, after all, gentlemen!

Shortly after arriving at the plantation he was arrested and shipped off to prison in France. Toussaint was taken to Fort de Joux, a cold, damp prison near the Swiss border. Toussaint soon withered away and died on April, 7, 1803. So much for French honor!

The Final Up-Rising and French Defeat

The dishonorable treatment of the aging Toussaint was not only a moral outrage, but a practical error of irreversible scope. The Haitians were so incensed, and recognized that if Toussaint could be so treated, so could anyone else. The masses realized the French must be defeated once and for all.

Leclerc made a second tactical blunder upon the heels of Toussaint’s arrest. He immediately began a disarmament campaign, planning to disarm all the blacks. The net effect was to open the eyes of many and drive thousands back under the banner of the revolution. From June to October, 1802 Leclerc’s soldiers carried on this mainly unsuccessful campaign.

During this period both Dessalines and Christophe were working with the French. Dessalines was a particularly vicious warrior against the rebels. However, there is a strong case to be made that he was more interested in his own position of power than anything else.

Working with the French he could have it both ways. On the one hand, if the French prevailed he was becoming increasingly indispensable to whatever order prevailed, thus assuring his position there. On the other hand, he was capturing and killing rebel leaders. Thus if the revolution were to once again catch fire, he was in a position to bolt the French and take up leadership of the rebels, which is exactly what he did. Haitian independence and black rule seem to have been honestly desired by Dessalines. But, first and foremost he wanted Jean-Jacques Dessalines to be an important power in whatever government prevailed in Saint-Domingue.

As the situation deteriorated for the French, Dessalines, Christophe, Petion and Clairveaux all conspired with rebel leaders. On Oct. 13, 1802, Petion and Clairveaux deserted to the rebels. Christophe and Dessalines followed and within days only Cap Francois, Port-au-Prince and Le Cayes were fully in French hands. The final battle had begun.

The Arcahaye Conference and the Death of Leclerc

Nov. 2, 1802 the rebel leaders met at Arcahaye, a small village south of St. Marc. The leaders elected Dessalines as rebel commander-in-chief and chose the red and blue flag as their banner. The story is that Dessalines took the tricolor French flag — a band each of red, blue and white, and tore out the white, announcing to the cheering assembled mass that Haiti, too, would drive out the whites. Certainly such a dramatic symbol, if it actually occurred, would have been an inspiring and motivating gesture.

On the same day as the Arcahaye conference, Leclerc died of yellow fever. General Rochambeau took command. He was an able and fearless commander, and reinforced by another 10,000 troops in mid-November, carried on the French defense for another year.

By the time of the Arcahaye conference most of the maroons had also come to see that the French were the true enemy. Prior to this the maroons had been separated and vacillating, not really joining the revolution, but fighting an independent war of self-interest wherever and whenever it served their purposes. But now they joined in unified fashion with the rest of the Haitians to drive the French from the island for once and for all, and to preserve the nation as a free, non-slave entity.

Dessalines and Rochambeau

Each side was under the leadership of a capable and ruthless leader. Each side traded atrocity with atrocity, the particular description of which are sickening and defy credulity of even those used to human inhumanity to humans. Torture, rape, brutal murders, mass murders of non-combatants, mutilation, forcing families to watch the torture, rape and death of loved ones and on and on. The last year of the Haitian Revolution was as savage as any conflict one can read of in human history. Thomas Ott says this had become a war of racial extermination on both sides.

Despite the ravages of yellow fever and the increasing numbers of Haitians joining the revolution, Rochambeau’s forces made considerable gains in early 1803. Napoleon, heartened by the return of slavery to Guadeloupe, sent a further reinforcement of 15,000 troops. Rochambeau seized the moment to launch a vigorous attack on the rebels.

A New European War Helps Shift the Balance

On May 18, 1803 Europe was again plunged into war, and Britain declared war on France. Dessalines was now a welcomed ally of Britain who provided arms and naval support. At the same time this European war announced the end of reinforcements and supplies for the French. The conditions were set for a reversal of the fortunes of the revolutionaries.

By the end of October the French were reduced to holding only Le Cap and were besieged and in danger of starvation. Finally on November 19, 1803 Rochambeau begged for a 10 day truce to allow the evacuation of Le Cap, thus giving Haiti to the Haitians.

Independence Day, January 1, 1804

After 13 years of revolutionary activity France was formally removed from the island and Haitian independence declared, only the second republic in the Americas. The country was in ruins, the masses mainly uneducated and struggling for survival. The western world’s large and interested nations, the United States, Britain, Spain and, of course, France, were all skeptical and nervous about an all-black republic. After all, the large nations were all slave-owning states.
Independence until the 1915 when THE US MOVES IN and hangs on to power till 1934.


Posted on on January 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

THE POINT – Reporters Become Part of the Story in Haiti but at the UN
they just report about a moment of silence at 4:53 p.m. EST (“as we
join the United Nations in honoring the thousands of people who lost
their lives and the millions more who have been affected by this

Steve Pendlebury, Sphere, Editor, aol

(Jan. 19) — As a rule, journalists try to avoid getting personally
involved in the stories they cover. But in the midst of such a
monumental tragedy as the Haiti earthquake, professional detachment is
sometimes put aside — especially when the reporter is also a

Case in point: CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who’s spent a week treating
quake victims in between filing compelling reports about the medical
catastrophe in Haiti. Gupta — a neurosurgeon who turned down
President Barack Obama’s offer to become surgeon general — has played
this dual role before, in 2004 after the tsunami in Southeast Asia and
the next year after the earthquake in Pakistan. While reporting on a
team of Navy doctors in 2003, he was called on to perform emergency
brain surgery on a wounded boy in Iraq. A few days ago, the Navy paged
Dr. Gupta again. He went to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to
operate on a Haitian girl who suffered a severe head injury in the

Gupta told TVNewser that in such situations, he’s a doctor first. But
Bob Steele, the Poynter Institute’s journalism values scholar,
complained that Gupta crosses the line between covering the story and
participating in the story too often. “It clouds the lens in terms of
the independent observation and reporting,” the DePauw University
journalism professor told the blog DimeWars.

Gupta acknowledged such concerns in a Baltimore Sun interview, but
insisted there’s “no confusion” in his mind about his overlapping
roles as doctor and medical correspondent. “If people need my help …
if they ask me, then I’m certainly going to help them,” he told the
paper’s TV critic, David Zurawik.

All the other TV news doctors dispatched to Haiti are doing double
duty, too. ABC’s Dr. Richard Besser and his crew helped find a field
hospital for a Haitian teenager who was about to give birth. (Click to
watch video.) CBS medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton found
herself assisting with an amputation as soon as she landed in Haiti on

There are also physicians in Haiti who tell their stories on the Web.
For example, Dr. Mark Hyman has filed reports and photos on The
Huffington Post while working with a small group of doctors and
nurses. Monday’s post described the cruel reality of using a rusty
hacksaw sterilized with vodka to do amputations — but also the
surprising beauty of the songs of prayer that patients and their
families sang through the night.

Along with the doctors, other reporters have been pulled into the
action as the cameras roll. CNN’s Anderson Cooper was in the middle of
a melee outside a looted store when he saw a boy get hit in the head
with a rock and collapse. He ran to the child, picked him up and
carried him to safety.

Rescuers flagged down another CNN crew whose truck suddenly became a
makeshift ambulance for a young woman who was pulled out of the rubble
six days after the quake.

The journalists in Haiti are there as witnesses for the rest of the
world — describing things nobody would want to experience in person.
The more they tell us about the hellish scenes around them, the harder
it is to imagine how they can do their jobs at all. Even for the most
hardened reporters, strong emotions sometimes come to the surface.

“I have a pretty thick skin. I have seen a lot of stuff. I can ignore
a lot of stuff,” Fox News’ Steve Harrigan said during a live report
Thursday about seeing a woman whose children had died. But he choked
up as he continued: “That kind of loss is horrific in any culture, but
in a culture where you’re alone … it just makes it all the more

Over the weekend, a photographer for Australia’s Channel Nine called
his boss to explain why he didn’t get a shot of a baby being rescued
from a collapsed building. Richard Moran had put down his camera to
help dig for the little girl.


Posted on on January 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Just back from a breakfast at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, a New York firm active in Brazil for 30 years – Mergers & Acquisitions and Private Equity, Bankruptcy and Restructurings, Project Finance and Capital Markets – in short – the works.


The Breakfast Seminar was organized by the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (BACC) –, Chaired by Paulo Vieira da Cunha, Partner & Head of Research – Emerging Markets at Tandem Global Markets Fund, and Chairman, Banking and Capital Markets Committee, BACC.

His panel included Lisa Schineller, Director, Sovereign Ratings, Standard & Poor’s; Tony Volpon, Senior Economist, Nocura Securities International Inc.; Geoffrey Dennis, Managing Director and Global Emerging Markets Strategist Analyst, Citigroup (CIRA); Demian Reidel, Founding Member of QFR Capital Management, LP with previous important positions at Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, background in Petroleum and Nuclear strategy in Argentina and economics at Harvard, who replaced as speaker the Founder of QFR, Jose Luis Daza; and Chris Garman, Managing and Practice Head, Latin America, Eurasia Group.

As expected, there was lots of talk about macroeconomics, how Brazil moved in the last years to the point that assets exceed debt; how Brazil survived well this last World Crisis. The present low indebtedness with a combination of FDI and equity and great export markets stretching from Asia to the US and the EU. They have managed very well the newly found oil wealth and the hope is that they can continue to manage it well and not open the country up too much to the international oil companies.    A main key is not to start to increase, without solid plans, the expenditures so they get addicted to that oil money as it happened in Mexico. The presentations were informative and very calculated as expected. But I really did not come for this.

What brought me to this early morning event was the expectation that there will be a presentation of the Political Outlook, specially as Brazil will have Presidential Elections this year – and I had my fill in the last presentation – the one by Mr. Garman.

As I am keeping coming back to it on our website – Brazil is the only “BRICS” from Latin America, actually in this world the third BRIC in size – after China and India. Brazil may not be able to match their 1,3 billion population each, but it clearly has more Natural Resources then either of them, and being in the Western Hemisphere, it is the one and only BRIC that shares space with the US – albeit – at quite a distance – and that is an advantage. If you wish – you may see this as sort of an anti pod to the US – about equal in size and potential and tied – even though the US is slow to admit – in a future love-hate relationship that will be main factor of the development of both countries the moment the US has realized that its addiction to Afro-Asian oil has lead to its downfall. Past mischief North Americans have committed in Brazil is hopefully over, and solid and wise cooperation could be in the cards with the people in that room as potential movers of the economic links.

{Facts: On October 3, 2010, Brazilian citizens eligible to vote will choose the successor of current President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, of the Workers’ Party. If none of the candidates receives more than a half of the valid votes, a run-off will be held on October 31, 2010. According to the Constitution, the President is elected directly to a four-year term, with a limit of two terms. Lula is not eligible, since he was elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006. This will mark the first time since 1989 that he will not run for President.

Lula is backing his Chief of Staff Dilma Rousseff of his Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) – her main opponent is Sao Paulo State Governor Jose Serra, of the Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (PSDB). Usually elections in Brazil are very lively and the event is third in importance to the Carnival and a good soccer game.}

Now to the Garman presentation: Actually for 15 years, even with changes in Government, Brazil showed an amazing continuity that led to the present growth.There is low inflation for the last 7 years and all of this came about with industrial policy and macroeconomics that made President Lula get approval ratings of 80%. Had he been able to run again the Brazilians would have gone for him, but in his absence, they still would like with an 80% majority to see his policies continued. Nevertheless, there is a problem with his choice for his replacement – it is not a strong choice – so there is not going to be a coronation but an election. This allows for the possibility that Brazilians might decide to take more risk then expected under Lula. This is more risk at fiscal policy. Thanks to the discovery of the pre-salt oil deposits there is more fiscal room and the Government driven policy of Petrobras might loosen up.  So – it is now clear that actually the elections do matter, and the contest has to be watched. The real question is – what do the voters want? Or let me put it differently, are they so bored with success that they want change?

Now I had my chance and ceased it without thinking twice. When the time for questions came, my question was right there. “Could foreign policy have an impact on the outcome of the elections in Brazil? With Brazil trying to get a seat at the UN Security Council and with its economic situation and growth having become a BRIC, would it not be the right thing for President Lula to suggest Brazil take a leadership position on the Haiti issue. Brazil is actually already involved with troops in Haiti – has even taken loses – why not claim the leadership position. There are many points of similarity in background, sugar cane etc.?”

Indeed, Mr. Garman picked up the challenge and said that this was a very good question and that by following such a path and showing to the voters that Brazil under his Administration has also had success in the international arena, this might help in the decision process towards the elections.

So, having written earlier that “Brazil could lead if asked” this turned now into “Brazil should ask to lead in order to do good not only to others but also to its own Administration.” Even economic analysts of Brazil can see that this makes sense.


Posted on on January 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

‘Shabbat from hell’ reported by Israeli teams in Haiti.

Gleaned from the report by Judy Siegel-Itzkovich in THE JERUSALEM POST of January 17, 2010:

The ZAKA International rescue unit delegation in Haiti pulled eight students alive from the collapsed university building, after a 38-hours operation. “You have to understand that the situation is true madness, and the more time passes, there are more and more bodies, in numbers that cannot be grasped. It is beyond comprehension,” said Mati Goldstein, the head of the delegation.

It was a “Shabbat from hell” for the delegation. The six-man team – four from Israel and two from Mexico – arrived in Haiti aboard a Mexican air force Hercules transport plane, immediately after completing their work in recovery and identification in the Mexico City helicopter crash. On arrival, the delegation was dispatched to the collapsed eight-story university building from which cries could be heard.

After hours of work around the clock and working with rescue equipment provided by the Mexican military, the ZAKA volunteers succeeded in pulling eight students alive from the rubble. In a disturbing e-mail that Goldstein managed to send to ZAKA headquarters in Jerusalem, he writes of the “Shabbat from hell. Everywhere, the acrid smell of bodies hangs in the air. It’s just like the stories we are told of the Holocaust – thousands of bodies everywhere. You have to understand that the situation is true madness, and the more time passes, there are more and more bodies, in numbers that cannot be grasped. It is beyond comprehension.”

Amid the stench and chaos, the ZAKA delegation took time out to recite Shabbat prayers – a surreal sight of haredi men wrapped in prayer shawls standing on the collapsed buildings. Many locals sat quietly in the rubble, staring at the men as they prayed facing Jerusalem. At the end of the prayers, they crowded around the delegation and kissed the prayer shawls. Due to the breakdown in communications in Haiti, the ZAKA delegation which arrived from Mexico was unable to make contact before Shabbat with the Israel Home Front Command delegation that is now in Haiti.

{We wonder, but do not know if the four Israelis on the team came there with their world famous dogs – the article does not mention them, but from the fact that they saved eight of those Florida students at the Montana Hotel, we assume that this is the case.}


Separately was the large field hospital established by the Israel Defense Forces’ Medical Corp. At 10 a.m. Saturday local time they were already treating dozens of patients –  four hours later, when its commander Aluf-Mishne Dr. Itzik Reiss was able to take a breather and speak to Israeli health reporters via a conference call.

Children with severe fractures affixed only with cardboard arrived at the hospital for treatment. Some young patients had been freed from rubble and had to have limbs amputated due to severe gangrene, he said. Within a few hours, operations were performed. The hospital has an emergency room pediatric, orthopedic, internal medicine, obstetrics and surgery departments, clinics and other facilities. The delivery room and premature baby unit are prepared to function but have not yet received any women or babies. The patients started arriving after a local hospital unable to function normally announced the IDF facility’s existence.

Brig.-Gen. Shalom Ben-Arye, who heads the Israeli delegation, said Saturday afternoon that it was still possible to find survivors among the ruins of the capital. He was quoted by Israel Radio as saying that three search-and-rescue teams would leave at first light to search for survivors in several spots around the city, among them the collapsed UN headquarters.

The hospital, set up in very hot and humid weather, has enough equipment to function for about two weeks. The 121-member team includes 40 doctors, including a psychiatrist, 20 nurses, 20 paramedics and medics, 20 lab and x-ray technicians and administrators. Among the staff are Orthodox Jews who went to Haiti even though it was Shabbat. Reiss said they avoided doing unnecessarily tasks like shaving but did everything else needed to save lives. The military personnel are in the regular army and in the reserves.

It was not clear how many desperate patients would reach the hospital over the coming days, he said. Reiss said he expected victims of infectious disease would start arriving in the near future.

Reiss said Haitians were wandering aimlessly in the streets. “It is very difficult. There is a bad feeling of destruction. It is very sad.” The field hospital may continue after getting new supplies in two weeks or be turned over to locals, he added.


Posted on on January 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (


Has Disaster Profiteering Already Begun in Haiti?

Posted by Jeremy Scahill, on Alternet, Rebel Reports on January 18, 2010.

He says: “The Orwellian-named International Peace Operations
Association didn’t waste much time in offering the “services” of its
member companies to swoop down on Haiti.”

The Orwellian-named mercenary trade group, the International Peace
Operations Association, didn’t waste much time in offering the
“services” of its member companies to swoop down on Haiti for some old
fashioned  humanitarian assistance disaster profiteering. Within hours
of the massive earthquake in Haiti, the IPOA created a special web
page for prospective clients, saying: “In the wake of the tragic
events in Haiti, a number of IPOA’s member companies are available and
prepared to provide a wide variety of critical relief services to the
earthquake’s victims.”

While some of the companies specialize in rapid housing construction,
emergency relief shelters and transportation, others are private
security companies that operate in Iraq and Afghanistan like Triple
Canopy, the company that took over Blackwater’s massive State
Department contract in Iraq. For years, Blackwater played a major role
in IPOA until it left the group following the 2007 Nisour Square

In 2005, while still a leading member of IPOA, Blackwater’s owner Erik
Prince deployed his forces in New Orleans in the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina. Far from some sort of generous gift to the
suffering people of the US gulf, Blackwater raked in some $70 million
in Homeland Security contracts that began with a massive no-bid
contract to provide protective services for FEMA. Blackwater billed US
taxpayers $950 per man per day.

The current US program under which armed security companies work for
the State Department in Iraq — the Worldwide Personal Protection
Program — has its roots in Haiti during the Clinton administration.
In 1994, private US forces, such as DynCorp, became a staple of US
operations in the country following the overthrow of Jean Bertrand
Aristide by CIA-backed death squads. When President Bush invaded Iraq,
his administration radically expanded that program and turned it into
the privatized paramilitary force it is today. At the time of his
overthrow in 2004, Aristide was being protected by a San
Francisco-based private security firm, the Steele Foundation.

What is unfolding in Haiti seems to be part of what Naomi Klein has
labeled the “Shock Doctrine.” Indeed, on the Heritage Foundation blog,
opportunity was being found in the crisis with a post titled: “Amidst
the Suffering, Crisis in Haiti Offers Opportunities to the U.S.” “In
addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S.
response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers
opportunities to re-shape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and
economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in
the region,” wrote Heritage fellow Jim Roberts in a post that was
subsequently altered to tone down the shock doctrine language. The
title was later changed to: “Things to Remember While Helping Haiti.”

Jeremy Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s
Most Powerful Mercenary Army.


Posted on on January 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Disaster in Haiti – French Minister Criticizes US Over Haiti Aid.

PARIS (Jan. 18) AP – The United Nations must investigate and clarify the dominant U.S. role in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, a French minister said Monday, claiming that international aid efforts were about helping Haiti, not “occupying” it.

U.S. forces last week turned back a French aid plane carrying a field hospital from the damaged, congested airport in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, prompting a complaint from French Cooperation Minister Alain Joyandet. The plane landed safely the following day.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner warned governments and aid groups not to squabble as they try to get their aid into Haiti.

“People always want it to be their plane … that lands,” Kouchner said Monday. “(But) what’s important is the fate of the Haitians.”

But Joyandet persisted.

“This is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti,” Joyandet, in Brussels for an EU meeting on Haiti, said on French radio.

In another weekend incident, 250 Americans were flown to New Jersey’s McGuire Air Force Base on three military planes from Haiti. U.S. forces initially blocked French and Canadians nationals from boarding the planes, but the cordon was lifted after protests from French and Canadian officials.

The U.S. military controls the Port-au-Prince airport where only one runway is functioning and has been effectively running aid operations. However, the United Nations is taking the lead in the critical task of coordinating aid.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Saturday the U.S. government had no intention of taking power from Haitian officials. “We are working to back them up, but not to supplant them,” she said.

Joyandet said he expects a U.N. decision on how governments should work together in Haiti and that he hopes “things will be clarified concerning the role of the United States.”

Other French officials sought to calm diplomatic tensions over aid. French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero insisted the plane incidents were “minor problems” to be expected during such a difficult relief mission and said that Kouchner and Clinton have been working since the quake on coordinating help.

Both nations have occupied Haiti in the past.

France occupied Haiti for more than 100 years, from 1697 to independence in 1804 after the world’s first successful slave uprising. More recently, U.S. Marines occupied the country from 1915 to 1934 to quiet political turmoil.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said he intends to travel to Haiti “in the weeks to come,” though no date has been set. Former Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin has cautioned that Sarkozy shouldn’t go too soon because it could divert attention from aid efforts.

U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes said, “Clearly it can be a problem if every leader in the world wants to turn up. It will inevitably cause problems, particularly for the leadership of these operations, although not, of course, for the humanitarian workers on the ground.



Haiti chaos hampers aid delivery; death toll rises.
6 minutes ago
Haitians fleeing capital in search of food, safety.
6 minutes ago


Posted on on January 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Former President Bill Clinton is still the UN Special Envoy to help Haiti recovery from the Hurricane disasters. So he is no newcomer to Haiti.

Now –

Bush, Clinton Say No Politics in Haiti Response.
AP, WASHINGTON (Jan. 17) – Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill
Clinton say the earthquake in Haiti offers a chance to put aside
politics and help people in despair. Bush and Clinton appeared on five
Sunday talk shows as part of their effort to lead private fundraising
efforts for Haitian relief, including immediate needs and the
long-term rebuilding effort. President Barack Obama asked them to lead
the bipartisan effort.

“I’d say now is not the time to focus on politics,” Bush said in an
interview taped Saturday after the ex-presidents’ visit to the White
House. “You’ve got people who are … children who’ve lost parents.
People wondering where they’re going to be able to drink water,” Bush
said. “There’s a great sense of desperation. And so my attention is on
trying to help people deal with the desperation.”

Bush said that he doesn’t know what critics are talking about when
they claim Obama is trying to score political points with a broad
response to Haiti’s woes. The most vocal critic has been radio talk
show host Rush Limbaugh who urged people not to donate and said he
wouldn’t trust that money donated to Haiti through the White House Web
site would go to the relief efforts. He said people contribute enough
by paying income taxes.

“I just think it doesn’t do us any good to waste any time in what is
in my opinion a fruitless and pointless conversation,” Clinton said.
He added: “In a disaster of this magnitude there’s no way that the
government, which has other responsibilities as well, national
security and other responsibilities – you just can’t deal with this
just with government money.”

Clinton said a disaster like the earthquake in Haiti “reminds us of
our common humanity. It reminds us of needs that go beyond fleeting
disagreements.” He said political debate is healthy in normal times,
but it would be perverse in a time of disaster to let politics get in
the way of helping.

He said the timing is important to fundraising efforts and long-term
goals for Haiti.

“Everybody who’s seriously followed Haiti over a long period of time
believed that Haiti was handed the best chance it has had in our
lifetimes to break the chains of its past,” he said, “to build a truly
modern state, to have a more thriving economy, an honest and competent
government, better health care, better education, more self-generated
clean energy – the whole nine yards.”

The former presidents appeared on ABC’s “This Week,” NBC’s “Meet the
Press,” CBS’ “Face the Nation,” CNN’s “State of the Union” and “Fox
News Sunday.”


Floating Hospital Awaits Patients to Fill Empty Beds.

by Emily Schmall, Sphere, aol, ABOARD THE USS CARL VINSON (Jan. 16)

Seven earthquake victims, including a newborn, were helicoptered to
this aircraft carrier Saturday, testing the flexibility of the ship’s
52-person medical staff.

The operating room is prepped with oxygen tanks, ventilators and a
roster of blood donors. But while the USS Carl Vinson’s medical
facilities perhaps exceed those of any other triage center nearby, it
had remained essentially unused since it arrived off the coast of
Port-au-Prince early Friday.

“At this point, I have no criteria for anything. I don’t care who it
is or what it is, we’ll take it,” said Commander Alfred Shwayhat, the
ship’s senior medical officer, earlier Saturday. Shwayhat, an
endocrinologist, internist and aerospace anesthesiologist, said he is
equipped to handle virtually any malady.

Sailors deliver an injured American citizen to the USS Carl Vinson for
medical attention Friday. The patient was one of two treated on the
air vessel in Haiti that day.

He has a plan for filling the ship’s enormous hanger bay with as many
as 1,000 Haitians. But his mission, as part of the recently dubbed
Operation Unified Response, is to treat anyone sent to him by military
commanders in Port-au-Prince, and so far that hasn’t amounted to many

One reason beds are empty is that the ship doesn’t have the authority
to pick up victims; it has to wait for the Air Force to call and
request a medevac.

“Our policy is to treat first, ask questions later, but it’s up to
those on the ground,” said the ship’s public affairs officer,
Commander James Krohne. The U.S. 4th Fleet, which is responsible for
ground operations in Port-au-Prince, could not be reached for comment.

“Treatment of patients with basic injuries is best done on shore,”
Krohne added. “If we didn’t have (the space) available, those seven
patients would be who knows where.”

The vessel boasts 52 doctors, nurses, technicians and staff. In
addition to Shwayhat, there is a critical care nurse; a general
surgeon; a family practitioner; a radiologist; lab technicians; a
pharmacy stocked with anti-malaria medication; and an independent
corpsman deployed with the fleet marine force to diagnose injuries on
the ground.

The hospital’s present mission, as Shwayhat understands it, is limited
to treating the approximately 3,500 military personnel on board and
any American civilian injured in Tuesday’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake.

The clinic stabilized two patients Friday before sending them on a
flight to the naval hospital at Guantanamo Bay. The first patient, a
presumed American citizen in his fifties, arrived to the Vinson’s
hospital around noon after both of his legs were amputated to free him
from the rubble of the Hotel Montana, where he was trapped for 70
hours without food or water.

“To this day, I do not know his name,” Shwayhat said.
Earthquake in Haiti

The other victim, a Christian missionary from Iowa, was flown in from
the airport in Port-au-Prince after a brick wall crumbled down on her.
On Saturday afternoon, at least four medical personnel from the Vinson
were sent to treat injured people on shore.

Two U.S. vessels expected to reach Haiti next week will be equipped to
receive injured Haitians.

The USNS Comfort, a hospital ship with the capacity for 1,000 patients
and one of the largest trauma facilities in the U.S., was deployed
Saturday and expected to arrive into Haiti by Jan. 21.

The Comfort, which responded to Hurricane Katrina and performs
humanitarian missions around the world, has 19 operation rooms and a
medical team of 550 Navy doctors, nurses, technicians and support
staff, comprised of Navy medical personnel stationed at National Navy
Medical Center Bethesda and Haval Hospital Portsmouth.

The USS Bataan, an amphibious assault ship en route from Baltimore,
will offer three additional operating rooms.

There is currently no facility with surgical capabilities on the
ground, Jennifer Furin, a doctor with Harvard Medical School, told CNN

While the Vinson has been able to launch sorties to deliver medical
supplies, it has nothing on board and has to trek to Guantanamo to

The Haitian government today ceded control of the Port-au-Prince
airport to the U.S. military, a step that will allow the Vinson’s
helicopters to pick up and deliver the thousands of tons of supplies
that have arrived there.


Posted on on January 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Considering the large number of clicks on our postings about the Haiti catastrophe we decided to continue monitoring the situation from pure humanitarian angles – but true to our website we will look also at what the world must learn from its reaction to the goings-on in this stricken half of the Hispaniola Island and about the ways this reflects on the UN, the US, Brazil and the ALBA States. Will we realize that even without seeing any connection between this earthquake and climate change, though we did see connections between the Asian plates tectonic rim and the melting of the Antarctic ice cap, we do not see this here. But we see the denuding of the island from trees – this in order to have created the sugar cane and other plantations, as a clear contributing factor to global warming that caused the enhancement and increased frequency of the Hurricanes.

We know that the interest in our postings has to do also with our suggestion that Haiti is now the chance for Brazil to prove that they have arrived to the point that they should be considered as members of the small club of Nations that willl make a difference in the 21st century.

Brazil, that joined the powers that were on the winning side of WWII only close to the end, was nevertheless recognized by being posted as first speakers at the yearly UN General Assembly meeting. It was clear that the size of the country, and its tremendous potential, will bring it to the forefront of the new developing, post-war, world. OK – it took 60 years – but now they are there. Their history of colonizers in the Caribbeans is zero, but their background started with lots of similarities and to its advantage, it was distance wise very remote from Europe so it could breeze easier. Big Brazil and small Haiti have both much to owe to African culture and Europe induced agriculture. Yes – sugar cane, coffee, black slaves, sunny weather and so on. There was a time that in both countries life was easy as the Gershwins sing in Porgy and Bess. But Haiti fell behind.

Haiti is the world’s pits. An island South East of Puerto Rico, with a tremendous history of having been the second independent state of the Western Hemisphere, and the only one created by a rebellion of black slaves, with a French culture and lots of Voodoo, and some sons and daughters that did very well outside the country at times the country fell under local dictatorship or US invasions, has never become, just  like Cuba, a working US dependency. Perhaps this is thanks to the Americans not being able to stomach this entrenched different culture mix and the realization that it could “dilute” the white protestant US culture. While the top layer of sugar-cane growers did very well, denuded the western part of the Hispaniola island of trees and increased their bank-holdings on the back of their brothers that spiralled into abject poverty – to the dishonor of being the only western hemisphere State  that is on the UN list of the 50 least prosperous countries in the world. Actually – they are on the bottom of that list and even have the added disadvantage of being battered by natural disasters – one after another – in this last decade – three major Hurricanes and this last major Earthquake with its 7.0 epicenter just 10 miles from their capital.

Now, does the world owe them rescue? As a humanitarian obligation the answer is obviously a very strong YES. From the climate change / environmental angle – sure a clear YES with a but. Now, let us write about the BUT.


“Their priorities are to secure the country, ours are to feed. We have got to get those priorities in sync.”
– JARRY EMMANUEL, the air logistics officer for the World Food Program, after his group’s planes were diverted so the United States could land planes with troops and equipment.…

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — As the focus on Saturday turned away from
Haitians lost to those trying to survive, a sprawling assembly of
international officials and aid workers struggled to fix a troubled
relief effort after Tuesday’s devastating earthquake.

While countries and relief agencies showered aid on Haiti, only a
small part of it was reaching increasingly desperate Haitians without
food, water or shelter. “We see all the commotion, but we still have
nothing to drink,” said Joel Querette, 23, a college student camped
out in a park. “The trucks are going by.”

Hunger drove many to swarm places where food was being given out.
Reports of isolated looting and violence intensified as night
approached, and there were reports of Haitians streaming out of the

Still, recovery and aid efforts were widening. And even the
distribution problems in the country stemmed in part from good
intentions, aid officials said: Countries around the world were
responding to Haiti’s call for help as never before. And they are
flooding the country with supplies and relief workers that its
collapsed infrastructure and nonfunctioning government are in no
position to handle.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Port-au-Prince,
met with President René Préval for an hour and assured Haitians that
the United States “will be here today, tomorrow and for the time
ahead.” And in Washington, President Obama stood with former
Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who will lead a national
drive to raise money to help the survivors.

But with Haitian officials relying so heavily on the United States,
the United Nations and many different aid groups, coordination was
posing a critical challenge. An airport hobbled by only one runway, a
ruined port whose main pier splintered into the ocean, roads blocked
by rubble, widespread fuel shortages and a lack of drivers to move the
aid into the city are compounding the problems.

About 1,700 people camped on the grass in front of the prime
minister’s office compound in the Pétionville neighborhood, pleading
for biscuits and water-purification tablets distributed by aid groups.
A sign on one fallen building in Nazon, one of many hillside
communities destroyed by the quake, read: “Welcome U.S. Marines. We
need help. Dead Bodies Inside!”

Haitian officials said the bodies of tens of thousands of victims had
already been recovered and that hundreds of thousands of people were
living on the streets. A preliminary Red Cross estimate put the total
number of affected people at 3.5 million.

The United Nations also confirmed the death of three of its most
senior officials in the quake: the secretary general’s special
representative for Haiti, Hédi Annabi; his deputy, Luiz Carlos da
Costa; and the acting police commissioner for the peacekeeping force,
Doug Coates of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They were meeting
with eight members of a Chinese police delegation in the agency’s
headquarters, the Christopher Hotel, when it collapsed on Tuesday.

Even as the United States took a leading role in aid efforts, some aid
officials were describing misplaced priorities, accusing United States
officials of focusing their efforts on getting their people and troops
installed and lifting their citizens out. Under agreement with Haiti,
the United States is now managing air traffic control at the airport,
helicopters are flying relief missions from warships off the coast and
9,000 to 10,000 troops are expected to arrive by Monday to help with
the relief effort.

The World Food Program finally was able to land flights of food,
medicine and water on Saturday, after failing on Thursday and Friday,
an official with the agency said. Those flights had been diverted so
that the United States could land troops and equipment, and lift
Americans and other foreigners to safety.

“There are 200 flights going in and out every day, which is an
incredible amount for a country like Haiti,” said Jarry Emmanuel, the
air logistics officer for the agency’s Haiti effort. “But most of
those flights are for the United States military.

He added: “Their priorities are to secure the country. Ours are to
feed. We have got to get those priorities in sync.”

American officials said they were making substantial progress. Mrs.
Clinton said the military was beginning to use a container port in Cap
Haitien, in northern Haiti, which should increase the flow of aid.

The United States Agency for International Development was helping
choose sites and clear roads for 14 centers for the distribution of
food and water. Rajiv Shah, the agency’s administrator, said the
United States had moved $48 million of food supplies from Texas since
the quake and distributed 600,000 packaged meals. It has also
installed three water-purification systems capable of purifying
100,000 liters a day.

Yet problems remain. American officials said that 180 tons of relief
supplies had been delivered to the airport, but much was still waiting
for delivery. While the military has cleared other landing sites for
helicopters around the capital, they are thronged by people looking
for help, making landings hazardous.

Fuel shortages were mounting. At several gas stations around
Port-au-Prince, attendants or customers said that even though the
stations had fuel left in their tanks, there was no electricity to
work the pumps.

Some aid workers were critical of the United Nations, as well, arguing
that the agency had the most on-the-ground experience in Haiti and
should be directing efforts better.

But many United Nations employees were killed in the earthquake. And
Stephanie Bunker, the spokeswoman for the United Nations humanitarian
relief effort, said Saturday that a United Nations logistics team was
trying to coordinate with other agencies, and that the peacekeeping
forces were trying to clear roads.

Criticism of the United Nations “may reflect people’s frustrations
with the entire effort because it is such a grueling effort,” she
said. “It takes a long time for all this stuff to be cleared up and
fixed.” She noted that all modes of transportation — air, road and sea
— were still limited. A shortage of trucks remained a problem.

Michel Chancy, appointed by Mr. Préval to coordinate relief, said that
much of the aid to Haiti was coming to a government that was itself
under siege.

“The palace fell,” he said. “Ministries fell. And not only that, the
homes of many ministers fell. The police were not coming to work.
Relief agencies collapsed. The U.N. collapsed. It was hard to get
ourselves in a place where we could help others.”

At the American Embassy in Port-au-Prince, American rescue teams
continued to roll out of the gate. Most of their equipment had
arrived, and at any given time, the teams were working on several
different piles of rubble throughout the city.

“People need to get the message, we’re out, we’re doing stuff,” said
Craig Luecke, a coordinator with the search and rescue team from
Fairfax County, Va., who has been tracking American efforts in advance
of Mrs. Clinton’s arrival here. “My Google Earth map is filled with
American activity.”

Though the numbers are fluid, he said four American teams had helped
pulled nearly two dozen survivors from the rubble. The State
Department said 15 Americans were confirmed dead in the earthquake.

Some airplanes, after circling the capital’s airport, have been
turning back or landing in Santo Domingo, in the neighboring Dominican
Republic. Its airfield was growing ever more crowded with diverted

“We’re all going crazy,” said Nan Buzard, senior director of
international response and programs for the American Red Cross. “You
don’t have any kind of orderly distributions of food, water, shelter,
clothing. The planes are in the air, the materials are purchased. It
remains a profoundly frustrating situation for everyone.”

Among the aid groups avoiding the logjam in Port-au-Prince by entering
Haiti from the Dominican Republic was International Federation of Red
Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

A caravan of eight trucks from the federation was creeping toward the
Haitian border on Saturday morning, carrying medical equipment and aid

The group had originally planned to touch down in Haiti, but the
delays at the airport forced them to divert to Santo Domingo, delaying
their arrival in Haiti by about 12 hours, said Paul Conneally, a Red
Cross spokesman who was traveling with the convoy.

“Every minute counts, I know that, but we cannot be on standby to land
at Port-au-Prince because it may not be for two or three days,” he
said. “It’s problematic to go across roads, but it’s a small price to

Mr. Préval, speaking at the airport, now the effective seat of the
Haitian government, urged patience. He showed a map covered with red
dots, indicating the worst-hit areas. When the earthquake struck, he
said, “We in Haiti thought it was the end of the world.”

Mr. Préval said he was making food, water, medical supplies and the
re-establishment of communication the priorities for his government.
“We have a lot of work to do,” he said.


Posted on on January 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Diane Sawyer on ABC News,1/15/10, is visibly and verbally upset that
so much food, water, etc. was still at the airport and not distributed
to the very many in desperate need and could be dead very shortly
without it.

Then one U.S. Commander interviewed, said they needed the Haitian
government to designate distribution centers, then to be approved by
the U.N., while 10,000 U.S. troops are on the way by Sunday to help in

Have the U.S. government/military..politicians  lost their minds? If
the Haitian government, which barely exists after this tragedy, wasn’t
there for the people before the earthquake, why is anyone waiting for
this government to act now?

If the U.N., which has done little to stop genocide in Darfur with
500,000 Blacks murdered by Muslims, why in the world is the U.N. in
charge of this operation? To avoid this dilemma, our web has picked up
the COHA idea – let the Brazilians, much less suspected then the
Americans, take over for an agreed time period the keys of Haiti!

On CNN, with Anderson Cooper showing that only Dr. Gupta of CNN, is
left in a hospital with 25 wounded patients, while the UN has asked
the rest of the doctors to leave, and then to see the aerial views of
hundreds, perhaps thousands, of bodies lying on just one of the
streets, does anyone get what is going on here?

By following the supposed ‘plan’, the food and water sits at the
airport, and men, women and childen are dying .

A ‘distribution’ sight?  How about every spot where hundreds and
thousands are outside of hospitals, in parks, and in the streets,
afraid to go back into their homes, and get the food and water to
these people before they dehydrate and die. JUst don’t worry about the
fact that they did not have clean water even before this last
catastrophe hit.

Oh first we have to deal with all the ‘politics’?

Let’s see, now if the U.S. controls the airport, and not the U.N.,
then will the US be seen as ‘occupying’ Haiti? Will some see this as a
pretext to naming Haiti the US 51st State?

Then there is the big hoopla from listening to Obama that he’ll do
everything possible, including the comitment of  troops and
$100millions – some saying that this is for the reviews, while Rush
Limbaugh is obsessed on whether Obama will look good in all of this
and his ratings rise. Will he advise not to give to the Haitian people
in crisis?

If Limbaugh had a heart, he’d be pushing to feed the starving and put
the politics aside until we got through this level of the crisis.

Now with some saying 200,000 being reported dead, up from the Red Cross’s
assessment  of 45,000, we are witnessing Obama’s ‘Katrina’ of
going by ‘the book’, whatever that is, instead of stepping outside of
the box and actually making a difference.

How about just handing the water and food to everyone in need? Is this so hard to do?  How about taking care of everyone that needs the help? At what point do you need permission to be a human being and help another human being, especially when you can? Then, if this is really the case, take the Brazilians that are already in Haiti – and ask them for God’s and humanitarian sake – take the supplies and hand them out without waiting for the UN. We know, the Brazilians have lost 14 people and miss three more, but they are tough and will accept this if they see it is for a clear purpose. They also lost people in that infamous UN Baghdad disaster when the Brazilian Mission leader was killed.

This is how governments operate or don’t and they don’t… beyond the
stunts and media ploys and everyone covering their own butts, so as
not to do anything that they will have to be accountable for, while
the rest of us are expendible.

Thank G-d for independent thinking and action from volunteers.

With all the ‘chatter’ now from Yemen and another potential Muslim
Jihadist attack on the U.S. at this very time period, you can see in
Haiti the insipid approach that would happen here as well. On this, I
just observed that Saturday January 16, 2010, the Empire State
building was dressed in Green-White-Green colors – and these are the
colors of Nigeria. Is this the initiative of some private group to
thank the boy-bomber from Nigeria for awareness raising that we are

Can’t anyone make a decision that matters, when government bureaucrats
are in charge?

If 3 millions are affected by the Earthquake in Haiti, do we not
understand that without food or water for 5 days what is pending?

Then we watched Sean Hannity on FOX tonight talking about the
‘political earthquake’, should the Republican beat the Democrat next
Tues. for former Sen. Kennedy’s seat?

“Earthquake” Hannity? With hundreds of thousands dead in our back
yard? This is your level of consciousness to exploit using this word,
on going after Obama?

This is revolting – our stomachs turn.

How do you play ‘safe’ with masses of people dying?

How do you exploit for politics, the horrors people are facing?

Appeasing those who want to kill us and then neglecting those in need
after the damage has been done, is one more example of what we are
witnessing daily in our approach in Haiti. It doesn’t matter if the
catatrophe is man-made through terrorism or by an act of G-d.

Today, after 8 yrs. illegal Haitians in Miami and in the rest of the
U.S., by the tens of thousands, they will now be allowed to stay for
18 months, eventually get green cards,  and we hope do something for
the folks back home.

But this still isn’t feeding today even one Haitian baby starving to
death or dehydrated by lack of water.

We got an e-mail saying:
“Having gone through Hurricane Andrew in 1992, I know what it is like
with 80,000 buildings destroyed and they, only admitting to 50 dead,
but there were many more.

We on Miami Beach were 17 miles from ‘Ground Zero’ and every house on
our block had no electricity for 11 days, all foods were spoiled,
every roof had to be replaced if you could find quality repair people,
not out to steal from you or legitimate insurance agencies not trying
to screw you, and in every level of survival running into obstacles
for getting food, water, gas,repairs, cleanup and a host of basics,
let alone damage to property and the emotional damage in all of it.

It took 10 years for us to recover.  Every Hurricane season we’re
glued to the weather channel in hopes of not going through it again,
and Haiti went through 3 hurricanes recently before this earthquake.
Haiti with so many of its trees destroyed. Then Papa Doc, Baby Doc,
Aristedes and even today, where are the Haitian leaders in Miami
speaking out, for they are in two political camps like the Dems. and
GOP, and neither are for the people, when it is all about them and not

No matter. We MUST help those who need this emergency help.
The American people have always come to the rescue of those in need
all over the world and we’ll do it again and again for that is who we
really are and we don’t need to apologize for it either.

As a Jew, that is who I am too. That is my conscience. That is my
faith. That is my reason for being. That is my history of being a Jew
for 5000 years. Nothing to apologize for here either. My Covenant with
G-d, My Torah and My Constitution and my heart are my guides in all of
this as well as knowing so many on this level as well.” Even a secular
Jew like myself has no problem in seconding above last lines.


Posted on on January 16th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Rush of Medical Aid to Haiti Follows History of Suffering.

Andrew Schneider
Senior Public Health Correspondent, aol

Washington (Jan. 15) — Along with all the horrors it wrought, Tuesday’s
earthquake brought a bitter irony to Haiti: The crumbled, chaotic
country will soon have more physicians, medics and operating hospitals
than ever in its tormented history.

But while the medical teams from around the world will close wounds
and set shattered bones, there will be less they can do to stem the
preventable deaths that have always plagued this hemisphere’s poorest

Soon, enough mobile hospitals, medical personnel, equipment, medicine
and supplies will be in place in Haiti to treat 20,000 or more of the
injured, according to interviews late Thursday with the World Health
Organization, the Pentagon, the United Nations, FEMA and several
embassies in Washington — a rainbow of uniforms operating under tent
canvas, inside inflatable structures or aboard ships. And more
reinforcements could arrive shortly.

On Friday morning, the U.S. Public Health Service and Homeland Security sent notice to the volunteer members of the National Disaster Medical System that they should be ready for possible deployment.

Thousands of Haitians died in the collapse of poorly constructed
buildings, but the bodies being crammed into family crypts built atop
the cracked ground or dusted with lime and buried in mass graves
represent just the first wave of casualties, health experts predict.
Physicians from the WHO and the Pan American Health Organization say
that the deaths that will surely continue for months or even years
will not come from untreated trauma but, rather, untreated water.

Diseased water has long been Haiti’s most aggressive killer, far more
lethal than even its high rates of AIDS and tuberculosis. (Incidents
of malaria and dengue follow right behind.)

An examination of the country’s public health and medical system makes
the problem clear. According to the Haitian Institute for Statistics,
water supply and sewage treatment systems are unheard of among the
majority of the country’s 9 million people. What’s more, with a
fertility rate of almost five children per woman, infant mortality
soars, due to diarrheal disease caused by bad water and the lack of
adequate health care.

Haiti’s health ministry reported in 2008 that there were just 39
hospitals and about 70 other inpatient facilities for the entire
country. But even that scant health care is unevenly divided: Private
for-profit hospitals treat the country’s wealthy and some foreign
business and embassy workers. Then there are the handful of public
hospitals and clinics — most of them falling apart — which are
ill-equipped and badly understaffed. The poor, who represent more than
80 percent of country’s population, also rely on the missionaries and
nongovernment volunteer groups, who sometimes offer superb medicine,
but only for those patients who can get to them.

There are very few ambulances in the countryside, and no 9-1-1 to
call. So Haitians fend for themselves.

The mainstay for the sick and injured are Voodoo clinics. In a country where medicine is hard to
come by unless you are among the elite, their traditional herbal medicines fill the void.

And so it was in the immediate aftermath of the quake: On Thursday, a
government health source said that a United Nation’s peacekeeper
relayed that the first organized medical care in Cite Soleil, the
capital’s vast slums, came from groups of Voodoo practitioners.

To know the role Voodoo medicine plays in Haiti’s public health system
is to not be surprised by such a report.

For years, Max Beauvoir, the chief houngan — or Voodoo priest — for
Port-au-Prince, ran a clinic out of his elaborately decorated home,
Peristyle de Mariani. Tourists at the waterfront resorts nearby were
stunned watching the stream of ill and injured brought into the Voodoo
temple most days.

They would have been even more shocked to see his résumé. Beauvoir was
trained at City College of New York, then went on to the Sorbonne for
graduate study in biochemistry. While a professor at Boston’s Tufts
University, he was granted patents on several important medications he
developed from Haitian plants. After the death of his father in the
early 1970s, he returned to Port-au-Prince, as tradition demanded.

Having been a part of the American health system, Beauvoir was vocal
in his demands that Jean-Claude Duvalier, who’d assumed the presidency
from his father, Francois, consider the medical needs of the poor. It
was only his involvement with Voodoo that kept the president from
unleashing his ruthless security force, the Tontons Macoutes, against

In 1984, as Beauvoir watched American soldiers load back onto their
ships and aircraft after the latest U.S. intervention to protect the
Haitians after the latest in a bloody string of coups and uprisings,
he said the true doctors for the Haitian people were the troops of the
82nd Airborne.

More than 25 years later, the earthquake has brought new resonance to
Beauvoir’s words. An aircraft carrier, a half dozen Navy amphibian
ships, and four Coast Guard cutters now sit off Haiti’s coast. The
Hospital Ship Comfort is due next week.

Early Friday, a senior officer at the 82nd’s headquarters in Fort
Bragg, N.C., said half the people in the division’s supply chain had
been scrambled for a critical part of the relief effort. Their
mission: to round up clean drinking water to bring to the Haitians.


Clinton Pledges Cooperation in Haiti Relief Effort.

Jennifer Kay, AP

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Jan. 16) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Rodham Clinton met Saturday with Haitian President Rene Preval and
promised that U.S. quake relief efforts would be closely coordinated
with local officials.

Clinton’s remarks appeared designed to counter any notion of a
too-intrusive American involvement in the aftermath of the quake,
while also assuring Haitians the humanitarian mission would continue
as long as it’s needed.

“We are here at the invitation of your government to help you,” she
said at a news conference at the Port-au-Prince airport. “As President
Obama has said, we will be here today, tomorrow and for the time
ahead. And speaking personally, I know of the great resilience and
strength of the Haitian people. You have been severely tested. But I
believe that Haiti can come back even stronger and better in the

Clinton, the highest-ranking Obama administration official to visit
since the magnitude-7.0 quake struck Tuesday, arrived in a Coast Guard
C-130 transport that carried bottled water, packaged food, soap and
other supplies. She was accompanied by Rajiv Shah, the U.S. Agency for
International Development administrator who is acting as the top U.S.
relief coordinator.

Clinton also met with U.N. officials and U.S. civilians and military
personnel working on the relief effort. She said she and Preval
discussed his government’s priorities: restoring communications,
electricity and transportation.

“And we agreed that we will be coordinating closely together to
achieve these goals,” she said, adding that she and Preval would issue
a communique on Sunday outlining cooperation between the two

Preval said he was encouraged to see former presidents Bill Clinton
and George W. Bush together with President Barack Obama at the White
House earlier Saturday in a joint plea for international assistance to

He noted that U.S. aid has already arrived, and he told reporters he
met a survivor who was pulled from the rubble Saturday and receiving
care from American medical teams. He thanked Clinton for her visit and
for Obama’s continued support of Haiti.

“Mrs. Clinton’s visit really warms our heart today,” he said.

During the news conference, officials noted the clatter of military
helicopters landing and taking off nearby.

“That’s a good sound,” Clinton said. “That means that good things are
going to the people of Haiti.”


Posted on on January 16th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

From COHA – THE COUNCIL ON HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS – The Washington based center for the Western Hemisphere.’s-inescapab…

Brazil’s Haitian Cross
by COHA Research Fellow Thomaz Alvares de Azevedo

After a promising beginning that included, among other accomplishments, being the second country in the Americas to achieve independence and the first and only to do so after a slave revolt, Haiti’s prospects soured so precipitously that by the end of the millennium it was being dubbed the failed state of the Western Hemisphere. Thus, one can hardly imagine a country that, even with the support of the international community, would take longer to bounce back from the catastrophic earthquake just witnessed on the island. If in the past, Haiti has almost chronically relied on foreign aid and debt relief, the devastating ramifications of this natural disaster will demonstrably increase this dependency. Brazil, which in recent years has maintained a strong presence in Haiti, might prove to be a favored source of such aid.
For the past two decades, Brazil has been working to expand its voice in the hemisphere. Thus, it was only natural that when the United Nations decided to replace its decade-long stretch of failed Haitian initiatives with a newly formed stabilization mission, Brasilia seized the opportunity. Since 2004, Brazil has headed the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which mandates securing and stabilizing the environment, advancing the political process, as well as monitoring Haiti’s human rights situation.
Brasilia’s Road to MINUSTAH
The United Nations presence in Haiti dates back to 1993. Since then, the United Nations has undertaken four missions in Haiti: the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH), the United Nations Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH), the United Nations Transition Mission in Haiti (UNTMIH), and the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH). The situation worsened after the 2000 presidential election, in which reports indicate that turnout may have been as low as 10%. While Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas party claimed victory, opposition members accused the government of manipulating the electoral environments in Aristide’s favor. Internal political relations deteriorated, and in February 2004 vicious violence broke out. As insurgents increasingly took control of the northern part of the country, President Aristide was induced by his political foes to flee the island for exile in Africa. In a bold move, the succeeding interim government requested international troops to be sent to Haiti to help to stabilize the country, and the Security Council promptly authorized a Multinational Interim Force (MIF) to be deployed there. This initial MIF was then replaced by the present multidimensional stabilization operation, known as the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti.
Brazil’s willingness to get so involved with MINUSTAH was, at first, surprising. Holding one of the temporary seats in the Security Council during the 1990s, Brasilia had not voted in favor of the peacekeeping operations in Haiti. But now, Brazil volunteered to lead the military part of the mission. This took place after Brazilian officials made the argument that, unless there was a formal request from the Haitian President, sending a military force to Haiti would clearly violate the country’s sovereignty. This condition was not satisfied until 2004, when Haiti’s President Boniface Alexandre made the request.
Brazil’s determination to lead the mission indicates a noticeable change in its foreign policy orientation. Where Brasilia had previously demonstrated some mistrust in multilateral organizations like the Security Council, suddenly there was a willingness to work within multilateral institutions in order to better establish Brazil’s growing relevance at the international level. By hinting that its involvement in the MINUSTAH would serve as a measure of Brazil’s capacity and willingness to take on international responsibilities, Brazil’s Itamaraty would be taking on a risk. Now President Lula’s government hopes to parlay the putative success of the mission to justify its demand for a more prominent international role.
Brasilia’s Reaction to the Disaster
Brasilia has been appropriately active in its rapid response in the aftermath of Haiti’s ongoing tragedy. President Lula increased Brazil’s official presence in the area almost immediately, by boosting its diplomatic staff in the adjoining Dominican Republic—taking advantage of its common border with Haiti—and sending the Minister of Defense, Nelson Jobim, to Port-au-Prince. But even more relevant than such political moves, shortly after the disaster hit the island, the Lula administration announced a 10 million dollar contribution to humanitarian aid, a relatively high figure for the country. An air force plane with 13 tons of food and water was dispatched to Port-au-Prince, and another aircraft with 50 medical personnel and medicine is expected to take off soon. However substantial Brazil’s initial response has been, it still is insufficient in the face of the unimaginable losses caused by the earthquake. The Red Cross has already estimated that up to 3 million of Haiti’s population of 9 million ultimately may have been profoundly affected by the earthquake. Although the ongoing chaos makes it difficult to estimate the extent of the destruction, material damage to the island’s infrastructure can be expected to reach astronomical proportions, and the estimated toll of human loss, in the tens-of-thousands, already is massive.
In the face of such a raw tragedy, Brasilia must show that it can not only talk the talk, but is also prepared to embrace a leadership role. Its readiness to rise to this challenge may be a signal of Brazil’s maturity as a regional leader, but this may also be far from sufficient. It is the quality and consistency of support that will ultimately determine if Brazil, whose credentials are still waiting to be made, has the necessary dirt to throw behind the international status to which it so deeply aspires.

Brazil’s Moment to Lead
Posted By Joshua Keating, Foreign Policy,   Friday, January 15, 2010

Countries around the world are frantically searching for their citizens in Haiti, but this week’s events have been particularly hard on Brazil, which had a big footprint in the country before the quake. At least 14 Brazilian troops were killed in the quake with four more still missing. Brazil is the leader and largest troop contributor to the UN’s MINUSTAH peacekeeping force. The famous Brazilian doctor Zilda Arns Neumann — sometimes called Brazil’s Mother Teresa — was also killed.

But Brazil has also been on the frontlines of the response. In a telling sign of the priority the country is giving the disaster, Brazilian defense minister Nelson Jobim is on the ground in Haiti with a delegation to assess the situation and devise a recovery strategy. President da Silva has been in communication with President Obama and former President Clinton to coordinate the aid effort. The Brazilian government has pledged $15 million in aid and its military cargo planes are flying in supplies. Additionally, Foreign Minsiter Ceslo Anorim is arguing that MINUSTAH’s mandate be expanded to assist with the recovery effort.

With the already rickety Haitian state essentially dealt a knockout punch this week, the country is going to need an unprecedented level of international assistance in the years to come. The United States is understandably taking the lead in the immediate rescue effort, but given its nation-building commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan and history of frequently occupying Haiti, the U.S. may not be the best candidate for the long-term stabilization effort.

Brazil, on the other hand, is already involved Haitian security, and as others on this site have written,  has been increasingly looking to act as a global player. The Haitian crisis is an opportunity for the rising superpower to take a leadership role in regional security. And lord knows Haiti will need the help.


Posted on on January 16th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The full reporting follows and besides the imediate issue at hand, there are some coments that are of special interest to us:

“Most recently, Ban has been accused by French President Nicolas Sarkozy of saying and accomplishing too little before, at and after the Copenhagen climate change talks.” – please remember here the Seal-the-Deal campaign for the no-deal in site. We saw in this at that time a very negative campaign!…

“As UN Ban Plans Sunday Haiti Trip, Picks South Korean and UN Media, Spurned Sources Say.”

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 15 — UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will fly to Haiti for a one-day trip on Sunday.

To publicize his trip, Ban will be accompanied by journalists from France’s wire service and television station, and in a surprise to some, South Korean media.

Several journalists who had put their names on the list to go demanded to know why they were not included, while not only South Korea media but also the UN’s own in house self documentarians were selected.

One reporter, representing a major South Florida daily, says he was told by Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky, this is not like selecting a soccer team, I don’t have to say how I made choices, remember, I’m not new at this job, I was with Reuters for years.

When pressed, Nesirky told the reporter the criteria included multi-media platforms, “coverage of the UN,” circulation, history of covering the region and inclusion in the directory of the UN Correspondents’ Association. At least one of the invitees does not comply with this last criterion. And it is unclear, at least to some, if by “coverage of the UN” positive or negative coverage is meant.

While the inclusion of South Korean media seems designed, several correspondents told Inner City Press, to feed Ban Ki-moon’s image in his native country, they also saw a wider communications strategy at work.

The earthquake was and is a disaster, they were quick to acknowledge. (We agree.) But for both Ban and his spokesman to resist for days now answering questions on any topic but Haiti represented, to them, a drive to remain “on message” as a politician would.

At the January 15 noon briefing, Nesirky told Inner City Press that “today I am dealing with Haiti,” when a question about a rocket attack near the UN in Kabul was being raised. While Nesirky later relented and allowed this and a question about the UN in Somalia to be asked, ten hours later neither question had been answered.

UN’s Ban and his spokesman on Jan. 14, only Haiti questions, even those (on Haitian staff) not answered

Notably, a 2000 word expose of corruption in Ban’s UN that moved on American newswires on Tuesday was never asked about or responded to, lost in the UN’s wall to wall statements on Haiti.

Even on Haiti matters, controversies were identified, outsourced and marginalized. When questions arose about Ban not counting casualties above the UN’s national Haitian staff in the nation-specific presentations he made, to member states and to the press, Ban next said he would not report by nation, only Nesirky would.

Nesirky in turn tried to explain the UN’s reporting focus on international staff, and then to argue that while processed differently, reports of the deaths of national Haitian staff were treated equally.

Ban received several waves of negative coverage in 2009, on topics ranging from seeming weak with strongmen in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. (Inner City Press went on Ban’s May 2009 Sri Lanka trip, remaining on the issue since and, in full disclosure, applying to cover Ban Haiti trip.)

Most recently, Ban has been accused by French President Nicolas Sarkozy of saying and accomplishing too little before, at and after the Copenhagen climate change talks.

Responses to natural disasters are the UN’s finest (media) hour, these long time correspondents said, pointing to the post-tsunami omnipresence of Kofi Annan’s humanitarian coordinator Jan Egeland.

In this case, Ban himself needs better coverage — the correspondents tied it to Ban’s drive to get a second five year term as Secretary General, since more than three years of his first term have expired — and so he, rather than Egeland’s successor John Holmes, is presented day after day at the stakeout camera.

And now on a flash tour of Haiti, documented by the UN itself and South Korean media. Mr. Ban has scheduled a meeting with UN staff in New York for Monday at 11am.  …..

…  Whether all this assists in the drive to assert the UN’s centrality in coordinating aid and action in Haiti remains to be seen.

* * *
In Haiti, National UN Staff in Limbo, Despite Some Good News in Ruins.

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 14 At the UN it became even less clear what the UN Mission in Haiti is doing for its national staff, including how it is counting them. In the casualty figures released by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the morning, no national Haitian staff were included.

At the UN’s noon briefing by video link from near the Port au Prince airport, figures were provided for injured national staff, but not deceased or missing. Inner City Press, which first raised the question on July 13, asked why. Because they went to their homes, was the answer. Because they are focused on survival.

Inner City Press is informed that a MINUSTAH staffer, close with Hedy Annabi { that is the head of the UN Mission in Haiti – whose whereabouts are not known }, has been found alive. A reliable source told Inner City Press that “Patrick Hein, working closely with Annabi was rescued… brought up from the mess of concrete. According to his dad Philippe Hein ( who has visited him at one point in Haiti and used to work at WTO ) his office is next to Annabi. Father was a bit piss off at Kouchner for saying that everyone has perished.”

If true, this is good news. But what about national Haitian UN staff? When Pressed, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Haiti, the tri-lingual Kim Bolduk, said that UNDP had sent out three missions to check on its national staff in their homes.

When Inner City Press tried to follow up this answer to MINUSTAH’s director of communications, UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky cut in to disallow this follow up.

Hotel Christopher, rented by UN for $94,000 a month, in ruins – MOSS compliant {this are the UN safety regulations}?
. . . .  {no answer}

* * *
UN Doesn’t Count Haitian Staff – But Treats Them Equally, Ban Says

By Matthew Russell Lee

— A day after the UN’s death count of its personnel in Port au Prince at first included a single Haitian staff member, and then dropped the reference, on Thursday morning Secretary General Ban Ki-moon dropped all reference to nationalities in his count of the dead.

Inner City Press asked if the UN’s national Haitian staff have been included in the figures the UN has been giving out, not only of casualties but even of how many people work for the UN.

While Ban insisted that national staff are treated “equally,” the figure thrown around – that 11,000 people work for the UN’s MINUSTAH mission — does not include the UN’s national staff.

In response to the question, Ban referred to notes and said that the UN has 1200 national staff in Haiti. This compares to 490 international civilian staff.

After Ban left the stakeout, Inner City Press asked his spokesman Martin Nesirky to explain the UN’s reporting of casualties. Nesirky said that the focus has been on reporting to those with international interest.

{So –  national Haitian staff not in figures of interest.}

He also said that national staff who worked in the UN headquarters in Port of Prince were somehow more likely to have already have left the building for the day when the earthquake struck.

Now, he said, the UN is going out to the listed home addresses of its national staff to check on them. But will they now begin reporting the Haitians, equally, in their public statements?

Footnote: after Ban and his spokesman left the stakeout, another journalist — not this one — marveled that the UN would focus on internationals and not Haitians, who are the people most impacted, and of most interest to her as a journalist.

From the UN’s January 14 transcript:

Inner City Press: I understand that now you are saying that the nationality of those killed will be given by the Spokesman. Yesterday it was mentioned that a Haitian national was among those who were deceased, and then in what you said yesterday evening, it wasn’t mentioned. Some questions have arisen whether the numbers the UN is given actually include the Haitians that are hired, the national staff. What is the figure, or what are the procedures for checking how the actual Haitian nationals employed in various functions for the UN are faring?

SG Ban Ki-moon: In saving lives, there is no difference, no distinction between international and national staff. We have 1,200 national staff employed by the United Nations [in Haiti]. There seems to be very much a difficulty in communicating with all the national staff. Some of their houses have been affected. It is very difficult to account for all the national staff. We are doing, on the same principal: that we will try to save all the lives, without any distinction.


Posted on on November 29th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

Finally a second shoe comes of at the UN Department of Public Information that services the Ban Ki-moon UN Administration. After the replacement of the officer in charge of Media Accreditation, now also a new Spokesperson.

November 30, 2009 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is getting a new Spokesperson – a real professional – Martin Nesirky – that will hail from Vienna where he was not just spokesman for over three years at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) but was also Head of Press and Public Information.

Nesirky will replace Michele Montas of Haiti who served since the beginning of the term of Mr. Ban Ki-moon, January 1, 2007, till now, November 30, 2009, thus leaving one month ahead of the end of a three years contract. Ms. Montas is retiring from the UN.

Mr. Nesirky came to OSCE from Reuters where he served over two decades as an international correspondent and editor. He covered issues the like of  the fall of the  Berlin Wall, events in the Balkans, and nuclear non-proliferation issues. Further, he had a stint as the Moscow Bureau Chief of Reuters with responsibility for coverage of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and as senior editor in London handling political stories, including the Middle East and Africa. He has been posted in Berlin, The Hague, and Seoul, though it is not known if he also speaks Korean, the language of the current UN Secretary- General – the subject of a question from one of the correspondents that remained unanswered.

More recently Mr. Nesirky in his Spokesman capacity at OSCE was instrumental in navigating the Russia backed OSCE Chairmanship for Kazakhstan for 2010. At the UN he may find his personal talents helpful in creating a new persona for the UN Secretary-General whose popularity with parts of the UN have hit a low, at a time that his reelection for a second term will be put on the table.

Ms. Montas whom he replaces had none of such credentials. Prior to her appointment, Montas headed the French unit of UN Radio. From 2003 to 2004, she served as the Spokesperson for UN General Assembly President Julian Robert Hunte, of Saint Lucia, soon after she fled to New York from Haiti. In Haiti, she and her husband were also radio journalists and activists. Her husband was killed in Haiti, and she escaped to New York. We can vouch that in her first several months in the job Mr. Ban Ki-moon set her up, she had no understanding or patience for subjects of climate change – not even when the subject was raised in connection to killings going on in Africa, or the dangers to Small Island Member States of the UN. Not even in matters of the Middle East – she seemed as a fish out of water and effectively harming  positions that the SG might have been more forthcoming. In press conferences of the SG she allowed only questions that she thought he would be interested in while guarding him from such questions as climate change.

The real question is now if Mr. Martin Nesirky will find it acceptable to fit in her shoes and submit to further layers of UN functionaries in a UN Department of Public Information where the Director of News and Media Division is Mr. Ahmad Fawzi who acts as a factotum on Press Accreditation and also whenever there is the need to talk to the press upon fighting in the Middle East. We feel that Mr. Nesirky may be inclined to become his own man in those areas while serving the needs of the Secretary-General.

The announcement about the new Spokesperson was made by Mr. Farhan Haq, of Pakistan, an Associated Spokesperson, third in the ranking below Mr. Nesirky (The second ranking Spokesperson is the Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe of Japan). Farhan started the announcement by saying: “And finally, a message that you’ve been waiting for some time. The Secretary-General today has named Martin Nesirky of the United Kingdom as the new Spokesperson for the Secretary-General,” but when asked by a correspondent if there will be in parallel an appointment for a position called Strategic Communications, he also gave no answer and showed impatience by mentioning that “our guests are here.”

Another correspondent asked nevertheless about the Small Pacific Developing Island States that called upon the Security Council to take up the issue of climate change “as a matter of security, because they say that their islands, their countries, could potentially disappear together for the first time in history, and they’re looking for the Council to develop enforceable emission targets. What does the SG think of this call to the SC to take up the Climate Change issue?”

The anemic answer was: “As you know, the SG has been encouraging all of the relevant bodies to deal with climate change and its effects across a variety of fields.At this stage, however, what the SG is concerned with is making sure that Member states and leaders at the highest level will come to Copenhagen to deal precisely with all of the challenges of climate change and seal a deal that can help resolve all the various problems that member States face.” That was quite a lame answer from the source of “Hopenhagen” and a clear show why finally the UN deserves a professional Spokesperson it was denied during the first three years of the Ban Ki-moon Administration of the UN.

The Correspondent continued with his insistence for an answer:
“There is nothing about the council taking up this matter?”

Final answer from the Associate Spokesperson: “It’s always up to the Security Council which matters it chooses to take up under rubric of peace and security issues.”

From our point of view, will Mr. Martin Nersirky accompany Mr. Ban Ki-moon to Copenhagen, or will it be Marie Okabe?


N.B. – to be fair to Michele Montas –
Montas was one of the producers of Jonathan Demme’s documentary, The Agronomist, which depicted the life and death of her husband Jean Dominique and his career at Radio Haiti-Inter, the radio station that he founded. She was also involved with MINUTASH – the UN mission to Haiti. Montas worked  as a journalist at that Radio-station and has been  a human rights activist in Haiti and later a consistent international lecturer on Haiti – but the subject matter of the UN extends beyond Haiti and the Aristide government interests.
We do not imply that Montas was a negative person as such, only that she was not the right person for her job which allowed Mr. Ahmad Fawzi of Egypt to take over some of the responsibilitires that were hers, and the Under Secretary-General for the UN DPI, Mr. Kyotaka Akasaka, another strange appointment in the Ban Ki-moon cabinet, could really not care less.


P.S. – On November 23, 2009 Martin Nesirky met the media correspondents to the UN and said:

A couple of things I just wanted to mention.  First of all, I’m really looking forward to working with all of you; getting to know you.  This is a huge challenge, of course, and I’m very keen to try to get to know you so I can help you the best that I can.  That’s the first thing.

The second thing is that, needless to say, I do read what’s being written.  And I think there are a couple of things I’d like to make absolutely clear and very straight at the beginning.  My language skills: I speak German, I speak Russian, I speak English after a fashion, I speak a little bit of Korean and an even smaller amount of French.  I realize that it’s very, very important to be able to speak French. I’m going to be doing as the Secretary-General has done, which is to take extra French classes to improve on that. And that’s really all I wanted to say on that matter.

The other is that I really believe that coming from outside the UN has advantages and disadvantages.  You will have to bear with me as I get to know the system that you, many of you, know far better than I probably will ever do.  But I am very keen to work with you so that you can help me to help you to have the stories that you need to write.

Also, it seems that the UN expects Mr. Nesirky to start his work at the UN on only December 7th, which is coincidentally the day the Copenhagen Conference opens officially, does it mean that he will be there, or it means that Marie Okabe will be there and he will be in New York? We shall see!


Posted on on June 16th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

UN Secretary General, in his effort to get the Democrats in Washington to have a favorable view of his eventual reappointment effort to a second term at the helm of the UN, just caught a big fish – he got Former President Bill Clinton to accept his offer to be the be his Special Representative to Haiti and a Press Conference was held at the UN June 15, 2009 – please read about it on – things that you will not pick up in the conventional media.

“The depths of Haiti’s problems emerged at Bill Clinton’s UN press conference on Monday. After Clinton spoke of the need to make a registry of non-governmental organizations to better coordinate their work, Inner City Press asked about the lack of registration of the children that are born, particularly in rural Haiti. Seemingly it is known at the UN that the lack of registration leads to illegal adoptions and even the sale of babies for organs, one Permanent Representative told Inner City Press, urging that this too be asked of Clinton. He was responding to Inner City Press’ June 12 question, at a briefing on child labor, about Haiti’s restavek system.

{A restavèk is a Haitian child who becomes a house slave when she is turned over by her parents to a family which agrees, in principle, to care for the child, provide schooling, food, shelter, and clothing in exchange for domestic labor. Neither the child’s nor the parents’ hopes are usually fulfilled. The restavèk instead spends her formative years isolated from parental love and care, and nurturing contact with siblings, deprived of schooling and subject to long days of work with no pay and living conditions inferior to those of the overseer’s family. She performs whatever services the overseer requires under a constant menace of physical and verbal abuse, often meted out as a matter of routine by members of the household.

Today in Haiti, according to NGOs, an estimated one out of every ten children is a restavèk. These children are such a common part of the social fabric that rare is the Haitian who has not had some association with a restavèk. Some have given away a child or taken one in as a restavèk, or they know a family that has; others have been a restavèk themselves. This familiarity has affected the way most Haitians take these children for granted.}

After Clinton’s opening statement, Inner City Press asked about restavek, the registration of new borns, and the UN’s failure to disclose any discipline meted out to the more than 100 UN peacekeepers repatriated from Haiti to Sri Lanka after being accused of sexual abuse and exploitation. On punishment for sexual impropriety, Clinton said he would not answer, that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would.

But on restavek, he said he knew well of the problem. He said, parents were promised their children would be educated in exchange for work, but the schooling never happened. Some restavek victims are in the United States, he said. He will try to work on the problem. So – here is hope for a Clinton involvement.

    On sexual abuse, Mr. Ban said the UN has received assurances that some discipline took place after repatriation. But the UN has never said what this was. Inner City Press asked Haitian Foreign Minister Alrich Nicolas, also present, but he did not know, either. How can the UN claim a zero tolerance policy when it won’t report this basic information? We will continue on this writes Matthew Russell Lee from Inner City Press.


So, what we see from the above is infered as the lack of interest on part of the UN Secretary General about the problems of Haiti – the only country of the Western Hemisphere that is among the 50 poorest countries of the World.

Bringing in President Clinton is a great move – provided that Mr. Clinton will also take to task the UN itself – a need   demonstrated by the way the UN hires so called peace-making troops from poor countries, by paying large sums of money to – in many cases – authoritarian governments that pocket the money and then dish out small salaries to their troops. Sometimes these third quality military forces plainly misbehave, and the Sri Lankans in Haiti were such a case in point with the UN winking away the whole issue. Many such cases were known also among “UN Peace Keepers” in Africa. If President Clinton takes his job seriously, he is to remove the cover over these issues, and leave the UN to be seen in its lack of leadership/ nakedness. If he continues in the future also to pass on these sort of problems to his UN boss without investigating the issue – this would be a let down to us.We hope thus that he will not just be a feather in Ban Ki-moon’s cap.


from the same UN Press Conference, The Chritian Science Monitor, from Washington rather then New York,   has different news:

Bill Clinton can’t help himself, holds forth on Netanyahu speech: Former President Jimmy Carter, too, offered comments about the address during a tour of the Middle East.

By Howard LaFranchi | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the June 15, 2009 edition

WASHINGTON – The setting had nothing to do with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech about the Middle East peace process. It was a press event at the United Nations in New York Monday to announce that Bill Clinton would be taking the post of special envoy to Haiti.

But even as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon’s spokesperson was trying to cut the questions short, the former president could not resist going off-topic – baited, of course, by reporters.

He started by saying that he had not gotten his talking points in the morning from the State Department – read, his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Nonetheless, Mr. Clinton hailed Mr. Netanyahu for “going on the record as open to some two-state solution,” though he added that the conditions the prime minister set would be “completely unacceptable to the Palestinians.”

But drawing on his own experience with the Middle East conflict, Clinton said no one should take Netanyahu’s speech as the final word. “You should see this as opening moves … to not alienate the US and keep the ball rolling.”

Employing the silver tongue for which he is known the world over, he added, “This is the opening play … and it’s a drama that will have a few more acts.”

The reaction of another former US president, however, was less positive. Jimmy Carter has been in the region during the past week, during which time he met with the Hamas leadership in Gaza – one of the few Western leaders who has done so. While visiting the Israeli parliament Sunday, he said: “My opinion is [Netanyahu] raised many new obstacles to peace that had not existed under previous prime ministers.”

“He still apparently insists on expansion of existing settlements, he demands that the Palestinians and the Arabs recognise Israel as a Jewish state, although 20 percent of its citizens here are not Jews. This is a new demand,” Mr. Carter added.

But he said there remains opportunity for compromise. “I have to say that in spite of the differences between my president, Barack Obama, and Prime Minister Netanyahu, greater differences existed between myself and then-prime minister Begin,” Carter said.

Carter, Menachem Begin, and Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat were able to agree to the Camp David Accords, which led to a peace deal between Israel and Egypt in 1979.

For his part, current US President Obama hailed Netanyahu’s address Monday, saying, “I thought that there was positive movement in the prime minister’s speech.”